Ignore me. I’m sick.

What is this art form? This theatre of words moving across a page? The trade of building images out of symbols? Carving literary statues with grammatical chisels? Writing is so much and so little. A bad sentence is almost indistinguishable from a good one. It takes a person with a degree to know what is good and what is not. They will tell you Dan Brown paints his words with turds and shake their fists at the pages of The Bookseller magazine which dares to print sales figures that contradict their assessment.

The average reader has no idea. Nor do they care.

You can have a novel, 120,000 words long, and find nothing of meaning within its pages. Heroes running the same course as many before them. A save-the-cat journey of write-by-numbers plots designed to move and thrill. The same story sold bought and read again and again and again.

Another book. Which follows no particular pattern. Does not follow the rules of grammar exactly. And does not dance around a story circle. Filled with depth and aphorisms and wit. Is never read.

If a genre book is considered literary is it no longer genre? If a literary book is blandly written is it still art? Is storytelling itself art, regardless of the prominence or not of adjectives in its prose?

I always wanted to write whatever the British equivalent of The Great American Novel is. In wanting to learn how to do this I have become more and more interested in turning a collection of words on a page into a continuous moving image in the reader’s mind. I write westerns now. The goal of the books is not to blow you away with a skilful display of my vocabulary and the wrangling of obscure and rarefied words, but to put the words out of your mind entirely. I want my stories to grab you by the hair and drag you through the dirt. I want you to read them in one sitting and turn that last page with your heart racing and your eyes raw with fatigue and belly hungry. But instead of eating, or sleeping, I want you to turn right back to the start and read it again. Is that art?

To do that, maybe I have not created art. I have created entertainment.
Will that do? Is that enough?
I still want to write The Great British Novel, but writing pulp is too much fun.

Right now I am sick. I’m sat on the couch amidst a snowstorm of crumpled tissue. My nose is red. I’m sniffling. I have a tickle at the back of my throat that I have been refusing to turn into a cough since I started writing this incoherent nonsense. I should be writing the next chapter in my book but instead I am rambling about, what? Whether or not writing is art? I have no idea. I have lost the thread of my original thought. The cold that has turned my brain into a red hot storm of snot has forced my imagination into some kind of fevered spasm of bollocks.

I have the urge to write but not the clarity to do so usefully. So now I have done this. I started writing with no plan and have ended up here, and you’re right here with me, wondering what the point of any of this is.
We are conjoined in an existential crises of blog gibberish. I will set you free so I can go and sneeze.

Let me leave you then. I am going to drink coffee, cough up some lung-butter (as Rachel so juicily calls it), take some Sudafed, and try again to write what I opened my laptop to write in the first place. Some good old fashioned gun-slinging pulp fiction.

Would you like a gun with that ice cream?

In researching gun shops in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1870 I came across this ice cream shop. (It didn’t help in my research but it did make me smile).

Top Google review – “Ice cream and gun shop, what more could you ask for.”

Isn’t America a weird place?

I remember meeting my parents in America once and as we travelled from Boulder City to Las Vegas we drove past a burger restaurant with a sign outside that read, “Enjoy a burger and fire a machine gun.”

I think it was called Burgers and Bullets.

And people think the western is a dead genre. In a place where you can ask for extra pickles and ammo, a scoop of vanilla and a Glock G19, the Wild West is still alive and kicking in the unbridled hearts of a number of its inhabitants.

Cover reveal tease and newsletter news!

Cover reveal for Jack’s Game!

Next weekend I’ll be revealing the cover. This is my vain attempt to build buzz.

It finally has a release date! My debut horror novel, the one I’ve been working on for two years, will finally be published this Halloween!

If you want to see the cover before everyone else, and get a FREE horror story right NOW, all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter. The link is in my bio.

http://www.subscribepage.com/gnome

When you subscribe you will get my horror retelling of the Brother’s Grimm story, Gnome for free. It is a homage to the creature features of my childhood. This is my Gremlins, my Critters, my Ghoulies!

Melody and Faith just wanted to pick fruit, but a cursed nursery rhyme could kill them both…

When you’re playing by the tree

Eat the fruit and then you’ll see

Eyes like marbles, black and small

Teeth like razors, sharp and cruel

If they find you feed them bread

Or you’ll end up dead, dead, dead!

Eat my flesh and break my bones

All should fear the twisted gnomes

– Playground rhyme*

*WARNING: DO NOT SING THIS RHYME IN THE WOODS AT NIGHT

David’s Inferno

I’ve redesigned Dante’s Inferno just for David Chapman.

Some backstory first. I experience a severe type of misophonia when I hear the sound of a fork scratching on a plate. It’s normal for people to hate that sound. My reaction to it is a physical one. (I think it stems from watching Nightmare On Elm Street when I was six and the months of nightmares that followed).

It makes eating in restaurants a battle of survival. Not for me, but for the other diners. A battle they don’t know they are a part of. I hear a SCHREEE and it’s all I can do to not stab them in the forehead with my fork.

All of my family are aware of this. Any time we get together for a meal, and somebody accidentally makes that helll-spawned sound, the whole table stops what they’re doing and look at me. I’ll be gripping my cutlery tightly, my eye twitching. Sometimes threats of death will lurch from my mouth in a way that is beyond my control.

Somebody usually asks, tentatively, “Are you okay?”

A question I can’t reply to because I’m grinding my teeth so hard I can feel them break in my mouth.

This is more than a dislike of the sound. It is an adrenaline fueled panic that triggers the fight or flight response. It’s primal. If I ever go to prison for murder that will be my reason.

My brother knows this well.

Before I had even sipped my coffee this morning I noticed a message from him. It was a video. I clicked on it. A fork was pushed along a plate and my phone was on full volume. SCHREEEEEEEE!!

I dropped my phone and started shaking.

He is a total and utter c**t.

When Virgil guides him through hell, just as he did with Dante so many centuries ago, he will get to the bottom and find that it doesn’t go deep enough.

As such I have redesigned the Inferno to include a new layer just for him.

5am Writing Blues

Getting up at 5am to write stopped being fun this week. It was hard. The words came out like stone toothpaste.

Next week will be different. I will get up with that same verve that I started with. The excitement of being amongst gunslingers while the house slept.

This week was difficult because the story stopped being a western. It was always meant to start in New York and wind its way west. I’m halfway through and can’t find my way out of the city. Gritting a 6’9″ pissed off lawman and a percheron horse halfway across a country is harder than it sounds, especially when you’re trying to maintain a certain level of pulp action.

I should have picked a city closer the the lawless frontier.

This is Robin Castle’s origin story. He’s a marshal in New York. Something terrible happens to his family and the guy who did it flees. Castle gives up his badge and the rule of the law to take after him.

He finds himself in a dry unforgiving land with vengeance in his heart and a gun on his hip.

Sounded simple when I came up with it.

Publication news!

Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars! (a book I wrote with Kassidy when she was 6) is available to buy today!

I didn’t realise you couldn’t set up a paperback for preorder so I’ve accidentally launched earlier than planned. (Nothing but professionalism here…)

The Kindle version is up for preorder for the actual release date, which is the 27th February (my daughter, and co-author’s, birthday), but the paperback is out there in the wild all by itself now!

Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars! Is published! Hurrah!!