A Life Of Fiction CLXXXVII

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.

Introductions: Most books have an introduction (or is that only most books which I read?). It is often the first thing which people read, upon opening the book, unless they are the sort of person who skips over the introduction and goes straight to the text (and I must admit that I have done that, in the past). But it is an area which is often neglected. A bad introduction can put a person off; while a great introduction, while setting the mood, is still not always remembered by the constant reader.
I think that my favourite introductions are the ones written by the author, rather than having somebody else write for him. I like those introductions which Stephen King has written – but, then again, I have always been a big fan of his work. You want the author to introduce his own work. Sometimes he may even say something revealing about his book. Or her book, as the case may be. I’m not going to reproduce any Stephen King introductions here, as I have no desire to be sued by his publishers. But you should definitely check them out. While you’re at it, check out Stephen King On Writing.
I only began writing introductions after I began putting books on the Kindle store. Most of my early books do not have an introduction at all. I could always go back and write introductions for my early stuff. But I consider them to now be complete. Perhaps some other person can write introductions for them, after I am dead. I would probably disagree with the intro, anyway. Who knows the material better than the author himself?
Anyway, I think that it is time to give an example.
This is my introduction to the horror novel The Black Museum.

This novel is my attempt to do a long horror novel, one with a fair amount of detail; and set in New England. The novelist freely admits that he is a fan of Stephen King. But this novel is intended to be more than some mere pastiche. There is no point in trying to rip off your favourite author.
This is, rather, something which is inspired by my love of creepy stories set in New England – not just by King, but by a lot of other writers: H P Lovecraft, August Derleth, and many more.
I have been influenced by everything which I have ever seen and read. I’m not sure whether it’s possible not to be. And when I was a kid I was a fan of some of the old Hammer Horror movies, especially some of those which told several different tales in the film. Some of those tales featured cursed or haunted items, such as mirrors or dolls or the like. I like the idea of the McGuffins, and I have long wanted to do a novel featuring not one, but many such items. Is this that novel? Well, read on, dear reader, and find out.
PS: If you are reading this and your name is King, Stephen, or any combination thereof, this is intended as a tribute, and not some rip off or some creepy fan thing. And, yes, I have read Misery…

The above is, I admit, hardly the best introduction in the world. But it does tell the reader what to expect, without giving away too much of the plot.

I write a lot of introductions to my collections of poetry. Sometimes I almost feel that I write more words on the introduction than on the poetry. To give an example, here is the introduction from Songs of Bliss and Despair.

Another month, another collection of what passes for my verse, another search for a vaguely interesting title. The one which suggested itself to me was Songs of Bliss and Despair. I considered doing two collections – one called Songs of Bliss and the other called Songs of Despair. But, with the black cloud of depression which circles forever above me, I feared that Songs of Despair would fill up long before Songs of Bliss.
The title is supposed to echo William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. I am a big fan of the poetry of Blake, and consider him to be one of the greatest Britons who ever lived. His artwork is interesting, as well. Check out his stuff, if you have not already done so.
Tobogganing is quite an old poem. It is from an old notebook. But, for some reason, I never included it in any of my other collections. I like it, even if it is a bit simple. It can be considered to be a song of bliss. All of the others are more recent. The vast majority have been written specifically for this collection of verse.
Anyway, lets get on with the show.

That was the intro. I think that we have had enough of my introductions for a month. go and write some of your own.

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A Life Of Fiction CLXXXVI

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.

Like A Phoenix From The Ashes: Permission To Speak, the spoken word night which I used to attend once a months, has returned to its spiritual home after but a few short months. By which I mean that it has returned to Claptrap, which was once Scary Canary. Apparently the spoken word night, which had only ever been once a month, had decamped to the pub Katey Fitgerald’s. But I did not go there, down to Katey’s, because I was totally unaware that the spoken word night had survived. I thought that it had shuffled off this mortal coil, as things are wont to shuffle.
I noticed, one day, on the door of Claptrap, the events which were coming up. These events included Permission To Speak, of course. I was both surprised and happy to see it return, like a phoenix from the ashes. I saw the that Permission To Speak was to be on the Wednesday, just two days into what was then my future.
Of course I went along that Wednesday evening in September. Two of my TV programmes, Bones and Criminal Minds, had to be unwatched by me that evening. But what is television compared to a live event? I may not like leaving the house, due to my low level agoraphobia, but give me a poetry evening any time.
I saw many of the same people there. But there were a few new people who had come along. That was good. Permission To Speak was still growing in popularity under the stewardship of Rob Francis.
What to read out, though? That was the thing. I had considered the poems At Last, Skedaddle, The Flow, and This Is Modern Life. I had even taken Viking Saga Holiday with me, as it had gone down well the first time. But, in the end, I read out The Walled Garden, The Beer Drinker’s Rhyme and Ripper, Sickert (although not necessarily in that order). They seemed to go down well enough. Or maybe people were just being polite. I can never tell, and I know that my poetry is not the best in the world, even though it is the best that I can produce.
I think that I was one of the last people out of Claptrap that night, as I had a final beer at the end to celebrate the return of Permission To Speak. A kebab on the way home, and that was it, until the 11th of October. Permission To Speak plans to meet (usually) the second Wednesday of each month, although it may be different in December / Christmastime.
Here are the three poems I read out. I think that you can get all of the collections on Kindle for a pittance. The Walled Garden is from Gazing Into The Abyss. Ripper, Sickert and The Beer Drinker’s Rhyme are both from Dead Bird Song.

The Walled Garden

The garden walls have tumbled down,
The stones are lost among the weeds,
This garden has now gone to seed,
Pretty flowers have withered brown,
The fountains blocked by fallen leaves;
No hand remains to cut the grass,
Or clear the weeds from unwalked paths,
Or pick fresh fruit from off the trees,
Or drink the water of the streams.

This realm that’s steeped in age and myth,
Two trees it keeps; though old, they live.
One hand could pick the fruit they give,
But no one reaches for their gift;
For they have gone, the birds have flown,
The animals no longer play,
No one tends the garden today,
Its first stewards have been disowned,
So long has passed since they were there,
So long a garden without care.

Ripper, Sickert

I saw you standing by her bed,
Her eyes were vacant in her head,
Was she alive or was she dead?
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

Were you Walter or were you Jack?
Was there some facet that you lacked?
Did some warmth leave and not come back?
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

You loved the murders, loved them all,
There was no crime that could appal,
Were you feeding a savage call?
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

Dull browns, dark hues, they were your choice,
They told a tale with silenced voice,
Darkness pregnant that did rejoice,
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

Or was it nothing but oil paint?
These images of pain and taint?
Pretty pictures – well, they sure ain’t,
In Jack the Ripper’s paintings?

The Beer Drinker’s Rhyme

Twinkle, twinkle, little bar,
I see your lights on, from afar,
As I stumble down the road,
Looking for a beer to hold,
An ale to wash the world away,
If only for another day.

Next time I will be attempting to write about book introductions.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXXV

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.

Yet More On Writing: I’m sure that some of these observations I have made before, but writers do tend to repeat themselves, after all. So forgive me if you have heard this one before. I do need to write about something, after all, or see this WordPress blog dwindle away to nothing, as it has been threatening to do. So, words on screen.
On Adverbs: Adverbs are unpopular at the time. Agents and editors do not like writing with too many adverbs. For example, a sentence such as “He walked stealthily along the darkened corridor” is not the done thing, at least at the moment. Most editors would prefer a writer to lose the adverb, and come up with some verb which describes the action without the need for an adverb. You could write, for example, “He sneaked along the darkened corridor.”
Personally my view of this is entirely at odds with the current trend to attack adverbs. I think that they have their place in writing, and that it is illogical to attack something which is basically a tool. But, before following my views on this, perhaps you should reflect on the fact that I am still an unpublished writer, a situation which is unlikely to change in the near future. So, perhaps, you should still endeavour to excise adverbs for your magnum opus. You have been warned. I just hope that they do not have a similar attack on adjectives.
What else? I have heard say that it is wrong to split the infinitive, as in To boldly go where no man has gone before. But, after reading books by David Crystal, I discovered that the infinitive has been split long before Star Trek came along. There are those who will look snootily down their noses at you if you do it. But not splitting the infinitive was fashion as much as anything else (or perhaps fascism, in the literary sense). What matters is whether your sentences are comprehensible or not. Read them out to yourself and see if they make sense, or whether they could be misconstrued by the reader. It really does help to read out aloud what you have written. If it does not sound write; if the word structure is ugly, then change it, until you are happy with the end result.
Even better, read them out to somebody else, as long as you don’t mind a bit of criticism (and the occasional bit of laughter). But don’t read your writing out loud if you are in a crowded public house and what you are writing is erotica. That, though, should really be obvious.
I think that words are meant to be heard, and not just read.
The next time I will be writing about the return of Permission to Speak.

A Life of Fiction CLXXXIV

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.

I have been away: I have been away. Not literally, only figuratively speaking. But, of late, my mind has not really been on my writing, not for the past year or so. During that period I have completed only two novels, and those were only for the last year’s NaNoWriMo. That might sound like a lit of writing, considering that both novels were written during the month of November. But it’s not: not really, if you put your mind to it, you could do many more words than that while, hopefully, not having a drop off in quality. And it is that last bit of the equation which is the most important. There is no point ion writing a novel if you know that it is not going to be any good. Quality over quantity, says the writer with the literary diarrhoea. Always strive to make sure that what you do is the best of which you are capable.
Since NaNoWriMo I have started two long novels, and not completed either. Both novels reached a stage where I was not sure what came next. I know how both novels are going to end. But the correct words are not yet there in my mind. They remain half-formed.
I had an idea for a third novel. But I was not going to try and write it in one go, just in case I failed again. No, I decided to try a slightly different approach. What would otherwise have been failure number three is to be written as a series of five short novellas, with each of the five novellas planned to between twenty thousand to forty thousand words. By the time that you read these words the first of those five novellas should be completed, although I intend to write all five before putting them on Kindle. All five are fully planned out, right up to those words The End, so beloved of editors and wordsmiths.
I’m not sure if, after completing volume one, I shall go straight to volume two of what is tentatively titled The Cocteau Bomb. Perhaps I will. But I am hoping that the buzz which I still get for completing stuff will be so inspiring that I will return to those two unfinished novels – Psionex 328 and The Sound of Falling Dust – and plough on with them. I have only completed around thirteen thousand words on the first novel, but The Sound of Falling Dust is about half-completed. And I hate leaving something half-completed. I guess that only time will tell if those two novels get completed, or if they continue to hang around on my computer’s hard drive, mocking me for my inability to finish them.
In the next post I will discuss writing, in general, yet again.

 

Sorry for the gap between posts, have been ill.

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.

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.