The Elf king’s Thingy: Part 2

The Elf King’s Thingy: Part II

Elsewhere, and earlier. 

Assil, King of the Fae bellowed with drunken anger and hurled his tankard across the throne room. His aim was off, which spoke much of how drunk he was, for the King was a great hunter as all knew well. So, if pressed all would agree the king did not miss at all. He certainly did not miss the snivelling courtier who had brought the king ill news.  So, when the badly aimed tankard stuck one a snoozing minor lord of the forest glades on his antlers, snapping off half of the left horn and waking the lord abruptly, that was surely what the King had aimed to do, as all would agree.

If pressed…

Indeed, all but the most foolish, should the question ever be asked, would agree this was indeed the passage of events with great haste, rather than be pressed…  

The poor unfortunate abruptly woken minor lord stared around the room, caught sight of the red-faced rage of the king and ducked behind one of the living tree columns with far from undue haste. Centuries of experience had taught members of the court that when the king was angry it did not do to be conspicuous, for the next thing thrown might be somewhat sharper than a tankard.

“How in all the tormented bowels of Lucifer’s nine hells did this happen. I was assured the wards the spell weavers placed upon it prevented any of my lack witted subjects from even touching it.” Assil roared, while looking for something else to throw at the blur before him. A blur that had somehow avoided the bludgeoning blow he had rendered upon on it by being two rather fuzzy people at once. A state of affairs which only added to his anger as everyone else seemed to be blurry as well. As did the walls come to that. 

It was, in truth, not as much a roar as a bellow of thunder. It shook the rafters. It loosed leaves from the canopy above the throne. It awoke several more of the various revellers from there stupors, who as one tried to find anywhere and anyone they could to hide behind. The favourite of such hiding places as ever being behind anyone else foolish enough not to be cowering themselves. 

Stood as he was before the throne, the herald envied those who had the opportunity to get out of the firing line. He stood wringing his hands through the long-felt brim of the hat he was clutching to his chest, as if it might offer some protection. He was feeling somewhat small and defenceless in the centre of the court. A place rapidly becoming the loneliest place in all the Fae world. He felt like he was shrinking, which was because he was willing himself to do so, he was not sure it would be much help. Indeed, if the kings double vison cleared up it almost certainly would not be.

Regardless, The herald had a duty to perform, and not answering the King would not help his situation, so he took a breath, cringed in a respectful manner and tried to explain…

“Yes you mightiness, it is, erm, was, warded against all of the fae your magnificent Majesty, as were your instructions. Warded so that none of your subjects could ever touch it, by the greatest of all your spell weavers, you beneficence Majesty.” the herald said in his meekest voice, trying to sound the correct amount of afraid to placated his liege. This was a feat that required little in the way of acting as utterly terrified would be the best description of his current emotional state.

Assil roared once more, flailing out and sending a platter of roast boar crashing to the paving stones. In his rage he grabbed the next nearest heavy object and launched it at the herald. Fortunately for the herald the king’s aim was no better due to the amount of drinking that had been undertaken in the last few days. Unfortunately, another slumbering drinker was not so lucky and there was a loud yelp of pain from the back of the room.

The Kings irrational raging lasted a few minutes, while the herald cowered in the middle of the room, slowly shrinking before the king, and somehow being missed by the various object thrown vaguely in his direction. The few remaining slumbering courtiers that had slept through the early exchanges were all awake now. Many had fled to the corners, or found a way to make an expedient exit. Others who could not get past the morbid fascination of the crowd, fought between themselves for a good view of the herald and the king. While trying to dodge the objects being thrown around. In the general hubbub several minor scores were settled with the occasional elbow to the ribs, or punch in the back. While one older and somewhat for festering score was settled when Lord Bruntain was brained by another heavy tankard the king had thrown. How exactly he was brained by the object a full minute after the tankard left the kings huge hands and crashed into the wall behind him is a mystery only his arch enemy Earl Tallowick could have explained. But an old grudge was settled none the less, while the court was distracted.

Thus it ever was. The cut and thrust of the politics of the Elven court were quite often a literal cut and thrust, or at least a taciturn bit of bludgeoning at an opportune moment at any rate. 

The King finally got his rage controlled for the moment, mostly because he had run out of things to throw, strode over to the herald and loomed over him. The anger beneath the surface obvious to all, because it was not all that far beneath the surface. The veins on the king’s neck bulged and throbbed an angry dark green. His eyes were burning red. Worse still he was growing larger by the moment. A sure sign of his anger, if any were actually needed, though even the most foolish of his subjects in the court were all too aware of it by now. 

“So,” the king said his voice beguilingly soft but full of menace. “Tell me this, if the wards are in place, and no fae could touch it, how then has it been stolen herald?”

“Well… You see… Your magnificent majesty… Well… You see it’s…”

“Out with it you snivelling worm.” The king snapped, what little penitence remained to him worn thin as he towered above the herald.

“Well you see it wasn’t a Fae who stole it majesty, it was a human.” The herald explained, his voice growing even smaller before the looming king.

“What!!!” the king exclaimed. 

“ A Human, A child of Adam, my lord.” The herald said. As he did so he thought for a moment the veins on the kings neck were about to explode in his rage. He though this only for a moment however, because the next thing that happened was the king punching downward with all his might.

Those who observed this in shadows of the court mostly agreed afterwards that this had not been an act of malice on the kings part. He had, they assured each other. Merely been punching the ground in his rage. An act of petulance one could forgive in ones lord and master. It was a pure coincidental that the herald happened to be in the way.

There was a little popping sound and the herald burst in to disbursement. Which was clearly, in the opinion of the court, his fault for bringing the king bad news. Besides, as they reminded themselves, he would reform in a century or so if he was lucky. If he was very lucky when he did reform he would avoid being give the job of herald again, they told themselves, so in a way the king had done the former herald a favour.    

“Get me my lawyers!” the king yelled to everyone.

This led to a sudden scurry of activity among the courtiers.  None of which had any great urge to hang around. Not least because someone was about to get the newly vacant position of herald. A state of affairs the normally disparate factitious members of the court all shared the same mind upon.

It was a job for some other poor sap…

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, elsewhere in an ‘ordinary’ teenage girls bedroom.

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 1

The Elf King’s Thingy: Part 1

The Elderberry wine reflected the candles dancing light within it, ‘like the souls of the damned dancing in the fire’, de Manfess thought, as he stared into his chalice. The room was dark beyond the light cast by the three-pronged candle stick, and full of enveloping shadows, deep and secretive. The half-burned tallow dripping wax forming long trails that wound down the silver of the stand, while they smelled like sickly grease paint on corpses.

As he watched the dancing light of the candle flames, he thought of blood. His musing always turned to blood in the end.

Blood that called to him, called to that which flowed in his own arteries. He could feel it pounding and pulsing through him. He could feel the veins beneath his scalp straining against his skin. Feeding his headache with insipid flashes of agony both sweet with life and full of anguish.

He was angry about something, he was not sure what that something was, but since when had that mattered to the rage that burned within him. Primal, deep within his core. His turning was near, and that always made him susceptible to rages. Rages that burned with passion. That was the turning after all, a thing of passions. He felt something was left undone, like a broken rhyme, and he grasped to remember what that was yet could not reach it within his memory. This only added to the resentment and rage burning within him. And thoughts of blood, always blood, his burning, others for the shedding.

The wine was not helping, instead, as it ever did, it was making him bitter in his cups. He found himself fighting the urge to lash out at the flickering candlestick. A desperate need for a moment of relief, to lash out with all his tension, his rage, his anger. Lash out and send it flying into the darkest corner of the room. He pulled back his arm to strike, the pulsing in his head getting all the stronger. The urge for violent release desperate with its intensity.  

“It’s not going to make you feel any better you know.” Said a dry voice from the shadows. A voice as dry and lifeless as a desiccated corpse. Which considering the owner of that voice came a no great surprise.

“It might,” de Manfess snapped back, with none of his normal poetic lint. Mr Spleen recognised this sign of just how irritated his partner was. Irritated and close to the turning no doubt. He let out what would have been a sigh, had there been air in his lungs to sigh with. 

The Zombie removed his bowler hat and brushed the ever-present dust off the crown. Not that this made any great difference, dry motes of dust were attracted by his clothing in the most polished environment. Which the office of ‘de Manfess and Mr Spleen, Practical Lawyers to the Court.’ were anything but. If there had been air in his lungs he would have sighed once more, instead it was more of a whistle as the air sucked in through the holes in his chest.

“On the contrary my compatriot, it will merely instigate a state of us sitting in the dark.” The zombie said, with little that could be confused with humour. 

His partner sneered in reply and brayed his fist on the desk, hard enough to make the candlestick jump, and send a billow of dust fill the air, before settling on Mr Spleens hat freshly brushed hat. In return Mr Spleens expression was as unreadable as ever as he stared with unblinking eyes at the dust covered crown and with another whistle of resignation placed the bowler back on his head.

de Manfess cracked a smile suddenly, his mood switching without account as it often did. Generally, it has to be said at the little discomforts and depravations of his partner. He was a man to ever find the discomfort of others lightened his mood. Though it should be said it was only a mild lightening of his mood. He had, after all, not had an opportunity to try out his new thumb screws since he bought them several weeks before. Some real honest torture was what he really craved if truth be told. Creating mild discomfort in a member of the undead did not have quite the appeal of a good racking. Putting someone to the question, now that would take his headache away. A good hot tonging, or even a light bit of waterboarding. That’s what he needed… That a blood of course, rich deep red blood, or poetry of course… 

He thought for a moment, then tilted his head to one side slightly and swallowed the rest of the wine in one.

“What we need, if my friend it does please. Is a task that demands, the careful touch of our delicate hands. Least we be bored as ridged, as…” he let out a little chuckle at his forthcoming joke, a nasal chuckle which was a sure sign he thought he was being clever and wanted a mild dramatic pause. “as the queen is frigid.” He finished and laughed again.

Mr Spleen did not, which was not unusual. Mr Spleen seldom found his partners jokes funny, or for that matter considered his rhymes to be clever. But then Mr Spleen found little funny or clever but himself and pedantry. Which was why as a short pause he replied irritably…

“That is not at all accurate, Queen Lissa is quite the opposite in fact, as we are all but too aware. However, you are correct in your estimation of our need for an undertaking.”

de Manfess just laughed louder at the irritated tone of his compatriot. His mood, at least for the moment, lifted. 

Then the large black Bakelite phone that sat on the desk between them began to ring…      

Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, elsewhere and earlier.

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 Project

I mentioned back in January that I have several writing projects in hand at the moment. This I know will probably comes as little surprise to anyone. While I am mainly working on the third Hannibal novel ‘A Squid on the Shoulder’, and banging my head against the wall that is the second Maybe novel ( on its third or forth replotting currently ), I also have a non-fiction book to finish about Lovecraft, which I had hoped to get finished for the 15th of march ( as the ide’s of march is both my birthday and by sheer coincidence was the day on which Lovecraft died).

Three major projects at the same time is one would think is enough for any writer, and does not take into account the short stories for the Harvey Duckman Anthologies and other things. In short no sane writer would start a fourth major project, let alone a project that will be written and put out into the world in a different way to everything else…

Sanity, it is over rated and entirely subjective…

Which brings me to The Elf King project, a forth major project the blame for which lays at the feet of Craig Hallam (because I am stealing his idea and doing it my own way). Craig has been publishing as part works which went out by chapter each month to his peatron supporters. They proved popular, and once the full story had been published this way they became two rather remarkable novella’s, one of which I really like (the other I utterly ardour).

Craig is not alone in this approach, several other writers I know and admire are doing simpler things. Publish in part work on your website is surprisingly popular, but I have generally avoided it for several reasons.

A part work, is an old fashioned way of publishing a book, dating back to magazines like The Strand within whoms pages Sherlock Homes first walked the foggy streets of Victorian London. The practise of publishing stories one section at a time was in part the reason the idea of chapters was first developed in fiction. The same method of part works was used often in magazines like Amazing Stories and Weird Tales for the longer stories of Poe and Lovecraft. Part Works have been around along time in other words. But this is not the reason for my new project.

The Elf King project (or to give the project its real name ‘The Elf King’s Thingy’ started out as an aborted NaNoWriMo project several years ago. I’ve gone back to it several times since and know the story I want to tell. the problem with it has always been finding the time to commit to it as a project. I may want to write it, but I have other work I need to focus on, so it has just sat idling on my hard drive.

Due to the multiple POV, shifting perspective, shifting focus, style of this story, which takes place in the real world, the world of the fay, the space between the second and third layer of hell, right now, tomorrow , yesterday and fifteen hundred years in the past… the story is complex. But it is also written in small segments of varying lengths rather than chapters. It flits about because it flits about and flitting about is how the story needs to be told. This was always the plan. But this short flitting style lends itself to publishing in part work. However, my methodology as a writer does not…

The problem is I write very much by revision, I am also dyslexic, which adds a layer of difficulty. Even my editor never sees a first draft , or a third for that matter… I often rewrite earlier bits of a story and revise as I go. While I try to avoid this with first drafts, no one sees first drafts but me…

‘The Elf King’s Thingy’ which has always been a working title, purely as it amused me, if not finished. For a revisionist this is a problem if I publish it as a part work. As the final story may have major changes. However, publishing as a part work appeals due to the nature of the story and because what i intend to do is release one ‘flit’ a week, ( a flit anything between 500 and 2000 words). and so that is all I need to write for it each week(in theory ,, of course 1000 words published takes me 5000 words to write… because revisionist…). I do however have the first 8 parts , or two months , more or less written, and part of the point of this is it will drive me to write a ‘flit’ for the on going part work each week. There are reasons for doing it this way, while the aim may be to entertain, to bring a wry smile, and the occasion moment of laughter and joy to the readers. The main reason is to make me actually write this story that has been kicking about in my head for several years, without sitting down and focusing on writing the whole book. I have other books to write after all.

As for when the first ‘flit’ of The Elf king’s Thingy’ will hit the internet, Well everyone needs something to smile about on a Monday lunch time…

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An interruption to normal service…

It may not have escaped regular readers of this occasionally profane whiterings that I have been somewhat absent for some time. It’s also quite possible no one noticed, as my absence from the blog has by definition created a lack of blog. It’s sometimes hard to notice something that isn’t there. We are not as a rule looking for absence…

There have been reasons, primarily an illness in the family that on top of Covid lockdowns, work and other things has left me mentally exhausted. Times, for everyone, have been hard the last twelve months or so, and my father having a major health scare, more or less broken me for a while. The old man has been a rock in my life since forever. He taught me everything I know about being a man and a father myself, just being who he is. The sudden realisation that forever was not going to be forever, well…

Most of us out live our parents. It is the natural order of things. As a parent myself I can say I would never wish it the other way round. The thought of out living my children is one I never wish to contemplate. But that does not make the knowledge of my own parents mortality any easier to contemplate, and while I am lucky in that I have reached the start of my sixth decade without losing either of them, the last couple of months have brought home a reality I always knew but had never considered.

For now, at least, the universe has seen fit to grant a reprieve with my dads health, and this last few months has perhaps prepared me a little for the inevitability of my parents mortality, a truth which we all face in time. A truth which I suspect I am still far from ready to accept, not that any of us ever are, and hopefully will not be something I will not have to stare fulling in the face for a while.

It is perhaps in such times as these we find out truly who we are, and more importantly perhaps who our friends are. That said, true to form I kept most of this to myself, I have ever been insular and libel to withdraw, the more gregarious aspects of my nature merely a mask thrown on to preserve my inner introvert. If you never let people see the real you then they can never harm you, so never tell anyone your true name. First rule of magic and all that…

But there are those, many in of whom are part of the indie writer community, who have asked after me, reach out, and said ‘are you okay?’. The Thursday night Harvey crowd, Gillie & Andy Hatton’s, Kate, Liz, Joseph and the rest who without fail it seems have asked how I was each week and spared a little time just to be there if this normally loud opinionated Yorkshireman needed to be less the face they know and more the fragile human-being beneath the mask of self-assured pomposity. There were other as well of course, old friends and family, but the writers stand out, if only because the Thursday night crowd helped serve as an anchor to my weeks, a point I could be myself, by not being myself for a while.

I started this post, as I often do, not quite knowing where it would lead and what I was going to say. But what I do know is what inspired it. I got back to writing the long delayed third Hannibal novel last week after the news that my fathers health was not in the worst case scenario, mostly that was the drive to get back to some kind of normality. Which writing a blog post surely also is, hence I started writing this.

As ever after a protected layoff when writing a book I started by reading through what was written so far. Which as its about half written and a little over 40000 words at present took a few days with the inevitable little edits and changes as I went along. It was then, somewhere around the 25000 word mark I came across this passage, written sometime early last year before all this, Covid and my fathers health scare, happened. Despite this, it perfect summed up how I felt, so it seemed a thing worth sharing, because occasionally, even if I don’t realise it at the time, I write something with more than a slither of truth to it.

Hannibal can on occasion manage to be profound, even if neither he nor I realise it when the words are being scrawled down. There is also more than a little of old Hannibal in me, and me in old Hannibal. Though exactly where the dividing line is between where writer and character lays is a somewhat fuzzy line at best. The above excerpt from ‘A squid on the Shoulder’ blurs that line more than most, however, and certainly more than I ever expected until I came back across it last week.

To throw another quote out there, from a live album I have current playing in the car.

The times are tough now, n’ just getting tougher

The world is rough now, n’ just getting rougher.

Cover me….

Bruce Springsteen ‘Cover me’

My thanks to those who have, may I be there when you need me, as you have been there, perhaps unknowingly when I have needed you.

Normal service will resume shortly…

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The Electric Eel’s, or the more you know, the less is true

Electrophorus electricus, or to give it is none Latin name, the Electric Eel, is one of those things that keeps cropping up in pulp fiction’s. It’s what the harder up bond villain type puts in his shark tank, if he can’t afford sharks and doesn’t want to fork out the cost of piranha food.

Shark tanks, clearly the classy choice are of course ridiculous, as most sharks would not attack humans anyway, and you need a very big pool, just keeping them correctly chlorinated would be a challenge, and frankly you need a whole aquarium in which to keep then. But who doesn’t like a shark tank…

But if, as is likely, a shark tank aquarium with a suitably vicious type of shark is not possible, then of course a tank of Piranha’s is a perfectly good budget choice your for average villains lair. Except of course, most breeds of piranha actually prefer to eat fruit, and in fact all but one species of piranha are entirely harmless scavengers. Even if you do get the right kind of piranha (if your interested its the red bellied piranha) they seldom actually attack large animals or go into a feeding frenzy. You’d have to keep them nigh on starved most of the time and just hope the hero doesn’t turn up within twenty four hours of the last feeding time…

So, what do that level the melomaniac intent on world domination to chose for his principal defense against the interfering hero? Well a tank of electric eels would seem perfect, would it not. No issues keeping them on the edge of starvation so they will dispense with the hero. Just a big tank beneath a fall away floor with a fry of electric eels and your all good. (that’s the right collective noun btw, though a bed of eels or a swarm is equally acceptable, a fry just sounds right for a collection of electric eels don’t you think).

Also,, side note, the collective pro-noun for a group of Emu’s is ‘a mob’. As someone old enough to remember Rod Hull this sounds correct to me… But back to electric eels..

There is however, one discovers today, one slight problem with stocking for hero killing tank with electric eels. The first of which is unless your hero has a hereditary heart condition the chances of even multiple shocks killing them is limited to say the least. Usually deaths attributed to electric eels are actually drownings, as they can knock a person unconscious. But generally not your fit healthy hero type. Shocking they may be, but no more than the latest scandal involving the heir to the dutchy of Northumberland and the girl who works at Tesco’s…

Then of course there is the other problem, all be it a problem of semantics, you don’t actually get a fry of electric eel’s, or a swarm, or even a bed of them… Because electric eels are while very much a thing, not actually eels…

They are in fact a species of South American knifefish, breath air, are more closely related to cat fish than eels and don’t swarm…

In the end, as ever, the only correct way to deal with an annoying hero infiltrating your super villain lair is to shoot then in the head on sight, without it may be added, revealing your plans… And defiantly with no monologuing…

Todays blog was brought to you by ‘random stuff I found on the internet…’ You’re welcome…

Image may contain: text that says 'Animals with Misleading Names Electric Eel Mountain Goat Not an eel. Not goat. Maned Wolf King Cobra Not wolf. Not cobra. Also, shakes are typically self-governing. Peacock Mantis Shrimp Horny Toad Not 8 peacock. Not mantis. Also, not shrimp Not toad. Only thinks of you as friend Mayfly Eastern Kingbird Active through the spring and summer. Found in the West. Many birds do not retoqnise its authority,'

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Things to come… In Twenty Twenty-one

New years resolutions are always an exercise in futility and is 2020 taught us anything, its that all plans for a year are built on foundations of sand.

This time last year I wrote that I hoped to write four novels, The three ‘ballad of maybes’ books, starting with Maybe, that was released on the ids of March a few days before apocalypse Corvid really struck. The fourth book I planned to write last year was the third Hannibal Smyth novel ‘A squid on the shoulder’. Needless to say only one of these books was written, and I, like many other writers and creatives, struggled to get words on the page.

In the end I did release two books in 2020, the second of which was acanthology of collected stories, meant to replace ‘A Scar of Avarice’ but that was merely a convergence of events and a response to the general malaise that last year was. However I did write plenty of words, all be it most of then were rejected and ground away at. Belligerent words that form working drafts of Squid and the second maybe novel, both of which are somewhere close to half complete. I also stumbled into the world of non-fiction with my guide to the writings of HP Lovecraft, which is also close to complete.

With all that in mind, over the course of this coming year I can say with a bit of confidence I will be releasing three new books. Which is an excite prospect for me, if not for anyone else. There is a lot of work to do before these hit the metaphorical shelves, but its the goal.

Of course, that’s if we don’t get invaded by Aliens, Corvid doesn’t mutate into a zombie virus, and/or there is a second coming of Odin. Or i just get distracted by life.

But my hopes for the year as a writer aside, let me take this moment to wish all my readers, and friends a better year than the last. May the world get back to something approaching normal, or at least a little less crappy in general. May we all smile more, love each other more and find time to dance on the shores of midnight…

And Finally…

The astute among you may also notice the name of the second ‘A Ballard of Maybes’ novel is not as previously advertised. What can I say, but I feel this is a better title and more in keeping with the original. The really astute who have read ‘Maybe’ may have noticed something else about that title…

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Howard vs Lovecraft…

It is a reasonably undisputable fact that HP Lovecraft is more well known now than his most of his literary contemporary’s from the golden age of pulp scifi/fantasy magazines back in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Indeed, were you asked to name any of those contemporary’s, beyond those who were already famous writers at the time who’s shorter works occasionally got serialized in magazines like Poe, Wells and a few others, I suspect you would struggle. There is however one writer who made his name in magazines in the same era who’s name is recognizable and who’s work many could name. Ron E Howard.

Howard and Lovecraft were not just rivals for the attention of the editors magazines like Weird Tales, they were also close friends. Indeed it was often Howard in the early days pushing editors to consider Lovecraft’s work for publication, after Lovecraft first came to his attention with ‘The rats in the walls‘ . Howard was easily the bigger name at the time and remains so after both of them died within a nine months of each other (Ron E Howard died first, a loss which devastated Lovecraft.)

On the face of it, purely from a literary point of view, its odd that Howard was more successful than Lovecraft. The bulk of Howards work was centered around heroic fantasy, a genre he more or less invented with King Kull, Solomon Kane and most famously Conan the Barbarian. While these were undeniably successful, and Howard was extremely prolific, no one could accuse him of pushing boundaries in the way some of Lovecraft’s fiction does.

If the editors of Weird Tales and other pulps were interested in stories that were different and unique then Lovecraft should have held more appeal than Howards mainstay of macho sword wielding barbarians rescuing a string of nubile scantily clad priestess from the clutches of a foul magicians and giant snakes… But Ron E Howard, also wrote under a number of pen names, including Sam Walser who wrote exclusively for ‘Spicy Stories‘ a pulp mag that specialized in what for the time was soft core pornography, in short he knew his audience, knew his editors and more importantly knew how to get on the covers of the magazines. As it ever has, in the 1920’s and 30’s sex sold magazines.

And there was the reason Ron E Howard successfully made a living as a writer while his close friend Howard Lovecraft failed to do so. Howard wrote cover material…

Meanwhile Lovecraft’s blend of Cosmic Horror never really held the same graphic appeal as far as editors were concerned so even at his height in the mid to late 30’s seldom graced the cover of the magazine itself. So Lovecraft even at his best never commanded the fees his friend Howard could collect for run of the mill stories, which is why (along with ‘Spicy Stories’) one of them made a good living out of writing and the other didn’t.

Which just go to show, nothing much changes, it’s not what you write that matters, but the amount of clothing the girl on the cover will have that matters to publishers, and if you want to make a living as an independent writer, write erotica…

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Harvey VI: Erupting from the grave

Writing is a solitary activity, which suits me just fine. Anti-social introverts make good writers, and good writers tend (though not exclusively) to be anti-social introverts. This is not a bad thing, for we take flight in worlds of the imagination…

That said, much to my introverted anti-social souls horror, I love being part of the community of independent authors and nothing exemplifies that more than 6E’s Harvey Duckman Presents series. Each new volume features 15 writers, some established, some making their debut’s, and is filled with stories of Science fiction, horror and fantasy (with a liberal dose of steampunk).

Its a rich community, and a rewarding one to be part of as a writer. Not only because I get to write stories for these anthologies, and be published alongside my piers. But because I get to read all these wonderful stories as well.

In this latest volume, the sixth in the main series, the eighth if, as you surely must, include the Christmas and Pirate specials, there are debut stories from new Harvey writers C K Roebuck, D T Langdale, J A Wood and Alexandrina Brant, along with the long awaited return of writers from earlier volumes like Ben McQueeney, AD Watts and J S Collyer. As well as some Harvey stalwarts, myself, Peter James Martin, Liz Tuckwell , Joseph Carrabis and others.

As ever I was excited to read them all and I’m working my way through them backwards, as I wanted to read some of the new writers first and a couple of them happened to be at the back of the book. I was particular excited to read CK Roebucks story as it is the first of his stories to be published anywhere, and I know how excited Craig has been by this. (spoiler, its not only a great read but an intriguing one). While when I read Joseph’s I was afterward I was left with a thoughtful hour of contemplation that stopped me getting to sleep, which is the highest compliment that I can afford any writer, and that just two I have another 13 stories yet to read… I don’t doubt they will all be wonderful in one way or another, funny , insightful and entertaining. Even if one of them is written by an Anti-social introvert in a top hat.

Harvey is a grand experiment, a great adventure and a wonderful journey both for the writers and the reads. So what i am saying is, Welcome to our worlds, join us…

Alternatively, for Americans…

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Writing True Stories: A guest post by Kate Baucherel

As your mostly likely aware, on occasion I throw my blog open to guest posts from fellow authors. Normally these only happen in April and October, but when they have something new and exciting out it would be a shame to not let them talk about it here. So here is a little post by my esteemed and occasionally mildly terrifying fellow Harvey Duckman author Kate Baucherel. Who’s wearing her non fiction techno pagan hat today.

One of the joys of being a science fiction writer is the freedom to bend the real world around my plot and follow my subconscious down rabbit holes as characters take on a life of their own. While all the tech in my books is real (or at least, likely to be real based on where we are now) I can generally let my imagination go wild on how and where it is used and the impact it has on my tale.

I also write non-fiction. Up until now that’s been a similar, albeit more structured, process, weaving a compelling narrative around tech which really does exist. In the last few weeks, however, I’ve discovered a whole new discipline. I’ve become the custodian of other people’s stories, and with such power comes great responsibility, as they say.

It all started with an innocent question. “You’re an author, aren’t you?” Suddenly I was pitched headlong into a time-critical project to produce a book on blockchain and cryptocurrency in time for Paris Blockchain Week Summit – which is happening right now (I’m attending a panel on financial services and crypto assets on the other screen as I write). This is my field – I haven’t had to get up to speed on the tech, thank goodness – but I found myself faced with a new brief. I now had not only to interview people for their insights, but to relate their story verbatim and present it in an accurate and compelling way.

If there is one thing I have learned over lockdown with endless rounds of podcasts and interviews, it is that the best interviewers say the least. It’s hard to keep it zipped when you know the subject well, but it’s worth it. Quite apart from anything else, it allows people to express what you might already know from their unique point of view. I discovered nuances I hadn’t appreciated and built on my own expertise, which was fabulous.

The next challenge was to present the raw interviews in a palatable way for a book. Luckily, our favourite editor Gillie Hatton at Sixth Element took us in hand. She gave us the tools we needed to blend a Q&A style with a narrative style and come out with something consistent that let the interviewees speak for themselves while pushing their story along nicely. This was a side of editing I had never experienced, and it was a real education with fantastic results.

Once we had a good manuscript we came to the hardest part. When the things people say end up on paper (even electronic paper), they have more permanence. We sent out proofs of each chapter to the interviewees and asked for any final, factual, material changes. It was tense. Some last-minute changes came back, occasionally contradicting the original recorded transcripts. We scrambled those final edits through with hours to spare. A success! What’s Hot in Blockchain and Crypto made it to launch in time for the conference. We gather it’s rather a good read. “The book is like a fireside chat with the people creating some of the coolest new tech on the planet,” says the first review. I think we can call that a steep learning curve to success!

“What’s Hot in Blockchain and Crypto – Volume 1” by Ash Costello and Kate Baucherel is available on Kindle

About Kate Baucherel (by Mark)


Kate Baucherel is a digital strategist, a writer of both non-fiction books that explain technology while making you laugh, cyber-crime sci-fi (her third SimCaviler novel is much anticipated this year), and short stories for the Harvey Duckman Presents series (her Christmas tale was particularity compelling). She is also an internationally renown expert on Blockchain, an occasional guest lecturer at universities, as well as a panellist and speaker at technology conferences around the world. More importantly Jackie Carlton once bought her a drink and she has been known to dress up as Han Solo at Halloween (or whenever else she can get away with it probably). If that is not intimidating enough, she is also is a black-belt in several martial arts including Karate, octopus catapults, parenting and the internet …

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Yoole-Girthol – Holly Trinity and the Ghosts of York at Christmas

An interesting read from the keyboard of a fellow Harvey Duckman writer, the estimable Mr Benjamin Sawyer of the old much haunted city of York

Ben Sawyer

She lowered her phone and glanced at the screen. What she saw there provoked a cry of sheer joy that echoed around the empty church as she leapt into the air.

“Holy mother of flip, it’s only scutting Christmas!”

Holly Trinity has protected the city of York for over 400 years. That’s an awful lot of Christmases.

Because there are an awful lot of Christmases, really, a lot of different ones. In York, the Norse midwinter festival clung on well into the 16th century, and shadows of it continued for centuries to come. The 21st of December once marked a time of suspended order when “whores, thieves, dice players and other unthrifty folk” are granted free reign of the city, a celebration which carried the magnificently Lovecraftian name of the Yoole-Girthol. 

Christmas stories, including the ones I have written, are often about chaos. If Christmas Day represents stability, Christmas Eve…

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