We Have a Winner!


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. ;)

I’m writing these words from the bottom of a very deep hole, where I’m currently languishing until I finish the second draft of my new book

Yes, it’s crunch time, folks, and anything could happen: I’m not kidding, last time I got to this point with a book I freaked out and cut all my hair off [Don't believe me? Hit the link and scroll down for proof! (;p)]. One thing’s for certain though: I probably won’t be able to post to this blog much over the next two or three weeks. My apologies for that. On the plus side, however, I do have a competition that you maybe might be interested in entering…!

On the special website for my book The Black Tattoo I’ve been running a No Monsters Were Harmed In The Making Of This Website Competition, or NMWHIT MOTWC for short. It gives me great glee and delight to announce that we now have another winner, namely Monique Van Dongen, of Utrecht, The Netherlands, and her awesome image THE NEW EMPEROR! YAY!

Click here for full details of the competition, how to enter, and what you might win. The next round finishes at the end of this month. If you fancy your chances, the WebSphinx and I would love to hear from you.

Right: ‘Nose to the grindstone time,’ as my mum used to say. VREEEEEEEEEEEEE-! ;)

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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. ;)

Q&A time again – in a new and sinister way! This one goes out to Andrew from Essex, who wrote in to the Tim Guestbook last week. Please excuse my stumbling steps with this new gadget: Guillermo del Toro I most certainly ain’t! ;p

The music that’s adding some much-needed class to my, um, somewhat ad hoc title sequence(!) is Dreadlock, by Future Prophecies. Got another question for me? Now you know what to do! ;p

Meanwhile, in other news, I’m ECSTATIC to announce that we have a brand new winner in the Black Tat No Monsters Were Harmed In The Making Of This Website Competition! Yes! Step forward and take a bow Jamie with his awesome Nectarine Slices! Isn’t that beautiful? It looks just like something from the Dragon‘s insides, or the end of the universe. Or, as readers of Black Tat will know, both – HEE HEE HEE! :) The competition continues. Fancy your chances? Give it a wallop!

I’m writing this in some haste, partly because of all the hours I’ve ended up spending fiddling with this film. It’s harder than it looks! -Or, heh, it was for me, anyhow! ;) But it was a worthy experiment, I hope you’ll agree, and one that I may repeat from time to time in the future. However, now I need to get away from the screen and get some shut-eye, because I have an amazing week of events in front of me! Tomorrow I’m doing my stuff at Burford School, in Oxfordshire. On Monday I’m off to The City of London School For Boys for four short talks there. Then on Tuesday (get this!) I’m travelling to The Isle of Wight for a three-day tour of schools there! By the sounds of it I’m going to be speaking to some of my biggest audiences yet. I’m very excited! :) :) :)

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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. ;)

Today’s a public holiday here in the UK. Me, I’m just packing up my trappings before setting out on an overnight train to Edinburgh, Scotland for two days of events to do with The RBS Schools Programme of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. HURRAH! :)

-Ahem! Yes, as you can probably tell I’m rather excited. ;) Over the next few days I hope to post some pics here and let you know how the trip went. Meanwhile here are a couple of quick bits and pieces before I go…

First up, I am absurdly delighted to announce that we have another winner for the ongoing Black Tat No Monsters Were Harmed In The Making Of This Website Competition: take a bow Xiaoyao from Australia (and Xiaoyao’s dad!) with… THIS. Don’t forget to click top right of that page to find out where this highly sinister and atmospheric image actually came from (HEE HEE HEE!) The next round of the NMWHIT MOTWC is now officially open. Send us your horrible things! :)

Next we have a fine new piece of Black Tat Reader Art, from Robert, of the band Siemi Suicide: click on the link and scroll down to check out his splendid penmanship. Robert wrote to the Black Tat Guestbook to ask permission to use Ashmon and Heshmim’s names for the band’s first album. I was delighted and honoured to say yes. Thank you, Robert!

Finally, if you have a few more spare minutes, here is an interview with me by Liz, charming co-creator of the excellent blog My Favourite Books. She’s also written a lovely review of Black Tat. Thank you, Liz!

And now… back to packing!

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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. ;)

Well, here I am, fully recovered from last week’s excitements (check out the full story of the opening of The Big Green Bookshop here) And I’m now gearing up for TIM’s impending launch in the USA! It’s officially out in America at the end of this month, but I’ve already received my author copies, and that means it could be in shops any day now.

Pauses to wave tentacles in the air in what’s probably a thoroughly uncool way: YAAAAAAAAAAAAH! HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE!

Ahem. ‘Scuse me! ;)

All sorts of cunning plans are afoot. Allow me to share a couple with you…

First up, here’s an article I wrote for the SF wiki site SCIFIPEDIA. My US publishers, Razorbill, asked me to write my own entry there, to explain what I do – and let me tell you, for a while I was completely stumped! I had to tear up what I wrote and start again, something like three times, before I realised that a certain correspondence I’d had with one of Black Tat‘s young readers a couple of months back seemed to sum up for me what this sinister masterplan of mine is really all about. Hope it does the same for you. [And thanks again, Jasmine!]

Speaking of Black Tat, it’s with great glee and delight that I can announce we have another winner for the No Monsters Were Harmed In The Making Of This Website Competition! Not content with clinching Round Two with his fabulous frog photo, the awesome SKULLIAN has stormed back into the fray to take the NMWHITMOTWC crown once again in Round Five with his gorgeous Snakeskin. Check it out, it’s a stunningly beautiful image – and while you’re there, be sure to take a look at our other winners, which are every bit as sinister and striking! Time to ask yourself: do you fancy a chance at monster glory? Closing date for Round Six is May 26th, so send us what you got. :)

Lots more good stuff in the pipeline, I’ll be back soon to keep you posted. But before I slither off into the night again I have one more item of news to show you. Awesome up-and-coming scary-story-author Barry Hutchison has been reading TIM and saying all sorts of kind and flattering things to me about it (ahh, cheers Barry! [blushes a meaty pink] ;p) But even better, he sent me this link to a BBC News story that seems eerily close to a certain set of inventions by TIM’s nemesis Professor Mallahide. As Barry said in his email – “Just found this and thought you might appreciate it. Or cower in terror.” HEE HEE HEE HEE!

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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. ;)