Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Songs to give you the shivers

A while ago, I wrote this passage:

“Music was a language that couldn’t be translated. You heard it in the way people fumbled to explain why they loved a song, before reaching for ‘you have to listen to it’. You saw it in the way people drove with their windows rolled down and radios turned up, the way they pressed their favourite records upon friends, the way courting lovers made cassettes for each other to express the inexpressible. They wanted to share in the only way they could. Yes, a musician could describe what he technically admired about a song in terms of keys, chords and melodies, or look at sheet music to understand the notes that must be played, although it didn’t pass on what gave music the potential to be so powerful and infectious. Styles came and went, and different genres and bands did it for different people, but Murmur had come to understand that the common thread running through them all could be summed up in one word: heart. All great music derived from this human core; the passion, pain or joy that artist poured into the song and transmitted to the listener. Without heart, a song was nothing more than an empty shell.”

In this spirit, I want to share some songs that have really been doing it for me recently (and yes, I did go on a spending spree after reading Pitchfork’s Top 50 albums of 2013). These songs give me the shivers.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Beat the Slush Pile #1 - Erotica

You've all heard the advice about submissions to agents and publishers. Read the guidelines. Double space. Use a clear font. Be professional. Be courteous. Conform!

I say fuck that. Your standard approach is just going to earn you a slot in the wobbly slush pile, where it will fester for months underneath a thousand other novels written by other professional, courteous, conformist authors. You, dear writer, are special. Way more special than all the other special people out there. Why not show it to the publisher with a grand gesture that will inspire awe and ensure a six-figure advance?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Authors Shouldn't Think Too Hard About Symbolism

I love this story about a young student who wrote to authors asking them about their use of symbolism in their work.

What I find more often than not is that when I finish a piece of work and give it a last read, I discover many happy accidents of symbolism—which means my subconscious has been churning away and doing the work for me. Not that it particularly matters, in my view, as what I write and what somebody reads are two completely different entities.

Killer Cows: When Life Imitates Art

This story is so close to the start of Apocalypse Cow, in which a single zombie cow escapes from a slaughterhouse and kicks off an animal apocalypse, that even I'm a bit scared.

I  think it may be time to start a website tracking bovicides, as they seem to be growing. We need a Cowsplatometer!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Why the Term ‘Reverse Racism’ Should Be Scrapped

As of late, I’ve been stumbling across a landslide of links to articles and videos posted by friends about the concept of reverse racism, and how it doesn’t exist.

Reverse racism, in case you didn’t know, is when people of colour are accused of making generalized negative comments about the pigmentally challenged (my own PC term, feel free to appropriate it for your personal use if you wish to be sensitive around touchy white folks).

Now, the reason I am writing this on my blog instead of the comments thread on one of these linked pieces is that a white person popping up in such a racism discussion to do anything apart from virtually nod his head in agreement sets pulses all a-flutter.

So, if you have chanced upon this and don’t want to read an opinion that challenges this way of thinking, look away now.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Presenting the must-have vintage mobile communications transport device for hipsters!

This weekend, my wife Nats and I were discussing ways to make more money. Well, Nats, I believe I have cracked it. I have yet to set an RRP for this amazing product, but considering house prices in London and the fact this could serve as a mobile home as well as a mobile phone/transport device, I'm thinking of setting the bar as high as the penny farthing upon which it is based.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Satan Wants YOU! to Listen to Peter Andre

At the heart of my novel Wannabes, a sample of which you can read here, is a simple theory: that those fuming religious extremists who believe Rock (and any other kind of music with energy, passion and a bit of swagger) is the devil’s music have got it arse-for-tit.

The whole ethos of spirituality, of religion, is supposedly about aspiring to be somebody better, a being of pure love closer to God, and what better eases such an ascent than music that comes from the heart, music that is truly creative and makes the listener feel something?