A wee glance over the shoulder at last year before embarking upon the challenges of the new.
2021 was a painful time for so many people struggling with the loss of loved ones during the pandemic, amidst safety restrictions that kept us at a distance from one another. (Meanwhile, the UK government was hosting piss-ups at Downing Street. I hope the electorate will never forget this, but I don’t hold out much hope. The UK has collective memory loss at the best/worst of times, and certainly whenever a general election comes around again. Oh well.)
After losing my dear friend Marcus Campbell Sinclair to cancer in December 2020, this year also hit hard. Norman J Warren, friend, mentor & collaborator, and my old band mate and good friend Paulo Turin both left us far too soon. (COVID-19 killed Paulo after three weeks in the care of medical staff in the ICU in Brazil.) My heart goes out to their families and friends. I know I’ll miss them a lot. Please get vaccinated & boosted if you can. Wear a mask. Just do. Take good care of yourselves and others.
Like many, I found it hard to keep motivated creatively during 2021. My University teaching workload more than doubled with colleagues on sabbatical or off sick, and the pressures of online learning provision left little time or headspace for creative work. That said, it was still a pretty good year. I was promoted from Senior Lecturer to Reader. I supervised a student charity anthology – and Covid safety measures even relaxed enough to allow for a launch party event, which was a great way to reunite with the students and to celebrate their efforts. I wrote two feature length screenplays, published two short stories, and released a CD soundtrack (also in support of NHS charities). I published limited edition hardcovers of my back catalogue of novels. And I began work on my next novel, due out this year.
Film-wise, it was exciting to see so many film festivals coming back online and my folk horror film The Stay screened at 15 events, garnered 4 nominations and won 10 awards including Best Short at V.i.Z. Bulgaria, Best Short at Medusa Film Festival, Best Short at Cinestesya Portugal, and Best Horror at 4th Dimension in Bali. A pretty amazing year!
I enjoyed reading new (to me) voices such as Christa Carmen and Clare Castleberry, and re-reading some old classics this year (the highlights being Frank Herbert’s Dune, and F. Paul Wilson’s The Keep). Movies and box sets too numerous to mention kept the freak flag flying, and I was glad to be back in the cinema again for Dune, Halloween Kills, and the new Spidey adventure. The live immersive theatre of Doctor Who: Time Fracture made me feel like my bony old self again. Albums of the year were supplied by CHVRCHES, Duran Duran, and John Carpenter. Much as I tried to enjoy online gigs, a welcome return to real world concert-going couldn’t have come a moment sooner, with trips out-out to see The Sisters and The Nephs. 2022 is promising a full-blown tour (and maybe even an album!) by The Cure and I for one cannot wait.
Looking ahead to 2022, I am hoping that Chillercon UK will finally happen in-person. Contemporary Folk Horror in Film & Media (at Leeds Beckett) looks set to be an online event. That new novel I was talking about above will be published around Springtime. I won’t talk about other projects here… because i’ve learned the hard way that the more you talk them up, the less likely they are to happen!
So I’ll sign off for now by wishing a happy, healthy new year 2022 to you all!
Thanks so much to anyone who took the time to big up my film at a festival, or picked up one of my books and posted a rating/review on Goodreads or Amazon, liked/shared a post, or sent encouraging words or thank yous.
I appreciate the support more than you can ever know.
I’m sorry you lost loved ones this past year. Your Damnation Gothic Game novel is such a cool idea. I’m looking forward to reading it!
Thanks so much Priscilla, and a happy & healthy new year to you!
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