Sunday, 7 August 2022

Possible issue with Kindle formatting on US edition of Eversion.

 I've seen a note on from a Mr Zimmerman stating that there appears to be a formatting issue with dialogue quotes in the US Kindle edition of Eversion. I'm not in a position to replicate the fault myself, but I've raised it with my US publishing team so hopefully there will be a resolution. If anyone else has seen the error, it might be worth mentioning it here. Thanks.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Linda Hoover featuring Fagen and Becker

 Linda Hoover recorded an album with Fagen, Becker and Gary Katz just before the formation of Steely Dan. It's been unreleased for fifty years, but is now available. I consider myself something of a Dan head and I knew nothing of this. It sounds brill.

Full story via The Guardian:

Monday, 4 July 2022

My Kate Bush moment

 Kate Bush is having a moment, and it's a wonderful thing. I first heard "Running up that Hill" in the late summer of 1985. I was nineteen and preparing to go to university (I'd missed a year due to failing my exams the previous time). I already liked KB so anticipation was high for her new material. Although it really wasn't that long compared to the gaps between releases now, it seemed an age since her last album, the gloriously bonkers The Dreaming. I was upstairs in my bedroom listening to Radio 1 when they played her new single for the first time and I knew instantly, from the first few bars, that it was fantastic. The drums, the weird textures, reminded me of Peter Gabriel. Later that year my sister got the album on cassette and I was able to borrow it and listen on my Walkman. It's still a wonderful LP, and "Running up that Hill" has never not sounded brilliant, one of those incredibly rare songs that just never stops being fresh and exciting every time you hear it.

My absolute introduction to KB goes back much earlier than that, though. It was March 1978. I was in the backseat of mum and dad's car, driving to Swansea. My sister would have been next to me. "Wuthering Heights" came on the radio, and I (like millions of others) was enraptured. But somewhere along the line I got my wires crossed. At that point I hadn't seen a photo of Kate Bush, and yet due to some misheard or misunderstood comment on the radio, I got it into my head, temporarily, that the woman singing the song was the same one who played Princess Leia in Star Wars. So, for a very short while, my mental image of Kate Bush was essentially Carrie Fisher with the big ear buns. I know, it makes no sense at all, but when you're twelve, you accept stuff like this. I should also mention that the reason for being in the backseat of the car was this: it was my birthday and we were off to see Star Wars for the very first time.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Down the Steely Aja/Gaucho outtake rabbit hole:

 How good is this? I mean, seriously. They rejected this?

Thursday, 19 May 2022

A Star Trek thing, a Sparks thing and another Star Trek thing.

 Just a heads up to let you know that there's a nice, three-page interview with me in the current issue of Star Trek Explorer magazine (issue 2 of the relaunched mag), in which I talk about my love of classic Trek and some favorite episodes, among other things. Thanks to Nick and Mark for the interview, which I greatly enjoyed doing.

In other news, over the last few months I've found myself going down the Sparks rabbit hole. I've always liked Sparks as an idea, but haven't actually owned any of their records - until now. I didn't want to rush into it with these flash-in-the-pan acts.

Here's the splendid video for a great Sparks song from 1994:

But - hey - there's a Star Trek connection in this video, and rather a fun one. Can you figure it out? Form an orderly queue with your answers. (And no, that's not a Q reference).

Friday, 13 May 2022

Eversion approaches

 Eversion will be out in a couple of weeks in the UK, and I've already seen my author copies. It looks very nice, with a distinctly different design to my other titles.

Some early reviews have begun to appear. Writing in the Daily Mail, Jamie Buxton called it "gripping, exciting and clever, as well as a deeply moving story about truth, sacrifice and how to be human."

In New Scientist, Sally Adee wrote: "it isn't every day you get to experience a perfect collision of the Romantic macabre of Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft with The Usual Suspects and 2001: A Space Odyssey."

Finally, writing in The Guardian, Lisa Tuttle called it a "wonderfully entertaining puzzle wrapped inside an adventure story, which turns out to be science fictional after all."

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Notes and sketches for the Revenger books

 In the comments to the last post, it was asked if I had any more detailed information on the timeline for the Congregation, as featured in the Revenger series.

I do have some more information on various aspects of that universe, in the form of notes and drawings done for my benefit while writing the books. These were never intended for publication, just as memory aids, and in some respects represent earlier drafts of names and characters compared to how they eventually appeared. Now that the dust has settled, though, I thought it wouldn't hurt to put them up here.

I'm going to present these scans without comment as they should be self-explanatory to those who have read the books. However, if there's anything that's not clear, please feel free to comment and I'll try to shed light. The timeline is right at the bottom.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Pond life

 I haven't had much to report here the last few months, nor much inclination. It's been such a troubling, dispiriting time. Ukraine, of course, but also the death of Taylor Hawkins following so quickly on the heels of Mark Lanegan. I love drummers and I loved the Foo Fighters. I hope Dave Grohl and the rest of the band - not to mention Hawkins' family - have had the love and support they must need at this awful time.

On a more positive note, my wife and I went to see Simple Minds in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago. They were fantastic, anchored by the phenomenal drumming of Cherisse Odei. How she found the energy to keep going through two long sets of older and newer material was a thing of wonder. On a less positive note, we were almost the only people in the arena (besides vending staff) still wearing masks. I know a few were, but the vast majority didn't bother. And, unsurprisingly, we both came down with something horrible a couple of days later. It's not Covid, though, thank goodness. I've nearly lost my voice with a throat infection and have had to cancel a few online things this week, just to rest my vocal cords. (Cords not chords, as I originally wrote. Too much guitar theory).

Back onto more positive things - I've been delighted with a new development in my ponds. As regular readers may know, I created a couple of ponds three years ago. Frogs appeared at the end of year one, and then returned at the end of year two. This year I haven't seen the frogs yet (it may be that April has been just a little bit too cold) but I have had newts!

There are at least three, of which this one seems to be the biggest:

These really are fantastic creatures. I believe this is a smooth newt; one of the others is much paler and with less pronounced patterning but I presume the same species.

The newts may well have gobbled up a large quantity of frogspawn that was kindly donated to me a few weeks ago, (or the cold may have done for the spawn) but as of yesterday there were still one or two tadpoles swimming around so all may not be lost for the next generation of frogs. And I hope that with warmer evenings, I may get a glimpse of the frogs from the last two summers.

I'm thrilled with my ponds and the surprises they provide.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

RIP Mark Lanegan

 I'm getting sick of this shit. Cobain, Cornell, Lanegan. All gone.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Ornithologists wanted

I took this photo a week ago in wetland in the Cynon valley. The duck was swimming with a group of mallards but doesn't fit with any of the pictures in my books of immature or eclipse plumage for that species. The closest match I could find for it was a female Garganey but it would seem unusual to see one in January as they don't normally visit our shores until later in the year. I'm not very good on waterfowl so any assistance greatly appreciated. Whatever the duck was, it was a striking bird with beautiful caramel-coloured plumage. Perhaps it's something really obvious but I'd still like to know.

Help put this duck out of its not-identified misery.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

New Art Riot #7

 I haven't posted any art here for a very long while, but I did splash some paint around over Christmas. Here is the result. Not quite sure if it's finished yet, but I'll certainly put it aside for the time being before revisiting with a fresh eye. Acrylic ink on untreated canvas board.