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You know, in some ways being kidnapped by monsters and held prisoner in a cave for nearly a year isn’t quite as bad as it might be.

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For one thing (and maybe I’m reaching here, but…) thanks to the monsters’ internet connection, I haven’t been deprived of music.

Not at all long ago, a music collection was something that had to be confined to a physical location: a stack of cd’s, say (don’t get me started on records and tapes). Now, of course, that’s no longer the case. And I can’t tell you how grateful I am.

Music is an essential part of my daily life. It’s also an essential part of my writing process. I don’t listen to music while I’m actually writing (or not usually – for me it’s too distracting) but I use music all the time in other ways: when I’m getting myself ready to write, when I’m thinking myself into a different frame of mind for a particular scene, and when I’m trying to come up with ideas.

I’ve found that all sorts of music can help with this stuff. But I thought I might share with you a few specific things that have been making my story-brain twitch and bubble over the last month or two…

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Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age sounds like it was recorded forty years ago, but it wasn’t: it’s only been out since October. A series of short experimental pieces (none longer than a few minutes), this mini-album plunges you straight into the woozily sinister atmosphere of a 1970s horror film.

I liked where that took me so decided I’d stay, with the newly-reissued soundtrack to a genuine horror classic from the era, Blood on Satan’s Claw, composed by Mark Wilkinson. Disarmingly cute and massively ominous both at the same time, you can hear some samples of it here.

On the same label (Trunk Records) I found this incredible story about the rescue of another soundtrack from the era, in this case that of a nature documentary: Life on Earth, composed by Edward Williams. Imagine a whole album about living creatures and their biological processes. The Sex Life of the Fern, I can tell you, is a particular highlight. Comb Jellies is dead good, too.

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Finally, here’s something really odd: twenty-two pieces of experimental techno created by various artists Twitter style – allowing themselves a maximum of 140 characters of code. Click here to hear sc140, and even download it free for you to own if you like.

Febrile psychedelia, rustic English horror, music for jellyfish and what sounds like the stomach rumbles of computers. There are all sorts of weird noises to be heard in these caves. But it’s great to be able to choose them for yourself.

If you’re interested in what else I’ve been listening to, you’re welcome to take a look at my LastFM profile.

[PS: The first illustration in this post is by Henry Holiday, from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.]

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EXTRA NEWS FLASH! It gives me no small measure of enchortlement and glee to announce that we have another winner for the ongoing Black Tat NMWHITMOTWC, or No Monsters Were Harmed In The Making Of This Website Competition!

Take a bow Bryan Lopez, for this wonderful winning entry made of motor oil, pudding and rocks. :D

Bryan wins Round Nine, and the unabridged audio edition of The Black Tattoo on CD. Round Ten has now commenced. Come on, disgust me!

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Slowly, quietly, I have started pulling ideas together for what may be Phase Four. As ever, ‘he sat there thinking,’ while true, doesn’t exactly make for riveting blog material! But on my breaks I’ve been putting stuff up on Trapped By Monsters: click the link for (lately) Warren Ellis on Rescue Fiction, Elmore Leonard’s Rules of Writing, the very latest in monster fashions plus, as ever, all sorts of goodies from my esteemed fellow cave-dwellers.

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Have you seen the TIM Reader Quotes page? My favourite quote on there is from a young gentleman called Finn. It says:

“If you don’t like books with action-packed chapters with big scary monsters wrecking national monuments and giant cockroaches killing people, you will not like this book. I loved it.

Yesterday I got the chance to meet Finn and thank him personally for his kind words. Read all about it, here.

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

I’ve just embarrassed myself with this on Trapped By Monsters, so I figured I may as well do the same here, too! Following on from a post there by Ali Sparkes asking other TBM authors about our early writing efforts, here’s, um, this below…!

It’s called THE HAUNTED CAVE. I found it in a cupboard about ten years ago just before moving out of the house where I grew up: it’s my earliest surviving complete story. I think I wrote it when I was seven years old!

As you can see – if you overlook the cliches and so on, gah! – certain characteristics of my, heh, later work were already set in stone. Notably speed, action, and dreadful handwriting! ;p

thehauntedcavethehauntedcave2thehauntedcave3

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Check Trapped By Monsters for the sorry saga of awesome author Alexander Gordon Smith, and his doomed attempts to rescue us from captivity. :D

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Here’s a treat for you. Check Trapped By Monsters for an exclusive brand new story by YA horror prodigy Dean Vincent Carter.

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Snort! Chew! RAAAAAGH! :D

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Got a message from the outside world today, in the shape of an email and a pic by my fabulously talented illustrator mate Barnaby Richards. I opened the attachment, hoping for an expression of sympathy to lighten the darkness of our plight in here, and what did I find…?

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It’s a message of support all right – but for the MONSTERS!

I’d be more touched by this portrayal of the upset our stories can cause to tender-minded monsters, if it wasn’t for the fact that said monsters have now kept us trapped in this cave for an entire MONTH. Go to the site and hit the link on the top-right of the page to send a message to keep the spirits of us poor authors up, someone, puh-LEASE! ;p

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

My brain has conked out for the holidays. I’ll be back in Jan, I swear, even if I have to feed electrodes up my nose and JOLT the porridge-like grey matter into life to do it (again ;p) Mean time, here are some FESTIVE MONSTERS.

First up, by way of the ever-brilliant Boing Boing, check out this Siphonophore. It’s “an eerily fantastic creature that appears to be a single, large organism, but which is actually a colony of numerous individual jellyfish-like animals that behave and function together as a single entity.”

Isn’t that amazing?? I do my best to make up decent monsters, but… wow! Put this/these dude/dudes in a book, someone, please!

Next, in case you haven’t seen it already, here’s some recently released footage of an extremely rare elbowed Magnapinna squid who recently paid a visit to a deep sea drilling site….

As Ryan North of Dinsoaur Comics says in his inimitable style, “So octopods are terrifying and we all know that but [...] oh hey, looks like they’ve DEVELOPED ELBOWS AND INSANELY LONG ARMS AND LOVE TO STARE UNBLINKING AT THE CAMERA. holy crap you guys.” Quite.

Third, here’s something that I’m secretly a bit pleased with. In one of my other lives I get to play with some truly excellent musicians in a band called Sour Mash Daddy And His Sixty Wives: I don’t normally mention our activities here, partly because we appear in public about as often as… well… the elbowed Magnapinna squid! But on Dec 6th we did play a gig, and some film footage of this rare occurrence has survived (thanks, Laura). I should explain that singing duties are normally taken care of by members of the band who actually, like, know how to sing. But…

Heh (blushes) Hope you get a kick out of it! ;p

My thanks, and a HUGELY HAPPY FESTIVE WOSSNAME, to everyone who happens to be reading this. Here’s to 2009, and whatever new adventures we have in it!

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

This is what the first lines of a film deal look like:

Yep: I’ve been waiting to tell you about this for quite a long time(!) but now the deal is signed: Tim, Defender of the Earth has been optioned by Universal. As of November 20th 2008, producer Chris Meledandri and his team have begun developing Tim into a live action feature film.

Neil Gaiman, an author with a lot of experience of film deals, said on his blog once that: ‘My attitude on all Hollywood things is not to expect any of them to happen until I’m sitting at the premiere eating my popcorn. Worrying about the ups and downs of getting a film made could drive anyone to drink.’ A lot of stuff has to happen for Tim to get made into a movie. Besides, I write books. I aim to write a whole shelf of them and make each one as good as I possibly can , so that’s what I’ve got to be getting on with.

But, yes. Some cackling, some leaping, some waving about of arms and some grinning of huge, cheesy grins are all most definitely in order. :D

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Here’s the view from my window…

New York Out There!

Here, I kid you not (Hell’s teeth!) is a BOATLOAD OF SUSHI-!

Boat of Sushi!

And here, recorded live in London this very evening but, thanks to the ever-evolving wonders of t’internet, watchable to me and now you, if you fancy it, is some awesome music from my mates Simon Metheringham and Adrian Taylor.

Tomorrow, the New York Comic Con, to do whatever I can for Tim there. HUZZAH! I’ll keep you posted whenever I can.

For now, though, ‘nighty night. ;)

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)