Posts Tagged ‘games’

 

Hand-Knitted Electricity_Cover_MEDIUMAdvexiquatiousness (n): The frustration felt by American rounders players (or the padded participants of that funny rugby thing played on stripy pitches where everyone looks like Mr Blobby on steroids) when they have to stop playing every ten minutes so that we can have a word from our sponsors, Exxon or Starbucks or the Coca-Cola company.

Apocaplectic (adj): Really upset about the end of the world.

Ardfast (n): a lover of the wham, bam, thank you, ma’am variety. …and therefore descriptive of a situation in which a gentleman whips out and blows his mess all over the duvet, wipes his dick on the curtains, says “Money’s on the bedside table, love” and is halfway down the stairs before he remembers that he’s actually at home and that was his wife.

Arlitce (n): A pre-Murdoch Guardian compositor, attempting to arrange the word article in print blocks whilst labouring under the extreme influence of a four-hour lunchbreak consisting of Watney’s Red Barrel and pork scratchings. See also Itampront. Same compositor, different word.

Post Apocalypse

Posted: January 20, 2013 in News
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Having only just emerged from my bunker, I discovered we are still here and that it is snowing. The world looks pure and clean, which made me wonder if I have gone somewhere else after all. I switched on the radio and was instantly disabused of that rather sweet notion. Ah well… maybe next time.

I lied. I did Christmas and New Year and kissed loads of sweaty friends at a brilliant NYE dance as usual. But just before I got sweaty, I did something I had vowed not to do again for a while. I dashed off a piece of flash fiction and sent it to Flash500. It seemed plain wrong to let the deadline go by and there was this story niggling away at me and I know it’s not perfect yet but I just had to get it off my chest. Therapy, as it were.

So much for my resolution to stop producing very short fiction and go for the novel, but I have done my damnedest to force my brain in that direction and it simply refuses to go. Instead, it has derailed my efforts by throwing a dozen viable ideas for flash fiction across my path and, in the end, I succumbed. Am I ashamed? A bit.

Anyway, I kicked off my new year’s lack of resolution by supporting my friend Jo Reed’s first venture into organising writer events in Bristol. Two writing groups – Southville Writers and New and Emerging Bristol Writers – came together in The Hare pub to read their 250-word flashes, write haikus and generally have a good time. It was a great evening and everyone was filled with the rosy glow of achievement, which was very well-deserved. It should go from strength to strength if the first event was anything to go by.

Hand-Knitted Electricity_Cover_MEDIUMStarting tomorrow, I have decided to blog a daily excerpt from Hand-Knitted Electricity (a book that evolved from a game of inventing new words and their definitions in the Bookshed, as outlined in Warning: Contains Offensive Material by shyboots, Perry Iles) in the hope that it will tickle the ribs of all who read them, and increase our sales by a few million. As ever, all comments and complaints will be welcome. I hope you enjoy them.

And a belated Happy New Year!

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.

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!

 

A huge thank you to Sue for inviting me onto her blog today… I don’t think she realised that when I’m enthusiastic about something, I can ramble for hours!

So Sue’s asked me to convince her of the merits of creative writing courses, classes and workshops. I’m hoping that by the time she reads this she’ll be enrolling on everything she comes across.

My first experience of ‘creative writing’ was a baptism of fire. I decided (through madness or stupidity, I still don’t know which) to accompany a friend to a course at our local Adult Education centre. I hadn’t written any fiction since leaving school, although I had been journal writing for several years. That was exactly 2 years ago this month, and it was one of the best decisions of my life! I’ll be honest; the course itself was a little boring. I found myself nodding off in several sessions! But somehow, through all the yawning something clicked. Something happened to me during that short course, and it’s been driving me on ever since.

I realised that writing is just like any other subject. To be a good writer you have to learn how. I devoured books, writing magazines and completed Nanowrimo (twice!) all in my quest to be a better writer. But I needed instruction. I needed someone to tell me where I was going wrong. So I enrolled on the NEC’s Home Study Writing course. That was great, but I felt very isolated. Seeing the advert for Swanwick in The Writing Magazine, and my friend agreeing to come with me, came at exactly the right moment, as I was beginning to realise that I would need more than just my passion to achieve my dream.

Since that first trip to Swanwick, a truly life changing experience, I have studied with The Write Place, attended many workshops, been to Caerleon, attended Swanwick for a second year and completed an online Pocket Novel Course. I’ve had critiques on my work by respected authors, joined a writing group, and set up a writing group. My life has been enriched by every single experience, and my writing improved tenfold. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learnt in the last 2 years, it’s been a roller coaster, one that I’m not sick of, just yet. I’ve met some fantastic writers, inspiring tutors, and made some great friends.

It was all very scary at first. You’re in a room with all these people and you’re thinking, oh no, they’re all better than me, they’re all proper writers, I’m not. But the great thing is, you don’t have to share your work. There have been plenty of times where I’ve gone completely blank. Most recently at Swanwick, when I did an Erotica class with Della Galton. One of the exercises was to come up with a title for an Erotic story. Could I come up with one? Nope! I watched everyone scribbling away in their notebooks, whilst my pen just hovered over mine. Of course, I didn’t offer to share my non-existent title, and by the time I’d got back to my room I’d come up with six!

But there are other times, when you hear people read out their work and you think, wow, mine isn’t so bad after all. When you take that first step, to share something you’ve just written, read it out aloud to the class, your chest is pounding and your mouth is dry. You wonder, “What the hell am I doing here?”And then, after you’ve read it, someone says “Oooo, I want to know more, what happens?” or “That was really good, I liked it.” Well, at that moment, your confidence soars and they have to peel you down from the ceiling.

If you’re the shy type (as I am) I would definitely recommend attending a couple of work shops or classes before you throw yourself in at the deep end and attend a residential school. The residential schools are brilliant, from a social aspect, but they can also be a little overwhelming for an introverted newbie. I would never have attended one on my own, without at least knowing one person there. At Swanwick they have a white badge scheme, so everyone knows its your first time. This is very useful, because, although you’re singled out as being new, it alerts others (some who have been attending for 20+ years!) to the fact that you may be on your own. As a Swanwick Steward last year I tried to talk to every ‘white badger’ I came across, because, I knew what it felt like.

So, that’s all well and good, I guess you’re saying, but what about putting all this knowledge to good use? Where’s the novel? Am I actually any closer to becoming the publishedauthor I dream about? Well, I feel that I’ve spent the last 2 years experimenting, not really knowing which direction I should go in. I came away from Swanwick this year more focused, discovering, for example, that I’m not a short story writer. My voice has started to develop and so has my style (blogging has really helped with that…I can highly recommend it!). But there is still so much I need to learn and in the words of Albert Einstein, “I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very very curious.”

As I sit at my desk, typing this, surrounded by piles of notebooks, folders, cats and study guides I can’t help but smile, and remember my conversation with Simon Hall, after we’d both attended Roz Southey’s “Show Not Tell” workshop in Swanwick. I jokingly commented on his attendance, saying something along the lines of “Well, you don’t need a workshop for show and tell.” He laughed and replied “You’d be surprised, I often need reminding, and there’s always something you can learn.”

So I guess I’m not alone in my quest to learn, my need to be better. My confidence increases with every course, class and workshop. And in 10 years’ time, I’ll still be learning, but hopefully, by then, I’ll have at least a couple of best sellers to my name. Oh, and if you’re thinking of coming to Swanwick next year, do, I’ll be the one with the bright yellow badge saying “STEWARD” and rescuing ‘white badgers’ when they lock themselves out of their rooms.

***

Vikki Thompson lives in Kent with her husband, 3 adult children (who refuse to leave home) and 2 cats. She blogs, (or should that be rambles?) daily at The View Outside and spends her time fantasising about being the next EL James but isn’t too keen on having to write Erotica to achieve that, unless Robert Downey Jnr is available for research. Next month she starts another course, with The Faber Academy and is hoping that SJ Watson won’t be too upset when she becomes the next Faber success story (tongue firmly in cheek!).

When I was asked to write a blog post about interactive fiction I began by doing something very apt. I dithered. I had a Hamlet moment. It seemed there were so many different ways to approach the topic that I was unable to choose one. So I’ve decided just to pitch into it headlong and hope my enthusiasm will carry me through. I should warn readers up-front that I intend to use a lot of links, hoping to sap a bit of reflected glory from a range of more insightful commentators…

‘Interactive Fiction’ is a term which gets bandied about a fair bit at the moment and I’ve even seen a pretty heated argument about its exact definition (then again, this is the internet – I have also seen a heated argument about Bagpuss) so I’d better give a quick explanation of what I’m going to mean by it. Purists sometimes say it should refer only to computer games played with a text parser such as those published by Infocom back in the 1980s, but I’m going to use it (in lieu of a better term and not being brave enough to invent my own) to describe all fiction which changes according to the interaction and choice of the reader.

There is such a thing as being TOO awesome

My first experience of interactive fiction was when a Fighting Fantasy gamebook was delivered into my grubby seven-year-old hands back in 1982. I was already an avid reader but the idea that books could be played in this way was the coolest thing ever (until, at least, the next coolest thing ever came along – I was seven, after all). There were heaps of great gamebooks (Fighting Fantasy, Choose Your Own Adventure, Lone Wolf etc.) around until the late nineties when the rise of videogames almost finished them off. In my opinion, this was an unfairly ignominious end for a genre which still has a lot going for it. A gamebook is a completely different thing from both ordinary books and videogames, with its own distinct appeal.

Anyway, it’s nice to see that I’m not alone in my thinking and there is a sizeable and growing community of gamebook fans around. Anyone with an interest should check out Stuart Lloyd’s excellent and passionate blog or the hilarious Turn to 400. It’s true that the genre has always been dominated by heroic fantasy and sci-fi but if you’re not into that then you should at least take a look at Kim Newman’s excellent and overlooked ‘Life’s Lottery‘ to see the format used to its fullest extent.

My own attempts at writing interactive fiction began with The Tower of Clavius Boon, an affectionate pastiche of the fantasy gamebooks I had enjoyed since childhood. Creating it was the most fun I have ever had while writing, even though the fact of its creation drew (and draws) more bemused looks than anything else. Writing in short segments suited my meager attention span and the branching narrative allowed neat opportunities for swerving round writer’s block. I’m certainly not done with the format yet and I’m already mapping out two more books, one a similar pastiche of heroic sci-fi and the other a more serious affair set in Renaissance Italy. I’m hoping the Machiavellian intrigues of this setting will lend themselves particularly well to gamebook treatment, allowing the reader to explore the wider ramifications of every plot and ruse.

With the rise of new ways of reading such as the kindle and ipad, a lot of people are predicting a resurgence of gamebooks and an explosion in new styles of interactive storytelling. There are already some exciting signs of this in projects such as Dave Morris’ Frankenstein (Dave is a gamebook veteran who also blogs regularly on the future of interactive fiction) and developers such as inklewriter, Varytales and Choice of Games. The lines are also becoming increasingly blurred between serious fiction and gaming with projects such as Dear Esther and a growing trend for indie games which value art as much as entertainment. I could probably do no better than direct anyone interested in these possibilities to the blog of Emily Short, the uncrowned queen of IF.

Don’t burn them just yet

Sometimes this can all seem a little frightening for aficionados of the humble book, especially with over-zealous publicity departments trumpeting the death of the novel every time a new experiment in interactive literature arrives. But have we anything to fear? Perhaps the answer lies in the very fact that the prospect can seem worrying at all – nobody wants to lose the simple reading experience of a good novel or short story because there is still nothing to replace it. Interactivity doesn’t necessarily enhance a reading experience – it changes it into something else. Would you really want to be able to make decisions on behalf of the characters in your favourite novel? Or is it more enjoyable to submit to the will of the author and to find out how these characters will interact and what lessons can be drawn from their behaviour? When even footnotes can interrupt the flow of a good book, is it always desirable to foist choices on the reader, destroying the gentle pleasure of a passive experience and turning it into an active one?

I personally think there is ample room to explore the possibilities of interactive fiction without worrying that we will lose anything in the process. The choices are just beginning.

***

Lee Williams is a writer who blogs occasionally here, where links to his published short stories can be found. His spoof gamebook, The Tower of Clavius Boon, is available to read online and he is currently writing dialogue for a number of upcoming videogames, including Rambros and The Inflicted.