___WORDS FROM ME_____________________________________

it still says bum on the passport

So at the end of July I get to be a published novelist -- if you want to stretch the definition and include Westerns in the classification of novel.

What do you mean “It’s a book, so of course you’re a novelist”?

Ah, sweet, naive you. Sweet naive me, too. But I’ve learned it doesn’t really work that way.

While no one can ever take away the fact that I’ll have written and published a book with a respected publisher, the type of book I’ll have published will certainly weight people’s prejudices.

“A Western? What, cowboys and stuff?”

“Uhm. Yes.”

“Oh dear.”

Some writers will tell you that they’ve enormous admiration and respect for anyone who can trot out the required number of words and make them something like cohesive, throwing in characterisation and plot and maybe even some nice prose every now and again. While others...

Hmm. Putting it politely, as they rarely do: You do it properly and aim for high art or you’re a hack.

There’s long been a clash between mainstream and genre publishing. It’s best summed up with that old nugget regarding the definitions of what’s science fiction and what’s literature. “If it’s science fiction it can’t be good, and if it’s good it can’t be science fiction.” Thus SF pieces like 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale are secreted out of genre and given a spit and polish and promoted as mainstream literature. While some fine SF novels, Dune or The Fountains of Paradise say, are happily left in the ghetto.

There’s not even the single ghetto, either. There are plenty of them. Crime’s a ghetto. Fantasy. Romance. Chick Lit. Sad Git Lit (as I call the writers producing the male equivalent of Chick Lit). Even historical fiction. And you can bet your bottom dollar and all the phlegm in the spittoon that the Western is a ghetto area too. Mainstream is the exalted place, standing high and remote above all others. To some writers at least. Even if mainstream fiction takes so much from genre, sadly to its detriment without its writers even knowing it.

Me, I guess I’ll just keep bumming around. But just in case it offends anyone, I won’t be putting “Writer” down on the passport any time soon.


So here, as a bit of fun, is a chibi version of the cover of the Western. It's nice when people do nice things for you. Here's Dee Skye's interpretation of the original artwork. You could go look at Dee's other stuff here.

talking to myself

So, this is the blog. Well, a blog. My blog.

We’ve yet to see how often it will be updated and how much of what does actually get written here is worth reading. But as somewhere to begin, this is the beginning. It’s my intention to post some tales here, talk about stories, writing, publishing (and not publishing and self-publishing), science fiction and fantasy (what we loosely call speculative fiction if we don’t want to appear like hacks), crime fiction, mainstream fiction, Westerns, and of course the big bad bear in the woods.

The big bad bear in the woods is the scary thing. And quite rightly so. It’s the thing that gets you in the night, rears its head and snaps at you when you think you’re okay and happily wandering through the trees and enjoying the weather, maybe even thinking about what the Pope’s doing.

When the Links page is up and running properly, I’ll sort out some links to sites about ME and fibromyalgia.

I did consider not doing the ME/fibro thing. But it’d be hard not to talk about it in this blog. If I’m to be honest, then it’s a part of me. It’s shaped my life massively. Relationships, travel, work, writing... hard to imagine any of it being the same if I’d been a healthy person. It’s shaped this blog post, after all.

But there’s all the rest as well. You know, science, politics, life, art.

It’d be my pleasure if you to stick around and share that with me.

I’m Mark. Pleased to meet you.

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