Monthly Archives: October 2011

Careless Wispa

After a week’s fasting I concentrated hard on the chocolate in front of me. My mind was clear, my concentration absolute. I held the bubble filled bar in my mind and willed it, implored it to move.

A minute passed.

Five minutes.

I sat motionless on the stool, staring. My stomach felt hollow and shrunken within me but  I ignored it, focusing all my energy instead on the Wispa that lay on the table.

Eight minutes passed.

Ten minutes.

Then, movement! Movement!

I think.

At the exact moment of movement my head had jilted forward and as my eyes recalibrated the movement was lost.

I refocused, harder than before and almost immediately I felt my vision sharpening. My sight narrowed like a telescope and as it did black swam down the edges of my vision until the purple wrapped Wispa hung in a circle of focus.

I ignored the ropes of hunger in my stomach.

I concentrated.

I concentrated.

When I woke my head hurt from where it had hit the floor and my girlfriend was staring down at me with a look of mild concern.

Ugg I murmured.

What happened? I asked.

Are you okay? she said, ignoring my question.

You must have passed out, she said.

I said Ugg again and was about to try and lift myself up, but the lino was cool on my forehead and I felt so very weak.

What were you doing? asked my girlfriend, and then I remembered.

The Wispa!

I pulled myself in to a sitting position and then, using the turned wooden table leg as a support, I hauled myself to my feet.

The table top was empty.

The Wispa, gone.


It had moved!

It had worked!

I turned to my girlfriend, my legs shook from lack of food but my eyes were wide and my grin wider still.

What? She asked, what?

And I was about to tell her, to explain everything.

But then I saw a flash of purple in her hand.

I stepped towards her, stumbled, grabbed at the hand. As I stumbled her hands shot up, held my shoulders, supported me.

The Wispa wrapper drifter slowly to the floor.

My eyes followed it.

My eyes filled with tears that ran down my cheek.

I looked away, then up at my girlfriend.

What? she asked.




Wispa loved my story.


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World Book Night – Sign up now!

On (or just before) 23rd April 2012, 480,000 copies of 25 different books will be sent out to 20,000 volunteers. Each volunteer will receive 24 copies of their chosen book and in the days and weeks that follow that will distribute this copies (for free) to anyone who wants one. This is World Book Night, “the most ambitious and far-reaching celebration of adult books and reading ever attempted in the UK and Ireland”.

To become one of these volunteers (or ‘givers’ as the WBN like to call them) register here.

I am still to register, but I’ve whittled the 25 titles down to four. I still need to cut one, and choose one as my first choice. At the moment I’m thinking cut Good Omens and have Someone Like You as my first choice. This may change.

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The Maze Runner : James Dashner

I have a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It’s second hand proof copy and the cover is white, with a thick yellow stripe at the top and bottom of the page. The title is written in stylised and foreboding type that suggests something broken or decayed and when this lettering is combined with the primary colour and the infantile ‘Chicken House’ logo, you are left with a suggestion that this is a book for young adults. And that is exactly what this is.

The three pillars on which this conclusion are based are subtle indicators though, and the conclusion more subconscious than realised. The art of the cover design is rooted in the ability to convey to potential readers a sense of a book within the covers, and convey that sense in the three or so seconds that a reader takes per cover, when scanning book shelves for their next read.

A proof copy of course doesn’t have to compete for readership, they are sent out directly from the publisher to (hopefully) interested parties and the proof design is enough to give a hint of what to expect.

The shift in design from proof to (I’m assuming) hardback to paper back to trilogy cover is interesting through; you can see how the elements have altered and expanded with each version. The same type is used for proof, hardback and paper back while the image of the maze grows more clearly defined in each iteration. In the cover to the trilogy the maze is fully realized, and because of this the type is simplified, making the title easier to read and the cover less confusing.

Inside the covers it’s just as good, a hugely gripping story (so much so that I haven’t started 1Q84 yet as I want to finish this first. And I’ve been looking forward to reading 1Q84 for weeks), the blurb about it is here. And at the end of 2010 it was announced that the book was to be turned in to a film.


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Points of perception

His face was unremarkable except for the fact that you would suddenly, after a long period of time, begin to notice that it was slightly tight at the edges, and the shape slightly, off. And you’d look at his face and at his hairline and at the point just above and to the right of his ear and then you would mentally shake yourself because the tightness and the shape were not noteworthy and, possibly, were not even present. But the next time you saw him and, actually every time after that, the slightly unsettling image of a road accident would spring unbidden to mind. A brief tumbling skid of an image: black tarmac, blue sky, black tarmac, blue, black, blue, raw, red. An image shoved hurriedly aside and ignored, but an image and a point of view that once experienced refused to ever leave completely. And if the act of observation changes that which is being observed, then the man’s right eye did begin to cloud slightly, and the skin around the hinge of the jaw line on that side of the face grew shinier and more pockmarked in a destruction of the epidermis entirely unrelated to hormones or zits or prepubescence. And as you looked and you saw this you would then look again and see, nothing. Nothing wrong, nothing, different, nothing strange.  And later you would understand that it was this constantly blurred shifting, this inability to examine objectively or to determine a single viewpoint, it was this was that threw and unnerved you, made you unsure and uneasy. But at the time, you didn’t realise this.

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My creative writing has once again begun to trail off a little, time generally seems to have gotten away from me, but there are a few reasons for this:

  • A couple of months ago I started helping out at Literary Death Match (LDM) London. I help out on the website. It’s a GREAT night, and 37 cities across the world can’t be wrong
  • Mondegreen. A new literary journal. It’s in the very early planning stages at the moment but we have a dream, and that dream involves a first issue being published April 2012. Watch this space.
  • And after the past month’s comic book bonanza I am now trying to write my own comic script. As you do. It’s one baby step at a time but the concept is good, and who knows, I might be able to drag it through to completion.

There’ll be posts about both Mondegreen and the comic in the future, but that’s where I am at the moment.

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I’m prouder of these than I probably should be…

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Gibbons/Mézières @ BD & Comics Passion

A Saturday afternoon talk by Dave Gibbons (illustrator of, among others, Watchmen) and Jean-Claude Mézières (illustrator of Valérian and Laureline); part of the BD & Comics Passion festival at the  Institut Francais.

One of the first questions asked by the host of the event is ‘how many of the audience are involved in comics, drawing or writing?’, half the hands in the audience go up, mostly those near the front of the auditorium. ‘So’ says the host, turning to where Gibbons and Mézières sit, ‘ these are the competition’. Mézières cocks the thumb of each hand and swings his pretend guns from left to right, grinning as he does so.

It’s a light hearted opening to the hour long session which is more conversation than interrogation. Both illustrators have a pad of paper and a pen, and throughout the hour they take audience suggestions (spaceman, alien animal, next stage of human evolution, monster crushing a car), and we watch as they draw, the sketches projected on to the cinema screen behind them via a top mounted camera.

As they draw they talk, and we learn that, among other things:

  • Jean-Claude Mézières and  Pierre Christin (writer of Valérian and Laureline) have been friends ever since they shared the same air raid shelter growing up together during WWII.
  • There are three ways to make it in the comics business: be reliable, be good, be a nice person. Gibbons thinks he’s two out of three.
  • Gibbons mostly reads non-fiction these days.
  • Mézières read a lot more SF when he was young than he does now (absorbing as he read, like a sponge).
  • Gibbons is doing a DC series with Mark Millar, is writing a new series called ‘Treatment’ (described as freelance police on reality TV), and is also working on an iPad app with Liam Sharp, and others, called ‘Madefire’.
  • Mézières  was disappointed with the animated series of Valérian and Laureline.
  • There was a much bigger signing queue for Mézières  than Gibbons. I put it down to age, and being in the Institut Francais.
  • The Institut Fancais is a great place for a small comic book festival.

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