Thursday, October 09, 2014

What gives

Soz for the radio silence. And blog silence. Basically I have been silent on the radio and the blog, and it's just not right. So I'm sorry, OK? Like I already said. Jesus.

Anyways, some of you may want to follow another blog I am posting to here. I've been doing a fair bit of running lately and it's something I feel inclined to waffle about, so that link is where I do that. Or you could catch the action via @rungatedawn on Twitter, if you are that way inclined.

Other than that, just keep on trucking.

Especially if you are actually a truck driver.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wombat Man

I love taking the dog for a walk at dusk. Bats follow me down the lane, swooping around my head and apparently trying to get my attention. They are delicate little animals, like kits made out of silk and bits of balsa wood, powered by a little clockwork motor. I sometimes wonder if they have been sent out by a reclusive demi-god to tell me something. But what? I can see that they are beautiful. I can see that they are admirable works of engineering. But what are they all about?

Good writing is like that. Failure awaits the writer who sets out knowing exactly what he wants to say. His output does the job and works efficiently. It is conventionally pretty and might turn your head for a while. You might even hail it as a work of genius for a season or two. But in the end it has no charm. You cannot love it.

The writer who sets out with a vague idea and a character to travel with, meanwhile, she can succeed. She has the best chance of getting something up in the air and making it soar forever. It can be a thing of beauty, something you can't take your eyes off. It can possess truth. But it might not be a bat.

It might be a wombat.

I love those wombats. For me, the best kind of novel is one I get to the end of and think, wiping a tear from my eye or calming my beating heart, shit, what was that? I might not know what it was but I know it was something. I know it lives and breathes and has a smell. I know it has slipped some form of truth past my consciousness. It's a truth bomb, waiting to go off at a later date, maybe not even noticed.

Maybe at dusk, taking the dog for a walk along that lane, the wombats swooping around my head.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm Bad

But not in the Michael Jackson way. In terms of being a tough guy in leather, a weird mullet and a lot of make-up, Jackson is king. (Notice how I say "is"? His legend lives on.) But in terms of staying up with the latest authors, yes, I am bad. The proportion of books I read published in the last five years or so is minuscule. Actually make that forty years.

Does that make me less of a connoisseur if the written word?

Hell no.

I hate to declare this, but books don't get written better as time moves on. Very little that is new and exciting can be discovered in terms of putting words together. Chaucer Nailed it. Shakespeare nailed it. Hardy, Conrad and Poe nailed it. Dickens nailed something, slightly overwritten though it sometimes was. Then there was Hemingway, Chandler, Hammett - they all nailed it in a tough guy kind of way. Thompson, Caldwell, Dick, McCarthy, Bardin, Goodis - they also did some pretty hard nailing of their own. Bringing us up to King, Lansdale and Thornburg, who all did nailing of varying degrees of prolificacy.

Does that make me more of a connoisseur if the written word?

Hell no to that too.

What it makes me is someone who digs old books. End of.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Cool Thing

Here is one of the very cool things I was going to tell you about. I was going to wait until it's a fait accompli before telling you, but I just can't. So I have waited until it is a fait semi-accompli. But it's one hell of a fait!

A DEADFOLK film is in pre-production.

You heard it right - a project is afoot to turn Royston Blake into an actual living thing... at least for 90 minutes or so. The project is already quite a ways into development. The screenplay is written (by me), Stuart St Paul to direct and Neil Chordia and Andrew Berg of Eclipse Films producing. Casting is underway. I know what you're thinking: who is going to play the big guy? Believe me, when I know, you'll know.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Hey, it's 2014! And you know what that means, right? Yes, we are in the future. We have actually time-travelled. Finally!

In other news, there will hopefully be two big announcements this year. I'm always doing that, right? I tell you there will be an announcement and it never comes. Well, that's not strictly true. I do eventually tell you the things, I just don't tell you they are the things I told you I was going to tell you. But I will tell you something about each of these things right now, it being not long past the season of goodwill*: one is Mangel-related, the other is non-Mangel-related. Is that useful?

* Is there a season of bad will?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Charlie's Top 7 Short Stories

I like short stories. Hey, what a coincidence... I have a new short story out! It is called LOVE WILL TEAR US APART and is a cautionary tale about what happens when zombies and romance get mixed up. Seriously. But there's one catch: it's only available for Kindle. Sorry. I know how much you love paper. But hey, this is the way things are going.

To commemorate this event, please accept a list of my all time top 7 favourite (at time of writing) short stories:

In the Hills, the Cities - Clive Barker
Ostensibly horror on account of its inclusion in Barker's Books of Blood, this one starts as an Eastern Euro weird tale and ends up just blowing your mind. With horror 
The Lottery - Shirley Jackson
I think all small communities should read this. Then lay down their stones 
The Swimmer - John Cheever
Has there ever been such a brilliant example of starting in one place and ending up somewhere so utterly different? But really, when you think about it, not going anywhere 
Savannah River Payday - Erskine Caldwell
No short story has hit me with the savagery of casual violence as much as this one from the master of the Deep South 
The Pattern - Ramsey Campbell
Similar to the above by Caldwell, the explosion of violence is both eye-watering and somehow inevitable 
City Fishing - Steve Rasnic Tem
Sometimes you just know things are going to end badly. Especially when there is a dead crow flopping around in the footwell of your car 
The Last Great Paladin of Idle Conceit - Paul Meloy
Meloy proves himself a virtuoso at taking a real life (dead) character and turning it to his own ends (Lenny Bruce). And simultaneously honouring him

If you're going to check out LOVE WILL TEAR US APART (UK, US, Can), please, whatever you do, read it BEFORE any of the above. Thanks.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Author Culpa

Just read on a blog that someone read one of my books and got lost at the end. In other words, he or she does not know how it ended, after investing all that time in reading it. The blogger also adds that he is sure that this is his fault, not mine.

I beg to differ.

Even though a book could only have ended one way. Even though I believed it to be the perfect ending, foreshadowed in several places (including the first line of the book) and summing up a lot of things about how this protagonist's life has gone. Even though my editor loved that ending, recognised its potential ambiguity and worked with me to make it clearer. Even though [insert excuse here]... is not that blogger's fault.

It is the author's fault, every time.

Every time a reader gets lost at the end of a book. Every time they yawn and put it down, switch on the TV instead. Every time they throw it across the room a little too hard, inadvertently hitting that goldfish bowl and causing the poor fish undue mental trauma while it thrashes helplessly on the chic, exposed floorboards. Every time they read the book, like it enough, put it back on the shelf and immediately forget all about it.

Each time one of these little failures happens it is my fault.

If you are a writer and you don't agree, just think of the way books are these days. This isn't the fifties. We don't have a pulp fiction stand on every intersection of every main street of every city. We don't have half the punters on the train to work with their nose in a book (or if we do, it's the same book). We don't have the written page as the premier format of storytelling. We don't have shit, dear author. Least of all a fair chance of making a living out of this gig.

So what do we have?

One opportunity to grab a reader's attention, every time we are lucky enough to have someone pick up our book.

Use it.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Meet the Deadfolk: Fenton on Fenton

To the untrained eye, Mangel is a soft touch of a place. And Fenton's eye is most definitely untrained. Were he to train it, he might notice that the people of Mangel, though unsophisticated, are bastards. They don't trust you, outsider, but will ride you for all you are worth. And you are worth a lot, right? Waltzing into town in your flash motor, buying up the town's premier piss house in cash. But there's something else you have, isn't there? Something you are hiding. Something they want. But enough about the people of Mangel, let's here from the man himself, "Mr" Fenton...

Club owner
Fave film:
Catch Me if You Can

“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up in such a hellhole. But then I relax, sit back and remember: This is meant to be exile, not a holiday camp. A necessary solution, engineered to cut myself off from my past and live in safety. NO ONE will find me here. That’s the whole point – Mangel is the arse hole of the universe, a tiny little corner that doesn’t even show on the map. OK, so I could have fled to Spain, Thailand, Rio. But something brought me here. And when I saw Hoppers – a fire-damaged shell of a building at the time – I knew. Hoppers is my project. I’m king here, ruling over all these little people who just want to fuck, fight and get drunk. This is my kingdom. As long as my past doesn’t catch up with me.” 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meet the Deadfolk: Finney on Finney

I want you to meet Finney. People in Mangel don't have a good opinion of Finney. Due to one or two mistakes he has made in the past, they think he is less than bright. But what he lacks in intelligence, Finney more than makes up for in action. Finney might be a dosser but he is not lazy. He is a doer. Never more so than when Royston Blake needs a hand...

Fave film:
Rocky III

"I ain’t got a brother but you don’t need one when you got a mate like Blakey. Me and him has knowed each other for yonks, going right back  to when we was borned in the ozzie. It’s funny that, how certain folks gets tied to each other and has to go through life together. It can be a pain at times, especially when Blake gets wedded or goes off on one of his schemes. You can lose him for a bit then. But only for a bit. He always comes back, and he always needs my help in the end. See, he can’t do it without me. Like I says, him and me is like brothers. And brothers looks out for each other. Even when they hits you sometimes. Not that I'm complaining about that. Blakey gives you a slap, it's cos you deserves it. He's been on that door at Hoppers for fucking donkeys and seen every kind of cunt, and knows when to let em by and when to school em. I needs a bit more schooling than the average, I reckon. But I'm getting there. One day I'll make him proud of us."


Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet the Deadfolk: Jess on Jess

We've all met the Muntons. They're the ones who gave you a bill for a new head gasket when all you had was a dodgy fan belt. They're the ones who doorstep you about gardening services while the other slips round the back and nicks your TV. They're the ones who are said to have chopped up that bloke. You know, the one who went missing. Rumours abound about these guys. But are those rumours unfair? Take Jess - maybe people are just afraid of him because he doesn't talk much? Give him a chance, let him talk in a non-threatening, pressure-free environment and I'm sure we'd see a decent guy who is just misunderstood. Let's find out...

Jess Munton
Fave film:
Animal Farm

"I likes my brothers. I likes our van, which you gotta call the Meat Wagon. I likes meat. And I likes my chainsaw. I named it Susan, after a girl I knowed at school. None of the others used to talk to me much at school. Not even teachers. They’d shout at us a bit and say hard stuff to us about maths and that, but no one asked us nothing. Susan did. The girl, I mean, not the chainsaw. She’d ask us what I had for lunch, and what I’d had for tea last night. I’d always say the same thing: meat. Susan liked meat too. And I liked her. I liked her so much and she liked meat so much that I... well, that don't matter. All that matters is I've still got her, in a way. She's right here in my chainsaw."


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Meet the Deadfolk: the Stranger on the Stranger

You know that guy who comes into Hoppers and upsets Blake, asking all kinds of questions and suggesting that the door staff are ropey? He's the Stranger. Call him a hitman, call him an outsider version of Blake, call him a "flash cunt from the big city" (As Blake does), call him what the hell you like, but what you can't call him is... erm, I don't know. Shall we just let him explain?

Fave film:
Mission Impossible
“Muppets. That’s what they’re full of, these shit towns like Mongrel or whatever they call it. And they don’t even know it. They’re goldfish, swimming around in a little glass bowl and thinking it’s the whole world. So what does that make me? A shark. A shark in a goldfish suit. Come to slice up all the little fishies and fry 'em up for tea. It's too easy really. But someone has to do it. Get in, do a job and get the fuck out again. but not before I get my jollies. That bird behind the bar at that Hoppers place - she'll do. I saw the way she looked at me when I went in. I bet she's never seen someone like me. Saying that, it's not hard to look the business when I'm stood next to divs like that turnip head bouncer in there. But she can wait. Business first.”


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meet the Deadfolk: Mandy on Mandy

When it comes to empowered females, really it comes down to Ripley from Alien, Marge Gunderson from Fargo, Pat Butcher from Eastenders... and Mandy Munton from Deadfolk. But it takes hardship to discover one's inner steel, and Mandy certainly has a lot of that, sharing a house with the three notorious Munton boys. But let's hear her tell it...

Mandy Munton
Fave film:
Thelma & Louise
“I knows there is a world out there. I seen it on telly. I watches it every day, turning on after my brothers goes out in their van. You can fit in five or six different places between hoovering, cleaning, washing and cooking. America, Australia, Scotland... you can travel the planet on that telly. I’ve heard folks around here saying them places ain’t real, that they’ve been invented just for the programs. But I know different. I feel it when I look at the hills, the sun. There’s hundreds of other people under that same sun, and they can’t all be in Mangel. Sometimes I wonder if it’s this town that ain’t real, if it’s God playing a sick joke on us all. Not that I’d say that aloud. I’ve only ever said it to one person, when I were younger. That were Blake, the feller used to work for my brothers when they owned Hoppers. I ain't sure, but I think he understood. There's only one way I'll know for certain, and that's if he ever comes back for me.”