Filler Post

These are awesome and they have me in them.

Forbidden Planet International: Interview on my best of 2016. It’s like being in my home, but with less cigarettes.

Warsaw Photo Blog: First impressions, Jewish history and comics on my LJ.

My Goodreads blog: Books read and reviewed.

Axel America Launch Party Video (Our subtitles required)

WIshing you all a very Merry Jesus Day and not a Sad Jesus day.

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The Weariness of the Unsolicited Project Manager

My touches of depression generally come from recognisable causes (grief, stress, displacement), and completely unrecognisable causes (feeling completely shit despite major accomplishments). The latter was something we talked about in Nimlas Studio’s Mental Health in Fiction show, where the round-table was full of useful insight. Show’s two hours, bear in mind, but, wow.

The illness has seen me doing less press this month.  Ten years ago I lapped this stuff up and made sure to Mark McCann made time to interview me for Following the Nerd, which made for a thorough discussion of conspiracy theory, news and entertainment, and I was pleased with how that turned out.

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Also, a nice phone call from Caiman O’Shea, which found it’s way to Corncrake Arts Magazine.

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There’s also a second piece on the way from the Downbelow B5 Introcast, and an discussion of Mad Max 2 with Travis and Patrick of Reel Comics Heroes pod.

After a solid year working on Axel, I’ve felt I’ve lost the fresh-faced cogniscent speaker I was and am not always able to deliver as entertaining a presentation as I might have five years ago. Last week my health was failing and I’ve thought seriously about giving this career up.

On the other hand, I went out to the pub last night and a lot of people bought books, talked to me, embraced me and filmed a chat I was having with PJ Holden into an interview. Look at those lovely smiles.

So I probably won’t give up in hurry.

The Axel America book launch freed people’s minds, and their bladders.

A Qabalah’s worth of photographs from the Axel America launch party, an eye-watering then blistering evening of love, unity and dissent and spectacular mucking about.

On Monday morning I’m on Belfast 89FM, an excellent grassroots station, and on NVTV’s Novel Ideas, the East Belfast/Shankill Extra, and Following the Nerd all within a few days.

So Axel is now out, on Kindle and Smashwords, and in print from Amazon. We’ve had positive support from book sellers, particularly ComicBookGuys who promoted us with a special offer, and Malachy at Forbidden Planet International, whipping up some readers. The Thinking Cup on the Lisburn Road will be doing an event with us before November 8th and David at No Alibis suggested we let him stock ten copies. That works for me. In Dublin, Rob Curley made good with a copy (we only had one!), as did the manager of The Winding Stair bookshop on Lower Ormond Quay. We hope we can travel to re-stock soon. A complete list of stockists are on the Axel America page of this blog. 

The week to launch had been another hard week poking press behemoths with a series of big sticks until deciding it wasn’t worth dying over. We were helped by reviews from Peter Duncan and John Robbins, and the spectacular promo made by Ashwani Thakur, which is probably better than my book. Thank you to everyone who came out for the loud and bright launch party and sat patiently while Richard and I babbled a load of ‘conspiracy theory’ tosh, which you applauded.

Running Facebook repeats

I wish people would blog. Why Facebook when you can blog? It’s only the ratings game. Stupid planet. I present two recent Facebook posts, for the joy.

18 August

You know those protestors with the pictures of dead babies, maybe the ones standing in a busy Belfast city street? I think we’ll call them the Abortionoids.
Well I had to walk back past them today. My laptop bag has a dangling piece of string, and as I bounced, the ears of a pair of scissors inside became entangled in it. The scissors half fell from my bag and snagged on another piece of string, linking a tree with one of the abortionoids’ signs about doctors who hiccup or something.
Anyway, I struggled to get free, and then the scissors got caught in another sign. Nobody seemed to have noticed, but I thought I’d better go. So I walked past the table with all the signatures of naive young fools who think choosing other people’s bodies are a bit like choosing your favourite crayon. I crossed at the lights, and I went to work. I was just taking my laptop bag off when I noticed two A3 signs about doctors who cough were just dangling from my bag!
Of course, I plan to go around that way as soon as I get off work and see if I can return these signs but everyone might have gone home by then. Ohnoes.
23 August

I am Writer, creator of life, farmer of worlds, blazing bastard comet on dinosaurs and bunnies alike. As I cast my supernatural machinations down upon petri dish people, the dishes build up, the dust grows from thick on carpet to thinner in the heavens of thon attuned ecosphere apartment. The spiders build webs over the sink, the shower walls cry for an old testament toothbrush cleaning, and that wall isn’t going to paint itself.

Yet here my power is diminished. I can make a man or woman of eternal song but I cannot clean thine own rack where the cutlery sits. I can destroy the most malevolent maniacs but I cannot get that stain on the toilet bowl removed.

I’m actually terribly good at cleaning when I’ve people coming round. Moto came to visit a few years back and I spent two days polishing a dump pile of a house into something passable that looked like someone could live in. I wondered if you have the same relationship with house cleaning. Or this one. I love cleaning round friends’ homes, I will visit you with brillo and spray, with vacuum and cloth. Certainly most folk I know have spotless homes, independently developed. There should be a scheme for people like us/me though. I dub this form: CleanShare. Social gatherings planned triggering spit and polish. Social gatherings developing tidy and tinsel. I would bestow gifts of beer and pizza and fags upon the humans and all the animals that pick up a jay-cloth casually, with their watching eyes pushing my hygiene ever forward. You’ve seen it in your own lives maybe. You’ve seen it on TV. Cleanshare. Not as much fun as reading the work of Wilde or Shakespeare between the group, or a night with guitars or movies. But CleanShare. Where is my Cleanshare? Gawddamn.

(Andy Luke is the author of Axel America, a novel set in the social media information age, were news is interactive, and type is movable. Most cursing has been edited out of it. It’s now up for pre-order on Kindle and Smashwords. Axel America Book Launch! is on September 5th at the Black Box Belfast  Free entry to free your minds, apparently)

The novel, Brexit, and the Aran Islands holiday

Work carries on with ‘Axel America’. Unfortunately the previous copy editor didn’t work out, but on the plus side, it’s being done in-house at AG Publishings. Andrew Gallagher is such a joy to work with: thoroughly professional and a big fan of the book, his support fills me with confidence that we’re going to shift some copies when the novel is released two months from now. As it’s set >now< (now being just after Chapter 7), last minute re-writes are required under Brexit, but we’re getting there.

It’s been a lot of work, and so I took a long weekend away. I did consider asking social media for an update on post EU Ref / Brexit, all the political developments of my week away, but on second thoughts, I’d really much rather have an update on my friends and know they’re coping and surviving it. Westminster politicians aren’t far enough down my caring list, yet they carry on trying to make out this ever-shifting landscape is completely about themselves.

The weekend away began in Galway, and a reunion with Emmett Taylor, cartoonist behind Dope Fiends, and several Dublin Comic Cons. Emmett was one of the first comics creators I worked with, and it’s been fourteen years since we saw one another. Here’s us in a famous Salthill pub enjoying the craic.

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Sarah and I set off the following morning for Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands.

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I’d fun meeting the locals, including John, a talented muso seen here playing the bars.

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John and other musicians regularly hang out at this island cafe run by Roland and Angela, who make a mean morning smack-me-up brew.

Our B & B, Ard Mhuiris came as part of the Aran Islands ferry package, worth finding. A homely little place near the harbour run by Cait, who came over as very sweet, attentive and likeable. No pictures snapped but for this rather unusual 3d picture on the wall, which resembles both a horse and the face of a strange old man.

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Oh, right, you liked the ones with fields and sea…

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There’s no barriers or handrails up there. Beautiful? My legs were like jelly. Dun Aonghas is 300 foot cliffs.

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The fort from another angle. The Burren, the stone-field in foreground, is all over the island.

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The road to Dun Ducathair (The Black Fort), includes twenty minutes of walking on stones.

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Right, I have to get back to work now. I’ll leave you with a photo with less stones in it.

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Condensed Game of Thrones

Four seasons, five actors, 15-20 minutes.

Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones makes use of  an excellent compressed version of the Joffrey arc.

I wrote one too, and it seems a bit redundant now. I tried to produce it for Titancon in 2014, and again in 2015, with two different casts. I think the best thing is just to put it out there. Read it, enjoy it, if you want to perform it (including edits), I’d be happy to hear how you get on.

I should note thanks to Jim McClean, Wendy Duly, Cat Jones and Alex Groves, each of whom suggested a few lines.

Download PDF version  /   Download .doc version

Game of Throneses c. George R.R. Martin and HBO respectively

25/05/2016: Joyful deadlines: Blogging Axel America

Axel America is set around the November 8th U.S. elections, so I’ve plenty of reason for getting it out there soon.

Some authors disparage deadlines and writing for the market. Underneath those there’s structure, definition. In the emotional storm times, those can be something to cling to, a way forward. Late April, early May, the time between drafts, took a lot out of me; demanded time to recover. Time I’d set aside for scratching my arse and watching Babylon 5 repeats was replaced with great mourning and celebrating. When I was ready to go back to work, there was plenty, but thankfully I had lots of plans.

Richard wasn’t keen on a show-down in Chapter 4, between Axel and his foe Morgan Rump. “It comes out of nowhere,” he said, and he was right. I printed out the chapter list and decided a re-shuffle was in order. My solution was to bring forward Chapter 5 re-establishing Rump as a threat, but as Chapter 3, thus better establishing him in the rising action. Chapter 1 is an ensemble piece, but doesn’t focus on Axel. (A surprise, as Axel dominates every scene he’s in.) I was loathe to create a new Chapter 2 and alter the opening act structure, being as how I’m at third re-draft but starting out from the vaguest scenario, Axel in studio, I got building, centralising his own world of chaos, and complimenting the new arrangement. The new Chapter 4 also benefited from an extra few pages settling the reader into a more casual read. The original chapter 3 was also set-up, but got pushed back, which is alright as its non-essential, except for being a real peach.

Above: Sean Duffield’s thumbnails for the characters on the cover

My redraft.txt detailed three vital sub-plots I’d identified as not getting their due. Re-reading the MS, I made notes on the chapter listing where they’d been mentioned, and where they could be grown and expanded on. Then, I wrote those in, and noted that I had. Then I discovered spelling mistakes. And more spelling mistakes. The whole document, infected with them! A look under the hood revealed my version of Open Office was not playing ball. Everything got exported to Word. Spells and grimoire re-working took much less time than expected; two days. I think this must be the easiest re-write I’ve done for the reason detailed notes were kept, the sort a scrutinising editor or proofer might hand me. It always seemed another job had to be done, but I knew what the job was. I ran across new tasks on the way there. In one chapter I’d scrupulously pinned down location details. When I put the address in, I realised the text could be made so much better by capitalising on why I’d chosen that location above others, and so strengthened the atmosphere. Spell and grammar checks on new lines and paragraphs, the document by now edging towards 43k.

By now, its May 16th and Sean had sent through the finished rough cover which looks incredible. I’m talking with Enniskillen author Andrew Gallagher about the route to publication on his own books. I met Andrew at the Enniskillen Comic Fest selling his fictions, ‘Escape from Fermanagh’ and ‘Fermanagh Exorcism.’ Both are published out of his own house, AG Publishings. The books are well formatted and clean, the stories are easy-read riveters, horror hoots. We talk about my visiting him for a chat to see if he can’t talk me through the process, which frankly I’ve not had a handle on since carting ten supermarket trolleys of Absence to the post office. There should have been a photo of that. Self-publishing is all fun and games until somebody loses control of a cart on a kerb. Thankfully Andrew has an iron grip and a peer talk will help steer me right. Enough puns. I’ll leave it there for now and update again in a few days.

Universal Journey: Magic and Multiverse

My first commissioned work as an author went live today at http://universaljourney.org

The site explores the three Abrahamic faiths from an agnostic perspective: symbolism; history; stories; and legacies. I’ve authored sections on Saints David and George, but my star turn is an expanded piece on magic and the multiverse. It was an exciting opportunity to write about my own religious beliefs and I’m grateful I had the opportunity. (I’m not sure I did so since entering a design and content competition hosted a YA bible magazine competition in the 80s; I was listed as a runner-up) Universal Journey introduces me as, ‘ a polytheist christian.’ It’s a long time since I thought of myself as the latter, but part of being the former is that it’s all-inclusive, so why the heck not? Away you have a browse; oh but first…

Thanks everyone who’s voted Flesh Mob for Best Story over at http://orb-store.com/tense.htm and bought copies of Tense Situations into the bargain. Superb bees.

I toured with the Jazzabelles

Saturday 13th February
Listening to ‘Snake Oil’ performed in audition at the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, which has great acoustics. The show is centred around three very talented singers: Ella (Claire McCartney), Prissy (Beccy Henderson) and Vera (Nuala Davies), the Jazzabelles. Their rise to the top of the 1950s Belfast swing scene is hampered by a cashflow problems from their manager, Vince, (excellently portrayed by Stephen Beggs), who’s not all he appears.
The Lisburn rehearsals are a particular treat, great lighting and sound giving clarity to the voices enunciating the details. Some rehearsal nerves on opening in Omagh were dropped by the time we made it to an excited crowd, similarly on the second date, Antrim, the air sizzling with cheeriness.
The Lisburn soundman tweets and ticks across the mikes. On a stage with clusters of collaborative talk on music and props, the drummer checks his cymbals and an actress sits in the armchair from Prissy’s home, studying a mobile. Then, we’re backstage for top and tails of each scene, and I’m facing curtains, imagining a radio play, flashes of backs of legs. Then the last few notes of a song and from wings, Debbie McCormack (stage manager) and I scramble on with sheets and phones or an eight track, or ‘that’ armchair.

And that was my last day as stage-hand on a musical, across Omagh, Antrim and Lisburn; dressing rooms, fridges, biscuits, stunning frocks and formal wear, pretty dress for prettied people. The tour has ended, for now. Unfortunately I was too ill to cover the Downpatrick and Armagh dates, but seamless cover had been arranged. The musical was booked out, thanks to coverage by folk like Culture Northern Ireland (Article: Listen to a Preview Track from Nick Boyle’s New Musical) and Discover Northern Ireland’s Ten Things To Do list. Paddy Brown got me into this, himself a singer, actor, and stage-hand, and Debbie, I also know from self-publishing comics, was a splendid talent to work with. Thanks to all the crew and venues for giving me this excellent opportunity.

 

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Link: Paddy Brown blogs about the promotional image

and HERE he blogs about the tour with a trailer.

Jazzabelles L to R - Nuala, Beccy, ClaireJazzabelles L to R – Nuala, Beccy, Claire, Source: Jazzabelles Facebook page