Category Archives: personal post

Happy #WBD2015 – what are you reading today?

Happy World Book Day 2015.

Here’s my current reading pile (a couple more on the go on my Kindle too).

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What have you got your nose into today?


R.I.P. Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream founder

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So sad to hear that we lost Edgar Froese today, who died aged 70.

I was lucky to see him play live with Tangerine Dream twice and even luckier to meet him briefly one rainy night in London. He was a gracious, gentle man. And the music…that throbbing, pulsating, organic machine sound that is TD’s and TD’s only. It has been the soundtrack to so much of my writing over the years and i’m grateful for it. Ever since my teacher played Phaedra to us in class (a tradition I have continued in the classes I now teach) Edgar’s visionary soundscapes have provided an engine for my dreams and nightmares. I particularly love the film scores – in tribute I’ve shared three faves below.

A pioneer of electronic music, Edgar’s passing will be mourned by fans worldwide.

In his words:

“There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address.” (Edgar Froese)

http://youtu.be/T355t3WBZ0E

http://youtu.be/91DuxjzlLLU

http://youtu.be/G_-R4nir7Cs


Halloween Greetings from the Pumpkin Patch

I always wanted a pumpkin patch.

My earliest Halloween memory is of Trick or Treating with a hollowed out turnip dangling from a string that threatened to snap as the candle flame licked at it and my tender young fingers. Actual pumpkins were in short supply when i was a kid (back in the late 1800s). But they became easier to pick up as the years rolled by, and are now a seasonal staple in farm shops and supermarkets across the land.

My first attempt at growing my own jack o’lanterns took place two decades later in a tiny, urban garden in the heart of Camden Town, London. The soil composition was mostly thick clay and cat poo, so it was a miracle when one green little fruit appeared – and not at all surprising when it died a week later.

Fast forward another decade and here we are at Lee Cottage. It’s our second Halloween out here in the countryside (…the October Country, if you will) and as the Season of Mists fast approached I was more determined than ever to give growing pumpkins another go.

We started them off in my office, on the windowsill that gets the sun. I read M.R. James Ghost Stories to them to get them germinating, and pretty soon we had four viable plants. We planted the best three of them outside and, after a lot of feeding and watering and slug wrangling, got two lovely pumpkins per plant.

The smaller ones we ate in September (one roasted in a risotto, the other souped up) had a very mellow flavour. But October’s batch has ripened much more, with that classic earthy sweetness.

Our biggest, prize pumpkin will be carved up by our two little monsters today. I like to think my sons will, like their Dad, marvel at the fact that they are scooping seeds from a pumpkin that we grew from a seed.

And at this special time of year (when the cycle of life, death, and birth is embedded in our Samhain rituals and customs) i can’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate than with a pumpkin plucked from my very own patch.

I always wanted a pumpkin patch.

Well, at long last i got one. And next year, it’ll be bigger.

Happy Halloween to you and all your pumpkins. Young or old, shop-bought or hand-cultivated, enjoy them!


Dr. Download or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Book Pirates

ebook piracy - yarrr? or aarrrgh?

ebook piracy – yarrr? or aarrrgh?

Just popping out of summer vacation hibernation (or “writing” as i like to call it) for a quick blog post on the touchy subject of internet piracy.

I meant to post this sooner (but i’ve been writing, see above), following an interesting debate on Farcebook sparked by an alert sent out to a bunch of authors whose books were listed on an illegal download site.

For a long time, I’ve held the belief that people downloading my books for free were stealing from me and taking the food from my family’s table. (and look no further than Brian Keene’s impassioned, insightful post on this aspect of internet piracy)

But i was also painfully aware that piracy is inevitable in this day and age and could, in effect, provide a free marketing campaign for an author’s work. (who else but Neil Gaiman can sum this up for us so eloquently?)

Then author/filmmaker/all-round-mighty dude John “yer pal” Skipp showed me the way, and the light. He said (by the way I, ahem, stole the following quote from the aforementioned Farcebook debate thread):

The thing is: the first time I got file-shared, I went fucking ballistic. I got ahold of the perps, took out my psychic reaming tools, and gave them a good what-for. Once I was done screaming, they kinda shrugged and went, “Okay. We took it down. Didn’t mean to piss you off. Take care.” And by the end of the conversation, I felt kind of like the dad who finds his kids partying in the rec room and loses his shit. They didn’t actually break anything. They just got high and watched TV. I never liked that dad, and sure as shit never wanted to be him. And that’s when my perspective began to change. I guess what I’ve come to accept is that a lot of my readers are outlaws. You make outlaw art, you get outlaw fans. GO FIGGER! (John Skipp)

Outlaw books, outlaw readers. Hadn’t thought of it that way before.

And then Carlton Mellick III added (again, quote stolen from Farcebook):

Two things to keep in mind: 1) these people wouldn’t be buying your book if it wasn’t free. It costs you nothing, but you might gain a reader who might spread the word about your work or start buying your work in the future. 2) most file-sharers are also the biggest consumers. I admit that I download stuff all the time, but I also spend at least $1000 a month on books, movies, comics, video games, and mp3s…mostly by creators I discovered through free downloading. (Carlton Mellick III)

An interesting distinction. These people wouldn’t be buying your book anyway.

I took a peek at one pirate site and one of my novels has had over 1,000 illegal downloads. That would buy a lot of groceries for my family if the pirates were to buy those books. But they’re not. They never intended to buy the book, and if no pirate copy was available they still wouldn’t buy it either. They’d just go on to the next available title.

But now they’ve read it, maybe they’ll recommend it to others, leave a glowing/or damning Goodreads review, or  (saints preserve us!) maybe even buy my next book.

 

That’s how it is now, so maybe we should all stop worrying and learn to love the pirates.

What do you think, me hearties? Yarrrr? or Arrrrgh?

Comments below please – i’d love to read ’em!

 


Hacking the Green (or Why I’d Like to #StopHS2)

Some kind readers (hello kind readers!) wrote to me in support of the Author’s Note (pictured below) I included in my recent horror novel The Jack in the Green – in which I highlighted the threat posed by the UK rail Project HS2.

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Author’s Note from The Jack in the Green

In brief – HS2 is a high speed rail line that will cut through acres of ancient woodland, farmland, and communities – including those in Buckinghamshire where I am lucky enough to reside.

The initial proposals for the scheme made journey speed a key selling point: business travellers could shave off a massive 30 minutes or so if they travel via the high speed line. When many voiced their opinion that 30 mins of train time actually = 30 mins of uninterrupted work time, the scheme seemed to change tack, this time citing capacity as the new justification behind the project.

Now comes the bombshell that the rail line would displace thousand of graves – without the assurances in place that sacred remains would be properly relocated. I mean, haven’t these crazy HS2 people even seen POLTERGEIST?

a rich man, on a train (photo credit: Andrew Parsons)

a rich man, on a train (photo credit: Andrew Parsons)

My opinion (because everyone has one, right?) is that HS2 is designed, primarily, to make money for those behind it. Well, duh. It is a rich* man’s train (*for the financially rich, but spiritually bankrupt). I am utterly disappointed to see cross-party support for HS2 in UK politics – and feel especially betrayed that the Labour Party appears to back the project – so much so that for the first time in my life I cast my vote in the European Elections for the Green Party (among other, personal reasons). You see, I have just not seen any justification for the project that convinces me the environmental cost is worthy of the line’s creation. As with all things infrastructure, there is always another way (the clever folks at StopHS2 and HS2 Action Alliance have some excellent suggestions).

Sigh. I am aware that I’m just a local yokel author, banging on about this on his blog. What difference is that gonna make? Not a jot, of course. But there are things we little people can do to stop the goose-stepping forward march of ecological destruction. Maybe those of us who oppose HS2 are like Arthur Dent, trying to stop the Vogon Constructor Fleet in our dressing gowns. Maybe lying down in front of that bulldozer will be all the protest we have left – if, and when, the decision comes to decimate our wildlife and destroy so much that is green and good in the land.

"what do you mean why has it got to be built?"

“what do you mean why has it got to be built?

But we have to bloody well try. And try we shall. In that spirit, I’ll sign off this post with one last video – this time from an inspiring young voice that should absolutely be heard – that of 9 year-old Midlands schoolboy Alexander Rukin.

And as ever, thanks for reading.

 


In Memoriam: Christopher Barry, Alain Resnais, Selim Lemouchi

Doctor Who and the Daemons director Christopher Barry has sadly passed away. He famously helped introduce the world to the Daleks, but Daemons is my all-time favourite of the Time Lord’s adventures. Yes, I cleaved to a fuzzy, fifth generation VHS copy for many years (much of it in b/w) until the show finally became available on DVD. And yes, like many of ‘a certain age’, I devoured the Target novelisation. The BBC website posted a lovely obituary of this amazing, talented man – aside from his outstanding contributions to Dr Who, Mr Barry also helmed The Tripods (another childhood fave of mine) and many more.

Christopher Barry, I salute you – with five rounds, rapid.

The world is also a lesser place for the loss of filmmaker extraordinaire Alain Resnais. His Last Year in Marienbad has haunted me for years, and continues to do so. It was lovely to see his life and work so celebrated in memoriam this week. ‘Innovative and unusual’ just about nails it:

And while I was composing this blog entry, I was saddened to hear about the death of Selim Lemouchi. Frontman of one of my favourite bands The Devil’s Blood (and later of Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies), he was a fiercely talented musician who passed far too soon, aged 33.

I’ll leave it to Selim (with his sister Farida on vocals) to roll credits on these three blazing stars, who will all be missed by any who knew, or knew of, them.


Happy Horrordays to all my f(r)iends!

Happy Horrordays y’all!

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And it just wouldn’t be that time of the year without the Christopher Lee Christmas Message.
Take it away Sir Christopher of Lee!

Here’s to a stonking 2014.

x Frazer

 


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