Sunday, 11 November 2012

Caught In A Mosh

I went to my first rock concert when I was 14 years old. I saw Motorhead at Newcastle City Hall. A few months back, I noticed they were not only still touring, but coming back to the City Hall, so I decided to look for tickets. The only seat available was the exact one I had 28 years ago, up on the balcony - D13. Too weird - I had to buy it!

But it gets better. The support act were going to be mega-thrash gods, Anthrax. A band I used to be crazy about in my teens. Oh, and it gets even betterer - the original singer, Joey Belladonna, is back with the band and they've got a new album out. So I went out and bought me first CD for god-knows how many years. Worship Music is just incredible. I've listened to it pretty much non-stop.

As for the gig itself, it was full of ageing rockers, but there were a few young faces there, and a handful of kids too, which was great to see. The biggest difference was the atmosphere. When I last saw Anthrax, we were all going mental, jumping and moshing all over the place. But this time, that was pretty much the first two rows only. Everyone else was standing in their correct place, holding up iPhones.

Anthrax were the better band. Joey still sounds amazing, but Motorhead were beyond loud and into the category of sheer pain. Very laid back and cool, no matter how fast they played. Here's a few pics.
Anthrax
Scott Ian - Anthrax
Lemmy - Motorhead
Motorhead
Phil Campbell - Motorhead
Lemmy - Motorhead

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Blog About Matthew

At the back of Arabesque, there’s a brief mention of Matthew and the amount of care he needs. I’d thought I’d do a quick blog about our life at the moment, not just for a whine and a moan, but because a blog is something to look back on. A good example is my post from 2009: Fun With a Wheelbarrow which is such a silly memory of carting Matthew round the streets in a wheelbarrow and it always makes me laugh. It was a fun day, and something to look back on with nostalgia. But sometimes it's important to look back on the bad times too, which is the real reason I'm writing this entry.

Me and Matthew, at Wookey Hole during the summer.
Things are particularly tough at the moment, for Matthew in particular, and then the rest of us. Three weeks ago, Matthew had major surgery: a femoral osteotomy in both legs, which involved the bones of both legs being cut, rotated and re-fixed. It was a five hour op, and luckily, both legs were done in the same op so he doesn't need to go back.

bed-time meds
He had a week’s recovery in hospital, and then he came home on six weeks bed rest. We’ve got his bed in our front room because it just wouldn’t be fair to confine him to his bedroom – apart from the fact that he doesn’t fully understand what’s going on. As far as he's concerned, he went to sleep in hospital, and woke up with lots of discomfort and pain. We've got to keep on top of this as best we can because Matthew can't tell us what he needs. As you can see in the photo, his night-time meds are a bit daunting. There's actually one missing.

Day to day, he needs lots of moving and cleaning and changing, and all of that causes him pain and discomfort. But nights are something else. We have medicines that help him relax and sleep, but for some reason, they aren’t doing their usual job. Perhaps it's the pain he's in, perhaps it's stress and having had such a big change to his usual routine. 

Matthew and brother, Jack
Usually, on an evening, Matthew sits next to Paula, getting a cuddle while we watch TV. He can't have that at the moment and we can see how much this distresses him. But whatever the reason, we’ve had nights when he’s been awake, moaning and unhappy, all night long. And we've had nights where he's settled and slept until 2am, then woken up and moaned from then on.

So me and my wife are pretty zonked at the moment. It's also affecting his brothers, because if we're tired, they feel it, and sometimes when we're up through the night, they get disturbed too. 

During the week, I go out to work and Paula is confined to home. When I get home, I try to help out with Matthew. So ultimately, there's not a lot of writing getting done just now. But that's okay, because in a few weeks things will be back to normal. And when that happens, and I'm sat at this laptop wondering whether to waste time on Facebook, I can read back through this blog and get back on track, in the hope that one day, I’ll make enough money to be able to write full time...

... in a massive bungalow, with a boiler that works, a hydro-therapy pool for Matthew and a kitchen so big, you can park a car in it.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

So proud...

... of our Cameron. He was quoting big chunks of The Young Ones to keep Matthew happy on our way to the hospital this morning (for an op pre-assessment). He knows most of Bambi - the episode where they go on University Challenge. One of the best.

And it's got Motorhead in, so even better!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

My Big Day Out

I was invited down to London for two small events organised by Bounce. The first was an informal lunch with a few (very important) booksellers. The second was an event at Foyles, a fantastic book heaven on Charing Cross Road, where I met reviewers and key bloggers.

Me, holding an invisible balloon.
This was very relaxed and chatty, and I tried as well as I could not to go off on tangents - every now and again getting a subtle cough from Non, and then a clear, 'Colin! Tangent!' I managed to get back to Arabesque and answer a few questions.

The main ones were to do with strong language in teen fiction and the way I chose to end Arabesque. I'm not going to give any spoilers about that, but to give a taste of what I said at Foyles, the end is not meant to be a cliffhanger (I'm not planning a sequel, at least, not at the mo), but reflect the book's opening. However, I also felt it important to add that the YA books I enjoy the most don't tie up all of their loose threads. Life isn't like that, and as I like to write about teens being thrust into a cruel and violent adult world, it wouldn't be fair to have a lovely, happy ending where everything turns out just dandy. To illustrate this, I told a personal story of my uncle's tool shed, and what I found in his vice after he died.

Life can be shit, and death sucks too. I guess we're stuck with both.

Book Signing - this one was an
Arabesque poster for Sister Spooky
As for the strong language - I could blog all day about this, but I want to save as much as I can for Litpopia After Dark on the 16th. I'll post a link for anyone who misses that, and do a full blog on strong language shortly after.

At the end, I got a chance to ask questions of our bloggers, and how valued they feel - if they do at all. I hope they do, because usually, even when I find a book that I want to buy, I tend to hang fire and check reviews first, and I find myself going back to the same bloggers. So keep at it! Bloggers are mint!

Between the two events, I managed to do a quick run, around London, snapping as many photos as I could.

Meeting local celebs
At the Tate Modern
Cool phone box near Foyles
Chinatown at night

When we left Foyles, I went with Non, Matt and Caroline (two mega-librarians) for my first experience of a Japanese restaurant.

And this morning, on my way home, I used all of the photos I took to make a Powerpoint of my Big Day Out for my youngest. So much more fun that just telling him.

On the train, making my Powerpoint for Cameron

All in all - a mighty fine visit. Thanks to everyone involved in organising the day, and everyone who came along. It was a blast.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Event: Colin and Non at Foyles

Several events coming up. The first is Foyles in London. I'll be there with my editor, (and YA author too!!) Non Pratt, talking about YA authory stuff. - okay, that's not selling it very well...  (coughs) I'll be telling horrible stories, juggling knives and trying not to make the audience sick (like I did at Shiney Row library :o))

Click here for the FB page. 
ARABESQUE event at FOYLES

So er... come along. It'll be brilliant!!!

ADDED: Erm.. well I tried a quick juggling practice in the garden. Might not be the best idea.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Advance Copy Arrives

This probably seems a strange thing to do, but for anyone who dreams of being published, this is one of those key moments when the dream becomes a reality.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury died last week, on the 5th June, age 91. The news knocked me because Fahrenheit 451 is one of those books I've picked up so many times, meaning to buy, but has always remained on my "to read" pile. So the news caused me to get it and finally read it.

Fahrenheit 451 is the story of Guy Montag, a fireman. But in this world, a fireman's job is to locate and burn books, which usually means burning the entire house - even the owner.

The language is a bit of a hurdle. It is so colourful and loaded with metaphors that, at times, it strangles the story, and I had to struggle to get back on track. But I persevered and the story opened up. It's not the best novel I've ever read, but it certainly made me think, and that is the reason for this post.

More than anything, Bradbury's view of the future made me think about Facebook and Twitter and the way they can soak up huge amounts of time. In the story, books have been outlawed, but only because society has naturally moved away from them, wanting more immediate entertainment and boiled down versions of stories. Most people have huge, wall sized TVs, some have all four walls converted, but the only programmes are endless feeds of chatter of family and friends - and none of it having any real substance. The result is that they have no time for independent thought. They don't think; they don't question. All they care about is that they are entertained and kept happy. They have no idea they are being controlled, don't realise how doped up they are, don't even realised that other nations hate this future America and there is a war going on right above their own heads.

But Montage begins to question. Montag wants to know why he has to burn books. He realises that there is something wrong about subduing an entire nation like this, turning everyone into mindless zombies.


But what are the Facebook and Twitter addicts? There are too many times I've got up on a morning to write, only to waste all of that time reading feeds of people I don't know talk about stuff I don't care about. I've even found myself responding, laughing and nodding when people post anti-Facebook/Twitter messages, or merging the names as a parody of what an utter waste of time it is... and yet the first thing I did this morning was check for notifications and any new posts.