How I Spent March 2020

DorisMarcch2020Well, what can I say? Like vast chunks of humanity I’ve been trapped indoors, feeling anxious about the shape of the world, and trying to mute that anxiety by keeping myself occupied.

One small aspect of the pandemic I’ve noticed through social media is that the crisis has drawn a sharp division between the haves and have-nots in terms of free time. I’m fortunate enough to be in the privileged class, and so I’ve been using my time to get stuck into my personal projects. After all, I’ve got a novel to work on, along with two non-fiction books (plus an article series that’ll soon be long enough to turn into a book itself) and a couple of script ideas. Not to mention the comic I’m writing, Midnight Widows – I’ve recently set up a Twitter account to promote it.

No time for me to worry: onward ho!

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for April and beyond:


March 2020: A Month in Horror


When I started this series of monthly genre round-ups late last year, I had little idea that I would soon be writing a post which, from the title “March 2020: A Month in Horror”, could easily have been mistaken for commentary on current events. But here we are.

A lot of people have made the obvious comparison between our era of deserted city streets and the imagery of zombie films. I considered illustrating this post with a shot from 28 Days Later, but no, too obvious. So, I went with a tribute to Max von Sydow instead. He died this month, you know; so did Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon and Exorcist/Shining composer Krzysztof Penderecki. I feel a little uncomfortable at highlighting celebrity deaths in the midst of a global pandemic, but then, this is a genre round-up – so let the rounding up commence.

The big story in horror, of course, is part of the larger story of how COVID-19 has impacted the entertainment industry. Films have been delayed, including Antlers, A Quiet Place Part II and New Mutants. In a grimly ironic footnote, The Hunt – previously delayed due to political controversy – finally came out just in time for cinemas around the world the begin shutting up shop. Conventions are likewise being postponed – Stokercon UK amongst them – and it remains to be seen how many cons will actually take place in physical form during 2020.

Meanwhile, creative across the board are contributing to our new quarantined society. Brian Keene has been writing regular blog posts offering sober (and sobering) comments on the implications of the pandemic for writers. Many writers and content-creators have been putting their work online for free, as a bit of escapism for those of us trapped indoors – see Horror Scholar’s useful list for some genre-relevant resources. There’s plenty there to tide us over as April beckons

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Bumper Book of British Bizarro

bizarroCoverForTheHorrorTreeI’m proud to announce that my short story “The House of Joy” will be appearing in The Bumper Book of British Bizarro, due out later this year. Here’s a full list of contributors:

Short stories

Madeleine Swann
Die Booth
Leigham Shardlow
Tom Over
Greg James
Anthony Mercer
Chris Meekings
Gem Carley
Bill Davidson
Frank Key
Luke Kondor
Matt Davis
Duncan P. Bradshaw
Chris Kelso
DJ Tyrer
Peter Caffrey
Craig Bullock
Jay Slayton
Doris V Sutherland
Preston Grassmann
Dani Brown
Anthony Mercer
DJ Tyrer
Chris Meekings
Art and Photography
Bill Purnell
Will Mcdaniel
Quentin Smirhes
Lo Fi Guy
With an introduction by:
Mandy De Sandra

Of Laptops and Libraries

I have a PC laptop; it’s where I do my writing when I’m at home. But it has a catch — a pretty big one. Long story short, it can’t connect to the Internet, and hasn’t been able to for several years now. I have a tablet, which I use for browsing the web, but it’s basically useless for writing on.

Now, that’s not the best home set-up for someone who writes online. Which is why, for some time, I’ve been reliant on libraries to get work done. But a short while ago it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to rely on those libraries much longer.

I’ve splashed out on a nice, affordable laptop, one with a functional web connection. It arrived yesterday and I’m writing this very post with it. It’s doing the job, but I have to say, I miss the library.

Libraries are far from the only areas hit by the coronavirus, of course. But speaking purely in terms of personal experience, their loss is the one that has so far hit me the hardest.

Libraries are important, for many reasons. I can only hope that, when all of this is over, they are able to recover.


Chick Tracts Go Tron in Virtual Reality?


Today I happened across what I believe to be the first Chick tract of 2020: Virtual Reality?, from the standard post-Chick team of writer David W. Daniels and artist Fred Carter. I was pretty eager to read it: was the Chick empire doing for virtual reality what it had so famously done for Dungeons and Dragons?

Well… not exactly.

Continue reading “Chick Tracts Go Tron in Virtual Reality?

The Sordid Life of a Novelist

I’m still working on my novel, and I’ve recently clocked it up to 36,000 words. It’s looking pretty likely to be my second novel to see publication, but the first — which I sent off to my publisher not too long ago and hope to be able to discuss in the near future — is a TV tie-in written to a brief. Obviously, that’s a different animal to writing an original story.

One trick I’ve learnt that I’d like to pass on to any neophyte authors out there: if you have an ebook reader, make regular ebook copies of your draft for proofreading/editing, even if the draft is only partial. I suspect I’ll be greeted with a round of “well, duh” responses — it does seem like an obvious bit of advice, after all — yet I’ve never heard anyone make this suggestion. It really does make all the difference: when I’m looking at my draft in Word, it’s just a bunch of stuff I’ve written; but when I’m reading it on my Kindle, it’s suddenly become a book, and I can read it with the same critical eye I can read any other ebook. It becomes a lot easier to notice weak points.

Continue reading “The Sordid Life of a Novelist”