Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dark Fiction Magazine

Dark Fiction Magazine is pleased to announce the launch of a new service for fans of genre fiction. Beginning Oct 31st (Hallowe'en), Dark Fiction Magazine will be launching a monthly magazine of audio short stories. This is a free service designed to promote genre short fiction to an audience of podcast and radio listeners. A cross between an audio book, an anthology and a podcast, Dark Fiction Magazine is designed to take the enjoyment of short genre fiction in a new and exciting direction.

Dark Fiction Magazine publishes at least four short stories a month: a mix of award-winning shorts and brand new stories from both established genre authors and emerging writers. Each episode will have a monthly theme and feature complementary tales from the three main genres – science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Co-founder Del Lakin-Smith said: "I love reading short stories, and with the increased uptake of mobile and portable devices this really is a growth area. But like many I find I don't have as much time as I would like to read, so I tend to listen to many podcasts on the go. The idea of replacing my podcasts with high quality, well performed audio short stories is something I find highly appealing, so Sharon and I set about making that a reality."

Sharon Ring, co-founder of Dark Fiction Magazine, said: “From technophobe to technophile in less than two years; I spend a great deal of time working online. To while away those hours, I like to listen to podcasts and drink copious amounts of strong coffee. Now, while I don’t recommend you drink as much coffee as I, I do recommend you check out what Del and I have created. We love podcasts; we love genre fiction; we built a site to bring the two together.”

The theme of Dark Fiction Magazine’s first episode is The Darkness Descends and will feature four fantastical stories:

  • ‘Maybe Then I’ll Fade Away’ by Joseph D’Lacey (exclusive to Dark Fiction Magazine)
  • ‘Pumpkin Night’ by Gary McMahon
  • ‘Do You See?’ by Sarah Pinborough (awarded the 2009 British Fantasy Society Short Story Award)
  • ‘Perhaps The Last’ by Conrad Williams

Lined up for future episodes are Pat Cadigan, Cory Doctorow, Jon Courtenay, Grimwood, Ramsey Campbell, Rob Shearman, Kim Lakin-Smith, Ian Whates, Lauren Beukes, Mark Morris, Adam Nevill, Gareth L Powell, Jeremy C Shipp, Adam Christopher, and Jennifer Williams, among others.

With a team of dedicated and passionate narrators, a central recording facility and a love of genre, Dark Fiction Magazine delivers a truly outstanding aural experience.

Dark Fiction Magazine will also be producing special editions with seasonal stories and topical issues, competitions, flash fiction episodes and novel excerpts. Each episode aims to shock and delight, to horrify and confound as Dark Fiction Magazine takes its listeners on an aural tour through the world of genre fiction.

Dark Fiction Magazine is a collaborative project, created and developed by Del Lakin-Smith and Sharon Ring. For further information, contact Del or Sharon at

Thanks Sharon and Del, and good luck with the project. My own Public School tones may not be too far away!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Imperial March

They never tire of it.

The frightened little ones, the loud-mouthed pre-teens, the squealing girls and the enthusiastic Dads – everywhere the Garrison go, you see the same kaleidoscope of reactions. All the hot girls love a Stormtrooper, all the geeks make jokes about droids, and all the smart arses end up on the pavement with their hands behind their heads.

Hell, I never tire of it either.

And we’ve had a few new discoveries this time. Working with us at Bristol and Southampton to promote our exclusive book-plated edition of Star Wars: The Making of The Empire Strikes Back, the UK Garrison do seem to like Forbidden Planet. Lord Vader himself came to inspect Bristol, where he absolutely refrained from throttling anyone (unless they really deserved it) and loomed outside the store, silent and menacing and breathing as only Vader can. Surrounded by a plethora of flashing cameras, eagerly costumed children and wide-eyed tittering Mums.

The UKG absolutely excel at the Comedy Photo Op. They will pose for days and the passing public will never let them go… but there’s also something surreal and hilarious about any Stormtrooper doing something that’s essentially mundane. Trooper reads menu, Trooper goes into shop – it’s a win every time. Faceless and humourless, voices both mechanical and polite, all they have to do is stop by the front of a market stall and people turn and point.

And they never, ever, tire of it.

Today, though, we’ve had a moment.

Spotting a pair of smartly kilted bagpipers on Southampton High Street, the Troopers naturally had to investigate. The public were naturally entertained. The piper naturally made an attempt at The Imperial March on his chanter, and promised solemnly he would ‘learn it’ for the next time.

Fair enough, we thought.

Imagine our wonder, then, when the ‘next time’ turned out to be two hours later, when both pipers came down to Forbidden Planet Southampton. As promised, he played, fucking flawlessly, the Imperial March.

We were, Troopers and store and onlookers alike, absolutely gobsmacked.

Check this out…

Piper at the Gates of... from Danie Ware on Vimeo.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Who're You Calling A Quitter?!

There’s only one piece of advice to give a writer:

Put arse in chair; get on with it (variation in chair and choice of toolage may apply).

But when do you give up? How many years does it take before the ‘day job’ becomes the ‘career’? Before you eventually grow bored or distracted? Do you eventually tire of firing your passions and seeing them flare and fade, of throwing yourself at the page and sliding to the floor?

How long can your obsession survive when your alarm cuts through it at seven every morning?

At thirty (thereabouts), I quit. I didn’t mean to. I had two completed novels and umpteen other, smaller projects that I’d waved randomly at the industry from a safe distance… and equally randomly at long-suffering friends, a little closer to home. Yet somehow I’d never quite broken beyond those boundaries and my attention…



It took a long break before my arse went back in that bloody chair.

So – today is a minor victory. It’s taken a little longer than the Writer’s Workshops of my early twenties reckoned, but hey, that’s what quitting did for me.

Find 'Cure', my first ever paid-for piece of short fiction here, on Hub Fiction. (Thank you Alasdair for the invitation and publication).

The moral of this story?

Never Give Up, Never Surrender.

The picture is Rodney Matthews' 'Terrestrial Voyager'. Read the bloody story, already, and you'll get why it's here, okay?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Film Trailer: Get Well Soon

This is an utterly shameless plug for a despicably talented mate: -

"Janet Fisk has been supporting her husband, Theodore, through his experience of breast cancer -- but now that he is in remission, she realises that their relationship has been empty for some time. Her secret discovery that she is pregnant is the final straw. More trapped than ever, the bathroom becomes her refuge, and her prison. As the pressure mounts, inexplicable things start to happen in the house -- all leading back to the bath.

Starring Gresby Nash (The IT Crowd) and Laura Howard (Midsomer Murders), 'GET WELL SOON' is a taut psychological horror is the first short film from directors Ian Baigent and Jack Burnford, and writer Michael Woodman.

The film is produced by Gregory Rinaldi and Alison Baxter of BRAG Productions, and brings together the talents of crew who have worked on projects as diverse as Fantastic Mr. Fox, Luther, Heartless, Quantum of Solace, and Alice in Wonderland. It will be entering festivals in late 2010.

Follow Michael Woodman's blog on the BRAG Productions website, which discusses the process of making a short film on a tight budget, and also tackles DOP Rory Moles' experience of shooting with the Canon 5D."

Well done guys - that absolutely fucking rocks!!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

My '15 Books' List

Stephen Donaldson ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’

Two people have ever rendered me speechless when they’ve guested at FP… and the other one was Ray Harryhausen. I was 14 when I fell in love with Land, and (while Covenant remains an irritating twat), that love has never, ever left me… and distils to my own writing to this day.

Eugene O’Neill ‘The Iceman Cometh’

I love the play – and the moral dichotomy. When the Iceman breaks the fabricated reality of the rather lost cast of characters… does he do the right thing? It cuts very close to the bone, and I still don’t know the answer.

Douglas Adams ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’

Oh my GODS the continuity!! Simply the most finely wrought, beautifully convoluted timeline… I love the Hitchhiker series as much as the next (wo)man, but this… is a thing of beauty.

Kurt Vonnegut ‘Galapagos’

In VIth form, my English teacher recommended this as his favourite book ever. He wasn’t wrong. Again, the gloriously wrought timeline – plus Vonnegut’s dry sense of humour shown in true shrewd, sharp style with the wonderfully bizarre cast.

Michael Marshall Smith ‘Only Forward’

I think I embarrassed MMS when I told him how much I enjoyed this book. It’s absolutely off-the-wall, clever, insightful and breakneck downhill. And it has cats.

John Milton ‘Paradise Lost’

I know, its cheesy – but I can’t do this without adding at least one Major English Work and I love it. It big, it’s bold, it’s ludicrously OTT… but as allegorical works go, it’s the fucking Daddy.

Peter Mathiessen ‘The Snow Leopard’

A tale about discovery – about going looking for one thing and finding completely something else. The only religious text you’ll ever need.

Tony Ballantyne ‘Twisted Metal’

It’s DIFFERENT. It’s new, it’s brutal, it’s vicious; it takes no prisoners. It’s almost a concept book - no-one has ever written robots like this. My absolutely top book of last year; it absolutely blew me away. If you haven’t read it – why not??

Tom Stoppard ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’

Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads.

William Golding ‘The Lord of the Flies’

Another core text – but with good reason. The boys’ descent into brutality is drawn in both blood and pity; and the scene of the dead man in the parachute haunts me to this day. There are echoes of Golding's voice in David Moody's 'Hater' - another book I really enjoyed.

Lord Dunsany ‘The Kind of Elfland’s Daughter’

Much as I love LOTR, its presence is too predictable - and this was written in the 1920’s. It’s simple, it’s beautiful; it’s elegant, the imagery is massively powerful and absolutely sincere. A fontspring for the genre.

T. H. White ‘The Once and Future King’

Add to this one ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ and ‘The Mists of Avalon’ and several more besides… I went through a phase of being smitten with the whole thing. I guess there’s always been a part of me that’d like to believe it has its feet in the truth. Saxon, maybe?

Robert Holdstock ‘Mythago Wood’

My copy of Mythago Wood was pressed into my hands by Rob Holdstock in person – shocked when I ‘fessed that I’d never read it. I promised him solemnly that I would – but hadn’t started it when he died a month or so later. I’m sorry I never got the chance to tell him how dream-woven, poignant and lovely the story really is.

Andy Remic ‘War Machine’

An odd choice to close – but absolutely belongs in this list. War Machine was my Pivot Book, the one that made me realise that I ‘could do this’. It was the book that started me writing again (seriously) after an eight-year drought. One day, I will blog about this properly...

Apologies - this was only posted here because Nick tagged me to 'fess up and Facebook's being an arse. Because of my job, I made a professional choice: I DON'T write book reviews!