Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Christmas

This is just a quick blog to wish everybody a Happy Christmas and hopefully a wonderful 2012.

It has to be quick as I don't know when I've been so far behind - Christmas seems to have crept up on me this year and the last couple of days I've been running about like a mad thing trying to catch up. Thankfully I've a lot of the tasks done but there's still one or two which I hope to get done tomorrow. Still Mary and the children are now off school and this afternoon they insisted that I was working too hard and that they would take me out.

The good/bad thing is that I live right across a fual carriageway from a cinema and bowling centre complex and so we went and saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie when I suppose I should have been working. I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan and have all the stories - the Sherlock Holmes I enjoyed most was Jeremy Brett, even though the role killed him and I don't think anyone comes close. But Robert Downey Jnr. was a lot of fun - it doesn't really have to be Sherlock Holmes, it could have been anybody. But I enjoyed it as did Mary and the children. 

The film I'm really looking forward to seeing is The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe. I really enjoyed the book - one of my favourites - and I've even seen the stage play. The children are looking forward to seeing it because "Harry Potter's" in it, well you know what I mean. I've never been a big fan of Harry Potter though Mary and the children have read all the books and I have seen all the films. The first ones were o.k. but I couldn't get into the later ones at all. But I am looking forward to Susan Hill's work. 

Now I have to get back to work or Career will be on my back. Happy Christmas and we'll all talk in the New Year all being well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Music

A lot of people must be reading these blogs because some of them have contacted me about my taste in music.

I may have said that at one time I played in a band - and that I did a session man for the late Jim Morrison. All those who are Jim Morrison fans looks away now because I did not find him all that pleasant an individual. They say you should never meet your heroes as you'll only be disappointed and although I was never a massive fan of the Doors - I did like some of the stuff they did and have several of their albums - I think I expected more of him.

His main fault as far as I was concerned is that he was too full of his own importance and he was surrounded by a number of sycophants. In another setting I have no doubt he would have been a very nice individual but I suppose you can only judge as you find. I've also met Mick Jagger very briefly in Amsterdam but didn't get close enough to be able to form a proper opinion.

Maybe I'm misjudging Morrison. My daughter is heavily into music and on Thursday we went to hear her sing solo in the local cathedral as part of her school carol service and then we went over to a nearby town as the Northern Area Orchesta in which she plays lead violin were playing at the Mayor's Christmas Concert.

I suppose we all get this from my grandfather who was a great musician. He could practically play any instrument that was set down in front of him. There were all sorts o people coming through our house at one time.

But enough about music. I'm up to my eyes trying to get the Haunted Mind book out of the way - I'm hoping to have it in with New Page by the beginning of February but it's the most detailed book that I've attempted so far. I'm hoping that Lovecraft fans will love it so watch this space.

A lot of interest in American Vampires too - that will be out later next year and I think will be slightly different from any other vampire book that's been brought out.

My wife is asking for a cup of tea so I'd better go. Will write another entry before Christmas I hope. Thanks for all your good wishes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Haunted Minds and a bit on Music

I'm trying to keep these blogs up but it's not easy. Under a great deal of pressure to get A Haunted Mind and American Vampires off to New Page.

The latter has sparked a lot of interest but I think the Lovecraft book will do so as well. I've been working on a section where I examine the main books in Lovecraft - the Necronomicon, the Cultes des Goules, the Book of Eibon etc and ask if there could be any truth behind them or ancient texts which were comparable.

Then it's on to the beings and creatures in the Mythos - could there be anything behind them. And then the places which Lovecraft and others talk about, could they be based on something as well? The results are surprising I think. O

n another topic - and I'll deal with some questions I've received here - some people have asked what sort of music I like. I have actually done part of the sleeve notes for a "metal" band - I hope I've got that right - who have brought out a dark album based around vampires, in particular Abhartach the Irish vampire. But my taste changes.

My son has got me into a lot of dance music and some of it is actually quite good - I'm listening to the album Free Wired by the Far East Movement which isn't bad. However, today I've been listening to an album which has remained one of my favourites for a while. It's a compilation of Irish tunes by the terrific Margaret Barry "the Queen of the Tinkers". Margaret Barry was an Irish travelling woman who lived for a while in both England and America and who had the rare distinction of being photographed alongside Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at the Newport Folk Festival.

In Ireland she was regarded as something of a travelling musician - she played the banjo and the fiddle and she was a singer of Irish ballads. Some of you may know that my grandfather, with whom I was raised, was also a traditional fiddle player and he knew Margaret Barry well. As a child she was in our house on several occasions and when my grandmother moved home after his death, she received a photo of Margaret taken in 1980, two days before she died in the hospital in Banbridge, Co. Down, sitting in a chair with a bottle of stout. Her voice is that great "tinker voice" that was common amongst travelling women singers, heavily tinged with a Cork accent and I still have a great love for that. The compilation is just as she recorded it without any technology and that's the sort of music I grew up with. I recall seeing Margaret Barry in the early 1970s singing on a street corner outside the public toilets in Smithfield in Belfast and she was a powerful woman and I'm glad to say she still remembered me.

I'm getting a bit nostalgic but maybe it's the time of year and now would be a good place to stop. Will talk again before Christmas I'm sure but now off to listen to some more Margaret Barry!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shattered Minds

I said I would keep this blog up on a regular basis but the people at Career are working me so hard that I'm finding it difficult to get anywhere near them! Seriously, I am really up to my eyes in work.

The Lovecraft book A Haunted Mind which will be out next year is a lot of fun but it's also a lot of work if you want to get it right. This means I have to read very quickly through a lot of Lovecraft fiction as well as biographies of the man, commentaries on his work and role playing games. There are people out there who must live and breathe Lovecraft and who must own nearly everything he has ever written or that others in the Mythos have written or what has been written about him.

I'm nowhere near that league which I think is a good thing as it gives a bit of distance and objectivity to the project. So whilst my work may not be as intense as some of the stuff I'm reading I hope it will give a balanced view of his work. Don't be expecting a fan's view because whilst I enjoy his work I'm certainly not one of those all or nothing fans. In fact the one thing I've learned about Lovecraft is that I don 't think he's the sort of person you could have sat down with and had a friendly chat about football or something like that!

And as I argue in the book, perhaps that was one of his strengths as it gave a greater intensity to his vision. But doing this research - and trying to actually get inside the mind of Lovecraft - is quite a task in itself. But I hope that I'm doing it justice.

I'm also trying to finish off the American Vampires book as well. We're looking at it on a kind of geographical basis - although not exactly state by state - and we've decided we need a few more areas. So I'm momentarily concentrating on the swamps and bayous of Louisiana which is a fascinating place. Especially as I've been there.

One night we were driving back through the swamps between a couple of the bayou villages. It was pitch dark and suddenly the car headlights picked out something white moving along the side of the road. One of the guys in the car suggested that it was a haunt but as we drew closer we saw that it was a huge black man, wearing a white shirt and walking along with his arms wide, oblivious to our car.

I would have stopped to see if he was all right but the guys in the car, who came from the area, said not to -they spoke of a group in the swamps called Le Cochon Gris or the Grey Pig, which was a name for human flesh. These were voodoo people who were also cannibals and the man in the white shirt could be one of their numberr. A scarey moment on a back road in 1970s Louisiana. I'm beginning to scare myself so I'll end here and get a rest.

Talk about a haunted mind - mine's shattered. But thanks to Gina who has been reading over the material at New Page. I'm not sure what I'd do without her for an editor. Off to get something to eat. Where has the year gone?