New Rules…

From time to time I feel that we ( humanity in general, and writers specifically) need some new rules to live by. (yer okay I am totally borrowing this concept from elsewhere). Occasionally I just need to get them out of my system as well…

Here are some recent ‘new rules’ that have occurred to me…

New Rule#1. The Bush Rule. War’s are no longer to be conducted against verbs, if you are declaring a war, it has to be against a noun…

New Rule#2. The May Rule. Leaders of political parties must never be seen dancing, including but not exclusively, up to the podium before making a speech…

New Rule#3. The Hipster Rule. No one is allowed Chinese character tattoos unless they have verified first what the characters mean with someone who actually speaks Chinese:

New Rule#4. The Specific Case I Know Of Rule.  Having ‘Beef noodle soup’ tattooed on your back (in Chinese characters) is not an expression of your spirituality.

New Rule#5. The Hemmingway Rule. If you would never use the word as part of your normal vocabulary, don’t use it when you write.

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New Rule#6. The EL James Rule. If you don’t actually have a vocabulary don’t write till you develop one.

New Rule#6. The Dan Brown Rule. When the villain shows up a third of the way into a novel don’t hang a  large sound around ethre neck saying ‘I am the villain, look at me’, and expect people not to notice.

New Rule#7. The Megan Harry Rule. A woman getting pregnant to her husband six months after they got married does not constitute a major international news story.

New Rule#8. The Internet Reviewer Rule. No opinions on the quality or worth of a movie should be expressed in any way until it has actually been released.

New Rule#9. The Ghostbusters rule. Remaking a movie classic with a new twist is not destroying your childhood, get over yourselves.

New Rule#10. The Doctor Rule. Two hearted Aliens from another world who travel throughout time and space and periodically regenerate into occasionally older, more Scottish, version of themselves, can also regenerate as a female alien with a Yorkshire accent. again get over yourselves.

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New Rule#11. Your Opinion Rule. You’re entitled to have one at odds to my own, but I am entitled to mock it, if its is rediclous…

New Rule#12. The New Rule, Rule. All new rules are subject to revision, the rules can and will change, except the ones about Doctor Who as Jodie Whittaker’s doctor has been frankly awesome so far…

 

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Pickman’s Model: TCL #49

Whatever your opinion on the literary merits of the tentacle loving stenographer of old Providence town, it is hard to ignore the sheer influence his works have had on the wider fictional and creative world. That influence is not restricted to his more famous works alone. It’s not all Cthulhu and elder gods, mansions of madness, a fair chunk of Stephen King novels and stranger things… His less well-known works have had influences far beyond what you would by rights expect for a writer who in his own time was little known and published in periodicals and often only the amateur press.

It’s a subject I have wondered across before in this vainglorious quest to read his collected works. Sweet Ermengarde, for example, is not just a little known ‘comedy’ but is also where a German goth metal band ( currently touring the UK as it happens) got its name. (they are quite good too, and if I get chance I plan to get tickets for one of their northern gigs ). That’s only one of several musical diversions inspired by Lovecraft’s fiction. There is plenty of other stuff out there. And so we come to Pickman’s Model…

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In the case of this little tale however what it has influenced is a  little on the odd side. Because this tale, of an artist who has a passion for the macabre and who takes his work a tad too far, influences a whole subquest line in the extremely popular Fall Out 4. Indeed this tale set, like fall out 4, in Boston, led to the design of a house of horrors, the macabre portraits of bloody corpses drawn from ‘life’ after the artist hacked up bodies to pose for him in his old townhouse in the dark streets of northern Boston. If anything the Fall Out team took things further than are hinted at in the tale itself, and the blood-soaked rooms in the game are only hinted at in the tale. While Pickman himself, or at least his actions, can be found throughout the game world, in the notes he has left on the mutilated remains his would-be models. The artist come, serial killer, is one of the most viscerally repellant characters in a game set in a post-nuclear future. Not bad for a character in a run of the mill little tale that never quite pulls off what I suspect Lovecraft was trying to achieve. you can also decorate your own buildings (in game) with his artwork, if you appreciate his aesthetic. Though if you do, well your taste is questionable…

But to the story itself that inspired the Fall Out 4 fun and games… Follows a slightly different path, but one which is no less horrific in its inception. Lovecraft’s Pickman is not a serial killer painting his crimes but a man who has sought out the dwellers in the darkness. His paintings of ghoulish grotesquery are painted form life. And in the end, having stared into the abyss as it were…  Well, Nietzsche has something to say on that subject.

This isn’t the strongest piece of Lovecraft fiction, but at the same time it is far from the weakest either, at the end of the day it’s a middling little tale. Like much of Lovecraft, what it has inspired is so much more than the subject of that inspiration. So it’s a steady three tentacles, read it, don’t read it, its hard to recommend or not.

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Further Lovecraftian witterings as ever can be found here

On the other hand, stalking Pickman through the cellars of his house and trying not to look too closely at the twisted piles of bodies he has arranged as art installations in Fall Out 4 I can highly recommend…

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Cider Lane at a Sale price on Kindle for the week…

As the title says. My first novel, which was published way back in the dim dark days of 2015, is on at a promotional price on Kindle this week of only 99c/99p.

It’s a novel about bullying, self-harm, coping mechanisms, withdrawal from the world, tragedy, and finding a way back from the brink of the void. It’s also about love, companionship, truth and joy. It’s complex, different and derived in part from personal experience. It is probably the most straightforwardly honest thing I will ever write, it is also nothing like anything else I have ever written. I am extremely proud of this odd little difficult to place book. More proud that so many people have managed to find their own truths within it, for people have taken things from the novel I never intended, but everyone who has read it seemed to have taken something from it. Some have laughed at the funny bits, some have wept at the sad bits, some have sent me messages telling me the ending upset them, or shocked them or just how much they enjoyed it.

So, right now is the perfect opportunity for you to try it yourself, or if you have already read it, to nudge someone else towards giving it a go.

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I don’t put my books on promotion prices with Kindle that often, so if your willing to take a chance on it, do so while you can.

Its a novel of the lost and the broken. Of sharing the silences, talking to the stars, and the importance of tin openers.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cider-Lane-silences-contemporar…/…/

https://www.amazon.com/Cider-Lane-silences-contemporary-…/…/

I never ask people to like and share, it feels like cheating…

Please like and share 🙂

 

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What’s in a name…

When I first began writing I had an aim in mind. Well I say that now, in truth many years have passed so this statement is a tad spurious, but certainly, as long as I prepared to remember I had a definite aim in mind. It was a simple enough aim. I wanted to see my name on the spine of a novel on a bookshop shelf. On the cover as well, but mostly the spine, because that is where you see most authors names. The exceptional ones, the famous ones, you’ll see their names on the cover when you look at a bookshop shelf. As one or two of there books will face front. But my dreams were never that ambitious. I would be happy to see my name on the spines of books on bookshop shelves.

This was an aim from way back. From the days where the place you went for books was always a bookshop. But it is an aim I still have, such a simple aim don’t you think.

Sure I want to write good books, even great books if I have any say in it, but having written them, I want to see my name on them. I want to hand a copy to my mum, (and there goes the image of the hard-boiled cynic.) with my name on it. The name she gave me when I was born, and while I am still waiting on the day, I walk into Waterstones and see my name on the spines that grave their shelves, that simple idea of handing my mum and dad a copy of a novel I have written was achieved some time ago now. And hey, you know what, that was a great day, (even though my sister had already bought my mum a copy before I got down to see her and ruined the surprise utterly… ) Such is the way with dreams…

My parents gifted me with two names, unlike my sister, and my brother I have no middle name. Just Mark Hayes, and a file name that might be. Mark is derived from the Roman Marcus, and means of mars, the Roman version of Ares, god of war. While my surname Hayes is derived from the Irish pantheon and means descendant of Aed god of fire. So it’s a fine name, a name derived from the gods themselves… Which may explain its annoying popularity…

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Therein lays the problem. As I have no middle name, as I am just plain Mark Hayes, and as I don’t have any desire to use a pen name, all my books are listed as written by Mark Hayes, my author’s page on Amazon is the author’s pages of Mark Hayes. Where you can find all my work,… But if you search Amazon by my name you don’t get a link to my author’s page, what you get is twenty pages of results.

  • There are the works of Mark Hayes, the writer of church organ music.
  • Mark Hayes, the arranger of gospel music ( who may be the same one)
  • The works of Mark Hayes, the Irish guy who lives in LA and writes books about being dumb, with Robbie Williams
  • The Mark Hayes who wrote a book about the Ideology of fascism and the far right in Britain

And several others. All of which are not this Mark Hayes. You see the problem?

Mark Hayes, the novelist, is my brand. It is who I am, and whom I want people to read. With due respect to all the other writers called Mark Hayes, I don’t want my brand, such that is is, confused with thiers. Even the Irish guy whom books look fun, ( really must get around to buying one just to satisfy my curiosity there.). The guy writing about the far right may not be of that inclination himself ( I sort of hope he is not) but I don’t want to be associated with his books either. I don’t want people looking for their books buying mine by mistake, or vice versa, I don’t want to infringe on their brands any more than I want them infringing on mine. (though I am sure the lovers of church organ music are unlikely to buy Cider Lane by mistake, mildly hilarious through that may be given some aspects of that novel.)

I started this saying I had an aim in mind when I started writing all those years ago, and certainly, it was true when I finished my first novel back in 2015. So it never occurred to me at the time to check if my name was already common parlance. It never occurred to me I should perhaps consider a pen name, and I suspect it never occurred to Patricia and John Hayes back in the grim dark days of March 1970 to give their son a middle name on the off chance he published his first novel 45 years later. So I don’t even have a simple option of using my middle initial… Like good old Phil K Dick ( the K stands for Kindred btw.. strange but true)  If I want to stand out, or more to the point want to differentiate myself from my fellow writers I will just have to make one up…

So at some point, I suspect I will, and Mark Hayes will become Mark D Hayes ( D for danger, as “Danger is my middle name”. because, why not?)  or Mark F Hayes because well Mark F-wording Hayes appeals to the 70’s child rebel in me. Or Mark (insert letter here) Hayes, because the letter doesn’t matter.

But that’s the problem, no matter what middle letter I chose, no matter what reasoning I use to come up with one. It won’t be my name on those books any more, not the name I was given back in the day days of 1970. When life was simpler, and google didn’t exist…

21st centuries problems and all that…

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The Wise, The Witty And The Wicked

Words of wisdom, wit and occasionally wickedness from writers a little more famous than myself…

Because, with NaNoWriMo 2018 just around the corner, we all need a little inspiration once in a while…

The Wise…

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” ~ Neil Gaiman

“So what? All writers are lunatics!” ~ Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

The Witty

“I wouldn’t mind leaving myself behind if I could, but I don’t know the way out.” ~ Gregory Maguire

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” ~ Frank Herbert

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” ~ Winston S. Churchill

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” ~ Isaac Asimov

And The Wicked

“The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life.” ~ Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.” ~ Jonathan Swift

“One must be cunning and wicked in this world.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“Stories are the thing which shapes our kinky and wicked minds.” ~ Deyth Banger

“Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

And finally, because I am allowed, a quote of my own…

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The inner voice…

One of the hardest things to do as a writer, in my opinion, is to write in a character’s voice rather than your own. It is a skill that takes time to learn, and more time to master. How much time depends on the writer, but for myself, it is a skill that took a long time to acquire, and if I have mastered it, well that’s a subject that would be for readers to debate, not I. There are a lot of reason why this skill took time to master, including my tendency to write a lot of different things at the same time.

Take Cider Lane, my first published novel, which was written in a years gap between the first year writing Passing Place and the last. Cider Lane has two main characters, and the POV switches between them at the end of every chapter. Now I like to think I pulled off this dual viewpoint overlapping narrative well. Certainly, the reception the novel has had would suggest this is the case. But the novel was written with a  third person narrator effectively, which make the trick a little easier than if it had been written in alternating first person.

Passing place is far more complex. While the main plot is all form the POV of Richard the Piano Player as he discovers the impossible bar that is ‘Esqwiths Piano Bar & Grill’, those who work within it, and the patrons of the bar. But part of the structure, and indeed one of the central idea’s and themes of the novel is that Esqwiths is a place where stories are told. So the POV, indeed the way stories are told varies with each one. From the narrated story of the grey man working at the heart of the grey establishment, to the first person account of the life of a Black American soldier in WW1, to a mythic rendition of the Wolf King of Winter,  the ice maidens tears told as an Inuit saga, and many others besides.

In short, both Cider Lane and Passing Place contain many voices.

Which brings me to the problem I currently have, its a nice problem to have in many ways, but it is also an oddly exhausting one. The problem of Hannibal Smyth.

I have been writing Hannibal Smyth, otherwise known as Harry Smith, for about three years, but in the last year, he has become the main focus of my writing. He started out as just a bit of fun. A character and an idea to play with while I recharged my writer’s mind for the sequel to Passing Place. He started out in a third person narrated story that after the first several chapters I decided on a whim to rewrite in the first person. A style I generally avoid as a rule for anything long as with first person you have the problem of keeping the character consistent throughout the narrative and that takes practice.

But one book has turned into two and a novella, one novel is written and out with an editor, the second is half written, and the novella which came out of the second when that narrative was still part of the original has been out a couple of months or so. There is also a short Hannibal story that was written for an anthology that will be out later this year, and I have the basic plot outlines for the third novel worked out already.

To be short, there is a lot of Hannibal, and his voice has become second nature to me. Its a different voice to my previous novels. It is very much ‘his’ voice and I just borrow it to write his stories. All well and good, great in fact.

Except last night, I decided to take a break from Hannibal for a week or so and do some work on Something Red, the sequel to Passing place I have been scratching together over the last couple of years. Something Red is a long way from written, but it does have some basic shape, and the main plot is coming together. But right now, I can’t write it, because when I tried to write it, it started coming out in someones else’s voice, the voice of Hannibal Smyth…

Harry bloody Smith has taken over my writing so much, he is doing the writing for me, I may as well just be jotting down notes as he dictates to me.

So I guess I will have to shelve Something Red for a little while longer, old Harry isn’t going to let go of me that easily…

I think I understand now why some writers kill off their main characters, it the only way to get them out of your head…

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The Call Of Cthulhu: TCL #48 Part 3 The Madness from the Sea…

MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA
Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand Yacht in Tow.
One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of
Desperate Battle and Deaths at Sea.
Rescued Seaman Refuses
Particulars of Strange Experience.
Odd Idol Found in His Possession. Inquiry
to Follow.

The above is from the third and final part of ‘The Call of Cthulhu’. While the first two parts we solid workaday Lovecraft, it was in this third and final part that old tentacle hugger really stepped it up a notch. It was here the world first got to ‘see’ old tentacle face himself. Demi-god, old-one, winged dragon, octopus-headed, giant, late sleeper himself. A monster from the Lovecraftian pantheon that has surpassed all the others as a counterculture phenomenon. Old tentacle face is everywhere in geek culture, from pop figures to board games, crochet patterns to role-playing games, computer games to tattoos…

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And it all started here…

But this blog is not about the cultural impact of the tale, but the tale itself. And like the first two parts of the tale, it is a minor let down, if only because the expectations are so high. If there is one Lovecraft tale you want to drag you in and then leap off the page at you it is surely this one. But that’s a small complaint, and any reader of Lovecraft will get past that easily enough.

In this third part, the narrator is still sperate form the bulk of the action, reporting second hand on events he has been told about after rooting them out in his dead uncle’s files. But at least in this he is not just repeating second hand what his uncle had discovered. In this part, he goes to visit the source itself. The last survivor of the encounter at sea which the opening exert of this post is referring to. That survivor, a Norwegian seaman, tells the real tale, a tale of cultist pirates warning his ship off and been ignored, of a mysterious island where no island should be, a part of the sea floor pushed up to the surface for a time, much like the events in Dagon which Lovecraft wrote so many years before, and of an ancient tome, or temple of something , a structure that made no sense with its strange geometry. And finally of fleeing the island, crewmen dying and the ship being pursued by a cyclopean creature that resembled the strange little statue they had found, a Cthulhu idol. Yet somehow he survived this encounter when all the other hands aboard ship did not…

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As a tale within a tale, within a tale, this story is the best of it. Much like the other parts, it is the stories within that make the tale as a whole great. the final ending of the tale as a whole, with the narrator waiting for death at the hands of cultists, that he is sure his investigations will bring down on him is bleak and cold. But it should be bleak and cold. For once Lovecraft’s tone is perfect here. But as a part of the whole, this story is not quite as good as it should be. I can’t place why but it is just a feeling I have, an itch at the back of my mind perhaps… So its another five out of six for this section.

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The posts on the first two parts of this tale can be found following the links below:

Part 1 The horror in the clay

Part 2 The Tale of Inspector Legrasse…

Summing up the whole story…

There is, however, it has to be said, something of the grand scale here when you take on the whole of  ‘The Call of Cthulhu’. This is a tale in three parts, and each part is not quite as good as it could be. But, when you consider the whole. the everything, and the impact beyond itself it is still the story you should read. It is ‘The Call of Cthulhu,‘ and the call is strong. So in essence, as the sum of all its parts, it is so much greater than a mere five tentacles. It is in fact, like ‘The Rats in the Walls.’ a Lovecraft tale that surpasses that out of six judgment I have placed on the others. It is all the tentacles out of many…

allout 6

 

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