Friday, July 29, 2011

Two Great Review

I don't post enough reviews of my stories on this rustly ol' blog so I figured now was a good time to start changing that.

Innsmouth Free Press has just posted a wonderful review of Macabre, one that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (or is that the scotch?). Anyway, go check it out to see for yourself. Here's just a little taste:

"The foreword, by Dr. Young, gives an insightful overview of the development of Australian horror literature and sets up the reader for the stories within. The attention to detail, and the hours (upon hours) both editors spent researching and reading, shows their passion for the genre and its cultural significance for those of us who read and write dark fiction."

And this bit:

"There are stories in here for everyone – from those who like their horror dark and visceral, to those who like the quiet creep that lures your imagination into working with them. Macabre, like the stories in the ‘Classics’ section, is an anthology for the ages and I cannot recommend it enough."

Again, that's just awesome. And although the publisher, Brimstone Press, has closed its furnaces, Macabre is still available in all good bookshops, or by contacting me directly. There will also be some POD (Print On Demand) options shortly available, and hopefully it will be re-released as an eBook in the near future.

There has also been a review of Dead Red Heart posted on  It's a good review too (cos DRH is a great collection!). Here's some juicy tidbits:

"With “Desert Blood” by Marty Young bringing back Yara-Ma and “Breaking The Drought” by Jay Caselberg introducing the Wandjina from the DreamTime of Aboriginal creation stories, the vampire stories from Australia are both very rich in myth and psychology..."


"I have been fortunate in this volume not only to be entertained but to actually learn something as well. I recommend Dead Red Heart for readers without a fixed notion of what monsters should be like (or at least the ability to put those notions aside)."

It was given 4 out of 5 tentacles.

For information on where to buy Dead Red Heart, check out Ticonderoga's website.

In other, sadder, news, Blade Red Press is shutting it's doors. They only put out two books during their all too brief existence, but one of them was Dark Pages, which included my story 'Clip Notes.' This anthology was nominated for an Australian Shadows award in 2010, and while it didn't win, here's what the awards' Guest Judge Rocky Wood had to say:

"Dark Pages 1 (and let’s hope there are more) is a treat – a collection of dark fiction ranging outside the horror genre (including science fiction) and including authors from outside Down Under. Marty Young’s neat little “Clip Notes” has the classic Twilight Zone feel to it and is but one example of what makes this anthology a deeply satisfying read."

There's only limited time left to get copies of Blade Red Press' books before they're discontinued, so don't waste time reading this. Go to their website now. Now, I say, now!

Right, I've got a short story to write--oh, just on that note, I've added 5 or so new markets to my Markets page that might be worth checking out... Now then, where's my scotch?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Frightningly Awesome Past Part II

Me being the nutty doctor that I am, with a geekish like of all things dinosaur and geologically past (as I've said once before, where better to get wild and crazy ideas for monsters?), I came across an article in one of my geeky science magazines on some new species of Mesozoic crocodiles.

The one that really caught my eye was this beastie:

It's called a 'BoarCroc' and it lived in the wetlands of the Sahara about 100 million years ago. Nasty looking fella, right?

This chap stood upright and would've been about 6 meters long, with 3 sets of fangs that jutted above and below his snout when it was closed. The BoarCroc has been described as 'rough and tumble,' and as 'a sabre-tooth cat in armour.' It would have also feasted on dinosaurs that came to waterholes to drink, charging up on land to get them.

This thing is awesome--but I'm glad it's extinct...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Disturbing Dinner

So do you fancy your (raw) squid dancing when it's dished up to you?

No? Me either. But it seems that's one option available these days (although maybe not in Australia as the method is banned). This is a Japanese delicacy known as odori-don (dancing squid rice bowl). You get served the squid (have I mentioned that it's raw? No? Oh, well, it's raw) sitting on a bed of rice and when you pour soy sauce over it, the squid comes alive. ALIVE I tell you!

Ckeck it out...

Apparently it's the sodium in the soy that causes the neurons to fire, giving the impression of life. It's all a bit disturbing for this horror writer though. I like my food dead, well cooked, and not moving, thank you--and before you call me a piker, I have tried raw crabs and live shell fish during my trip to South Korea, so I say again, no thank you.

I read about this on and one paragraph in their article stood out: "Of course, the dish is definitely not for everyone and will probably get us into no end of trouble should alien squid monsters ever decide to invade planet Earth like in a manga movie."

Well, we'd probably deserve everything we got...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Amazing Writing Process

Just recently, I found myself stuck on a short story I was writing; I had the idea figured out but I wasn’t sure how to tell the story itself. So I delved into one of the bibles on writing, ‘On Writing Horror’ and read an interesting chapter on characterization by Tina Jens.

Tina suggested finding the character first and then, with one eye on the plot, come up with a fully realized person, someone you know like your best mate--or better. Spend time on a character sheet (where did they grow up? What's their favourite music? What do they do when stressed or angry? What are their political views? Their general philosophy on life? Their eating and drinking habits, their best friend etc. Go the whole hog with 'em, become their stalker until you know everything there is to know about them. You probably won't use all of this in the story but it will help you understand your character in a completely three dimensional way).

And then, as Tina says, listen to them. As you work out the plot, let them sit next to you and explain how they will overcome the obstacles you put in their way (chances are you won't have a choice here). Basically, you'll find them reacting according to their personality, their motivation are desire etc, without any forcing on your behalf.

I've always created character sheets in the past, but only adding in enough detail to get that character through the story, adding in whatever details I need along the way.

Did Tina's way work for me? Yes. Absolutely. Even as I was filling in character details I could see what was wrong with my story. The direction I was trying to take the story was completely wrong. I had the ending right but the path there made no sense, hence why I was getting stuck. My new flesh and blood character pointed out the problems and explained to me how he would really react in that instance, and what he'd do next. None of it was even close to how I was trying to force him to act.

Thanks to my character, he got us to that end point, and the whole thing fitted together seamlessly. The writing part of it turned out to be pretty easy once I'd spent a little bit longer with my character.

Pity I had to mutilate him at the end. He really didn’t deserve that...

And it’s funny how the brain works. In the story I’m writing, I had an important scene in which my character was listening to particular sounds about him. Natural and man-made sounds. I thought to give this scene some depth, I should take time out and go put myself into such a situation and listen to what I could hear—only then I remembered that about 15 years ago I’d done exactly this; I’d sat outside with a notebook and a pencil and for no reason I knew of then, spent a couple of hours writing down what I could hear and how those sounds made me feel.

I filed this notebook away in my filing cabinet filled with other random bits of paper and messed up notebooks and forgot all about it—until yesterday when I suddenly remembered it, and even knew where to find it. Those notes were exactly what I needed for this story.

It's amazing how stuff like that happens.

Pity I can't remember more important things like my wedding anniversary, or to turn off the sprinkler after ten minutes so the vege garden doesn't drown...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Frightening Critters

I just finished watching the last few episodes of season 5 of Primeval, and they had the return of my favourite beasties, the Future Predators. This got me to thinking about some of the other awesome critters that have appeared recently on-screen (or in books); I'm not talking about human monsters, and forget about the classics like Freddy and Jason and Frankenstein and Alien and Predator and Godzilla etc. No, I'm thinking of newer monsters, supernatural or not, that for one reason or another struck a chord with me.

These are the ones I came up with (in no order):

Future Predators (Primeval) - highly evolved vicious (and carnivorous!) descendants of future bats (kind of), that use sonar in place of vision, have their ears on the front of their face, are extremely agile and strong, and lightening quick on their four clawed legs. They just look cool.

The Gentlemen (Buffy) - these ultra creepy demons gave me nightmares when I first saw them on Buffy; bald, pale, human-like things that are always grinning to expose horrible teeth. They wear black suits and don't walk, but float gracefully over the ground. Oh, and they each carry a satchel with a scalpel in it so they can cut out hearts. Damn graceful creepy bastards.

Weeping Angels (Dr Who) - probably the most original and terrifying creature I've come across for a hell of a long time. They are an ancient race of winged humanoid aliens, their origins unknown, who feed off the potential time energy of others--they can send you back through time with a touch, and feed off the energy left behind. The Angels are "quantum-locked," appearing as statues with their hands over their eyes, only able to move when they're not being observed. And then they can move silently and quickly, unsheathing fangs and claws to attack. Just awesome. Once they've seen you, you have to keep staring at them to keep them in the statue form. Whatever you do, don't blink...

Wraiths (Stargate Atlantis) - a vampire-like, telepathic race of aliens who feed off the life-force of humans. They are highly intelligent and technologically advanced, who feed using a feeding organ on the palm of their hand, which they place over a human's chest. Their prey ages when being fed upon, quickly becoming a dry husk. Ruthless, cruel, smart--everything you want in an enemy (on TV). Plus their green greasy-looking skin just adds the final horrible touch.

Clover (Cloverfield) - the giant (25 stories tall) amphibious, semi-quadrupedal "baby" alien that destroys New York (like any good alien should). It's covered in dog-sized vicious parasites that scatter about town to further add to the chaos. The beastie is all the more frightening because it's only seen in glimpses.

There must be others but I can' think of what they are right now (it's too cold, my brain's freezing up, and I really shouldn't have any scotch tonight). I struggled to think of any I'd come across in books I've read recently, too. But then most of the long lasting monsters become immortalised through film, don't they? I mean, when you think of Dracula, it's Bela Lugosi you think of; Hannibal Lecter, it's Anthony Hopkins; It, Tim Curry etc.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Burning Out as per Clive Barker's Advice

Back in November 2009, the AHWA held an online chat for its members with Clive Barker, one of my literary heroes (The Books of Blook volumes 1-6 are amongst my prized possessions). I asked Clive what advice he could give new writers and this was his answer:

"I can certainly throw out some observation about the process of creating which may be of use. Firstly, it's the best & the worst of worlds, because the only fuel you have to make the fire blaze on the page / screen is the stuff of your own being. An artist consumes his or herself in the act of making art. I can feel that consumption even now, sitting here at my desk at the end of a working day. In order to generate the ideas that I have set on the page for the last 10 or 11 hours I have burned the fuel of my own history. This is, obviously a double-edged sword. In order to give, the artist must take from himself. That's the deal. And it's very important to me that the work I do is the best I can make it, because I know what is being burned up to create. As the villain of Sacrament says: "living & dying, we feed the fire."
So in true Barker fashion, I burned myself out last night. I had the house to myself and my shifty sideshow freak of a muse dragged me through hell in order to pull this cursed story from within me. I ended up with a little over 3000 words, most of which I still like today. The story needs work, sure, that's only to be expected, but it's the first short story I've written since October last year (Desert Blood, published in Dead Red Heart).

It felt great burning out like that, giving it my all until I was worn through and could barely make it to bed. Such a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Dance Power!

Ever heard of piezoelectrics? No, it's not some new fandangled static-filled meat pie, but materials capable of converting pressure into electrical energy. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have worked out how to use piezoelectric thin films to turn mechanical pressure into electricity. This means by typing, you could power your laptop, iPad, or iPhone. Built into shoes, each step could help charge your mobile.

A nightclub in London recently built a piezoelectric dance floor, so nightclubbers, by dancing, generate 60% of the power to run the club. What a cool idea.

I wonder if you could add piezoelectric thin films to car tyres. Then you'd have a way a charging your electric car without having to plug it in once you got home.

Piezoelectrics... look out for piezoelectric devices in a store near you soon(ish)...

Stop procrastinating Dr Young!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Back into the Saddle I Go...

Inspired by Jason Fischer's six month writing sabbatical, I think it's time I stopped procrastinating and really, seriously, got back into writing. My shifty sideshow freak muse hasn't been talking to me for a while now, so I should probably take it out for a romantic dinner, some good wine, and see what happens. I have a London-based agent waiting to read novel number 2 as soon as I've finished the edits (the deadline's September!), plus at least two anthologies I'm keen to submit to, so I have pressure!


And I need pressure otherwise I wander. I get lost in translation--or is that procrastination? I get lost somewhere (usually trying to get home).

As I said in a recent post, plans for The Next Big Project are coming along nicely, but something I've realized is how out of date I am now with the spec-fic scene, especially here in Australia. There's so much going on, so many good books coming out by great writers, but I feel as if I've had a blindfold over my eyes for the past 6+ months and the world has sped on without me. Wouldn't have a clue what's happening out there in Penland, and holy cowbells, Batman, where and how do I begin to catch up?? I guess it's time I reinvested myself and soaked up the vibe again. Perhaps get myself to a convention or two. Go and get nutty with writer folks and find out the gossip.

A quick note on e-books again; Copyright Agency Limited has released the results of a digital publishing trends survey, and it makes for some very interesting reading. For a bit of an in-depth discussion of the results, check out Alan Baxter's blog. Well worth a read. A very interesting comment made on Alan's Facebook page regarding this too, from an ex-music industry executive who reminded us all that the music industry went through what the book industry is now going through with the digital revolution, so don't expect those digital books to be going away anytime soon......

Monday, July 04, 2011

I've Been Kindle-d!

So I finally brought my Kindle and y'know what? I quite like it. Actually, it bloody well rocks.

I've sat outside in the sun, feet up and sunnies on, reading on it and the screen with its e-Ink technology works a treat. I've sat at the table, eating lunch and reading, and there was no need to rest my plate on the book to hold it open at the page I was on.

Sure, it's not a book, and sometimes I do feel guilty for using my Kindle instead of a paper book (I'm sure those paper books of mine sitting on my bookcases--and on the floor--in my study have started glaring at me with jealousy. I wonder what type of revenge they could impose..? Maybe tipping my bookcases down on top of me next time I'm lying on the ground beneath them...), but the Kindle is easy to read, it's extremely portable and far easier to hold than a Stephen King tome.

I'll always prefer a proper paper book but my transition to the digital world of reading hasn't been as bad or as traumatic as I'd feared.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Disturbingly Brilliant

Sometimes you read a story and even as you're reading it, you're wishing you could just put down the book and forget the words that have already seared their way into your head but you can't, you can't, you have to keep reading, following the events and the characters and the disturbingly brilliant writing to its conclusion, all the while wishing you could screw shut your eyes against those words so their vile images don't burn, burn, burn their degradation upon your world and so that in the midst of the night, when you're lying there awake instead of sleeping, those visions don't come to you again and unsettle you all over, so they don't disturb you once more and give you reason to hate the genre that is horror and yet at the same time remind you of why you love the genre so very, very much.....