Talking About Inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration?

Its a question every writer gets asked, that I get asked, so often its something of a cliché. Its a shade away from that other question, ‘where do you get your ideas from?‘ that crops up so often and brings the average writer out in hives…

My current answer to that other question is ‘from drinking the distilled essence of the souls of the never born.‘ But if I am honest rum is just as effective and easier to get hold of. For a start bargaining with the gods of the dreamless land always gives me a head ache…

Actually, the answer to that first question is probably different for every writer, yet it often comes down to a simple truth, we read a lot. But its more complicated that that, if not quite enacting strange rites on the third night of a full moon and burning sage to ward off the hungry things that linger near the boarders….

A week ago, as part of Scarborough Scifi Weekend on line, me and a half dozen writers from the Harvey Duckman Presents series got together to talk about our inspirations. None of them admitted to dark pagan ritual cannibalism, but it was a fun and interesting panel all the same.

You can find out more about the writers and the Harvey Duckman series at the Harvey Duckman website

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The Elf King’s Thingy part 9

The Elf King’s Thingy Part IX

Speckpocket the Genealogist of the kings court was not having a good day.

It hadn’t started well, As the King, it appeared, had decided to dissipate half his court in a rage. Well, he conceded, perhaps not quite half, but more than enough of the loiterers, lapdogs and sycophants that infested the throne room on a daily basis had cease to be corporal. Which meant lots of paperwork for Speckpocket to fill out.

His task, in the grand scheme of things, was to keep track of who everyone was or more correctly had been. Fay don’t die very often, but dissipation was much the same, worse in fact as you had to keep track of who had been banished so when they turned up again at some point claiming to be the former ‘Lord Catsnape’ you could dig through the archives to discover if ‘Lord Catsnape’ had been someone important or a minor functionary who had no rights as such to claims.  It could be hours, days, months , years or centuries before someone re-enorperised. Often when they did no one remembered there had even been a ‘Lord Catsnape’ to begin with. Let alone what calling if any he had on the kings purse.

As Speckpocket scratched away with his quill on sheets of velum he muttered to himself, “would a ball point be too much to ask, or actual paper rather than bloody goat skin.” Then he cursed loudly as a split in his nib caused the ink to blot. He vented his feelings by throwing the quill across the room in the direction of his assistant before opening his desk draw in search of a replacement and his knife. Disappointingly the draw was empty. He snorted loudly and stared over at his assistant Mudlark.  “You have one job, only one that matters, keeping me supplied with bloody quills,” he shouted and started looking around for something to throw at the offending clerk.

He’d have thrown the knife, but with his luck he would have struck Mudlark in the head and discorporate the useless swine. Which would leave him with out and assistant and more importantly, even more paperwork to fill out.

It was the prospect of more paperwork that swung the argument against fayacide and so he just threw his blotting pad at the offending clerk.    

Mudlark was already hustling for the doorway, ducking from expectation as the blotting pad flew over his head. ‘One job, oh yes I only have one job and its do everything you grizzled old swine.’ He thought to himself, not for the first time. Unfortunately for Mudlark as the clerk rushed through the doorway collided with the waiting deManfess and so it proved to be the last time he had that thought…

“Quills, I needs quills damn you…”  Speckpocket shouted into the void beyond the doorway, then as he watched Mudlark’s head came back into the room without he rest of him. His jaw dropped slack and he stared at the head rolling across the dust laden carpet, as it slowly came to rest. The horror of further paperwork and  now sans assistant washing over him as he slowly raised his gaze to the doorway just as Mr Spleen stepped through it and carefully over Mudlark’s head.

Mr Spleen coughed and took a handkerchief out of his pocket to dab at his mouth. “I’m afraid I have no feathers on me Mr Speckpocket. But luckily we only want you to look something up for us…” he wheezed.  

Behind him deManfess entered the room gnawing on an assistants arm. His teeth still glowing green ever so slightly…  

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 10 And the first appearance of Merl’s Imporium

You can find the full series here

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

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The Elf King’s Thingy Part 8

The Elf King’s Thingy Part VIII

There are probably worse fates in the world than double geography’… Anna mused to herself while failing to pay any attention to the lines of strata been drawn on the white board by Mr Wainwright, possibly the more boring teacher in the history of the profession.

In fairness, in Anna’s opinion anyone who willingly chose to teach geography was going be boring. Anna preferred History. Interesting things happened in History. Even if the history they taught at school which tended to be the least interesting bits of history. Anna even preferred Theology to Geography. At least Theology taught you about some of those worse fates that could happen. The really interesting stuff, however, happened when you mixed history and theology together and got myths.

Myths were fun and defiantly has some worse fates than double geography…

As Mr Wainwright continued ‘teaching’ them about how glaciation crated the landscape of the pennies in the last ice age, his explanation seeming to take longer than that ice age, Anna started to revise her opinion on fates. She suspected if Sisyphus was given the option of double geography or continuing to push his boulder up the hill in hell, he would opt to keep on pushing … 

She became aware she was yawning just as Mr Wainwright broke off from U shaped valleys to loudly ask “Are we keeping you awake Miss Kirkpatrick?”

Anna sat up with a jerk, mumbling “Sorry sir” much to the amusement of her classmates, and felt herself go red at the cheeks as everyone, with the exception of Heidi, laughed at her discomfort. Mr Wainwright grunted and was turned back to the board to continue his lecture on moraine dragging along the base of an ice sheet just as a strange buzzing noise started to emanate from Anna’s vicinity.

“If that’s a phone you can bring it here right now Miss Kirkpatrick.” Mr Wainwright snapped.

Anna was hit by a sinking feeling as she glanced nervously down at her bag, which was indeed where the offending buzzing was coming. One thing she knew defiantly was not the cause was her phone. She had stopped bringing her phone to school when it ceased to be new enough to be ordinary. She had asked her parents for a newer model but her father had insisted she did not need one as her old one ‘Performs the function it was designed for, it’s a phone, you can ring people on it and they can ring you…’ Which was the kind of wisdom her father often spouted.

Her father’s logic was as fatally flawed as it was inescapable. It was based on the false premises that teenagers use their phones to ring there friends, rather than to snap-chat them, Instagram, watch videos of cats, facebook their lives , twitter what passed for their thoughts and speak in the complex and to him incomprehensible language of emoji. ‘smiley face, boot, cat, smiley face, yellow star , twinkling star, cupcake’. In reality calling these devices phones was a misnomer. They were really an extension of the id, via a five inch screen, that allowed access to the world beyond the mundane, not devices for conversing with other people. 

To avoid ridicule over her outdated device and of course the feared being not ordinary, Anna always left her ‘phone’ at home. That and her own inability to understand what ‘smiley face, boot, cat, smiley face, yellow star , twinkling star, cupcake’ actually meant.

Despite giving her bag her best hard stare, the buzzing sound from within continued. As did the sinking feeling. She knew what it was, it was the box. Of course it was the box, ‘Why did I have to bring it with me, I knew something like this would happen…’ she thought top herself . The last thing she needed was to have to take out the box and let other people see it. No matter what else it was, ordinary it wasn’t, but Grandma Grunswick had insisted she bring it with her to school. ‘If Dearie insisted on wasting her time with book learning, then Dearest must take the Calidonius with her, lest Dearest leave it to be lost. We can’t have that now can we Dearest…’

Grandma Grunswick always spoke like that. And then she would smile at her, she always smiled at her. There was something chilling about Grandma Grunwick’s smile, but it was the words that had chilled Anna most. Though she knew Grandma Grunswick loved her, at least, she was sure Grandma Grunswick did. She could still make even the plainest words sound sinister and threatening in nature. Yet they were also compelling, playing on Anna’s desire to conform and be ordinary  

When Anna was a child, a real child that is, rather than a teenager, Grandma Grunswick had been her imaginary friend. A wise old woman who would always be there to look after her. Granma Milly had been slowly returning to the age of the quiff and brothel creepers since Anna had been about three, and Granny Kirkpatrick was just a couple of pictures on the wall her dad used to point to occasionally and talk about. Grandma Grunswick on the overhand was there on a night when her parents had tucked her in to talk to in the dark, like all good imaginary friends she was also there to blame when something went wrong. “I didn’t drop the eggs it was Grandma Grunswick who nudged me…” It only became a problem when Grandma Grunswick stopped being imaginary when Anna turned twelve.

“Kirkpatrick, bring that phone here right now…” Mr Wainwright snapped at her.

Anna looked back up horrified and grabbed her bag, pressing at the box through the cloth hoping doing so would make it stop, but it continued to buzz and she realised it was vibrating at an alarming rate. “Sorry sir, it won’t stop.” She heard herself saying while a nasty bit of laughter started elsewhere in the room. The echelons of the pack setting in, she had broken the first rule, she had stood out from the crowd. ‘at least they all think it’s my phone.’ She thought bitterly.

“Kirkpatrick you have five seconds to turn that thing off and give it to me, or you can go to the green room..” the teacher said in what was the most animated voice he had ever used. ‘If he had only used that much passion when teaching his subject geography might prove to be less unconsciously dull.’ Anna found herself thinking…   

She wanted to protest it wasn’t her fault, and more than that to protest it wasn’t her phone. But if he made her open the bag she would be in further trouble. Not with the teacher but with her classmates. Strange wooden boxes that vibrated were defiantly not ordinary.

Five seconds proved to be both no time at all and the longest of epochs, but when Wainwright spoke again it was with a degree of resignation, and continuing buzzing form her bag that Anna just stood and walked out of the classroom. The whole room laughing at her save for Mr Wainwright who could sense that which teachers fear more even than an Ofsted inspection, he was losing control of the classroom.

“Settle down you lot, that’s quite enough form you Jenkins, right pack it in or she won’t be the only one sent to the green room…” she heard the teacher say as she fled.   


Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 9 In the office of Speckpocket Genealogist to the Elf Kings Court

You can find the full series here

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

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The Elf King’s Thingy part 7

The Elf King’s Thingy Part VII

The atmosphere of The Great Vault was one of brooding gloom, despite the glow worm lamps doing their best to shed light around its grim interior. ‘Candles would be better.’ Mr. Spleen thought to himself and he walked through the room examining the odd child sized footprints that lay in the layers of dust that covered the stone floor. The footprints led to the small plinth that sat in the middle of the vault. Upon this lay a red cloth of velvet. Mr Spleen could see it was red velvet despite the layers of dust everywhere in the room  due to a small square in the middle of the cloth that was dust free. Conspicuously so. But it was not where they led that made the footprints odd. Or at least it was not the main thing that was odd about them.

No one ever entered the Elf-Kings vault, judging by the dust this had been the case for an eon or more. Indeed, Spleen mused, ‘It’s a wonder anyone noticed it was even missing’ Though he had no doubt there were watchers of some kind. One thing you could guarantee in Fea it was that something was always watching. Generally at least two something’s, because both courts had there spies.

At his side de Manfess sniffed the air, looking around with a certain kind of disappointment.

“No blood.” The beastly one uttered, then strode over to one of the glow worm lamps and began dismantling it for no real reason beyond, Mr Spleen suspected, boredom.

Mr Spleen sighed to himself and his chest whistled. His partner had many uses but considered thoughtful investigation was not one of them. He examined the footprints again, fascinated by the oddity of them. It was not that they were human child size, many fea were human child size, at least most of the time. Nor was it that they were the footprints of someone wearing human shoes, very clearly human shoes, as fea, when they wore them, favoured shoes that pointed somewhat at the toe…

No, what was odd about the footprints was that they started ten yards in from the wall. At the opposite end of the vault to the one and only door. To be exact, that was to say they started from nowhere, then moved through the vault in a straight line till they got to the plinth, then they disappeared. The obvious conclusion was the owner of those footprints had just appeared in the room, walked to the plinth and vanished again. This was, in Mr Spleens experience, not the sort of thing human children did. Yet according to the reports of the watchers that were not there, a human girl had done so. It was all rather puzzling, because humans, children or otherwise, did not enter the lands of the fea at all. Not any more at any rate. Not for over a thousand years or more. 

There was a crash behind him, and Mr Spleen turned with a certain indifference to see DeManfess biting into a glow worm…

“Good worms these, crunchy.” The bestial man said.

Mr Spleen shock his head at this and went back to his pondering, having already decided to Ignore his partners next question, which he knew would involve offering him a handful of worms. Not that he had anything against the eating of glow worms, but he did not like to snack in the afternoon when he was working. Also, if he was honest, it tended to give him indigestion when the worms tried to crawl out through the holes in his stomach lining… Besides which, he was busy thinking.

Footsteps that appear from nowhere, then just vanish. A portal perhaps? There were the ways… But no, it couldn’t be that simple. A portal would require magic and the vault was warded against all forms of fea magic. Besides which you needed the magic to work where the portal was opened from, and everyone knew magic no longer worked in the human world. Something else was at play here, he was sure.

He walked over to where the footprints originated and sniffed at the air. But there was no scent of anything but dust and time. Apart from the footprints the dust on the floor was undisturbed. So not a portal. A portal was a violent thing, a rip between realities, such things left a trace, and generally smelt of geraniums. Yet there was nothing.

A portal between two points on the fea’s plane of existence perhaps? Such would create less disturbance, it was true, but that brought you back to the use of fea magic and the wards would have gone off. No fea could cast a spell that brought them here, not without a backlash from the wards dissipating them instantly.

Mr Spleen scratched his chin with one hand, a nervous habit from a life time ago when the vestiges of beard had grown there. Then the crunching of another worm behind him broke his concentration and he realised what he was doing with a little regret. One of the advantages of been undead was your hair stopped growing, so no more shaving, but for some reason he missed having stubble to scratch, and fingernails to bite come to that. You never realise, he often brooded, how much joy the habitual biting fingernails was until the quick ceased to be quick and you’d bitten them down to nothing. He’d tried false nails for a while afterwards. Gluing them on, however, was something for which he had little penitence. Particularly as he knew full well he was only gluing them on so he could bite them off afterwards. It just seemed pointless after a while. When they talk about the troubles of the undead life style, Mr Spleen noted, they seldom mention you becoming bereft of simple pleasures like scratching your stubble and masticating on your fingernails…  But then he forced himself to consider the problem at hand once more.

Footsteps that appear from nowhere, footsteps that then just vanish. A portal from inside the fea, but one no fea could cast. No human can use magic in their world. Wards against fea using magic to enter. Use magic in their world… No human could use magic in their world… In their world…

“Oh that’s clever de Manfess, that’s very clever…” Mr Spleen said in triumph, smiling, a nasty smile of many teeth…

“What is…” his partner said mumbled with a mouth half full glow worms, which let out their light with each syllable. Which was, you should note, exactly as disturbing as it sounds.

“Someone has been playing clever buggers… And I believe I know just where to start looking to find out whom…”

“And where would that be?” Asked the glowing mouth.

“The genealogists  I believe, I’m sure they’ll be only too pleased to help us with our enquires.”

“I hope not,” de Manfess said nastily, “I hope they refuse to tell us anything. Then we’ll have to bleed them a little?”

“Oh, I’m sure my fine compatriot, that they’ll be difficult at first. So, there will be plenty of need for bloodshed.” Mr Spleen replied with no real sign of reticence at the idea, indeed something of a happy smile.

After all if you can’t bite your nails you have to do something to relieve the tension of the day.

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 8 There are probably worse fates in the world than double geography

You can find the full series here

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

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The Friday round up of fabulous stuff

I’ve not done one of these for a while, but sometimes it just nice to kick back and talk about some great things in the world. We don’t do that enough.

First up, while last weekend was difficult for personal reasons, I did manage to catch up on some reading and finished Kate Baucheral’s latest novel , the third in the excellent SimCavalier series. Spoilers alert, its fabulous. My review is the second slide.

Meanwhile, due to my difficult family weekend I missed out on a fascinating panel at LitCon online hosted by Joseph Carrabis discussing world building across several scifi-based genres with YA science fantasy author Claudia Blood; alt-history, steampunk, and scifi author Geoff Genge; speculative fiction author Theresa Halvorsen; action-adventure military scifi author C.G. Hatton; scifi author Fabrice Stephan; alt-history and dystopia author Liz Tuckwell; and Joseph Carrabis himself. Luckily it is available on Mr Carrabis’s YouTube channal, which is like my own but more interesting, for any perspective authors of interested readers to catch up with.

Finally, as I said last weekend was not one of the best I have ever experienced. There was plenty of good news along with bad however. And among this I received so delightful reviews for my own novel’s and short story collections.

I know posting my own reviews could be seen as a little sad, but, sometimes writing is screaming out into the void and just hoping that perhaps someone likes and appreciates your madness, because feedback of any kind is hard to get and sometimes that little lift you get from a nice unexpected review makes this whole nonsense seem worthwhile…

And finally, finally, we got our first review of Harvey Duckman Presents 7, and in keeping with the truly international draw of this series and the writers within it was from India. Which was a pleasant surprise… And oddly enough, in the strange interconnections of such things there is a story from way back in Harvey volume 3, written by some semi-literate Yorkshire or other, which stars old Harvey himself and is set in India, where Harvey had travelled to find new writers and is waylaid by Big Publishing’s hit men, and escaping his death due to a cat and a mysterious door, which is the creation myth of the Harvey Duckman series (rather than the more prosaic truth of the matter which was a bunch of writers drinking in a Teesside bar) … Which is why getting a review on Amazon India in particular made me smile.

And finally finally finally.

A good weekend to all , and my your choice of impossible sky gods go with you…

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The Elf King’s Thingy part 6

The Elf King’s Thingy Part VI

The sun was shining on a late October morning. The sky was the kind of blue that spoke of a hot summers day or a cold winters night to come, as ever autumn was turning the world. Sycamore leafs lay everywhere, damp to the point of sodden from rain in the night and the air was crisp as the weak sun had yet to let its warmth be felt.

Anna clutch her coat closed with one hand, and held on to the strap of her school bag with the other, while she tried to dodge puddles in her school shoes.

As she turned the corner in to Linthorpe road the wind got up and blew a flurry of leafs into the air, one of which slapped stingingly into her face. There is nothing quite as unwelcome as a slap in the face by a cold and wet rain soaked leaf.

She hoped it was just wet from the rain at any rate.

Her morning was not going well and her bag was heavy. Grandma Grunswick had insisted she brought the box with her to school. She had decided to call it the box, because that was what it was, a box. A strange wooden box, covered in carvings she was not entirely sure she understood, which did not seem to want to open.

It was this that was annoying Anna the most.

What, when it came down to it, was the point of a box you could not open?

It wasn’t as if it was locked or anything as simple as that. She would have been perfectly happy if there had been a keyhole, even if she did not have the key. A locked box was fine. A locked box was reasonable. A locked box she could understand.

There was no lock on the box.

There did not even seem to be a lid. It could just a solid square of wood with strange carvings on it. Yet something rattled inside, and she knew, or perhaps just felt she knew, that what was inside was important and she wanted to know why. Also, Grandma Grunswick had told her she needed to open the box. Though much to Anna’s lack of surprise, grandma had been far from forth coming as to how this could be accomplished. This Anna found somewhat frustrating. It was part of an ever-growing list of things she found frustrating. The top of which was Grandma Grunswick…

“Anna, hold up,” came a familiar voice from behind her, and she turned sharply to see Heidi Keffle half running, half falling, down the street try to catch up. Anna watched her uncomprehendingly as her best friend and guide to the world of the ordinary somehow failed to fall head over heels despite appearing to be trying to achieve just that. Just how Heidi was managing to stay upright was a mystery to Anna as Heidi was wearing six inch platform shoes, shoes clearly designed for use on the catwalk and not for the uneven streets of Teesside. Also Heidi’s Justin Case backpack seemed to be hanging too low down her back, causing it to swing wildly like a pendulum with every lurching step Heidi took.

“What the heck are you wearing on your feet?” Anna asked, mildly bewildered but somehow far from surprised that her best friend and touch stone of all things ordinary was wearing such ridiculous footwear. As Heidi got closer she could see that the soles of the shoes were soft and springy so that with each step they sunk down onto the ground compressing the soles by a couple of inches before they sprung back up as your weight shifted to the other foot. Walking in them must have been like walking on a trampoline, Anna considered, or perhaps on jelly.

“They’re the next big things, Moon-shoes. Justin Case’s backing dancers wear them in his latest vid, you must have seen its ‘Stomp on my heart’…. There uber great…” Heidi added the last in a way that suggested she did not believe it herself. Though Anna knew from experience that there was no way Heidi would ever admit this was the case.

Heidi and Anna had been friends since the second year of primary school when Anna had saved Heidi from a bulling fourth year by fixing them with an angry stare. Anna had a truly powerful stare even as a six-year-old. The kind of stare which adults favour when looking on disapprovingly at a child, yet with the iron clad resolve few adults could master. She had been staring people down for a long time even then. No one was quite sure why it made them back down, least of all Anna. But few school yard bullies would risk that stare a second time, or at least that had been the case until high school. The rules were different in high school and the stakes were higher too. Yet still remarkably few tested that stare for long.

Theirs’s was not a one-way relationship, however, while Heidi got the protection of Anna Kirkpatrick’s stare, Anna got a window into the world of the ordinary. Heidi was Olympic level ordinary. She did not follow the trends as much as adopt them by osmosis. She was an average student, averagely popular, averagely smart and averagely dumb. Yet somehow, she was always right on the money with everything that was ‘the in thing’. Which pop star was cool, which new thing would take off, what new toy would be the toy to have, which brand was cool, which brands were now old hat. If you wanted to hide in the realm of the ordinary schoolgirl, Heidi Keffle was your perfect guide. As far as friends went Heidi was Anna’s only real one, but by extension through Heidi she was sort of friends with everyone who mattered in the school social echelons at any given point.

“How are you even walking in those things?” Anna asked, which seemed a reasonable question to her.

“You just sort of bounce along in them and try to avoid stopping…” Heidi explained, slightly out of breath, though she had slowed her pace to match Anna’s once she caught up. Anna looked at her closely and realises the girl was slightly green around the gills. She decided at that point this was one trend she was going to let slip past no matter how ordinary it was.

As they rounded the end of the street and headed into the school yard Anna noted that Heidi was not alone. At least a third of the girls in the yard were half walking, half bouncing around on spongey platforms. At least one girl was propping herself against the gym wall and had clearly progressed from green at the gills to yellow on the pavement. Several other girls were clustered around her, all wearing the same ridiculous footwear, and yet with the wisdom of the school yard they were busy mocking her despite how queasy they felt themselves.

Anna felt a blaze of anger, as she often did when she saw someone been bullied for no good reason. Not that, in her opinion, there was ever a good reason. She pushed it down anyway. Ordinary did not interfere, not when it was silly stuff like this at any rate.

She looked at her friends shoes again and then with a certain cynicism said, “I bet they are banned by the school before the end of the week.” Then she instantly regretted saying so.

“You think so? That would be awesome.”  Heidi said brightly with the inescapable logic of a fourteen-year-old fashionista. Nothing was more likely to cement a trend than it being banned by the school. It pretty much guaranteed Moon-shoe’s would stay popular. 

“Damn, your right it would be.” Anna replied somewhat dishonestly. She had a sinking feeling as she realised she would have to get some of the damn things herself when that happened… 


Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 7 In the Vaults of the Elf king, and the good eating of worm

You can find the full series here

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

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The Elf King’s Thingy part 5

The Elf King’s Thingy Part V

When the worlds were young slipping between them was more commonplace, they were closer then. Slipping between the lands of the fea and what those strange humans called the real world did not require much bureaucracy. The various gates were guarded even then of course, but only with a few spells of mist and the odd glamour. The fea would slip between worlds for a picnic on the other side or just to play a few pranks on the mortals. Sour some milk, steal a sock or two, kidnap a lover and hold them for thirty years before returning them to the mortal realm only to find the subject of their love had married another, fathered children and grown old as the one kidnapped into the fea never had. Or fathering half fea children with miraculous powers laden with doom.

Harmless stuff like that.

Unfortunately, while the fea only changed slowly, not least because when one is immortal in most ever respect why bother to change what makes you happy, humans on the other hand changed constantly. They grew more numerous for one thing, small farming villages grew into towns, forests were felled, the wilds of the landscape became, well in essence, less wild, and the places where one could move between worlds became less common.

But there was worse to come, humans became not only numerous, they became dangerous as well, not least because they started to no longer believe in the fea’s greatest weapon. This was unfortunate because the one thing that weapon relied on the most was belief. Without belief it simply did not work in the human world.

It was when he came to the realisation that a reliance on belief was at the very core of the fea’s being, that led one of the half fea children with miraculous powers laden with doom I mentioned earlier to realise it was possible to save his mother’s people from their endless entanglements of the fea and free them to follow their own destiny’s. So it was that he set about reliving humanity of its belief in the fea’s great weapon, which given whom he was, was rather ironic considering how he is remembered in myth… But we will come to that.

I any regard, due to the great weapon no longer working in the human world, the rulers of the fea protected their people, as much as they could be bothered to do so, by a system of permissions of transit, required by anyone who wished to cross between the worlds through any of the remaining portals, the few that remained at least. Not that permission was generally with-held. Unless of course there was advantage to be had by doing so.

But as with all things, there is always an advantage to be sought somewhere…    

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 6 Of moonshoes and being

You can find the full series here

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

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The Elf King’s Thingy part 4

The Elf King’s Thingy Part IV

Back where we started deManfess was listening to one side of the conversation being held over the ancient Bakelite phone…


“I see, and you wish us to investigate, this… occurrence?”


“A what? A mortal girl? You can’t be serious?”


“Oh I see, yes of course, that is what you wish us to determine.”

“We may have to pursue this thief beyond the boarders you realise which would of course require permissions of transit, I assume they can be arranged…”

“Well that’s inconvenient… Or very convenient for… I take it you can grease the wheels of this problem?”  

“But… without the permissions how can we pursuit this?”

While deManfess was certainly listening to his partners side of the conversation, it has to be said he was doing so with little interest in what as being said. What did interest him, however, was the growing disgruntlement that had become evident on the face of Mr Spleen. He had seldom seen his partner look quite so disgruntled, indeed Mr Spleen’s gruntle had seldom seemed so dissed…

 “Well yes there are ways, but they can be troublesome as I know you are aware… It would be simpler if his highness was just to make the…”

“There is no need to shout… Neither is there any need for such profanity… You could just ask him to ask her…”

“I assure you I am fully aware of my parentage and that is an inaccurate statement…”

“I see, well our usual fees and arrangements will be applicable you understand, indeed I believe we will have to charge a few minor supplemental charges as well..”    

“Of course, in that case we shall be upon it with the greatest of expediency… Sorry… What penalty clauses?”

“I see…”  The last was accompanied with Mr Spleen unconsciously moving a finger across his own neck, in a slicing motion and a momentary looked ashen, which is hard to accomplish what your natural pallor is somewhat grey to start with.     

“Well we shall endeavour to pursue the matter to his highness satisfaction…”

“And to you,” he replied and mutter under his breath in Latin “Et a liminibus..”

Mr Spleen put down the Bakelite phone with something of a thud. Disturbing the dust in the office. He had a pained look on his face, which was not too unusual in a zombie it has to be said, but it was, deManfess determined, more pained than normal. His partner had defiantly not enjoyed the conversation. His eyes had a slight green glow to them for a start, which they never did unless Spleen was annoyed about something.

deManfess liked it when Mr Spleen got annoyed about something. Such annoyance was generally a foreshadowing of interesting times to come. deManfess’s view on interesting times was based on a misinterpretation of the old Chinese curse. He always looked forward to living in them.   

Mr Spleen’s blaze of anger lasted only a moment. Then as the glow of his eyes faded he coughed to clear his throat and drew in a deep breath, that whistled through the holes in his chest, before he locked his gaze on that of his partner. “We have an engagement of some urgency it seems deManfess.”

In reply deManfess shrugged, his interest in the business generally came down to one side of things, beyond which he was happy to let his partner handle the more complex stuff, like why they were undertaking something. He did however asked the question Mr Spleen was expecting him to ask, the one which he always asked at when a new undertaking was afoot. “Will there be blood?”

“I suspect there will be yes…” Mr Spleen replied grimly, though it is hard not to sound grim when you are a reanimated corpse. It’s the drying of the vocal cords that make you rasp.

“Lots of it?” deManfess further inquired, in what might be described as a gleeful tone…

“Almost certainly, there normally is after all.”

“That’s good then whenever you’re ready Mr. Spleen.” DeManfess smiled, a smile with too many teeth, and what would have been far too much glee in the opinion of any rational human being in attendance. Luckily no such creature was. This said deManfess set about gathering his tools into his black medical bag and took down his longest darkest overcoat from the rail.

Mr Spleen sighed, with a whistle, and began his own preparations, muttering to himself as he did so.

“Yes, lots of blood old chap, lots and lots of blood I have no doubt. Let’s try and make sure it’s not our own though shall we…” 

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 5 a minor treatise on matters of magic and the mortal realm.

You can find the full series here

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

Posted in amreading, amwriting, books, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Goth, horror, humour, indie, indie novels, indie writers, indiewriter, novels, reads, rites, sci-fi, steampunk, supernatural, the elf kings thingy, writes, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brief reviews of wonderfulness #1

I have been known on occasion to promise to write a review for fellow authors. I have some fair firm rules on these promises, in that I don’t write a review unless I genuinely like what I’m reviewing. If I don’t like a book I won’t write a review, because there is enough negativity in the world and frankly just because I don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean someone else will not love it.

There is however another reason why I occasionally fail to write a review, sometimes while I intend to do so I get swamped with other stuff and the review falls off my list of things to do. (reviews are not alone in this, I forgot to cancel my sons mobile phone contract for over a year, because it kept dropping off my radar) What I mean by this is I am exactly as organised as the average writer with a day job a video game addiction and the attention span of….

Sorry what was I saying…

Oh yes, reviews, the ones I promised to write in the last year or so because I really enjoyed the books in question and haven’t found the time because ‘its been a year’. Indeed so far the 2020’s have ‘been a decade’ and we are less than 18 months into them. So in an attempt to right the balance a little, here is the first of some brief, but honest reviews of some wonderfulness, wonderfulness that has at least made this decade a little better with the sparkling of joy they contain.

The Oddatsea

I am, it is fair to say, much enamoured of the isle of Hopeless Maine. The brain child artist Tom Brown and writer Nimue Brown, its a weirdly beautiful isolated world all of its own. A place of spoon-walkers, fog monsters, witches, tentacles, mad-science and arcane magic’s. All rendered beautifully in prose and picture, but it has grown to encompass more than just the Browns imaginations made strange, unforgettable, creepy and delightful life. For the Browns are more than happy for, indeed actively encourage, others to come play in their sand pit. The Oddatsea is the result of this openness to other imaginations.

The second of two stand alone illustrated novella’s, the first of which ‘New England Gothic‘ was written by Nimue, The Oddatsea was written by Keith Errington. When I approached the book I did so with some minor trepidation. While it was illustrated just as gorgeously by Tom as I had come to expect, the writing of Nimue is to me just as important as the art, so could a different writer capture the same quality of fay eeriness that I find so enthralling about Nimue’s work? The answer was of course no, but as it turns out that was a good thing, for if Kieth had been trying to replicate Nimue’s style I doubt this would have been half as good a read as it turned out to be. Kieth Errington has his own style, as every writer has, and he embraces it in this story, making the world of Hopeless Maine his own. Or at least this slice of it. A perfect counter point to New England Gothic and companion novella, though the style is different the world is the same strange dark reflection of the real world. Though in the Oddatsea it is a world encountered firstly from beyond the fog bound shored of Hopeless isle. A world viewed through a different lens, the lens of submarine search light looking for a land beyond the fog bank.

You can I believe still get your tentacles on copies of both The Oddatsea and New England Gothic via the kick-starter page, here, if not you could contact the laird and lady of Hopeless Maine themselves via there website the hopeless vendetta, I am sure.

Next up will be those books of Nils I have been reminding myself to review for the last six months …

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The Elf king’s Thingy part 3

The Elf King’s Thingy part III

Elsewhere… about now

The room was ordinary teenage girls bedroom.

The dresser was sprue with cheap but trendy bit of makeup. The floor was a depository of used clothing and textbooks, which it turn never reached the laundry basket of the bookshelf. A non-weird collection of soft toys and old cd’s littered the place, the remnants of a childhood not quite let go, while ‘cooler’ objects fought for shelf space. The walls were covered in posters of Justin the teen idol. It did not matter which Justin as teen idols always seem to be called Justin. The curtains and the linin were remnants of an earlier time in the girls life, childish icons that she no doubt hated and her parents though were still cute and adorable… A school uniform was thrown over the back of a chair with wilful neglect and the girl herself lay on the bed staring at the object in her hands. Which unusually considering the setting was not a mobile phone.

On the whole, Anna would have felt more comfortable if it had been a phone. If it had been a phone then everything would be ordinary. Anna liked ordinary. Anna liked fitting in, fitting in was safe. That as the reason for the Justin Case posters on the wall. Everyone, for a given quantity of everyone that was exclusively teenage girls,  loved Justin Case, the teen idol of the year. He was edgy, he was cool, and he was a dreamboat, whatever that meant. She was not sure why the girls at school had started calling him a dreamboat. It was a new in word, though the term was old she was sure. It was the word that her grandmother might have used about a screen idol back in the fifties. She knew that because her Grandmother Milly suffered from dementia and thought she was sixteen years old again half the time, while going on about ‘dreamboat’ movie stars and long dead singers. Still ‘Dreamboat’ was a fresh term right now, everyone was using it who mattered, which is to say everyone in year 10 of Teesside Comp who was ‘ordinary’, which was everyone, and all the girls were into Justin, hence the posters on her bedroom wall.

Occasionally in wistful moments Anna wished that aside looking edgy, being cool and a Dreamboat, Justin Case could actually sing or had even a modicum of talent, but thankfully the posters, and having his album on download was enough to appear as ordinary as everyone else. She did not have to actually listen to the warbling idiot, or read in inevitable twitter feed full of idiotic statements that ,were he anyone other than an edgy, cool, dreamboat, would be written off as the words of a pillock…  And the nine gods knew he was a pillock, as she reminded herself on a daily basis without ever saying so out loud. Not because mentioning the nine gods would make her seem weird, but because saying anything detrimental about Justin Case would mark her out as not being ordinary…

She could think of nothing worse…

Luckily none of her school ‘friends’, for want of a better word, like for example ‘enemies’, were round her house this evening. Not that her ‘friends’ ever came round, ever since that day in primary school that had haunted her for the last seven years. Not since she did something out of the ordinary and became the subject of gossip. No one, with the exception of Heidi, her best and only real friend,  wanted to be too closely associated with Anna Kirkpatrick, for all she seemed perfectly ordinary now. Not after the thing that happened…. But as they never came round to her house she did not have to actually listen to the download of ‘Y’, Justin Case’s album. Instead she could listen to the old Sisters of Mercy Album she had ‘borrowed’ from her dad’s collection. Which is what she was doing now… While she fumbled with the object in her hands, the one her grandmother had shown her the day before.

This was not her grandma Jesston, the one living in a rerun of 1953. Nor was it Grandma Kirkpatrick who had died before Anna was born. This was the other Grandma, the one she had met seven years ago in the school yard of Loan Street Primary. The one who had told her about the nine gods. The one hovering on her ceiling right now looking down at her with that odd smile that was half caring and half hunger.

Grandma Grunswick, the one that was defiantly not ordinary at all…  

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue,  back where we started, in the offices of de Manfess and Mr Spleen, practical lawyers to the Elf King’s court.

Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…

Posted in amreading, amwriting, books, fiction, Hannibal Smyth, Harvey Duckman, horror, humour, indie, indie novels, indie writers, Lovecraft, Passing Place, reads, sci-fi, the elf kings thingy, writes, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment