Thursday, 14 October 2010

Tantric Sex and the Short Fiction Competition (and Radio)

It was a dark and stormy night and Edward Bulwar-Lytton strode manfully up Holywell Hill toward the White Hart Hotel notorious for the debauched revelry of St Albans' own Hellfire Club, known in polite Hertfordshire circles by the euphemistic epithet of Verulam Writers' Circle.

Sorry, this post has nothing at all to do with Tantric Sex or Short Fiction Competitions. But now that I have your attention: About my first radio interview...

Well, both Danny Smith and I seem to have survived, but this was in no way thanks to my BT line and/or phone handset, as you may confirm by following this link, kindly provided by Ian Cundell and Verulam Writers' Circle.

Perhaps my next broadcast to the world will be more successful if I update my technology?

Shame really, my call centre was considered state-of-the-ark in an earlier life in the electrical service industry.

IN PASSING (But not too soon, I hope): I'll be reading at the Verulam Writers' Circle Open Mic Night (part of National Short Story Week celebration) at the Goat Inn in St Albans on Thursday 25th November at 7:00pm and again at the amazing SPARKS event in Brighton, also in November, on the same bill as my old mate Jonathan Pinnock (full details to be confirmed later). I just hope the latter event doesn't coincide with another London Underground strike like last time.

BREAKING NEWS (More socially acceptable I find than breaking wind, marginally): Jon P and I (Honestly, we're just good friends) have each received a commission to write a flash fiction piece to accompany an illustration by Andy Bigwood, twice winner of the British Science Fiction Association Art Award, in a forthcoming book of his artwork.

BY THE WAY: It's come to my attention that the lights have been left on again on this blog and the milk's gone off because you've not put it back in the fridge. You're the only visitor I have - yes, you know who you are - so I know who to blame. Look, we must look after the pennies so I can buy a new phone, okay?

Bye for now. Don't have nightmares, I'm quite safe... Well, I would say that, wouldn't I?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Question: Is Steam Radio a Corpse, Zombie or Phoenix?

Answer: None of the above. Radio lives.

Despite the best efforts of Buggles back in the day, rumours of the death of Radio were – as Mark Twain famously remarked on reading his own obituary – '...very much exaggerated'.

Okay, for a few years Radio was a sickly shadow of her past glory days. She subsisted in niche backwaters in those early post-wireless times.

Today, though, thanks to the happy convergence of technologies, the old girl is positively zinging with health.

In fact dear old Radio has had a complete body transplant. She's been botoxed, shaped-up and slimmed down so much that her own daddy, Mr Marconi, would hardly recognise her. She's New Radio.

And thanks to New Radio, the radio star, too, is alive and well. You want proof? Tune in to Radio Verulam, a lively young station entertaining the populace of West Hertfordshire, UK. 'But that's just a little community radio station', the traditionalists might cry.

Yeah. So? It is a 'little' community station. Wanna make something of it?

Er... Apologies for that slight outburst of attitude, but I'm rather protective of my community and its services, you see. And please don't underestimate the power and reach of this - or any other - smaller radio station. Okay?

Sure, there was a time not so very long ago when the 'real professional broadcasters' treated community radio with a condescending smile and figurative pat on the head before sending it out to play by. Not any more.

With the advent of Internet distribution the audience of a good community station is no longer limited by the power of its transmitters. The listen-while-doing-other-things appeal of traditional audio broadcast remains but with the added quality of digital transmission and the ubiquitous reach of the Internet.

Today, the World is a small radio station's potential audience. Given dedicated staff and talented, imaginative, broadcasters with professional aspirations and high standards – Radio Verulam has these qualities – and given time and the right content, I believe the World will listen.

There's one possible downside. Popular Radio Verulam presenter Danny Smith is to interview me on his excellent Drivetime Show, at 5:30 pm BST on Tuesday 13th October. Can Danny and Radio survive this ultimate challenge?

Please, please, don't let anybody ever sing: 'Oscar killed the radio star…'

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Lonliness of the Short Fiction Writer

Novels are yesterday's world, never mind novellas. Short stories are passé. Forget drabbles (stories of exactly one hundred words). Ignore dribbles (stories of fifty words). With Twitter pieces limited to one hundred and forty characters (or fewer), literature is getting shorter; and so it seems are writers - in both patience and stature.

'The exploitation of writers must stop', said short fiction writer Anthony Neil O'Theré (pictured below) interviewed at a recent protest rally. The activist is a regular attendee at the prestigious Verulam Writers' Circle of St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK.

'We devote our days and nights to writing stories only to be offered pennies – if any payment at all – for our creations,' the diminutive protester continued. 'The worst of it is that many so-called online markets tie up our rights in unfair and punitive contracts, which enable them to sell our work, effectively ad infinitum, as text or audio downloads, for cash.'

There is, however, some hope for the future and several forward-looking markets are offering fair contracts, realistic rates and even royalties. 
All too late, perhaps, for Anthony, who is considering a return to his previous employment as a hod carrier for Leggo.