Meanwhile across town…

In an experiment to reduce speeding in a town, a consultant put up signs that advised motorists that each month, a random driver recorded as driving at the speed limit would receive a $500 cash prize. The average speed of the road users dropped to the posted speed limit overnight.

The message there is that we respond better to positive reinforcement and incentives.

So while things are irritating in one aspect, other things are far more positive.

Paper Road Press – the publisher of Engines of Empathy, is having a giveaway of the book later this week on Goodreads.

They are also keen to support the new graphic novel project I am working on in conjunction with KC Bailey – artist extraordinaire. Given the workload for Paper Road right now, publishing a graphic novel is not within their capacity.

The other exciting news around the graphic novel project is that we may have a publisher who will take on the publishing side of things (as publishers do). That will mean book store distribution, full colour copies of the graphic novel and other delightful things.

No guarantees on that yet of course. But it’s looking like it might possibly could happen.

Severed Press have contracted me to write two marine thriller novellas.

I’m working on a kid’s book project with another company.

I’ve got some short stories out now, or coming out this year.

My new job is good.

Mad Max: Fury Road starts on Thursday. I shall see it. Several times.

Max To The Max

The Nightrider. That is his name… the Nightrider… Remember him when you look at the night sky!

~ Toecutter “Mad Max”

HPL

HP Lovecraft was plagued by aggressive lint on his suit jackets.

In the small town where I was born and raised, on a dark and mountainous coast that would have made H.P. Lovecraft uneasy, we had one movie theatre, The Mayfair. Films were shown on Fridays and Saturdays each week, by the next week, it would be something else.

The place was old with leather seats and sculpted plaster sconces that spoke of a grander time.

The old theatre was my favourite place in the entire world. We didn’t have a TV, so films were a speedball directly into my eyeball and fevered imagination. It was here I walked out of The Wizard Of Oz and it stands as the one film I have never seen, and never will. Here’s why.

In August, 1977 we were living on a small farm, under the shadow of a mountain range, between the mountains and the sea. It was an alluvial flood plain, which meant that if there was a market for river smoothed grey rocks, we would have lived like kings. Most of the paddocks were more rocks than dirt and I remember spending many long hours loading them onto the tractor trailer and dumping them along a fenceline.

Our farm looked like this – but with more grass

 

Early one morning that August, we were hit by a storm. Due to the shape of the land the wind would come down off the mountain like an X-Games skateboarder and we were at the bottom of the slope. Gusts would come through and tear roofs of houses, rip trees out of the ground, and 7 years later another storm of the same variety it tied 1 inch thick angle iron into knots.

Our car was crushed, trees came down on the house, and we spent weeks clearing fallen trees. I was five years old and it was my first experience with what we would now call PTSD.

A year or so later, we went to see The Wizard of Oz at the local movie theatre. They often played kids movies in matinee sessions. I vaguely remember getting to the bit where the tornado hit, and then I was outside. I have no idea what the rest of the film is about. I know there was a girl and red-shoes and witches and a road. I still can’t watch it.

The only other film that freaked me out as a child was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – and that was just the scene where they put the bug in Chekov’s ear. I went to the bathroom for that bit and then loved the rest of the movie.

The idea of restricted films was of course something we were in awe of as kids. R13 – cool… R16 ooohh… R18? What the hell could qualify for an R18 rating? Discussion suggested in a movie with an R18 rating, people actually died.

The gave this movie an R18 rating because people died in it!

Along with the usual kids fare, I saw all three Star Wars movies in that theatre. The resounding shock I felt when Luke Skywalker’s parentage was announced resonates with me still. One of the great frustrations was when we were away the one weekend that the Mayfair was showing Battletruck, the Kiwi version of a Mad Max dystopian action movie.

My love affair with all things apocalyptic really started with that film. Having missed it the first time around, I got into see Mad Max instead. Then Mad Max 2 and later, in a much larger movie house in Christchurch, Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome.

What is it about the Mad Max franchise that completes me? I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it is the fact that Max was never a good man. He was a driven, angry, killer. In D&D terms, his alignment was Chaotic Neutral. He looked out for himself and did what he had to, just to survive.

The insurance excess on this is going to be killer…

 

Sometimes he would do good, other times he would do evil – always looking out for number one and always surviving. I guess I felt a connection with his sheer grit and grimness. This was a man who knew pain. He knew misery and he kept going.

It’s not some boyish hero fantasy, I had shit going on that left me with an intense feeling of connection with the tortured soul of Max.

With Mad Max: Fury Road finally coming to theatres in 9 days’ time, I feel that I’m in a different place now. Calmer, less tortured and still completely mad for post-apocalyptic fiction. George Miller has an eye for the grand. His visions of barbaric wastelands have always been unlike anyone else.

The epic scale of the madness of the land and the people who have become savage and primitive in it, has always required a character like Max. If you fight fire with fire, you fight insanity with madness.

How You Do It

There was a guy I used to know, a fellow nursing student, who wore a T-shirt that said:

Nookie; Just Did It.

I think he graduated.

I’ve been working with an established Australian publisher to formulate a deal for writing some books. Severed Press expressed interest in hearing proposals, so I wrote a bunch of ideas based on current, unpublished original WIP’s I have.

They rejected all of them except one that they wanted to change quite a bit. Further discussion gave more clarity around what for them would be a sweet spot in my creative contributions to their publishing empire.

Continue reading

Where The Wild Thinks Are

A couple of years ago I spent the day at a High School, talking to English classes of students aged 15-17 about writing. It was a fun day, the kids were smart, engaged and I like to perform.

During a library Q&A session a girl asked, “Where do you get your ideas from?”Poop

It’s the most common question authors get along with, “Why?”

My stock answer is, “I order my ideas online. They come from a factory in China, in a cardboard box labelled Tractor Parts.

I then went on to talk about how it works. For creative types (which is anyone who actually stops long enough to poke at a random thought) ideas come from everywhere.

The best ideas come from asking What If?

The rest is just typing until your fingers bleed.

Continue reading

Writing for a LAF

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” ~ Winston Churchill

I learned some new management-speak today. In a culture that thrives on keywords, catch-phrases and some really incomprehensible assaults on the English language, this one stood out in a good way.

Lead. Align. Follow.

I immediately thought of how this applies to writers. We are a constantly moving organism with a million individual writers and artists, each of us working in isolation for the most part. We read widely, we write furiously.

Continue reading

The Tattooed Baby Kickstarter Castle Whale

If you call yourself Save the Whales, every once in a while you have to save a whale.

~ Tom Ahern

 Once upon a time… if you wanted to go into business you worked a day job, saved up some money. Wrote a business plan and went to the bank and seriously considered giving oral pleasure to the loan officer behind the desk in order to get the funds you needed to maybe get your business off the ground.

Continue reading

Dying of Exposure

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

~ Groucho Marx

The Universe isn’t sentient.

Readers are sentient (mostly)

Neither the Universe or the reading public owe me a favour or charity.

It is popular to say, There is a remarkable sense of entitlement among writers. We all expect (nay, demand!) overnight success and that every man and his dog (good dog) read our every word and buy our books and leave reviews and so on and so forth.

Continue reading

A Book Is A Condom.

“I’m sure the only act that sells more books than a good banning is a good burning.”
~ Pansy Schneider-Horst

EBook reading devices are like telephones in call centres. Sometimes you want to throw a book across the room and sometimes you want to slam the phone down in an arseholes ear. With eBook readers, like call centre telephones, you just can’t get that satisfaction.

Continue reading

Rodeo Brain

I’ve blogged before about my diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

It’s a contentious condition. Some believe it’s nothing more than an excuse for drug companies to medicate children.

I used to think that it wasn’t a real condition aOzymandiasnd the symptoms came on when kids were on lifestyles high in sugar and low in physical activity.

Some research and the risk of losing my job sent me to a specialist who agreed with my doctor’s diagnosis and I’ve been on Ritalin since November 2014.

The difference is remarkable. I can focus now. I can do things. I am no longer like Ozymandias, in Watchmen watching all those televisions at the same time.

Ritalin is a stimulant, it’s an upper. It boosts your brain’s feel-good chemicals – which you would think is the last thing someone with hyperactivity issues would need. Right?

Continue reading

The Erotica of Agatha Christie

“But surely for everything you have to love you have to pay some price.”

~ Agatha Christie

Debate rages, it’s what debate does. People like nothing more than debating stuff. Debate leads to all kinds of silliness and the only thing I feel we can be sure about is that there is always evidence for both sides of any argument.

Continue reading