Interviews

Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Guy Portman

Hello there, I’m gonna start this interview off with saying how outraged I am, the week that my first Nobel Prize Winning Interview went live I didn’t hear anything from the Nobel committee, not even a missed call, and in that same week the sociopath president in the USA goes and gets himself a nomination! Well I can only think of one course of revenge, another interview with an amazing writer, this time it is with the chap who has created one of my favourite killers in literature, the smartly dressed and very sinister Dyson Devereux.  Please wag yer tails at Guy Portman the man with an impressive 7 books under his belt.

Q1: Tell us a bit about the trilogy that Dyson Devereux is a part of.  Also how did you come up with the idea of setting it in the Burials and Cemeteries department at the council?

The Necropolis Trilogy is a darkly humorous work of Transgressive Fiction brimming with satirical observations. It is written in the first-person from the perspective of sociopath and sometime council worker Dyson Devereux. The first two instalments are largely set in a council’s Burials and Cemeteries department. I once spent a few months working at a council and I guess the experience must have stayed with me. It certainly wasn’t an inspirational stint but it was an eye-opening one. My assumption was that the contrast between the predictable nature of the public sector and the unpredictability of protagonist Dyson would work well. As for the burials and cemeteries department bit, it was its morbid nature that led me to choose that particular department.

Q2:  The Gazebo is your latest book to be released.  Care to tell us what it is about?  (I seem to remember you recently had a Gazebo built in your garden did that inspire this book?)

The Gazebo consists of two stories. The first features a gazebo, hence the title. It is essentially about the breakup of a marriage. As for the gazebo itself, it is a sinister presence in the background. The second story sees an entrepreneur unwisely fall the charms of a Transylvanian temptress. You’ll have to read the stories to find out what happens. By the way, the structure in my garden is a summerhouse not a gazebo. I could have called the book The Summerhouse I suppose, but it doesn’t sound as catchy as The Gazebo.

Q3:  Who designs your covers as they look very professional?

Ebook Launch – well four of them anyway. I like their work and plan to keep using them. Stylish simplicity is how’d I’d describe the covers. I have toyed with different concepts as to how my books should look and now feel that I have something approaching a brand.

Q4:  I know it is only a matter of time before Netflix realise what they are missing out on and give Dyson the TV series he deserves.  Who would you like to see playing the lead role?

Netflix are certainly taking their time about it. As for actors, it needs to be someone male, who is English, or can do a good English accent. And they need to be good looking, not too young and not too old. Perhaps Henry Cavill of Superman fame.

Q5:  Do you have a particular process whilst writing?  Do you listen to music at the same time?

I love listening to music, but find it hard to concentrate on writing when I do. So I usually write in silence and save the music for when I am doing admin stuff/other things.

Q6:  I have read 4 of your books so far and none of them feature Gnomes, is there a reason for this prejudice?  Will there be a Gnome in a future book?

Damn, I knew I’d forgotten something. And my new book The Gazebo even features a gazebo in a back garden, so there is really no excuse for not having at least one gnome in there. A gnome in one of my future books – that’s food for thought. Only time will tell …

I am looking forward to your Gnome apology story.

Q7:  How have you been handling life in the time of Coronavirus?

As an introverted creature who lives alone in the countryside, it didn’t affect me as much as many others. When you are isolated and think everyone else is out having fun, it can be slightly unnerving. During lockdown I assumed everyone else is at home too and I’m not missing out on anything. There is nothing in life if not by comparison. I have had concerns of course, particularly how it might affect finances. However, my plight could be worse, much worse, and I can’t really complain.

Q8:  You got any ideas for a story based on the virus or the quarantine?

In one word, no. Seemingly a lot of writers have got virus and quarantine-inspired ideas but I’m not one of them. Maybe it’s because I’m so intent on getting my present set of ideas onto the page that I have not given the subject any thought. That could change of course.

Q9:  Can you remember the first book you fell in love with?

I’d love to say it was War and Peace or Crime and Punishment, but the reality is that it was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Lots of great pictures and not a lot of writing. A few novels spring to mind from my formative years, particularly White Fang by Jack London, Perfume by Patrick Suskind and Canary Row by John Steinbeck.   

I loved Perfume and Canary Row, great books.

Q10:  I’ve been stalking you on your blog for a while now and I see you posting quite a few photos of food, what is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten and how was it?

Scorpion, crocodile or turtle perhaps. I guess one of the three. 

Q11:  What’s next for you?  Got a new book in the pipeline?

Yes, I am hard at work on a new book which will have a similar format to The Gazebo. It (title undecided) will likely contain three stories of a darkly humorous nature.

Interesting…cos Gnomes have a darkly humorous nature. hehe

Practical task:  I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece. 

Massive thanks to Guy for taking part in this and adding to the gnome gallery, pretty certain we got the Nobel prize in the back this time.

If you would like to stalk Guy on the Internets then click the links below:

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Interviews

Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Robin Gregory

Hello everyone.  Today I have an interview with a lady who lives in a cottage made out of caramel, I got that info from the back of her book and I’m assuming it is a typo because what is a Carmel cottage?  Her book is on my gotta read list and when you see the cover you’ll want to check it out too, one of the most spectacular I’ve seen.

Please stare open mouthed at Robin Gregory.

Question 1: Give us a quick run down about The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman.

Thank you for the lovely introduction, Jason. The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman is book one of a trilogy. Moojie is introduced as an orphan whose unrestrained preternatural powers jeopardize his ability to fit in. He forms an unlikely friendship with otherworldly outcasts which threatens to shatter an already shaky connection to his adoptive family. 

Question 2: Assuming it won’t give anything away how did you come up with the name Moojie?

I wanted a name that would reflect his contradictory natures. Moojie is a budding saint with a nasty temper. Locals mistake him for a “hostile,” a Native American renegade, when he’s actually part-human and part-alien. Add to that, he’s disabled early on, and yet he can heal others.

The name is derived from two sources. “Moojibaba” is a revered spiritual teacher in Portugal today, whose teachings are based on self-realization. Also, the Hindu word “moojie” is an offensive slur against Muslim Indians. In the book, we don’t know much about the biological father who gave Moojie his name, except that he’s a white immigrant who rejects his son after birth because he resembles the deceased, dark-skinned mother, who is actually an alien.   The name and recurrent allusions to mistaken identity are an attempt to show the absurdity of racism. Can we ever know the truth about anyone when we judge by appearances?

Question 3:  What is your favourite word?

My favourite word right now is “Perhaps.” Not the American pronunciation but the high-brow, UK  “p’aps.” It slays me. I chant it like a mantra.   

Question 4:  Are there any gnomes in your book and if not, why not?

I’ve often been asked this and must confess that it was a great oversight on my part. How could I have overlooked the gnomes of gaslit America? I’m sure their influence was tremendous! P’haps I’ll slip one or two into my next book.

Question 5:  Do you have a particular process whilst writing?  Do you listen to music at the same time?

I usually rise at about 5 am and go over yesterday’s writing, checking notes, refining outlines. (Once I was a panster, but I learned that lack of structure will invariably make revisions as fun as tooth extractions.) After working a few hours, I tend to family matters, then get back to work. It’s a good day if I can heel in another 5-6 hours of writing.

For me, writing fiction is like composing music. If I listen to someone else, it‘s distracting, and I tend to come under the influence of their voice. However, music breaks are fun. Lately, I’ve been cranking up the Bluetooth and listening to Leon Bridges. Oh my gosh, have you heard this “Bad News, Bad News”?

I have not heard of Leon Bridges, probably because I have been listening to THIS SONG on repeat for the last 14 years.

Question 6:  When Netflix gets around to making a film version of your book who would you like to see cast to play the part of Moojie?

Actually, I’m working on a screen adaptation with distinguished film producer/director, John Crye. We’d love to have Netflix pick it up! Since book one covers Moojie from birth to 14 years old, we’ll need actors at several ages. And since it can take years to make a film, start to finish, there’s the fact that a child actor who is 8 years old today will be 11 or 12 by the time shooting starts. That said, I’m on the lookout for young Johnny Depp dopplegangers.  

Pretty sure Gnomes are ageless and will be able to play any age for you, you can pay them in fishing rods.

Question 7:  Are you any good at baking?  Got any good photos?  And would you like to post me some cakes?

I love to cook but am not much of a baker. The last cake I made was for my son’s birthday in 2011. In lieu of a cake shot, I do have a fetching picture of my latest blueberry pancake.

Questions 8:  What is your favourite book?  Can you remember the first book you ever read?  And roughly how many books do you own?

In light of recent events (wildfires, the end of the world, and such), I was forced to consider which ones to grab if we had to evacuate. It’s impossible to tell how many books I own (6,003). I suspect the stacks are fused together and holding up the walls.

It came down to my favourite book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (my guru), 1958 Letters, by Joel Goldsmith (my other guru), and Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora (more on this later).  Oh… and one signed, hardbound copy of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman to inspire mercy from invading aliens.

The first book I ever read.

“Look Jane,” said Dick. “See Spot go. Go, go, go.”

Question 9:  How has your lockdown been?  Did you go far enough into insanity to be unable to find your way back?

As a writer I’m used to sheltering in. However, being a wife and mom has taken on new dimensions. Instead of kissing loved ones and sending them off for the day, they are here all the time now, and we are growing very close (to throttling each other). An esteemed colleague coined a term for persistent family interruptions caused by sheltering in: “peanut butter emergencies.”

Question 10:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story?

When a two-year pandemic leads to social breakdown and loss of internet access, a woman who channels St. Francis of Assisi sends out squirrels to forage for her. (*That’s where Mushrooms Demystified comes in handy.) One day, the squirrels return without food and a handwritten note. It reads: Please help!!! I was kidnaped 3 months ago. Being held against my will. A hand drawn  map shows the way to a house. Terrified of venturing out into the lawless, virus-laden, friendless world, the woman-channelling-Assisi sends the squirrels to do reconnaissance. But they get snatched, too. She is forced to do what she would never do. Armed with a pogo stick, a lot of string, and the gift of clairvoyance, she leaves the shelter of her home to engineer a rescue of the kidnapee and squirrels. But a danger worse than plague lies ahead. The kidnaper happens to be trillionaire founder, CEO, and president of a multi-national technology corporation, Geoffrey Beesoze.

Question 11:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it. (so far he has ignored all attempts to trick him)

I was in danger of irreparable lunacy until I uncovered viable research on the cause of the pandemic. I have it on good authority that Covid-19 originated in Rowan Atkinson’s refrigerator.

Question 12:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

I miss seeing people’s faces. No matter how cute Covid-19 face masks are, they make the nicest people look shifty. Everyone resembles a bank robber or an undertaker. Once the lockdown order is lifted, I’m going to autograph my pretty little designer masks and put them up for auction to cover the cost of cleaning out Sir Atkinson’s fridge.  

One thing I’ve enjoyed about the mask wearing is the covering up before going into a bank with my sawn-off shotgun, it really makes me feel like a proper bank robber.

Question 13:  Got any plans for another book?

Why yes! As we speak, I’m editing book two of the trilogy. In Halfkin, eighteen-year-old Moojie, now a renown healer, takes a perilous journey to an alternate universe to find his first love, and gets involved in a plot to save the inhabitants from a threatening atmospheric condition. It’s an adult fantasy, told in the style of magical realism (Speculative and mystical experiences interwoven with true historic events.)

And now for the crazy tasks!

Task 1:  Robin is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best her.

Today I will walk up my street like one of my favourite male actors, Jacques Tati. The challenge: you pick a female actor and walk at least one block like her. Hehe.

I will enact the walk of Daryl Hannah in Attack of the 50ft Woman. This actually made the news in the UK, of course I am too short to have been seen but people felt my precense. Check out the story HERE:

Art task:  I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.  No pressure hehe.

###

Thank you kindly for the delightful interview, Jason. I enjoyed the opportunity for deep, cultural exchange, and to show off my pancakes. Keep being amazing!

Thank you for taking part in the madness that is an interview with me, when I win a Noble Prize for this interview I promise to give you at least 10% of the prize money.

*The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman is available through all major online and brick and mortar sellers. (Hardbound, paperback, ebook)

Website: www.robingregory.net

www.facebook.com/RobinGregoryAuthor

Twitter: @tweety_robin

Interviews

Locked-down & Bored with Jay Spencer Green

Hello everyone.  I got another interview in the locked-down & bored series,  this time it is one of my favouritist one-of-them-that-writes-books people.  He once was the proud owner of a moustache and is rumoured to have a collection of giraffes.

Please wave enthusiastically at Jay Spencer Green!

 

Question 1: How are you handling the lockdown? What’s the most exciting thing to happen to you so far?

Hi Jason. My pre-lockdown life involved sitting at my desk all day (with the odd break for tea) editing other people’s work—you know, people who actually venture out into the world and experience things—but last year I was struck with a bout of sciatica, so just before lockdown I bought myself a standing desk. Thus, my lockdown life has consisted of standing at my desk all day (with the odd break for tea) editing other people’s work. The arrival of the stand-up desk has been the most exciting thing to happen, but technically it was pre-lockdown and doesn’t count. The most exciting thing has therefore been the absence of sciatica. As my Instagram profile says, I am boring as fuck.

 

Task 1:  (Testing artistic skill) To celebrate the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, draw a picture to commemorate to event.

Here’s Keir Starmer taking the knee for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter while weeping uncontrollably about the Colston statue being removed “the wrong way.”keircry

And here is my masterpiece, I feel nobody asked the little fishes if they wanted a statue in their house.

evilstatue

 

Question 2:  For those trapped inside recommend 1 book, 1 movie and 1 album.

Book: I’m a really slow reader but even I have managed four or five books thus far during the lockdown, so if you’re looking for one book to last the lockdown, it will have to be a biggie. I recommend Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang. It’s over 1300 pages of fascinating, inventive, and imaginative word use. Where else would you learn the meaning of “finty,” “munket,” or “felcherman”?

Movie: I suppose it needs to be lockdown-appropriate, so Room or The Shawshank Redemption. For the more adventurous, Pasolini’s Salò.

Album: Not an album as such, but the Genius Jon Langford, who designs the covers for my novels, has just embarked on a massive project that will see him release 23 singles in as many months. The first three have been released as an “LP” and can be bought HERE. You also get a Jon Langford–designed cover if you’re fed up waiting for my next book to come out.

I quite like Jon Langford’s video for Losers, it reminds me of somebody but I just can’t quite put my finger on who…

 

Task 2:  (Testing athletic ability)  My favourite game at a party is musical statues, sticking with the statue theme, how long can you stand still?  Bonus points given if your family don’t notice you.

See my answer to question one. I’m usually standing for eight hours every day (with the odd wobble). And as I’m shut away in the study, nobody notices me at all.

Well I stood no chance there….intentional pun…little did I realise I was up against a professional standing hermit.  I managed just over a minute before I gave up, the dog staring at me started to freak me out, maybe I shouldn’t have stood by his lead for this challenge?

 

Question 3:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story?

Huzzah! A chance to plug my next novel (thank you for the set-up, Jason):  The inhabitants of a remote desert island in the Atlantic endure a state of peaceless co-existence with the Gambies, victims of a strain of non-lethal rabies that renders them something of an inconvenience to the tourist industry. This suits Manuel Estímulo, retired from an illustrious career as a brothel-keeper and drug dealer for Spanish intelligence, who generally tries to keep a low profile and rarely receives any visitors, devoting his days to producing his fascist encyclopedia. However, when news reaches him that the Beast with Three Fingers has arrived on the island, thereby fulfilling an ancient Falangist prophecy, he is forced to up sticks and make the perilous journey South to the Nazi redoubt of his longtime friends the Köhlers. Equipped with only a Spanish army knife, a map of England, a vast armory of guns, and the body of his sister Candelaria, can Manuel make it to safety, or will his past catch up with him on the land that Time just remembered? You can find out by reading Manuel Estimulo’s Fascist Book of Everything, the ultimate zombie-Brexit-Nazi satire until the next one.

I’m really looking forward to this one, and what a great title….it’s weird you starting writing this before the pandemic…it’s almost as if you released the virus as a publicity stunt???

Task 3:  Jay is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best him.

Could you take the washing in for me? I did it the other day and was stopped by a neighbour for not wearing the correct PPE.

OK, no worries I was in the bushes in your garden anyways….it was going well until I saw your neighbour so I quickly threw a pair of pants from the line over my face and that seemed to satisfy him.  Either that is considered correct PPE or he is used to seeing you running around the garden with pants on your head.  I took the liberty of folding the clothes and putting them away…I also laid out what I’d like you to wear tomorrow.

Question 4:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it. (so far he has ignored all attempts to trick him)

Always ask, cui bono? Who benefits? Clearly the virus is the work of mask manufacturers in cahoots with Big Rubber Gloves.

 

Question 5:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

Oh god, I’ve really missed shoplifting. I can’t wait for the big stores to re-open. I have an order list as long as your arm (though not as long as mine, obviously). Plus, we have a big wedding anniversary coming up this year, so the priority will be jewellery or sex toys, depending on what the charity shop has in stock.

 

Thank you Jay for taking part in this and I hope you have a nice anniversary…it looks like you’ve got it all sorted to be a day to remember.  For the stalkers out there go find Jay on Goodreads, Instagrams and Twitter.  Check out his books because they are hilarious, if you look at the gallery on his website you’ll find my dog modelling the books.

If anybody else out there wants to do one of these then just give me a shout.

 

Interviews

Locked-down & Bored with James Birch

Hello everyone.  The victims for this insane series are coming thick and fastly, today we are zooming across the pond to that fine country run by the modest and totally “not insane” King Trump.  He is an expert on the mysterious Emory Walden, go check out his books so you can become an expert too.

Please welcome James Birch.

 

Question 1: How are you handling the lockdown? What’s the most exciting thing to happen to you so far? 

Here, we’ve all been very fortunate so far in terms of employment and health, and the health of my family. So I have nothing to complain about when so many people are suffering – when 100,000 Americans have died and tens of millions have lost their jobs. That’s just in the states. The worldwide numbers are staggering. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost a loved one, have struggled with this disease, and/or who have lost their jobs.

Still, there are the pressures we are all facing. And a lot of life plans have been put on hold or cancelled. In terms of stress, I have my good days and my rough days. I have learned that life is so fragile, that what we take for granted cannot be taken for granted anymore. I have learned that we must live for today while also making sure that we are planning for catastrophes such as this.

Nothing too exciting has happened. I take that as a good thing as I’ve been trying to keep my life as mellow as possible, given everything. The most exciting thing that has happened so far is that someone crashed into something across the street and left a few souvenirs from their car that flew into my yard. They fled in the heat of the night.  Fortunately, no property was damaged at my neighbor’s house.

 

Task 1:  (Testing artistic skill) Did you know that surnames have a history and tells you what job your ancestors did?  Seeing as your name is Birch I’m assuming that your ancestors all had parts in Christmas plays as trees.  For this challenge, do a tree-based piece of artwork.

Challenge accepted! Here’s an ASCI throwback to my early AOL days.

/*\

/*\/*/\

/\/*/\/\*/\/\

/*\/\/*\/\/*\/\/*\

II

II

 Very old school, I’ve gone back ever further to pre-school and done a bark rubbing whilst chatting to the tree about the dumbass leader of the UK.

hornbeam bark rubbing June2016

Question 2:  For those trapped inside recommend 1 book, 1 movie and 1 album.

 

Book: If You Find Emory Walden. That’s a shameless plug because it’s my new novel. But I truly believe your readers will enjoy it. It’s a fast-paced suspense & psychological mystery about the search for a missing friend and $3 million dollars. People have been telling me they couldn’t put it down. You can find the book HERE.

JB1

Movie: Ford v Ferrari is the best movie I’ve seen in a long while. I’m not a huge car guy, but the racing sequences were amazing. And the story keeps you captivated the entire time. I don’t often do this, but I spent the extra money and rented the Blu-Ray and it was well worth it!

220px-Ford_v._Ferrari_(2019_film_poster)

Album: You cannot go wrong with Clarity by Jimmy Eat World. Time tested, quarantine approved!

 

Task 2:  (Testing athletic ability)  Find the nearest set of stairs (more than 7 steps) and run up them as fast as you can.  Time how fast you can do it and also how many teeth you lose.

15 steps one way. 11.8 seconds! No teeth lost.

I had a real good go at this one,  15min spent on warm up exercising, not gonna rupture a nut during this athletic event.  I even planned the route, 13 steps, no obstructions, no puddles or electrical wires.  I managed 6 steps before there was a scream from the next room, “WTF are you doing out there?”  in the end I managed it in 10min 8seconds….those 10minutes spent on the naughty step did not help me win this challenge.

 

Question 3:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story? 

I haven’t (Although my good friends at Loud Coffee Press have a micro fiction contest I tried to think of something for. I love the prompt: Check out the contest HERE.

Instead, have decided to put my creative energies into creating an audiobook podcast of my first novel, Discontents: The Disappearance of a Young Radical. I am learning a lot about audio production! I figured it was another way to provide the public entertainment during these challenging times. I have finished 2 episodes. When I have 3 done, I will launch the podcast – hopefully by early June. The podcast will be available free just about anywhere people get podcasts.  You can access it from HERE.

 

Task 3:  James is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best him.

 Make a pancake that looks like a letter A while blindfolded!

James’s attempt:

IMG_20200531_100037

Well here is my attempt at this challenge, luckily I had enough ingredients in the house to make pancakes, I went with a thick mixture in the hope that it would keep it’s shape.

20200524_19500820200524_195349

Tasted good too, I like challenges that I can eat.

 

Question 4:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it. (so far he has ignored all attempts to trick him)

Oh. Such a tough challenge because there are folks who seem to make a career out of this. I’m a neophyte to the conspiracy world. Here goes…

Small children, Mr. Rogers and the international federation of animal shelters created a cabal underneath a pizza shop in Portland Oregon, trying to come up with a way to get parents to spend less time working and more time hanging out, watching TV, and adopt more pets. They invented the corona virus, giving it the name corona because they figured parents would think it was just a beer and not prepare adequately for its arrival.

Does that seem reasonable?

Finally!  Somebody has been brave enough to bring Mr Rogers into this…you think it is weird that he looks a bit like Forrest Gump?

hanks

 

Question 5:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again? 

The thing I like least: Just the way that everyday things like going to the grocery store is so much more laborious now. Small tasks take on monumental consequences. One thinks, will I bring the virus into my home on this bag of salt & vinegar potato chips? So, there are a lot of little things – like home repairs – that I would be doing that I can’t for fear of contracting the virus.

 

The thing I like most: How much sleep I’ve been getting during lockdown. I sleep in until 8:30-9am!

When I’m free again I plan to go to the beach!

I’d like to thank James for taking part in this interview,  I did enjoy his challenge.  Be sure to check out his books and to also stalk him on the Internets.  Instagrams  and Goodreads.  What’s that?  You want to know if he has hands and if he is strong enough to hold a book?  Why, yes he does and yes he can!

jb2

If anybody else wants to be interviewed just shout, what’s the worst that could happen?  Broken teeth and melted butter in your face is easy to fix.

Interviews

Locked-Down & Bored with Anthony Thorogood

Hello everyone.  I’ve got another victim for this interview series, this time we are travelling around the world (assuming everybody lives in the UK) to the land where people walk on their head and all animals are a little bit weird…The land of Oz.

Please welcome the Agatha Christie look-a-like Mr Anthony Thorogood.

No not Agatha Christie, James Bond yes that is a more sophisticated, good looking, Devon air that’s debonair, charming, witty, well dressed, self-assured, resourceful, intelligent, well to put it in a nutshell fabulously brilliant James Bond not to forget  modest, unpretentious and humble.

OK  Mr Bond it  is.

Please welcome the Agatha Christie look-a-like Mr James Bond.

 

Question 1: How are you handling the lockdown? What’s the most exciting thing to happen to you so far?

Talking about Covid 19 the name sounds to me like a young cowboy Covid Carson, alias The Covid Cowboy. He came out of Virginia and now he is riding the wilds of Wyoming. I first saw The Covid Cowboy one hot and dusty July day. I was standing out back of our homestead helping dad corralling some steers, we kept a few steers, grew a bit of corn dad got work doing a bit of fencing you know the sort of thing. I saw him in the distance, The Covid Cowboy, raising a bit of dust as his horse lazily rambled along the old stage coach road. His twin colt forty five six gun sparkled in the midday sun.

Task 1:  (Testing artistic skill) Design a new animal to live in the wild, you can create this from off-cuts of other animals or a drawing will do.

Getting back to the Covid Cowboy he rode a horse and what a horse, it was a thoroughbred or should I call it a Thorogood, 18 hands high, 4 legs, air bags climate control, all around sound. It was called the Red Arrow and when it took off it flew.

I have gone for the most dangerous of creatures…an inept President Steak.

g4342425

Question 2:  For those trapped inside recommend 1 book, 1 movie and 1 album.

Well the book I recommend is The Covid Cowboy and the Ventilator Kid. The Movie of the Covid Cowboy Starring Whoopi Goldberg as the Covid Cowboy. The album’s got to be a Lonesome Covid Cowboy sung by Johnny Cash music by Tiny Tim.

 

Task 2:  (Testing athletic ability)  Can you tie both shoelaces whilst sitting on I recommend the floor and holding your breath? you have an ambulance on standby during this incredible feat of endurance.

The Covid Cowboy just pulls on his riding boots. He can spin a silver dollar up in the air and can pull out a six shooter from its holster and shoot a hole through the middle of it while bind folded and with both hands tied behind his back.

 I was unable to do the shooting thing because a magpie stole all my silver dollars, but I managed to tie my shoelaces in one breath but only just.

 

Question 3:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story?

Let me see quarantine story: The Covid Cowboy and then the sequel The Covid Cowboy Rides Again, then there is The Return of the Covid Cowboy, The Adventures of the Covid Cowboy, What the Covid Cowboy Did Next, The Covid Cowboy meets The Girl on the Train, and not to forget Gunfight at Middlesex Hospital.

Task 3:  Anthony is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best him.

Read the complete series of the Covid Cowboy backwards whilst lying on your stomach with a ventilator stuck up your nose.

Once you’ve written the Covid Cowboy series and set me signed first editions I’ll then be able to complete this challenge.

 

Question 4:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it. (so far he has ignored all attempts to trick him)

The truth about Covid 19, that is the absolute truth, the whole truth and nothing but so help me god, is that Covid 19 is a Conspiracy Theory all by its self, it never happened. Yes, yes I know that 300,000 thousand people died but I have it on good authority from Donald Duck no that’s Trump that it never happened at all, and if you did catch it although you can’t because it doesn’t exist but if you did then all you need to do is drink toilet cleaner and you’ll be right.

 

Question 5:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

The Covid Cowboy is going to get into some cattle rustling. He said: that it was lonely in the saddle now that his horse had died.  He also said: Did you realize that when you are walking in the country and you find a horse shoe that some poor horse is walking around in its socks!

All a lot of nonsense but you do have to feel sorry for the poor horse walking about in its socks.

Cheers Me myself and I

Thank you Mr Bond for taking part in this, I have to admit that I was completely unaware of the cowboy infatuation before starting this interview…it does explain a lot of things though.  🙂  If you would like to stalk him then you’ll find him on Goodreads.  Make sure you check out his books, I especially like the Jack Hamma Series.

Interviews

Locked-down & Bored with Madeleine Swann

Hello everyone.  Would you believe it, in the last interview Arthur Graham stripped down to his undies and showed the world his hairy body,  after that I thought, nooooo way is anybody else gonna wanna take part in this madness but nope there was one brave/insane soul.

Welcome to Madeleine Swann, Queen of Tea Parties, a person that writes and also owns clothes.

 

Question 1: How are you handling the lockdown? What’s the most exciting thing to happen to you so far.

Well, I just got a subscription to Shudder and Hayu, so now I can watch The Real Housewives of New York all day while Bill slowly despairs

 

Task 1:  (Testing artistic skill) Now, I know you are a massive fan of unicorns, at least that’s what it told me in the Madeleine Swann Haynes manual I got off of ebay.  So either re-create or draw a unicorn tea party.

MS1

Here’s my attempt

UniParty

Question 2:  For those trapped inside recommend 1 book, 1 movie and 1 album.

Everyone needs cheering up so you should read The Midnight Pals. It’s funny, easy, and there are pictures

EXSWY4tU0AAlF5T

For a film I recommend Fateful Findings by Neil Breen. You’ll thank me

MV5BNzYyMDU3ND

 

The album I can’t stop listening to are my favourite songs by Doja Cat. When I really like an artist I tend to gather my favourite ones from their albums and sod off the rest. I think Bill knows all the words to So High by now

Task 2:  (Testing athletic ability)  I have been told nothing too athletic, after that one-armed press-up saga my doctor said the next time I try anything like that could result in a diet for me.  So something more sensible will be done this time….How fast can you eat 4 biscuits?

The rules for this challenge are:

  1. Any biscuit of your choice.
  2. Remember to do warm-up exercises first, a test biscuit should suffice.
  3. If you are hungry you may do a best of 3.
  4. If you dunk the biscuit first and it breaks you are disqualified.

Madeleine has recorded her attempt:

 

Using one of my inventions the Biscuit Enabler, I managed to eat 3 in 0.17seconds…One spun out of control and ended up in my eye.

RockyVsBiscuits

Question 3:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story?

The flash fictions have been leaking from my ears since this all began. They’re all quite different, some apocalyptic but I like to keep things small. I prefer just a few characters relating to each other sometimes over big event stories.

 

Task 3:  Madeleine is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best her.

Ok, do I have to carry it out now? I shall see how many things I can balance on my remote control.

MS2

Clever having a remote at the top and the bottom, just incase the world somehow flips upside-down.

Here be my attempt:

20200514_180036

Question 4:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it. (so far he has ignored all attempts to trick him)

The virus was caused by windmills picking up signals from terminators with conjunctivitis from the future and inadvertently spreading a mutated form of the disease

Ooooh  that’s a good one,  a nice sensible conspiracy theory and you also make sense of Don Quixote at the same time.

 

Question 5:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

Watch Real Housewives of New York.

Thank you Madeleine for taking part in this interview it was fun, especially trying to balance an open book on a remote control with a curved bottom.  🙂

 

Interviews

Locked-down & Bored with Arthur Graham (NSFW)

Hello everyone, well the first interview is out, nobody complained and no lawyers contacted my lawyers….and would you believe it, some fool volunteered to take part in the 2nd interview…I bet he read the first one and saw the challenge for one-armed press-ups and thinks he is tougher then me!  Well think again Mr Arthur Graham, poet, writer and all round hairy man.

Proposed alternative title: ARTHUR GRAHAM, MAKING LOCKDOWN SEXY AGAIN….You really think that is accurate when you use the motto “be a man, use your hand.”?

Question 1: How are you handling the lockdown? Come close to losing your marbles?

It reminds me a bit of my time spent in jail, in that I find myself pacing around in this confined space, doing lots of pushups and furiously masturbating much of the time, only here I’ve got my PS4 and the Internet to keep me occupied, and technically I’m allowed to leave for a run out to the market, or a stroll around the nearby park, pretty much any time I’d like. Plus, while it’s probably not the safest of practices, I do still retain the option of having actual women over from time to time. So on second thought, I suppose it’s not very much like real jail at all, and probably something more akin to the pampered treatment that will be enjoyed by our current president at the minimum-security facility he’ll be relocating to, once he finally leaves office. In other words, it’s been kind of a breeze thus far, just doing the time standing on my head.

Honestly, some people are so weak-minded, you saw them breaking down left and right within hardly a week of things getting shut down. Suddenly they all had to get really into yoga and guided meditation, or else join the rest of us in our full-blown alcoholism. For me on the other hand, this past month or so has been more like a dream come true. Because while I am a notoriously reclusive and antisocial person to begin with, it also so happens that I am sitting on a large enough hoard of drugs, alcohol, canned goods, gold bullion, chicken bullion, ammunition and explosives to see me through well into the next decade. No toilet paper, though. The need for toilet paper is a bit like the need for excess socializing – also for the weak – and I’ve always been more the type who subscribes to the motto “be a man, use your hand.”

So yeah, I’ve been doing alright.

Task 1:  (Testing artistic skill) Now I know you work with Mr Boner (a real life skeleton) but how well do you know him?  Draw an accurate drawing of a skull, winner gets picked by Mr Boner himself.

I’m afraid I haven’t got any art supplies on hand, and so I’d resolved to simply just cheat by Googling “badly drawn skull” or something along those lines, but alas I was unable to find anything quite convincing. As for Mr. Boner, he did some searching around himself, and he must’ve got distracted because he found this other pic he wanted to share with you and your esteemed readership instead:

arthurG1

That’s a very interesting portrait, not sure that position is good for your back though. I thought instead of doing a drawing of a skull I would remove my mask, skin and muscle and whatnot and take a photo.  Here is the before and after:

RockySkull

As you can see I got a nose job done at blockbusters.

Question 2:  For those trapped inside recommend 1 book, 1 movie and 1 album.

Hmmmm, I dunno who wants to limit themselves to one of anything for now, given that this plague might last much longer than even the experts are presently forecasting, so you might wanna check out Kindle Unlimited, or Netflix, or iTunes, or something with more options instead. And anyhow I KNOW THIS IS JUST SOME LIMEY TRICK AND YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO TRICK ME INTO RECOMMENDING SOME LIMEY BOOK, LIMEY MOVIE, AND LIMEY ALBUM FOR YOUR OWN SICK LIMEY GRATIFICATION, YOU NO-GOOD LIMEY BASTARD, BUT REGARDLESS I WILL RECOMMEND THE SANDMAN SERIES BY NEIL GAIMAN, JOHNNY ENGLISH STARRING ROWAN ATKINSON (A VERY FINE FILM), AND ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN’S OCEAN RAIN.

YES YOU FELL FOR MY LIMEY TRICKS, IMPUTTING THIS INFORMATION INTO MY LIMEY COMPUTER I WILL KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU….LET’S SEE….HA I KNEW IT! ARTHUR GRAHAM DOES NOT HAVE AS MUCH CHICKEN BULLION AS HE CLAIMED HE HAD.

Task 2:  (Testing athletic ability)  Bench press as many books as you can, winner is the one who can do the highest number of books.

Because I am currently living in a very small apartment with little room for much extraneous furniture, I do not own a bookcase in which to keep all my many books. So, as luck would have it, I’ve already got them all packed into eight old beer boxes instead. This should make them much easier to lift in the bizarre manner you’ve proposed.

Alright you nutter, I’m lying supine on the floor, and my assistant Mr. Boner is standing directly overhead with my stack of old, book-filled beer boxes to his side. I am ready to accept the first two boxes, weighing roughly 40 lbs (18 kg) each, which I’ve since balanced upon my upturned palms.

(lifts two boxes)

What? This is ridiculous, I’ll bet even your wee old granny could probably handle more. Mr. Boner, two more boxes at once!

(lifts four boxes)

Okay, I could feel some resistance there, but still only about as much as as your whiny little eight-year-old daughter could probably bench herself. GIMME MOOORE!!!

(lifts six boxes)

Alright, now we’re talkin’, I’m pressing roughly 120 lbs (54 kg) in each of my hairy, brawny, prison-tatted arms, but it still feels like something even your nerdy, asthmatic, pimple-faced twelve-year-old son could handle without too much crying. Mr. Boner, THE REST OF THE BOXES!!!

(lifts all eight boxes)

Damn, OOOOFF, what, were those all hardbacks in there? Regardless, I pressed the combined total of 320 lbs (145 kg) without so much as breaking a sweat. And also, I lied – I wasn’t even lifting with my arms at all. I just lifted all that weight with MY MASSIVE, ROCK-HARD WANG! WOOOOOOOO!!!

Interesting, I subscribed to kindle unlimited like you suggested about, this gave me unlimited books on the kindle (unlimited books I am soooo gonna win this), I then had a go at bench pressing this, I’m not rich like yourself and had to do this without a spotter, I know it was risky but I really wanted to win this challenge.  After 4 hours of grunting and straining a policeman asked me to leave the park and go home.

Question 3:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine based piece of writing?

Speaking frankly, and this is probably the most serious answer you’re going to get out of me today, but I’m rather tired of reading everyone’s quarantine-inspired poetry and prose lately. I’m afraid that most of it just isn’t very good. It’s almost as if some people have gotten so bored that they’ve decided to try writing about their thoughts and feelings for the very first time, and often all this amounts to is just another sad, boring poem about how sad and bored they’re all feeling in quarantine. So, while I certainly feel their pain (do I though?), I really don’t want to encourage them too much. It’s been hard enough keeping up with the flood of submissions down at HST HQ lately, and while I have read and published some fantastic quarantine-themed pieces in recent weeks, I’ve also read and NOT published many others as well. So, perhaps instead of writing yet another poem about how sad, lonely, and bored you are at the moment, just go whine about it on social media like everyone else instead.

Task 3:  Arthur is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best him.

Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do: I’m gonna go over to the window of my apartment and call out to my nearest neighbour, whose window is accessible to my own. Then, we’re going to reach through our respective windows and grab hold of each other’s dicks, linking hands/dicks with the fellas in the windows on the opposite sides of us as well. Still with me? From there, we’ll begin vigorously jerking each other off in concerted motion, just working each other like oars on a boat, ya know? Only it’s not like on Goodreads, where some authors seem to just automatically five-star every piece of garbage their author friends write, but instead we’re going to LITERALLY circle jerk, all the way around the building if possible, and the first guy to nut has to stick his head out the window and yell real loud, so everyone can hear, “I’M A WIDDLE STINKY BOY AND I VOTED FOR JOHNSON / TRUMP, BOOBILY BOO!!!”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be right back…

(a few minutes pass)

Okay, that settles it – I lost, by a large margin. Except for the part about being a widdle stinky boy, that much at least is true.

Ready on your end? Annnnd, GO!!!

I’m not too sure about this one, how can I do this AND be a good citizen and keep 2m away from everybody… I’ll do a solo project outside their window whilst crying.

Question 4:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it.

Lately I’ve been developing several new conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19, which I’ll happily share with you now:

1) Drinking Corona beer can cure coronavirus, but only if you drink it with a wedge of lime. Unfortunately, however, the lime increases your risk of contracting Lyme disease, so you may wish to try the somewhat less proven lemon wedge instead.

2) The “19” in “COVID-19” is actually in reference to the 19 pounds you can expect to gain while being cooped up inside for the next few months.

3) The real conspiracy is THE ONE WE’RE ALL IN ON, MANNN…

Question 5:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

Truthfully, what I miss most – besides just travelling the world and patronizing all my favorite local establishments – is the freedom of less-restricted physical intimacy. So, whatever I ultimately find myself getting up to once all this virus stuff has passed, let’s just hope I don’t come down with a more “social” kind of disease instead!

In our zealousness to get back out into the world and into each other’s pants, everyone please just remember that there are other things to get tested for besides just coronavirus, and other forms of PPE you need to use besides just gloves and face masks.

This has been an Arthur Graham-approved public service announcement.

(cue music)

THE MORE YOU KNOWWWWW…

arthurG2

I’d like to thank Arthur for taking part in this madness,  if you want to un-see the photo at the end then let me know if you are successful so I can give it a go too.  If you like the picture and want to start stalking him then you can find him hanging out on Goodreads also check out HST and the huge amount of fantastic work he publishes.

If anybody else wants to do one of these then gimme a shout.

Interviews

Locked-Down & Bored with Kevin Ansbro

Hello everyone, I got here a new interview series, as silly as previous ones and artistically beautiful in every possible way.  This could be an epic fail or a masterpiece that will one day be taught in schools, there will be no middle ground.  The way this works is there will be 5 questions and 2 tasks, I will take part in the tasks just to show off my skills.

First up is author Kevin Ansbro, part ninja and part balloon model.  Big thanks go to him for being my first victim in this experiment.

 

Question 1: How are you handling the lockdown? I’d best start off with a sensible question in case you are right on the edge of losing it.

Hi, Jason, thanks for the Covidvite!

Mrs A (Julie) and I have found plenty of house and garden projects to busy ourselves with and, eight weeks in, we’re, um, rather enjoying it.

 

Task 1:  (Testing artistic skill) There are lots of pictures of rainbows about these days, draw your interpretation of a rainbow.

I’m not very good at painting rainbows, so I did a flattering self-portrait in rainbow colours instead…

K1

That there is a good picture.  Here is my rainbow, as you can see I am as big as a rainbow!

RockyRainbow

Question 2:  For those trapped inside recommend 1 book, 1 movie and 1 album.

One book:  ‘Midnight’s Children’, by Salman Rushdie

K2

One movie: My favourite movies are ‘The Godfather (I & II)’, ‘Cool Hand Luke’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’;’ but, to lift everyone out of their lockdown doldrums, I’d recommend ‘Coneheads’ and ‘Galaxy Quest’ for guaranteed laughs for all the family! (Hmmmmm that seems like more than one to me)

K3

One album: Live concert in Rome, by The Three Tenors (Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti).
Choosing just one album is plain mean: if I could choose more, I’d go for ‘The Clash’, by The Clash; ‘Different Class’, by Pulp; ‘Legend’, by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and ‘Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo’.  (Yeah well, I am a mean person and you get just the one)

K4

Task 2:  (Testing athletic ability)  Find a spherical object and have 3 goes at keepy-uppie (Training video)  Give me your best score and we’ll see who is the best.  No evidence needed as I am trusting.

I first of all tried a ball of two rolled-up socks, and only managed four keepy-uppies. Then I found the football in my back garden and did sixteen (you should have asked me when I was a teen).

Well you win this round, I used one of the dog’s toys and managed 7 before he stole it back and ran away.

 

Question 3:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story?

Here’s one…

The Darwins in lockdown

Having survived on rations of pasta and tinned tuna for the past twelve weeks, Donald Darwin came to the realisation that he must leave the safety of his house to buy provisions for his restless family. His wife Tessa, who wasn’t entirely in favour of such a risky outing, tightened the straps of his face mask and urged him to be careful. Twin daughters, Amy and Gemma, waved to him from a downstairs window as he reversed from the driveway.
To his complete astonishment, Donald found his car to be the only one on the road. The pavements, unlike those he’d seen in countless TV newsreels, were devoid of joggers and pedestrians.
Exiting the Waitrose roundabout, he was furthermore surprised to witness the absence of a queue of people outside his local supermarket. In fact, there wasn’t a person to be seen anywhere.
Although there were no other vehicles on the supermarket car park, Donald still dutifully parked his Volkswagen between two faded paint lines. Stepping from his car, he noticed that some unsightly clumps of dandelions had grown through the tarmac and wondered why routine site maintenance had been shelved just because of the virus.
If only to confirm his suspicion, he rattled the supermarket’s entrance doors and peered through the plate glass windows. The store’s interior was conspicuously dark and there were no signs of activity.
Utterly bewildered, Donald tried to contact his wife to see if she could come up with a plan b; alas, there was no signal on his phone.
He clenched the steering wheel and muttered to himself all the way home, his facemask hanging below his chin like a horse’s nosebag. Upon his return he saw that his driveway had inconceivably yielded to an overgrown jungle of shrubs and nettles.
Donald blinked several times, killed the engine and raised his hands to the heavens. “What the flaming heck—?”
He abandoned his car and fumbled for the front door key. The door opened stiffly, dragging with it a chaotic tangle of clematis. Once inside, Donald came to the realisation that he’d lost his family forever.


Task 3:  (I thought there were only 2 tasks?  Plot twist) Kevin is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best him.

I can still do one-arm press-ups, if you want to have a go at those, Jason…

Well that was an epic failure, once I’d gotten onto the floor I was unable to do a single one-arm press-up, so I tried two arms, still no luck…after a while a jogger who was passing used a 2m long pole to roll me onto my back and I was then faced with the prospect of a sit-up…..to be continued.

 

Question 4:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it.

This virus undoubtedly originated from the underpants that Julian Assange wore while he was a guest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

 

Question 5:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

Above all, I miss foreign travel (we would be on our annual holiday to Thailand right now). I also miss restaurants, pubs, cinemas, theatres, hotels, being with my friends…
The first thing I would do, assuming it really was safe, is to book a flight.

Thank you for allowing me to share my lockdown with you, Jason.
Best wishes to you and yours.
Please stay happy and stay safe, everyone!
Big love,
Kevin  x

Thanks Kevin for taking part.  If anybody else fancies taking part in one of these then give me a shout.  You don’t have to be a writer….or called Kevin.

Interviews

Reader Interview: Kent Winward

Hello everybody, it has been a while but I’ve got another Reader Interview for you.  Please wave enthusiastically at Kent Winward, a prolific reader, a man married to a writer and the man who always tries to get me to read another 5 books during the last week of the year….and as it turns out the inspiration for Kathy Bates character in that documentary Misery.  Below is the only know photo from their wedding.

realkent

WARNING!!!This interview does contain puns!

 

Question 1: Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you ever been involved in the literary world and how many books have you read so far this year?

I’m a half-century plus old, rugby playing (still), consumer bankruptcy attorney, entrepreneur, father, grandfather, bibliophile, and for more than a decade, my better half has been the poet, author, artist, J.A. Carter-Winward.

Everyone becomes “involved” with the literary world when they begin reading books. Reading is the first involvement any of us have with the literary world. In my childhood, the literary world consisted solely of books, newspapers, magazines, and the written letter was still a thing.  I have a stack of bundled letters with string around them somewhere. My main point I suppose is that I am older than the ubiquity of email and the fluidity of Twitter.

My undergraduate degree was in English, but English professor lost out to the practicality of a law degree, in part because I saw the flaws inherent in the education system and how it could suck the life out of literature and reading.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve published several authors.  Our family was hit with some health problems, so I haven’t been able to do as much on that front as I would like, but look for a lot more from my small publishing house, Binary Press in the coming months.  More books from J.A. and others.  I’ve also been able to help out Horror, Sleaze, and Trash’s quarterly poetry publication, providing them with ISBN numbers so the prudes/trolls don’t kick them off GoodReads.

I’ve always written myself, too, so maybe one day soon I will have a book out there as well.  J.A. and I met back when there was a thing known as the blogosphere and we were both writing there.  I reviewed her first book online and over 13 years later I’m answering questions on your blog.  The literary world is remarkable in the way you can’t predict what the written word does to shape our lives.  I quite literarily and literally here because I wrote a book review on a blog in January of 2007.

As for how many books I’ve read so far this year, this raises two interesting philosophical question: First, what is a book?  For purposes of this answer,  I choose to define a book as something I can post as a book on GoodReads.  This could mean anything from an essay or short story to a doorstop novel. I’m a stat geek, so I can tell you that at this writing, I am at 201 books for the year 2020.  The longest being William Vollman’s The Luck Star and the shortest being Tobias Wolf’s wonderful short story, A Bullet in the Brain.  For some reason this year, I’ve been delving into Comixology and reading a lot of graphic novels and comics.  The Norwegian Jason is a favorite of mine.

Second, what is reading?  I am audiobook fan and as the technology has progressed, I’ve developed speed listening techniques, but my earliest memories of books are being read to by my parents and being read to is reading in my book. For example this year, I’ve re-listened to J.A.’s No Trilogy (No Apologies, No Secrets, No Regrets) this year in the list of 201 as well.  Is listening to your wife’s voice reading?  When your wife is my wife, definitely. And if I don’t have my bluetooth earbuds in, I listen to her at home too.

 

Q2:  You’re the first person I’ve interviewed that is married to a writer, now I’ve seen the movie Misery, was that accurate?  I assume you are Kathy Bates in this version.

Of course I’m the Kathy Bates character, just the more creepy male variety of crazed fan.  I did all the appropriate stalker-ish activity.  All writers need stalkers.  I am the stalker supreme. I gathered pictures off her social media and then posted them on my own blog.  There was thins fantastic picture of J.A.’s bare back — ah hell, here it is — I took and used on my book review.  I started out the book review with ” I’ve spent the last five nights going to bed with J.A.”   I showed up unbidden in a snow storm for a book signing.  It was the first time we met in person and I have the photo to prove it.  After that followed a concerted effort of concealing my true motivations, which were to get her to write everyday and give me the exclusive first listen on her work.  So far so good, but sometimes I worry that she has seen through my devoted husband persona and knows about my more sinister motivations.  Like the time early in our relationship when we were in bed and I was grasping her tightly and not letting go.  She made the literary reference to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, when she said, “Easy there Lenny.”  Of course, I immediately released my grip and laughed so as to not give myself away.  Or there was the time when she took my obsession and actually stuck it in a book.

kent1

Read the poem for yourself:

meta-factual

 

so

this morning driving to the studio

to record this book,

my husband made a confession.

he told me that this morning,

while he did me from behind,

he had his ear buds in and

he was listening to the audio of

me reading my audiobook,

no apologies.

 

it turned him on, he said.

what the fuck could i say to that?

hell, i didn’t even know how to feel

about that.

the verbiage doesn’t even exist,

you know?

 

and then i started thinking about you,

my reader,

and all of the shit you might be doing

while reading

or listening to my words.

 

maybe you’re listening to my voice

while you’re running or driving;

maybe you’re reading while you

sit in a coffee shop

or wait for your partner to

brush his or her teeth 

before coming to bed.

maybe you’re settled in the corner

of your couch 

with some tea

and you’re reading this and saying,

yeah, yeah, i so get this;

or maybe you’re saying,

what the fuck? i can’t believe she wrote that.

 

now i’m thinking about everything

you might be doing right now as i write this—

and maybe, as you read this now

you’re thinking about me,

writing this epilogue/poem-thing

(only it’s in the past)

and you’re thinking about me

thinking about you

thinking about me writing it.

 

holy fucking shit, right?
Oh, and here is the audio if you want to listen.

See, she saw right through me and was ambiguous about my obsessive, creepy behavior.  Listening to the audiobook, looking at that lovely back, going at it from behind, confessing to it later, getting her to put it in a book, then getting to put it on this blog, and then the whole Misery scenario cascades into this marvelous meta-factual dance so you don’t really know if I’m crazy or not, but I could be.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep cooking J.A. breakfast and having her read to me each morning.  Please disregard any emails you might receive from her that she is being held captive — that would just be performance art.

P.S. I have multiple favorite Jason’s.  You are my favorite English Book Blogger Jason.

Well that is obvious seeing as I’ve killed all other English Book Blogger Jasons.

 

Q3. This one is about speed reading, how does that work?  201 books read and April hasn’t ended yet! (which is really weird seeing as I’m posting this in May, but then I didn’t invent the calendar)  I don’t think I could do that, too great a fear of missing something important in the book.

Hey, you aren’t related to the Jason from those Halloween movies are you?

 

I told you I was a stat geek.  Here is my GoodReads chart turned into a graph.

Kent2

Up until 2010, the speed on audiobooks was one speed, the speed of the narrator. The app was tweaked in 2010 and you could listen at 1.5 speed.  In 2016, you could get up to 2x and by 2018, the speed was up to 3x.  Since I’ve been listening to books longer than I’ve even been reading them, I think I’ve developed some skill in listening.  It is a big debate, but listening to a book is not all that different from reading a book in my experience.  I’ve found that the faster speeds actually make it easier to listen to the books, because believe it or not, a concentrated and steady reading rate is somewhere around 2 to 3 times faster than when the book is read out loud.  This means the audio technology more closely mirrors just my normal reading speed, but audiobooks allow me to read when I’m doing the dishes, shoveling snow, commuting, or other things as indicated in my previous answer.

So in answer to your question, I’m not really a speed reader.  I just consume a lot of books.  The loss isn’t from the speed of consumption, but rather from the sheer volume and the fact that my noggin can’t hold it all.

I think in some ways it is a bit of a sickness — the amount and the incessant need to be in multiple books at any given time. The 201 books is a bit misleading which I eluded to in my first answer, since a bunch of those are short stories sold separately or rented out separately by my libraries (I have two) and comics/graphic novels which also tend to be shorter and quicker to read.  The average page numbers this year per book is only about 150.  I try and be an omnivore in my reading choices and hit on as many genres and voices as possible.

And listening to J.A. read to me each morning isn’t on there either.

But really isn’t that the existential dilemma of any bibliophile?  Too many books, too little time, and time just keeps dwindling. Can you ever read enough? Or what is enough?

I’m just George Jetson on the reading treadmill.

kent3

Don’t get me started on those “Friday the 13th” movies, I spent most of my life with horny teenagers accidentally falling on my knife, can’t a man walk in the woods with his favourite knife in peace?  Thank you for explaining the speed listening, must be like listening to chipmunks.

 

Q4:  A two parter.  What was the first book you fell in love with?  And recommend us one book that everybody should read at least once in their life.

Sounds like you had a Tucker and Dale Versus Evil childhood — what with all the brain dead teenagers running around in the woods.

 

The first book I loved and the one book everyone should read?

I honestly don’t recall the first book I loved.  I just remember loving books.  The love of books is poly-amorous, you can love them all and not be unfaithful to the core idea of “book.”   The first books I loved were probably picture books, then chapter books, then comic books, then books on cassette tape, then chapbooks, then books on CD, then books on mp3, then eBooks, then any book I could get my hands on.  I have an extensive library, in real life, in boxes, and in digital formats.  I could stop everything right now and I’d probably never work my way through all the books I have.  So in answer to the first book I loved: books.

As for the second question, which one book should everyone read?  One thing being promiscuous with books has taught me is that the one book that everyone must read is a false idea. I’ve had numerous books in my life that were the “one book” I needed right at that moment in my life.  Homer’s The Iliad, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Kafka’s The Trial, Steinbeck’s Winter of Our Discontent, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and I could go on, but even more than one book, I find that I like to read by author.  Last year I read everything by Milan Kundera. I read my wife, J.A. Carter-Winward constantly and repeatedly.

Getting into the mind of the author is the journey I love taking, so all the writings by everyone I listed above could contain the one book you might need, but here are some more authors in alphabetic order:

  • Paul Auster
  • J.G. Ballard
  • Saul Bellow
  • Charles Bukowski
  • Robert Olen Butler
  • Albert Camus
  • J.M Coetzee
  • Douglas Coupland
  • Brett Easton Ellis
  • Joshua Ferris
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Laura Kipnis
  • Karl Ove Knausgard
  • D.H. Lawrence
  • Norman Mailer
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Anais Nin
  • Philip Roth
  • Jose Saramago
  • David Shields
  • Rebecca Solnit
  • John Steinbeck
  • John Updike
  • David Foster Wallace

Those authors right there are a pretty big haystack to look for the one book you might need at the moment.  (Note, that was more of a literary and essayist list.  The non-fiction list is probably just as long.)

Each author provides a certain aspect that I really wouldn’t want to live without in my own life.

Good to see Bukowski making your list, a hero of mine.

 

Q5. Last question and the most important question you’ll ever get asked…at least on a site named for Gnomes….Gnomes! Are they heroes or villains and when they take over the world will you be joining them? (and before you ask they will not recommend injecting yourself with bleach to stay healthy, their policies will differ to Trumpy’s.)

………………………………………………………………..

It is at this point that things go quiet.  As I was about to put out a call to Captain America I finally get a response from Kent.

………………………………………………………………..

Sorry for the delay, but gnomes are devious little creatures and I fully blame them for the delay in my response. Gnomes have haunted my life from the very beginning.  I grew up listening to the record of Disney songs, most notably, The Gnome-mobile., a fifty year old earworm.

The Gnome Mobile (1967)

Walter Brennan promoting gnome reproductive rights. . . .

In years to come, I guarantee,
A dozen grandchildren at your knee,
And everyone of them proud to claim,
‘Mulrooney is me middle name.
 

And the whole plot of the show was making sure Jasper got some. I hadn’t realized how gnomes impacted my developmental phase until I got your question. Those damn Disney subversives.

Meanwhile, I was noticing that after I got your question, I was hearing about gnomes everywhere.  Of course there is the classical traveling garden gnome schtick made famous by the wonderful movie Amelie. It isn’t really spoken anywhere, but gnomes seem to have this ability to help people find each other.  Jasper and Shy Violet.  Amelie and Nino.

So I was reading (listening) to  Shorts: A Collection  by J.A. (Carter-Winward), who I found through my own creepy stalkerishness and without gnome help as far as I knew, when I came across her story Patch Kit. As I was listening, I came across this line: “With an unholy screech, our part-cat, part-evil garden gnome leapt from under the bed and gripped Rita’s hair with ferocity.”   Gnome!  The word popped up from out of gnomewhere (There ain’t you glad I gave a Pun warning). Eerily, it also mentioned cats.  Now Rita, if you must know was a be-wigged, blow up doll, but as funny as the whole story is, I was struck by the cat/gnome combo. I have never liked animals. J.A. says that the only reason I’m not a psychopath is because I like children and I keep telling her not to say that, but again, I digress.  Gnome/cats.

Think about it.  Gnomes live for centuries. Cats ostensibly have nine lives, but maybe they just live forever. Gnomes are devious little creatures.  Cats are devious little creatures. Maybe J.A.’s cat/gnomes are responsible for capturing me. I know they make me feed them and empty their litter box every day.  And they demand to be appreciated and as the head of the Gnome Appreciation Society, I’m guessing that is some kind of metaphysical gnome demand.

I’m just rethinking my entire life right now.  I think I may have been spirited away into a romantic comedy with J.A. by cat/gnomes. It feels unsettling. . . .

Sorry, need to go feed the gnomes, they are yowling.

It’s one of those weird anomalies of life, once you acknowledge their existence you’ll see Gnomes everywhere, once you can see past their glamour you’ll notice things like 67% of products in a supermarket are actually Gnomes.  FACT!

 

Just to finish of this here interview….now that you’ve been traumatised….Would you care to share a photo of your bookshelves?

These are some shots of my home library.  I have a library at my office and other bookshelves throughout the house, but this should do it.  Also, I through in a shot of my Bukoswksi shelf and Murakami shelf.  See if anyone knows why the baseball cap.  A mystery.

I Would like to thank Kent for taking part and fully immersing in the madness.  Please follow him on twitter before he starts following you.  I would also like to thank JA Carter-Winward for giving permission to use her poetry in this interview…not that I have asked her for permission but I know her husband and he can face those consequences….in fact he is now my lawyer.

If anybody out there wants to join me in another interview then just give me a shout.

 

 

 

 

 

Interviews

Fake Interview: Geoffrey Chaucer

RockyVsChaucer

Hello everybody, todays interview is with a literary giant of the literary world, he is literally a person who done wrote literature. For me his book is one of the most daunting on my to-read list, mainly because of the language used. I give you Geoff Chaucer

Hello Geoff, how you doing matey?

Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself….just in-case anybody else isnt a cool as me and doesnt know who you are.

I highte Geoff, thou seist ful sooth… Ha ha! Just kidding, Sir. You should’ve seen your face just now. O, the fear in people’s eyes when they hear Middle English again and flashback to their drunken salad days when they were forced to hear my rhymes in school. No, I won’t torture your ears with that pitter pat today. But, I am Chaucer, yes! Geoff to my friends, G-Cizzle to the ladies, and the Father of English Eff’n Poetry to all the haters. I’m an author, a poet, a soldier, a spy… a pawn and a king. LOL. Thanks for having me on the Wordface or your Twitterblog, whatever this is. I’m glad to be here. Shout out to Dante and my boys Boccaccio and Petrarca — Arezzo in the house. Representing.

Q2. Youll have to forgive me here but your name would be perfect for a cop show and as you were mates with John of Gaunt that would make a great partnership. I shall be contacting Netflix to get Chaucer nGaunt produced….Who would you like to see playing the part of John and yourself?

Ah, yes, Johnny OG, aka the Randy Prince. He’s alright, but he’s more my wife’s friend really. And my son’s. My son really loves that guy for some reason. Whatever. That’s not the question. My answer: I’d say Sir Robert of Downy II could best capture his essence, if he has an essence. For me, I’d have to say Kelsey, the Duke of Grammer. I love that Frasier. Johnny O’G got Hulu in the castle crib, and we binge-watched all 11 seasons — Tossed salads and scrambled eggs! And you should totally watch it in Spanish, like we did. Although it did kind of jump the shark once (spoiler alert) Niles and Daphne finally hooked up. 

Q3. In your time did you have any trouble with Gnomes? They are causing all kinds of trouble these days.  

Gno, we didn’t. At least, not as far as I gnome. <— See what I did there? Not bad for an almost 700 year-old poet.

Q4. Tell us a joke from when you was a lad.

I once travelled with a widowed wife of bath

Whose farts were as God’s grapes of wrath.

When you’d least expect them,

They’d explode from her rectum

And beat the well into the well-beaten path.

 

🎤 Drop 

Q5. Heres a question from Abbygayle, aged 7, from Upper Twatton. I heard you was an astronomer? Is that true? Could you tell me my future please.

Certainly, Abbygayle. I can see your future. It’s becoming clearer. I see, yes, that your father or your uncle maybe is a Reverend — a man named Parris. Right? Of course, I’m right? In about 7 years, you, your cousin Bette or Betty and a group of young girls will go into the forest late one foggy night and dance together with a woman named Tituba. Your uncle will find you in the forrest and you will… O, wait. I’m losing the vision. Sorry. I lost it. Forget everything I just said. There’s no Tituba. There’s no Forrest. Everything will be great. Go to sleep.

Q6. If you could rewrite any story ever written which one would you pick and how would you change it?

Easiest question ever! No Negan on The Walking Dead. He ruined everything! #IHateNegan

Q7. Could you give the readers a book recommendation to sit on our fake library?

The most engaging book I’ve read recently in your time was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It doesn’t rhyme or whatever, but not everyone can be the Father of English Eff’n Poetry. Word!

Q8. Ever been contacted with a Ouija board (other than this interview of course)?

No way. How dare you! I only engage with tarot card readers. Silly, host. Ouija boards are for kids. You mad, Hasbro?

Q9. Theres this chap who has done a book inspired by your Canterbury Tales, he has called it The Brubury Tales, you can check it out HERE. Have you read it? Any good? 

Absolutely! I read this book in one sitting and you know what? It’s not half bad. In fact, it’s a solid, credible imitation of my book. He’s not trying to be me or think he’s as good a writer as The Father of Eff’n English Poetry. He’s trying to honor me by imitating me, to the best of his ability. Now imitation is the highest form of flattery, no? Wait, who said that? Was that me or Willie? Whatever. Whoever said it was right on. This Frank Mundo, his whole life, his whole world is about poetry and language and expressing beauty and pain and humor. It took him eight years to write that book of his for me, and he put his whole heart into it. That’s clear. He’s not me, no, and he’ll never be me, but it’s a good book, and it’s worth your time to read it. It even has illustrations now. Plus, the critics all seem to like it. Although that Prince Kirkus of Indie Reviews, who has a lot of power in his field, while he made some fairly nice comments about the writing, completely missed the point of this commendable work. Kirkus said it was not believable to have a bunch of night watchman sitting around telling stories in verse on the graveyard shift. As if it is somehow more believable for a knight, a cook, a Wife of Bath, a Miller and so many other diverse people from English society who would never ever ever even travel together in the first place let alone sit around and tell stories in verse to pass the time during their pilgrimage. Besides, how is the imitator’s story more unbelievable than the original? It’s not! It’s like dinging Shakespeare’s imitator who wrote that wonderful West Side Story for having two merry bands of violent street gangs singing and dancing their stories because it’s not realistic to have two merry bands of violent street gangs singing and dancing their stories — of course it doesn’t make sense. It’s a fracking musical! Because of this, I say don’t listen to grumpy old Kirkus of Indie Reviews in this one case, be willing to suspend the disbelief he couldn’t seem to, (even though he did it for me and my story), and read it for yourself, for what it really is meant to be. Not Chaucer, but a serious yet fun imitation, a thoughtful and carefully crafted adaptation and homage to my life, to my work and to my legacy as the goat.

Q10. We have real dumbass leaders at the moment, one of the biggest has to be President Trump. Who was the dumbest person you know from your era?

Interesting. We had a Nicholas Trump in my day who was a huge ass, too. I think every era has them. No one liked him. He was always lying and scheming and grabbing women by the queynte. You might recognize this particular Nicholas in The Miller’s Tale who I immortalized in my book as the kind of scoundrel no one should want to emulate — a book which, by the way, I hope you do choose to read. It’s not as daunting a book as it might seem. Really! That Mundo fellow thought the same thing for years until one day he finally gave it a go — and it forever changed his life for the better. Plus, and you didn’t hear this from me, but I heard that, as much as he loves my work, that Mundo fellow was most impressed that I used the word fart in my tales — which, of course, I did. You’re darn tooting right I did. 😂

Well that’s that then.  If any kids out there are having to do a book report on Chaucer then make sure you use this 100% accurate interview from beyond the grave as your main source.  I would like to thank Frank Mundo for taking part in this incredible interview.  Check out his work (especially Brubury Tales) on Goodreads. You can also find him hanging out on Twitter.