Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Agoraphobia, a Roger Sinclair film

Another old Roger Sinclair find - the copyright lists 1974, but it must be 73 or so (and perhaps explores themes he later used in 'Veronica'?).

Anyway, Lynne Frederick stars alongside Sinclair's regulars, Steve Bacon and Mick Curtis, with newcomers Tim Taylor and Paul Melhuish rounding out the cast.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Conjure - new review and now listed at GNP

Conjure is now listed up at the Generation Next Publications website and is still available for download from the following places:

The listing also features a new review, a four star one no less (and the reviewers gripe is one I’ve had before, that the book isn’t long enough).

I’m pleased with this and very glad that the novel is having the opportunity of another crack of the whip.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Shrieking Dead

I'm writing again, thankfully. "Wonderland" is now resting, midway through the second draft - it's a good story and I like it a lot, but I can't get it down to the required 7.5k words and so I'm leaving it for a while. I want to get my sub for Spectral sorted, before I start work on a new novel/novella ("Project Gash", all being well), so I'm focussing on that.

The good news is, an idea came to me on Wednesday and I've been rolling it around in my mind and I started working on it yesterday. It's going to a fairly quiet, though occasionally nasty, supernatural tale. My working title - because I often go way, way, way off-point - is "The Shrieking Dead" and today, I came up with the perfect image for that title, if not the story.

Nostalgia and monsters

I was reading through the first few posts at the Monster Awareness month being run by Mark Deniz and his team and something caught my eye in the Where Monsters Dwell article by Robert Hood. It was this picture, particularly, that got my attention. I know that image, I thought. I went onto eBay, luckily found a copy on there and ordered it. It arrived today, in probably more of a mint condition than the one I read back in the late seventies.

Yes, following on from my previous post about nostalgia, today I read through a comic that I first had in 1977 or 1978 and - incredibly - some of the images came flooding back to me. I remembered the Hyde character from “Backstage Madness” and the prematurely aged baby and father in “The Man Who Meddled” (and I remembered that those latter images gave me some bad dreams too) and it was like being thrown right back in time. It was also interesting to note just how many ads there were - not only for cool things like Evel Knievel’s bike and accessories (I had one of those), but how to succeed in business too and that you should get into electronics, the “science of the seventies!”

The comic is copyright 1974, issue 33, January 1975. There’s no way I’d have had it then (I was only 6), so I must have been reading someone else’s copy. I have no idea where my issue went but I’m really chuffed to have this back again.

So thanks, Robert Hood and Mark Deniz, for helping me recapture another little piece of my past!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Nostalgia and Stormtroopers

I’m a nostalgic person and although I do live very much in the present - it’s difficult not to, with an active and imaginative five-year-old in your life - the past does call to me strongly. This covers a lot of different aspects - family relationships, memories, photographs, films and books and TV - but one that’s easiest to re-capture is with toys. No, hear me out, this isn’t a freshly minted 42 year-old having a breakdown, there is reasoning behind this. If you go back and watch old TV shows that you loved when you were a kid or a teen (or, sometimes, later), whilst the initial buzz is good, once you get down to watching several episodes, you realise that age has worn away the innocence you had on your first viewing. Case in point - I loved “The A Team”, which would have started when I was about fourteen and when I saw the first series boxset for £5, I bought it. The pilot was good (wrong Faceman though) but the episode quality declined to the extent that Alison & I debated not watching the last couple on the DVD. Same with “The Fall Guy”, which Fiver repeated a year or so back - I loved that series, back in the day, but could barely last an episode now.

Toys, on the other hand, hand you back that innocence and glow, with very little of downside. I have loved “Star Wars” since I first saw it (which, scarily enough, is 33 years ago) and it’s pretty much been my favourite film ever since. Back in the late 70s, I had a few of the action figures and a couple of the bigger toys (never did get that Palitoy Millennium Falcon though and I was always envious of Geoff Burbidge, who did), but like most kids, I gave them away to younger cousins as the years went by. I kept hold of (small head) Han Solo and the Deathwatch Commander though, putting them in a cupboard and effectively forgetting about them. When the films were re-released in the late 90s, I embraced the fresh onslaught of toys and bought micro-machines but very few figures (Luke had gone from a scawny farmboy with his lightsaber embedded in his arm to a cast-off from He-Man’s world) and I’ve now passed these on to Matthew, who loves them. Han and the Commander are still upstairs in the study though, too precious to play with and I decided that I’d like to set up a little Stormtrooper army to go with them.Yesterday, I bought my first one, from the Leicester Vintage & Old Toy Shop and to say I’m thrilled with it is an understatement. Nobody else really gets it - Dad commented that it looked good for its age (the toy is 33 years old) and Alison said “More toys?” - apart from Dude - “Cool, Stormtrooper, can he go in my box?” - but it means something to me.

Does that Stormtrooper give me a sense of nostalgia, untinged by disappointment? Yes, it does. It’s standing on the memorial model Dad made for “Conjure” now, glowering at me with his gun at his side and I think it’s brilliant, I really do.

I should probably point out that it was my birthday yesterday, hence these faintly maudlin thoughts. But the Stormtrooper is still cool and the
Leicester Vintage & Old Toy Shop is a great little treasure trove.

Monday, 7 February 2011

This is important

I know that this blog is mainly about my writing (though a fair bit of family stuff seems to get on here, plus odds and ends I find interesting) but once in a while, something crops up that people need to know about.

From the Guardian -

Plans to sell 258,000 hectares (637,000 acres) of English forest for up to £250m have met with huge opposition from communities and environmental groups. In the biggest change of English land ownership in 80 years, the public will be asked to raise tens of millions of pounds to buy and manage forests or see them go to commercial organisations on 150-year leases.MPs recently voted on this issue and, I'll be honest, it's quite a shameful experience to see how they went. Would they stand up and be counted and say no, fuck off, these forests and woodland belong to England, to the people of this fair land, it's part of our heritage? Or would they go along and vote to sell it off, to the highest bidder? And when those highest bidders turned out to be people who'd like to perhaps, oh I don't know, raze said woodland to the ground, what happens then?

There's a website, called 38 Degrees
(direct link here) where you can find out just how your MP voted. And then get in touch with him.

My local MP is Philip Hollobone. He didn't vote to save our forests. I've emailed him, asking him what motivated him in his decision, inviting him to email me back to let me know. And you know what? If he doesn't respond, I'll go to the local paper.

This is our heritage, people - we have to defend it!
Find out how your MP voted - click here

Creature From The Black Lagoon

Just a quick heads up that my essay/review of the wonderful Creature From The Black Lagoon is now posted at Mark Deniz’s Monster Awareness Month site. Drop by and hang around for a while, there’s plenty of good stuff already there and more planned (including another review to come from me, on a film that moves a long way from men in rubber suits!).

"Conjure" is now on Amazon (with a competition too!)

“Conjure”, as you’re probably aware by now, has just been published as an ebook by those nice folks at Generation Next Publications and is now available on Amazon, both the UK and US branches.

For a limited time only, GNP are running a competition. Here’re the details:

If you purchase this eBook version of Mark West's “Conjure”, you are eligible to win an autographed paperback copy of “In The Rain With The Dead”, a novel by Mark West (published by Pendragon Press and now out-of-print) along with a personal note from the author.

This eBook has a code in it that can be used to enter this contest.

Email this code to Stephen@generationnextpublications with ‘CONJURE CONTEST’ in the subject line to be entered to win.

Contest ends on March 31, 2011. The winner will be randomly drawn from all entries on April 4, 2011.
The two novels are different beasts, certainly, but if you like one, you’re probably going to like the other. And hey, for a couple of quid (or dollars), why not take the chance to find out?
Direct link to the Amazon UK “Conjure” page
Direct link to the Amazon US “Conjure” page

Good luck, if you choose to enter. And to try and further sway you,
here’s a review of the print version of “Conjure”, which appeared at the Black Abyss site in 2009, where Colin called the book “a strangely British tale and reminded me of something that may have been produced in the seventies by Hammer or part of Tales of the Unexpected but very much updated with modern quotas of brutality and gore.” He gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force

Further selling out of the Star Wars brand, I agree, but this brilliantly matches the Imperial March with a fine eye for detail, of how little kids act and move. Watch, in particlar, for how he waves off his Dad's embrace and then jumps, right at the end.

Fantastic stuff!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Save Our Libraries!

A day of action on the 5th February 2011 - as supported by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals -

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, long before the Internet came along (we all thought Whiz Kids and "War Games" were cool!), I used our local library a lot. For research, sometimes, for picking up the latest Three Investigator book - all the time! I've got Matthew into using the library too - he has his own card and goes to the kids section, whilst I browse the adult bit.

As part of local funding cuts, some libraries are under threat. People don't want it to happen, me being one of them. So I'll be supporting this day of action...

CILIP is supporting Save Our Libraries Day, a day of action to bring greater attention to the cuts and closures facing many public libraries.

We want everyone who cares about reading, literacy and libraries to use their public library on the 5th February and tell as many people as they can to do the same.

Get involved using our 'sliding scale of spare time'
Got less than 2 minutes?Tweet why you love libraries using the hashtag #savelibraries
Post this page to your Facebook profile and spread the word
Got 2 minutes?Visit your library website to download an ebook or use online reference resources.5– 10 minutes?Contact all your friends and family, ask them to join their library and use library services on the 5th. Search and reserve books through this guide to library services in England.10 – 15 minutes?Email or write to your local MP, local press or Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about the unique contribution public libraries make to society.15 – 30 minutes?Pop down your local library on the 5th. Borrow as many books as you can. While you are there read a newspaper, go online and find out what’s happening in your local community.