Tag Archives: inspiration

Random Thoughts: Cold Comfort Farm

If you’ve never read it, and you like Thomas Hardy or Jane Austen or satirical takes on Victorian literature, go and read it.

There’s one bit in it that keeps grabbing me, and it kicked me again when I was re-reading the other day. Most of the book is quite light-hearted; it’s meant to be a satirical take on the Victorian drama, with its glowering and brooding, its torrid relationships and fraught affairs. It’s poking fun at society and conventions and the use of a thorn-twig for clettering the dishes (instead of a nice mop, which one can buy in town). But then, in the middle of in the middle of a party designed to throw two young people together and make them fall in love;

“How you do enjoy yourself, don’t you, Florence Nightingale?” observed Claud.

“I do,” retorted Flora, “and so do you.”

It was true; he did. But never without a pang of exquisite pain in his heart, and a conviction that he was a traitor.

It almost comes out of nowhere. Claud is a minor character; he’s one of Flora’s friends, there as a dancing-partner and sender of magazines in Flora’s time of need. He’s amused and casual. We don’t find out much more about him, but the one snippet is almost painful in its honesty.

Claud, who has served in the Anglo-Nigaraguan wars of ’46, was at his ease in the comfortable silence in which they sat, and allowed the irony and grief of his natural expression to emerge from beneath the mask of cheerful idiocy with which he usually covered his sallow, charming face. He had seen his friends die in anguish in the wars. For him, the whole of the rest of his life was an amusing game which no man of taste and intelligence could permit himself to take seriously.

I don’t know why this grabs me so much, but I think it’s the one serious note in the book; the one spike of real emotion and grief pushed into a smiling take on society and literature.

So there you go, my random thoughts for today. I’m currently re-reading Arthur C Clarke and have some thoughts on that, so that’ll likely be a future post!

New stories: erotica and No Man’s Dawn

I’ve been managing to write at least some words each day on a variety of different things. I write erotica – under a different pen name – and I’ve been working on a couple of pieces for that; and No Man’s Dawn has been slowly coming along, chapter by chapter.

My Facebook followers got the opening line for No Man’s Dawn last week, so here’s your general preview…

It’s a nice day to jump off the roof, my shadow whispers as I walk up the concrete staircase of the tower block.

The erotica’s actually quite fun. I get to character-build and then I have to put an action scene in (I always figure sex is pretty much like a fight scene, just with…different weapons) and it’s always fun to do. As I’ve said previously, though, it’s very rarely done in a ooh I’m so horny mood – it’s more like what the hell is their anatomy doing and how many penises do I have in this scene again?! and just kiss damnit! When characters don’t do what you want them to do anyway, adding bodies into the mix can be a recipe for a lot of confusion. Still fun, though!

I’ve been working on two pieces; one on a prompt for “music” that I’ve set in a karaoke bar and the other a general piece that seems to have turned itself into an underworld-syndicate-crime-detective sort of thing. Have a snippet of the karaoke one…


“What do you like singing, then?”

He smiles at me, almost puzzled. “You really want to know?”

“Yeah. I mean, I guess you get asked for the latest hits all the time. What do you sing in the shower?”

His cheeks start turning pink. “Well, if you wanna know that…”

I realise what I just said. I’m lucky that my beard hides most of my blush, but I can feel my face heating up too. “Shit. I didn’t mean it like that. Well, I mean. Uh. I’m gay, but…”

He’s really grinning now, watching me get more and more flustered. “Hey, chill. I’ll sing you something if you want.”

“Sure. Yeah. I’d like that.”

“In the shower or here?”

I didn’t think I could get any more flustered, but my cheeks flame again. “Uh. Um. Here to start with?” I manage to waggle an eyebrow suggestively despite my embarrassment. “I’ll have to see about the shower.”

Let’s just say it gets steamier from there!


A new story: The Thief and the Seer

It was a cold night; cold enough to chill the two figures walking along the lonely road to the bone. One, the smaller and thinner of the two, was huddled against the weather, soaked and cold. The other, taller and lankier, didn’t seem to feel the chill, striding along as if it was a summer’s day.

“Dad, are we nearly there?” the smaller figure asked, her words nearly lost in the wind.

“Yeah.” The man pointed. “Next bend. That’s the tree.”

It was indeed a true hangman’s tree, bent and twisted. The man turned off the road as they reached it, stepping onto a smaller track. “Just a little further.”

“You said that aaaaages ago!” the smaller one whined.

It’s the start of a new story, and you can find the rest of it in my writing section. There’s nothing further, yet – I don’t have a world or a plot, and it’s a bittersweet start. I wrote this on the day Ryan died and sent it to him for comments; he liked the characters that this is based on and read all of the 160k of original story, so I wanted to know what he thought of the new iteration and the world. But he’d already gone by the time I wrote it, and the email will stay unread. I think he would have liked it, but I won’t ever get the comments that I valued so highly. But that’s life.

So I’m picking it up again now, or at least taking another look. It’s definitely going to have to be a fantasy world – I wondered if it would fit into No Man‘s or Greensky, but I don’t think it will. It needs magic and grit, people and politics; the world’s full of mountains and strange paths. I think it may turn out slightly like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust…it’s sort of got that feel, I think.

If I’m putting it into a fantasy world, I want to turn some cliches on their head. I want to subvert the Chosen One trope, and I’d love to play with some of the other fantasy genre cliches. I don’t yet know what the Thing is; I don’t yet know – beyond a few ideas – what the plot is. But I’m just going to let it simmer and see what comes of it!