Saturday 22 February 2014



Oh, come on.


We waited ten years for that?

Ten years!

(Yes, okay, nine. I only just got round to watching it.)

I'm going to be honest about this, I don't care what anyone thinks of me - I bloody love Riddick. The whole concept: the books, the films, the anime - and probably the games if I ever had the time to play them.

Unlike most, I am completely okay with the fact they can't stick to a genre - or even the same characters (or character names) - for more than one instalment. I'm good with that. Because it's a kick-ass concept which could go anywhere. A story flexible enough to work as a horror movie, a futuristic sci-fi adventure, and a cartoon. I mean - wow. That doesn't come along very often.

All those poor writers out there weeping over the fact they got typecast in genre fiction. What would they give to be able to take their favourite character and apply him/her/it to a completely different backdrop?

Riddick was the first and only thing that inspired me to test out fanfiction, years before I ever decided to write a novel. 

Which is why I feel so bitterly disappointed about the threequel.

Pitch Black took $23mil to make. This was apparently $38mil. How can you take a 65% increase in budget and essentially make the same film - only worse?

Stuck on a planet with man-eating monsters. You already did that, really well, back in 2000. 

I thought the whole being-stuck-on-a-planet thing was just the opener, like Chronicles of Riddick. An hour-and-a-half later, I would gladly have taken the dog's place when they shot it.

There was such huge potential with CoR. You could have gone anywhere, done anything. Crossed the boundaries of death into Underverse. 

An amoral killer in charge of a vast, merciless army... 

...and you give him a puppy!?

If I wanted to see that crap, I'd buy an underwear calendar.

It made me laugh to read

One interesting note, the audience for Riddick was 37% Hispanic and 53% over-30.

Well, I wasn't over thirty when it came out! 

I was nineteen. 

Now, I'm over thirty.

That is how long it has taken us to get from awesome original to diabolical rehash.

Now they reckon there's another one in the pipeline. Perhaps it'll be out before I collect my pension. Vin Diesel ain't getting any younger, either. There's going to come a time when playing Riddick isn't going to be so much fun.

It just felt like it was playing to the gaming crowd rather than the film fans. There is more money to be made in gaming than movies. Running around a world, battling giant scorpions, is going to be much easier to turn into a shoot-'em-up than an elaborate world with complex characters and meaningful dialogue.

Not that gaming/film interplay is always a bad thing - after all, it brought us Silent Hill.

But, truly, I was expecting more.

I'm off to sulk.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Happy Burp-day 2 Me

I've been on a road trip the past few days, eating lots of cake.

This is a good thing.

I also received a lovely compliment via Twitter:

@ClaireJulieJ: just been given a copy of Georgie to read. I cannot put this book down, it's brilliant! Can't wait to read your other books.

I will never, ever get over the novelty of having people I've never met say how much they have enjoyed a story I've told.

There's an incredible buzz that comes from trading in imagination.

So, thank you Claire. That made my day!

Best birthday gifts you can give an author:

  • Buy a book, for yourself or for a friend
  • Write a (nice) review
  • Drop them a line to tell them how much you've enjoyed their work

Then eat cake!

Sunday 16 February 2014

Lost in Translation

Oh, this is brilliant!

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. 
Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".

Saturday 8 February 2014

Prince of the Pagodas

Quick shout out to my extremely talented cousin, William Bracewell, who is dancing as the Salamander in Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Prince of the Pagodas. He even got an honourable mention in the Independent.

They're playing Birmingham, Plymouth and London until the end of March. Booking information online. If you get a chance, please go see 'em!

Friday 7 February 2014

Immortal Starfish

Last year I was one of the winners of the Intergeneration Storytelling Competition (find them on Facebook) with my short story Hush Hush. I've just been informed that this year I've earned a Certificate of Distinction, along with a lovely letter from the organiser.

That's rather nice.

It's always a boost to know that people like what you write.

It's called Immortal Starfish, and I must admit, I'd just finished reading Hal Johnson's Immortal Lycanthropes at the time, and the idea of immortality sort of chimed with the generational theme, so I followed it through. 

You were invited to submit a picture too this year, so I submitted the one above, which I drew with my friend Martine's pastels, which she gifted to me before going off on her travels.

I do apologise for the semi-colon, but it's there now.


Immortal Starfish

The sea holds all of us together; everything that ever lived. 

It’s where the first stirrings of life occurred, in that primordial star juice smoothie of pre-creation. Clouds rise from its salty surface and deliver rain. It may taste fresh as we hold our noses and lie back in the bathtub – but it isn’t.

It is thousands of millions of trillions of billions of years old. 

We are none of us new.

I was three months old when my grandfather first took me to the cave behind his house, swaddled in my mother’s arms. I don’t remember, but the evidence is still there. 

She held out my hand, pressed firm to the cool rock, whilst a dozen candles caused our shadows to dance.

My grandfather had been an extraordinary man. I know this, because I never met another like him. He spent ten years with the Gundungurra tribe, half the world away in the Blue Mountains of Australia. As an anthropologist, he was supposed to study their customs and write research papers on their language, back in the days when they took aboriginal children away from their mothers and tried to make them white.

Only, my grandfather never turned up to collect his grant. 

After a year, they declared him dead.

He wasn’t dead. 

He’d just gone ‘walkabout’.

He had discovered the immortal starfish. A cave full of them: women, warriors, infants and elders. Hundreds of them, dating back a thousand years or more. It’s a tourist destination now, but they hadn’t invented tourism them. 

When I was eight, he taught me how to make them myself. It was a warm, balmy night. Fireflies lined the entrance to the cave like the landing lights to an airport, only I thought of it more as a portal. A mystical, magical entrance to the underwater world of our imagining.

You need to get the consistency right. You stir in powdered ochre with fresh water from the spring in the woods. The pigment turns it red like blood, or yellow as butter if you use turmeric.

Then you press your palm against the rock, fill your mouth with liquid, make puffer fish of your cheeks, and blow.

Capturing history is a messy business, it goes everywhere. When you remove your hand – there it is. An immortal starfish. A fragment of time that says ‘I was here.’  A moment that never ages. 

There’s a lifetime of them now. The last starfish my grandfather made before he passed away is a big blue one right by the entrance. Even now, as an adult, my own hand is much smaller than his. There are starfish from when my mother was a girl, and two that she did much later, when she had us – blue for me, and pink for my sister. Even though I never met my grandmother, I can place my hand over hers and know that we are touching through the generations. 

We hold our history in the palm of our hands.

Monday 3 February 2014

Celtx Competition

I've mentioned in the past how fabulous Celtx are, providing a free alternative to Final Draft, as well as including novel formatting software (which I will get around to trying at some point!). They also support a lot of new filmmakers through their Seeds grants. I have a serious amount of love for these guys.

I'm also pleased to announce a huge giveaway collaboration between Celtx and Pagan Writers Community (that 50k Facebook post I made a while back).

Loads of prizes up for grabs, including annual subscriptions for Celtx Pro Online Workspace worth $69.99 a pop.