Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Swine Flu, Reviews and Interviews

So here I am, confined to barracks for the next week or so. Here's how it went...

'Woke up this morning feeling fine', Herman's Hermits once sang. 'Woke up yesterday morning feeling poo', sing I, on the other hand. Sore throat, cough, and- more worryingly- general weakness plus achiness in the muscles and, it felt, the bones.

So I rang the National Pandemic Flu Helpline, fully expecting to be told I'm a whinging hypochondriac and to get my arse into work. As you've probably guessed from the above, that ain't what happened. 'No, it's not man-flu this time,' the nice woman at the other end said, and gave me an authorisation number for antiviral drugs.

Just taken my third of ten doses of Tamiflu and am very glad a friend has just lent me the final season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD. To be on the safe side, I've also just ordered a Blake's Seven box-set off Amazon... although by the time they deliver it I'll probably be a) dead or b) back to work. Most likely b). Of course there are these other, older artefacts called books, apparently used in the days before DVD and the Internet as a means of boredom control, and still apparently popular with the strange barbarian tribes north of Watford.

Another friend tells me that the Flu Helpline's telephone diagnoses aren't always accurate. So it's possible I don't have Swine Flu, but some other kind of minor viral bug. One way or the other, though, I'm laid up with the dreaded lurgey. And I'm not venturing out till it's cleared up- partly for my own health, and partly as if it is Swine Flu, I don't particularly want to give this to anyone else.

A couple of nice things have happened, though, since I last posted. There's my Book Launch, and I'll try to pop some photos up from that to give everyone a laugh. Also, a few reviews of Tide Of Souls are up- one from Graeme Flory and two more on Goodreads from Mark West and Richard Wright- all very complimentary. The really nice Des Lewis carried out a 'real-time' review of Pictures Of The Dark which you can check out here.

Also, my career as a media whore continues. Peter Tennant interviewed me as part of a series of interviews with this year's British Fantasy Award finalists. You can read it here. Go on, make a sick man happy...

Hope the rest of you are staying healthy and germ-free,

Simon x.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Book(s) Launch!

Been meaning to post about this for ages- now it's the day before so I've only myself to blame if interested parties read this too late to be able to go...

Tomorrow night- Wednesday 22nd July!- sees the launch for both Tide Of Souls and Pictures Of The Dark. I'll be reading extracts from both books. 'Twill be held downstairs at the Bluu Bar on Thomas Street, in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, from 8.30pm. Admission is free. As is wine. If I don't drink it all myself out of mounting terror at making an arse of myself in front of... um... however many people turn up.

For the tiny number of you readers living anywhere near- hope to see you there!

Sunday 19 July 2009

Shout outs: Cate Gardner, Chris Wood

Hi everyone. It's been a while.

Well, there's been a lot going on since last we spoke. First off, a shout out to the lovely Cate Gardner for a very pleasant surprise, when the first of her 'someone else Saturday' entries on her blog proved to be about none other than yours truly!

I often think the real acid test of writers is perseverance. It's one of those callings where you're a) going to get a lot of knockbacks and b) where it takes a lot of time, hard work and trial and error (mostly error) to find your voice and hone your craft. It's not something that provides instant gratification (I sometimes wish I'd learned to play guitar and gone the singer-songwriter route- you know immediately if you've bombed or succeeded. Plus there's always the chance of groupies. Ahem.) I've seen a lot of good writing over the years, in small press magazines and elsewhere, and the number of writers who just dropped off the radar, never to be seen again, is unbelievable. Good writers, too. And why? Because: It. Takes. Work. Lots and lots of work.

Which brings me back to Catherine Gardner.

I first encountered Cate's fiction in the late 90s, when I co-edited a small press magazine called Unreal Dreams, and later a small anthology called Oktobyr. Back then you could see the writers who were influencing her, but there was always something individual about her writing that I liked. The second story I took from her for Oktobyr, 'As Though Strangers Passed', really showed that potential coming into action, and it stays with me even today.

Catherine's fiction is short and focused. Sometimes quirky and funny, sometimes very dark, it's never less than interesting. Do yourselves a favour and go check out her story Trench Foot for a glimpse of her in lighter mode. It's a beguiling little tale- funny and quirky, as mentioned before- but with a dark little heart to it. It's strong, assured work, the work of a writer with her own voice and focus. And how did she get there? Hard work. Well over a decade of it.

There's no quick fix, no short cut. You do the damned work.

Now for my mate Chris Wood. Many of you will already know his blog. If not, go check it out. Chris is one of the funniest guys I know- both in print and in real life. For evidence, look no further than Sherlock Holmes And The Underpants Of Death (and then buy the book off Amazon) or the wonderfully demented (or dementedly wonderful) Hunter S Thompson And The Temple Of Doom.

Here you see a writer working away, honing his style. Mark my words- one day soon, Chris is going to find his own voice and will become one of the best comic novelists out there. That's a prediction. (Mind you, I also thought the Sinclair C5 was gonna be big. But I was only about 9 at the time, so cut me some slack, huh?) So remember, you heard it here first.

Right, now go and check out the work of two damn good writers. That's all for now.