Search Results for: The Last Man to Die

The Last Man to Die

The Grumpy old man paradigm.  I’m deliberating whether to become a grumpy old man or a kind, smile-wrinkled old man.  I’ll probably end up just being grumpy because it’s easier and I find them hilarious.  Whether this story comes over as funny is a topic of discussion in itself. Written around the time I was warming up to write a story for the “Best of Times” comedy competition in Queensland I often discussed with Dave whether this should be made into the comedy.  At one stage Dave even said the comedy was written…I’m not sure how serious this comment was?  Anyway, I placed this character in the year 2040 at the same age I will be at that time, just to make it personally interesting.  And no, it’s not meant to be a comedy.

One of the ideas of this story, the “zero-age death” generation comes from something Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has been harping on about for years.  That is, that in the face of genetic modifications and genetic cures for disease we are the last generation that had to die.  So that was the nucleus of the idea.  Of course people getting hit by trucks and throwing themselves off buildings would still splat, no vaccination is going to cure us of that, but a person dieing of old age might become something of a novelty in the not to distant future.

As a story that had several attempts at coming to life before finishing in its current form, it’s not a story that immediately flowed onto the page.  I do like the way you have to work for some of the intentional gaps in the story though.  Once again, a small protest against the ‘art’ of television where a story like this would HAVE to tell you why everything happened.  A story that tries to emulate a little of life in that you don’t get to know everything and in the short story format, how can you.  Even two or three paragraphs explaining the science of what happened would bog down the pace and trip up the story delivery.

Hope you like it…

Short Story Series – Norman.

It’s been a while since I blogged – July!  I failed to make plans beyond the deadline of completing the third draft.  I think this stalled me a little.  It’s also been a learning process trying to find a suitable editor or industry-wise writer who can help me take the novel forward.  It’s also a little scary, I don’t want to push it out to publishers/agents and fail…but I’ve plucked up some courage in the last few months.  I have a few things to try…

Firstly, I returned to England and spent three glorious weeks walking the same streets as Henry.  It was lovely to have a chat with some of the locals in Heysham (Greysham) and have the idea of my novel so warmly received.  I hope some of them may even pop by the site to check in on progress from time to time.

I’ve made plans for a series of short stories that I can get out into circulation.  These stories will all be set in Greysham, yet not include Henry, Charles and Poppy.  I’m hoping if I can use these stories in a clever way, I can generate a measurable audience…something a publisher may take an interest in.  That being said, I’ve started work on the series.  The first story, ‘Norman; late of Greysham’ is nearly complete, and I hope to start on the next story this weekend.  The stories are like an introduction to Greysham, creepy, yet approachable.

In another wild scheme, I contacted Penn Jillette.  Yes, the juggler/magician, the larger part of Penn and Teller.  He’s currently putting together a movie called ‘Director’s Cut’.  Penn’s genius idea is to have the movie funded by…US!!  That’s you and me.  As a reward for the public’s involvement he’s offering a variety of individualised rewards.  As I drove home from work yesterday, I thought, “What if he would read my book…what if he knew someone who could read my book!”  We’re not supposed to be picking our own rewards, he’s posted a list of rewards that one buys.  However, what if!?

So last night I wrote him an email – tweeted his account and within a month I’ll know if it was the dumbest idea ever.  I think I’ll feel perpetually embarrassed by my expression of entitlement…soooo not me.  Yet, I feel it’s the game of ‘giving it a go’.  The very same game which started this book three years ago.  In the next month, I may also realise that I made a great decision reaching out to Penn?  He seems like a nice guy, I’m sure he’d understand the proposal in the spirit in which it was meant.  Sorry, Penn!

So from here, it’s back into the writing of Story #2.  I think this will be the third of the series as it’s a little too weird for the second spot.  It also includes the BEST NAME I have heard in years…and I’ve met the girl it belonged to!!

I should add that I’ve been chiselling out a better synopsis for the book too.  TOR and Hachette have submission openings – I just don’t want to blow my chances if there’s only one shot!!  More soon….

Writer bio banner

The S.M.A.R.T Recording

Well the first story gets a launch onto the site.  This story I wrote a long time ago and hauled it out of the archives as Dave and I considered a story we could illustrate.  The story feels like a Ray Bradbury type of thing to me. He has an automated house story that I listened to on tape from the library, back when people knew what tapes were.  Subsequently to this story I wrote, “The Last Man to Die” which also has the feel of the automated house.  Maybe I could ask Ray to read it…he has a good story telling voice.  Is Ray still with us…?

A small tip of the hat to every hot advertisement model I’ve ever had a crush on in this story.  As the visually addicted person I am, I must have saved hundreds of beautiful faces with the goal of drawing them at some stage.  Anyway, this story probably works better the less I have to say about it.  There is some controversy about whether there should be an additional paragraph just before the final paragraph to flesh out what happened.  However, it’s here on the site in it’s Directors cut, or author’s cut version, where you have to work a little harder for the answers.  Now doesn’t that feel better?

The written word is the tastiest cookie.

Artist UnknownPerhaps five years ago, I remember looking at a billboard for the film ‘Predators’ and thinking, why can’t we come up with any new ideas?  Since then, that thought has morphed into, why aren’t new ideas getting backed?  Cinema is ignoring many of the countless creative minds around the world and choosing to reboot Spiderman, Ghostbusters and Star Trek – to name a few.  All of these are characters and films I’ve enjoyed in the past, but why are they not bringing completely new ideas to the screen?  At a minimum, why not produce something inventive with these old characters.  I despair at the thought of having to sit through another ‘origins’ film.

This week I had another revelation with this line of thinking; in print many new ideas are given opportunity.  It felt quite refreshing to ponder.  Sure, a lot of commercial trilogies are releasing their sixth, seventh books and being milked for every last penny.  Nevertheless, there is still an onus on publishers to spot innovation.  How many new stories see publication in print vs film?  Of course, it’s a money thing.  A film costs millions and has potentially a large audience, books need thousands of dollars and – it would seem – have a shrinking audience.  Nevertheless, as consumers wanting new stories – print is surely the place to be?

Through friends, I recently took an interest in Kickstarter campaigns.  In this exercise, people with a potential project can throw it out to the public for support.  With adequate backing, an intriguing innovation can receive hundreds of thousands of dollars and come to fruition.  This process can be a democratic choice of many people with some money; avoiding the whim of a few people with a lot of money.  However, do unknown artists without fleets of existing followers thrive in this environment?

Have you ever noticed, that at many cafes that are totally unrelated to each other, the sale of the same brand of chocolate chip cookie?  These biscuits are fine, passable, OK.  They will sell, turn a profit and fill a need.  I will happily enjoy one from time to time.  That really fantastic biscuit however, the one that you mention to a friend the next day, is not available everywhere.  This delicacy can only be found at one cafe.  The one with the chef that backs themselves.  The one where they’re ‘risking’ to do something new and inventive.  Boy, are they great!

If art is happening anywhere in your community, be happy, even if you think it’s junk.  People are out there expressing themselves, keen to do something that’s never been seen, heard, tasted or felt before.
Go out and find a unique cookie.

It has wings…


…and I hope it’s about to take flight.  There has been many months, probably years, of editing inflicted upon this book.  Every step has been educational and promoted the quality of the story.  What it has done, however, is distance me from the story, the characters, the nuances of reading the book as a whole.

In the last week, I have retired to my writing corner in the walk-in robe and read my book aloud.  It’s actually quite good…something my shitty self-esteem wasn’t ready for.  My wife has joined me as a semi-willing audience to try and catch the sentences that clunk.  Our other goal is to watch for points within the text that can be further improved.  Eight of  John Harman’s recommendations, from the manuscript assessment remain.

As each recommendation becomes relevant, I’m taking some time to manipulate the text to promote the easy flow of information to the reader.  I will be refuting one of the eight points, however.  John made the valid argument that the village and occupants of Greysham present as a post-world war I setting.  He suggested moving the novel back twenty years.

I do love that era slightly more than the post word war II era, however the antiquated feel of Greysham is intentional.  The village is such a creature unto itself that – if it existed today (and oh, boy…what happens) – it would present in very much the same way.  Information and influence doesn’t pass in or out of Greysham.  There’s a stagnancy to the evolution of the place.  The people within it are slowly chokedby the noxious life it provides them with…poor bastards.

The Zombie Writer

blackdogSo, I hit the wall.

Since August 2011, I have tirelessly worked on my novel, ‘A Plague of Ladybirds’.  I’ve joined FAWWA, and had multiple people give feedback on my book.  I’ve read books such as, ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King and ‘Elements of Style’ by Strunk and White.  I’ve rewritten, chopped and added.  This entire time, I haven’t stopped working on the book.  From month to month, I set goals and reached them.  I truly believe this last two and a bit years has been more intense than those of many of my writing peers.  They report struggling to find time to write.  I’m always looking for an hour here or there in which to squeeze some writing/editing.

In May this year, I reached the goal for editing my book.  The third draft was complete.  I knew at this stage I was prepared to send it on to an editor or mentor and receive feedback which would elevate the book beyond what I could do.  That was when the wall started to appear.  I think WA is a perfect metaphor for the writing culture here.  A massive desert with a single feature, Perth, on it.  You could argue there’s loads more things like Margaret River and the Kimberleys and…   …if we kept going with this analogy, Weird Fiction would be an off colour pebble somewhere near the South Australian border.  This pebble has no friends and sits in a sandy belch of land.  There aren’t even any other pebbles around.

Now if you’re in Perth, you’re looking to write the next Cloud Street.  I’ve read Cloud Street, I liked it!  Nothing wrong with it.  However, writing should be all things and any thing.  It’s great for my peers that want to write about a woman’s struggle in the outback, brilliant.  They’ll get loads of support for that.  It’s fabulous that people want to write and are working on such stories.  On a world scale, my guess is that a nucleus of support for similar books is rare.  So it is great that Perth provides that.  I know it’s my go to cliche, but it’s illustrating my point backwards in some ways.  My point is, there appears to be no editors or mentors for books like mine.


I feel like I’m a million miles from the person I need to talk to.


So I’m sad.

I’m depressed.

I want to write all of these weird stories I have.

I want to share them with an audience and enjoy them for whatever they become.

On the weekend, for the first time, I left the writer’s fellowship meeting early.  I felt all of the sadness above.  I felt like the silly boy in the corner, writing about monsters.  Everyone else seemed to be grappling with serious issues (women’s struggles in the outback)…I’m painting pictures of shadows coming to life with green iron teeth.  I had to leave.

The script in my head said, “You have to give up.”  It was the first time since 2011 I’d thought this.  That’s not bad, in hindsight, I think.  Of course, it’s impossible to NOT write.  Within hours I was writing.  It’s a sickness; a tic.  So there’ll be no audience, no fame, no book launch, no movie…but the stories are still fun.  I can look at the pages and enjoy what I’ve created.

Since the weekend, I’ve thought of what I can do.  I have a plan.  I have to be brave.  I’m back from the dead and insistant.  I’m not a ghost writer,  I am the zombie.

P.S: I thought it was important to write this entry.  If this is a true blog of the journey, then blogposts like this should occur.  I write this postscript on the 26th Nov.  I have contacted several people and companies since the 21st.  There’s always more to do, learn and try…

A Plague of Ladybirds: Somewhere between confusing and simplistic.

March has been frantic – but not just for writing.  I finished most of the 3rd draft editing at the beginning of the month…and then accidentally opened a games business.  As a result there was no time to do anything more on Chapter 8 until the last few days.

‘The Ersatz Script’ has several scenes that I really enjoy.  There’s the theme of nature, there’s more Victorian Gothic architecture and a stunning brunette in a silky dress.  These are the things one hopes will be made into a movie…choose your own favourite…I know mine.  I had to rely on my train expert cousin (Stuart) once again, to ensure my carriage/cabin/compartment references were correct.  Suspicion was also drawn towards tattooing a cat.  I heard rumour that this practise would kill a feline and had to back it off to a henna tattoo…because the idea of a tattooed cat was too good to abolish completely.

In returning to edit this chapter, I had to trust in myself.  I know that when I did the first draft, I invested a lot of time ensuring the dates, days and times were all accurate.  So returning to edit with a view to correcting grammar and story telling I didn’t need to distract myself with these aspects of the story.  The chapter jumps around a bit – hopefully in a fun way that the reader enjoys following – it’s always a risk.  Somewhere in between “Massively Confusing” and “Simplistic” will be fine for me.

I note that on many editing occasions I am in a creative mood.  When this happens, the edit turns paragraphs into glorious tapestries of narrative.  I walk away from these editing sessions with a feeling of achievement.  I also worry that the whole book needs this treatment.  I wonder if there needs to be an ebb and flow of these type of scenes.  Another ongoing concern is that the manuscript is moving too quickly and that scenes need more time.  On occasion, it seems to me that each sentence is an action rather than nuances around the action.  Again, if the narrative needs to be expanded upon this book could end up at 250,000 words!  …and require another 4 years work.

Whilst I didn’t reference my notes on this chapter I note plenty of easter eggs…some of which I recall…others I hope a reader will surprise me with in 20 years.

Something which remains in stasis about this chapter is the degree to which Henry and Poppy hold Charles culpable for the evil doings around their house.  He has to be responsible for many but not all the events.  I’m wary of branding him with the label of guilt, only to have to undo the brand later.  It’s not really a twist if I tell the reader one thing and then untell them later.  This being said, Henry and Poppy ARE unreliable narrators at this stage…more balancing, it’s got to be enjoyable…right?

Well, I have a week off over Easter and I’m already on my final read through of Chapter 9!  The problem will be that I anticipate a return to Chapter 8.  There are the novel sized exposition points to make in these final three chapters and I want them to be woven into the narrative in a comfortable manner.  It’s so exciting to be near the end of the book.  The delivery of the twists will be key to it all working.  Perhaps, once it’s done, I will read through the book several times to iron out the plot before giving it to an audience to see if it’s confusing/simplistic.