Interview – Matthew Wright

On my list of regular blogs to visit is the one written by New Zealand historian Matthew Wright. His interests, however, don’t just lie in the past but the present and future too, mixing current science with science fiction. When his book of essays came out examining the curious side of quantum mechanics, Explaining Our Weird Universe, I had to pick up a copy and this led to me wanting to know more, not just about the science but the ideas behind writing the book.

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Interview – Harry Whitewolf

Back in September I reviewed Harry Whitewolf’s novel The Road to Purification, Hustlers Hassles and Hash. Author, poet and traveller, Whitewolf’s writing is a fusion of observation, fact and speculation. I asked Harry about his work, travelling, the number 11 and gn****.

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Interview – Leo X Robertson

This interview should have been posted here back in May (possibly 2015!), but thanks to a lethal brew of inertia and pre-occupation with a new job and duff car salesmen – excuses, excuses, they’re all just feeble excuses – indie author Leo Robertson has been forced to wait for his place in the pantheon of The Opening Sentence interviewees.

However, this is a big ‘un. Well worth the wait. So sit down with whatever it is you sit down with to drink and hear Leo’s take on self-publishing, world literature and selling out.

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Burt Bacharach

One day in the 1970s, a new LP turned up in the house. A collection of songs by Burt Bacharach. One song in particular stood out: This Guy’s in Love With You. It wasn’t necessarily the song that connected, but its association with . . . witchcraft!

Every Sunday we’d go for a day trip and one of the places we’d visit was Pendle Hill, the gloomy presence hovering over the villages of Newchurch and Sabden and Roughlee, places associated with the Pendle witches and bursting with evocative historical atmosphere.

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Rush – When the Music Stopped!

There was a moment, a few years ago, that struck like a harbinger of death; I should have recognised it at the time. In a record shop I asked for the new album by Rush, Test For Echo, and the shop assistant and I both agreed that more people should listen to Rush.

It turned out to be the last Rush album I would ever buy and a twenty year appreciation teetered on the brink.

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Carl Sagan

There’s a telling moment during an interview between CNN founder Ted Turner and cosmologist Dr. Carl Sagan. As Sagan contains his anger at America’s refusal to distribute wealth fairly Turner asks him if time travel is possible. Before answering, Sagan offers a wry grin at Turner’s obvious discomfort and his clumsy attempt to change the subject, and in that grin we see inside a man who was nobody’s fool. Sagan was not just an eminent scientist, he was a humanitarian.

The interview was recorded in 1989, and the issues raised by Sagan are as urgent now, more urgent, than when he brought them to the attention of an out of his depth media mogul. Climate change, poverty, lowering standards of education, Sagan could be on the ball on planet Earth at the same time as being in the centre of a black hole billions of light years away.

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Agnetha Fältskog

Never rename a boat. I recently saw one for sale and it was named the John Thomas. Now, I don’t know where you live, but in Britain John Thomas is an alternative name for a gentleman’s wedding tackle. No one in their right mind would own a boat and keep the name John Thomas.

In the third Toten Herzen novel, There Will Be Blood, there’s a conversation between Rob Wallet and his new friend Barny Flowers. Admiring Wallet’s boat, Flowers chastises him for renaming it and asks ‘who the hell is Agnetha anyway?’ Wallet replies, ‘If you don’t know, you’ll never understand.’

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Vampires and The Bloodthirsty

Strictly speaking, one of them wasn’t a vampire and one of them is my own creation, but myths have to start somewhere. Contrary to what people will tell you vampires are not yesterday’s news, they’re still the top of the foodchain when it comes to folklore. Here are my top five bloodsuckers and bloodthirsty individuals.

5 . . . Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, tv series.)

vampires spikeIf you’ve ever seen Billy Idol you’ll probably recognise where James Marsters was coming from when he brought life to the undead in the form of Spike. Bad to the bone, Spike was a constant thorn in the side of Buffy, but over several seasons their love hate relationship brought a fascinating twist to the old theme of vampire and vampire hunter.

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My Very First Job

Do you remember your first proper job? Not the weekend stint in the cake shop, the first post-school full time gig? I remember mine. If you worked for Sherwood Flexibles in Salford between 1983 and 1986 you’d remember it too. (* For legal reasons I’ve changed the names of individuals!)

My school exam results were a disaster, but not bad enough to keep me out of art college. I dropped out after a couple of months and studied for a few more O-levels, eventually leaving college in the teeth of an economic recession. Imagine my amazement then when my brother-in-law got me a job at the company where he worked. Sherwood Flexibles Ltd. The company made printing plates (a printing process known as flexographic) and I was taken on as an apprentice camera operator.

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Jake Thackray

If I mentioned the phrase folk music, you might think of bearded men with one finger stuck in their ear singing songs about wassailing, with lyrics like ‘Oi ‘ad one lassy in the dewsoaked ‘ay, and we went with a way and a hay ninny nonny…’

Jake Thackray wasn’t like that. Unbearded, fingers focussed on a nylon stringed guitar, Thackray sang songs that were wistful, hilarious, sensitive or acidic. Sometimes all four in one song. He was, in short, one of England’s greatest troubadours.

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Arthur Daley

This post was written a couple of days before the sad news of George Cole’s death. I hope this is a fitting tribute to the actor and his greatest character…

There are few people whose names enter the lexicon of a language. If you hate the thought of spending money you’re a Scrooge. Block progress with bureaucratic excuses; be prepared to be called Sir Humphrey. And if you like to do a bit of crooked wheeler dealing, you’re an Arthur Daley.

In 1979, riding on the success of The Sweeney, Dennis Waterman was given his own television programme: Minder. He was to play the role of Terry McCann, a former guest of Her Majesty’s prison service, McCann leaves gaol and becomes an associate of local businessman Arthur Daley. However, the series didn’t quite go in the direction the producers had planned.

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Are We Safe To Talk About Abba Yet?

When I was at school at the turn of the decade, a number of sinister forces roamed free. From 1979 to 1981, hormones ruled, self-image was more important than the Cold War and if you weren’t into punk or the New Wave of British Heavy Metal you were the lowest of the low. An absolute maggot. And you were made to pay.

The cruelest people on earth are teenagers between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. At school I watched people I once knew turn into monsters over the summer holidays. I left them at the end of the fourth year cheery and innocent; when I saw them again at the start of the fifth year they had regressed to grunting savages hell bent on murder and pillage whenever the opportunity presented itself.

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Ode to Isha koppikar

To describe Isha Koppikar as an underdog is almost contemptuous, but in a world of near tribal loyalty and a suspicious allegiance to following trends and fads and being expected to follow consensus, Isha Koppikar was just that: the underdog, the outsider. One of the finest Bollywood celebrities lost in a sea of misplaced fanaticism.

Described by one critic as a reservoir of talent, Koppikar amazed and infuriated in equal measure. Capable of playing any role from demonic villain to virtuous lover, Koppikar’s lack of a cinematic family dynasty hung around her neck like a heavy weight preventing the critical acclaim she was more than entitled to.

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Author Interview – Rupert Dreyfus

‘Electoral democracy, for pretty much the entire nation, is nothing more than a spectators’ sport.’

Rupert Dreyfus’s debut novel Spark explores the individual in the face of big business and reacting against a system geared towards a select self-interested few. In this author interview I asked Rupert about writing, self-publishing and a worldview that led to the events outlined in Spark.


Q: Spark is your first self-published novel. How did you find the process?

A: The writing process was liberating. Prior to Spark I’d written a lot of stories but they were completely different in style and message. They were more personal and less satirical. I suppose I tried to take a more literary approach which, looking back, didn’t really suit me. I eventually got bored and tried something in the transgressive/ satirical style. Once I found a voice I was happy with and realised that I no longer have to obey literary conventions, it became an all out war.

However, the process of getting Spark read by people has been about as much fun as counting bum warts at a pig farm.

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Children of Bodom – The Greatest Band You Might Never Have Heard Of

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Because there are no Creative Commons images of the whole band I’ll have to steal this one from their website and hope they’re not stupid enough to get worked up about it.

Yes, the greatest band you might never have heard of. But if you have, well, that’s all right then, you can go and read Eric Robson’s tweets for the next ten minutes while I tell these no marks all about them.

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Guest Author – Hilary Mortz

Now I’ve got a real treat for you this time. A writer who, if she started name dropping, would put Michael Parkinson to shame. In fact, to put me in the mood I’m gonna type up this interview whilst listening to Children of Bodom’s Hate Crew Deathroll. . . .

Say hello to Hilary Mortz, author of the Rockline novels.


Q: You’ve written two novels and you’re working on a third; what started you off on this writing/publishing road?

hm 08A: We got lost in the Derbyshire countryside on the way from a rock festival – a bit like Sid and Mel from Appetite For Corruption. We saw a small manor house in the middle of nowhere, it gave me the willies and started me thinking what if rock fans were lured away by other worldly parasites and their positive energy was stolen? What if all the rock disasters in the past hadn’t just randomly happened and were being orchestrated for someone else’s benefit? After that the floodgates opened and the world was my lobster.

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Supporting Valencia

You might not be interested in football (and let’s just pause here to remind our non-European friends it is football, not soccer), but Spanish side Valencia have in recent years transcended the sport to such a degree even die-hard football haters would sit up and take notice.


Settled on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, Valencia Club de Futbol have several nicknames: Els Taronges (the oranges), Los Che (the boys), Los Murcielagos (the bats), Los Coppas de los Keystone. (I made that one up) and probably a few more gifted by supporters of local rivals Levante.

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Review – Dead Boy’s Poem (Nightwish)

With a new Nightwish album released, their first since the extraordinary Imaginaerum in 2011, I thought it timely to delve into the archive and bring out a little known song from their 2000 album Wishmaster.


Fourteen years ago and since then Nightwish have only had three lead singers (five if you include the temporary arrangement during their US tour with Alissa White-Gluz and Elize Ryd replacing an ill Anette Olzon)

Fourteen years which means one of the stars of the Wishmaster album will be twenty-five years old now!

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The fracas over Jeremy Clarkson’s fracas

Every so often you read a quote that appears to be about a current issue, but then turns out to have been written four hundred years ago. Anyone who has seen the latest kerfuffle involving Jeremy Clarkson (BBC fracas pulls Top Gear from Sunday night schedule etc) might think the lynch mobs out to get him are a recent phenomenon, but no… The knee-jerk reaction is painfully familiar and was going on ten years ago when I wrote the following article for The Rockall Times, an online spoof newspaper, in 2005. What goes around comes around.


UK SOCIETY MOBILISES AGAINST JEREMY CLARKSON
Co-ordinated campaign to suppress Top Gear presenter

by Bob Wallet

An alliance of Greens, Environmentalists, Road Safety Campaigners and Public Decency advocates are to lobby the next government to have BBC’s Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson banned. The alliance also includes the Campaign for Rural England, the Berkshire Soroptomist Chapter, the British Vauxhall Owners Club, Men Who Like Motorbikes, the Caravan Club, Kill Your Speed, the UK Woolie Pullie Confederation, UKIP and Christian Voice. Transport 2000, Sustrans, the Environment Agency, the Scottish Tourist Board, the Welsh Tourist Board, Plaid Cymru, the Vegan Society, the League Against Cruel Sports, the Women’s Institute, the Women’s Guild, Women’s Own Magazine, British Waterways, the Civil Aviation Authority and the EU also backed the plans to have Clarkson — real name Jeremiah Dibnah Clarkson Jnr, 47 — removed from his post at BBC2’s flagship motoring programme.

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The Six Greatest Actors in the World

Ahead of the Oscars I thought I’d present my own celebration (and recommendations). My six greatest actors of all time. Six? Bit of an odd number? Not necessarily. If you give gold, silver and bronze to three men and three women you get six. So, settle down and read on.

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My criteria for these six is not that they’re the greatest actors alive today from a purely technical point of view, but because of one factor that I think is essential in an actor: when they appear in the scene they force you to concentrate, make everyone else look like idiots and/or make a bad script acceptible? If they meet all three requirements they pass the test.

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A real superhero. . .

In a place far away the Son of Dodgy Folk did come down upon the Earth and the people stood aghast at his ability to float in mid-air. And lo, a woman came along and kicked his do-gooding ass from one end of the street to the other. Her name?

Faora-Ul

We shouldn’t really get all het up about films, especially superhero comic book films. Life is too short. But in a world in which sixty years of freedom for ordinary people are beingly rapidly eroded by corporate lobbying, what are we to make of the sub-text contained within 2013’s Man of Steel, Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot? And why is Faora-Ul the real superhero in this film?

Faora-Ui 1

Rumour has it butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. (Copyright Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures)

The story begins on Krypton where a race of elites have overseen environmental desolation, planet destruction and eugenics. Two of this Ubermensch, Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van, ignore the deaths of millions and selfishly try to save their own son by catapulting him into space where he eventually lands on a planet populated by a race with a long history of believing in any old hogwash.

The individuals responsible for what happens next are producer Christopher Nolan, director Zack Snyder and screenplay writer David S Goyer. Kal-El, Son of Jor-El, Son of Bloody-El, becomes a Jesus-like figure armed with more metaphors, allegories and symbolism than the human mind can comprehend. A bearded fisherman, adopted father, and that mid-air floating so beloved by messianic types.

It’s easy to be dragged into the adulation, but remember where this guy comes from? What he is descended from? Nolan, Snyder and Goyer expect us to root for this figure at the expense of General Zod whose only crime was an attempted regime change. Regime change is such a dirty phrase in the 21st Century. But in Man of Steel it means one thing: you’re the villain.

Faora-Ui 2

(Copyright Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures)

Except, General Zod isn’t the villain and his second in command Faora-Ul is the one we should be praising to the skies. After all, in the logic of the Superman context, she was born and bred to be a menace. She is the product of Superman’s parents’ elite’s eugenics programme. In a court of law that would be a pretty strong case for her defence and reduce most murder charges to manslaughter, possibly even assault with intent leading to a suspended sentence.

If you didn’t inwardly cheer when she set on Superman and beat his soppy arse to a spandex pulp you’re either a relative of Dick Cheney or an employee of Starbucks. If she committed one crime it was not finishing him off when she had the chance. Then we could have sat back and enjoyed a film about how the real heroes lived happily ever after and guffawed at how Krypton’s only son was forced to reap what was sown by his own kind.

If we persist with the Jesus metaphor, then Faora-Ul could be a sort of violent Mary Magdalene. Except she doesn’t lower herself to wash Superman’s size twelves. She is the fallen woman who has the temerity to present herself to a so-called saviour. Man of Steel misses a trick here; Superman symbolically licking her boots would have rammed home the message even to the most simple minded idiots in the audience.

If you feel the same way as I do, there is a trick you can try out next time you watch Man of Steel. Imagine Zod, Faora-Ul and all the others as the heroes and consider their end as something from a Greek tragedy. True heroes always perish in Greek tragedies. Or you can take the easy option and simply enjoy an awesome performance by German actor Antje Traue, who has a bright future ahead of her if this portrayal is anything to go by.

traue pandorum

As Nadia in Pandorum, Traue spends her time avoiding trouble instead of causing it. (Copyright Constantin Film Produktion, Impact Pictures)

Show stopper, scene stealer, arch-bothermaker, whispering mayhem, Traue is a tour de force and the one redeeming factor in a film that has the abilty to make you gnaw your own arm off in frustration. Born and raised in the former East Germany, Traue caught people’s attention in another sci-fi yarn Pandorum, fighting off interstellar ghouls. Her softly spoken accent is a disconcerting contrast to the force of character she portrays, which in Man of Steel only adds to Faora-Ul’s indifference to the havoc she wreaks.

As for Nolan, Snyder and Goyer, they might know how to make a blockbuster superhero movie, but their ethics and morality are upside down. But then, a race with a long history of believing in any old hogwash can be told Superman is a hero and swallow it hook, line and sinker.

And lo, the people did cover their eyes and ears and refuse to look upon she who was good. And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth when she did lose her temper and start to knock the living daylights out of folk.

Antje Traue

The woman behind the mask: Antje Traue. (Copyright Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures)

If all that has wetted your appetite you can check out both films on DVD: Man of Steel and Pandorum

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MetalMonth – Delain

Elsewhere, in my feature on Nemesea, I recalled how close I came to losing two of my hands. The threat, the near miss came from Delain’s album, April Rain. Was it better than Nemesea’s The Quiet Resistance? My hands survived thanks to the release dates and a technicality.

For the kind of metalheads who like their music to sound as if it was recorded in a tin shack Delain are probably a bit too polished, a bit too musical. Keyboards! Strings. Songwriting. (They write music, for fuck’s sake. . . . Can’t be heavy metal if it’s musical!!!!!!)

One of the problems with a lot of contemporary metal is that the bands have forgotten how to write a decent song. Afraid they’ll be accused of being a pop group. Well, the fact is you can still write a decent song and be as heavy as fuck.

Delain’s roots lay in symphonic metal. What they did that a number of other symphonic metal bands should have done, was tone down the pomp and work on arrangements; forget how Wagnerian they could sound after the Korg plug-ins went through Pro Tools.

On April Rain they hit a glorious sweet spot and produced one of those rare albums: filler free. Every track a gem. On the third album We Are The Others they actually defied expectations and went one better. WATO was a slow burner. Where April Rain danced around the palate, WATO had all sorts of mysterious aftertastes that lingered.

Key to Delain’s sound is lead singer Charlotte Wessels. Her voice wraps itself around every word and phrase like warm mead, or honey. Hers is an extraordinary richness of delivery that holds the attention, lures you siren-like before the rest of the band turn up and take your head off. See, they’re at it again. Threatening to lop off limbs and what have you.

Their fourth album, The Human Contradiction came out earlier this year. On it is a song called Your Body is a Battleground. It’s a big song, it has the Goblin King himself, Marco Hietala from Nightwish, providing guest vocals. It’s an enormous song. It’s the Grand Canyon of rock music. And when your prickles are still crackling they hit you with the stomping riffs of Stardust. And in Lullaby they’ve written one of the eeriest rock songs of all time. What is it about? ‘We are sinking the ship now. . .’ This from a band who have performed on a cruise liner; not the kind of song I’d want to hear in the middle of the North Sea. (Alissa White-Gluz also made a guest appearance on the album and was rumoured to have been paid in throat lozenges.)

They’re in America, in theatres supporting Nightwish, but in an ideal world Delain would be part of a triple headlining bill alongside Nightwish and Nemesea in an arena with a big light show and perfect sound. Maybe throw in an orchestra a la Within Temptation Black Symphony. Five hours of thrilling, challenging, interesting, crafted rock written by musicians, performed by musicians. Bands who don’t read the Heavy Metal Handbook with its diagrams on how to stand, correct facial expressions and places where you can jump on the latest bandwagon.

And as if the best album of 2014 isn’t enough they have the ‘Official Greatest Guitarist in the World.’ Yes, official. Timo Somers is leading the Metal Month guitarists poll, ahead of Hendrix, ahead of Blackmore, ahead of van Halen. (Okay, There was no Bert Weedon), but he’s in the lead which makes him the man.

And The Human Contradiction is the business. Go and buy it (directly from the band or the label, not those tax-avoiding tossers at Amazon) and listen to some real music.

Official site Delain

MetalMonth – Ronnie James Dio

Ronaldo Padavona does not play for Real Madrid. Ronaldo Padavona is better know as Ronnie James Dio. Where the name Dio came from is open to speculation, but he became one of the most admired and respected vocalists in rock music.

I could have written a ‘How I Discovered’ post on Ronnie Dio, except how I discovered him was weird. I didn’t actually know it was him. In 1974 he sang vocals on three songs for Roger Glover’s The Butterfly Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast.

I heard one of them as a child; Love Is All. I saw the cartoon frog leading a disturbing array of animals towards some bachanalian carry on and thought ‘what a fantastic singer.’ I only found out about three years ago that the singing frog was Ronnie Dio.

Of course it was. Providing the vocals for a cartoon frog was all in a day’s work for a man brought up playing the trumpet. Dio had a band called The Electric Elves, later shortened to The Elves and eventually just Elf. (Had the band survived they would have become E and then probably dispensed with using any letters at all.)

But greater things were to come and the greater part of Elf became the greater part of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in 1975. Ronnie Dio sang for three albums before joining Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne left/died/got kicked out.

I must have come across Ronnie Dio when he went seriously solo and released Holy Diver. Surrounded by polystyrene castles and a fire breathing animatronic dragon he made Yngwie J Malmsteen look like Arthur C Clarke. The dungeons and dragons persona was perfect for an ex-trumpet player who used to be in a band called Elf.

I know, it sounds like I’m taking the piss, but it’s a light hearted piss-take towards a man who was one of the most honest and straight talking members of the rock community in the 1980s. Dio delivered. He gave you your money’s worth and presented it all in a larger than life setting that he would have been the first to admit was pure theatre.

Read any article, watch him interviewed on Youtube and listen to his common sense and common decency. He was instrumental in organising Hear ‘n Aid, the rock response to Geldof’s Live Aid initiative. He believed in honesty and integrity and never took his audience for granted.

And everyone who ever made the devil’s horns symbol probably has Dio to thank for either introducing it to rock, or at least making it part of the visual vocabulary.

In 2009 his stomach cancer was made public and a year later it took his life. But like all heroes his legacy lived on. You don’t have to like his brand of hard rock or his ‘scary’ videos, but you have to admire the little guy from New Hampshire who deservedly became a big presence in the world of rock.

MetalMonth – Author Feature: Jaq D Hawkins

For the second author profile during Metal Month say hello to Steampunk author Jaq D Hawkins. Jaq is the writer of numerous books on magick and esoterica, along with the Goblin Trilogy. Climb aboard. . . .

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I started as an occult book writer and began my goblin series as a sort of anti-political statement, threw in some magicians and they took over. Who knew…

The Steampunk writing was inspired by Steampunk music, specifically Abney Park. After seeing their video for the song Airship Pirates, I felt there had to be a book about airship pirates and the rest grew out of that original impulse. Naturally just a touch of the mystical had to find its way in, in the form of a Basque air goddess and the superstitions of sailors/airmen everywhere.

mm-jaqd TrilogyFront300I tend to write contemplative characters, at least for the main characters. I’m making more and more of a point of making sure there is plenty of action in my more recent books, but my early Fantasy work was directed towards the thinking person more than the quick fix YA-type reader.

I hope that readers take some deep thoughts away from my work, especially in the way that I wrapped up the Goblin Trilogy. But also I hope they take away the enjoyment of an adventure lived vicariously through the written word. After all, adventures on an airship have a lot of scope and I haven’t finished working in that world. Getting on with goblins is a different experience entirely of course, but the clever human might survive unscathed.

I was traditionally published for years, but the market was changing just after my first fiction novel came out and I’ve gone indie since then, despite the crowded marketplace. Yes, it is a challenge to get your work noticed by the target audience with every aspiring writer on the planet using all the same resources, but with patience and observation, it is possible to start the word of mouth flowing that makes good writing float to the top.

mm jaqd Wakefront300

As for my future plans, I have several Mind, Body, Spirit books to write to bring that side of my work into the digital market. Mister Bale, from The Wake of the Dragon has demanded a sequel book. I have a few short stories to fill in information about the goblin world which I will continue to add to for a couple of volumes of short stories. It’s a world I never tire of visiting.

I also have a science fiction novel brewing and an old story about dimension travelling magicians that I intend to finish at last. There are always more projects to do.

mm jaqd GoblinTrilogy.png

You can find Jaq’s Goblin Trilogy at Amazon by clicking here

And The Wake Dragon Steampunk Adventure at Amazon is here

And for more information about Jaq and her writing visit

jaqdhawkins.co.uk

and

indiewritenet.com/jaqdhawkins

 

MetalMonth – How I Discovered . . . Rammstein

Richard and Judy, that’s how! Well, sort of, indirectly. I have a vague memory of them speaking highly of Vin Diesel who, at the time, was rampaging through several un-named countries in the guise of XXX. A bald headed human bomb with a voice deeper than the Marianas Trench.

And who better to kick off XXX, before everything else kicked off, than a fire-breathing bunch of demons with a goggle-eyed, mad-mohicaned lead singer. I had to wait for the end credits to discover the band in the opening sequence was Rammstein, but to be honest I was no wiser.

My first encounters with Rammstein came in the Upper Cretaceous period, i.e. pre-youtube, pre-broadband, pre-access-to-anything-foreign (unless it shamed itself on Eurovision). Accessing Rammstein’s music involved a lot of weird cack being downloaded instead of the mp3 for Links 2 3 4, or Sonne, or any of their other songs.

But when an actual song did come down the line successfully it was worth the wait. Sung in German, dense powerchords competing with Till Lindemann’s psychotic grumbling vocals, Rammstein provided a much-needed change from the gristly rubbish of Guns n Roses and Limp Bizkit. This wasn’t so much nu-metal, more like nu-thinking.

With Rammstein you either have to forget lyrical appreciation or learn German. And when you do translate some of the lyrics you’re in for a surprise. Mein Teil, for example. (Look it up!) Rammstein are the pantomime act children wouldn’t enjoy, the cartoon characters Disney would lock away. They could really only come from a group of people locked behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany during their formative years.

Sense of humour? There’s one there somewhere, but you won’t find anything similar at the end of Blackpool Pier. It’s a grotesque form of self-parody; rich fat men, bottom-spanked miners, Flake being hammered and beaten by Lindemann in a Germanic re-enactment of Basil Fawlty and Manuel. I could go on, but I’d probably disappear up an orifice because you’re not supposed to analyse comedy.

With a rock band you’re supposed to analyse the music and Rammstein’s music is as dense and heavy as one of them neutron stars you can place on a spoon, but then not be able to lift it up. You can also analyse the image, but it would probably drive you nuts. Where other bands adopt a sort of fake or faux monster persona there’s something disturbingly genuine about Rammstein’s monsterousness, as if they’re not aware of what they look like.

I saw them live in Manchester and in a moment of idiotic tempting of fate deliberately wore a white sweatshirt in anticipation of being showered with blood. How could I know it would be my own blood after an accidental encounter with someone’s elbow.

It happened during the song Feuer Frei, the first song I ever heard by them. Quite a coincidence really. The circle of life and all that.

MetalMonth – Nemesea

Someone in Nemesea will be pleased to know I’ve still got two hands. Then again, they might not. In 2012 I said if there was a better album than The Quiet Resistance released that year I’d eat my own hands. Someone in the band was looking forward to the outcome of that promise.

So, two handed, I write this post dedicated to a Dutch band who defy conventions and mix electronica with intense guitar arrangements to create a much-needed variation on rock in the 21st century. Behind the scenes they are tech savvy, utilising crowd funding and social media in such a way it makes me feel like I’m nine million years old. Expect their next album to be released exclusively on Google Glass!

If you’ve never heard Nemesea don’t go thinking they’re a latter day Roxette. All pop and no punch. Listen to any track on TQR and you’ll hear sub-bass powerchords as heavy as anything outside thrash metal. These days it’s simply not acceptable to hear anything else on a hard rock album, even one as creative as TQR.

But it wasn’t always like this. The five piece from Groningen in Holland released their first album during a tidal wave of symphonic stuff washing across the hard rock world. Their second album swung way over to the electronic, before TQR swung back and stopped in just the right place. Imagination mixed with sonic energy and Manda Ophuis’s vocals pushing and pulling the limits of emotion.

It’s hard to recommend one song by Nemesea because you’ll land on something that doesn’t represent the totality of their output, so you need to spread your bets and listen to the three songs featured in this article.

I discovered The Quiet Resistance in early 2012. With the threat of redundancy hanging over me at work I was out every morning in icy conditions carrying out surveys, then back to the car and a hot drink with TQR playing on the stereo. (See, old tech, none of your bluetooth ipod docking systems in my ’98 Mazda.) It got me through the day. Perked me up.

They might do the same to you. Go and support them and then go and say hello on social media. They always reply. Just don’t promise to eat your own body parts. One of them seems to like that sort of thing.

NEMESEA OFFICIAL SITE