Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Voodoo New: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Out now on Amazon Kindle USA, UK, Canada, and Smashwords for all other devices and online reading. Available in paperback from - paperback coming soon to Amazon.

When keen Forensic Anthropology student Sarah Bellum has to attend an interview in her housemate's place, with the enigmatic vending machine entrepreneur Crispin Dry of Dry Goods, Inc, it sets off a chain of events that will alter her weekend plans for ever...

Sound familiar? Good - it's a parody. Of many stories - almost all of them famous. Just check out the chapter headings for an idea of what's in store!

Finding herself drawn hypnotically to this dark and complicated (and dead) man - Sarah, her housemate (name as yet unremembered) and their friends become embroiled in a family whose business is steeped in history. Or maybe just lost in it.

An action-packed adventure of love, loyalty, war, alcohol, zombies, rickshaws, and squid. Some things will be changed in your hearts afterwards for evermore - but hopefully not the bits that work.

Read on - if you dare...

I know, the moment I see him.
The black suit. The pallor of his skin. The attractively tousled, unkempt bed-hair. The drool. That limp… oh, God, that limp…!
"Crispin Dry?" My voice catches in my throat.
"Miss… Bellllummmm," he moans softly, extending a dirt-encrusted hand...

Friday, 2 November 2012

The Voodoo Interval: Tawdry Audrey, Chapter Two

Read Chapter One, by clicking here

...Only two years after I posted Chapter One, the story continues... :)

The doorbell sounded like the Addams Family dinner-gong, and that was how celebrity told you it had landed in this neighbourhood. The louder the bell, the more famous and popular the neighbours knew you were.
“Good afternoon, Baby!” the almond-eyed, ebony-skinned goddess purred as she opened the door, wearing one of her own signature velour track-suits and gold trainers. Her poker-straight blonde weave extensions shone like bronze in the Malibu afternoon.
The visitor, who had frozen at the over-familiarised endearment, switched on a smile and offered a hand. Audrey Hepworth couldn’t have been more different to her hostess. Wearing her brunette hair high in a French pleat, with a belted lilac shift dress, matching swing coat and Mary Jane courts, her skimmed-milk complexion hidden behind huge Jackie O sunglasses, she looked as though she had just stepped off the cover plate of a vintage Vogue.
“Audrey,” Audrey greeted the style icon, as they shook hands more formally. “May I say this is fabulous? Is it true your chandelier was from the famous Coronado hotel featured in Some Like It Hot?”
“Well, it was from some swanky hotel somewhere,” the singer laughed. “Come in, come in. The boys are out at some guy thing in Vegas for the weekend. But I don’t care because I have a new toy to keep me going. While the cat’s away, the girls will play. Come and check it out.”
With a barely concealed gulp, Audrey propped her sunglasses on top of her head, took out her personal recorder and followed the more languid lady into the seventy-one room mansion. The studded and reinforced front door closed behind her with an equally Gothic boom.
“Wonderful stained glass,” Audrey mused, admiring the rainbow light flooding the staircase in the main entrance hall. “Contemporary?”
“It’s all from some old church in England. My ex-husband bought it as a renovation project, took the windows out pretending they needed restoration, and shipped them over here. He got some guy to make Perspex replicas for the church. Neat, huh?”
“Hmmm.” Audrey’s thoughts on the matter were inscrutable.
“Never mind the old windows. Come to where the magic happens and I’ll show you my new toy.”
Audrey was not entirely sure what to expect or where they were going, but followed her hostess as she padded cat-like through the ground floor of the house. There was no mistaking that this was a big boy’s playpen. They crossed a pool hall, and a through a den set up for poker and roulette. The glass-and-stainless-steel designer kitchen had more knives on display than a travelling stunt circus. Finally they cut across the ‘back porch’ as the singer described it modestly, with its fully al-fresco marble bathroom and shower complete with tub, lavatory, bidet and urinals, and around the pool in the shape of a Beretta semi-automatic.
Fanning herself with her clutch-purse, Audrey followed the owner through a door and found herself in a large garage.
“Oh,” she said, rather relieved, and the air-conditioning took the edge off her blush. Her eyes adjusted, and the singer switched on the spotlighting. “Well, this is all very clean. Good clean fun.”
“This is the magic, Baby.” The goddess ran a loving hand over the brick-like shape of a new black Hummer. “Gold-plated grill, illuminated spinning rims, tinted bullet-proof glass, 360 degree shielding, stinger-proof tyres, security GPS - engine tuned by Bugatti - it don’t get hotter than this.”
She slid open a side door.
“Sound system straight from the Masters of Mix,” she said. “Next time you hear about a quake on this side of the coast, you’ll know what caused it.”
“Gosh,” Audrey nodded. The singer went on in some detail as to the specifications, leaving Audrey in no doubt as to who expected recognition as the alpha-female in the room. The one with her balls out, as it were.
“…But you know what?” the singer continued, and her tone dropped slightly. “My new fella, Billy-Bo - he hates it. I just don’t understand. He’s got everything right here he could ever want. And yet he pulls out and jets off to Vegas to do it all with the guys. I don’t get it. He turned to me when I was buying this car, and said to me ‘Honey, this car is all of your problems rolled into one.’ What do you suppose he means by that?”
Audrey found herself on the receiving end of a genuine pause, and sighed.
“Well,” she said at last, and slipped off her lilac coat. “Let me demonstrate.”
She approached the front of the Hummer, and ran her hand up the golden grill.
“It’s all too vertical,” she said. “Whereas this - is this your partner’s?”
She gestured to the yellow Lamborghini parked opposite.
“Uh, yeah, he bought it as a birthday present for me, but it’s not my style. But he keeps it anyway, I don’t know why…”
Audrey walked over to the sports car, turned around, hiked her skirt a little, and flung herself back on the bonnet. Her hostess gave a shocked gasp.
“Now, this is more like it,” Audrey said, gazing at the garage ceiling. She raised one knee delicately and wriggled, showing half an inch of stocking-top. “See? That’s what the advantage is. It says, Take me now, you sexy beast.”
She slid off the Lamborghini, straightened her skirt and walked back over to the Hummer.
“While this just says, I’m going to ram-raid you and leave you for dead, making off with all your cash,” she said. “Which I’m sure isn’t in any way a fair portrayal of your relationship with Mr. Billy-Bo.”
“Well, I certainly hope not,” muttered the singer. “He’s a guy - I just expected him to dig chicks who were into cars and guy shit.”
“Never mind. It’s all just speculation, about what goes on in men’s minds,” Audrey reassured her, picking up her coat and recorder again. “Let’s start the interview. So, the magazine is interested in your plans for a white wedding…?”

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Voodoo Guru: Research - How Not to Sell Your Soul to the Devil...

Unless you are not a very bright author with a massive ego instead of a grounding in reality, writing books about homicidal maniacs and serial killers does not automatically make you one. I have been made aware of a few writers who tried to make their strange fantasy world a reality, with unpleasant results. You can Google the 'Murder He Wrote' case as one example.

However, there's another phenomenon, where the publisher's marketing and audience turns the hard work of writing and research efforts around on the writer instead, as a determination of their personality. Reality by proxy. Eccentric characters who write, and perversions of all types, sell pulp copy.

Quite a lot of that speculation going on for a few names this year. But in this instance, it's not the genre you may assume which has got my hackles up. Or my goat. Pun intended.

Apparently, even after an author is dead and mostly forgotten, certain niches of society have an interest in maintaining a bit of gossip about them...

Participating in a charity walk over the weekend (as stunt double for my boss's husband, who couldn't make it that day), I got the virtual tour of bits of town I don't usually see (not being a dog owner myself, who has to walk anywhere regularly - I take exception to the necessity of keeping empty plastic bags in my pockets when I'm not a crime scene investigator). And as it was my boss's church charity shebang, lots of the passing anecdotes were theology or charity-related.

And then my boss asks me out of the blue if I ever read any "Arthur Weakly" - hmmm, no? Maybe she got his name wrong, she thinks. And explains as a qualifier that he wrote Satanic and occult novels, and pointed out the house we were passing, that he used to live in. No, upon questioning, she hadn't read them either.

Now, I already know that my boss would love it if I ever admitted to being a Satanist, because that would mean extra bonus points to level up with Jesus by shanghaiing me as a convert. Sadly, though, I am not interested in taking up any religion where there is a book/bible/text/scroll/anything written down involved. IKR?! Not what you'd expect from an author... Technically, you'd think I was writing my own Holy Babble, if not already pimping someone else's.

So I changed the subject to the fact that I don't really read any horror, as the only time I picked up any Stephen King to have a look at it, I just felt like he was shouting "I'M STEPHEN KING!" on every page, and I couldn't get past the post-modernist author-ego of 'Misery' to be bothered to do anything other than check he dies at the end. But Dean Koontz is all right. Mostly because I can't picture Dean Koontz when I'm reading his books. It helps not to see an author's mug, tongue caught between teeth during spellcheck, sweating over their keyboard out of the corner of my mind's eye - that's all I'm saying.

But I wondered what was so special about this "Arthur Weakly", never mind Satanic occult books, that I should have heard of him, or done any reading in my own navel-stud-gazing time, while inventing my own fantasies not to make a reality out of, under any circumstances...

So after a bit of creative Googling, I came up with the real "Arthur Weakly", who turned out to be 'Dennis Wheatley'. No big name as far as I was aware. And a quick look at WikiStalkier kind of gave me the lowdown on a prolific writer who did the same sort of research for his books as Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle et al. And having given his bad guys some occult leanings, and his heroes some paranormal evils to defeat, unwittingly found himself being marketed as some sort of literary prince of darkness - because it sold pulp copy by the truckload.

He apparently resented the fact that he was being misrepresented as a person, as an individual - that instead of gaining respect as an educated, thoroughly-researched author of his work, he was assumed to be knowledgeable due to perceived 'practices' pointing more directly to a personal involvement.

One nicely vague anecdote I noticed was 'He once had lunch with Aleister Crowley'.

In the author's head, this is what is known as 'having tea and doing research'.

But in the crazy mad marketing associate/occult fan's head, this is what is known as 'they drank the blood of a virgin and burnt a goat at the secret altar in the basement of the Savoy Hotel'.

Now, I do know something about Aleister Crowley. The gentleman in question did whatever the voices in his head told him to do. In his mind, this represented the development of a new religious culture. In my mind, this represents the potential for a large amount of medical drug trials going to waste, while people watched to see how many virgins would get naked for the madman.

As I mentioned to my boss in passing at the time, AC also spent his last days in Hastings, where I used to live. Where he had contact with my former more elderly boss, whom he took a dislike to, and sent some lackeys round to graffiti on his property. The scribbles were found and washed off, and poor dear Mr AC passed away in the night, leaving behind some mixed reviews and a small issue with Brighton Borough Council.

But back to the mysterious codename Arthur Weakly, aka Dennis Wheatley, author of many many books in which good fought against evil and the darkness, while the fans rooted for the wrong side, and the publishers cashed in. Mr. Wheatley eventually, it seems, sold out to the desires of the fans and publishers and released 'Occult Collections' of his works, allowing the cult following to take on cinematic form and a life of its own.

Then the interesting part. Unlike AC and his descent (or do I mean dissent?), Mr. Wheatley moved to a house facing 'Church Road' in Lymington, and according to 'Wiki' shortly before his death was granted absolution by the Bishop of Peterborough. He had a regular Christian funeral and regular documentary mentions, in which no borough council took offence and apparently nobody got naked or spontaneously donated blood or anything.

So - sounds like a regular Christian guy to me... who probably felt he had to put in some big Christian effort right at the end - in case he wound up with his ashes mixed with goat entrails by some shiny-eyed occult fanatics, and smeared all over his publisher's big fat sweaty leather wallet.

(N.B. This would NOT have ensured he remained a contemporary household name, or protected his books from the copyright ownership disputes which followed).

So, as a cautionary tale regarding research and marketing, whatever author/marketing image may sell books today, may be a hot poker up the ass tomorrow. Or at least, the fear of posthumous hot pokers and their insertion into various orifices, demanding attention by the Bishop of Peterborough to remedy, and living within shouting distance of places called 'Church'.

And you don't ever want it known that you had lunch with your special area of research. Once WikiStalking gets hold of it, that's like telling everyone you keep sex slaves under the stairs, not even of your own species. And Brighton Borough Council probably still have that old policy handy, for any eventuality of the results of such thorough creative research.

BUT, I hear the crazies in your heads saying, what if it's an elaborate double bluff? What if that was exactly what a famous closet Satanist would do??

Well, I met a Satanist once. His bedroom window faced a massive cathedral. So I asked him what it was like, having to live in the shadow of God.

"Oh, no," he said. "God has to live in the shadow of me."

Well, before you all fall to the ground worshipping Wiki, contacting your publishers demanding virgin goat sacrifice expenses, and start throwing holy water at my house, may I point out that this Satanist still lived with his parents in their suburban terrace, and no, he did not get any sex out of it.

And he was quite short too, so not a very big shadow.

My boss still thinks these things have power. That authors like Wheatley risked getting sucked in to things that they 'researched'. But so far I don't see any shrunken heads on her desk, or body-parts in jars collecting fluff at the back of her fridge, and she does church missionary work including advising African communities against going to witch-doctors. Which she would have researched to be knowledgeable on, in order to give such advice. And they're the last people she wants to be actively 'involved with' or 'linked to'. But then she's also a born-again Christian, so something succeeded in influencing her before - and maybe that's the kind of thing an actual convert would justifiably fear. Because it either all has meaning or significance to be justified - or none of it does, and none of it can be justified. And if you're committed to one where the core belief is that there is a polar opposite to protect humanity against, the 'dangers' of the other have to be perceived to be as real as your own affiliations.

In other words, are you a Jedi or a Sith?

Many authors like to project some sort of enigma, and many in the past were connected with government agencies, such as Ian Fleming - I've got no issues with that. What the author chooses to project is up to them, like Aleister Crowley. Probably had more than his fair share of nudity (although the quantity not likely to have been matched in quality), and not enough sleep for his sanity, by the sound of things.

But when the author/artist DOESN'T get to choose, is groomed or marketed a certain way to shift the product volumes, or finds themselves facing the psychotically-focused attention of a corner of society that they are uncomfortable with - that's different. That's finding themselves to be misrepresented purely for the benefit, success, credibility and profit of others.

That's like doing a huge amount of dedicated work and research for a charity into the prevention of pet cruelty, only to find you have been made a poster-boy for illegal dog-fighting...

Or, conversely - that you have spent your life cheerfully lighting black candles and stringing bird skulls from trees, smelling of patchouli, drawing the fastest salt pentagrams, and researching exotic mushrooms, only to find that you have been nominated as Target Convert of the Year by your local well-meaning Bible group.

At some point in your life, or your career, it's possible at some level or in some stage of social development that you may find yourself misrepresented. Or misjudged, purely on assumptions of others, and the perspective from which those assumptions arise. But there's no need to go to extremes to prove you're one thing or another. Just be yourself.

As for the double bluff thing - don't waste the energy. You'll only end up confused ;)

L xxxxxxx

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Voodoo Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (Trilogy)

Now, usually I only review stuff I like. This is not one of those reviews.

Firstly, back in February 2012, a small newspaper article about Amazon Kindle downloads by genre indicated that erotica was taking an undisclosed large percentage of ebook downloads and was 'doing well'. It described 'the reading public in private is lazy and smutty' - that's you and me they're generalising here.

A lot of this erotica was self-published. What this pre-empted was a desperate swipe at survival tactics by the Big Six publishing houses through 2012. I used to enjoy browsing the books in Tesco's. Now it's like having to sneak past a dirty old flasher at the school bus stop.

(Book chart fail in Tesco's - who's reading these two books together?!)

I don't read erotica. I read it once back in the early 1990's - it was Anne Rice's 'Sleeping Beauty Trilogy'. All I thought from that was, phew, some people are fucking weird, if that's what's in their heads. And never read any more. I didn't even read it twice. I gave the books away as a joke to a fat sweaty balding Moroccan nightclub doorman who didn't believe there was such a thing as porn that wasn't in movies, and he was in the staff toilet for about three days. But he had a porn addiction problem. As well as a problem with being married and banging slutty customers he gave lifts home to. Apparently it helped him feel like shagging his wife later. But that's a different story.

Anyway, Fifty Shades of Grey was given to me free at the London Book Fair this year, so when I started browsing it and realised it was self-centric author-wank-fantasy crap full of scenes ripped off out of Secretary, Nine and a Half Weeks, Pretty Woman, Lace etc, I nearly dumped it in the second-hand bookshop on the way home. After a small go at 'we've seen it all before' on another blog, I then wrote a zombie parody of chapter one. I got a lot of hits. So wondering what this book was, as it hadn't been anything anyone was talking about yet, I read further in - and found what appeared to be prose, lines and writing of my own imitated and incorporated into porn.

Well, that just made me feel dirty. But I'm not a Moroccan doorman clocking up his Mecca loyalty card points in a lap-dancing club when he should be at home hitting on his own wife. So I couldn't even go away and put the ideas into context.

So while querying the publishers (they were very nice, and said she'd never read my books, and that the writing of the sort in Fifty Shades of Grey, and the themes, characters and ideas, were all completely 'generic by nature' and 'not the sort of thing subject to copyright law' - so if you're thinking of ripping great chunks of it off, be their guest), I kept reading. And here's how I see it.

Firstly, I gather it was initially fan-fiction on a site used by children. Whether the author puts an age rating on it or not, the stories on the sites are unrestricted and searchable by Google word match, and no membership is required to read anything on them. Posting or publishing a grooming fantasy on there would constitute a criminal offence - and you don't see Random House rushing to publish that Florida guy's self-published pedophilia handbook, do you? Or film companies bidding for the rights?

And why are the author and publicity machine still talking about the children's books Fifty Shades was based on, as a launch-pad for its success? That's also grooming - of underage readers who Google it and think the books are connected.

However, regardless of this, Fifty Shades is essentially a book about the stalking and grooming of virgins in itself. It glamorises grooming, with the usual sex-trafficking tricks up its sleeves of enticing the reader and the female MC with shiny presents and electric gadgets that 'only he can contact her on', instructing her, gutter pimp-stylee, to use the Blackberry at work so her colleagues don't find out about their 'relationship'. He drives a car so common that every fourth car I pass is the same make - so in reality, his act of being the richest man on the planet would have a wise woman reaching for Jeremy Kyle on speed-dial, and a naive vulnerable young girl leaping voluntarily into the trunk of every shiny black Audi she sees, probably armed with her own copies of the book so that the rapist/murderer doesn't even have to bring it to the party himself. He won't even have to tell her his own sob-story to brainwash her first, as Christian Grey has already done that for him as well, in Fifty Shades Darker. He won't even have to bring condoms, as Christian Grey hates those too. Christian Grey also thinks it's cool to have paid for sex, so she'll accept that idea straight away - bonus! He'll also be able to introduce her to his own special 'doctor' who will give her pills and injections in the comfort of his own home. Until of course, she can't live without them.

Wow. What a hero, for every sleazy pervert and human trafficker that ever lived.

By the end of Fifty Shades Freed, what I felt was missing was the scene where Christian Grey locks her in a bare cell with a couple of his friends, and has 250 strange men visit her daily until she dies of syphilis. That's what would have made the books more realistic, in terms of the real world.

It's not for everyone. Legally, in terms of Child Protection, Human Rights sex-trafficking and anti-slavery issues, charities like Refuge and Barnardo's, it's probably not for anyone. But with Random House pimping it blatantly at the public all the time when we go shopping for oven chips and Summer Fruits squash, next to the toys and birthday cards and snack foods, with its misleading cover copy calling it 'romantic' (from the title, I thought it was about an old man in his fifties stalking a young girl at first), apparently we should all be accepting it now.

I know the kind of guy who will be thrilled - and I hope it makes his wife very happy, while he's giving her HPV and chlamydia from those starry-eyed, brainwashed nightclub customers.

Meanwhile, the other sort of guy who's probably appreciating it even more, is the one who'll be using it in an appeal against his Obscene Publications prison sentence, received for his little self-published handbook.

If you have concerns about the content or marketing/advertising of books, you can write to the Home Office - they've been cranking out reply letters at speed, and will tell you to complain to Ed Vaizey at VAWG; the UKCCIS and CEOP (there is an issue already raised with them on this subject, so you don't need to feel like you're the first); the Mothers' Union; the ASA; the Press Complaints Commission. The Home Office will also advise you to complain direct to the publishers, at either their editorial or marketing department.

I won't be looking out for any more books similar, or the films. I have seen it all before.

On the news. And on Jeremy Kyle.

"At first they treat you like a princess" - from the Guardian, May 2013, following the conviction of a grooming ring in Oxford, U.K.

L xxxxx

MTV's Inhuman Traffic, presented by Angelina Jolie - human trafficking in Europe

For more information, see
On Twitter: @mtvexit

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Voodoo Hoodoo: Free on Amazon Kindle, 23rd-27th August 2012 (PST)

Enough of the ranting, already. It's like the Apocalypse came and went behind the Olympics' back. Everywhere you look, there's amateur porn on the supermarket bookshelves, and everywhere you go, people talking about domestic violence and zombies. Workmates texting at the dead of night complaining that they're bored of the DVD porn that they're watching, and what are you up to?

Is this the dystopian artistic limbo we've wished upon ourselves?

And no - this isn't the pitch for the Death & The City novels. It's the Western world you're currently living in. Are you having fun? Better check it's not illegal - because all the old laws - and the new laws - still apply...

That's the theme of Death & The City as I wrote it in 2008, from the point-of-view of my job in nightclub security as inspiration. The old school and the new. And who's currently enforcing the law...

These two original books are currently on their third outing as Kindle freebies. You can read more about them, and an excerpt, on Wordpress here:

They're in the genre Crime/Romance/Humour, and have currently been involved in a bit of true-life mystery and intrigue for the readers to ponder over... Check the link above for details.

Oh - and they're suitable for all readers (no graphic/explicit content - only the cool stuff).

Happy reading ;)

L xxxxxxx

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Voodoo Analysis: Fifty Shades of Marketing Explicit Content to the wrong audience...

Don't be fooled by the groupies, the wannabes, and the fans of Regency romance. 'That book/trilogy' is nothing more than a pervert's handbook, with a creep's sob-story in the middle and a Cinderella ending tacked on, written by someone who started out using another author's work on a public website where that author's work was revered - by its underage audience. Underage, for the new adult content being written. In itself, this would raise enough questions about the new writer themselves, of the sort that the police dealing with cases of internet grooming and exploitation face every day.

There are laws against that sort of advertising, which come under Obscene Content and Indecent Displays. And yet this 'marketing tactic' is still being perpetuated by the author and the publishers, in the public eye, in all media.

The UK laws currently state that parents are responsible for what their children buy. However, parents have no control over how consumer content is marketed by the originators and distributors. The responsibility for that lies elsewhere. The Obscene Content and Indecent Display laws apply to all publications, and state that these are matters where the Police have enforcement powers and the Courts decide whether or not a law is being broken.

The author and publishers of adult books with 'explicit content', referring consistently in every article and interview to the author's past as an anonymous writer - on a popular fan-fiction site - who included scenes of a graphic and instructional nature in her interpretation of a high-profile contemporary children's series, are marketing their books by inferring an ongoing connection with the original books, to that same impressionable audience. Only this month, an article by that author herself detailing her fan-fiction background - and suggesting that others could do the same to start a writing career, without warning that younger readers use the same website on which she posted scenes of BDSM - appears in Woman and Home magazine.

The UK laws and governance are already having to review regularly to keep up with new media. But while we can apparently have a watershed on hip-hop videos containing beads of sweat, so far nobody is putting the brakes on an author and publisher's tactic of selling very adult books by associating them with a famous young audience franchise.

Wake up and smell the blood. What the book describes is a girl being groomed in the same way some of our most recent court cases have detailed, and calling it a 'romance'. At the end of the third book, it revisits the first meeting from the man's point-of-view, revealing that he is indeed a single-minded serial predator who routinely stalks his targets - and we're still meant to think we're reading a romantic novel?

Having had to analyse the books for another unrelated issue, I'm not falling for that set of old tricks... and neither should any young impressionable readers.

For parents concerned about the marketing of inappropriate content to minors in the UK - look up 'VAWG' (inter-ministerial group on violence against women and girls) and The Bailey Review (see also The Mothers' Union) in the government department for education.

For advice on general child safety online, including cyber-bullying, see the UK Council for Child Internet Safety document here:

For inappropriate advertising in or by any media, see the Advertising Standards Agency, on methods of reporting a concern (by phone, post or online):

Book chart sales in the supermarket that put you off your food - never mind books...

Anyway - if you're wondering how I came to be so analytical all of a sudden, here's my reason...

I'm sure there's bigger fish interested in the same issues - and they're welcome to it. I wouldn't want anything to do with profits from thinly-disguised YA fan-grooming porn.

Least of all, any of my writing appearing in it. So you can imagine what a relief it is to know that it's all just 'coincidental' according to them...

Rant over, folks...

L xxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 20 May 2012

New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan - A Charity Anthology

Now available on Amazon Kindle worldwide - all monies go to the Japanese Red Cross:

For details including history of the project and contributors, see

L xxxxxx :)

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Voodoo Valentine's Review: CBGB Was My High School, by GK Stritch

This is such an amazing find for a contemporary memoir. Having set aside time to absorb it, I found I devoured the whole thing on a long train journey.

Meet young GK, a soft-spoken, well-brought-up girl, who wanted more than anything to study well and become an artist. But thwarted academically early on, she and her sisters (and friends, and sometimes her more insular brother) venture out of New Jersey and into Manhattan at nights, to experience the lifestyle of the arts and music set instead - and unwittingly, through becoming regulars in the Bowery scene of CBGB and bringing a touch of sober class to everyone they meet, find themselves in some of the most pivotal parts of rock history of the 70's and 80's.

The Ramones live at CBGB, 1977 "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"

From touring with The Ramones, to running from the amorous attentions of soon-to-be famous college professors and 'the short one from Hall & Oates', to giving celebrity facials and waxing Cher - GK was never a 'wannabe' but always someone with her own mind, and knowledge of what was the right way to live and what was destructive, even while in the middle of it herself.

The Police perform live at CBGB, for their first time in New York (excerpt)

And once she finds her own New York 'apartment' observing herself growing up even as others seemed unable to detach themselves...

Blondie live at CBGB in 1981

She experienced everything the heart of Manhattan had to offer - the glamour, the danger, the poverty, the privileges, the wildness, the incredible opportunities, the generosity, and the bereavements - before the artist in herself finally won her over. She finds her own true role models at last, once she acknowledges her own great need for academia.

The multi-faceted Vincent Gallo, whom GK knew as a friend and plate-washer in Manhattan

Some of her friends succeeded - became stars of stage and screen - while others succumbed or sadly expired, and even at times when GK seemed almost lost and unlucky in her early and sometimes toxic relationships, a higher consciousness of her own always seemed to emerge to snatch her back from those jaws. No shrinking violet waiting to be swamped, but a lady I think few she encountered would realise was one whose inner spark would lead her out of the dark times, and onto the path of true personal fulfilment.

Well-read, poetic, historic, and excitingly insightful in parts, this is a real account of the Manhattan scene as it should be remembered. The famous set are portrayed as real people the author knew and interacted with, as part of her own social landscape. Although in awe of some, her observations are a tonic to the pages of the trashy magazines of today. A truly literary rock and roll memoir.

L xxxxxxx