Urban Mythic 2

I think for me the highlight of FantasyCon 2014 was hearing that the Alchemy Press had won the BFS Award for Best Small Press. Pete Coleborn, Jan Edwards and their happy and slightly unhinged band of editors (including Jenny Barber, who co-edited Urban Mythics 1 & 2), have produced some brilliant work over the past decade and a half, and it was great to see that recognised. I'm proud to have had a few stories published by them, and so as part of the promotional shenanigans here's a mini-interview I did to try and explain what the feck was going through my head when I wrote 'How to Get Ahead in Avatising.'


Attack of the GISHWES

My daughter, who is currently running herself ragged trying to fulfil as many of Misha Collins' insane GISHWES dares as she can, asked for a story; apparently it needs to be by an actual published author and no more than 140 words long, featuring Collins himself, the Queen, and an Elopus (some kind of elephant/octopus hybrid thing). Couldn't resist this on so many levels - here's the result:

Misha watched in growing alarm as Her Majesty approached along the red carpet, shaking hands with cast and crew. There was a slight circular depression in its surface, and the more he looked the more he was convinced it was the right size for a man-hole cover.
The kind of man-hole from which the elopus - an ambush predator with a taste for royal blood – loved to attack.
Then she was before him, offering her hand, and he took it just as the carpet beneath her collapsed and she hung suspended over a gaping hole. Pivoting, he swung her to the safety of a bodyguard, overbalanced, and plunged in – but grabbed the guard’s gun as he fell.
Tentacles slithered away from him in the gloom.
‘Goddammit,’ he muttered. ‘It’s just like Cannes all over again.’
And set off in pursuit.

Project Tezlar is Finished!

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen: the tezlar gun in all its glory:

Right-handed configuration; power controls are on this side so as not to interfere with holstering:

Left side:

View from above, looking at the battery gauge and voltage regulator:

Bit of an angle for you, just to make things dramatic...

...as demonstrated by Counter Subornation Cadet Officer (First Class) Eden Peppercorn.

Oh yeah. If you're a suborning dreamer from the Realt, this is the last thing you're going to see before several thousand volts expel you from our world.

Battery pack:

Battery pack controls:

Insignia of the Department for Counter Subornation Tezlar Division. The quartered circle represents the world, with the electricity bolt guarding it.

Detail of tez-gun power cable and battery pack socket:

How it all fits together...

... and in the holster (special thanks to Jacklyn Hyde Creations for that one)

Come one, you know you want to wear it too. And you can - pop along and see me at any of Showmasters' London Film and Comic Cons. Failing that, you could always read about how this lovely piece of kit works in Tourmaline. I suppose I've got no excuse to get back on with writing the sequel now, have I?

Project Tezlar: Working Trigger Action

Well I find it exciting, anyway.

Project Tezlar: Electronics Sorted

I have discovered the joys of the Dremel.

Spent this morning in the school DT workshop and snipped out the car-dash socket along with much of the excess wiring. Knowing precisely nothing about electronics, never mind plasma balls, I got first, second and third opinions from my colleagues there. After some head-scratching, the consensus of opinion was 'Yeah, that'll probably work.' Always listen to the professionals, that's what I say.

Anyway, it worked, and I only burned myself a bit. Next job is to fit everything into the casing, basically as below, but with some gentle prodding and grinding.

Ooh, I feel all manly.

Project Tezlar: Fiddling Around the Edges

A bunch of stuff arrived today: some decorative doodads from Vintage Jewelry Supplies and a bunch of old toggle switches off ebay. The former I can handle fine - superglue, blu-tack and a small stick. The switch is going to require expert technical advice from the guys in the Design & Technology Dept. at school, just as soon as we've all survived coursework season.

The 'silver' thing on the grip is to cover up the original "Elite"logo; I like that it looks a bit like a tentacle, too. The brass leafy viney thing is just because.

Project Tezlar: Basic Respray

Got the basic colours sorted out - you can still see hints of the original blue here and there but those will disappear with the final touch-ups and dry-brushing. Plus the hedge is looking rather neat at the moment - a good thing because I can't foresee any actual gardening getting done this spring.

Colour Test & Undercoating

Bought spray paints today. Tested "copper" on a random bit:

Have started undercoating in satin black. Yes, that's my toe at the bottom. Pretty good flesh tones on that, I think.

Project Tezlar

Last week I bought a nerf gun. It looked like this:

...or at least it did until I started hacking at it. Now it looks like this:

The plan is to pimp this thing steampunk style and try to create something like the tezlar guns which are used by the characters in my book Tourmaline. In place of the revolving magazine I intend to install the crowning glory of this awesome weapon: a plasma ball.

I even have the ball. It arrived today from the States. It looks like this:

Now I won't lie to you - electronics is not really my thing. I'm going to be needing some help and advice if I don't want my fingers to end up looking like crispy roasted twiglets.

I'll get back to you on this in a bit.

Writing Your Way Off the Mountain

In the Day Job I do a lot of work with Duke of Edinburgh groups, which often involves going up mountains. What the kids have to do as part of their planning is to write out in excruciating detail every step of their four-day journey, with compass bearings and rest-stops and calculations of time taken for height gained according to Naismith's Rule blah blah blah, and it's the most boring process imaginable. More often than not the details change, the kids ignore them, or - more often - they're forgotten altogether.

Most of the time spent up the mountain is sitting on my arse with a pair of binoculars watching my group going the wrong way, but quite a lot of the time I get to have a bit of a bimble over some peaks, and fairly often I get lost. Well, not lost lost in the sense that I have no idea where I am - more like momentarily geographically embarrassed, in the sense that for a moment the landscape makes absolutely no sense relative to the map in my hands. And it's fun, working it out and getting back on track, because I end up going on paths I wouldn't have considered otherwise.

The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed a metaphor approaching over the horizon around now, about as subtle as a guy in a big fluorescent orange cagoule.

It's just that I'm at a point in the latest piece of silliness where suddenly I've realised that I have no idea how it fits into the three-page plot outline which I meticulously mapped out last Easter, or where to go next. I'm surrounded by scraps of paper covered with scribbles which are essentially me arguing with myself ('that idea sucks' 'no it doesn't, it's brilliant!' 'yeah, but what about...' and so on). And it's fun.

Fuck route cards, this isn't my Day Job.