Hello and welcome to my blog.
I'll be voicing my thoughts and opinions on the creative process as well as other random topics that enter my mind. I can't promise to be entertaining or informative, but if you like genre fiction, movies, TV or comics then there should be something to interest you.
Any errors and foul language are my own.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dancing With Dinosaurs

Now there’s a title for a TV show. I can see it now – Anton Du Beke waltzing with a Velociraptor, while Ola Jordan performs the rumba with a Tyrannosaurus (although how well a T-Rex can dance with those tiny arms will always remain a mystery). BBC, you can have that one. How about Come Dino With Me?

Two TV shows have started in the last few weeks (there’s another, but I’ll get onto that one in a bit), one of which I’ve found is a massive disappointment, while the other remains entertaining from more or less start to finish. They are Terra Nova and Strictly Come Dancing, surprisingly in that order.

Frankly, it’s not right that a show involving a) time travel and b) dinosaurs while being c) executive produced by Steven Spielberg should be so bad, but when you can guess the plot twist IN THE PRE-TITLE SEQUENCE, you know it’s a show that’s not worth watching. Shame, as it has so much potential. I even watched Jurassic Park in an attempt to compare, but all that did was make Terra Nova look worse, while prove that – even after all these years – Jurassic Park is a mighty fine film. Strictly (as it seems to have been shortened to) is ideal Saturday night viewing, showing off a) amazing talent while b) having a good laugh.

So, the dancing remains weekly viewing, while the dinosaurs do not. That is something I never thought I’d say. Perhaps it’s my age, and I’m too old to be Terra Nova’s target audience. Saying that, I’ve stuck through a lot of series over the years – anyone remember Earth 2, Sliders, or Space: Above and Beyond? – which, while not being great, always had a hook to drag me into the next episode. Maybe it’s because The Walking Dead has also started, and it’s utterly brilliant. Its only real comparison with Terra Nova is that it deals with family, but in a much more mature and adult way. Which it will do, as it’s a gruesome, grown-up series, but the capacity for twee-ness is always a concern, one that The Walking Dead has – so far – been able to avoid.

“Shall I read Swamp Thing or Suicide Squad next?” That’s something else I never thought I’d say; twenty years ago, sure, but not in my 41st year. The thing is, DC Comics have re-launched all their titles as first issues and pulled me back into the world of comics. What I thought was a marketing ploy was a very clever trick indeed; I’m only reading five titles (at the moment…) and I’m impressed with all of them. Comics were a major part of my life as a teenager (as were role-playing games), but they filtered out by the time I reached my mid-twenties. I read the odd graphic novel now and then, but that was about it. A couple of years ago, I bought Watchmen and it was as good, if not better, as I remembered. Other classics followed – Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, The Killing Joke, some 2000AD collections – and they too have held up over the years. Nostalgia was what it used to be, and I was reminded of when I first read these works two decades ago. Marvellous.

I’ve always found reading to be inspirational, and comics are no exception. While it hasn’t been slaving over a hot keyboard that’s kept me away for so long, the good news is I’m at the final stages of editing the first novel in my fantasy trilogy (a page a day should see me getting it finished by the end of the year) and responses on a short story have been very positive indeed, so watch this space. No, this one.
Finally, a shameless plug. You can find my reviews on the Starburst and Fantasy Faction websites; two great sites that are well worth having a browse through. That's it for today - who knows, there may be another one before Christmas.

Friday, 1 July 2011

July already?

Well, yes. It is. half the year has gone, and I've been unemployed for almost 3 months now. When I was made redundant in April, I was tanned. Now summer's officially here, I'm sitting with a fleece on, doors and windows closed (although this may be due more to the dust flying around from the building work next door). Last night I was chilly. In bed.

Anyway, with this time of year comes the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER, Hollywood's latest attempts to blow our minds (and the cinema's attempts to empty our bank accounts). I don't go to the cinema as much as I used to, mostly because I hate sitting listening to people talk amongst themselves - why they feel the need to pay a tenner so they can have a conversation in the dark in front of a huge screen is beyond me. I once said this to a group of people after watching The Blair Witch Project years ago, and they just looked at me like I was the insane person.

One of this year's summer blockbusters is Transformers 3. Admittedly, the trailer looked great in 3D (yes, I gave into that novelty to watch Thor. Decent film, and while the effects had their moments of brillaince, it did make me laugh when a cereal packet was placed in front of the actors to show the wonders of 3D), but it's not a film I'll be rushing out to see. I've seen the first one and it was more or less what I'd expected: er, transforming robots; that 'k k k k k k' sound; barely any plot; Megan Fox pouting; a big robot fight; an ending leading to an obvious sequel. Job done.

Yet so many were disappointed with it. What, you expected Shakespeare? It's a film about toys! For kids! Sit back, disengage brain, enjoy the spectacle for a couple of hours. Still, you could also argue that with the millions of dollars it cost to make, the film should have been better. Amazing effects do not a brilliant movie make, it didn't have the same theme as the cartoon, the audience shouldn't be considered dumb etc etc. Both sides have valid points.

And that's what's got me thinking, is there really such a thing as a bad movie? Of course there is, you're going to cry. I'd agree (films can be badly directed, badly acted, badly catered), but hear me out. What if, in 10 or 20 years time, the most moving, brilliant film ever is made. The director is asked "what was your inspiration?" He/she says "well, I saw Transformers when I was a kid and it was such a good idea executed so badly, it inspired me to do better." For, as we know, the best movie ever made will be sci-fi (but it'll take a lot to top Raiders Of The Lost Ark). Is it a bad movie if, in some tiny way, it inspires others to do better? I've often heard the saying, something is so bad it's good.

Yes, of course there's such a thing as a bad movie/book/TV show. What I'm trying to say is that they have their purpose. Greatness is there for us to emulate, while crap is there for us to rise above. And, even though some films/books are rubbish, they get made/published, and that's got to give us writers hope and inspiration, eh?

Well, that's me being philosophical, and hopefully articulate enough for you to get my point.
I know there may be varying degrees of 'bad', but I'm not going to to into that now. Instead, I'm off to Google a picture of a blue sky, enlarge and print, then tape it to my windows. Take that, crap weather!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

And this is me...

...as Mike Yarwood used to say. (For those who don't know, Mike Yarwood was an impersonator who had his own prime-time show in the 70's. I used to love watching it as a kid, but now all I can remember is him saying "ooh, Betty" as Frank Spencer. And his "this is me" at the end, where he used to sing in his own voice. I can't recall if he was actually any good or not, and I don't want to shatter my rose-tinted lenses.) Anyway, I digress.

After years of procrastination, I've finally got round to starting a blog, of which this is the first entry. And now, as I sit at my keyboard, I'm trying to remember all the witty comments I'd thought of earlier (how you would have laughed!) but my mind's gone blank, and I'll surely remember them as soon as I post this (so it bodes well for future entries).

One thing I must apologise for is my use of (parentheses). I've no idea where that's come from, as I never use them in my normal writing (not yet, anyway). Writing tip for the day, then, is not to get (parentheses) confused with [brackets]. Here endeth the lesson.

Ah, writing. It's what I love to do, which makes the delay in starting this blog all the more mysterious. I've been putting pen to paper - or finger to key - (ha, no parentheses there! aw, damn!) since I was in school. Back then it was stories about how myself and my friends saved the world from zombies, methods of their despatch based on whatever dodgy VHS copy we'd watched that week. And so it continued: for too many years I started what would be the next best thing, and never finished it. Fast forward 20 years, and I had a short story published by the fantastic Pantechnicon e-zine, which sadly no longer exists (although I might show the short in a future blog). It gave me the confidence to crack on with a novel, which has expanded into what will be a trilogy. I'm halfway through my latest edit of the first book, and then I'll send it off to agents and publishers, sit back and write for the rest of my life. For such is the plan, possibly with a rural retreat in France added into the mix.

So, that's me (briefly). There'll be more later, I'm sure - the last thing I want to do for my first blog is infodump about my age and vital statistics, although it's safe to say I'm a bit curvier than I used to be...

Before I do go, I'd just like to say Terminator 2 was on Sky1 last night and it's still fantastic. I've never seen the third one or the one with Christian Bale, and am perfectly happy with that state of affairs, thank you.