Archive for November, 2012

Co-author of Hand-Knitted Electricity, Perry Iles, agreed to a little chat with John Hudspith, author of Kimi’s Secret:

How much do you weigh and what’s your favourite colour?

Too much and a kind of liverish purple, the colour of a bruised Billy-boy the morning after a Rangers away match.

Ah, like PERRYwinkle? Nice.

Is that what colour periwinkle is? I never realised.

If you could invent a colour what would it be?

Brurange: the colour of Irn Bru or a Polish trucker’s piss

When did you start trying to be funny?

Primary school. It came about as a result of a feeling of profound social inadequacy. I was ugly, ginger and fat, and I thought it best to burst out laughing before everyone else did. I knew they were going to point at me and laugh, so I pointed back at them and laughed first.

Ever done or thought of doing stand-up comedy? Throwing liver at the audience could be your trademark. 

After Hand-Knitted Electricity I realised that some of the definitions could be used as onstage rants for humourists from the Lenny Bruce/Bill Hicks mould. Personally I don’t think I have the right characteristics for stand-up. I don’t smoke any more and I don’t like it when people hurl bottles of wee-wee at me. I’d welcome the idea of writing stand-up for someone else. I knew someone once who writes for Jonathan Ross and he makes a fucking fortune. He’ll be getting a free copy of this book, believe me…

How did Hand-Knitted Electricity come about?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a writing site called the Bookshed. It was, and still is, populated by crabbit old buggers who take their writing seriously, have high standards and low tolerance-levels. One day someone invented a word and posted a new thread on the Bookshed forum in which they asked people to invent a definition of its meaning. So I did, then posted a word of my own. I did this a few more times, as did others, and we found that we were enjoying ourselves tremendously, and so were some of the people reading the burgeoning thread. Then, like Topsy, it just growed.

The title…What’s that all about?

My sweet wife, Heather, came up with it. Just like that, spur of the moment. So I took a word, defined it and put it at the start to illustrate the satirical/absurdist content, and one of the cover designer’s pals did the cartoon. Time for a tip of the hat to JD (Jane) Smith, who supervised layout, design and artwork and took away from me anything even vaguely technological. Jane, you’re a shining star, dear.

What prompted your contributions to Hand Knitted Electricity?

A sense of frustration at the po-faced bastards who set themselves up as our moral guardians. Whoever they are and wherever their ideologies lie. Whether it’s The Guardian or the Daily Mail, a religious extremist from Texas or the Taliban, a feminist or a misogynist, a salad-dodger or Gillian McKeith. I don’t care. I don’t like extremes very much so I thought it was about time someone stood up for mediocrity.

The writing/editing is of such high quality, not to mention the entertainment value of the content, surely some publisher would have snapped this up. Did you try/consider that route? Why did you self-publish?

No, I never did think about submitting it. I didn’t even consider that we were writing a book until I’d downloaded all the definitions from the Bookshed and realised it was God-knows how many thousand words long and would stretch to over two hundred pages. At which point I thought “well, blow me down!” or words to that effect. It was the most painless ways of writing a book I’ve yet encountered, and I may do it again one day. Of course, much of the book’s professional appearance is down to Jane Smith, who appears to be superhuman. (I second this – Blog Ed)

What do you find funny?
The sublime, the ridiculous, the surreal and nonsensical. The cartoons of Bernard Kliban, Glen Baxter and Edward Gorey. Old episodes of Police Squad! – in color! The humour of Spike Milligan and Vic Reeves. Terry Gilliam’s animations in the old Monty Python episodes. The Viz Profanosaurus. Charlie Brooker too – go and look at tvgohome.com, a spoof Radio Times listing apocryphal TV programmes that Brooker created a few years back. It remains the funniest thing on the entire internet. I spent far too long thinking Charlie Brooker was Janine off of Eastenders.

The funniest thing I ever saw on TV was a sketch on the Kenny Everett Video Show in the 1980s. The Sketch was about a programme called The Dinosaur-Pizza Challenge, in which contestants were asked to talk for one minute without mentioning Italian flat-based pie ingredients or extinct reptiles. The first contestant came up, and when Kenny Everett asked him his name he said “Johnny Mozzarella-Brontosaurus” and a twenty-ton weight fell on his head. Christ I thought I was going to die, although I was cataclysmically stoned at the time.

What do you find NOT funny?

Seventies sitcoms now billed as “iconic” – Only Fools and Horses, Terry & June, The Likely Lads, Dad’s Army, this kind of thing. To me it’s all so linear and obvious. Modern sitcoms leave me cold too, especially the American ones. Comedy is so personal. I’ve watched episodes of Vic Reeves Big Night Out and Green Wing that have left me incontinent with laughter while those around me look on in perplexity.

If you could replace the Prime Minister with anyone of your choosing, who would that be, and why? 

Nadine Dorries off of I’m a Celebrity, because she has much nicer tits than David Cameron. Actually, everyone has nicer tits than David Cameron, except me. Therefore, by Rimmer-logic, everyone would make a better PM than him. Except me.

And if you could make one new law, starting right now?

There is no longer any such thing as illegal drugs. Now, can we help you instead of arresting you and sending you to prison?

What’s the most perspicacious thing anyone’s ever said about you?

“He would do better if he concentrated more on his studies and less on entertaining his classmates” – headmaster’s report, 1966. He was probably right, but guess what? He’s fucking dead now and I’m not. Oh, and I had a girlfriend when I was fifteen who said “all he ever thinks about is food and sex” and she was right too, so I hope she’s not dead yet.

Are you ever serious?

Seldom. The human condition is best viewed through a veil of humour. Occasionally I make serious threats on the lives of Jedward and One Direction or Ant and Dec, and everyone thinks I’m still joking. Oh, and I was serious with that comment about drugs back there.

I know you don’t like seriousness, but it has to be said that Hand-Knitted Electricity is one hell of a fine read, intellectually smart, and funny as. Do you have plans for another or are there any projects on the go we can look forward to? 

If this book sells enough to recoup it’s cost, I’ll be looking towards a sequel, more of the same thing. I have some new definitions, but anyone wanting to give me more words to define is welcome to send them to chamberproof@Yahoo.co.uk, where they will be rewarded with a first-class honorary doctorate of letters from the City University of Newcastle upon Tyne and they’ll get a piece of paper with their name and First-Class Cunt written on it, which they can store next to their Blue Peter badges.

What, if anything, do you enjoy?

Music that sounds like a train crash, anything and everything by Cormac McCarthy (another miserable bastard), the company of dogs, not being English any more and my wife’s spaghetti carbonara.

What do you dish up when it’s your turn in the kitchen?

Bolognese sauce, which can be used in traditional spag bol or as a stuffing for lasagne. If you replace the mince with Quorn or TVP, I will seek you out and kill you and all your friends and all your family. And your fucking dog.

What do you fear most in this world?

Certain Americans.

How would you like to die?

At a time and place of my own choosing, by a method of my own selection, when I’m good and ready. I don’t like being taken by surprise, and I don’t want to be all icky and incontinent and have my mind turn to mashed potato.

Choose your last supper.

As much Kentucky Fried Chicken as it’s possible for a human being to eat – thigh portions only, hold the chips. For dessert an entire Bruce Bogtrotter cake off of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

And your epitaph?

“Everything you ever love will reject you or die. Everything you ever create will be thrown away. Everything you’re proud of will end up as trash. “— Chuck Palahniuk

What would you like to be remembered for?
The dose of clap I caught from The Pussycat Dolls and passed on to Girls Aloud.

What phrases do you overuse?

“Scott laughed hard when Wanda brought home the contaminated cheese.”

Do you have any favourite words?

Dalrymple, Chihuahua, blini, squirrel, eschatologist, Tulisa.

What would be your desert island…

Dessert Double chocolate pavlova with whipped cream and none of this fruit nonsense. Take three egg whites and whip the little buggers until they’re stiffer than porn star’s wobbler. Whisk in 175 grams of caster sugar until the mixture has achieved the sort of texture that you’d happily lick from the breasts of the celebrity of your choice. Turn the mixture into a flat circle on a baking tray and bake for 2 hours at 120c. Melt two big bars of your favourite chocolate and pour it over the meringue base. Take a big tub of cream and whip it until you start thinking about tits again then shove it on top of the chocolate on the meringue and then eat the bastard, baring your lips and snarling at anyone who aspires to share it with you.

Desert The Atacama

Nude actress Christina Hendricks

Nude actor Robbie Coltrane (so the nude actress might see me as the preferable option)

Nude cartoon character Can I have Jessica Rabbit and Leela off of Futurama? In return I’ll send Robbie Coltrane back. 

Nude comedienne The entire cast of Smack the Pony.

Any final thoughts?

Snipers? Don’t be stupid, they couldn’t hit a thing from that dist—

Thank you, Perry.

Folks, buy the book, hang it in the loo. Hand-Knitted Electricity is unadulterated quality and will keep you on the pot for hours.

***

Darren Rimmer is professor of hermeneuticsand neologism at the City University of NewcastleUpon Tyne. His PhD thesis, A Statistical Correlation Between Popularity and Breast Size in British Celebrities Since WW2, was published by OUP in1987. Since then, he has become recognised as an authority on social trends and celebrity culture within the female demographic. He is currently researching dogging, alcohol and full English breakfasts whilst on sabbatical at the University of Magaluf.

Perry Iles is an embittered hack living a reclusive life in a small Scottish town. He enjoys watching liver sliding down the wall and feeding insects to his pet lizard. He is married with a young daughter, and his best friend is a lurcher called Oh For Fuck’s Sake, Dog, What Now? He has been writing for twenty years and once sold a book. His hobbies include incontinence and the sustained abuse of electric guitars.

Amazon links:

Hand-Knitted Electricity First Edition (ebook)

Hand-Knitted Electricity First Edition (paperback)

Hand-Knitted Electricity Facebook page

John Hudspith writes fiction, edits novels, messes around on the internet far too much and never sees the light of day. John thought he was a grumpy old man until he spoke with Perry Iles.

John’s website

John and Kimi’s Blog

Footnote: The Blog Editor may also have had something to do with this outrage. It would depend who’s asking.

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I was absolutely thrilled yesterday to hear that I had won both first and third prizes in the third quarter Flash500 competition! I didn’t believe it for a while and then, when I saw the money in my PayPal account, I had a good old blub. An odd reaction, maybe, but I was completely overwhelmed as there are hundreds of entries every time. If you fancy reading the stories, don’t read the judge’s comments first as they contain spoilers.

This news has come at the optimum time, as I had decided to stop writing flash for a while because I have had an idea for a novel that won’t go away however much I chase it. That’s not to say I’ll end up writing or finishing it, but I think I have to give it a chance, and I find the mindsets of very short and longer fiction impossible to switch between. If anyone has any good tips, I’d be very glad to hear them.

I have done well with flash over the last three years, having won Flash500 twice, taken two third and two fourth places, and been honorably mentioned in a few other competitions, and I think I am now pretty competent at both knowing when I have a suitable idea and writing it down. One of the things I enjoy most about flash is the editing that takes place even before the words hit the page, and this is one of the main reasons I am going to find a novel challenging. Already I am editing the first scene in my head and I haven’t even opened a new document yet! The other thing that daunts me is the planning. I have the attention span of a puppy and it looks like far too much hard work at this stage. Did I mention how lazy I am? I’m not sure quite how to overcome this but I have to give it a go. Again, any tips will be most gratefully received. It’s eight years since I wrote my one and only novel and I daren’t even look at it because of the work I know it needs. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Anyway, wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Other news – my 1,000-word murder/mystery story, The Perfect Place, came third in Yorkshire Ridings Magazine’s competition. A mini-flash, Post Mortem, will be published in the Worcestershire Literary Festival’s flash anthology, The Seventh Christmas will be published at the end of the month by Alfie Dog, and the first stage of filming of The Beast Next Door is now complete and apparently went very well. I can’t wait to see the finished piece.

I’ll be reading the flash (along with many other writers) at the anthology launch on December 9th, if anyone is around and fancies coming. And that’s about it for the moment. Cheers!

 

Photograph by William Farr

Several of my short stories have already been published and some have been prize winners, so I figured that I already had a head start when it came to deciding which ones should be in my first collection. All I had to do was to take my best stories and fit a few others around them and I would have a collection. Easier said than done!

I read other contemporary collections for my research and I found that they often have themes running through them – some are intense and domestic, others are focused on particular human experiences: relationships, childhood, war. Zoe Lambert’s The War Tour, Sarah Hall’s The Beautiful Indifference, A L Kennedy’s What Becomes, and Vanessa Gebbie’s first collection Words from a Glass Bubble all wonderful collections with individual approaches and unique ways of writing a short story. The more I read, the more fascinated I became.

Although my own stories come under the genre of literary fiction they are set at different times and places. Once I’d re-read them and put them in some kind of order I realised that there were definite themes that ran through them, often things that I feel strongly about: social justice, equality, fairness − but in particular that curious ability we humans have that makes us able to ignore the big things, like climate change, and remain firmly focused on our intimate daily lives. I’m not saying that I’m any different and in some ways, as a writer, you could argue that I am an observer, a mere bystander. It’s easy to feel that as individuals we are powerless.

Some of my stories are set in a world after or during an apocalyptic happening which can make them sound pretty serious but this is fiction and there is still fun to be had even in a dystopian world. People do cross over the borders. They have quirky and fallible characteristics and some are not without a sense of humour. Funny things do happen.

I chose twenty stories, give or take a couple, and then I began the process of analysing, re-writing and drafting new copies. This was the real hard work. The problem with re-writing is that I can easily run away with the characters and end up with a different story – not the point at all. There has to be a moment when I say: enough, it’s time to stop. I do love short stories but I do have to keep coming back to the point that that is what they are: short.

***

Alison was a winner of the 2010 Indigo Dreams Poetry Collection Competition and her collection, A Slither of Air, was published the following year. Her poems have been published is several magazines and anthologies including Soul Feathers Macmillan anthology. This year she read at the Penzance Literary Festival and was Poet-in-Residence for the Holmfirth Arts Festival 2012.

Alison also writes short stories. She has won 1st prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly short story competition and has received an honorable mention in the Momaya Awards 2012. She is presently working on a collection of short stories, Above the Parapet, to be published in 2013. She has an MA in Literature Studies and Creative Writing.

Above the Parapet will be available from Indigo Dreams Bookshop, Amazon, and all good bookshops. Do look out for posts on Alison’s website.