Tag Archives: author interviews

Box 010 Number 10: Michael Cargill

Well hello again, and welcome, to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, except in the holidays when I turn into Mumzilla and everything goes a bit mental, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Michael Cargill. He hasn’t stuck to any particular genre. His latest work, Underneath, has been compared to Ruth Rendell – you can find more details about it at the bottom of the page.  He likes writing humour and satire, too – as you’re about to find out. You can find more of that on his website here .

Hello Michael. So, before you launch into your enormous and really quite splendid rant, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello there,

My name is Michael Cargill and I started writing about two years ago. So far I haven’t stuck with a particular genre as I like to just write whatever pops into my smoothly-shaven head. Along with my books and stories I also have a website of satire humour stuff that I update every now and then.

By day I work in IT and I have to force myself to traverse the world of office life just like everyone else. Getting up at 6am is such a drag, man.

You said it, I’m not a morning person either so I sympathise with anyone who has to get up at 6am, 7am is bad enough but where was I? Ah yes, Michael, without more ado, please tell us the first item you’d like to cast into the unending darkness of Box 010.

Whacky t-shirt slogans:

“Keep calm and drink tea!” advises a thin sheet of blue cotton.

“Oh wow, that’s so random!” exclaims a breathless 19-year old student called Jeremy. “£35 is a bargain, I’ll take three of them.”

Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy. What are we going to do with you, eh?  Set you on fire and shove you in the direction of Primark, perhaps?  Exactly what does this t-shirt give you?  Sure, the local homeless guy might be entertained by your brief sojourn into sponsored hilarity, but let’s not forget that he also gets nosebleeds whenever a helicopter flies overhead. Never let your life be dictated by a thin-blooded anaemic.

Ah yes, right, MT hurriedly crosses her arms to hide the picture of snurds on her T-shirt… no witty slogan though, perhaps I’m safe. Oops, anyway, right, OK Michael, what’s you’re next pet hate?

Poo.

Mwah ha haargh! Really?

Yep, no shit. Poo: It smells and you can’t really do anything with it, unless you’re a monkey in a cage in a zoo, throwing it at passersby. If you try to use it as ink, your filing cabinet will soon be swarming with flies; if you try to use it as stuffing for a pillow, you really will have to worry about the bed bugs biting you during the night; if you bake it like clay and try to use it as a credit card, it will get stuck inside the cash machine and you’ll never be able to get a mortgage or a loan again.

It makes bloody great manure though, my geraniums are marvellous this year.

Hnur hnur hnur hnurrrrgh. Something makes me think you might not have got all that you might have done from any visits to the zoo you made as a child. OK, so after poo what’s the next item you’d like to throw into Box 010?

Three-quarter length trouser-short things: Let’s face it, no-one likes a cyborg. Robots are great, ‘cos they build cars and lift things wot are too heavy for us humans to lift. They can even speak in cute little voices if programmed to do so.

Humans are great as well. They can be pleasant to look at, they sing nice songs, and some of them can even make a right nice cup of tea if asked nicely.

Cyborgs?  Yucky, ugly creatures that have bolts poking out of their eye sockets and bulging electric veins that dangle down from every nook and cranny. And so it is for those ghastly three-quarter length trouser-shorts. If it’s warm, wear proper shorts. If it’s cold, wear proper trousers. There is no such thing as warmy-cold weather that is too hot for trousers and too cold for shorts.

Ah but what about when it’s too hot for trousers but your knees are too scarred and vile for shorts? That’s when these three quartery length abominations become quite useful. Er… at least, that’s why I wear them, anyway. But I agree that, as a fashion statement, they are a bit pants. Then again, as a, lardy, 45 year old stay at home parent I’m probably about as close to making a fashion statement as I am to Alpha Centuri so I don’t expect it matters… sorry, gone off on one there. Right-o, please can we hear about your next item?

Audiophiles:

“Yeah mate, that would deffo sound better if you were using a gold-plated SCART cable instead of them earphones. It’s all about the conductivity.”

Really?  How fascinating. And there was me thinking that listening to The Sex Pistols would be a simple affair of popping in the CD and hitting the play button. Had I known that I needed to pray to the God of Unicorn Farts at the Altar of Elbow Grease beforehand, my delicate wee eardrum would no doubt be bestowing me with flowers and blowjobs by now. Thank you, Mr Engineery Man, for your advice on the things that matter. May your moustache be forever neat and tidy.

All I can think of now is the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch:

“I’d like to buy a Gramaphone.”

Cue about 20 minutes of laughter.

“A Gramaphone, do you mean a music system?”

“What’s the difference?”

“Oh about 30 years and a plastic casing to you Granddad.” etc.

Sorry, moving on. Michael, what is the fifth and final thing you’d like to put into Box 010?

Asparagus.

Noooooooo!

Yes, because it’s crap.

A bag of frozen green beans will cost about a quid. A bag of frozen asparagus will cost a ton. That is, if you can even find a place that sells frozen asparagus, as it’s clearly such an important and precious length of green that no-one dares freeze it, lest they risk the feeble wrath of asparagus worshippers everywhere.

Apparently asparagus is good for seducing women; I disagree. Vodka works perfectly and it’s cheap. Asparagus is expensive and is a far higher maintenance vegetable than it’s cousin the green bean. You also end up discarding half of it anyway.

The asparagus vs. beans debate is similar to the ebook vs. real book debate: “Oooooh, a real book is so much more engaging!”

No it isn’t, so stop lying.

Michael thank you for making us laugh so much with one of the most splendidly random Box 010’s so far. It was great! The results will be posted in a week’s time, when we will find out if my asparagus bed and halfway-house trousers are going to join my husband in Box 010.

Readers, you can vote on Michael’s choices here.

Underneath
Look at the person sitting just across from you. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger.

Now look at their face. Are they happy?  Are they sad?  Or are they angry?  Can you even tell?

How well do you actually know the people closest to you? Have you ever seen the real person that lies just underneath what you see…?

Here’s where you can stalk Michael Cargill on the internet.
Website:- http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @MichaelCargill1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelCargillAuthor

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Box 010: Number 9, Lynda Wilcox

Hello Ladies, Gentlemen, those who aren’t quite sure and, of course K’Barthans. Welcome, once again, to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Lynda Wilcox writer of the children’s adventure books and light hearted whodunits, the latest of which, Strictly Murder.  You can find her website here .

Hello Lynda. Right before I let you rant, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself.

Of course, I was born in Derbyshire and, even as a small child, read voraciously, happily losing myself for hours in Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five books. Looking for a new source of income when my husband was made redundant in his mid-fifties, I turned to writing. In the beginning I wrote the sort of children’s adventures I’d been so fond of myself when young, and then turned my hand to old-fashioned whodunits, which I’d enjoyed since my twenties. I’m happy to say that both have proved popular, because I have a lot more stories yet to tell.

That’s interesting, I reckon Enid Blyton got a whole generation of kids into writing. Most of the early stories I wrote were Famous Five style, too. So, the time has come… What would is your fist candidate for Box 010?

Celebrity chefs or, more properly, TV chefs:  I learnt to cook at my mother’s knee, though I suppose I must have been taller than that or I’d never have reached the stove! In my day cookery was taught in schools. Now we have to learn how to prepare and cook our food from the likes of Delia Smith or Raymond Blanc. Everything is ‘fresh’, ‘crisp’, and ‘beautiful’ before it becomes ‘delicious’, exquisite, or ‘perfect’. Yes, well they’d hardly say their ingredients were stale, soggy or bland, now would they? Or that the resulting meals tasted disgusting. I’d love to be able to pout and flaunt my way around a kitchen the size of Nigella Lawson’s but I live in your average semi and cook in a kitchen where you have to close all the cupboard doors before there’s room to open the fridge. And we don’t all live in London with a bustling daily market just around the corner. Open my kitchen door and there’s a main road facing you, not a perfect pottager or herb garden. I’m as likely to get run over as I am to find a sprig of mint!

Hmm… I do enjoy a good cookery programme but I agree that many of them tend to make certain assumptions which are just plain daft! And Nigella does my head in.

What is the next item you would like to hurl, through a black hole, never to be seen again?

Chilli with Everything:  Not everyone likes chilli,  and even ordinary white pepper is too hot for me, but these days the wretched stuff turns up in everything — even chocolate and ice cream! Whatever next? Chilli flavoured Victoria sponge for heaven’s sake? I’ve no objection to those who like their food so hot they can’t actually taste it, but recently my local supermarket’s selection of barbecue meat didn’t include a single item that wasn’t hot and spicy or crammed to the gunwales with chilli, lime and coriander. Hey, all I’m asking for is a little choice, OK? Besides the idea of a barbecue is surely not to feel that you’ve cooked your own tongue on the damned thing.

Mwah ha hahargh! I am going to be thinking about cooked tongue for the rest of the day! Hmm another controversial one there, I reckon. I love chilli, but I do understand this, because I’m allergic to mushrooms and the amount of times I’ve explained this carefully and been served something stuffed to the gunwales with them are too numerous to count. Sorry, going off on one there.

What is the third verucca of existence that you would like to burn from the foot of time?

Council Profligacy and Council Speak:

Excellent, sounds like a good one!

Yes. It causes more chuntering, more dark mutterings in Wilcox Towers than any other. Less than half a mile from my front door, proudly displayed over the entrance to the District Council offices is a fancy sign saying, ‘Your District Council — Working For You’. I KNOW THAT! Who the hell else would they be working for? Patagonian llama farmers?

God know how many hundreds or thousands of pounds of tax payer’s money, MY money, they wasted stating the blindingly obvious. Just how dumb do they think the local residents are? Oh, OK, don’t answer that one.  Just tell me why, when the council have removed all the cameras from speed traps around the county, they need to spend several hundred thousand quid painting the empty boxes? It’s madness.  If you are thinking of going and working for them, you’ll need a degree in gobbledegook. A current vacancy calls for, ‘a portfolio holder for community engagement and wellbeing’. I’m applying myself — as soon as I’ve worked out whether they want an MC for bingo nights or a doctor!

Local Government Gobbledgygook excellent suggestion. I suspect we’ll all be voting for that one. OK, Lynda, what is the fourth item you’d like to put into Box 010?

Texting and mobile phones: Specifically those who insist on keeping their hands down, thumbs going nineteen to the dozen as they walk down crowded streets expecting everyone else to get out of their way or risk being barged into. They surge across busy roads, still typing Cul*r, oblivious to traffic and the world around them. Wherever they are,  in supermarkets, libraries, on the train, they feel compelled to whip out their Nokias (and there’s a euphemism, if ever I heard one!) and call someone to announce the fact. They discuss the most personal details, medical or financial, in plain hearing of all around them, forcing you to listen. I don’t want to hear about your attack of dysentery on holiday, your gynaecological examination or how you had to transfer money to pay for your son’s new car. Please, please, please,  just shut up!

Oh I heartily agree with this one. Come on readers, stuff it in! Right, Lynda, we’re coming to your fifth and final item. Please can you tell us what it is.

Rude people: whatever happened to common courtesy? To good manners? Don’t people bother with P’s and Q’s any more? I’m fed up with being barged off pavements, pushed out of the way in shops, and cut-up by other road users. For all that they get a bad press, it’s rarely young people who are guilty of such bad manners, either. While I was shopping last week, a forty-something woman cried, “Oh there it is”, and without so much as an “excuse me”, shoved out an arm right in front of my face to take something off the shelf. Similarly, whilst looking at the Alfred Jewel in the Ashmolean Museum, someone reached in front of me with a mobile phone to take a picture of it. Grr. I can find no excuse for such rudeness and it makes my blood boil.

In that case, readers, to reduce risk of Lynda’s blood boiling – which can’t be effecetious for her health, please, please, vote rude gits into Box 010.

Lynda, thank you so much for joining me. Readers, it’s now time to vote! Join me next week when we find out how many of Lynda’s choices are going into Box 010. To find out more about Lynda’s books you can visit her website here, more on her latest release, Strictly Murder, at the bottom of the page.

Strictly Murder

The Estate Agent’s details listed two reception, kitchen and bath. What they failed to mention was the dead celebrity in the master bedroom. Personal assistant Verity Long’s house hunt is about to turn into a hunt for a killer. It will take some fancy footwork to navigate the bitchy world of dance shows, TV studios, and dangerously gorgeous male co-stars. When Verity looks like the killers next tango partner, she discovers that this dance is… Strictly Murder

A reminder

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Box 010: Number 8, David Haywood Young

Hello everybody peps! Welcome, once again, to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is David Haywood Young, who has two novels published; a supernatural mystery and a romance/mystery with a bit of Gypsy ghost story, along with a book of short stories which he says are ‘mostly strange’ and therefore, in my view almost certainly to be recommended. He is running a giveaway on his site at the moment so you can try his books, for free, and it’s also worth keeping an eye out for his new release, which will be out in a few weeks.

Hello there David.

Hello.

Thank you for visiting us today. Before we attempt to consign your pet hates to history, please can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

If I exist at all, there’s a good chance I’m a bit odd by nature. Even-tempered, though. At six years old I began writing (and binding!) books for my younger brother and sister. I taught them both to read, as I needed an uncritical audience. Eventually the day came when my parents no longer gave me lunch money. I considered burglary (I still consider it fairly often) but ended up combining software development and professional poker…for more than twenty years. But I shut down my company last year in favor of writing. We’ll see how it goes. It feels fairly wonderful so far.

As MTM mentioned, I’ve published two novels and a collection of short stories (mostly strange). All three are available, one per customer (on the honor system), via a giveaway I began on the solstice: http://davidhaywoodyoung.com/blog will get you there until 21 July 2013. Though leaving my site again will be entirely up to you, as there’s nothing in it for me.

Also, I’m @DHY_writer on Twitter if you’d like to say hello there. Which you can actually do twenty-eight times in a single tweet, and I think that’s awfully friendly.

Phnark, it is too… I will be trying it out shortly! Mwah ha hargh. Alright then, let’s get onto the action. David, what is the first item you’d like to throw into Box 010?

Lists: Yes, all lists. My wife creates them daily, and I love her very much, and this prohibition will resolve all related issues. Also, if it doesn’t, we won’t know. Besides, I once heard someone say that a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen. I figure it’s better to strike at the root than to attempt to model an entire universe—even supposing we only have the one to deal with—and all its myriad interactions on chewed-up tree pressings. Even Post-its, in my opinion, are not truly adequate to the task. Life should be experienced as is, not interpreted via coercive flights of predigested (and appallingly limited) fancy. Or so I suppose.

This is very true, McOther makes lists and thinks things through, I find that any list I make will be overtaken by events anyway… like my to do list for today, for example, which went pear shaped about five minutes after leaving the house.

Sorry, where was I, ah yes, Thing 2. What is your second candidate to set adrift in the darkness of Box 010, never to be seen again?

Constraints:  This certainly includes the list (see issue #1 above) of restrictions you sent me. I’m not to include items people have previously identified as unnecessary/hated/expunge-worthy?

Mwah ha ha hargh! No! Those were the things that are already in Box 010 so in theory you can’t throw them in a second time because they don’t exist, although they do because I’m in Box 010 now, because McOther was thrown into it with all other Lawyers last week. Phnark.

Fine! But this is the beginning of the end. Once we start down this path, we’re on a path, and that means we’re probably not paying as much attention as we ought to various less-than-obvious dangers I obviously can’t enumerate (see above, and also counting is by nature too limiting). So…excuse me, were you saying something? I was to make a point? Oh. Well, too bad. Now what?

You loony! Now, I think we should move onto your third item.

Agriculture: All right, enough fooling around. This one is serious. I’m a natural hunter-gatherer type, by which I mean I’m too lazy to do much until the need for food (or cash) becomes pressing. Yet another source of marital friction! She feels we should put something aside for emergencies—and once that’s done, well, we might need more for a more serious emergency. Fine! I declare an end, right here. If we can stage a zombie apocalypse (even if without actual zombies), and go back to proper societal norms (meaning I hunt when hungry and do very little else, but as a noble primitive rather than a slacker) I think the world at large will run much more smoothly.

Hmm… I get the logic in that but I’m a poor hunter and I like to know where the next meal is coming from. Being  a lazy slacker though… that sounds cool.

Mathematics: An easy one. Not that math-

Eh?

Remember, I’m roughly American. Not that math(s) is inherently horrible, but so many misunderstand its function! It’s another system for modeling reality, sort of like—wait for it—lists. People start thinking the system we’ve made up can somehow override reality, as if two chairs are always precisely twice as good as one when a body wants to sit. Mathematics can model bits of the real world, but fails to replace them. Nonetheless folks believe they can prove things about the physical world via appallingly simple flights of mathematical whimsy…and so we develop perversely boring religions all over the place. No more! Leave the math to the computers, I say. And don’t believe anything they say either.

As someone who hasn’t passed a maths exam since the age of 9, think maths is a cracking candidate for Box 010. Then we wouldn’t need money, either and we’d swap stuff, which is so much simpler. OK, what’s your fifth and final candidate for the Box of Doom that is, 010?

The rule of law: Well, look, this one really applies more to the rulers than the ruled…and who could argue that their behavior (Yep, I’m still American) has been what it ought to be of late? Or at any other time. So, the heck with it. From now on, I say we all do just as we please—

Hmm… but David, what pleases you might be a complete pain in the arse for—

What, you’re interrupting me again? Yes, of course this will be mandatory. How else could it work? Giving orders is ridiculous, but come the revolution anyone caught following them will be first against the wall! Because I said so.

There, that told me! Thank you so much for joining us, folks, this week’s guest has been David Haywood Young, who you can also find on twitter, saying hello a lot so you can follow him here @DHY_writer. Now the time has come to vote. So, Ladies and Gents, do rules appal you? Is planning, like spare tyres, for whimps? Only you can decide…

Vote here.

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Guest post: How do I write? by Tahlia Newland

Hello everyone, this week, I’m delighted to welcome a guest poster on my blog. Many of you will have heard of Tahlia Newland. Today, she’s going to tell us a bit about how she writes and her new release. So, without more ado… take it away, Tahlia.

I used to be a visual artist (actually I still am, it’s just not my main income anymore), then I worked in Visual Theatre for over twenty years as a writer and performer, so visual imagery is not just important to me, it’s part of who I am as an artist. Visual Theatre communicates with visual symbolism and my Diamond Peak Series is full of symbolism, so though I’m writing instead of creating visual imagery with paint or with dance, costumes, sets, props, masks and music, my writing is full of visual imagery and symbolism.

I’m a visual author. I guess that’s why I like to write fantasy and magical realism.

Reviewers have said such things as “truly spectacular imagery;”  “unique settings;” “a rich, detailed world building”, and “It’s a visual writing style – you can see the action”. About the symbolism they have said such things as; “author Newland exhibits great skill in allegorical storytelling;” and “an epic adventure with real world symbolism and depth.”

Stories come into my mind in a visual way as well. I see the scenes playing out as a movie and I write the scenes as they come into my head, so I don’t feel as if I’m making the story up, I’m more writing what I see. It makes me wonder if the stories aren’t happening somewhere in some other reality. Certainly in symbolic terms, the Diamond Peak series is played out in the psyches of every person on the planet whether we know it or not.

But the visual and written aspects of my creativity are even more linked than just how they come out in the final product. Part of my creative process in writing is to consider the book cover, and I use Photoshop to mock up different ideas at various stages of writing. Sometimes, I take a break from writing and play with Photoshop and what I come up with helps to clarify the images in my mind.

I’ve just released Demon’s Grip, the latest book in the Diamond Peak Series. I built up this cover with the help of my daughter at Centrepiece Productions Design Studio (a good place for cheap but professional covers).

Here's the cover of Demon's Grip, Tahlia's new release.

Here’s the cover of Demon’s Grip, Tahlia’s new release.

It’s always best to start at the beginning of a series though, so to inspire you to do just that, book one in the series is only 99c until the 6th July on Kindle and Kobo, so pick it up and read your way to the top of Diamond Peak.

You can also pick up a FREE short story prequel to the Series here.

If you’ve read books one and two, you can find Demon’s Grip at your Kindle Store , Smashwords & Kobo.

Tahlia Newland, the award-winning fantasy and magical realism author with a metaphysical twist. If you enjoyed this blog post, you can join her on Facebook , Twitter or Google+ You can even fan her on Goodreads. When not reading, writing, reviewing or mentoring authors you may find her being an extremely casual high school teacher or making decorative masks. Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. In 2012, she set up the Awesome Indies List to showcase quality independent fiction. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney. Creativity is her middle name!

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Box 010: Number 7, Will Macmillan Jones

Hello Ladies, Gentlemen, those who aren’t quite sure and, of course K’Barthans. Welcome, once again, to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Will Macmillan Jones, writer of the acclaimed Banned Underground humorous fantasy series, fellow authorholic and petrol head. Will is also branching out into horror with his first book The Showing, out now and more promised. You can find his blog here .

Hello Will.

Mary, good afternoon.  Unless you are uploading this in the morning of course.

Come on! You know me, consistently late despite being still alive.

True, but then as the song says, ‘It’s five o’clock somewhere’*.  That’s a good maxim to live by, I always think.

Very true, so, can you tell us a little more about yourself?

Those who know me are aware that I write fantasy, and a little horror. I’ve got a little horror too, only she’s becoming quite grown up now and will be away to University next year: I might get some peace and quiet to write a bit more then.  Alternatively I might suddenly come across the TV remote whilst cleaning her bedroom, and get distracted, although (as you will see) that’s rather unlikely.

Hmm… TV and procrastination, the two great enemies of writers everywhere, OK then, I’m dying to know, what’s your first candidate to go into Box 010?

So, what would I consign to Room 010?  Jim favoured beaurocracy. I can’t agree with him there – it has been a wonderful source of inspiration to me.  I remember once reading a provision in one of the Finance Acts in the 1970s that was approximately fifty lines of closely printed type, entirely devoid of meaningful punctuation.  Photocopies were being passed around the Inland Revenue – where I worked at the time – and there were rumours of a prize for anyone who could correctly interpret the intended meaning. It was probably a promotion, such a competition being the only remaining route to professional advancement at the time.

Mwah ha ahhargh. I can believe it. But stick with the programme, Will. Focus. Your first item..?

Yes, sorry, I digress.  My first consignee would be anyone who records those dreadful noises I hear occasionally when retuning the radio.  I think it’s called ‘Drum N Bass’.

Drum N Bass Artists: Everyone involved in any way within the music industry has fixed ideas about the musical qualities of those who play those instruments.  No smoke without fire, say I.  I loathe the stuff.  I don’t mind the fact it’s repetitive, just that every single track I’ve ever heard appears to be completely interchangeable.  There’s clearly some clever bloke in a cellar somewhere who recorded the initial track, and now leases it out to all the others who are too lazy to learn to play something different.  I must be getting old, and hankering for a time when musicians could actually play their instruments, and sing without the need to have their voices electronically altered, or even mime.

I have to say, I am absolutely with you there Will. I am a curmudgeon, I know but even when I was a kid, and supposed to like it, I loathed that kind of thing.

My next target will be dear to your heart too, Mary.  There is a particular breed of driver who should be shot.  I can cope with the elderly drivers in their elderly Nissans who bumble around the country lanes at fifteen miles an hour.  You can identify them easily, and know what you are dealing with.  It’s the same with farmers in their preferred transport, middle aged Freelanders.  You know that they are likely to stop at any or every field gate, and that brake lights are an optional extra (which being farmers, they are on average too mean to buy).

Oooh easy tiger, I can think of several people who are going to have stern words with you over your comments about farmers. Sorry, do go on.

My ire is reserved for those who buy reasonably quick cars, and then take them out onto lovely curving roads for a spin, and still drive them at what seems like fifteen miles an hour.  Just last week I was out looking for a bit of legitimate and legal fun (trust me, whatever you were using, if you drove along this road at the legal speed limit you would very quickly have been taking flying lessons.  The first lesson being: cars have a very poor glide angle) on a Welsh road that rather resembles the beautiful road used in the James band film Goldfinger.  And who should I end up following?  Some muppet in a convertible going round corners as slowly as possible.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

Actually, I completely understand this one as well, I got stuck behind a couple of middle aged gimmers driving an Aston at about 20mph the other day and I have to say, it was peculiarly distressing. So, what’s the third thing you would like to see scrubbed with Vim from the face of time?

And now we come to lawyers.  I hate lawyers. Come the revolution, let’s put them all up against the wall and open fire.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that the country would be a better place if everyone was given the right to shoot lawyers, on let’s say, one particular day of the year.  Maybe the summer solstice?  The druids would have a ready supply of sacrificial victims for their rites at Stonehenge.  Of course, this plan – clearly acceptable to all right thinking people – would have to be made into law, and that’s where the practical problem would arise.  The lawyers would have to be brought in to draft the law, and I’m sure they would make it as confusing as every other piece of legislation ever drafted by some lawyer with one eye on the enormous fees to be made from the subsequent need to work out just what the hell had been meant by the wording now enshrined in the ever growing laws that surround us.  Like everything else in our fair land, it started out with the very best of intentions with the Magna Charta (signed by King John), and has been going downhill for the last thousand years or so.

Mr McGuire hates lawyers, or perhaps I should rephrase that, he hates other lawyers. But then he works for inventors and scientists so they like plain speaking contracts that tell it like it is. What is your fourth item for Box 010?
Television:   Mostly, I cannot stand television. Endless soaps, stealing each others’ story lines and using interchangeable actors.  Endless episodes on how to improve your home/sell your home/buy another one.  They should be sponsored by estate agents.  Maybe they are.  When I’m writing, which I do rather a lot, I prefer to have some soothing music playing.  The sweet, pastoral idyll of ‘No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith’* perchance.  Sadly my teenager commandeers the TV remote, and every evening I am subjected to the torture of endless repeats of American Dad and Family Guy.  I actually laughed at some of the jokes the first time I saw some of the episodes.  But not now.  When I was her age, I used to use some prog rock as a meditation device.  After all, if I dropped off to sleep for a few minutes and then woke up, I could be fairly sure I hadn’t missed much and would still be listening to the same track. Or at least something that sounded like the same track, even if it wasn’t.  Unless I dozed for too long of course, and the vinyl had ended.  Anyway, back to TV, which is spookily the same as prog rock these days.  Almost all the programmes are entirely awful, and quite often indistinguishable.  But then I suppose that there’s a danger that if the fools making most of these soaps and endless house improvement programmes were not allowed to do them anymore, they’d all go off and be lawyers instead and make the country even worse.  So maybe I’m wrong.

OK then Will, what is your fifth and final item?
Estate Agents:  Anyone who has ever bought or sold a house, or even rented one, will have come up against this pernicious breed. For one thing, they seem unable to fix a simple value to a house. When you are trying to sell, several slightly oily people will wander round your home with a critical eye, before pronouncing a number a wildly varying valuations, all based on their personal opinion of the property, or indeed of you yourself.  Mostly, they will all be trying to outdo each other to encourage you to sign up with them instead of their nearby competitor, of course. Then when a prospective buyer offers a substantially different and much lower sum for the house, they will all murmur:  ‘of course, the market is a little difficult at present’.  It’s always difficult, isn’t it?  And the descriptions they create of properties? I’m supposed to be a fantasy author, and I’m left gasping in awe.  Is there a training course they go on that helps them to invent these wonderful, mellifluous phrases and lie with less compunction than a lawyer?  ‘Splendid Outlook’ (a picturesque view of the local tip). ‘Unlikely to be overlooked’ (No one in their right mind would have built a house there in the first place, and even builders can learn from their mistakes). ‘Convenient for the amenities’ (there’s a car park for the local superstore and retail park on the other side of the road). ‘Excellent Access’ (If your lawyer remembers to wake up long enough to do the searches he will find that planning permission to demolish the house next door and replace it with a four lane super highway complete with roundabouts and flyovers was granted last week).  ‘Spacious Accommodation’ (The dwarfs I write about would consider it so, certainly.  The removal men tasked with teasing your expensive furniture up the narrow,steep and twisting stairs will have other views on the matter and will express them to you at length in return for tea).

So, there you have it.  My five suggestions for Room 010.

Marvellous, that’s grand! McOther will be casting his vote for this last one although, it’ll probably be from Box 010 by next week. So… Will Macmillan Jones, thank you very much for joining me.

Thank you, Mary, for the opportunity for a rare rant.

It was a pleasure.

Right, then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Will Macmillan Jones and his books you can visit his blog here,  the Banned Underground website, here and his Amazon author page, here.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Will Macmillan Jones when he puts his five most loathed items into Box 010.

Vote here….

*Motorhead’s live album.  Buy it.  Now.  See?  I even do footnotes in a guest blog.

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Box 010: Number 6, Jaq D Hawkins

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Jaq D Hawkins. She does… well… Lots of stuff so I’ll let her tell you about it, over to you Jaq.

Oh and, hello.

Hello.

A bit about me? Well, my most recent release is the final part of the Goblin Trilogy I’ve been working on which came out in May, but as well as Fantasy, I write Steampunk and non-fiction mind, body and spirit books and I also produce films.

Oh, so you’re not that busy then? Mwah ha ha hargh. Wow. So where do the lovely readers need to go to get information about all the things you get up to?

The best place for information about my books is my website, here and to buy them, my Amazon author page is here The website for my film is here, and for general information about what I’m up to, here.

Lorks well, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to join me here, today. So let’s start with your first item.

3D: Hollywood has gone 3D crazy, and as if that weren’t bad enough, they’re moving more and more towards 3D animation instead of live actors. Even The Hobbit was ruined by extensive sequences of animated actors that look like gaming platforms.

But my main gripe is 3D. Every major film has to be in 3D these days, which leads to the gratuitous something-flying-in-your-face shots that take you out of the story. A lot of people can’t see 3D properly and anyone who wears glasses has a fiddle with trying to put the 3D glasses over their normal glasses.

For my own part, I’m just very aware of the effect and to me it detracts from the story. Granted that seeing Captain Jack Sparrow in near hologram effect had a certain appeal, but I haven’t gone to the 3D version of a film since. I can get lost in a 2D film, but 3D is too closely related to extended cgi effects that detract rather than enhance a film. It failed years ago, for those of us old enough to remember the earlier 3D films in the 1980’s. Yes technology has moved on, but 3D still looks un-natural and I’ve refused to go to the cinema to see some films because I knew I would enjoy the 2D DVD more.

Ah I am so with you there. Third time round and still… a bit crap actually. When a film is vaunted for its fantastic special effects I wonder if it’s the critics’ way of telling us there’s eff all else to recommend it. Accordingly, I assume there will be no plot, 3D is just that same deal with a different gimmick. I absolutely get you. Come on readers, I know I’m supposed to be impartial but what the heck, please vote this one in. After which impassioned plea, what’s the next item you would like to see sink beneath the waves of chaos of Box 010, never to be seen again?

Mushrooms: Slimy fungus things that infiltrate pizza and other foods that would be perfectly good if they left that spongy texture out. Yeech!

I’m allergic to them and when I eat out, I find them in places they don’t belong, like fish pie. Controversial though, a lot of people love them. I like the ones I can eat, it’s just the ones that make me hurl I don’t- her hem. Sorry. Moving swiftly on, what’s your third item for Box 010?

Quorn: Following on from mushrooms, who decided that processed mushrooms would make a good meat substitute? If you want to be a vegetarian, be a real vegetarian. I found when I was feeding film crews that I could make some excellent vegetarian dishes by adapting recipes to use courgette instead of meat. My Courgette Bolognaise even satisfies the vegans. If you want to be health conscious, processed foods are your enemy.

Blimey, mushrooms AND Quorn? There are going to be some very nettled vegetarians out there Jaq. I see where you’re coming from. Although I think Quorn looks quite interesting, like proper raw yeast which has the weirdest most bizarre flavour.

Politicians: Well this one is a given isn’t it? Politicians are lying scum who live in ivory castles of their own imaginary worlds and insist that they could live on £53 a week if they had to. Show me. First cold you get that requires over the counter medicine blows your food budget. And luxuries like a new toothbrush become expenses you have to plan in advance to accommodate. Gods forbid the mop needs a new sponge head, that’s nearly a fiver right there.

Hmm, you are clearly a woman after my own heart. The third guest on Box 010 came within a snadge of getting them in… let’s see if you can succeed where he failed.

PPI – payment protection insurance: Back in the days when I had credit cards, I actually had to lie to salesmen on the phone to make them shut up about ppi. I worked for the county and could have up to 6 months off sick at full pay, that was my payment protection. I didn’t want their nasty insurance and I don’t like to lie. Now it’s all spam about collecting from mis-sold ppi because a lot of people weren’t smart enough to send them packing in the first place. Let’s just put insurance salesmen, lawyers and politicians in room 010 and leave it, shall we? We can feed them Quorn and make them watch movies in 3D until their brains can’t perceive real life anymore. No one will notice the difference.

Mmm, now there’s a mental image. Jaq D Hawkins, thank you so much for visiting us on Box 010 today.

Any time.

Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Jaq D Hawkins here are those links again.  For information about her books, you should visit her website, here and you can find them all for sale on her Amazon author page here. To discover more about her film work go here, and for general information about what she’s up to, here.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Will Macmillan Jones when he puts his five most loathed items into Box 010.

Vote here….

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Box 010: Number 5, Jean Gill

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Jean Gill. She writes… well, pretty much anything but she has asked me to feature Someone to Look Up To’ a story about a Pyrenean mountain dog, in search of his perfect human.

You can find Jean’s Amazon author page here or you can visit her blog here.

Hello Jean.

Hello.

I’ve just been reading up on Someone To Look Up To and and it sounds great, I love the tagline, ‘one day his human will come’. There is more about the book at the bottom of the page but before that, Jean is going to try and persuade us to vote all of her pet hates into Box 010. So, off we go, first of all, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yes, I can. I’m a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a big black dog, a Nikon D700 and a man. For many years, I taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. I am mother or stepmother to five children.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

As someone with similarly multicultural origins it is nice, isn’t it, to be able to not care which of the teams you’re watching loses in the six nations. So, let’s discover what items you’d like to see thrown into the rubbish compactor of existence. What is the first item you’d like to put in to Box 010?

Individually wrapped teabags: I live in France and respect for tea here means that it’s very difficult to find teabags that are not individually packaged in small, decorated paper envelopes. Why?! Let’s not waste time recycling package material that didn’t need to be used in the first place!

I’m with you, good choice. I just loathe anything which is that hard to unwrap with my morning brain on. Please tell us what you’d like to hurl into Box 010 next.

Ticks: I’m all for diversity of species, and I understand the danger of the butterfly effect, but we manage without dinosaurs, don’t we? I’d happily eliminate this species. If you’re a ‘Twilight’ fan and not revolted by the mere words ‘blood-sucking parasites’, just look up Lyme Disease and piroplasmosis, two of the diseases that ticks carry.

Ugh, no… I agree, I see no biological function for ticks, other than to kill people, rather nastily. Onwards and upwards, what’s the third item you would like to lob into Box 010, never to be seen again.

Babies’ dummies (pacifiers). They are a filthy, artificial way of shutting up babies, who would otherwise quickly learn to use a thumb or their fingers as comfort-sucks. Dummies cause work for the parent (cleaning and fetching, like a well-trained dog) and take away the baby’s independence, often well into childhood.

Hmm interesting. I bet that one will ruffle a few feathers. Mwa ha ha ha hargh. Righty-o, let’s hear about your fourth item is.

Dog-owners with no control over their off-lead dogs: This means 99% of dog-owners whose dogs are off-lead and who don’t attach them when they see potential hazards, especially other dogs on-lead.  Can you imagine trying to care for a dog recovering from a double ligament operation and when you’re carefully walking him, someone else’s bouncy labrador  jumps all over him and damages the leg again?

The ‘Yellow Dog project’ http://theyellowdogproject.com is an international initiative to protect people and dogs from each other. If a dog is wearing yellow, it needs space, perhaps after injury or during re-education. There is no reason why dogs on leads should have to put up with other dogs’ or people’s bad behaviour.

Some food for thought there, the Yellow Dog Project is such a simple and sensible idea and well worth looking up. Very interesting. Wow, so what is number five on your list of pet hates?

Cold calls and spam: I don’t want to answer the phone to hear a stranger trying to sell me something. Cold callers have tried to sweet-talk me, bully me and have even made the big mistake of asking to speak to my husband ‘the decision-maker’. This is all made even more difficult for me because I live in France, and although my French is OK there is a 30 second delay in my brain before I realise that this person calling me by name is a cold caller. I feel my home has been invaded.

This is going in. If I have to rig the votes and force people at gunpoint to- OK, I won’t rig the votes, but I very much hope it’ll go in. Jean Gill, thank you so much for joining me for Box 010.

My pleasure.

Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Jean’s books, click here for her LuLu shop front and, here for just about any format you like, from Smashwords. You can look at her photos as well, to find those click here. There’s also a bit more about Someone to Look Up To‘ below that.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Jaq D Hawkins when she puts her five most loathed items into Box 010.

Someone to Look Up To
‘If you like dogs and good stories, this is a book for you.’ – Louise, goodreads review
It’s a dog’s life in the south of France. From puppyhood, Sirius the Pyrenean Mountain Dog has been trying to understand his humans and train them with kindness…

How this led to divorce he has no idea. More misunderstandings take Sirius to Death Row in an animal shelter, as a so-called dangerous dog learning survival tricks from the other inmates. During the twilight barking, he is shocked to hear his brother’s voice but the bitter-sweet reunion is short-lived. Doggedly, Sirius keeps the faith.

One day, his human will come.

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