Occupied: Chapter 24 extract

One of the most explosive installments in Occupied is loosely based on the 2010 anti-tuition fees march in Belfast. At the urging of editor Claire Burn, (“this chapter was incredible… send this one”), I’m making this available now as a free PDF download.

Book time podcasting!

I learned last night our new bookcast, I’ve never read Discworld, made the Apple top 50 for UK book pods in September. O Team!

It was pleasant news after two days graft editing. There’s the new episode of The Drew and Look Podcast to come, in which I interview indie start-up SHP Comics about creative entrepreneurship, as well as sex, sci-fi and vampires. The Drew and Look has been on hiatus a while. Some months back, the interview with comedy horror novelist, Philip Henry, got a lot of love.

Sean Black is a household name: prime-time actor on stage and screen and linked to an unknown number of gruesome murders. Sean Black is the lead in METHOD, the creation of Philip Henry, a struggling dramatic novelist, film-maker and singer-songwriter.

Podcaster Andy Luke lures Philip to a remote country cottage to unravel his secrets. What emerges is a wide reaching conversation on writing, celebrities, romance, violence, ethics, feminism and Northern Ireland on screen.

The new episode is live on Patreon and I’ll be putting episode 2 of Discworld up there next week. It’s been a learning curve bringing in the video element on these series. Judging by the feedback on our first Discworld, people seem happy to wait.

My brother Gavin dumped his 15 Discworld duplicates on me in a big green canvas bag. In trying to procrastinate, I knew the reading experience ought to be chronicled and reached out to ask the internet for a co-host. Local writer PJ Hart responded: having read through most of the series and keen to revisit. And thus we became a legend in my own lunchtime.

https://anchor.fm/andyluke/episodes/Auteur-Philip-Henry-The-madness-in-his-METHOD-e1jfckn/a-a822jl6

‘It’s the fantasy version of The Wire.’

Experienced wizard PJ Hart guides the tourist Andy Luke through the first book in Terry Pratchett’s world: a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown); from the docks to taverns of Ankh-Morpork,to forests, temples and the edge of the world.

https://anchor.fm/iveneverreaddiscworld/episodes/Ep-1–The-Colour-of-Magic-e1o0nop

Occupied extract: The Illuminati Man


The morning after the strike the camp was thick with frost and the three girls in the marquee sat in a wafting mist. Regardless, there was colour in Cat’s cheeks. She and Jack were talking about where they went for bargain clothes. It transpired they each went to the same charity shops. Kiera said they dressed so differently she’d never have realised it to look at them. The interruption introduced himself as Alex. He was well groomed, and dressed in a sports coat and slacks, smiles and winks all round. Alex sat down a little too close to Jack for her liking, but she let it go. Alex kept his his options open, making eye contact with Cat.
‘God, yous are game, camping out in this weather. So are yous into politics then?’ he asked unironically.
Cat responded dryly, and disinterested. ‘Nah. Whatever gave you that idea?’
‘Ha! Did you hear about that strike yesterday?’ he asked.
‘Well duh,’ said Kiera.
‘They said the UK could be on the brink of another recession,’ said Alex.
‘That’s the word. Not just us: Europe, America, Asia,’ replied Jack.
‘Yeah. It’s all starting up again, honey. You’ve got to wonder.’
Eoghan zipped his tent closed and wandered up the path, bleary eyed.
‘Alright Eoghan,’ said Kiera.
‘It’s all engineered,’ said Alex.
‘Morning,’ said Cat.
‘What’s happening?’ asked Eoghan.
‘Am I detecting some animosity here?’ asked Alex.
Eoghan threw his head back, puzzled. ‘No. No animosity,’ he said.
‘It’s okay. Eoghan’s a friend,’ said Jack.
‘Oh. Just a friend? Nothing more?’ enquired Alex.
For a moment no-one spoke.
‘What’s up with you this morning? You’re looking worse for wear,’ noted Cat.
Eoghan sniffed. ‘Ah, just tired and fucked off.’
‘What’s the matter?’ she said.
‘Ach. The usual. You-know-who is sticking their oar in again and we’ve all this shit to do before the rally on Saturday and I haven’t had a day off this week.’
‘That’s what they want though, isn’t it? They all get together and decide,’ said Alex.
‘Same old shit,’ said Eoghan, and he began to pour out a bowl of cereal.
‘Wait. Who decides?’ said Jack.
‘Well, that’s it,’ said Alex. ‘Labour and Conservatives argue
over which of them go to war. They get India and Pakistan to agree to fight. It’s the Illuminati.’
‘Oh, the Illuminati?’ said Cat.
Eoghan moved slowly to take his seat.
‘It’s true. That’s how they see consensus. War: good for the economy, good for technology. We’re in the middle of things they set up three hundred years ago. Go and look it up on Wikipedia.’
‘Aye. Wikipedia it, Cat,’ said Jack sarcastically.
Kiera turned her face away from them and broke out in a huge grin.
‘I don’t think they’re capable of planning that far ahead,’ said Cat.
‘The Illuminati,’ said Eoghan. ‘A secret organisation causing chaos in the world, though not doing a very good job of disguising themselves.’
‘It’s true. This current situation is all carried out by finance capitalists pretending to look weak. They manufacture a narrative that they’re hard done by so that they can turn round and do it again in five years time.’
‘He has a point,’ said Cat.
Fred staggered out of The Love Shack, one shoe crushed under the weight of his sweaty heel. The new streams of drizzle slapped his creased face. He hobbled on the slimy path a bit before fixing his shoe. Eoghan looked at Alex with scepticism.
‘That’s balls. You’re saying they didn’t get caught with their hands in the till, but they wanted to get caught?’
‘They staged it. They rule us by division. Even this movement of yours! Capitalist society is run by the secret elite. They’re dedicated to preserving bloodlines –’
Eoghan mimicked an English aristocrat. ‘What? Capitalism is a boys club, filled only with the wealthy? And the rich people only marry other rich people? My god, does anybody know? Does Lenin or Trotsky know?’
Fred took a bowl and filled it with cereal and milk, and sat down next to Alex.
‘It’s fucking obvious,’ Eoghan ranted. ‘Princes marry Princesses, they become Queens and Kings. That’s the whole system staying in place!’
‘Alright Fred. Are you off somewhere?’ asked Kiera.
‘I’ve to sign on in ten minutes. It’s twenty minutes walk: uphill all the way.’
‘It served a logical purpose possibly at one time,’ said Eoghan, ‘but it wasn’t a great system. People were trying to overthrow it for years.’
‘Well it’s true,’ insisted Alex. ‘The Illuminati are going to take over the world and kill everybody.’
Eoghan raised his voice as he became increasingly frustrated. ‘There’s no such fucking thing as the Illuminati! Look. Have you ever read the books by Robert Anton Wilson?’
‘I don’t read books, said Alex.
‘You don’t read books? You don’t read books?’ yelled Eoghan.
Again, no-one spoke. Fred froze with his spoon before his mouth, milk dribbling off it.
‘Ah!’ exclaimed Alex. ‘Sure it’s all the fucking Jews anyway.’
Everyone was staring at him except for Fred who got to his feet and slammed his bowl and spoon onto the chair behind him, splashing milk onto Alex’s trousers. He glared at Alex. ‘That’s what I like to wake up to in the morning. A good old bit of anti-Semitism. Who doesn’t need a bit of beat-the-Jew over breakfast? Fuck this. I’m going back to bed.’

24 Hour Comic: Mixed Up Media

Occupied: Mixed Up Media was my fourth 24 hour comic, following Gran, Absence and Don’t Get Lost. Created in Farset Labs in 2014 it served as a rough draft for Occupied chapters 11-12:

Optimising this for the web I followed the style Stephen Downey used at absencecomic.com. The images were merged in blocks of six with the easy free filesmerge.com making sure to keep altering the merge order as the display changed it in order of load. WordPress typically shaved 82% off image size but Freshtechtips provided a no-plug in solution: through settings to Media Settings and saving all image sizes to zero. The blocks of six were then re-saved to a 640 horizontal (maintaining aspect ratio) for efficient rendering, and re-merged.

This post was made possible by my supporters on Patreon before the three-month hiatus. The final version of prose novel Occupied is available to buy from Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle formats. Libraries and retailers, contact me about cheaper than Amazon stock. You can read more about the novel on this page on this website.

Quick plug for The Drew and Look Podcast: latest episodes on Hardwicke House and Press Gang are up at https://anchor.fm/andyluke

Press Gang – The School Edition (Part 1)

New Podcast!

Comedy-drama Press Gang was widely hailed as one of the best YA telly series ever, attracting critical acclaim and industry awards. As well as featuring some of the best names in the business it launched a dozen careers including those of Stephen Moffat, Julia Sawalha, Dexter Fletcher, Lee Ross, Paul Reynolds, Gabrielle Anwar and Lucy Benjamin.

Occupied author Andy Luke’s feature presentation includes character studies and reviews of ten episodes from Series 1-2. You’ll also hear from roving reporters Ian Lawther, author Tristan Shephard and comics artists Simon Hodgkiss-Rogers and Peter Bangs.

Listen everywhere! (But here’s the Anchor.Fm Link!)

24 Hour Comic: The Spook

Moved by Gran? Educated by Absence? Interacted with Don’t Get Lost? Then you’ll probably want The Spook. Created in Farset Labs in 2018, this served as a rough draft for Occupied chapters 7-8. Early pages are raggedy but it gets good hi-speed comixing:

Optimising this for the web I followed the style Stephen Downey used at absencecomic.com. The images were merged in blocks of six with the easy free filesmerge.com making sure to keep altering the merge order as the display changed it in order of load. WordPress typically shaved 82% off image size but Freshtechtips provided a no-plug in solution: through settings to Media Settings and saving all image sizes to zero. The blocks of six were then re-saved to a 640 horizontal (maintaining aspect ratio) for efficient rendering, and re-merged.

This post was made possible by my supporters on Patreon before the three-month hiatus. The final version of prose novel Occupied is available to buy from Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle formats. Libraries and retailers, contact me about cheaper than Amazon stock. You can read more about the novel on this page on this website.


[Podcast] The Lost Light – A Socio Sci-Fi Magnum Opus feat. Transformers

In which we celebrate two anniversaries of James Roberts game-changing Lost Light stories: a hard SF epic of post-conflict rehabilitation and redemption, romance and loss, identity, gender, labour, philosophy, crime and punishment; but mostly relationships, all told with wit and poignancy and Transformers.

https://anchor.fm/andyluke

Occupied author and host Andy Luke talks about his favourite storylines and characters. A reader’s cherry is broken as Simon Hodgkiss-Rodgers extols the virtues of the story’s ease of access and freshness and Ciaran Flanagan talks musical direction. There’s also an exclusive update from James towards the end, so look out for that!

Occupied Launch Party

This Friday, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Streamed live over https://crowdcast.io/occupied-launch-party

Celebrating the launch of Occupied, and 10 years of the Occupy movement with author Andy Luke, editor/host Claire Burn and special guest, ‘Greenpeace John’ Wright.

Restricted numbers because Covid for the in-person event, so please only if you’re quite real about going, book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/179317793347

Occupied is available from Amazon at https:/is.gd/occupybook