Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ghost In The Machine

Gold glowed amid lizard-skinned ashes.

The youth, Simon, with one earring, knelt to warm his hands by the fire. It had been cold outside and his mother had said it would yet be half-an-hour before tea was high enough to be served. This was a common expression of Simon’s mother, one that he never understood.

His stonewashed jeans had such gaping designer-rips at the knees, the lower half of the legs seemed to be hanging merely by a thread. Upon kneeling, parts of his body were exposed that the heat would not normally have reached readily.

He had left his motorbike leaning in the alleyway alongside the otherwise terraced house. Knowing it was only recently bought, Simon was still worried that it might be unsafe in this less than desirable precinct of the city. The “L” plate shone out luminously even after the streetlights flickered off in the late evening (which they tended to do in that area): the plate being red on white, like the jelly and cream his mother had served in just such a design, on the day he passed his test.

He put his hands closer to the fire -- either because they were growing intrinsically colder at the extremities despite the heat or, as he really thought, the audibly crumbling ashes were losing all their ability to tender more than a smidgin of warmth. There was a low, insidious grumbling within the chimney-breast: a wind picking up at the back of the house, he surmised.

Suddenly, he thought the embers were glowing brighter: re-erupting wormcasts of flame. His hands floated like autonomous entities above the rising heat, thus becoming tantamount to translucent. Simon almost convinced himself that he was the angel his mother told her cronies he really was -- at heart.

With growing horror, he lowered his gaze to the knees shyly poking from the gaps in the jeans: like wedges of cut glass with a three-dimensional map of bloodstreams within. He tried to persuade a hand to reach up to his face, but no amount of will-power could accomplish such an amazing feat. Then, after he surrendered all hope, the hand, of its own volition, swept to the top of his head, where a residue of feeling in the fingertips informed him that he was actually touching a soft substance and, as he pushed harder, his own mind performed a consequent flip, becoming madder by the second as the substance grew softer...

His mother entered the parlour where she’d laid the fire earlier in the afternoon. She dropped the tray of tea-things that she carried at shoulder height, extended in front like an offering at an altar. The clatter momentarily brought what used to be Simon to just a smidgin off consciousness -- and he wondered fleetingly why his mother looked as if she had seen a ghost.

The motorbike itself haunted the alley, a red “D”, in¬stead of an “L”, upon a white plate glowing at its buckled mudguard.

(published ‘Gathering Darkness’ 1994)

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Study In Brown

Published 'The Heliograph' 1997

The upright piano looked secondhand even when it was brand new: consigned now to the Utility Room, because the family had lost interest in its finger-marching goodness. Their words.

Countless children had been put through its paces, only to abandon it for the more customary rituals which preoccupied modern teenagers. Their short legs had once pumped at the pedals trying to keep it afloat amid the skies of childhood fantasy, only to fall to Earth in a sliding scale of long-limbed puberty. They escaped into the feel of the modern moment - via the consecutive eras of the nifty Fifties and the sexy Sixties - expunging wireless programmes such as "Music While You Work" and “Mrs Dale’s Diary” so as to make room for the rest of their memories.

Meanwhile, in that same untransfigured past, these children’s ancestors were on dinner-break - sitting, in regimented expectation, at the Factory Canteen tables, awaiting another soon-to-be-ancient wireless programme called "Workers' Playtime" to begin. It was due to be broadcast on the BBC Light Programme at 12.30 on the dot from this very canteen.

"It's a load of old tommy rot!" said George, gesticulating with a brown-smeared bottle of HP Sauce.

The man seated alongside him before a plate of runny fried egg and limp chips tried to ignore the contentious remarks. George wondered why workmates in canteens often sat alongside each other, leaning over the trestle table with clunking cutlery - whilst the toffs in the "white collar" restaurant down the corridor would tend to sit opposite each other, conducting a conversation superficially structured, polite and civilised, yet a conversation which was fundamentally unadventurous. Those, like George, of a "blue collar" persuasion in the canteen would conduct more sporadic interchanges, unembarrassed by silences, veering from side to side between misunderstandings, teetering upon the edge of anger and recrimination, but always searching, probing, broaching subjects of deep workmanlike lore.

A true description. Not George's words, though.

In any event, the stand-up comedian was already preening himself on the makeshift stage, waiting for the mikes to go live. The theme music was tuning up, being played direct from Broadcasting House.

George's conversation began to misfire. He was settling into the egg and chips, his tongue finding it more and more difficult to unsnarl itself from the curdled fat. "Only yesterday,” he stammered , “Jean caught her fingers under the piano lid. We got that ol' joanna so that we can give our kids some sort of proper music ... to keep 'em up with the toffs. But it's all going to come to nowt..."

George's listening neighbour stared quizzically at his fork. A sliver of crinkle-edged eggwhite on its midspoke became almost a holy relic.

The comedian's patter tannoyed from the stage: "Oi! Oi! Guess what happened to me on the way to the factory? I met me ol' mate Wilfred Pickles. He said, 'Have a go, Joe!'"

A stooge with an outlandish clown's nose interrupted the comedian, bundling towards the upright mike: "But your name's not Joe, Joe!"

Raucous, uncoordinated laughter and banging of pudding spoons echoed around the starlights of the canteen's giant Meccano rafters.

"Give 'em the money, Brian!"

"I'm Barney, Mr Pickles, not Brian."

The last bit was repeated by the audience in rehearsed unison. And the timeless jokes rattled on through the air, followed by an unseen hand slowly running its fingers upon tingling keys which, finally, emerged from a million ghostly wirelesses in a million empty front parlours.

Then an announcement and timecheck in King's English.

In those days “brown study” meant a moment or two of deep meditation. George's brown study was workmanlike but with a deeper meaning than mere words...

He had been known for donkey years as a jolly good, all round egg - a dependable regular who often treated himself to an extra half on top of what he called his "medicinal" pint of best bitter. His missus sent him round to the pub, of course - and a more understanding spouse it was difficult to imagine, even though she had the ulterior motive of getting him out of her hair for an hour or two. So that she could listen to the wireless in peace.

Brian knew George quite well. It was Brian's brown study that used words in uncommon usage. He counted himself one of George's pals. A straighter fellow you'd go far to meet was George. He did the march-past on Remembrance Day. Just a shade over middle-age, when Brian first met him. George entering the Autumn of George's life with as much grace as it is possible to muster in such circumstances of what one could only describe as encroaching oblivion. Brian knew, when he got to George's age, he'd go to pieces, more like. So, Brian admired George's equanamity, as it were, his urbane nonchalance, his avuncular, if taciturn, charm. They often sat side by side in the works canteen.

George had grown-up children of his own, he told Brian, who visited him now and again, but not frequently enough for his liking. Still, George understood. Youngsters had busy lives, these days. They must have had commitments to others of their own age. Why should they concern themselves with "oldies like me"?

Brian would nod, not necessarily in agreement, but merely to acknowledge that he knew what George was saying. In fact, Brian had once been one of those "youngsters" who'd rather spend his time in a pub with relative strangers than visit his own folk in the Fen Country. It is peculiar how family ties can loosen up over the years. Brian had been a staunch loyalist to the clan back home - that is, until he left to go to the Big Smoke. Then, Brian had wondered why blood-links were so important. He could not be proper friends with members of his own family in normal life.

Thus unrooted, other people's ideas helped to raise Brian's two feet from the ground. He gained wordy ambitions. But, thank goodness, he spotted the danger signs before it was too late. He avoided being an intellectual by the skin of his teeth. Or at least he hoped so, and still does. Despite the words he uses to describe his thoughtful brown studies.

In those days, Brian positively had to sit at home in his digs, in those quiet moments of self-hypnosis, and convince himself that he was still one of the Fen folk, a home-spun youth who had no more in his top storey than the usual junk in trivial clutters. His mind flittered, at one moment, from almost philosophical exploration of his own thinking-patterns, then at another, to a perhaps forced colloquial remonstration against any such pretentious crap.

Anyhow, Brian does indeed remember George, that chap in the works canteen, that steadfast man in the pub who always insisted in having his beer in a straight glass. George often sat at what he called Old Joanna and jammed tunes straight through from ears to mouths. George. A good solid name for him. It couldn't have been invented better.

Then, the surprise...

It still surprises Brian to think of it. It wasn't exactly as if George had moaned, like others of his generation, about the young people of the day, like the lager louts and the self-seeking yappers in the City and the so-called football hooligans - and, of course, the ungrateful young blighters of George's own spawning who sat in their colour supplement lounges lined with mock bookspines, staring at endless suds on a flickering box.

No, George did not indulge in such diatribes, as Brian's own father did, for example. Brian's father swore blind that civilisation as he knew it was crumbling and the home-grown enemies were "worse than the bleedin' Nazis!" No, George was not quite like that. So, it should not have been a surprise when George came into the pub one evening with a ring in his left ear!

Brian's own father called lads with such jewellery "Nancy Boys" whom a few years "under the wing" of a sergeant-major on National Service would soon lick into shape. Therefore, for George to appear with his lobe threaded by that extraneous bit of metal amid his cronies in the pub Snug was quite unbelievable. One of the dead-eyed dart throwers who frequented this particular bar threw straight off the board, instead of the treble nineteen for which he was aiming. The landlord of the pub over-pulled a pint of Bitter, its froth disappearing into the system that later appeared as Mild.

"What's it for, George?" Brian asked, pointing to the ring that was of the type Brian remembered his mother calling a "sleeper" to prevent the pierced hole from fleshing over. George tentatively put a finger to his lobe, and smiled. Just that. At first, Brian thought about dropping the subject. But then he blurted out: "It suits you." George turned a brighter shade of crimson, as if he were about to have a stroke. It was as if the pubful of drinkers had received a message from a hidden force in the Universe, since everybody grew quiet as dead mice. Even the dart-throwers launched their arrows more gently into the cork. Words were useless. Even canteen-talk was out of the brown study window.

"Thank you, Brian," George eventually replied. "It's God's way of branding us his beasts of burden and to remind Him which is which."

Brian supposed if he'd looked closely enough at the ring in George's lughole, he would have seen a microscopic number etched. Indeed, George did not seem to notice he had caused quite a stir, but later that night, Brian dreamed a brown dream that the whole side of George's head had been embedded with a sculpture, a large star-shaped contraption that could have served as a tightly meshed drain-cover, and it sparkled in the putrescent pub lights. George was also wearing burnt umber shades, but more a lop-sided version of the hi-tech binoculars Dan Dare used to wear on the front of the Eagle comic.

George died peacefully in his sleep. His missus told the mourners this as they trooped into the terraced house to commiserate. "I knew," she said, "there was something peculiar when he didn't go to the pub for his usual pint." Which, in hindsight, was even more peculiar, since he had died the very morning after his last visit to the pub wearing the ear-ring. But none cared to broach the subject with his missus in the circumstances.

So, all George's friends, one of whom Brian was proud to number himself (the youngest, in fact), marched past his open coffin in the front parlour - a ritual moment of remembering and forgetting. That was the tradition, those days. They were relieved rather than surprised that there was no ring in either of his ears, nor any sign of piercing. Just a hint of a smile on George's steadfast lips. And no words.

That night Brian had another brown dream about George. This time, George being dead, the dream seemed realler than the one about the huge device that threaded his skull. This was dream was more in words than pictures: the first time a dream has come to Brian in this way. The way it told Brian about itself was that just beyond the deadish volcano of Noog, whereby the brown River Bandshow flows, lies the land of Wireless. Nobody knows of its existence except those, if any, who live there.

The houses move up Archer Hill, its central plinth, like turtles intent on breeding. Upon the brown brow of that hill squats the fort that was built to defend the town from any unlikely marauders and, within the fort, King George sits enthroned, if it is a throne indeed upon which he sits. He's become a surly man, with a brigand's moustache and ploughshared brows, staring unbelievingly into the middle distance with eyes that, if once steel blue, are now of seeping copper.

King George abruptly shouts and momentarily stirs from his own dream, a dream that is within Brian's dream; the pity of it being that there is nobody near to hear his shout except himself. He does not answer, retracting his tortoise-head into a new shell of convoluted dreams.

At no real distance from the fort, there is a courtyard, out of bounds to the townsmen, if townsmen there are. Its slabs are crazed over with moss-tracks that have long since created their own jigsaws of reality, so abstract and indefinable there are no further words to be used about them. No words at all.

The courtyard's periphery is bounded with high ancient walls, crested with jagged shards of brown beer-bottle glass that give to the bladdery sun a thousand versions of itself, many of which outlast the night that always seems to follow. If darkness be brown, then this night congeals faces rather than hides them.

The twists and turnings of the Old Town verging upon these courtyard walls are a maze which only one particular child can solve with paper and crayons one special Christmas morning ... and that child died several years ago anyway, its parents having earlier sailed off down the brown Bandshow, the last to leave Wireless before the final trap was sprung.

Within this maze of broken-signed inns and disused laundries, there stands the forbidding tenantless prison (identical to the fort in shape and design) into which the townsmen, if townsmen there are, yearn to enter, if they can only find its giant rusting keys, so as to complete the circle of curtailment; for they find the town walls are not prison enough for them.

One night, when the rusty stars themselves came down and dodged like fireflies between the skid-marked roofs, touching them with gildenspires, the patroller of the prison, known as Walkman, donned his night head-dress and skirted the walls of the King's fort, believing that this was the prison he was meant to frog-march round amid the toad shit.

Beneath his streaming hair, Walkman listened to the dead phones of night that threaded his curlicue ear-lugs and filled him with tight-fisted silence, to such an extent that he did not notice the crackling of the distant Noog volcano on the sky-line which was meant to have no guts left to honk. Nor did he hear the majestic fart from inside the fort - as loud as any coastguard's gun. King George had spoken. Too late, he had stirred for the very last time. A dying breath, that fart. His last word.

Thus, Walkman, the prison-keeper, did not hear the distant crashing of the prison walls. The rusty keys had finally turned against him. And all the townsmen, if townsmen there were, withdrew into a freedom of mere flesh constraints.

One firefly spark remained, its only hope being that Walkman would lead it beyond the bounds of Wireless. A stench still wafted from the fort, so vile it veiled the coming light of dawn; but Walkman could not sense it through the brown hangings of his nostrils.

The last firefly spark extinguished, as Walkman was spiked upon the jagged wall of his own body's protruding bones which, if he had cleared it, would have allowed him to leave Wireless.

The ultimate horror was that King George's dream-fetters remained upon him, even within death ... if it indeed was the King who was trapped inside his own corpse-keep, and not someone else called Walkman (or even Brian). And George landed into the nifty Fifties feet first and with a bit of a headache. He always felt a bit queasy after travelling through the time locks: there had been a big delay in 1939 and a rough ride until the relatively calm waters of 1945. Now, there was just the residue of war fever in the air, making his veins tingle - but, by putting his mind into a slower gear, he found he could take a panning shot of the Phoenix Eras that most remember as their childhood.

It is true to say that George was not a through and through sympathiser with the people he surveyed. He had been brought up outside of time, and it is rumoured beyond space too, as he had the mark of what some would call Jack the Devil in his face - piercing eyes of hidden depths - hooked nose with gaping bristly nostrils - chin jutting below a mouthful of corrugated teeth - and a tunic that had been innocently customised and derived from those commonly worn by certain members of Hitler's entourage in the two decades immediately prior to George's arrival back on the dry land of history.

The strains of "Oh, What A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts" were ringing from the British Legion Hall. Being Saturday night, most of the backyard houses had emptied out and resorted to the weekly social, for an attempt at re-living the camaraderie and bonhomie of the war years. "Roller bowler bowl, roller bowler bowl..." The singsong rang out into the benighted streets, along with the endless rattle of the tinkling joanna, everyone's favourite biddy pedalling hard to the tunes it played. One among them had evidently won the football pools.

George was frog-marching down the dark street eager for a bit of colour-injecting, whilst savouring the challenge of a new age. Things then were not black and white, as the newsreels depicted, but various shades of brown. And having been taught that there is nothing more modern than the present, he was surprised at the rather utility, makeshift appearance of the Fifties lifestyle. It needed, he thought, colour and slickness, together with an importation of firescreens from the theatres to the front parlours - fast information, fast food, fast sex, to prevent the wasting of a that scarce commodity called time. The streets needed light, the importance of which had been lost amid the air raid blackouts. Above all, words were needed, words worthy enough for worlds to wield.

As George marched, he dug up metal arms from between the roots of Earth, these having been sprung beneath the pavements in an alternate universe now encroaching on this one. He proceeded to raise them and illumine their topmost bulbs with his breath, also seeing fit to make them parallel with the goalposts etched against the horizon of allotments. Some were later to call that vertical. Give or take a few inches.

Yet, Brian suspected this was George masquerading as someone else, or vice versa, more likely. The suspicions were well-founded since Brian was the one who once sat disguised alongside George in the canteen, when George was truly George, not this hybrid George who had learned too many words from the future and who was brown-beaten and brainwashed with the Daz of coming times, when wirelesses would be tweeters and woofters. It was 9.10 a.m., on one of those aimless mornings most only just recall, and the opening bars of the "Housewives' Choice" theme spilled from the wireless into the parlour. George had forgotten for a while his role as burnisher of the inevitabilities of the latter half of the Twentieth Century. He had crossed, as only time travellers can cross, into a new way of life - put on a frock - and sang along with "Music While You Work" as he steam-ironed his unsuspecting wife's trousers.

Times already moved along predetermined channels - or had it all gone wrong already? Had George flitted on to another time, another place? Or did he eventually die an unnatural death caused by a shrapnel-crazed footpad in a blind alley behind the British Legion Hall - whilst the voices roared in crescendo: "Oh, What A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts..., Roller Bowler Bowl..., A Penny A Pitch..."?

In Brian's ears the song rolled on, but it soon faded into other times, other climes. And the night always came earlier in the Wastes. George had decided that he would live here, ever since he had lost a card-gambling match at the heart of Future City. He forsook all his worldly goods in one fell turn of the card: it had been make or break, and Destiny had come down on the side of the latter with an unequivocal conviction. George had suspected that Fate had always kept this one moment up its sleeve as a cheating trump card.

The shadowy hands had come out across the baize card-table: George had not dared look at the competing faces again, as the fingers had flickered like hungry tongues in the gas light, lapping up the denominations of currency into the mouths of their palms.

Inside his shack, with all the untamed sounds of night growing outside, he stared at that one playing card. It was before him on the green-felt fold-over table, the surface of which bore the stains of ill-eaten food, as well as the skid marks of angry copper coins. He had retrieved the Jack of Spades from that final game in Future City, as a souvenir. Not that he wanted to remember the cruel cut, but merely let it act as a warning symbol that no good could come of fighting against Destiny. Ear-marked by Fate.

The Wastes, a dark patch of land which must have once been several smallholdings of scrawny pickings, stretched from one particular nowhere to another ... though, nowheres, to George, were only such when compared to the once busy streets of Future City. Here there were simply abandoned smallholdings and shaggy-cabbaged allotments.

Outside the door of his shack, there sloped a disused football pitch, the wireless goal-post stumps daggering the sky's underbelly ... with crossbars long since dislodged by the near-miss goals of bad-loser ghosts, only teams by virtue of their insubstantial white strips. But divots of earth showed that such teams had once been more than just haunters of George's dreams.

Put a cross in the graph-paper box, he thought, if you feel that the result will turn out to be a tie. An "X" was also a kiss of lips so soft they reminded him of a love he had taken to his heart, only to find them an ownerless puckered mouth. Or an "X" is the mark of a mistake that his first true love (the teacher at infants school) had appended to his clumsy attempts at arithmetic. Or an "X" betokens the clothes exchanged and cherished for their frills and lace trims. But, hopefully, "X" marked the spot where he'd dig up Death.

George watched from his shanty window long after the dawn should have arrived, begging that neither team would score. He merely needed this particular draw to complete the jackpot on the coupon. But, then, he heard the distant braying of a mob in unison - the chant of "'ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go" and "Roller bowler ball...", as an unlikely goal was put away by Destiny's striker, the net belling out with the trawling catch.

George felt his head to ensure it was still stationed upon the tee of his neck. It would soon grow light, he assumed, The Wastes would one day be a City again, he mused. Turning back to the Jack of Spades, it was like looking into a lady's funfair cosmetic hand-mirror. George’s head was perfectly poised, as Jack's shovel-ended club took its swing. Crowned him with one fell swoop. At least, George no longer needed to be trapped as this last survivor on a desolate brown pitch once called Earth. And, hopefully, Destiny had nowhere else left to dig.

Then, perhaps, reborn from primaeval mulch to live the life of Brian. Wireless and unplugged.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baffle (37)

Words are living creatures, which you can feel or suck or set moving with a literary motive force; they are insects flying in the headlight beams and splattering the windscreen in meaningful and meaningless geographies of collision, until the writer neatly ranks them as dead insects on the page like print.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Baffle (27)

It was difficult to decide between the left and right baffles. So, I looked straight ahead and saw the triffid squawking: its head a turban of petals. Begging me not to understand. Blinding me to the blinkers it wore.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Baffle (12)

Flabbergasted, the sound wave struggled through the next baffle, convinced it was light not sound. But not enough light to light truth as it hissed through gritted teeth it was gas.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fanblade 9


The Final Fanblade Fable

Turn right at the last page – avoid the epilogue and then there are four leaves left. Blank leaves. Fly-leaves. Old-fashioned books often had blank fly-leaves fore and aft as a rather posh transition from the hard covers to the text itself. As a child, Hiver Jawn used to write on these fly-leaves because, in those days, real paper stationery was expensive. It also seemed more permanent, more satisfying, to append his thoughts within a hardcover book instead of in those bright shiny red exercise-books with tables of weights & measures on the soft back cover. He used to put his name with the address ending “England, Great Britain, Europe, World, Universe” proudly written in his neatest hand on the first available fly-leaf. It always started off neatly. Then a short poem over which he agonised:

“I am a visitor to this world
I love the haze that’s hurled
Between the poles of the earth
And I love both sadness and mirth
I love everything there is to love
I even love you, my sweetest dove.”

Then a few philosophical thoughts, such as:

“If God made everything,
Who made God?”

Then a story or fable by Jawn himself, often featuring Lemuel Gulliver who seemed to fit suitably into the smallest space possible as well as into the largest. Followed by Jawn’s childish signature as an imprimatur, a stamp of authority that everything he had written was sacrosanct (if increasingly less neat) and everlastingly memorable, recorded between hardcovers before one had reached the pre-printed title page proper.

He rarely understood the book itself. Even if it was abridged for children. It was above his head, in close-printed ranks of dead insects in their Sunday best. There was often a frontispiece: a colour-plate depicting Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday or a logger in Canada being stalked by a Red Indian. The book itself never matched the wonder and promise of the frontispiece. So he skipped all the pre-printed pages – all 256 of them – until there were four leaves left: blank but stained by patches of yellow foxing – and he seemed to feel he was desecrating something when he scratched his fountain-pen nib across in anger. His mother had just scolded him for messing up the book and he would be sent to bed early without tea – so he scribbled harder – the ink spluttering in all directions – before she could stop him.

Later, having salvaged the book from the bin, he was able to work out a monster’s face slowly emerging from the depth of his scribble on the last four leaves. He did not know then that this was a good likeness of his own face when he became really old. Jawn hoped he’d never be old. Never grown up. And, looking up to see if his Mother was close by, he scribbled over the scribble. But the scribbled monster was still there – a scribble behind the scribble.

Maybe he still owns that book today. A memory of his childhood. He can now read the pre-printed pages – even enjoy them. ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ by John Bunyan. He notices that there is a childishly drawn beard on the young man’s face in the frontispiece – a long and straggly beard – perpetrated with yellow crayon, because a grey one was not available.

If God made me, who made God?

And the Venetian blind rattled like a wind-spun fan. No leaves left. No blades left to hone.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Future blogs about my latest informal thoughts or diary-room entries are now to be moved to the Megazanthus blog linked here:

Knottier narratives will resume their appearance on this Weirdmonger blogspot, meanwhile.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Extremity in Fiction & Prejudices

'Prejudice' is, for me, thinking you won't like it, i.e. before trying it or having tried something in the past which has put you off seemingly similar things since then.

There are perhaps separate concerns about extremity in Horror Fiction:

(a) What is or is not literature - and do you like it? (Concerns with intellectualism and how you see these things).

(b) Does extremity in horror fiction prevent the genre itself (which contains 'quieter' horror) being successful by prejudicing many readers against it. And does it create a 'vicious circle' of extremity outdoing extremity to the detriment of the genre?

(c) Regarding the narrow field of readers who already read horror fiction avidly, are some of them prejudiced against extremity (or against 'quietness' indeed as the other side of the coin) within a genre of fiction (literature?) they already love?

(d) How do aspects of (b) & (c) fit into one's own considerations of (a) and how they affect one's approach to (b) and (c) and one's general reading?

Re 'readers' above, this also applies to 'writers' and their own practice and prejudice.

Art is as necessary as food and air.

Extremity within the Horror Fiction area of Art is not necessarily necessary within any one particular work but extremity of any kind is necessary within the potential armaments of Art. You're not forced to read or view the results, but the potentiality to shock must be available. Humanity and human existence and the human mind hang on humanity's perceived frailties as well as its perceived virtues (and Art is the finest mirror (often significantly cracked) for these perceptions): otherwise none of it would be human.

There have been many postings since I made this blog's topic list but I hope it serves a purpose as linked from HERE


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nemophile becomes Weirdtongue

I've now written an alternative first chapter of this free novel-in-progress, one more in keeping with the new title of Weirdtongue.

It is here: HERE.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Proust and 'Magic Fiction'

For some weeks I've been trying to formulate a new literary term: Magic Fiction (as an obverse of Magic Realism). Today, I had a Road to Damascus: Proust's work is the ideal example of Magic Fiction. I am still struggling with the definition of Magic Fiction by the means of brainstorming.

A discussion thread (two pages) dwelling on these concerns: HERE.


Friday, July 14, 2006

the nemOphile

My next novel has just started HERE.

This will involve the Weirdmonger, Blasphemy Fitzworth and Padgett Weggs but I hope and intend that it will be more real-based and less wordy (no chance!) and less cosmic/wild than my previous novels.
This particular posting is, of course, apocryphal.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Magic Fiction (continued)

I used the expression ‘Magic Fiction’ as a sort of obverse of a more common expression: 'Magic Realism'. I think the greatest exponent of the latter is Salman Rushdie. Giving real world historic and contemporary events a magic quality that only fiction can accomplish.

But then, I recently read ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ which I consider to be a major work of something quite different from Magic Realism. Somewhere in this massive book (a passage I can never re-find!) is a section about fiction itself being used as a magic weapon in a war. And I saw magic not as the usual ‘occult’ or ‘mysticism’ or ‘fantastical’ or a book of spells like anything ending –omicon. It was fiction magic … magic fiction. This is what I’m trying to tease out as a discrete and new element in fiction. Nothing weird, nothing paranormal, nothing thaumaturgical. Perhaps (hopefully) a New Magic that is quite rational.

This Road to Damascus was coupled and 'inspired' by my own work on "dream sickness" in my 2005/6 novels, and all the paradoxes that that experience created reinforced my desire to use fiction as a battle against, say, ‘bird flew’.

It’s worked so far!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Candlemass Stories













True Horror Art is out-of-season dusty Christmas baubles hanging in a sepulchrally quiet gallery or museum complete with rows of study-cubicles or carrels and then you realise the carrels are pews and one who was born at Christmas stares down at you from the roof.

EDIT: (February 2nd 2010 - Candlemass): CANDELARIA: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?p=38732

Missing Visitor

Those of you have read past Part (21) of THE VISITOR 1974 may be interested to learn that a section of this part (The Story of The Red Ocelot) was inadvertently missed out from it. This has now been restored.


The (Neo)-Ominous Imagination

"There seems to be a basic element of horror in most things", has been written elsewhere.

I call that the Ominous Imagination. We need a neo-ominous one, perhaps! As to gross-out horror impeding the growth of the horror arts in general, that's partly true, but also how art-mediators package it. Extreme Horror in an art museum is just another way to package it. Blatant jagged noises played as music, yet another.

There are not so much individual prejudices against various forms of art or music or writing, but a mass anti-hysteria where we all follow mutely the pattern-trails laid for us by coordinated paper chasers who *do* have individual prejudices.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Modern Art / Wordy Weird

Yet the point about my question - with regard to what people *consider* to be modern art - is it *possible* any longer to confront or insult the audience? I suggest not...because it's all been done before. Blank canvases and stale food in the corner of a glass case and...

So where can one go? Not confront the audience (because that is now impossible), but challenge them, comfort them, give them what they want so you make a lot of money, pander to them, or simply ignore them.

So, yes, following on from above with further reflection, I suggest that 'ignoring' an audience *is* far more possible these days than 'insulting' them.

Then the topic, inevitably, leads to a further question. Are there artists who want to insult an audience or need to do so? And, if so, why?

And is ignoring an audience a new art form? The extreme of this attitude would to keep the work in a cupboard. Buried Art. Has Buried Art replaced Modern Art?

This does not sit well, personally, with me giving away all my new works in recent years on free blogs? But I feel that that act may be a brand of Buried Art. Overexposed free Art (which nobody reads) is akin to Buried Art!



A contribution to the recent 'Self-Mythology' thread on Shocklines:-

What Des Lewis has achieved is to literally create his own genre of fiction; a genre in which the standard values are often turned upside-down. Most fiction seeks clarity-- Des seeks ambiguity. Most fiction expresses a small number of simple, often recycled ideas; Des builds labyrinths of ideas, in which subtle shades of meaning flourish.

Pick up a copy of Poetry Magazine, and you'll find the same verbosity and subtlety of meaning. But Des does it in short story and novel form. This is perfectly legitimate, but people get confused when they read him and use the same yardsticks to judge his fiction that they'd use to judge the horror fiction that they're used to.

Wordy Weird should be recognized as being its own subgenre, and Wordy Weird stories should be judged in comparison to each other, not directly measured against traditional horror stories, etc. It's Appalachians and orangutans.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Revisiting The Visitor

Pleased to say that I've just this minute completed the laborious task of re-typing my 1974 novel THE VISITOR starting from: HERE.

Forty-four postings in all.

This incorporates small sections of 'The Egnisomicon' (1967).

Modern Art / World Cup

I love all forms of modern art. Anyone got strong views for or against?

I only give two examples at this stage:

(i) Modern serious (classical?) music such as that by Penderecki*, Ligeti, Thomas Ades, James MacMillan etc. etc. really conveys, for me, the feel and ethos of Horror fiction and films!!

*have you heard his 'Threnody For the Victims of Hiroshima', just as one example?

(ii) The World Cup. The Final yesterday stamped forever the intrinsic dark symbolism of the event for me. Ranging from Figo's headbutt, Rooney's kickback into balls, Zidane's insane or (more likely) gratuitous act last night (both clownish and vicious), playing a single match with many random matchballs (not one noumenon of a matchball for the players to devote their team spirit), the dreamlike dives - not of graceful dancers or birds but human bodies clumsily burying themselves into the Earth ball itself...

In contrast, I watched the BBC's goals of the tournament, one after the other in quick succession (including the beautiful ballet of the best goal of them all), and I was glad I had been part of it all, even as a spectator through the reality screens: yet another 'Big Brother'-like extravaganza of mixed emotions. Modern Art at its best and worst.

Re Zidane's Kiss, in particular, I think that is the essence of an art event or 'happening', whereby one cannot gauge the intentionality, yet it is art (if one deems it a work of art - and this particular one was an art event for millions, I feel, in one go, rather than trooping for years by a urinal in a museum), and all great art, I feel, creates a lasting image in your mind together with (mixed) emotions that also last.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mythly is near Manningtree

I'm in for the long haul or the broad brushstoke of things actually working in the round - rather than the precise grammatical point.

I suppose I'm a descriptivist, not a prescriptivist.

But this thread is about self-mythliness whereby both sense and sensibility take a backseat to shooting the white water rapids of semantics, phonetics, graphology & syntax.

That sounds pretentious. It is. But what the heck.

LONG discussion Thread HERE!


Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I don't know about you, but I write in a genre of one.


THE NEMONICON about this trade paperback.

NEMONYMOUS about this famous journal.

Irreducibles: the main DFL blog.

Weirdmonger Wheel: Shortened version.

THE HAWLER: the start of DFL’s 2006 trilogy of novels that can be read for free on the internet.

THE VISITOR: the start of DFL's 1974 novel where you can learn about ‘The Egnisomicon’ (1967), the Visitoral hordes and the unforgettable art Master. All free on the internet.

candlemass, snail trail, grass etc. (2006)


Tuesday, July 04, 2006



Look at the words. Do you own up. If you are an artist, writer, musician etc. - do you self-mythologise? Do you present the image that fits most neatly with your work – helping it commercially or aesthetically or bothly. Or does the work and its pastness help to frame the mythology of self by hindsight? You are the myth, or you are your work: veiled by a nemonymity with which you attempt to cultivate a pique of detachment – yet creating hinterlands of perspective. You may own up to it, but do you actually own it, this self-mythology. Delivery by default mythly.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Egnisomicon (1967)

'Etepsed-Egnis' was the first poem in THE EGNISOMICON (1967) - later rewritten for 'The Visitor' novel (1974). At last this poem is on the internet (as part 36 of 'The Visitor'), but it is the latter 1974 version, not the original. Part 1 of the novel starts: HERE

I would hope that the whole 1967 EGNISOMICON (a major collaboration with the Red Brain of the legendary 'Dagon' magazine) will later be blogged in full and unchanged, subject to various permissions.

'Etepsed-Egnis' - a story by DFL - that appeared in DAGON (1989): HERE


World Cup / Dr Who / Big Brother

I don't know how common this practice is - but I'm sure in the past there was generally only one match ball. Now there are several potential matchballs - chopping and changing into play. With the one ball there was a crystallisation of purpose, a sort of godhead with which the team's 'spirit' could commune (intentionally or, more often, volitionlessly) whereby the team with a big spirit and, maybe, small technical skill could stand more chance.

On b&w small screen TVs - where I used to watch football - a completely different view of the Rooney incident would have changed the whole course of any post-match inquest. There were no panels no close-ups no slowmotion replays. They started when Brian Clough came on TV in colour with Brian Moore in the early seventies. So I blame him. And that's when I stopped watching football. Till now. And I am amazed and dismayed.


I preferred the old 'slower' versions of Dr Who - particularly when William Hartnell was in the transformational hot seat.

Despite being a time traveller, Dr Who's style of adventuring (whatever time zone he is in 'storywise') seems to fit in with the fashion of filming techniques and audience taste of the era in which the adventures are first shown.

It would be good to see a modern episode in the style of an old one. As to an old one in the style of a modern one, well, that may be problematic - but I dunno...

I suppose the old Peter Cushing Dr Who films fit into that scenario somewhere... Daleks from an old Seventies cinema film meet the Daleks of an old sixties black and white episode - they combine as cohorts and then face the Daleks of Russell T Davies and grind them into the dust.


From the human condition ... to the meaning of life. I've spent years watching BB hoping against hope to discover the meaning of life ... and when, at last, it comes (from the mouth of Glyn), they censor it!!

And, at the end of a recent summary programme, two tragic clowns in Nowhere (Lea & Pete) tussle with the fateful misunderstandings of human relationships amid the heavy balloons of entropy.

I think Nikki got the word 'delusionalized' from the translation of Sartre's 'In Camera'.

I am getting fed up with Pete's nervous laugh which becomes entrammelled sometimes with his genuine tourette tics. A nervous laugh is, however, a common tic with many people, as is a tic to keep saying 'you know' or 'Ermmm'? Pete is an obvious character who will do well after BB. I'm not sure he knows his own proclivitics, however.

Although I enjoyed Pete's earlier 'subdued' (!) diatribes against the multinoiac jungle-jealousy that was once rife in the house, I can't help thinking that it is easy for him to be the insulated showman who has eschewed any emotional involvement with any one of the others.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The New Magic

Magic(al) Realism is described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism

Fiction that creates fiction from reality, e.g. 'Shalimar the Clown' by Salman Rushdie.

I think my division between this and Magic(al) Fiction (coined in this context?) has not been stated before. Fiction that creates reality from fiction.

My earlier experimental thoughts into this are shown here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2006/04/fiction.html

1st July: More brainstorming on this topic here: http://www.ligotti.net/viewtopic.php?p=4801

I intend to write an essay (or book!) about this division - concentrating on the work of Thomas Ligotti, Salman Rushdie, Susanna Clarke, HPL, Elizabeth Bowen, Anita Brookner, Rhys Hughes, Mark Samuels, Jeff VanderMeer, Jonathan Swift, Marcel Proust, William Blake, Charles Dickens...

But I need some brainstorming feedback first.

He had left no crumbs. In fact, he had no crumbs to leave.
The paradise garden is a magical place. We can only dream when there, but we cannot dream of it.




The candlemass stories (2006)




Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nemonymous Six

Bearing in mind its past themes and actual 'happenings' within its pages over the years, I suppose Nemonymous is the only on-going publication with the hinterland, authority, credentials, chutzpah, excuse & plausibility to have a blank (or invisible) edition to fill a necessary hiatus in its schedule! However, to request reviews of Nemo Six (as I do now) may be pushing it a bit - but any reviews I receive will be posted.

The submission guidelines for the non-blank Nemo Seven will be posted in November this year.


The candlemass stories (2006)




Saturday, June 24, 2006


Another in the series of contents lists:

TWISTED #6 horror & fantasy

Summer/Fall 1991 Issue 6



THE CULT OF PUKE by Miroslaw Lipinski

GOO by Jacques Servin

LOT’S DAUGHTERS by Marcelle Thiebaux

WAMPUS by Mark Rainey


THE IDOL by Bentley Little

MODEL WIFE by Anke Kriske

STILL LIFE WITH SKULLS by Charles Gramlich

MOMMA by Thomas Neveu



THE PITCHER PLANT by Steven Neal Schaffer

A SHOT RANG OUT TO SEA by Bobby G. Warner

ALL THE NEWS NOT FIT TO PRINT by Ralph Rainwater, Jr.

THE TIN MAN by J. L. Comeau

THE LAST LOVER by Mary Ann Mitchell

ANTICIPATION by Octavio Ramos, Jr

DOMINOES by Barry Hoffman

LISZT CONCERTO by George Egon Hatvary

DOODY’S DILEMMA by Albert J. Manachino

THE LAP POOL by R. L. Brockett

SHE COLLECTS... by Spott D. Yost

RETREAT by George W. Smyth

I SMILE FOR YOU, MY LOVE by Yvonne Navarro

PETALS by Roger Dale Trexler

UNCLE JIM by Thomas O’Connor



PlNATA by L David Gibeau

A PREY RARE AND ELUSIVE by Steven M. Oberbeck

NETWORKINGby Stefan Jackson


HUNTER AND HUNTED by Lisa Lepovetsky

NECRO LOVER by John B. Rosenman

DARK RENAISSANCE by Thomas Zimmerman

UNTITLED by Linda Bornstein

ON THE HALF SHELL by Sheryl L. Nelms

PET OF THE MONTH by Jacie Ragan

CASKET MAKER by Robert Baldwin

DES PLAINES: SUMMER OF 1985 by Jeffery Lewis

THE LOVE OF FLIES by Brian E. Drake

I AM A LIZARD by Joey Froehlich

TAKE A GOOD LOOK by C. Darren Butler

OLD CUTS by Bobby G. Warner



SECRET by Geri Eileen Davis




PAGE by Robert Baldwin

THE COLD MAN by Michael A. Arnzen


WATER DAMAGE by Ann K. Schwader

IN THE GAME by Dwight E. Humphries

MARKED DOWN by Wayne Edwards

GOD’S LAKE by Jeffery Lewis

POETICJUSTICE by Ann K. Schwader

AUGUST VAMPIRE by Lisa Lepovetsky

BLADE by Lisa Lepovetsky


UNTITLED by Linda Bornstein

COMMEMORATION byWilliam E. Passera


EAGLE EYE by Jacie Ragan

SUITE 101: THE DEMOLISHED MAN by Carl Buchanan


OCTOPUS by Sheryl L. Nelms

CANCER by Reta Taylor

FEEDING THE G0LEM by Eryc Bourland

FXUAL by Jana Hakes


PULP by Robert Baldwin






SISTERS by Robert H. Bradford


Allen Koszowski - front cover

Jon Bush - inside front cover

Doom - inside back cover

Randy Moore - back cover

Ray Basham Mark Bell Cathy Buburuz Jon Bush Doom
Christopher Friend Jim Garrison Belinda Jones Allen Koszowski Randy Moore Marge B. Simon

original logo design - Ronald Barre

editor & publisher Christine B. Hoard

co-publisher Ronald Barre

assistant editor - Nancy E. Olshausen

TWISTED #6 All rights reserved by the individual contributors. Published by Christine Hoard. Single copies are $6. All inquiries should be directed to Christine Hoard. TWISTED is a member and supporter of SPWAO (Small Press Writers & Artists Organization).

OUT OF OUR MINDS Here we are again with a strange mix of erotic horror, weird fantasy and generally scary stuff. Special thanks this issue to Nancy Olshausen for her excellent typesetting and Ron Barre for financial support. Due to the size of this issue, we had to drop your letters, Jean Claxton reviews, along with several stories we had hoped to include. Next issue, we’ll offer fiction from David Bruce, Kathleen Jurgens, Jeffery Lewis, John Maclay and much more. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this issue and tell us what you think. For the time being, we are still the first house on the left.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nemonymous Honours

Could you please tell any BFS members you know that I am offering Nemo 5 ITSELF free and freely delivered to any BFS member who needs to read it before voting. Not a Word Doc, but the magazine itself. All they need do is contact me at nemonymous@hotmail.com

Anyone at all who earlier *bought* a Nemo 5 will be able to claim both Nemo 6 & 7 for free.

The complete list for nemonymous five is as follows:

BFS story recommendations:
WELL TEMPERED by Neil Williamson
HUNTIN' SEASON by Monica O'Rourke

Another BFS recommendation:
Best Small Press: NEMONYMOUS

Ellen Datlow Honourable Mentions for Year's Best Fantasy & Horror:
WELL TEMPERED - Neil Williamson
SOUL STAINS - Robyn Alezanders
NEW SCIENCE - Gary McMahon

Missing Arrow

The Piano


Monday, June 19, 2006

Tales After Dark

Another in the series of contents lists from Small Press fiction publications of 1985-1999. Please forgive the fact that a story by DFL appears in most of these contents lists as I do have a LOT of contributor's copies!

Tales After Dark (2) (1986)
Edited and published in the UK by Garrie Hall (Garrie, where are you now?)
The front cover has a delightful goggle-eyed octopoid monster clambering over a Lovecraftian city of non-Euclidean propensities. The pages haven't been cut terribly well but the overall amateurdom is filtered through a professional dream of something quite beyond its own face value.

Into The Darkness (Editorial) - Garrie Hall

A Darker Shade Of White - Carl T Ford
Blood Atonement - Robert M Price
The Secret Of The Stanley House - John A Crow
The Last Supper - Donald R Burleson
Padgett Weggs - DF Lewis
Bearing With The Strain - Roger Johnson

Survivors - Brian Lumley
The Traveller's Tale - Roger Johnson
The Inmate - Brian Lumley
How Came The Demon? - Robert Longmuir

Why The Mythos? - Peter Jeffery
Gruesome Grimoires - Garrie Hall

Artwork: Allen Koszowski, Bill Jones, Stella Hender, Stephen Skwarek, Steve Hatherley.


Friday, June 16, 2006

The Stygian Dreamhouse &c.


The first in a series of contents lists in landmark Small Press magazines of the eighties and nineties:

In 1988, Mark Samuels edited and published a wonderful magazine entitled: THE STYGIAN DREAMHOUSE.

Its contents were original publications of these stories:
Metempsychosis – Mark Samuels
Connections – DF Lewis
Howls From A Blinding Curve – Simon Clark
The Dirty Picture – Peter F Jeffery
Before God – Steven Samuels

As well as an editorial by Mark, there was some amazing artwork by Desmond Knight and Steven Samuels.

Mark Samuels website: HERE.

The amazing NEMONYMOUS ARK speeches: HERE.

DFL's 1974 novel THE VISITOR is being presented HERE.

PF Jeffery's developmentally sensitive and significant speculative novel OF BONDLINGS AND BLESH (written during the eighties and nineties and now being rewritten in 2006) is presented HERE.


Monday, June 12, 2006

The Core Mythos &c.


I have now reached part 10 of 'publishing' my novel THE VISITOR on the internet: HERE.

This comprises the first embodied set of the then contemporary epistolary comments upon the novel by PF Jeffery (whom I first met in 1966 at Lancaster University after which we have been regularly letter-corresponding to the present date). These comments seem to prove that the novel was written in 1974, not 1973! They also refer to my then 'core mythos' which, in retrospect (I suppose), is central to my brand new trilogy of novels (THE TENACITY OF FEATHERS: The Hawler, Klaxon City & The Angel Megazanthus) which can be read for free from here: http://weirdmonger.blog-city.com/the_hawler.htm.

PF Jeffery (inter alia, the Red Brain in the much acclaimed and late-lamented DAGON magazine) is himself in the process of 'publishing' a currently re-written version of his novel THE SLAVE-GIRL OF SURREY (now entitled OF BONDLINGS AND BLESH) which, I feel, develops into a very sensitive and significant literary work of modern times, scandalously little read ... until now: http://www.bondlings.blogspot.com/.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Classical Music

I feel that Classical Music - in all its forms and times - is fiction injected straight into the vein.

For much music bracketed under the term, 'Classical' is not really the right word.

I know nothing about it technically but it is a continuous comfort and non-definable inspiration to me and my work.

This is an article I wrote about six years ago: HERE.

My favourite composers (among many) include: Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich, Philip Glass and, in particular, any number of modern composers to whose music I acclimatise myself by repeated listenings.

My personal definition of Classical Music:
A formless area (defaulting towards an aspirationally cultural & predominantly exact art form) within the universal, uncompartmentalised, wholly accessible language of sound commonly known as music: encouraging spirituality and/or various permutations of all human emotions -- centring on and radiating from the serious deployment of an ostensibly organised pattern of acoustic sounds as produced by orchestral instruments and voices (performed normally by established or qualified interpreters/musicians, from one to very many). The question of taste and the unknowable relativities of disharmony and harmony are no part of this description, because such affective considerations differ from individual to individual. I shall tailgate any preconceptions...


Thursday, June 08, 2006


The post-Nemo bios will now continue on another site, starting here with Rhys Hughes & Daniel Pearlman:

This blog will now return to my daily musings and some recent ones you may have read or want to re-read:

DFL's new novel THE HAWLER still starts for free: HERE

One of my favourite fiction writers, Brent Zirnheld, has just said this about it:
It's just impossible to write a review of such a unique experience. It's really the only book I've ever read that totally defies a rating on a five star scale. It's good, it's sometimes great, it's baffling, it's thought-provoking, it's infuriating, it's a bundle of emotion that leaves you thinking for quite some time afterward. It will never be published in the so-called "mainstream" press because it is so inaccessible for those who are used to linear narratives...or even experimentally non-linear narratives that wrap up by book's end. It's a gutsy performance that at times reads as though it was all made up as you went along, but then at other times feels like it has an impeccable internal logic that I was *this* close to deciphering if only I'd paid a bit more attention. In short, I enjoyed this baffling piece of work.

At present, DFL is laboriously typing out his 1973 novel THE VISITOR: HERE


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Eric Schaller / JaNell Golden



The Assistant to Doctor Jacob (Nemo 2)

Being published in Nemonymous convinced me to return to writing fiction, having taken a happy detour into illustration work for several years with little writing produced during that time. TATDJ had been languishing in a virtual drawer after collecting a few rejections, but I blew the bytes off the story and submitted it to Nemo, hoping that it might fit into Des’s vision for the magazine. When the story was accepted and came out in Nemo #2, it looked so damn good in its final form — a tribute to the professionalism of Nemo — that I almost didn’t care about the story any more just the beauty of words that I had ordered tumbling like acrobats down the page. The on-line discussion of the issue and its anonymous authors was eye-opening, and to me was the true benefit of nemonymity. Then, getting word that TATDJ had been chosen by Ellen Datlow for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, sealed the deal. I wanted to get more stories out there. Since then I‘ve published stories in Sci Fiction, Polyphony, and Lady’s Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, with one forthcoming in The New Book of Masks.



Gold coin picture on front cover (Nemo 3)

My essay on VIOLENT CASES, "Pay Attention: There May Or May Not Be A Man Behind The Curtain", will be in The Neil Gaiman Reader this fall (it's available for pre-order at Amazon now). If you want to know more
about the book (and get a web scoop on the contents because I rock like that), go to http://www.squidoo.com/neilgaimanreader.

Let's see, I've been working on my store at CafePress, JaZilla:

I've also been selling microstock photography, raising kids, serving coffee at my favorite coffee shop, and had my appendix burst on my 40th birthday.

JaNell, soon to be the answer to life, the universe, & everything.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Scott Tullis / Gary Couzens



The Death Knell (Nemo 4)
The Hills Are Alive (nemo 5)

In the scant few years since my two appearances in Nemonymous (I'm a relative newbie, having appeared at the tail end of the burgeoning Neumonemon) I've written mucho but published zippo. No excuses, really, other than the fact that I got married, bought a house, and am currently in the process of renovating portions of it (the house, not the marriage). I have a piece of fiction due out around the end of the year from Ash Tree Press, but let's face it: who doesn't? Am I right? Huh, kids? Upon publication of that piece I intend to begin shopping around my first short story collection, which I hope to name after one of my two Nemonymous contributions.

What difference has appearing in Nemonymous made? A huge personal one, considering that I've been an enormous fan of DF Lewis ever since reading "My Giddy Aunt" in a beat-up paperback copy of Year's Best Horror Stories many moons ago in a local used book store in Indianapolis, Indiana. Now that's one mighty tentacle across the Atlantic! The mind numbs. Since that day I set about collecting everything of his I could find, which was next to impossible, considering that the bulk of his output existed only in the UK small press (and this was in the days before
widespread personal computing, when the Net was still a fledgling, squishy little thing). But, I was resourceful, and persistent, and after spending many hundreds of dollars in shipping costs, I soon had a vast quantity of small press publications with which to fill my closet. It was like, heaven in a closet or something.

And then DF Lewis decides to publish everything he's ever written on the Internet for free. So there you go.

Des' note: Sorry, Scott! Still, I shall probably be deleting all the blogs before long - as a happening!



"A Smile in the Sky" (Nemonymous #1)
It's always an honour to have the opening story in the first issue of any magazine, let alone one as well presented as Nemonymous and with as consistently high a quality of fiction contained in its pages. I can't pretend that "A Smile in the Sky" is at all typical of my work - at 900 words it's the shortest story I've ever had published, shorter even than my contribution to the Thackery Lambshead Disease Guide anthology.

I'd like to be upbeat and say that my writing has gone from strength to strength since "Smile" appeared in 2001, but that wouldn't be true. I think I'm certainly writing better than before - well, anyone would, as all writers worth their salt are still learning until the day they stop. However, productivity has been hit; add the fact that certain stories that have originated in the 20th century ("Smile" among them) have finally found homes in the 21st, and the number of stories available to send out is countable on one hand - until I write some more! This is partly due to other interests, such as being the Chairman of the British Fantasy Society for three years, and the Awards Administrator for four. I've also written a large number of DVD, film and book reviews for various venues. But no excuses.

However, I'm nearing the end of the first draft of the first novel-length work I've completed since 1992 (and the first story since 1994 over 20,000 words). I was proud to have a short-story collection published in 2003 by Elastic Press that was well received, and I've just completed editing an anthology for the same publisher, Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music, which is due to be published in November.

So I'm still active, and I do intend to write more. Part of this is due to passing the "landmark" age of 40 and deciding what's important and what's less so. So let's draw a line over the last half-decade and move on.

I still live in Aldershot and work for a major telecommunications company. When relaxing, I'm teaching myself to play the bass guitar.


Jorge Candeias / Iain Rowan



The Place Where Lost Things Go (Nemo 3)

After having had a story accepted to Nemo 3, I lost my job as a journalist and became part of the unemployed world. The story was actually published already during my... hm... labour break. Since I had lots of free time, in the beginning of 2003 I wrote a novel that was rejected when I tried to publish it (not really hard: I only tried one publisher), and went on writing a few short stories (a couple of them in english) until the harsh realities of life settled in. If you think the Brits are world experts in quiet desperation, try being unemployed in the poorest country of Western Europe in the middle of an economic recession. Anyway, eventually I ceased writing altogether, focusing my energy in survival, although some of the stories I had written before eventually got published here and there, mostly in electronic media but also in some magazines - I had a few jobs and took some time to earn some money in professional formation, nothing worth mentioning, really. Now I'm translating. I translated a few Howard short stories (Conan and the Puritan), a novel by James Runcie and I'm now working on an alternate history novel. So I'm back writing... sort of. And to be completely faithful to truth, I did write some very short (and very unsophisticated) stories during my recess.

Regarding the influence Nemo had in my career, since I don't quite have a career at the moment, the question isn't applicable. I got to have my name in Wikipedia and a number of English-speaking SF&F databases, though, and had my story read by a number of influential people, so one never knows what the future might bring. At least my name isn't equal to absolute zero in the English-speaking world anymore. It's close, but not quite absolute. It's worth, say, half a degree Kelvin...



Ice Age (Nemo 2)
Driving In Circles (Nemo 5)

How Am I Getting On?
I've published a fair few stories in various places since Ice Age, such as Postscripts, Polyphony, Black Gate, Ellery Queen's, and Alfred Hitchcock's. My writing's always split between weird fiction and crime fiction, and in the last year or two the latter's taken the upper hand.

I'm now concentrating on longer fiction: I've just finished the revisions to a YA novel, 'Sea Change', and my novel in progress, 'One of Us', has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger.

What difference Nemo made:
Ice Age was the first story that anybody paid me money for. The thought that someone considered that my writing was worth that, was a real boost when I was getting started. Somebody believed. And that helped me believe.

I remember talking with Des when Nemo was just a gleam in his eye; it was great to see it become (sur)real, and I was proud that my stories appeared in it. While one of the good things about Nemo was that the anonymity focussed your attention on the stories themselves, there's an irony in that one of the things about it that I loved most was Nemo as an artifact. Beautifully designed and printed, it was nice just as an object. I'm shallow that way.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Joel Lane / Antony Mann



'The Drowned', Nemonymous 2

What's happened since? Leaving aside some difficult years in my life, there's been:

+ a second novel, The Blue Mask (Serpent's Tail, 2003), in which the protagonist changes his name and identity;

+ a Lane-edited anthology, Beneath the Ground (The Alchemy Press, 2003), featuring a story by the mighty Captain Nemo himself;

+ a new collection of poems, Trouble in the Heartland (Arc Publications, 2004), including a poem lamenting the closure of Andromeda Bookshop;

+ a new collection of supernatural horror stories, The Lost District and other stories (Night Shade Books, 2006), including a de facto denemonised reprint of 'The Drowned'.

What has Nemonymous done for me? Reminded me that, like a love letter on a whitewashed wall, fiction is about getting your message across - not about attaching your name to some words. As Scott Walker said:

Extensions through dimensions
Leave you feeling cold and lame
Boy child mustn't tremble
Because he came without a name



Mighty Fine Days (Nemo 2)

It was great to see Mighty Fine Days appear in Nemonymous - as a story about losing one's identity, it seemed very apt. My short fiction has appeared in other places since - Crimewave, Interzone, Ellery Queen's, Poe's Progeny - and in 2003 Andy Hook of Elastic Press fame very kindly published my first collection, Milo & I. I've been working on drama since then. My short film Billy's Day Out won at Edinburgh in 2004, and last year I was commissioned to write an adaptation of the Peter Grimes story. My current project is a black comedy called Friends Like These, being developed through Screen South's Good Foundations Plus programme.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Jay Lake / Tamar Yellin



Past Nemo writer Jay Lake ("Apologising to the Concrete", Nemonymous 4) is pleased to report that words continue to flow. Of late he has sold novels to Night Shade Books and Tor, whilst his Nemo story has just been translated into Esperanto. He also reports loose marmosets in the bathroom, but this should probably be discounted.



The Unmiraculous Life Of Jackie Mendoza (Nemo 1)
Genie (Nemo 3)
In The Steam Room (Nemo 3)

My novel 'The Genizah at the House of Shepher' was published last year by The Toby Press and was shortlisted for this year's Wingate Prize. My collection, 'Kafka in Brontëland and other stories' appeared from Toby in April and has been longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Stories have appeared in 'The Nine Muses' (Wheatlands Press) and the journal 'Maggid' and in the forthcoming 'New Book of Masks.'

Appearing in 'Nemo' was an aesthetically satisfying and also a very interesting experience. The contents were more widely and no doubt more honestly reviewed than any other magazine I've been part of (most magazines I've appeared in don't get reviewed at all!). Nemonymous is a unique and landmark publication and in the long term scheme of things, whatever Des says, not a failure in the least. I've no doubt its five+ issues will become collector's items, not to mention Issue Six, which future bibliomaniacs will surely seek endlessly to their own madness.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lavie Tidhar / Monica O'Rourke



The Ballerina (Nemo 3)
Grandma's Two Watches (Nemo 5)

My story in Nemonymous #3 was my first proper sale, and it made a big difference. Since then I've sold stories to Sci Fiction (sadly, the last one published before it folded last year) and to two other Ellen Datlow-edited anthologies (look out for my story, "My Travels with Al-Qaeda" in Salon Fantastique – co-edited by Datlow and Terry Windling – towards the end of the year), to Strange Horizons, Postscripts, and a fair number of others. My novella "An Occupation of Angels", was published in paperback in the UK by Pendragon Press, and I was a finalist for Writers of the Future last year. I've also been making a documentary film about SF which is currently in pre-editing – it will take some time to be finished! – and I keep being published semi-regularly in countries such as Greece, China and Poland, with some new French translations coming soon.

My story in Nemonymous #5, "Grandma's Two Watches", has a particular meaning for me, both for being a very personal story, and for being my first Hebrew story to be published in an English translation – I don't write many stories in Hebrew, and I'm delighted that they seem to do as well as the ones written in English – Ellen Datlow is taking another one for a new SF anthology from St. Martin's.

I enjoyed my "Nemonymous Experience", the beautiful production of the books, the high quality of the stories, Des' more-than-occasional ramblings, and the whole debate it sometimes stirred across the Internet. I also loved making up user-names to send Des stories with. CaptainNemo101 and Nemo Nymous and all the rest of the crew. It's been fun! And I'm delighted Des is re-launching Nemo – may it live long, and prosper.



The Rest Of Larry (Nemo 3)
Huntin' Season (Nemo 5)

How Am I Getting On?
Well, Just last month I won the Nobel Prize for my discovery of how malaria enters an organism. I also would have won the National Book Award, but they told me you actually have to have a book published currently for that to happen. Dammit. I studied Mermaids in Calcutta, which wasn't easy, believe me. They were damned hard to find. Other than that, same old, same old.

What difference Nemo made:
What do you mean? Was I in Nemonymous???

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Visitor 1973

Just to announce that the complete novel I wrote in 1973 entitled:
is about to be blogged. Watch this space.
Never submitted anywhere and, so far, only read by two people.

Meanwhile, please have a go at reading my latest novel THE HAWLER (2005) that is now achieving more and more positive feedback: HERE.

STOP PRESS (3 June 2006):
Prologue of The Visitor here:

Neil Williamson / Brendan Connell



"Well Tempered" (Nemo 5)

How I am getting on:
Things are going well. Those who enjoyed 'Well Tempered' can find it, and others like it, in my collection, "The Ephemera", which was published by Elastic Press on May 1st (and those who weren't so keen on 'Well Tempered' can also find lots of stories that aren't like it at all in the same collection). Currently I'm putting the last coups de grace to a novel that has put up a hell of a fight, but I think I've pretty much got it tamed now.

What difference (if any) Nemo made :
Every story publication makes a difference, I suppose, but what was different about Nemo? I suppose those readers that like playing the game of who wrote what might have guessed that any number of authors wrote 'Well Tempered' (and it'd be interesting to know what their guesses were - although I'm pretty sure none of them would have guessed right!). Perhaps, then, Nemo readers pay more attention to the author names when they are finally revealed?
All that aside though, the whole process was FUN!



Sirens (Nemo 3)
Maledict Michela (Nemo 4)

How am I getting on?
Well, since my last appearance in Nemonymous, I have had a couple of books published: "The Translation of Father Torturo" (Prime), and "Dr. Black and the Guerrillia" (Grafitisk). I have also had a number of short stories published in some good places, including 'McSweeney’s' and 'Adbusters'. Other than that, finishing up a couple of new novels and collections. Also, my story "Maledict Michela", which appeared in Nemo 4, is due to be translated into Portuguese in a magazine called 'Phantastes', and into Greek in a magazine called 'Universe Pathways'.

What difference Nemo made:
I don’t know. Two of my stories were published in the magazine, so surely it has made some difference, for the better. But I will leave it to greater minds than my own to calculate what the difference
has been.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Adrian Fry / D Harlan Wilson


Every writer's life is either pre-Nemo or post-Nemo.

Nemo's Ark

For those appearing here in pairs as the current post-Nemo Bios, I'm suggesting that each pair (as shown already or in the future) write a story collaboration! As Tony Mileman was the first bio in, his prize is collaborating with me! :-)

Not a commission, but a suggestion!

Actually, the pairings happen purely on the timing of the bios appearing in my in-box. So they are random.
Interesting exercise? Maybe. But no pressure, of course!

Random literary catalysms?



Determining The Extent (Nemo 4)

The Nemonymous experience was a good one for me. I had several positive reactions to DETERMINING THE EXTENT by email and some perplexed reactions from friends who felt the story didn't seem like mine at all. Though I continue to have occasional competition pieces published in The Spectator, New Statesman and The Oldie, my 'serious' output has entirely dried as I squander my time watching Quizmania and thinking about death.

Additional note from Des:
'Determining The Extent' is an all time favourite of mine in or out
of Nemo.



Since my Nemo publications, "Digging for Adults" (Nemo 3) & "The Rorschach Interpreter" (Nemo 4), I have continued to publish short stories regularly; I published a book, "Pseudo-City" (Raw Dog Screaming Press 2005), I have another book coming out, my first novel, "Dr. Identity" (RDSP 2007); my first book, "The Kafka Effekt" (Eraserhead Press 2001), is currently being translated into Spanish by a Mexican publisher; I took over as editor-in-chief of 'The Dream People: A Journal of Bizarro Literature' (http://www.dreampeople.org); I graduated with my Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University (2005); I have a number of critical literary essays coming out on films such as 'Vanilla Sky', 'Dark City' and 'Army of Darkness'; I may be publishing a book of literary theory, "Technologized Desire", based on my dissertation; I landed a tenure-track position teaching literature and writing at Wright State University-Lake Campus in Ohio; and I got married! That's me in a nutshell over the past 2 years ...


Andrew Hook / Richard Gavin



Vole Mountain (Nemo 4)
Like A Slow Motion War (a collaboration with Allen Ashley in Nemo 4)

How am I getting on.
This year is looking good with autumn seeing the publication of "Residue", a collection of some of my non-genre stories from HalfCut Publications, and "Slow Motion Wars", a collection of collaborative stories written with Allen Ashley appearing from Bradan Press. I'm still looking for that elusive major novel sale, however, although short stories remain my true love. My web address is http://www.andrew-hook.com.

What difference (if any) Nemo made?
The main difference was in my approach to anonymity. When Nemo first arrived it seemed little more than a gimmick, but getting into such a lovely-looking (and even lovelier paying) publication changed my view. It was exciting to know that my work had been chosen without any preconceptions, and interesting to see reviews formed on the same basis. My writing "career" continues to trundle on regardless, however being published in Nemo was rather special and a feeling that I hope to replicate at some point in the not too distant future!

Note from Des: Andrew is also founder of the very successful fiction publisher: Elastic Press.



Berenice's Journal (Nemo 2)

In many ways my 2002 appearance in 'Nemo' marked the beginnings of an upwards trajectory with my writing.

Since then I have had a full-length book of horror tales, CHARNEL WINE, published by Rainfall Books, to much critical acclaim, (even garnering a preliminary recommendation for the British Fantasy Society Award). Another collection, OMENS, is currently poised for release by Mythos Books. I've also written an on-line illustrated narrative, PALACE OF SHADOWS. My short stories have earned Honorable Mentions in THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR series and continue to appear in various anthologies; POE'S PROGENY (Gray Friar Press) and HORRORS BEYOND (Elder Signs Press) among the more recent. I've recently completed a novella of supernatural horror that is under consideration by a U.S. publisher. In addition, I am a frequent contributor of articles and book reviews to 'Rue Morgue' magazine and am currently working on a novel of psychological horror.

Last but not least: in 2004 I had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with our noble Nemo Czar, (a.k.a. Des Lewis) on a tale of Lovecraftian musical mutation, 'Variations on the Vile.'*

My appearance in 'Nemonymous' was helpful in the sense that it proved to me that small-press publications can demonstrate the highest artistry, both in production value and content. 'Berenice's Journal' remains a favourite of mine and is thus far the only tale I've written where other authors have, of their own accord, penned a sequel.

*Note from Des: This was published in "Book Of Dark Wisdom"


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Simon Clark / Bruce Golden



The Idiot Whistled Dead (Nemo 1)

How Am I Getting On?
I've been writing full-time since 1995; it's a wonderful if precarious way to earn a living (sometimes crazily so). To be published by Nemo anonymously was a departure for me but gave me an opportunity to take off the Simon Clark mask and don another that allowed me to venture into a place where there were no limits, and no precedents to write in a certain way. Since my appearance in Nemo 1 I've continued writing horror novels and short stories.
In 'Vampyrrhic Rites' I got the chance to name-check Nemo and mention the fictionalised editor, Mr. Siwel -- ok, as codes go it won't win prizes. My latest novel is 'London Under Midnight' and deals with my fascination / phobias of urban rivers and hidden, underground places. And it's places that often latch onto my imagination to the point I find myself writing about them. Last year I made the short film, 'Inspired', about how a walk along a Roman road near where I live helped trigger a story. If you want to take a look it can be found at doncaster.tv

What difference Nemo made:
I am proud to be part of such a courageous venture as Nemo. If anything Nemo has become a little voice in the back of my head telling me to be more courageous and more adventurous with my writing. Lately, I've ventured into a more experimental fiction that fuses horror with science fiction. 'Death's Dominion', due out in November is inspired by a bizarre mix of Frankenstein, graveyards and the music of Jacques Brel.



"The Withering" (Nemo 4)

How I Am Getting On:
Shortly after "The Withering" was published in Nemo #4 back in 2004, my part-time job as a communications director for a non-profit youth group ended. The good news was that, since then, I’ve been able to write full-time. The bad news, I’m trying to live on a meager savings and the pittances I make from my fiction. I now list my occupation as "starving artist." Since Nemo I’ve sold stories to 'Farthing', 'Forgotten Worlds', 'Lenox Avenue', 'Reflection’s Edge', 'Leafing Thru', 'Aberrant Dreams', and 'Shadowed Realms'. My story "Moonlight Serenade" (based on the mysterious disappearance of bandleader Glenn Miller) will be published in 'Oceans of the Mind' June/2006. My story "I Found Love on Channel 3," which won the Firebrand Fiction award, will be included in the anthology 'North of Infinity II', which is also due out June/2006. After nine months of writing and more than two years of searching for an agent or publisher, my second novel 'Better Than Chocolate' was acquired by Zumaya Publications. It will be out early in 2007. My third novel, 'Evergreen', is complete, and currently making the rounds to find itself a publishing home. And, despite its release by a tiny publisher with absolutely no marketing or distribution, my first novel 'Mortals All' (http://shamanpress.tripod.com) has now sold more than 500 copies – a minor miracle of sorts.

What Difference (if any) Nemo made:
What my Nemo sale was to me was another tidbit of encouragement to keep at it. A reward for the hard work, because, even though I’ve managed to sell much of my writing, we all know it’s not an easy process, and often takes years for even a short story to click with an editor and find a home.