our cities

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Remember when you first visited your nearest city as a child, the terror of becoming lost? You overcame this, and still do, by a simple remedy: a city of your mind, an invisible construct that you carry everywhere, marked with monuments and landmarks, favourite places, quickest or safest ways from here to there. And thus, although we all share a city, it can only ever be an abstract concept, an unknown, vague and nebulous thing, through witch we sleepwalk, having each arrived from different directions, occasionally bumping into each other, co-inhabiting, almost coincidentally, the same geographic space with contrary intentions.

Underpass by Daniella Geary from Where Are We Going? (pag. 189)

the planet suite by allen ashley

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1st note
There isn’t a book published by Eibonvale Press that is not a challenge to the senses; all of them gave me a punch in the head – books that transcend themselves: quite an achievement.

2nd note
The Planet Suite by Allen Ashley… beyond fantastic. Very good words at disturbing our borderline between real/dream/imagination. The Planet Suite, a box of sensations – an experience we never forget.

And as Leonard Hofstadter says: Hi. I’m Leonard. You are beautiful. You pop, sparkle and buzz e-lec-tric. I’m going to pick you up at eight, show you a night you will nev-er for-get.

3rd note
A strange and yet entrancing book.

alexander zelenyj

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I am meeting Alexander Zelenyj again – lucky me! I just need to reach out and bring his words off the shelf.

For me, reading Alexander Zelenyj’s work is… dreaming, living, feeling… if you get the picture, good for you, if not, it’s time to discover Alexander Zelenyj.

His heart ached: it was the sound of her old despair, a world removed from the good crying.

Alexander Zelenyj, Songs For The Lost

unpleasant tales by brendan connell

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A real-time review by Paulo Brito.

From the comic to the shocking, from the refined to the visceral, and blurring the boundaries between all four – Unpleasant Tales is a remarkable new collection of some of Brendan Connell’s darkest stories. Drenched in gluttony and decadence and with a scope stretching from the depravity of rulers in ancient Greece and Renaissance Spain, to phantasmagorical body alteration in Zürich and New York, these are supremely refined and elegant, creepily intelligent and, of course, exquisitely unpleasant stories that pack a tremendous punch, both individually and collectively. Stories that will not easily be forgotten.

Unpleasant Tales by Brendan Connell” it was published by Eibonvale Press.

It features 22 stories.

This is will be my second real-time review thanks to Des Lewis.

caledonia dreamin’ – strange fiction of scottish descent

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Glaikit, mockit, droukit, drouthy, couthy, scunner, thrawn – the Scots language is rich with words too gallus not to glory in, dialect terms that deserve better than to be boxed away as precious oddities. Here we’ve collected some of the strangest writers of Scottish descent to bring these terms to life – that’s Scottish by heritage or residence, adoption or initiation…

An anthology is only a good anthology if the stories that comprise it are balanced. If the quality of each story is more alternate than the electric charge, that anthology loses its value. And to achieve a uniform quality depends on both the writers / stories chosen as the theme that unites them. “Caledonia Dreamin’ – Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent“, edited by Hal Duncan and Chris Kelso, has a very interesting and challenging premise (“Our aim here has been to mine the language for its wealth, tasking writers to draw out of it whatever gem of a word caught their eye and to build a story around it in celebration, to stake a place for these words in the wider culture, beyond their usual confines.” page 11), but which may prove to be complicated to attain such uniformity.

Shortly I will say what I think.

sylvow by douglas thompson

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I write this review after rereading the book on telegram mode.

If at the turn of the millennium technology started to get better and better the human race also learn to use it without worrying to live in symbiosis with nature. Why to worry about nature if with our intelligence we can overcome nature, right? We see nature more as a powerful rival than an ally.

Some of the premises of Sylvow are based (or maybe not) on this idea, but the overall text’s semiotics are remarkably more significant and complex; Sylvow goes beyond… and is terrific and simply breathless the whole time.

Sylvow is a meaningful and thought-provoking book. Right from the start, I knew this was going to be a sur(real) book, and my opinion was not changed throughout the reading. It delivers such a strong message of fear, survival, hope and love, that leaves your mind devoted to thinking about it for a long while after. It made me think about all my creature comforts, and what is actually necessary in life.

Well done, Douglas Thompson!

a glimpse interview to jeff gardiner

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I’ve read one book by Jeff Gardiner, but I intended to read all of them. Why? Read my words about the book “A Glimpse of the Numinous”…

“Impressive”, that’s the best description I could come up to label this book.

A Glimpse of the Numinous by Jeff Gardiner gave me the opportunity to travel between genres, images and identities, and with only one ticket. With comedy, romance, thriller, horror, this book it’s a truly marvel of multitasking; it is impossible to get bored during its reading – we are facing an astounding writer.

All in all, A Glimpse of the Numinous is no ordinary book. If you’re searching for linear stories, then this book isn’t for you. But if you want to experience something different, then by all means, buy the book. You will have some much fun.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s difficult for me to say, and probably easier for an objective reader to analyse. I consciously do not write to a formula or even to a specific genre. I believe great writing can adorn any genre. I’ve read amazing horror, fantasy, detective, literary, romantic and children’s books. I have a very fertile imagination, which feeds into my writing, and I like to think I’m quite good at realistic dialogue, and at creating sympathetic characters. I love using language and some of my book titles are good conversation starters. The word ‘numinous’ sound magical to me, as does ‘Myopia’ – the title of my YA novel. I start a novel with a clear plan of where I want to get to, but love to leave things open and flexible so that the story and characters can ‘come to life’ and sometimes surprise me.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

As a kid I was mesmerised by books such as ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘The Little Grey Men’ (by BB). As I entered adolescence I found Michael Moorcock, which began my lifetime fascination with everything he’s written (see my book ‘The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock’). I developed a passion for stuff by H Rider Haggard, Algernon Blackwood, Charles Dickens, Arthur Machen, Herman Hesse… this list could get enormous. Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy is a huge influence, as are Moorcock’s masterpieces, ‘Gloriana’ and ‘Mother London’. Graham Joyce’s ‘Tooth Fairy’ is another that stands out for me.

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a glimpse of the numinous

I hope you don’t mind me mentioning the vital role of music in my life, too. For years I’ve listen to rock, metal and prog – especially such artists as Yes, Metallica, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Hawkwind, Dream Theater and Steven Wilson. Music has inspired me a huge amount, listening, attending gigs, reading lyrics and absorbing artwork. It would be disingenuous of me not to mention the part music has played in my writing.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Michael Moorcock. He was very kind when I wrote ‘Law of Chaos’, and answered all my idiotic questions very patiently. He writes a lot about writing itself. Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ is about the best I’ve read as an aid to writing fiction. I’m with several publishers and each one has a community of authors with whom I share tips; ask and offer advice. The writing community is extremely friendly and helpful.

the law of chaos

the law of chaos

4. What are your current projects?

I recently signed a three book contract with Accent Press for a YA/crossover fantasy trilogy. The first book is called ‘Pica’ (see what I mean about titles?), which is the Latin name for magpie. These books are set in our modern world but contain characters who have rediscovered an ancient magic linked with the natural world. I’m also keen to write screenplays and have completed a few which are currently being submitted to various agents.

5. How much research do you do?

This depends on the book. My novel ‘Igboland’ is set in Nigeria, inspired by my mum’s diaries from when my parents lived there (I was born in Jos, Nigeria). I decided to research the Igbo culture and the Biafran War, which are very important elements in the narrative, and my research was extensive for both. I learned a huge amount about the Igbo beliefs, known as ‘Odinani’, and some of the horrifying truths about the ethnic cleansing that went on during the Biafran War. One of the characters in ‘Igboland’ is an Igbo woman who is a victim of guerrilla brutality. Sadly, the tragedies continue in Nigeria to this day with the terrifying presence of Boko Haram.

covers

covers

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?
one night in amsterdam

one night in amsterdam

I took voluntary redundancy from my teaching job, which has now afforded me more time. I have to take on other work to make enough money to survive, but it has given me this wonderful opportunity to just get on and write.
I’ve been given the gift of time and space, and must not squander it! I usually get 2-3 days a week when I can get 4-5 hours to concentrate on my writing until the kids get back from school.
I also try to use evenings and early mornings when I can. With six books published and three in the pipeline, plus all my stories in various anthologies and magazines, I think I’m quite prolific.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

I don’t mean this to sound annoying – but from my imagination. Growing up I always assumed everyone had a vivid imagination with a constant internal dialogue. My mind is full of images, colours, voices and musings, which makes it difficult sometimes to have a normal conversation with others, because when someone starts talking to me I have to break whatever intense thread is currently buzzing inside my head. I realise that makes me slightly irritating, and I’m working on it. So all my ideas tend to be personal. The stories in ‘A Glimpse of the Numinous’ are flights of fancy each based on a definite premise: what would the god Dionysus be like in the modern world? What would happen if a man developed a close relationship with a seagull – you know obvious things like that. ‘Myopia’ explores creative responses to bullying; ‘Igboland’ is about personal and national identity; ‘Treading On Dreams’ deals with obsession and unrequited love; ‘One Night in Amsterdam’ (under my pen-name Jaz Hartfield) is a fun-packed erotic romance!

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have an active online presence and I’d be keen to hear from anyone who’s enjoyed any of my works.

Jeff’s Website:
www.jeffgardiner.com
Jeff’s Blog:
https://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/
Jaz Hartfield:
http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Hartfield_Jaz/one-night-in-amsterdam.htm

a glimpse of the numinous by jeff gardiner

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“Impressive”, that’s the best description I could come up to label this book.

A Glimpse of the Numinous by Jeff Gardiner gave me the opportunity to travel between genres, images and identities, and with only one ticket. With comedy, romance, thriller, horror, this book it’s a truly marvel of multitasking; it is impossible to get bored during its reading – we are facing an astounding writer.

All in all, A Glimpse of the Numinous is no ordinary book. If you’re searching for linear stories, then this book isn’t for you. But if you want to experience something different, then by all means, buy the book. You will have some much fun.

60/52 interview to douglas thompson

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All Douglas Thompson books that I read offer a very visceral picture of the human emotional attachment and have oodles of style. Another big strength of his books are the cool concepts. Although some stories make sense alone, together they are visually stunning – yes you read right! A book can be visual.
Douglas Thompson stories are incredible in every possible way, a delight for the human mind.

In short, Douglas rocked!

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I often try not to have any fixed style. Being a bit of a polymath, I am influenced by things in fields outside writing, for instance art and architecture. One of my favourite architects, John Lautner, tried to make every single building he did different, to have no style, to try instead to give form to the wishes of each client. The writing analogy would be to let the content of each novel generate the appropriate style to tell it in. That said, in Lautner’s work, the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright can sometimes be traced, likewise for me you’d probably find, if you looked hard, certain key writing influences like Wolfgang Borchert, Albert Camus, Ray Bradbury, J G Ballard, John Banville.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

There are so many, and we tend to refer in these situations to ones that we found at early stages of our lives. Camus’ The Fall, Borchert’s The Man Outside, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, but there are later big moments like Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and odd ones like the painter Georgio de Chirico’s only novel Hebdomeros (in the Margaret Crossland translation)… which changed my life. Well, they all did, and many others, that’s the wonder of books.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Among the dead, Wolfgang Borchert. For the way he uses words like intense layered music or paint, for the tragedy, poignancy and honesty of his vision. I shan’t mention any among the living, that might be name-dropping and could embarrass the modest souls in question. And also, I’ve learned never to trust the opinion of one single person of our own work. Self-belief is the hardest quality, the hardest-won, for any writer. I steer clear of literary agents because I don’t believe in the process of standardization which they dedicate their lives to.

4. What are your current projects?

I’m trying to give up writing. I finished a new 85,000 word novel just before Christmas which with any luck will be the last thing I ever write (though I can hear the voices of a dozen friends laughing in my ear to hear such a suggestion of the prolific Doug ever giving up!). I can’t tell you anything about that book in a public forum, for personal reasons, but I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written. It may come out under a pseudonym, if at all. There’s also a book of my poetry will be published by the influential Red Squirrel Press in 2017, but unfortunately I can’t talk about that either. Terry Grimwood’s Exaggerated Press will be bringing out a major collection of my short stories later this year (31 in all), to be called ‘The Sleep Corporation’, which may be slightly controversial in that it will reveal a surprising pseudonym I’ve also been writing under.

cover_ultrameta

cover ultrameta

In the meantime, these days I do occasional poems and digital paintings, which I print onto canvas. My first exhibition opens next week in Glasgow. Sometimes the paintings inspire the poems and sometimes vice versa. I’m trying to find and encourage other polymathic writers to try the same thing. It helps me to find inspiration from a wider range of sources, and to uncover areas of my own inner narrative which I might be hiding from. Follow your obsessions, as J G Ballard said, and sometimes that will take you across a busy motorway on all fours, but follow you must, wherever it takes you.

5. How much research do you do?

It varies. For my latest manuscript, all I had to do was live. For my philosophical science fiction novel ‘Entanglement’ I had to read up about all the known exoplanets that might support life and what their atmospheres might look like. For my historical novel ‘The Brahan Seer’, I had to read quite a bit of Scottish history and visit dozens of locations around Scotland. But that was another obsession, something I’d been doing for a lifetime anyway, so not a chore. My fellow Glaswegian writer J David Simons has a theory about historical research that you should always do as little as possible and forget about it afterwards… meaning many a good book is spoiled by the writer feeling so proud of some research that they have to shove pages of it into the reader’s face. I think this comes back to a bigger strategic issue in writing for me: that you have to have something to say, and everything in your book should serve that message. I think there are two kinds of book in the world actually: those with something to say, and those with nothing to say (most bestsellers). When anyone calls me a stylist I wince, and think of hairdressing. The message is everything.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

Part-time, and No-time if I can manage it. I only work at the day job 3 days a week, but my first 2 novels were written while in full-time employment, so I don’t believe that these vast amounts of time are actually necessary, or indeed healthy, for good writing. Write in the margins of your life, since ultimately that very life is your subject-matter and inspiration, metaphorically or literally.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

Life. Every day, the ongoing drama of the world and my own occasionally tormented place within it. The stupidity of human beings (myself included)… that’s always a rich source! I reckon we probably shouldn’t look for ideas, but think like artists. Sketch a hedgerow, a tree, see what comes of it. Draw out the mysterious hidden thread inside yourself and follow it and see where it leads. Use metaphor. Turn your pain into beauty whenever you can. But I wonder if I should answer this more simply. Philosophical conversations in pubs with friends often crystallize ideas, as does listening to song lyrics and looking through books on brilliant artists like Dorothea Tanning, that sort of thing.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

My blog is a good place to start: https://douglasthompson.wordpress.com
And my old original website is still up: http://www.glasgowsurrealist.com/douglas
where you can read some of my earlier short stories from books like Ultrameta which are still occasionally finding new readers and making people’s head hurt.