News Post -6-
Season’s Greetings. The calendar year is coming to an end and we have exited the age of mellow fruitfulness to run facelong into an icy gloom that would gladden a Narnian witch-queen. Morally we have also gotten colder. The new government has lost no time in reaffirming Tory values. The milk of human kindness has curdled into the cream cheese of I’m-alright-Jack. It pains my bitter, atheist heart to say this, but we really need the Christmas spirit this year…
So here’s the news since my last update (September, wasn’t it?). Lots to tell ya, so there is.
** In October I was invited to read a story out at the Halloween Shortfuse event. For those who don’t know, it’s Leicester’s best spoken word event. I contributed a vampire story that had previously appeared in The Avatar and also read a story by Northampton writer and playwright Stephen Loveless. Enjoyed the event immensely. Fellow Speculators Catherine, Damien and Will were also there (Will Ellwood also read out at the event). Later, I was invited to Polly Tucket’s birthday do (she organizes and compères Shortfuse). Excellent night. A round of applause from a public in fancy dress followed by birthday cake. Can’t ask for more, can you?
** My contribution to Sex & Murder (the magazine, of course).
** Nanowrimo came and went and a number of writers took up the insane challenge of writing a novel in a mere month. Madness! Surprisingly, a bunch of people actually made it. So congratulations to Maria, Sally and Lucy. Awesome achievement.
** Starbase Leicester goes from strength to strength. This Christmas they have an Annual out (just like the Beano or Viz, it’s a lovely thing). I have an article in it too.
** Leicester is crawling with film-makers. We’re going to need a big white HOLLYAYLESTONE sign or something. First, there’s Keith Large, who has had one of his ‘Laughs From Leicestershire’ plays adapted for the screen (By the aforementioned Stephen Loveless). Maria Smith has also had one of her short stories adapted (one previously published in The Speculator, edited by yours truly). Here’s the trailer for it, if I can work out how embedding works.
Furthermore, crime writer Rod Duncan is also engaged in a spot of film making (A production with the intriguing title of ‘£43’) and Graham Joyce’s new novel ‘The Silent Land’ has been optioned for Hollywood itself. This brings me to..
** The book-launch for ‘The Silent Land’ took place on December 14th at Kibworth Cricket Club (An impressive pavilion building). Graham kept it short and sweet, speaking for just a few minutes before letting the attendees – a surprisingly large number, I thought – get back to the bar, mulled wine and mince pies. The event was organized by the Kibworth independent bookshop. It was a great way to acknowledge the value of independent bookshops. Thanks to Selina and Jay for the lift there and back.
** Rumours are that Judith Allnatt’s excellent novel ‘The Poet’s Wife’ will feature on Waterstones’ 3 for 2 tables in the new year, coinciding with the books’ paperback release. Go get one.
** Novacon 40 came to Nottingham this year and I went to two days of the three day event. Really enjoyed the social side of it and got to chat to Iain M Banks and Charlie Stross – and nodded to Brian Aldiss as he walked by me. Sadly, Harry Harrison could not make it due to health problems. I was disappointed as I have a first edition of ‘The Stainless Steel Rat For President’ I wanted him to sign. It was a shame he couldn’t be there. I did enjoy talking to a bunch of new people (I bent the ear of the conference organizers to get them to come to Leicester), flinching with pain as James Worrad spent oodles of cash at the auction and the fire alarm on Sunday night. I even missed my train back…
** A recent news story has brought back a lot of memories, not all of them pleasant. A decade ago I was training as a languages teacher and spending a semester in Perpignan, learning French. From there it is just a hop across the border and an easy train journey to Barcelona where I still have family. There I managed to connect with a childhood friend (my next-door neighbour, no less). He was (and is) a successful editor at a major publisher. We met for drinks on a couple of occasions and he told me of some Spanish investigative journalists working in the old Yugoslavia who were now in hiding. They had stumbled upon a criminal organization involved in the trafficking of human organs to Western Europe. This group had links to governments, law enforcement and even the EU. These journalists had been threatened if they talked, but they relied on my friend to help bring these atrocities to light. Sad to say my friend and I parted on bad terms. It was all my fault. I was besotted with a woman I had no business getting involved with and behaved rudely and stupidly to a lot of people, including him. I was a total dick, in fact. Recently a report has emerged linking the president of Kossovo and the EU to a trade in human organs involving Serbian POW’s fattened up in hidden Kossovar jails, who were then killed and their organs sold on to private clinics in Germany, Scandinavia and Italy. I’d like to think that my friend had some part in exposing this sickening trade. In any event I’ll have to go back to Spain. I need to apologize to a good man and make amends.
** Finally, it’s a sad goodbye to Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) who passed away on Saturday. He was a true original and one of the most original voices in rock music. The name of this blog derives from one of his songs (‘The Floppybootstomp’ on his album Shiny Beast). Rest in peace, Don, it’s a poorer world now you have left us.