Normally, I’m not all that interested in commenting on politics. I have opinions. Steven Harper’s muzzling of science and wholesale destruction of research and evidence is absolutely heinous. Donald Trump is a repugnant human being. And anyone who supported Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court is an irredeemable moral degenerate. I’m not going to showboat it, but I’m not backing down from it. If that’s a problem for someone… it’s not my problem.
Vaccinations work. Manmade global climate change is a real thing. The people who deny it are either crazy or dishonest. That’s not politics, that’s common sense.
Which takes me to Rush Limbaugh. He’s recently announced Lung cancer.
Let me first say that I’ve lost several family members to Lung Cancer. And more to other kinds of cancer. I would not wish that on anyone, not even Limbaugh. It’s a horrible ugly slow way to die, and I wish him a recovery which is unlikely, or in lieu of that, I wish him a speedy painless death.
Unfortunately for him, it is likely that Rush Limbaugh will die. The survival rate is 5%, and Limbaugh is an older, appallingly obese man in extremely poor physical condition with a history of alcohol, drug addiction, dissolution and waste. That’s not really a good recipe for pulling through.
I’m told, in this ‘Brave New World of Writing,’ that it is marketing uber alles. I need a brand. I need to be a brand. I need a platform. I need to create content, lots of free content, to give away, so that people will pay for some other content. How charming.
So anyway, here goes.
If you look up some place called Wattpad, I offer you an novel length freebee in many installments.
The New Doctor: A Doctor Who Alternate History
You’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, this is fanfiction, I don’t read fanfiction!”
Or you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t even know/care about Doctor Who, why would I want to read this?”
My god, but you’re a ‘hard to please’ bunch!
Let me assure you – The New Doctor: A Doctor Who Alternate History, is not actually fanfiction, and it is not really about Doctor Who! Unless of course, you want it to be, in which case it is. It’s a Schrodinger’s cat kind of thing, it both is and it isn’t.
Let me explain.
So, I was having a conversation with someone the other day, and they were railing on about ‘woke’ media and ‘SJW’s and ‘Mary Sues,’ ‘political correctness’ and the whole nine yards.
Then he said something that got me.
He said, “Why do they have to have all these political agendas. Why can’t they just tell a good story without politics like in the original Star Trek.”
I burst out laughing. I couldn’t stop it. It just came roaring out of me. One second, we’re having a conversation, the next second, I’m bent over laughing uncontrollably. I was just taken by surprise.
Because the original Star Trek has an episode all about racism, involving white/black people being racist to black/white people. They did stories about racism. About sexism. About overpopulation. Pollution. The Cold War. They did everything.
Not only did they have all these political agendas, but they were absolutely ham handed about it every step of the way. They were totally anvillicious. Star Trek always wore its politics on its chest, and was as subtle as a bull in a china shop.
So, I’m just laughing helplessly, I can’t stop it, and he’s looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head. He’s trying to decide whether he should be offended.
And I make it worse. I say….
“Have you actually ever even watched Star Trek?”
That’s it, he’s offended.
Is that an awesome poster or what? It just radiates demented testosterone. Crazy stuff. You see it on the internet making the rounds. I don’t know who did it, but it’s cool. The idea has been around for a while. There’s a Gary Larson cartoon about a western saloon with a saddled grizzly bear tethered next to the horsetrough – the implication being that the rider is really tough.
Yep, I wrote an entire book about Bear Cavalry.
That’s kind of peculiar. Even more peculiar, I really want you to buy it.
But here we are, and I thought, this might be a good subject to use to talk about my process as a writer. So I thought I would dissect The Bear Cavalry, A (Not) True History of the Icelandic Bear and explore how that came about.
I find, as a writer, that I’m kind of nihilistic. I’m not sure that’s exactly the right word, but it will do.
Basically, as a writer, I’m not chasing an audience. I just write what I really want to write about. Simple as that. Does it interest me? Is it fun. I mean, let’s face, it’s not as if anyone in the world is sitting there waiting for my next story or novel. I’m cool with that. If they aren’t, then I’m free, aren’t I? I can just happily do whatever I want! Whenever I want! Yay me!
So what motivated me to write about bears, apart from that very awesome piece of art?
Well, I’ve just watched the best episode of Doctor Who I’ve seen in a couple of years.
So I think this is probably a good time to talk about my relationship to that program. After all, I’m an acknowledged expert on some tiny corner of the Doctor’s Universe.
To start with: The Doctor is an alien time traveller who wanders through the universe, past present and future, having adventures, getting into situations, rescuing people and writing wrongs. Because he or she is an alien, he/she periodically dies and regenerates into a new body. This is a very convenient trick, since it allows the show to keep replacing the actors who play the Doctor. The Doctor has a particular fondness for Earth, and usually brings along an Earthling, or a succession of Earthlings as travelling companions. The Doctor is a bit of an eccentric, his time machine is stolen and it doesn’t quite work right all the time, and for peculiar reasons, it’s stuck in the shape of an antique English police telephone booth.
And if doesn’t that sound like a pretty dubious premise, I don’t know what is.
What it amounted to where conventionally dressed Brits wandering around a shabby blue box, against painted backdrops and cardboard sets, pretending that the cockney’s accosting them were aliens from the far future.
Yes, it really was that dubious.
I published my first story when I was thirteen. I have that in common with Ray Bradbury.
Actually, I published two of them. So take that Bradbury!
That’s probably the only thing I have in common with him. Maybe there’s other things. Maybe we both don’t like pineapples. Stuff like that. But really, as a writer, that’s probably the only thing.
It’s not really anything extraordinary. I was in Junior High School. In Language Arts, we had a teacher named Misses Emery, a red haired, portly matron of very fixed opinions, who made us write stories.
I did this thing called ‘The Monster Race.’ Basically, aliens come to earth, and after a brief friendly first contact, they start reading up on us and discover we are horrible people. But it’s too late, by the time they figure out we’re bad news, we slaughter them, reverse engineer their spaceship, and now we’re out in the Universe, spreading like a virus.
I suspect it wasn’t especially brilliant. It’s the sort of thing a precocious thirteen year old with a cynical streak might write in the early 1970’s, or … the 1930’s. But she was impressed enough by it that she sent it to the local newspaper, the Dalhousie News, and they published it.
Back in 2017, when I was promoting The Mermaid’s Tale, I did an interview with Jesse Teller for his web site. I was looking around, and it’s still a pretty good interview. Since The Luck is on the way, I thought I’d post a link.
Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
My earliest memory—that’s earliest memory of ANYTHING—was dragging my little brother in his high chair towards the blackboard, so that I could draw Batman adventures for him. I was telling stories before I could read or write.
My first published stories were when I was 13 in the local newspaper. Off and on, I’ve been writing my entire life. It’s a compulsion. I can’t not write. I quit. But sooner or later, it sneaks back.
I think that humans have a creative impulse. We can’t help ourselves. Prisoners in jail cells draw on their walls, housewives create elaborate gardens or they paint pottery. We have to do these things.
She should have killed it the moment she found it.
But she didn’t. Killing is what orcs are known for. But when a nameless orcs finds an injured gnome in her nest, an impulse towards mercy catapults them both into a desperate odyssey through a multi-racial city.
Wizards and clandestine societies contend, faceless armies clash in the night and races and nations are drawn into the search for a stolen talisman of ultimate power, all at the behest of a mysterious puppet master.
The orc’s trength and savagery are worthless to her in a world of shadows and deception. Instead, she and her new companion must navigate a cryptic landscape of ever changing rules.
In order to save them both, the orc must master the ultimate game and solve the riddle of the magical object known as The Luck.
I’ve been writing about my kaiju novel, my big giant monsters smashing Seoul, project.
Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs isn’t about that though. The title is confusing, but it’s completely different. This is a collection of short stories.
It’s not especially about giant monsters. There’s a big giant Godzilla-style lizard in one, and there’s a bigfoot in the other, and that’s about it.
But what it’s really about is melancholy horror. Horror is often supposed to be cathartic. A monster comes along, and either you kill it, or it eats you, the end. It gets resolved one way or the other.
But does it. Do we always live happily ever after once the vampire is staked or the giant monster is bombed? What about living with the consequences? What about the aftermath, the survivors, the recovery. Injuries leave scars, and we have to learn to live with those scars.
So I was interested in the sadness and horror.
That’s what this collection is about. Let me run through the stories for you….
Fossils – What do you do with a giant fire breathing monster that can’t be killed? Well, get out of town. I had this idea for a kaiju wandering around an evacuated Tokyo. An entire city emptied out and silent, and just this solitary creature.
There are a lot of giant monsters out there in movies, Toho has an entire cinematic universe. But mainly, they’re one offs. Each monster is unique, its alone, it’s its own species.
That’s kind of poignant when you think of it. To be so powerful and so alone.
So that’s where I started.
Yeah, I realize that’s going to get me picked up on some really peculiar search engines. Bummer.
My current project is writing a Kaiju novel. Kaiju, I believe, is Japanese for ‘strange monsters’ and is the preferred term for the genre of mostly Japanese giant monster movies. Personally, I describe Kaiju as any fictional/literary giant monster, including American and European contributions like King Kong, Gorga, the Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, the giant Tarantula and so forth. But I think for purists, its only Japanese and maybe Korean.
There’s also a term for movies and television series about guys in spandex leotards grow to giant size to fight giant monsters – Ultraman, Spectreman, Zone Warrior, the Power Rangers etc. – that’s apparently Kyodai Hero. Robots are allowed to be Kyodai Heroes as well, but only if they grow.
Overall, Japanese film or television which makes heavy use of special effects is known as Tokusatsu. So, hey, thanks for stopping by, you learned something useful.
Now where was I?
Oh yeah, writing a giant monster novel.
You don’t really see a lot of those.
Mostly, giant monsters are inherently suited much more to a visual medium. Godzilla for instance has starred in about thirty-six movies over the last seventy years. But the big G hasn’t shown up in a lot of novels.
So actually figuring out how to write one is kind of a challenge.