Last year, having read illustrious articles like “How To Expand Your Online Reach”, and “Develop Your Author Platform Or Suffer Anonymity!”, or even “12 Routes to Achieving Online Omnipotence”, I made the foolhardy choice to follow every bloody writer on Twitter I could find, in the hope they’d follow me back.
Surely, with ONE BILLION FOLLOWERS, I’d be drowning in engagements and impressions and all those magical metrics of modern life!
It worked, to an extent. I’d post a blog, pin a link to my Twitter profile, then follow 50 writers I could find using hashtags or bio searches. Maybe two thirds of those would follow me back.
A week later, I’d do the same thing, but then unfollow anyone who hadn’t had the GOOD BLOODY GRACE to follow me back – the ungrateful gets.
Sometimes, we writers can be a heinous bunch. We give birth to our characters, write life into them, give them hopes and dreams, and send them out into a world that we loveingly created just for them; only to dash their hopes, torment their dreams and torture them hideously until they are forced to change in order to cope.
The problem comes when we’re too mean to them. It’s not uncommon for a writer to lead their characters into a trap from which it appears impossible to escape. Then what?
They’re bloody everywhere aren’t they? Western media is awash with the shambling degenerates, mindlessly meandering through malls or ineffectively banging against baffling barriers of glass. Of all the stages of human life, only babies are more hopeless.
The zombie theme has reached saturation point – nay! It reached saturation point over a decade ago when 28 Days Later tried to reanimate the rotting genre with super-fast zombies. Cillian Murphy tried to trick us, but we knew what they were. You can call it “the Rage” all you like – they’re still zombies.
So while The Walking Dead went back to basics to find human drama in a world of brain-chomping corpses, Kory M Shrum sought an entirely different form to explore life after death.
I enter a flash fiction competition every Friday. I do this for a variety of reasons:
1.) It’s fun.
2.) I meet other writers.
3.) I hone my craft
4.) It generates ideas.
My latest effort was limited to 150 words. That’s not a lot if you hope to include compelling characters, potent plot lines, convincing dialogue and rich descriptions all in the one piece.
Therefore, often, you have to focus on one or two aspects of a story – the idea, the conflict, the character, the prose.
Last Friday’s prompt was inspired by the Iliad, which I studied in my sixth-form Classics A-Level. I’ve always loved Homer – I’ve got old drafts of “Modern Odyssey” story ideas that I was toying with as a 17-year-old fiction smith.
After a month of island-hopping, we felt the need for something a bit different, and Georgetown promised to be exactly that.
Those of you with some knowledge of Malaysia will balk at my error: “But Georgetown IS on an island, you fool!” Yes, yes, I know, but it’s connected to the mainland by a big fat bridge, so it doesn’t count. Continue reading Spicy variety in Georgetown→
Our first border crossing – from Thailand to Malaysia – was impressively painless, apart from carrying around a rucksack on my freshly scalded back. Flesh-grating torture aside, the visas were free, the immigration officers unquestioning, and the boat was quick and comfortable.
Our first port of call – Pulau Langkawi – was made a duty-free zone in 1987 to boost tourism and improve the livelihoods of the island’s inhabitants. We celebrated this economic liberation with a glass of Prosecco as soon as we arrived, toasting the island’s effervescent relationship with alcohol, before heading out for a booze-free meal. Continue reading Langkawi – Malaysia’s malaise→
I first came across China Miéville last year, during a sci-fi binge that I had hoped would bring me up to date with the genre. Despite enjoying science fiction, my sample of it was rather antiquated – Shelley, Verne, Wells – being mostly from Literature classes.
Some cursory research (Top 100s and the like) led me to The City & The City (2009), an immensely rewarding fusion of science fiction and crime noir by Miéville. The concept is elegant: a city inhabits the exact same geographical space as another entirely foreign city, with denizens of both forced to ignore, avoid and “unsee” the existence of the other. The penalty of interacting, or even noticing, the opposite plane is named Breach and is swiftly and ruthlessly dealt with by an ethereal force of the same name.
It’s ruddy ace, it is. The plot follows a detective as he investigates a murder that appears to have involved some form of Breach from the neighbouring city, but a conspiracy is afoot and dark forces attempt to pervert the course of justice. Read it. It’s brilliant.
The Fall of Hyperion (1990) is the second instalment in Dan Simmons’ epic science fiction series, the Hyperion Cantos. The first, Hyperion (1989), is a glorious cacophony of ideas structured as a sci-fi Canterbury Tales-style pilgrimage, following seven men and women (and one newborn) on their Chaucerian voyage to the Time Tombs on the eponymous planet.
My exposé of the most insidious
deception in human history
By Thomas Harrison, reporter, Channel 4 News
It is with a clear conscience that I endure the world’s venomous loathing. My actions, heinous to so many of you, were made in good faith, and with pure intentions. I offer no apology for the havoc I have supposedly reaped upon our planet.