A Life Of fiction CLXXXIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

The Call of Cthulhu: Recently I have been writing some Cthulhu Mythos short stories, at the same time as writing scenarios for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. For those unfamiliar with the term Cthulhu Mythos it was a term coined to describe the horror stories of H P Lovecraft and others. Lovecraft was a horror writer of the early twentieth century, active as a writer from 1917 until his death in 1937. His stories were tales of dark, alien gods who had ruled Earth back before mankind gad evolved, and which one day might rule again. Cthulhu himself was a great, tentacled squid thing, with a massive, humanoid body, but others were so strange and alien in form that they could not be conceived by our minds without us going insane. Insanity features heavily in Lovecraftian fiction, with many protagonists losing it once they finally realise the true nature of reality.
I read a lot of Cthulhu Mythos short stories when I was a teenager, short stories not just by H P Lovecraft but also the mythos tales of Robert E Howard, Brian Lumley, Clark Ashton Smith and others. Some aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos have become almost ubiquitous in horror, with the book the Necronomicon, invented by H P Lovecraft, being used in many books and horror films, such as the Evil Dead movies.

Anyway, I had written a couple of Cthulhu Mythos short stories in the past, ones which I have already self-published. But it was when I decided to run the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game for my friends that I decided to write more Cthulhu mythos fiction – but not just short stories, but also short scenarios for the game. I wanted the sort of scenarios which could easily be played through in a single evening, as we don’t get to roleplay every week. The published scenarios are great. But a lot of them are campaigns, rather than something brief.

I find that by writing Cthulhu horror short stories that I get ideas for the scenarios, and vice versa. One feeds the other. As my writing had been feeling particularly uninspired of late I am happy to find anything which might bring ideas into my mind, and get the joy of writing back into my veins.

Will I finish a collection of Cthulhu Mythos short stories which is long enough to self-publish? Ah, there’s the rub. I don’t know. Perhaps I will run out of steam before it is complete. But maybe not, if the RPG sessions go well. As it is the incomplete collection of tales, so far, is up to twenty-five thousand words. But I would want it to be about three times as long before sticking it on Kindle.

Here follows a Call of Cthulhu scenario idea. It is very short, probably © Chaosium, and intended to be played through in a single evening. It is based on a short story which I published a few years ago. The adventure is based in Arkham in the 1920s, but the time period or the location could easily be changed by the Keeper.

The Wasps In The Walls

In this scenario the adventurers investigate after a person is stung to death; and then the exterminator is killed, as well. Thus the adventurers will know that they are dealing with wasps, and can take actions to protect themselves. But these wasps no longer act like normal wasps. They have developed an occult intelligence, due to having munched on some Cthulhu Mythos tomes.

Read to the players: There has been a somewhat strange event in Arkham, in East Church Street, at the private address of one David Plummer. One of the neighbours, after hearing a scream, investigated, to find Plummer dead on the floor. It appeared that he had been stung to death by wasps. But there was no sign of the creatures. Fearing that there was some wasp infestation in the place the Arkham authorities called in an exterminator. But, following another scream, it was discovered that the exterminator was dead, as well. Again there was not any sign of any wasps. Since then, the house has been boarded up. But it is clear that the danger cannot be over.

David Plummer lived at 193 East Church Street, next to a gift shop. His death was reported in the Arkham advertiser, one of two local Arkham newspapers.
The characters can try researching Plummer, to see if there was anything strange about him.

The neighbours (after a Fast Talk roll or equivalent) will tell the characters that Plummer was a quite, unassuming person. He worked as an actuary. As far as they knew there was nothing odd about him. He did not work in Arkham.

The characters can travel to the insurance company where he worked, if they so desire, but they will not discover anything odd about Plummer. They will be told that that he was a quiet, unassuming person, who simply got on with his job.

The neighbour who found Plummer was his next door neighbour, Wilfred Stannart, from number 191 East Church Street. Stannart will have the additional information that he saw a hammer beside Plummer’s dead body. It looked like he was doing some work, or had just done some work, when he was killed.

The police will not know anything about him (Fast Talk or Law to speak to them). He has never been in trouble with the law.

If the characters research 193 East Church Street they will have more success. Going back in the city records (Library Use) they will discover that before David Plummer the inhabitant of the house was a man by the name of Stanley Kramer.

Asking around (Fast Talk) with Plummer’s neighbours will get the old Mrs Edith Winkler, the owner of the gift shop, to say that Kramer was a very strange individual. He claimed to be an anthropologist. But he never seemed to leave the house. She saw strange people call in on him, though, often late at night. One time one of the people entering his house was wearing black robes with funny symbols on it. Another time she heard chanting, in an unknown language, coming from his rooms.

If the characters make an Occult roll they will have heard the name of Stanley Kramer as somebody who was interested in the occult. But they will not know anything more than that.

If the characters want to get in his house then they will have to remove the boards which have been put up at the door of the abode.

If the characters show no interest in the house then have local people in a position of authority ask for their assistance. Eventually, though, the characters should go inside number 193 East Church Street.

It takes only a STR x 5 roll to get the boards off the front of the house.

Read to the players: Inside the house is dark [due to the boards up at the windows] and quiet. There is no buzzing. There is no sign of any wasps, living or dead.

David Plummer had been putting up a picture when he was killed. A Search roll will uncover the fact that, behind one of the pictures on the wall (a picture of a country scene), the wallpaper is the same colour as the rest of the wall. Had the picture been up for any length of time you would have expected the coloration to be different. (INT x 5 to work it out, if they can’t work it pit for themselves0.

The characters, as they search the place, will be observed. A wasp will keep watch on them. It will not attack them. But it will report back to the others if it looks like the other wasps might be endangered. It will take a very low Spot roll to notice the wasp.
Initially, at least, the player characters will find nothing amiss, as the two dead bodies were removed, before boarding up the house. As long as the wasps are not disturbed they will not bother the characters, but attempt to stay hidden.

Inside one of the walls of the house (the one with the picture) there are the remains of three old books. The pages of the books have been eaten away by the wasps. The wasps have chewed on the pages, and used them to build their nest inside the walls. Only the covers of the books remain. Eating the books has infected the wasps with an unholy intelligence.

The wasps took the nail coming through the walls as an attack on them by Plummer. They decided to defend themselves. the wasps are now intelligent enough to have known that the exterminator was trying to kill them.

The first of the books hidden inside the wall is called Unaussprechlichen Kulten. There is just about enough of the pages inside to confirm the fact that the book had been written in German.

The second book is called Ponape Scripture. The book was written by Captain Abner Ezekiel Hoag.

The last book was The King in Yellow.

None of the details are given on the books as the books are unreadable, having been eaten away by the wasps.

The wasps can make sounds approaching human speech. If the characters Listen to the correct wall (the one with the wasp nest, and the hidden remains of the books) they might hear strange noises, unlike the buzzing of wasps.

Read to the players: Putting your ear to the wall you can hear something. It is not the buzzing which you had expected to hear. It sounds more like Cth… ch’t… ch’t… c’tah or C’tul hu ch’t c’tah.

It might be around now that the characters either retreat, to consider what to do next, or to try to break through the lathe and plaster to get at the wasp nest.

If the characters do try to break through the wall a swarm of wasps will come out into the room. This will take one round. Anybody in the room will have that round in which to retreat, or face the fury of the wasps.

The wasps attack as a single swarm. Do enough damage to the swarm and it will lose its unholy intelligence, and any surviving wasps will simply become wasps again. Normal attacks have very little effect on the swarm, though: hitting the swarm with a hand weapon, or trying to shoot it with a bullet, will not do any damage at all.

If a person is attacked by the swarm they will be reduced to half speed, as they try to fight off the swarm.

A person with a phobia of wasps will automatically panic if attacked by the wasps. Other characters directly attacked (i.e. being stung that round) can roll their POW x 5 not to panic. They may check each round that they are attacked. Once they stop panicking they will be able to run out of there.

The swarm of wasps will not pursue the characters outside of the house. They consider it to be their castle.

Wasp Swarm
STR: 1
CON: 10
SIZ: 10
INT: 7
POW: 10
DEX:
Move:
HP: 10
Damage bonus: None (would be -1d6)
Weapons: Sting, 80% no damage but delivers venom. 2 points of poison damage (CON roll for half). This warm can attack over and over again.
Armour: None. But normal attacks do not affect the wasps, because of the nature of the swarm. Bullets and melee attacks will go straight through. Shotgun bursts will hit the swarm, but will do minimum damage. Fire, magic spells, and poisonous aerosols will do full damage.
Spells: The wasps have learned spells through ingesting the books in the walls. The only useful spell which they know is Create Barrier of Naach-Tith. But, because it is hard for them to speak, they only have a 30% chance of successfully casting the spell. Thus they will only try to use the spell if the characters retreat, and then try to return to the house.

The characters, at some stage (whether before or after being attacked by the wasps) should go and equip themselves with the sort of weapons necessary for dealing with a swarm. Once the swarm has been dispersed the characters will be able to safely break through the wall of the house, discover the covers of the mythos books, and destroy the wasp nest. That is all that they have to do.

If the characters take their time in coming back (should they take two attempts to get rid of the wasps) they might discover a mystical barrier around the wasp nest, though.

Rewards: if the characters defeat the wasps in the walls they should each get a sanity point. They get nothing else other than the satisfaction of dealing with the wasps.

What happens next is up to the characters. It depends on whether they have encountered any Cthulhu Mythos books before. If they have, then they might think it interesting that the wasp behaviour was changed after eating Cthulhu Mythos books. Perhaps one of the characters might write a monograph on that fact.

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A Life Of fiction CLXXXII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

How To Avoid Writing A Novel: If you want to get finished don’t do this…

Go for a long walk in the countryside, allegedly looking for that Wordsworth moment.

Take short coffee breaks which end up being half an hour long.

Put on something like Final Fantasy VII ‘just for a few minutes’ even though you know that it is never just for a few minutes.

Set yourself a set number of words a day and then not stick to your own schedule.

Spend all morning reading the newspaper, no matter how interesting the articles might be.

Claim that you are feeling too ill to write, due to the hangover from going out into the pub the night before and getting absolutely tanked. It’s only a headache, take some Paracetomol.

Forever edit and re-edit what little you have written, rather than getting more words down on paper.

Convince yourself that you are suffering from writer’s block when the truth is that you are only lazy.

Go to Comicon, instead, to talk about your work.

Begin working on some side project, instead, and claim that it is the greatest thing that you have ever done.

Say that the time is not right for the new novel.

Go on tours around the world promoting your early, better work.

Write blogs on the internet about writing, and put your ill-formed and ill-informed ideas towards your daily word count.

Have some sort of mental breakdown, but not the sort where you have to go away to some medical facility.

Tell everybody that your main job simply takes up too much time for you to get that unfinished novel out of the sock drawer, even though you know that that is not true.
Combinations of the above.

I do not, of course, suggest that any prospective writers out there follow any of the ‘advice’ listed above. But, at some time in your literary career, you may find yourself doing some of the above. I am not the only one who has had problems in finishing novels. There are a lot of people waiting for George R R Martin to write the next book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series, more commonly known as Game of Thrones. Will that novel ever appear? I suspect that not even George R R Martin knows that at the moment, although, of course, he would never admit that.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXXI

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Fiction In A Post-Truth World: Now we are all creators of fiction, whether on Fox News or on Facebook or in our blogs or elsewhere. Some claim the fake news to be the truth; and some of the biggest creators of fake news are the ones who claim that it is the liberal elite press who are lying. I don’t really want to get into politics here, as my very left of centre politics would no doubt offend a lot of people. No, instead, I wonder what the challenges are for authors in a world where there are fake news and alternative facts.
Does this make being a writer of fiction easier or harder, when you can no longer even trust sites which claim to carry the news? We have competition. Some of the things which have been claimed to be true are ones which I would never put in a story, because I know that people would not be able to suspend their disbelief.

I could not have written a short story where an American President was responsible for the rise of Al Qaeda or ISIS. It would not have been believable. I would not have expected my readers to suspend their disbelief. Yet Barack Obama was accused of doing just that.
Perhaps I should try writing something even more unbelievable than what I have written in the past. Maybe I will – after I have finished some of the many incomplete short stories I have on the go at the moment. I must try and finish that which I have started.

It is odd when truth becomes stranger than fiction. It is not just the election of a demagogue. Occasionally some very strange things occur. I don’t mean urban legends here, but the sort of things which can be proved. Some of them are by accident, some are by design.

Chance, itself, is stranger than most people think, unless you have a grounding in mathematics. I like mathematics, but I never went beyond an O Level grade. But I think that I am correct in saying that if you have at least thirty people in a pub it will be odds on that two of them will share a birthday. You might think that the chance would be around one in twelve. But such things are not doled out randomly. True random distribution can cause clusters to arise. If you don’t understand the strangeness of reality, and chance, you can get confused, and put those clusters down to things where a causal link has not been proved: cancer clusters and phone masts, suicide clusters and Facebook posts, and so on. those things do occur, even though they can look non-random.
Chance, though, generally only occasionally impinges on the fake news items. Some of the fakes are by design, to lead us astray politically. It was reported, in years back, that the EU were banning some bananas for being too bendy. That was nothing but a bit of an anti-TU propaganda by the then journalist, Boris Johnson. It was not in any way true. All that the EU did was to grade bananas on size and quality. At no stage was there ever any suggestion that any bananas should be banned. It was nothing but a lie, designed to sell newspapers, and appeal to some people’s innate dislike of the EU.

It is pretty easy to represent such lies in a story. Invent something ridiculous and have some self-aggrandizing fool repeat it, such as saying that the British government has a secret prison for terrorists on the top of Rockall, or that George ‘Dubya’ Bush really did choke to death on a pretzel, and the rest of his presidency was under a look-alike. Or that Donald Trump is a Manchurian Candidate (Or, in this case, Muscovian).

A large minority of American voters did vote for Donald Trump. Sorry to keep going back to this, but I found the American election fascinating. Did people vote for Trump because they believed what he said? Was it an anti-Clinton vote? Or did they vote purely on party lines, and simply because he was the official Republican candidate? Would they have voted for anyone?

Bernie Sanders has called Donald Trump a pathological liar. My fear is that a lot of Trump supporters will end up being disappointed; and that, because of the checks and balances of the American system, that a lot of what trump claimed was going to happen simply will not come about. I fear that those in the Rust Belt who either do not have a job, or have a very well-paid one, will not see their living conditions increase.

Trump did not have the greatest sized crowd turn out for his ‘coronation’. Fake news. the crowds for Obama were bigger. Jus compare the pictures if you don’t believe me. It was a cold day in January. What does it matter who had the biggest numbers? But, I guess, for Trump, such things do matter. He doesn’t like the idea of not being all that popular. He is the sort of person who needs to feel loved. He accuses the Press of telling lies when, in truth, it is the other way around.

I don’t like Trump. But I understand why so many Americans voted for him, and I was not the least bit surprised when he defeated Hillary Clinton.

So how do you write fiction in a world where you cannot be certain what is true or not? Well, you can make your novels even more fantastical. They are not just a series of unfortunate events. Invent the most fantastical thing which you can imagine before breakfast. Then stick it in your novel.

If you want some politician who is a serial killer then have a politician who is a serial killer. First, research the psychology of such characters, so that your literary treatment of the character is believable. Then imagine where combining politics and psychopathy will take your story, and go there. You may find that your character ends up behaving like quite a few politicians (both American and English). I won’t say who they are because I have no desire to be sued for libel.

This may sound odd, but make sure that you fully research such fantastical things. Plan it all out. Lies are more easily accepted if they stick to their own internal logic. Sometimes people are willing to accept simple lies rather than complex truths (see the debates against global warming, for example). People are also far more willing to accept things which are untrue if they are wrapped up in a conspiracy (man did not walk on the moon, Kennedy was killed by the man on the grassy knoll, our burning of massive amounts of fossil fuel is not heating up the atmosphere, and so on). We like the idea of the truth being kept from us by the government, even if, in the back of our minds, we know that most governments are too inept to keep much secret.

Remember, that however fantastical you make your tales, truth can often be stranger than fiction.

The next post will be on how to avoid writing a novel.

A Life of Fiction CLXXX

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Goodbye Scary Canary: By the time that you read these words Scary Canary will be gone as a venue. Which means, of course, no more Permission To Speak (at least not there).
The Scary Canary was never my favourite venue in the entire world. But I was beginning to like it. The announcement, at the final Permission To Speak, that it was to close came as a shock to me, as I had thought that it was doing reasonably well. But, apparently, the person who owned the venue wanted to concentrate on her artwork, rather than run an interesting venue like the Scary Canary.

The Scary Canary was never just about Permission To Speak, of course. That only took place once a month. It was primarily a bar, although lots of other activities took place there, such as live music, films, open like nights, and board games. There aren’t many pubs around Stourbridge which did all that. But it was the spoken word night, once a month, which was the only one which really interested me. It had become about the only time that I ever went out.

Rob, the guy who ran the Permission To Speak evenings, is hopeful about finding some other venue for Permission To speak. But I am less hopeful than he is. There aren’t all that many decent places in Stourbridge. There’s Katie Fitzgerald’s, and the Duke William, and that is about it. But I don’t know if Eddie (at Katie’s) or Steve Craddock (at the Duke) would be interested in a monthly spoke word night. Besides, I don’t think that the Duke is really big enough, considering how many people we had at Scary Canary for the final Permission To Speak. Rob had really built up Permission To Speak over the couple of years that it had been running. The place was packed.

So I’m not sure if I will ever read out my poetry again. If Permission To Speak moves too far afield I simply will not be able to get there, with my fear of going on buses. It is possible that I will never say any of my poetry out loud. Which some people will say is not a great loss, I suppose.

Had I known, beforehand, that Scary Canary was coming to an end I might have chosen some different poems to read out. But that last night I took along a couple of poems from a recent collection (Thieves of the Amazon).

There is (as I write these words) to be a Permission To Shut Up, the final ever poetry at the Scary Canary. I think that I will go along to that, and do two or three poems. They will be ones which I have had good feedback to. I’m not sure, yet, which poems I will do. Maybe Waiting For Shelley will be one of them.

Anyway, here are the two poems, Cancelled and Birdsong Has Died, which I read out on the final regular Permission To Speak. Cancelled is, obviously, about the railway. Birdsong Has Died is about the American Passenger pigeon being hunted to extinction. The last ever Passenger Pigeon, Martha, died in Cincinnati zoo. It is something which has come up in my writing before now. The main hero in The Black Museum, I think, was writing a book about somebody writing a book which was partly about the extinction of those birds.

PS: Since writing this post Permission to Speak is back, at Claptrap.

Cancelled

Drizzle across the train tracks, sleepers wet;
The announcement has not come out, as yet;
Eyes glance down at digital watches, phones,
Wondering where the train is. Machine tones
Break through the muttered complaints, telling folk
The train is cancelled. Oh what a joke!
But no one laughs. There’s a collective groan;
The passengers feel that they should have known.
Just one more fuck-up from these privateers,
Profit-led pirates of the Tory years.
Nothing will change while the system remains,
So burn it down, scatter the cremains,
And start all over again.

Birdsong Has Died

Do not go down there, to that place
For the birdsong has died
Do not ask questions of my face
Or forgive my lack of grace
When silence echoes through the skies.

We shot them down, all over the lands
Killing them in myriad hordes
Guns firing in a thousand hands
And we all thought it grand
That an entire species should die.

Once millions arced through the blue
Passengers on the wind
Skies darkened as those victims flew
Now not even in Cincinnati zoo
Can those pigeons be found.

A Life Of fiction CLXXIX

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

On Stage: On stage at Permission To Speak the light is in my eyes, but I don’t want to see the audience anyway; just say the words which I have rehearsed inside my head. Tell them that I have my own WordPress site – not that any of them are going to check it out. They are very kind but I am not them and they are not me. Just recite old poems from years ago, because I hardly ever write new ones which I like.
The lines above were quickly scribbled down one first Thursday of the month, when I was at Permission To Speak, the spoken word night which occurs once a month at the Scary Canary in Stourbridge. I was trying to capture the way that I felt at the time, as remembrances of events are not always accurate. You think that they are. But they are not. Sometimes we choose to misremember things, for all manner of reasons.
I went on the stage to do three of my poems. I was stressed out, of course, but I feel stressed out almost every moment of my life. Anyway, I only went on after I had had three pints or so. Without that beer inside me I doubt whether I would have stood up to do my doggerel. Going out once a month to Permission To Speak is now the only time that I go out to be among people who I don’t really know. That, in itself, is stressful. I don’t go out to the pub otherwise. My friends have lost interest in such pursuits. They would rather drink around their houses. But that is their loss, I guess. Occasionally I like to get out of the house.

Anyway, these are the three poems I read out:

Pariahs

No tickertape parade for the Euro dragon slayed
By the kitten heels Boudicca
Wise sages burrow their minds into the Pink Un
While their Nostradamic prognostications
Are decried as unpatriotic verbiage.
But we have no vision but television,
No imagination beyond our own ambits
No skill in gambits
Trying to play draughts with pawns.
And I giggle at the disaster lurching towards Yeats’ Bethlehem
And the falcon with labyrinthitis
I can see it coming
I can see it looming
But it does not fit their dogma
And now they are wilfully dooming
Us all to being pariahs in the cold.

Alchemical Wedding

Supernova dust congealed around your finger,
Marking you down for all eternity.
Blow a kiss at your significant other,
Lips touching air molecules that have
Always been and always will –
From Big Bang to Entropic Freeze;
Just like most relationships, then.
Every proton in every atom of your body
Was formed in suns and supernovae;
They will continue forever –
Flesh to dust to new life to dust:
Atomic reincarnation, physical nirvana.
There is no death, only a transformation.
A geas linking you forever,
While music plays in the background,
A wedding march on superstrings
Life is but a melody
But did you catch the tune?

Raven-frost

The raven-frost
Black talons stealing warmth
Pecking at the stones
The crumble-time dust of aeons lost.

Abandoned sepulchres
New parliaments for the sky-folk
Beady intelligence dissecting our mistakes.
Raving
Laughing at our fooldom.

Ice-beak
Cold heart exhuming the entrails of fading desires
De-winged, we can no longer fly
As they do

And we let the cold still
The fluttering of inner-fires.

 

A Life of Fiction CLXXVIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Tapping Into The Darkness Within: Sometimes I am almost consumed by the darkness inside me, at self-destructive part of my personality which I carry around with me, and which I will carry around with me for the rest of my life. At those times I could wallow in despair, or o could actually try and use the darkness as a creative force. I try to choose the second option.
I try and let my depression power my poetry. I get a lot of bad poetry out of it. But it does help in exorcising my darker emotions. Sometimes, too, I get some piece of poetry which is not too bad, and which I feel that I can stick in one of my collections. But there is no way in which anybody would ever want to read everything which I have written, when powered by the darkness within. Nobody wants to read poem after poem on depression, darkness, and suicidal thoughts.
Writing is, of course, a distraction away from my personal darkness. When I am being creative I tend to forget how I feel, at least for a short while. It becomes all about the words. Writing is therapy, at least in part.
Some of my writing is, I guess, very depressing. But I try to limit the darkness breaking out in my words. I try to limit it to my poetry, rather than my novels or my short story writing. I don’t moan about being depressed on Twitter. Please shoot me if I start doing that.
Sometimes, when I am trying to exorcise the darkness within me, I will hit a purple patch, and I find myself writing poem after poem, and not just about depression or suicide or stuff like that. No, I knock off poems about all of the injustices of the world which concern me, whether how the Irish were treated in the past, or the futility of war, or kitchen sink murders, or whatever I feel driven to write about.
Despite that, though, I would rather not have this depressing darkness in the first place.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXVII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Working my way through Dick: I am not trying to be rude here. The Dick in the title is the science fiction author Philip K Dick, who is one of my favourite authors of all time. I am currently working my way through his short stories and novels. I am reading Eye In The Sky at the moment, and I have Cantata 140 (The Crack In Space) lined up when that is finished.
Books I have already read include The Man In The High Castle, Radio Free Albemuth, Dr Bloodmoney or How we Got Along After The Bomb, Counter-Clock World, Solar Lottery, The World Jones Made, The Penultimate Truth, The Simulacra, Martian Time-slip, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, Our Friends From Frolix 8, and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
One of the reasons for my mentioning my love of Philip K Dick in my blog is because I think that Philip Kindred Dick was a great writer. His books are brimming with ideas. His books have been adapted into movies – some of them great, some of them less so. Minority Report was not a bad film, and Blade Runner (the filmed version of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep) is one of my favourite films of all time. The original version of Total Recall, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was not bad. I did not think that the remake was that great, though. The plot does not even take them to Mars. It moved a bit too far away from the source material for my liking. And when Philip K Dick is adapted for the cinema the film producers, for some reason, rarely stick closely to Dick’s original (in this case We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), as though they do not trust the source. The film which is supposed to be closest to the source material (I haven’t read the book yet) is the Rotoscoped A Scanner Darkly, featuring Keanu Reeves. I must find the original and check it out.
Another reason for mentioning Philip K Dick in this post is because I guess that he has been a big influence on my work, even though we possess different writing styles. I am not so stupid as to try to write in the style of some other author. At best you produce a pastiche; at worst it is unreadable rubbish. But I have been influenced by Philip K Dick. Once I wrote a short story where the plot, I felt, was the sort of plot which Dick might have wrote, although I was not trying to rip him off. The story, actually, had its origin in a dream which I had. It is called Are You Dreamworthy? I am currently in the process of turning the original short story into a novella, although I have no idea as to when it might be completed. It is kind of on hiatus at the moment, as I work on other unfinished projects. But I will go back to it and finish it at some stage. I’m not sure when, though, as my creative juices are pretty low, at the moment.
Anyway, there are those out there who like to know what people are reading at the moment, and what I am doing is reading Philip K Dick. Why don’t you do the same?