London Comic Con

London Film and Comic Con

Us and Sarah

Yesterday, we did something that we’d never thought we do – went to London Comic Con. It shocks people when we tell them we’ve never been to London. There are places we want to visit – Highgate Cemetery, the Tower, the Dungeons, the Chamber of Horrors – y’know, pleasant touristy stuff, but London terrifies us. Its population is almost three times the size of Wales’s. That’s why it scares us. Deep down inside the healing versions of ourselves, are still the social anxious wrecks that used to be in control. And when it comes to London, these demons rise to the surface and dissuade us from going.

London Film and Comic Con

Oogie Boogie

London Film and Comic Con

Thor. He even sounded like him.

But Ron Perlman changed our minds. We’d already agreed with our mate, Andrew, that the three of us had to meet him. Then he cancelled. We didn’t. Andrew tries to persuade us every year but we never end up going. This year was different. Some members of our gym class, Sarah, Lloyd and Ellie, also wanted to go so the six of us travelled up in Sarah’s minibus. And this time, we were in costume. We like to theme our costumes – Freddy vs Jason, or we go as the same thing – Silent Hill nurses, ghost pirates, etc. This time, we went as Mileena and Kitana from Mortal Kombat 9. Mileena is Kitana’s clone (mixed with blood from a Tarkatan warrior, hence her teeth) so it’s perfect for twins. Being the eldest twin, Lynx was Kitana. Being the evil twin, Cat was Mileena. It’s one of the few games we’ve played on the PS3 that isn’t Streets of Rage or Golden Axe. We bought the costumes because we have no sewing talent, although we did make Kitana’s fans. Well, we painted fans and cut out the blades from card, painted them and glued them on. We even colour co-ordinated our nail varnish and underwear with the costumes, seeing as the costumes didn’t cover a lot.

London Film and Comic Con

Hellboy

London Film and Comic Con

Green Arrow

London Comic Con wasn’t the crush we expected. We thought we’d have to fight our way down the aisles. Or use our usual method of letting Andrew create a path through the crowd and follow in his wake. He’s 6’5 and an ex rugby player. People move for him. The traders tables were more spread out than they are in Cardiff, allowing for wide aisles which made it a pleasure to walk through. Being 5’1 in a crush means you’re armpit level with most people. It’s not a nice place to be. Loads of people loved our costumes and we couldn’t go anywhere without people wanting photos of us or with us. One teenager was a little embarrassed so his mum pushed him forward and we flanked him. One photographer ambushed us before we’d even got inside. We looked fabulous still wearing our hoodies. A few photo journalists took our photo and had us do fight poses, though one didn’t know who Mileena and Kitana were. Even the ice cream van man outside wanted our photo!

London Film and Comic Con

Son of Harpy

One of the highlights was being asked to do a fight scene for a 360 vr headset. We had to stand either side of the camera, looking like we were squaring off then circle the camera pretending to fight. Luckily we still remember our karate moves, though we may have to take up tessenjutsu (the art of fighting with war fans,) and sai fighting. The guy was really impressed and asked if we’d choreographed it as we were perfectly in sync. Nope. We were terrified we’d cock the whole thing up as we didn’t have time to practise and had to wing it, but Andrew said it looked cool. We don’t always wear costumes when we go to cons, but when you do, you experience the event differently. Had we gone in our regular clothes, we wouldn’t have been asked for photos, or been asked to do the fight scene. Although we do often get asked who we’ve come as. Maybe we should say we’re cosplaying C L Raven.

London Film and Comic Con

Boba Fett

And then we attempted to talk to a celebrity. Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley in Supernatural. If there’s one thing we shouldn’t be allowed to do, it’s talk to celebrities. In Wales Comic Con last year, Cat attempted to flirt with Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Game of Thrones’s Jaqen H’ghar. It went like this: Cat “You’re actually really hot in real life.” Tom “You’re going on my list.” He plays an assassin. This wasn’t a great list to be put on. We vowed we would not disgrace ourselves in front of a man who plays the king of Hell. We broke our vow. Spectacularly. At first he looked confused, like we were speaking another language. Then we joked about kidnapping the cast of Supernatural. He looked scared. Even more so when Cat asked him how fast could he run. That’s when threats of the FBI were bandied about and we decided leaving was our best option.

London Film and Comic Con

Us and Steven as Jason Vorhees. We meet at most cons.

It was a big thing for us to wear such revealing costumes. We’ve always hated our bodies and never exposed them. We didn’t wear short sleeves until we were 17. Then we started polefit and were forced to get our legs out. As we became more advanced, we had to wear less clothes so our skin would help us stick to the pole. So we’re now more comfortable revealing our bodies, however, we still hate them. Cat gained weight from fluid retention after going on the pill last year and can’t stand looking at herself in the pole/gymnastics videos. Whereas Lynx feels she’s too skinny. We’re not fishing for compliments or comments counter-arguing this, we’re just explaining why wearing the costumes was a big deal for us. Especially since our legs were covered in IPL burns and polefit bruises and we also had polefit bruises on our arms and hips. Plus Cat has the big burn on her stomach from the baking tray incident. But people loved the costumes and we met many Mortal Kombat fans. We will be bringing Mileena and Kitana back for Cardiff Film and Comic Con in September. We have a table there, so come along, say hi and let us dance.

London Film and Comic Con

Twintality!

Tumbleweeds

We are on our way to becoming superheroes. No, we haven’t been bitten by a spider, or received experimental super soldier drugs. We’ve joined a gymnastics class. Anyone who’s watched our Calamityville episodes is probably laughing right now. We can barely stay on our feet when walking, how would we cope with somersaults? Faceplanting in the foam pit is our common method of landing. Our sister did gymnastics when we were kids. We weren’t interested. It was too girly for us and we didn’t want to wear leotards. So what, at age 34, convinced us change our minds?

Polefit.

4 years ago, Cat was strong-armed into joining a 8 a.m. physio class to help her back into exercise after her third knee operation. At first, she refused – 8 a.m. is too early to be so active, so her physio played on her desire to heal and said “if you want to get back to exercise quicker, join the class.” Whilst there she met a guy called Ryan, who taught gymnastics. He tried to persuade us to join his class back then but we were still quite anxious and weren’t confident enough to join a class. Plus Cat’s knee wouldn’t have coped with the impact. Fast forward 4 years to Cardiff Comic Con. Ryan came to our table and after catching up, he uttered the fatal words “you know what will help you with Polefit? Joining my gymnastics class.”

We are highly competitive in sports and we’re completely obsessed with Polefit. Most of our Instagram is filled with Polefit ladies and men and we watch all their videos, wishing we could be that good. And one of our goals is to do flips on the pole. So when Ryan said he could help us achieve that, we swallowed our fear and joined the class. A month later. It takes time to summon the courage to do something scary like joining a new class full of strangers. And every single aspect of gymnastics terrified us. It took us 6 months to conquer our fear of being upside down on the pole! And yet we were going to be doing somersaults, asymmetric bars, the beam and back flips. There wasn’t a single part of gymnastics that appealed to us, apart from using it to be good at pole.

But in April, we fought against our natural instinct to back out and we went to Planet Gymnastics. We sat in the car park for a while, psyching ourselves up. Then we did it. And we were terrible. Beyond terrible. We’re probably the worst gymnasts the sport has ever had. But we didn’t care. We’ve never done a handstand, forward rolls terrify us (for fear of breaking our necks) and we’re as graceful as an ice skating spider. But we kept going. Every week, we showed up, kept trying and kept failing. But we loved it. Now we can hold a handstand for a few seconds, forward rolls don’t terrify us so much (but we still don’t like them) and we’re still as graceful as an ice skating spider. We won’t talk about the asymmetric bars. We can’t even get on the damn things. The first time Ryan tried pushing us backwards into a spin, we fought against him and resisted for as long as we could. We’re not easy to teach.

We faceplant all the time but we’re having fun and we’ve made new friends. We even convinced one of the guys to don a dinosaur suit and do some tricks. And we’re learning somersaults, back flips and aerials (no-handed cartwheels). The gym is now filled with our shrieks, laughter and “I can’t get out of the fucking foam pit!” Each time we learn something new, we have to conquer our fear all over again. Hell, each time we do something we’ve already learned, we still have to silence the fear. But we’re doing things we never thought we were capable of doing. Scared? Absolutely. Enjoying it? Most definitely. And we are finally becoming the superheroes we always wanted to be.

We just need to learn to land on our feet…

Watch our first three months here.

The Amazing Maurice

Since we first heard of Monstrous Productions a few years ago, we have been to every play. This year, we were faced with the unpleasant realization that we were going to miss one, due to being in Doncaster for Digicon. Fortunately, director Amy Davies kindly spared us the sadness of missing their latest play by allowing us to come to the tech run, as we’ve been part of the company when we played the snake twins in Witches Abroad.

And we’re so grateful for that or we would have missed a fantastic play.

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents follows streetwise tomcat Maurice and his educated rat friends. They’re educated due to eating magic-tainted waste thrown out by the Unseen University. This has allowed them to think and speak and develop a love of stories. Every town in Discworld knows that the best way to get rid of rats is to hire a piper who leads them to a river. (Don’t tell anyone rats can swim.) So Maurice has come up with a plan to make money – the rats invade a town, gnaw on wood, widdle on food and generally behave like the uneducated rats. Then Maurice found a stupid looking kid – Keith – who can play the pipe. He leads the rats out of town and collects the money, which Maurice looks after.

Then they visit the town of Bad Blintz and their plan is discovered by a young, story-loving girl, Malicia, who is convinced that everything has a plot – including life. And there’s the slight problem of other rat catchers being in town who capture rats not to kill them, but to make them fight terriers. Darktan, played by Josh Stevenson-Hoar, is military minded and organises the rats into three camps: Widdlers, Trap Experts and Food Destroyers. Their mission is to cause as much chaos as possible. One rat, Peaches, is obsessed with a story called Mr Bunnsy Has An Adventure and believes it’s real. She uses it as a guide and carries it everywhere she goes. Hamnpork is old and grumpy and convinced Darktan is trying to take over as leader. He is captured by the ratcatchers and put in the terrier ring but Darktan abseils down to rescue him and fights off the dog himself. The rats get their names from food tins and packages.

Then of course, the real Piper shows up. He’s paid far more money than Maurice and his educated rodents are. Keith challenges him to a pipe-off. Sardines, the tap dancing rat, dances for Keith. No rats respond to the Piper as they have cotton wool in their ears. Keith is then given the job as the town’s Piper.

Maurice was played fantastically by Matthew Hitchman. Being owners of 5 cats (12 in our lifetime) we can say that his was a very realistic portrayal of a cat. Becca Smithers, who played Malicia did a great job of being an overenthusiastic know-it-all. All of the actors played their parts brilliantly and it was nice seeing new faces as well as the regular cast. There wasn’t a single bad performance and the actors’ enjoyment of their roles really shows.

The set and props were the most ambitious yet, with shed walls for the rat catchers’ hut and a white screen with shadow puppets for the fighting ring. Clever lighting was used to represent a man hole cover in the sewers. There was also a brilliant use of red lighting and a scary voice recording for the King Rat to show it in Maurice and the rats’ minds. It added a chilling element to what was otherwise, a very funny play. There was also an excellently choreographed fight scene between Maurice and several of King Rat’s minions, which resulted in the deaths of Maurice and Dangerous Beans. But Maurice behaves very un-cat like when he trades one of his lives for Dangerous Beans’s and both are returned to life.

We’ve never read Maurice so had no idea what to expect. We loved it, and now we need to read the book. It shows that you don’t have to have read anything by Pratchett to be able to enjoy the plays Monstrous Productions put on. The acting, sets and behind the scenes work cannot be faulted. It’s clear from the actors’ performances how much they love the plays. Monstrous Productions outdo themselves with each one, which isn’t an easy feat. We hope there will be many more plays and can’t wait for the next one.

Cast

Maurice – Matthew Hitchman

Keith – Ben Harder-Allen

Malicia – Becca Smithers

Darktan – Josh Stevenson-Hoar

Peaches – Sarah Roberts

Dangerous Beans – Josh Flynn

Sardines – Asher Townsend

Hamnpork – Harry Spencer

Ron – Tony Beard

Bill – Jamie Gibbs

Nourishing – Katya Moskvina

Mayor – Terrance Edwards

Delicious – Ellen Warren

Feedsfour – Loz Shanahan

Special Offer – Davina Darmanin

Bitesize – Sarah Burrow

Kidney – Jasmine Iskasson

InBrine – Isabelle Burman

Piper – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Agent – Gavin Rea-Davies

Sergeant – John Simpson

Gary – Paul Woolley

Nigel – John Dent

Death & mask maker – Matt Burnett

KeeKee – Nick Dunn

Going Postal

Going PostalGold suits, golems and undelivered mail. On Friday night we went to see Monstrous Productions‘ latest play, Going Postal.

We read the book once we found out this would be the next play performed by the Cardiff-based theatre group. We never miss a play and each time it gets bigger and better and we wonder how the hell they’ll pull the next one off, as they get more ambitious every time. But they always do, with a brilliant cast and crew and a minimal set that really works. The Gate arts centre is the perfect venue for it.

Going PostalDirected by Amy Davies and Edward Thomas, Going Postal tells the story of Moist Von Lipwig – con artist extraordinaire. He’s due to be hanged for his crimes but Lord Vetinari, played brilliantly by Michael Dickinson-Smith decides to hire him as the new Postmaster. Well he has two choices – be the new Postmaster or walk out the door and into a pit. He decides being the Postmaster is a better option.

Going Postal

Asher as Moist Von Lipwig

About five previous postmasters have all died. Health and safety just isn’t up to scratch. The problem is, the post hasn’t been delivered in fifty years and the letters aren’t happy about this. Then there’s the Grand Trunk and their clacks towers to contend with and they’re not exactly pleased about the post office opening back up and stealing their business. The hanging scene was one of our favourites in the book and it still made us laugh. The gallows humour is exactly our type of humour so we were pleased it was performed so well.

Going Postal

Michael as Vetinari

Asher Townsend, who plays Moist, was fantastic. He captured his cheeky character perfectly, even down to his smile, which often made the audience laugh. And his gold suit stole the show. The golems were a particular favourite of ours and their costumes were amazing. It’s not easy to bring a thousands’ year old pottery creature to life! Moist’s scenes with Adora Bell Dearheart were always entertaining. Ellen Warren, who played Miss Dearheart was perfect for the role. She was exactly how Miss Dearheart should be. Josh Flynn, who played pin-obsessive Stanley and Neil Chappell who played Reacher Gilt’s assistant Igor, got the most laughs. Josh’s hyperactive portrayal of Stanley was hilarious. Pete Belsen did a great job as Junior Postmaster Groat. We liked that the tradition of Nick (who played Reacher Gilt) dying in every role was continued. Even if it was off stage! As usual, he was brilliant and we loved his costume.

Going Postal

Nick as Reacher Gilt

Michael’s deadpan performance of Vetinari was spot-on. He had the dry sense of humour down perfectly. We’re always astounded by the quality of acting in these productions, as well as the costumes and set props. It’s clear how much fun everyone has doing this. Not only that, but the money raised goes to charity and so far, Monstrous Productions have raised over £20,000 for Alzheimer charities. If you’ve never seen one of these plays, please go to the next one. Even if you’ve never read Pratchett, you’ll love it.

Thanks to Amy and Craig for letting us use your photos in our blog.

We think Sir Terry Pratchett would be proud to see his work performed so brilliantly by true Pratchett fans.

The next play will be The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. We’re excited already!

Going Postal

Pete as Groat and Josh as Stanley

Cast

Moist Von Lipwig – Asher Townsend

Adora Bell Dearheart – Ellen Warren

Groat – Pete Belson

Stanley – Josh Flynn

Vetinari – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Mr Pump – Matthew Burnett

Reacher Gilt – Nick Dunn

Drumknott – Matthew Hitchman

Sacharissa – Sarah Roberts

Bill/Voice of the poet – Harry Spencer

Harry – Terrance Edwards

Mr Pony – Tony Beard

Stowley/Costume – Herm Holland

Mrs Greenyham/make-up – Zoe Azzopardi

Sane Al – Alex Butterworth

Mad Alex – Matt Edwards

Crispin/Ponder Stibbons – Loz Shanahan

Postman Aggy/Mr Slant – Scott Ericson

Trooper/Anghammarad – Edward Duke

Miss Maccalariat – Sarah Burrow

Mr Spools – Paul Woolley

Devious Collarbone/various – Sam Lewis

Mrs Parker/various – Davina Darmanin

Deaconess of Offler – Claire Taylor-Shepherd

Igor – Neil Chappell

Mr Wilkinson – Jamie Gibbs

Ridcully/various – Steve Durbin

Gryle – Jes Hynes

Nutmeg/various – Luke Belson

Big Dave/various – Katya Moskvina

Various – Howard Dickins

Pin customer/various – Richard McReynolds

Various – Jasmine Isaksson

Various – Isabelle Burman

Crew

Director/Producer – Amy Davies

Director – Edward Thomas

Stage Manager – Hannah Bennett

Technical Manager – David Rose

Costume Designer – Lizzie Mulhall

Graphic Design – Gemma Willians

Golem builder – Holly Raddy

Photography – Craig Harper

Sound – Joe Davey

Production Assistant – John B Dent

Eric

Last night was the closing night of Monstrous Productions’ Eric. We’ve gone to every play since Mort (still gutted we didn’t know about Monstrous Regiment and Carpe Juggulum before that) and we weren’t going to miss this one. We’ve never read Eric so had no idea what to expect. And we loved every single second of it. The moment Death appeared, we clapped with excitement. He had blue pinprick lights in his eyes! Exactly like in the book! Matthew Burnett, who played him, not only was fantastic in the role, but he made the mask, eye lights and hands himself. The play was hilarious. And just when thought it couldn’t get better…they made Luggage! We admit, we did squeal and clap like overexcited sea lions when Luggage trundled on stage. We may have even declared “Oh my god! Luggage!” and then Tweeted about it. Even better, Luggage chased people and ate them (complete with chomping sound effects), which was just perfect. Luggage was designed by Joe Davey and built by Tony Beard and Emma Paines. Tony also controlled it. As much as Luggage can be controlled.

Eric is about a 13 year-old-boy who tries to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by summoning a demon. Except he accidentally summons a wizard, Rincewind, who’s been trapped in the dungeon dimensions. He asks for three wishes: to be ruler of the world, to be immortal and have the most beautiful woman in the world fall in love with him. Unfortunately, Rincewind is the most incompetent wizard on Discworld. And he comes with a psychotic suitcase – Luggage. Luggage will fold your clothes if you throw them in. And eat anyone who threatens Rincewind. What more could you want from a travel accessory? (Providing it’s within airport length and weight allowances.)

Rincewind tries proving he’s not a demon by clicking his fingers. And transporting him, Eric and Eric’s parrot (brilliantly played by Zoe Azzopardi and made by Zoe and Ruby Azzopardi) to a jungle filled with a cannibalistic tribe. When we saw the parrot in the cast list, we wondered how this would be done but Zoe and the parrot were definite scene stealers!

As always, the cast and crew were amazing. So much goes into every play. The make-up was brilliant and we loved the giant book in the background, with scenes fabulously painted on the pages. Nick Dunn was fantastic as Rincewind. Rincewind isn’t usually popular among Pratchett fans but we’ve always loved him and Luggage. He was the first character we met when we started reading the Discworld novels. And it was strange to see a play where Nick didn’t die! (He is an expert at dying). Though he did go to Hell, so that counts. And Loz Shanahan was superb as Lavaeolus, who would prefer to build large wooden horses and find tunnels than kill someone in battle. Neil Chappell played a sulky thirteen year old boy very convincingly!

We particularly enjoyed the scenes set in Hell, which had lift music, voices over the tannoy system, and every torture was accompanied by a reading of health and safety regulations, complete with sub-clauses that ran into several volumes – that’s more terrifying than pitchforks and hellfire. Gone are the days where a man could just push a boulder up a hill as one of Hell’s tourist attractions. Edward Duke was excellent as Demon King Astfgl.

And even better – Monstrous Productions have now raised £18,000 for Alzheimer charities! So not only are the plays amazing, they’re for a good cause. If you haven’t seen any yet, please go. You will not regret it. You don’t even have to have read any Pratchett books to enjoy them. We can’t wait to see Going Postal in August.

Cast:

Rincewind – Nick Dunn

Eric- Neil Chappell

Astfgl – Edward Duke

Parrot – Zoe Azzopardi

Lavaeolus – Loz Shanahan

Da Quirm – Matthew Hitchman

Head Tezuman – Matthew Fisher

Death – Matthew Burnett

Azaremoth – Harry Spencer

Tsortean Captain – Terrance Edwards

Duke Vassenego – Jamie Gibbs

Urglefloggah – Ellen Warren

Drazometh – Pete Belson

Vizzimuth – Ben Wilson

The Creator – Katya Moskvina

Various – Howard Dickens

Archchancellor – Sam Steele

Quezovercoatl – John Dent

Bursar – Callum Robets

Various – John Simpson

Elenor – Sarrah Burrow

Ephebian – Matthew Thomas Edwards

Sissyfussy – Richard McReynolds

The Dean – Dan Collins

Tezuman – Luke Belson

Child – Lowri Belson

Private Archeios – Alastair Babington

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Southcart BooksEvery year, we turn Valentine’s Day red. With blood. Last year, we released all three anti Valentine’s trilogies in print, ending our opportunity to ruin the day. We were sad. Who doesn’t love marching up to the most romantic day of the year, ripping out its heart and hoisting it aloft like a trophy? Then Scott Carter, who owns Southcart Books  in Walsall with his wife, Amy, decided to host the Valentine’s Day Massacre and asked if we’d like to read. Does Freddy Krueger love bedtime? We were glad to celebrate Valentine’s in a horror-related way. Otherwise we might end up sneaking into supermarkets and replacing roses with venus flytraps and giving teddies real hearts to hold. Reading at Southcart Books would not see us having to explain our actions in court.

Southcart Books

authors’ books

Surprisingly for us, we didn’t get lost. The journey was easy and uneventful. Well, we drove into a pedestrian zone, but everyone’s come to expect that from us, seeing as we’ve now done it four times. But we soon realised our error when we saw a paved dead end and Primark at the end. Please England, put bollards up. It takes all our self-control not to Hulk out on people on a daily basis, we can’t be expected to control ourselves around pedestrian zones too. We’re not superheroes. We hastily reversed from the pedestrian zone and found a car park easily. Only to then walk past a closer car park that was 50p cheaper. We’re still annoyed.

Southcart Books

Adam, Amy and Scott

Southcart Books

Southcart BooksSouthcart Books is an awesome independent book shop, filled with thousands of books. It was hard not to buy them all. But we were good. We only bought three. In true us form, our shyness and social awkwardness kicked in and we spent some time hiding in the storeroom. This was a technique we perfected in childhood and even though we’ll be 33 on Wednesday, it is still serving us well. We eventually emerged and lurked at the Supernatural/Occult section. We’re good at lurking. You could even say we’re natural at it. We have the awkward body language and shifty eye movements down perfectly. Even though we’ve made huge progress with the social anxiety, the shyness is innate and will never be defeated. So in social events, we will always be the people in the corner. We’ll never approach anyone. Even if it’s someone we know. Hell, we don’t even send friendship requests on Facebook. ‘Mingle’ is one of those words that incites the same panic as ‘flying spider’, ‘rabid clown’ and ‘inquisitor’s chair.’

Adam Millard

Adam Millard

The event was hosted by Adam Millard, who was hilarious and the perfect choice to host it. We loved his stories about stalking and robots. They appealed to our sense of humour. They were absolutely fantastic and we wanted him to read for longer! We’re glad we were on before him – had we been reading after him, we might have locked ourselves in the storeroom and refused to come out. We bought two of his books afterwards and can’t wait to read them. We met at Bristol Horror Con in October but didn’t get a chance to buy his work then.

First up was Kerry Hadley, reading from her book The Black Country, about a separating couple who accidentally run someone over, but when they return to look for him, he’s nowhere to be found. That act then binds them together. She did a great job.

Kerry Hadley

Kerry Hadley

Southcart Books

Photo by Craig Beas

Then it was us. Everyone else was so confident and seemed really comfortable doing the reading. Natural, like they’d been doing it for years. There was us, hiding in the storeroom beforehand! And we have been doing readings for a few years! We read from Romance is Dead, our aforementioned horror comedy anti-Valentine’s trilogies. We read a short extract from all 10 stories. By ‘short extract’, each one was about 90 seconds. We were paranoid if we read longer than that for each story that people might get bored and leave! If anyone’s going to leave, we’d rather it was because they were frightened of our twisted minds, not because of boredom. Yes, we filmed our reading, complete with nerves and cock-ups. We only picked the extracts last week and the lack of preparation shows.

Southcart Books

Photo by Craig Beas

Jessica Law

Jessica Law

Next it was Jessica Law, who sang three songs whilst playing the ukele and told funny anecdotes about her relationships, most notably featuring biscuits. She sang about an impolite housemate and a love song between Jekyll and Hyde. She also makes octokitties (kittens with tentacles) and has written a gothic novel. It was refreshing to hear about someone else who has disastrous social encounters, though she managed to make hers sound sweet and funny. Ours are just embarrassing.

Ash Hartwell

Ash Hartwell

Following her was Ash Hartwell, who read a story about a murderous snowman who was obsessed with a female ghost hunter. She can’t understand why there are puddles in her house until she sees him watching her. Always knew snowmen were creepy.

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt read a brilliantly funny story about revenge. An old womanshows up at her meeting to find all the others dead – poisoned by cake. As she examines the bodies, her sister walks in and reveals a terrible secret. It was one of our favourite stories of the day.

Jon Hartless

Jon Hartless

Following him was Jon Hartless, who writes under many pseudonyms, including Ora Le Brocq. He read a funny story written under his paranormal romance pseudonym, about a fairy who was meant to convert a human but ends up falling for him.

Ken Preston

Ken Preston

Then it was Ken Preston, who read two stories. One was from his Joe Coffin series about gangsters and vampires and the other was about two friends on a double date night with their girlfriends. One of the girls challenges the driver to perform dangerous driving while blindfolded, which later destroys the friendships and many years later, has serious consequences for another driver.

Daniel Oram

Daniel Oram

And finally it was Daniel Oram, who read a letter from a vampire, complete with bloody fingerprints, and the opening of his novel about a goth girl who turns into a werewolf.

It was a fantastic event, which proved really popular. All the authors read really well and were very entertaining. Southcart Books host many author events, so if you’re ever around, they’re well worth visiting, as is the shop. It’s great that they really care about the authors as well as books and are happy to stock local and unknown authors who normally wouldn’t get their work into bookshops. We had to resist from spending all our money. There were some beautiful editions that we were tempted by, even though we already own those books. It’s everything an independent book shop should be and we’d love to go back.

book shop selfie!

book shop selfie!

 

 

 

Nightmares After Christmas

We were going to blog on New Year’s Day but we hate New Year’s as much as we hate Christmas. Everyone else is so positive, with resolutions, how this year will be better, it’s a fresh start like last year is magically wiped from existence, and we’re sitting here thinking ‘the world doesn’t change because everyone gets new calendars’. Resolutions are usually broken within two weeks – mostly because they’re overly ambitious, such as ‘I’ll run five miles a week’ when the only running you do is for a bus. We’ve had the same resolution for the past 3 years – do something different. And we’ve kept it. The past 3 years we’ve been to so many new places, met loads of new people and done things we’ve never done before. And even though it’s a new year, that doesn’t mean that all the hurt and bad times won’t affect you just because the clock turns midnight. This isn’t Cinderella.

So if you were expecting a happy ‘New Year, New Us’, sorry about that. The darkshines came to visit after our gorgeous cat, Ebony, died in December and the darkshines love dwelling in misery and negativity and backing up that negativity with statistics to prove their point. We think the darkshines are allergic to New Year’s. While everyone else is all cheerful and optimistic and singing Auld Lang’s Syne, the darkshines are sitting in a corner, singing Del Amitri’s ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxbIU0X-lCI

Now that we’ve utterly depressed you, we’ll tell you what we’ve been up to. A lot of time has been spent contacting haunted locations to hire them. Some don’t get back to us, some are so expensive we’ll have to start smuggling diamonds to pay for them and a some ask us for public liability insurance. Yes we’re public liabilities, no we’re not insured. But there are some places we can hire. And we’ll be teaming up with regular and new faces.

But over the past two months, we’ve mostly been working on novels. Seeing as our sales are lower than a stripper’s inhibitions, we’ve needed something positive to do until the darkshines crawl back into the dungeons in our minds. Two publishers have an open window this January – Angry Robot and Gollancz. Gollancz publish Terry Pratchett and George RR Martin, so we’re a little star struck. We’re sending Silent Dawn to Angry Robot. But they wanted novels of 70,000 words and higher. Silent Dawn was 63,000. So we had to do a lot of work on it. Gollancz are accepting self-published novels, so we’re sending them Soul Asylum and Bleeding Empire. Soul Asylum was published three years ago and after we bring a book out, we do not look at it again. Ever. We’re so scared we’ll find mistakes or it will be shit etc. But we had to re-read Soul Asylum to write its synopsis because we couldn’t remember what happened. See, when we write a book, we only ever remember the original. No matter how times we work on it, only the original version sticks in our minds. And while the book is not shit like we feared, we picked up on passive voice and framing that we didn’t know about three years ago (thanks Anya for teaching us about them), so we’ve been doing a lot of editing on it and will re-publish it once we’ve sent the extract to Gollancz. And of course, having to write three synopses has not been fun. But massive thanks to our mum, and our mates Tom and Hayley for beta reading our work. If Bleeding Empire isn’t accepted, it will be the next book we release.

As well as submitting three novels to publishers in January, we’ll be entering Romance is Dead and The Malignant Dead in the National Self-publishing Awards. Soul Asylum was short-listed (2012) and Deadly Reflections was highly commended (2014). Yes. Four novels and one short story collection will be sent off in one month. We don’t believe in taking things easy.

Normally, we enjoy spattering Valentine’s Day in blood, but since Gunning Down Romance, Bad Romance and Romance is Dead were all brought out in print last year under the series name Romance is Dead, we mourned the loss of ruining the day for everyone this year. But that has changed. One, because Deadpool is out and we’ll be spending Valentine’s in the cinema with our mate, Andrew. And two because Southcart Books in Walsall, who stock our books, have invited us to be one of the headliners at their Valentine’s Day Massacre event on Feb 13th. So if you’re around that day, feel free to come. We’ll be reading from Romance is Dead. But you probably guessed that. So give your lover a Valentine’s Day they will never forget.

Southcart Books