Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A bald, bold new look

Just went to the barbers yesterday and frankly, I'm wondering whether to bother much longer. Once, there were scissors, wax, gel, layers and shampooing and sensual combing of long silken locks and now it's about 30 seconds with a pair of clippers and a bit of tweaking around the ears.

Soon there'll be nothing to do but give it a polish.

Which got me thinking, we should not be ashamed of our folically challenged-ness-ness, we should celebrate it!

So, today's blog is to applaud the bad, the bald, the beautiful. And the not so much.

1. Blofeld. Back in the day when Connery was Bond and Donald Pleasance first appeared from behind his Ayran henchman and declared "You only live twice, Mr. Bond." Check it out on YouTube, gives me chills even now. A look often immitated, but never equalled. Yes, I do mean Dr.Evil. And seriously, what a work ethic. Base in a hollowed out volcano, world conquest, pirahna fish tank. While Bond is there lying back in his silk sheets with some blonde, Blofeld is out there, taking on the Man. Respect.

2. Thuggee Boss Man, above. Mola Ram. Enslaves children, tears hearts out from innocent locals, tosses Kate Capshaw down into a volcano and heads up the greatest assassin cult in history. And check out that tiger tooth necklace! Now I know necklaces for men are the newest metro-sexual thing but seriously, amber or those silly little beads? If you're going to wear jewellry, as a bloke, it's got to make a statement and nothing says 'BAD-ASS' like a necklace of tigers' teeth. I've no doubt Mola Ram ripped those teeth out with his own hands. So, repeat after me, "Kali Maa! Kali Maa!"

3. Colonel Kurtz. Apocalypse Now is one of the few films I can see time and time again. Especially the Bunny-girl bit. But there's so much more to it than inappropriate dancing on a helicopter! It's a quest movie, like The Hobbit but less so on the dragons and dwarves and more on the napalm (which apparently smells like victory) and blowing up villages. Which, come to think of it, is what happens in The Hobbit too! Wow, never saw that connection. I think I might blog on that later. Still, Kurtz. Out in the jungle, a man might lose perspective. Hey, haven't you been on holiday, got off the beaten track and just decided to set yourself up as a despot ruler of a bunch of jungle dwelling natives? No? Maybe it's just me then.

Till next time folks.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Book signing this Saturday!

I'm incredibly lucky that I've a number of amazing independent bookshops near where I live, in sunny South London. There's Village Books, Tales on Moon Lane and Crow on the Hill and then there's Dulwich Books, where I'll be signing copies of Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess from 10am to 11am on Saturday 25th June.

I will also be talking some about my new series, the Ash Mistry Chronicles.

Dulwich Books is having a whole day of children's events on Sat, me at 10am, Sorrel Anderson at 11 and Doodle activity day from 12pm, surely the perfect solution for what will (probably) be a rainy weekend.

So, do take the train down south, it's lovely and not half as smoggy as North London and we have many delightful parks, and come in and say 'hello'. I don't bite!

Saturday, 18 June 2011


Okay, we're now going to discuss the first, and probably ONLY law (nay, commandment even!) of stories.


And to show you what I mean we're going to look at the best movie of the year, X-Men First Class.

Seriously, if you've not seen it, what the hell have you be doing with your summer? Summers were meant to spent in the cinema dudes!

Level One. Physical. Surely I don't need to explain this? This is your basic black hat v. white hat. It's your jedi v. sith. No talk, no discussion or debate over the rights and wrongs, just put two men in a room and give them a gun each. Sebastian Shaw and Erik. You know they're never going to be on the same side, not never, not no how. Sorted.

Level Two. Emotional. Should you or shouldn't you? This is (typically) internal. The character is in conflict with himself. There's the option of the easy way, or the hard way. Both will get the same result, but one is usually moral the other isn't. It could be a bloke dropping his wallet on the street, thick with cash. Do you pocket it or run after him and hand it back? This is Erik's conflict throughout, knowing he's on the path of damnation but will never permit himself off it, because that requires forgiveness and that's something he doesn't have.

Level Three. Idealogical. Professor X and Magneto are great examples of friends that can never be true allies because their idealogies are too different. Prof X believes that humans and mutants can live side by side, Magneto believes they can't, one will hunt down the other. What's interesting is their backstory provides the logic of their beliefs. Magneto been a victim of the Nazis, while Prof. X can read peoples minds (this was something that should have been made more of) so he can see peoples true intentions. I like to think that's what's led him to faith in humanity. If there's one slip in this story is that Erik's backstory is so overwhelmingly powerful (as it should be) that Xavier seems naive in comparison. Xavier's convictions should have been 'bumped' up so we're wholly behind him too.

Notice how I don't mention morality as a conflict because BOTH sides should always believe they are morally right. It's never a choice between good and evil (which is never a choice), its a choice between two goods or two evils.

So, X-Men First Class. Go see it.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


I was recently contacted by someone who was DEEPLY UPSET by the death of certain characters in Devil's Kiss.
Putting aside that, actually, I'm pleased she was angry as it showed they meant something to her.
They meant something to me too.
Percy is basically the guy who raised Billi. Arthur was too consumed by his bitterness and rage to have time for his daughter so it was Percy who remembered her birthdays, looked after her when she was sad or ill, remembered that she was more that just a soldier in the Bataille Tenebreuse.
Percy met Arthur when they were Royal Marines. Percy, born and brought up in Ghana, ended up Arthur's closest friend, and conspirator. When Arthur decided to go 'off reservation' during the Balkans War, it was Percy who went with him. It was Percy who first encountered the brutal darkness in the heart of Arthur SanGreal.
Arthur didn't cope with war as well as Percy. In the end Percy was wiser than Arthur, who had ideals and a strict moral code. The qaugmire of that war broke him. Percy, more realistic perhaps, came out of that dirty little war with his sanity intact, even if his faith in humanity reduced.
They went their separate ways. Arthur soon living on the streets and Percy trying, but failing, to make it as a civilian. Some men were just born for war, it seemed.
So, when Arthur was recruited into the Templars, he contacted Percy, explaining this was the battle they had to fight, against the true monsters.
When Arthur started a relationship with Jamila, it was Percy alone who knew, and kept quiet. Perhaps he hoped Jamila was take Arthur out of the Templars, especially when they married and she became pregnant with Billi.
But Arthur felt the Templars was his calling, and no-one argues with Arthur SanGreal.
However, for a time, it seemed Arthur and Jamila would be happy. Percy saw the cracks, her desire for a quiet, family life, Arthur's need to prove himself. Percy and Jamila, while never close friends, understood each other. Both loved Arthur and who do anything for him, but both knew Arthur's greatest enemy was himself.
Percy was Billi's godfather, and closest protector. He regreted her recruitment into the Templars and did what he could to give her a 'normal' life.
Percy gave it life to the Templars, but was never obsessed by the cause teh way the others were. If things had been a little different, he would have walked away. But he stayed, and died, out of love for his best friend and his best friend's daughter.