Thursday, April 26, 2007

Meet the Flashers

Please check the new anthology THE FLASH, edited by Social Disease and featuring a story by myself (amongst many others much more worthy - see below). The title refers to the length of the stories: each one limited to 100 words. My bit is called SON OF BOB. After writing four novels in a row, it was great (and surprisingly daunting) to cut loose on a smaller canvas. Actually that doesn't sound right. It was like wandering the tundra for four years and then being invited into a cozy little log cabin, smoke rising gently from the makeshift chimney and a strong smell of fish emanating from that cupboard over there.

Anyway, I'm happy with my effort, and impressed by the others that I've read. And the best bit is that all proceeds go to Amnesty International, so you can buy it safe in the knowledge that I don't get a penny, and therefore can't waste it on sweets and cheap cider.

The contributors: Daren King, Ian Sansom, Nick Stone, J Robert Lennon, Patrick Neate, Nicholas Blincoe, Niall Griffiths, Willy Vlautin, Sara Gran, Gina Ochsner, Dermot Bolger, Rick Moody, Sam Lipsyte, Percival Everett, Jonathan Lethem, Katherine Dunn, Ben Myers, Lana Citron, Damon Galgut, Steven Sherrill, Michel Faber, Jeff VanderMeer, Stewart Lee, Charlie Williams, Rebbecca Ray, Matt Thorne, Kate Pullinger, Emily Maguire, Christopher Brookmyre, Steve Aylett, Aimee Bender, Steve Almond, Nick Johnstone, Stella Duffy, Arthur Nersesian, Carlton Mellick III, Fred Dutton & 73 other writers...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The people

"I tell you what made us what we were - we had this wonderful feeling that we were still part of the people. Every street in England had a footballer living in it. Not any more. They're behind big barbed wire fences, they've got security, they've got blacked-out windows, they hire clubs to go and have a night out. We were ordinary, approachable people. You were welcome to walk the streets, you were patted on the back, you were touchable, reachable."

- Alan Ball, World Cup winner, 1945-2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

St George's Day...

...a celebration of all things English. A time to reflect upon and appreciate our food, our culture, our values... our green and pleasant land. A feast upon which we embrace our national identity and take our turn to stand up amongst our global peers and say proudly "Hey - we're English."

Just doesn't work, does it?

Anyway, here's a nice pic:

Friday, April 20, 2007


As a former graffiti "artist", I'm with the authorities on this. Graffiti art is transient, and the most you can hope for is that a lot of people will see your stuff before it gets painted over. Banksy knows this, otherwise he would not have chosen the medium. I don't care if his piece is worth 30 grand - it has to go, along with all the other pieces by lesser known "bombers" (no idea if they still call them that - 20+ years ago that was the word).

What, Banksy's piece should stay because he's an important artist? Fuck that - he's a vandal, just like I was when I was 15 or so. Everyone knows the rules. You get notoriety on the street level and nothing beyond. A few fabled ones become famous on a wider scale due to books like Subway Art (ah, how many hours I spent poring over that book...) Some are embraced by the art world and take it from there. But it's still vandalism. That's the whole point.

Hang on a minute - why was Banksy not prosecuted for this? When I got caught I had to go to juvenile court. And did you hear me complaining? Ok, I did get a conditional discharge, but did you hear me complaining? Hmm, I dunno. Maybe you did.

Monday, April 16, 2007


This weekend just gone, everyone in the UK seemed to be going on about the weather. "Isn't it lovely?" "Aren't we lucky to be having this in April?" "This is the warmest April 15th in history, you know, so I hope you're enjoying it". Everywhere I went I heard the same thing. Enjoy it while you can. Get your skimpies on. Sit in the beer garden drinking cold lager all day, that being the only apparent way for a man to regulate his body temperature. Personally, I couldn't get into it. I'm a fan of lager, but not of blistering heat in April. I try to enjoy it. Truly I do. I try not to be downbeat on such an upbeat day. I wipe that trickle of sweat off my brow and close my eyes and turn my face to the sun, but red light seeps through my eyelids. And it's not a nice red. It seems to me like a warning red. I think of The Day of the Triffids. Nearly everyone enjoyed that amazing display of light in the sky, none of them questioning what might be behind it. Why would you? It's a gift: enjoy it now. Only the killjoys and blinfolded abstained.

So I stay in the shade and try to deny the heat, ignoring the taunts of killjoy and miserable bastard. But it won't help me. I'm going blind just like everyone else.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Happy Saturday. Before you go off and get drunk, you could check out this interview with me on The Rap Sheet, conducted by Roger Morris (of THE GENTLE AXE and TAKING COMFORT fame). As usual, I'm not sure what the answers to his questions are. But I try.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Wisdom of Guy N. Smith

"But what chance did they stand against this army of attacking pheasants?" – From CARNIVORE

"Why shouldn't a child's corpse turn into a pike? No reason at all...Maybe he was a fish and hadn't realised it up until now." – From THE UNDEAD

"This doomed girl had not only risen from her deathbed but she had turned into a nymphomaniac." – From THE RESURRECTED

...and my favourite:

"He did something that caused the elephant to go berserk and the potato vendor to burn to death." – From THE DARK ONE

Any book where members of the potato industry burn to death is fine by me. Get your Guy N. Smith books here. I recommend MOLES AND THEIR CONTROL.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I was made for it

Catching up on films noir last night, I finally saw what might possibly be the best one of all. My mum has been on at me to watch NIGHTMARE ALLEY for years, without being able to say much about it other than mentioning Tyrone Power and geeks. I think it has only been on DVD for a year or so, which is criminal for such a fantastic piece of work, but at least I've seen it now.

I won't go into plot details. (Use IMDB for that.) All I'll say is that my mum was right when she said it was about geeks. These days we picture the "geek" as someone in spectacles hunched over a keyboard with an obsessive look about him. Rather like I am at this moment. But back then, in 1947 and earlier, the geek was a kind of human abomination who provided the most lurid and questionable thrills at a travelling "carny".

I've always been fascinated by freakshows and the exploitation of human abberations, but the geek is fits into neither of these camps, being a psychological rather than a physical phenomenon. At the beginning we see the geek on show and witness him (off camera) devouring a couple of live chickens. It seems the geek is the lowest form of human life, devoid of dignity and willpower and any kind of fight whatsoever. He is there to be exploited, and exploited he must be. All he needs is his "bottle a day" (of gin or whatever), and he's happy to go on. Stan (Tyrone Power) questions how any man can get so low. During the course of the next couple of hours, he finds out.

This film is superb on so many levels. Best of all it is utterly original and unlike anything else you have seen. If you catch the DVD (Region 2 at least - I don't know about other territories) don't miss the background notes by Woody Haut.

Find this film and watch it. Become mildly obsessed with it and make others so. NIGHTMARE ALLEY should have a following. Of geeks, freaks and all the rest.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Just to clarify, they are not making a film of any of my books right now, starring Gerard Depardieu or Uma Thurman or anyone else. That pic below, I just thought it looked like Blakey. You know what I mean? No?

Never mind.

He'd never be able to handle the accent anyway. But Uma Thurman, she'd be alright as Rache. Ah, shut up! There's no movie!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We're not in Kansas anymore

One thing the French do at their book fairs is get the authors to spend a long time sitting behind piles of their books, ostensibly doing "dedicace" (signings) but in practice actively flogging units. Naturally, some are better at this than others. I think I'm not so good (especially in French). Personally I can't understand how any writer is good at that. Writing is a solitary thing. Your communication skills get specialised towards the written word and probably flag a bit elsewhere. You develop a manic look when people approach you which tends to ward them off. Also the chronic dribbling and gibbering doesn't sell books in the long run. So, I'm no good at the face-to-face side of book promotion. And I reckon I'm not alone in that.

I think that's why writers embrace this internet thing. You get to use weapon #1 on here: text. Any ideas about your work* you want to communicate, you can do it from behind the silver screen of cyberspace. You're a bit like the Wizard of Oz - the stumpy little gimp who sits in his magic cubicle and tries to make out he's a god. And you get to dribble.

So, to compensate for my lack of "meatspace" sales skills, I hereby invite anyone to drop me a line if they want to know why they should read my books. (Or why they shouldn't - you never know.) But I have to know who you are, or it's just sales literature. So tell me at least one thing about yourself (eg: what books you like... what sort of alcohol you like...) You can even do it in French. I've got a dictionary here.

I don't expect to get a lot of take-up on that offer, but there it is. And it's a permanent one.

* What a ponce. Any writer who says "my work" is up their own arse.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

After Lyon

Back from the Quais du Polar festival. Too frazzled yesterday to post anything about it, but now I can officially report to you that it was top notch. A really magnificent festival, well organised and well attended by people in the know. Obviously it helped that the festival was free, which meant you got half the citizens of Lyon coming through for a gander. And what a nice bunch they are. Even the bloke who told me off for changing the traditional format of the Série Noire paperback, thereby tinkering with the fabric of reality itself. Also great to chill with the Gallimard team of Aurélien and Christine, along with Jonathan Trigell, D.O.A., Olly and "André Dussollier". There were many others I chilled with and I hope to chill with them again. What's all this "chill" bollocks anyway?

Lyon is such a nice town and everyone was sympa, as they say. Even if no one told me that beer was 8.5% until it was too late.

Special thanks go to the people who bought LES ALLONGÉS. And hey, you can still do it here.