Monthly Archives: February 2012
Oh, it’s been a while since I updated you on stuff, hasn’t it? Too long I think, so I’ll try and do better job of things in future. Slackness is ever with me, raiding my fridge, messing up my DVD collection, forgetting to pay its half of the bills… So here goes a catchup. First few items are about the past, later ones about forthcoming events. Sure you’ll work it all out.
- Vampsov 38, my forthcoming novel, is proceeding through its edit. The first chapter has been done and the editor seems happy. Hope to plough on and get things done. I have an author page on facebook now (not that there’s much to say at the minute, but if you want to get in at the ground floor, so to speak…)
- I have a story coming up in a forthcoming anthology. All a bit hush-hush at the mo, which is a bit paradoxical, but heigh-ho.
- Phoenix writers is growing in numbers and scope. Already have 20 members on the E-mail list and have started work on getting a website, critique guidelines etc together. Excitig times.
- Still on Phoenix writers, Leah and Maria both completed Nanowrimo and Mary Essinger was featured on Radio 4s Womans Hour (talking about her non-fiction book ‘How to be a merry widow’). Leah also had some exciting news which might involve the future purchase of a double pushchair. Congratulations!
- Guillermo Sheridan, the Mexican author shared a comment on Floppybootstomp. Woohoo! So loved his book El Dedo de Oro, so happy he stopped by.
- The Brightside Cabaret is a new (to me) spoken word event gracing the fair city of Leicester. Must go and see them sometime. Shortfuse, as per usual, continues apace.
- My campaign to bring SF/Fantasy/Horror conferences to Leicester has worked! I am therefore solely responsible for the bringing of Alt.Fiction (April 14-15th) to the Phoenix and the Discover Festival (May 18th – 20th ) being brought to Coalville. In an act of magnanimous humility, I will be reading a short piece on the open mic at Alt.Fiction (seriously, thanks Adele Wearing for the opportunity!).
- March 17th also sees the now regular States of Independence small press bookfair taking place at De Montfort University. I’ll be going to catch up with friends and browse the bookstands. Always an enjoyable event. And on St Patrick’s day too.
- One of my fellow Speculators (Leicester’s foremost and only SF/Fantasy/Spec Fic writers group), has bagged themselves a top London Agent. Can’t say any more right now but it is thoroughly deserved as X’s writing is superb.
And that’s all for now. I leave you with a Carrotnapper short play, currently in play on a number of radio stations… enjoy.
As the author of a forthcoming WWII themed vampire novel, I am wholly relaxed with the concept of distorting history for the purposes of fun. Donna Barr’s Desert Peach is a great example of a fine imagination giving the historical record a sound thrashing. The comic book’s central conceit, that Erwin Rommel had a homosexual younger brother commanding a unit in the Afrika Korps during 1940-1943, is a delicious one. The Nazi aesthetic, a fashion that has long entranced and fascinated some (including otherwise laudable individuals like Lemmy off Motorhead), is rendered simply fabuloso. A great way to undercut the attraction of Nazi chic.
It also draws attention to the undercurrent of misogyny and homoeroticism deep within the fascist soul. In his amazing book Male Fantasies, Klaus Theweleit analyses this very subject. Looking into writings of members of the Freikorps (the predecessors of the Nazi party; unofficial armed units who set out to destroy communists, trade unionists and other labour organizations). Using Freudian (and post-Freudian) readings, Theweleit examines their autobiographies and memoirs, to find some very revealing tendencies (For a start these ‘soldiers’ can name almost every single member of their paramilitary band, their servants, aides de camp and officers. All of them described in minute detail. Their wives? Not a single one is given a name).
Back to Donna Barr. Desert Peach, which follows a rather camp SS officer by the name of Manfred Pfirsch Marie Rommel, his boyfriend and a series of misfits in a support unit based in North Africa. Some of the characters and most of the plots have quite a surreal edge and the art style contributes to this. A rather trippy sense of irreality pervades the whole thing. Certainly more to it than German sausage jokes and innuendo (although some of that does make its way in, so to speak).
Barr seems to have nailed aspects of a German (or mittleeuropean) sensibility in the strip. This is more obvious in her fantasy strip Stinz (centaurs in pre-WWI Germany and Austria). Peach is however, her most celebrated work. It has been collected in eight volumes and led to a spin-off novel Desert Swans (2005). The real kick I get from Deser Peach is the sheer audacity of the concept and how Barr stretches such rich narratives from an unreal standpoint.