Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Introducing B.V. Olvomov

You get home from a hard day’s work to discover your husband perched atop a CD eating a coconut: B.V. Olvomov.

You’re standing in a brothel, mesmerised by a fat-necked peasant boy gyrating in defiance of the wind: B.V. Olvomov.

You can’t fathom why doctors steal your wallet, so you consult a lawyer who promptly calls you a ninnygoat: B.V. Olvomov.

The Bard of Porkhov is here. Here he comes, armed with his sodium-savaged Quill of the Banjax. Clear the path, Mrs Hollyhox!

He makes his debut here, in Issue 10 of the UK poetry and short story magazine The Delinquent.

B.V. wants to pronounce you. Let him.

Monday, 28 December 2009

It’s Not Me… It’s Me

Last night, after athletic sexual intercourse with a Latino shepherd (I call him Tiddles, though his patronymic is Juández), I went to sleep. Usually, my well-chiselled and shapely reader, I drift into a contented slumber wherein Karen O performs benchpresses upon each cabinet in the flat, then satisfies every sexual whim nestling in the hinterland of my anima.

However, last night was devoid of such mirth. I began to think about the doppelgänger, a German word meaning a person who looks like you but isn’t you. I thought about other people out there who look like me, think like me, act like me, write like me-he-he, who might even – perish the though – be me-hee-hee! Oh, me-hee-hee! They wanna be like me-hee-hee!

What if in another multiverse, dear horny evangelical reader, a second M.J. Nicholls was out there, sitting in a poorly heated Edinburgh flat, drinking cheap supermarket cola, writing the exact same thing as this M.J. Nicholls in a blog produced in a parallel dimension?

Now, before we hypothesise, I should state my own position on the mysteries of cosmological infinity. I have recently become a member of R. Gon Buggard’s Religiontolgy. We believe that Hollywood actresses created the universe through the sheer power of their performances in heart-warming dramas about families in wartime. So Cameron Diaz is to us as much of a God, as say, God.

This being the case, we eschew all notions of the multiverse, although we do sort of agree with Hugh Everett’s many worlds interpretation: that a level III multiverse does not contain more possibilities in the Hubble volume than a level I-II multiverse. And that, in effect, all the different worlds created by “splits” in a level III multiverse with the same physical constants can be found in some Hubble volume in a level I multiverse. That’s just obvious.

But this waking dream of a second me, mimicking me, re-mimicking me, then mimicking me again, and then doing the same stuff as me, would not leave me! Do you feel sorry for me? And do you? And you? And you? In fact, when I woke up later that morning, I asked the second me what he thought about this paranoia:

“What do you reckon?” I asked me.
“Why don’t you ask yourself?” me asked me.
“Good idea.”
“What do you reckon?” I asked me.
“Why don’t you ask yourself?” me asked me.
“Good idea.”
“What do you reckon?” I asked me.
“Why don’t you ask yourself?” me asked me.
“Good idea.”
“What do you reckon?” I asked me.
“Why don’t you ask yourself?” me asked me.
“Good idea.”

[ad infinitum]

Thursday, 24 December 2009

In Conversation With Stephen King

Exclusive (short) interview taken from the Dec 2009 edition of The Literary Pancake.

Me: Hi, Stephen. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Steve: Uh huh.

Me: So, let’s begin by discussing the new book, The Possessed Fishmonger With Cystitis. Your 3,483rd book, I believe?

Steve: No.

Me: OK, well… would you like to tell us a little about the plot?

Steve: It’s about a man who wakes up to discover he’s a fishmonger, and then wakes up again to discover he’s possessed by the spirit of Linda Blair, and then wakes up again to discover he has cystitis.

Me: Fascinating. Where do your ideas come from?

Steve: [giggles] Well, I… can’t say, I… oh, I’ve gone all shy now!

Me: No, I wasn’t complimenting you, I was actually asking. Where do your ideas come from?

Steve: Oh, all right. I buy them from a fleet of Mexican sailors and Tijuanan hookers. Very acceptable rates, and I’m a multi-billionaire, so there’s never a drought of inspiration in my wallet.

Wow. I want to talk about Hollywood adaptations of your books. How did you first get involved in movies?

Steve: People read my books and made them into movies. I’ve never had any input in the process. In fact, I wish they’d ask my permission next time they make another movie. I don’t see a penny of that money they make. And they’re all having great big parties behind my back, saying ‘That Steven, oh, he’s such a sap!’ And they laugh, Mark. They bloody laugh.

Me: OK. Um… let’s talk about your writing routine. How often do you write?

I’m always writing. I never stop. In fact, I’m writing now. I’m writing my eight millionth novel with my left foot, and my eight million-and-first with my right. I’m also writing an article for Time in my pancreas. To become a successful writer, you have to be able to write in your sleep, to write during sex, to write when piloting a Boeing 737 across the Atlantic. Otherwise, kid… you ain’t gonna make it.

Me: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Steve: Lose the quiff, Jack.

Me: How do you get over the hump and write that first book?

Steve: Start with the first word. Then – and here’s a rare trade secret – write the 89th word. Somehow the novel begins to write itself. Honestly, it’s dynamite. Look at Salman Rushdie.

Me: What does that mean?

Steve: Kid, I ain’t got time for that.

Me: Sorry, Stephen. Tell me, how do you get into characters when you start writing them?

Steve: I usually go to the bedroom and imagine the character screwing. You can tell a lot about someone when they’re screwing. I usually hire a prostitute to get into the role – if the protagonist is a woman, I imagine myself screwing her, and vice versa with the man – I’m the protag being diddled. It’s been really effective, especially in writing Carrie. I hired a child hooker for that.

Me: Really?

Steve: Well, she was twelve. Not really a child, more a woman-in-waiting. It’s OK, though – I’ve arranged marriages with girls in the womb. Two kicks in the ultrascan means ‘I do.’

Me: Um… could we move away from that and talk about your literary influences? What authors have inspired you?

Steve: I've only read the one book. Dr. Jang Vulpine’s Unbearable Lightness in the Body of Healing. It’s a book about how all people need to become fully content in themselves, and to achieve a total understanding of the universe, is to become a multi-trillionaire bestselling author named Stephen King.

Me: What is your favourite food?

Steve: Yellow meat.

Me: What is your favourite colour?


Me: What is your favourite film?

Steve: I like films about women who want to become fish, who then become fish, who then decide it’s a drag being a fish.

Me: Steven, thank you.

Steve: Uh huh.

And… especially for Steven, a short fishy film:

Monday, 21 December 2009

Male Bloggers are Useless Arsechimps

Before I begin, let me exonerate Mr. Christopher Allen, Mr. Derek Osborne and Mr. Mike Stevens. I like these people, despite their constant moaning about varicose veins and acne pimples. I also recommend their delicious blogs and ask that thee comments on their wisdom.

Now. To the matter in hand. I like blogging and bloggers and the image of unsexed unwashed anti-cool we saddle on our shoulders like a shawl made from spices, herbs and nectar.

However, while writing a detailed scientific study of male blogging habits, I have come to this conclusion: male bloggers are emotional cripples in love with their own voices who want mommies to pamper their talcum bums and tell them that thing they wrote about Gordon Brown being a goat, was GENIUS.

I say: no thanks, mates. I dislike the male blogger and until I can enter into a dialogue with one of these apes, I will keep this disgust in my heart like a salamander slithering into its cot and quaffing mucho fishies.

In other news…

I have seasonal writer’s block. I can’t sit still to get the next chapter of my WiP completed. I have seasonal ants in my seasonal pants. Yesterday, I finished reading Nicola Barker’s Small Holdings: a bizarre novella about interpersonal conflicts in a garden centre, then ate a premature Xmas feast (roast potatoes, sausages wrapped in bacon, chicken and vegetable delishes).

I also rediscovered the blissless torture of Tetris: mathematical brain erasure. Must slot blocks into more blocks and get blocks into more blocks. Must get high score and beat Japanese nutters who spend weeks on there and get to level 1,000,282 then die
of indigestion. My best attempt:

This has been the worst blog post since blogs were invented. While we’re venting, though – I also hate e-cards, hairbrushes, inertia and Volvo S40s. These displease me with extra baubles.

Tomorrow I might write something half decent about Vashti Bunyan. She cometh.

Goodnight, beautiful.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Five Topics for the Price of One

This post is about intergenerational courtship, Boggle, opposable thumbs, Dave Eggers’s What is the What, and me.

Intergenerational Courtship

To begin: I believe it is wrong for people of a certain age to date others of a certain age. Here is the scale of moral acceptability, based on my own liberal values:

Age: 16-20 – Ideally teenagers should date people of the same age, though love is a fickle camel. I therefore allow a four-year margin of error for young lovers. A sixteen-year-old dating a twenty-year-old is frowned upon by society, so in this instance, it should be allowed ONLY in cases of true love.

Age: 21–26 – For those in their early twenties, partners six years older or younger is permissible. Any older, and a generational gap begins to develop: frames of reference shift, troubles ensue.

Age: 27-36 – This period of life is more open to an old vs. young demographic. It is acceptable for a thirty-six-year-old woman to date a twenty-seven-year-old man, for example, but this is stretching things to their limit. Any older, and these generational gaps will become a problem!

Age 37-44 – The mid-life crisis period is tricky, so ideally a seven year margin should be practiced. This gives persons undergoing personal traumas a chance to take stock of their life at the midpoint without having a partner too young to understand, or too old to care.

Age 45-50 – At this point, beauty begins to fade, so partners should ideally seek those with the last few flickers of attractiveness before the wrinkles begin, otherwise a conflict in the relationship might arise.

Age 50-60 – These periods are a grey area, as people enter senility at varying rates. However, this ten-year margin is useful for partners entering old age sooner than others, as one partner can support the other if they go mad or dumb early on.

Age 61-70 – This the final point in life when age is a factor in courtship. Too old, and the wrinkles might disgust, too young and the lovers might appear creepy in public. Has to be judged carefully.

Age 71-Death – At this point onward, any love gleaned is a miracle and should be embraced.


Boggle has always been the most misunderstood of family entertainments. Usually Boggle is played once – at Christmas a few hours after being unwrapped – and is then stashed in a cupboard and brought out during moments of social awkwardness, extreme boredom, or alienation from the self.

You can actually use the timer as a replacement for broken dials on the microwave, or as a retro replacement for the stopwatch. The plastic dome where the dice are kept can be filled with ice to make a giant ice cube the whole family can suck. The dice themselves can be coated in batter and fired from a bagpipe as a form of extremely Scottish missile.

Opposable Thumbs:

Any humans with opposable thumbs are freaks. FREAKS. Opossums, koalas, giant pandas and apes can bend their thumbs in such a way that they can touch all the fingers on their hand. They’re freaks too.

Dave Eggers’s What is the What

The absence of the question mark from this book title is a question Lynne Truss and I have been debating for weeks on end. In the book itself the title is a question – i.e. what is the meaning of life? – so one can only assume that Eggers left the question mark off to give the title a symmetry of sorts, or to introduce a shade of the postmodern to what is a direct, linear narrative.

Who knows. It’s not a question on the lips of most folks who read this compelling and exhausting account of
Valentino Achek Deng, whose life story is the most torturous, unbelievable, and fortuitous you are likely to encounter. Eggers narrates this incredible true tale in Sudanese Deng’s English-speaking voice, from his struggles with conflict, poverty, desolation, desperation (and more or less any human suffering it is possible to tolerate) to his equally unhappy life as a refugee in post 9/11 America.

This book makes misery memoirs look like squealing little crybabies. The only thing Deng didn’t have to tolerate, in fact, was tyrannous parents. Deng as a person is not portrayed as heroic, endlessly courageous or extraordinary – he is achingly human throughout, making his struggle the more poignant. The book is most likely too much to endure for most people – its relentless gloom putters on for 535 pages, but his story is a punishing reminder of quite how terrible we in the West have let things become in Third World nations.

Cheer yo’self up this Xmas.


I’ve been interviewed for a new blog featuring writers, artists and other opinionated art types with massive egos. You can read me being a pompous arse here.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Review of the Year (Pt 2)

Welcome back. Sit your butt down. Pull up a pew. Help yourself to a plate of my arrogance.

Where were we?


So I mentioned last time I had a mid-twenty-two-years-old crisis and signed up for Napier’s creative writing course. Yes. Good. Well, I started and met the folks there. Super crew. It was terrific to meet some proper people after a five month absence from civilisation.

I launched into a period of active reading at this point, having ran out of money to buy books. The university library was packed with postmodern genius, so I gorged. Perfect.

Nothing else happened this month.


Nothing much happened this month either. No, I lie: I got an appalling grade. I passed, but was scarred by the hollow reminder of how appalling I am in the halls of cleverness. The important fact was that I aced the creative writing assignment. The academic papers on literary theorists I wanted to get over and done with before falling into a coma.

It’s not that I dislike literary theorists, dear deformed reader. I dislike writing essays on literary theorists. Over the last three months, I’ve learned to admire the work of these folks. (Admire in the sense of taking an interest during class and wiping any memory of their existence from my mind afterwards).


Fun times to be had on a psychogeographical exercise,
which I blogged about. It was my birthday on the 7th as well. I got books. And socks. I have amnesia about what happened the rest of the time. I might have been mugged by badgers. AGAIN.


OK, so it hasn’t been a remarkable hive of activity over these last few months. I’ve been dragged through a shredder backwards with my writing but it’s been excellent having the meat cleaver treatment so I can be blasted from familiar patterns of writing and attempt to grow extra wings of talent.

My second literary theory essay grade was also terrible, but again, my writing piece aced things. I see a pattern developing. Creative writing = good. Essays on literary theory = awful.

Still, I’ll have deep and intense feelings of inferiority for the next two months. Which is OK – business as usual.

I’m looking forward to duck and stew this Christmas, and enough socks to kit out Nairobi. Goodnight, travellers!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Danger! Self-Promotion!

Having spent the day demonstrating the finest ways to avoid completing a paragraph (four lunches, eight baths, the internet), it’s a miracle I get anything finished at all, let alone published.

Regardless, the time has come to tout my work. You know me – I would much rather talk about Hovis, the stock market, Elastica, deep philosophical matters, and the hotness of soups in bistros.

Instead: it’s me. I do apologise.


Young Bones (8000+ words) is strewn like the innards of a car-crash corpse thing over the December issue of Christopher Vogel’s independently financed print and e-zine endeavour, Paradigm Shift: New Paradigm. It can be bought (ho-ho-ho) for four quid or downloaded for a dollar. Either way, no freebies.


My favourite in the trilogy of five,
A Modern Narrative [4] is sweating blood at the Piker Press, who sweated blood to preserve the formatting and are always happy to sweat blood in the name of absurd antics. They are my heroes, alongside Vangelis.


Touting flash fiction credits seems to me as necessary as dropping a dookie in a canal. Nevertheless, the people at the
Bare Foot Review have designed a trendy and snazzy page for my piece of coinage cock, Cynicicysticaldeboogieness. I want this word in the OED. Thank you to those witty people, and do check out the forthcoming December issue.

So there we are. Publishing stuff. And one out of three spelled my surname correctly! Things are looking up.

P.S. Tomorrow: schlongs and thongs.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Writers' Wives

I've been writing this blog for months now, and I've come to realise exactly what I'm lacking. Literary eye candy.

So, instead of book reviews and tedious ramblings, here's what you've been waiting for. Below are the sumptuously gorgeous wives of five writers I like. For the sake of balance, tomorrow I'll do a post of sexy male authors.

Yes: the intellectual substance starts here.

1. Nicole Krauss (writer: wife of Jonathan Safran Foer)

2. Amélie Nothomb (writer: wife of Dennis, erm... Nothomb)

3. Deborah Orr (columinist: wife of Will Self)

4. Vendela Vida (writer: wife of Dave Eggers)

5. Isabel Fonseca (writer: wife of Martin Amis)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Experience by Martin Amis

Martin Amis, you will discover, is a human punching bag for critics. Google his name or one of his books, and you will find an endless resource of Amis-bashing from broadsheets to boobrags.

The reason? Pretension. People perceive Amis as a conceited windbag who ranks himself amongst Nabokov, Saul Bellow and his father Kingsley in the pantheon of literary greats. The voice doesn’t help – that interminable transatlantic drawl with its considered hesitations and self-important emphases.

The fact of the matter, of the fact of the matter (of the matter), is that Amis is a towering presence in the field of lit-crit: the sharpest and smartest Nero of criticism working in Britain right now, with almost four decades of experience under his belt.

Which brings me to Experience, a book that is not about lit-crit, that is not about literature, but which purports to be about Amis and his dad. Well, firstly, there is no book about Martin Amis which is not about lit-crit and the process of writing. After the first fifty pages – past the infinitesimal detail about his entrance into the litosphere – I got the impression Amis had been imprisoned in this role of literary executioner since birth. His entrance into the literary world is so casual, like a son automatically following in his dad's footsteps, that it is barely covered.

The novel is largely about Amis’s relationship with his father Kingsley Amis and his cousin Lucy Partington, cut down by Fred West at a bus stop at the age of 21. Amis writes about his father using an incredible amount of literary comparisons and footnotes, showing how much he learned of his father through his books, and quite how important ‘the book’ was in their lives – scarcely a day in the Amis household would pass without reference to the Greats.

As is to be expected in household of writers who count Philip Larkin as a cuddly uncle. Anyway, this book is fascinating and intimate. Amis was deeply affected by his cousin’s death, and her presence is felt throughout the whole novel, mirroring her impact on his life. Kingsley is evoked as a genius, wit, and a hilariously un-PC father, but also an adulterer, paranoid and lonely man.

Amis looks back on his youth with humour and contempt – including a series of spotty photos in the sleeve – and tackles the press who fondly hound him, and romanticises his dental agony as being a sign of greatness. There are the usual Amis preoccupations to be found here – Nabokov, Saul Bellow and his never-less-than-irritating mate Christopher Hitchens.

Even if you’re not a fiftysomething intellectual from a time when people had staunch political stances and voiced ‘radical’ opinions among the bourgeois highbrow crowd, you should find this memoir a touching portrait of an unconventional and privileged upbringing. The passages about his father's death are especially touching. Amis's most honest and lyrical writing is to be found here.

Or, you’ll find this a self-indulgent portrait of a man you have absolutely interest in whatsoever.

I rather enjoyed it, you know.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What I Want For Christmas

Dear Santa,

I have been a good boy this year. I sometimes let women with prams out the bus before I get on. I eat my greens and brush my teeth with kosher Colgate. Here is a list of what I want:

– A heat-seeking chrome-tipped nuclear missile
– An independent Iranian state ruled by the Nesquik bunny
– For Random House to print only celebrity autobiographies until their nostrils shit nickels
– Advertising for third-rate films and books on every pavement and outside every building
– Gravy slacks and celery sneakers
– Penguin waiters
– To raise Hunter S. Thompson from the dead so he can apologise
– For M.J. Nicholls to shut up and use his forename
– Cellos for breakfast, violas for supper
– For every celebrity author to beaten to death with a bulletproof edition of Finnegans Wake
– Death to capitalism
– For the decimal point to come out of retirement
– Bum lather

I trust you will fulfil my wishes, Santa. You have never let me down once, even when I asked for samples of Stan Laurel’s urine… you were on hand with a cup and a dead slapstick actor for me.


Markie J

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Letter to Martin Amis

dear Mart,

i was surprised to see u the other day, skulking a-round Boots looking for a suppose-a-Tory. it beholds me to say that u are suffering from some form of anal distress of some kind. my mother once had a large part of Sussex included in her bum for at least five weeks – doctors were bought in to help ex-vacuate the bother-some county and by the end she had the burruh of Blackford in there (witch she decided to keep – lovely people!)

if u do have a county lodged in ur bum, do not panic! here are my mum’s top tips for removal:

1 – reassure the residents that everything’s OK

2 – get some fire trucks with ropes to winch the county out

3 – extricate the last few remaining burrahs (unless u want to keep them)

4 – be happy

i hope u find this a helpfull guide to improving the dis-tress in ur bottom. we all have bums and its important to appreciate the fullness of there potenshall. often having counties in ur bottom can leave u feeling blocked up.

with all the luv in the world,

hurrold pumiscone

Monday, 7 December 2009

Oh Pure & Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet

I know nothing about nuclear weapons or 1940s scientists, so I approached this book seeking an education. I was going to write “and boy, did I get one” here, but that would be so cringeworthy, I might as well sign up for the fucking Terry Wogan Appreciation Society.

Lydia Millet. Her novel opens with our homey protagonists, Ann and Ben. Ann is a librarian who thinks deep things about her boring life and is far too clever to work as a sheepish librarian. Ben is a put-upon gardener working for a Stepford wife and a unilingual Japanese designer. He too thinks deep things about life, but less frequently than his spouse.

Oppenheimer, Fermi and Szilard were the engineering figureheads of the Manhattan Project: the folks that brought you that most wonderful of inventions: the atomic bomb! When the bomb is dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, the trio are transported forward in time to where Ann and Ben live. This is never explained, but these details add to the novel’s barmy charm.

Through some contrivance or other, Ann bumps into the scientists and invites them to live in her house. Nothing happens much at first other than smoking and talking and reading. More deep thoughts about life. Then later on, Oppenheimer meets a slacker multi-billionaire named Larry (the Big Lebowski with money) and forms a cult around the scientists.

It then gets very
Life of Brian – militant Christians start to think Oppenheimer is the messiah, and involuntarily elect him as the spokesperson for God on Earth.

Hmm. So that’s it. I can’t quite articulate just how I feel about the novel, other than to say: I liked it.

Millet breaks her almost 500-page epic into mini-chapters, including informative and opinionated asides on nuclear weapons, their damage, and the idiots who use them (this section is the most Vonnegutian). The characterisations are strong (if somewhat caricatured in places) and her prose is intelligent, scintillating and flecked with beautiful moments.

At other times, the prose is tedious, especially when she indulges in one too many of Ann’s deep thoughts about life, or when she loses sight of her protagonists in the third act, when we are dropped into the mad cult and left to fend for ourselves. Patient readers should be prepared to wait for the quite astonishing climax, however. No spoilers.

Apart from this, this is a fable and a satire stitched together. A fatire? A sable? Yes. One of those. I will be reading Millet again on the strength of this piece of work: an admirable attempt to combine socio-political comment with postmodern prankery and stylishly hewn prose.

Yes. Recommended and such.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Over To You

What would you like to tell me at this precise moment?

_________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Review of the Year (Pt 1)

Hello! How are you? Oh, it’s so nice to see you, funny-cheeks. What an adorable coat! Is that sheepskin? Anyway, come in, come in! Come sit by the fire as I tell the long and boring tale of a year in the life of Mark Jezebel Nicholls: writer and moocher extraordinaire.

2009, the hallowed year of our Lord Jezziebum, was the year I stepped from the closet of obscurity and began my attempt to get my writing out there into the world. Here is a boring recap (for my own benefit) of my progress, purely as a self-evaluatory exercise. For everyone else, there will be pictures of pies, squirrels, and cute doctors and nurses throughout.


I began the year one third of my way through a novel as part of a rare and brilliant workshop. I was immersed in this for the first few months until the group fell apart and three or four of us ended up with marketable works of über-proofread genius. A great experience, and I doubt I’ll find another semi-punctual workshop in the near or far-off future.

So, once the novel was finished, I raided my backlog of stories and sent a cache of cock to a slurry of e-zines and magazines. I sent, sighed, and went to hide under my bed.


The first thousand rejections poured in. I took them all personally. Every “not right for us” made me feel like a child excluded from the cool kids gang. I felt like a pauper holding out his tin cup and rattling it in the pissing rain. I felt like a toddler wetting himself as the girls looked on sniggering. Actually, that last one was a fantasy. Ignore that.

Even small ‘indie’ e-zines felt like unconquerable domain. I began a long hate-hate relationship with these places, merely through my searing desire to be acknowledged as NOT SHIT. This still lingers, though I approach this disdain with a healthier slice of irony.

I had some incredible luck with Cantaraville, who took a story I had written in June 2008 when I was living in Inverness cleaning my girlfriend’s school (very convoluted story).

More fortuitously, they offered to print a bundle of my older stories in an e-book format. When I heard this, this spark of cynicism I had died and I gained FAITH that I could get work out there without performing sex acts on editors. It’s amazing how modest successes can bolster a writer’s confidence. Even better, I GOT RID of all those stories. The clutter was gone! Hurrah!


Having finished one novel, I cranked out some more short stories. Several of these were abominations, others were unreadable goulash, and others were amazing fun to write. The stories I adored writing attracted the most attention – the Modern Narratives – which was another boost. If I could write AND partake in pleasure: double bonus.

“A Modern Narrative [1]” ended up at Piker Press, but later that month, I had a few other responses from mags interested in it. Frustratingly, these mags were unresponsive to my offer of an alternate piece (the second in the series).

One magazine didn’t respond to my private e-mails at all (I won’t name it – oh, OK: The Cynic Mag) and so I ended up keeping my piece at Piker. Which turned out to be the right choice, as the staff there are splendid funsters, and have let me build a series there.


I decided that short stories were fun, but I preferred writing longer material. The freedom to leap around the place, squirrel-like, was invaluable. I began a strong hate campaign against microfiction, losing multiple internet buddies, and began a second novel project.

I was also, at that time, out of cash-earning work. So, like every good student who doesn’t want to have to get a job, I enrolled in another university course. I struck gold when I discovered a new course starting that had a focus on experimental literature, with a fresh and zestful outlook. Yes! So I applied, mumbled through the interview, and was accepted.

Good things. If this sounds overly self-congratulatory, bear in mind that at this time I was also in the grip of a horrible writer’s block, almost lost my entire computer contents to an internal death, and was published in the Drabbler. I mean… eugh. The Drabbler.


The hottest month of the year means sunlight blocks my computer screen. I can’t blot it out with dark curtains. It melts through curtains. It melts me. It hurts. So writing is hard.

I didn’t write much. I ate lollipops, did one or two chapters here and there, and took money off the government.

Good news came later that month when I found a publisher taking a positive interest in my novel. But more on that later. That’s an ongoing nightmare that I might blog about one afternoon when I'm old, o'er the hill and dribbling into my Corn Flakes.

More to come.

P.S. This was written at 500MPH, so excuse the quality.