It occurs to me that this blog has been going for about two years now, give or take a month, and that new readers may be stumbling over it every now and then due to links on Twitter or Googling ‘Batman and grammar pedantry’ or something similar. According to Google Analytics, 75% of the visitors to the site in the last month were new – and sure, while most of those were spambots, there may be a few new readers who came for the writing essays and stayed for the geekishness and swearing.
So for those new readers, here’s a bit of a breakdown of my various books, what they’re about and where you can get them.
(Meanwhile, maybe you established readers could link to this page on social media and tell everyone you know to buy my stuff. Come on, this trip to Paris isn’t going to pay for itself.)
The cleaning lady eats time. The manager mourns his multi-gendered parent. A pirate radio DJ listens for God. An accountant prepares to kill again. And that’s only in four rooms of the Hotel Flamingo, where the room service is terrible and reality flakes and crumbles around the edges.
Come to a part of town where the dealers meet, where the forgotten people hide, where reality cracks and peels like cheap wallpaper. Where normal is a dirty word. And while you’re here, come stay at the Hotel Flamingo – a refuge for resentful angels, feral symbols, disgraced magicians, broken-hearted foundlings, bad dreams and many others.
Hotel Flamingo is a weird fantasy/horror novella that I originally wrote as a serial on my LiveJournal back when people had LiveJournals. It’s what I call a ‘mosaic’ novella; each of its 22 vignette-chapters focuses on a single character at the Hotel, giving a snapshot of their unique and bizarre life and then tying that thread into the larger story until it all comes together at the end. It’s a story about fate and destiny, the power of symbols, good intentions and bad decisions. It’s got some of my favourite bits of writing in it, and a lot of people have told me they really loved it, which makes me very happy.
A man wakes up to find he’s turned into a Franz Kafka novel. A couple get high on illegal gods before going out dancing. An author tries to prove the existence of fictional ghosts by creating his own. A weary traveller realises that people keep disappearing from his late-night bus. A fledgling paranormal investigator is confronted by the ghost of a ghost. And two pensioners wait for the bus to take them to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Godheads and Other Stories is an anthology of six weird fantasy and horror stories. They’re all stories, in their own way, about the intersection between high weirdness and low mundaneness, and how even the very strange can see normal once you get used to it.
There’s a pretty wide range of tones and voices in the stories in Godheads, which were written at different times in my life. The titular story is one of my earliest polished pieces, and clocks in at about 5000 words, while other stories are more recent and much shorter. Some stories are funny, some are sad, but they’re all meant to be unsettling to some degree or another. Who knows, maybe you’ll spontaneously turn into a piece of early 20th-century literature one day. Chilling, no?
What kind of stories? There’s some horror, some fantasy, some comedy, some more literary slice-of-life stuff. Topics include doll dismemberment, rock band murder, ghost moustaches, giant spiders, unicorns, cooking for ogres and Godzilla sex, and each story is less than 1000 words.
There’s not a lot more to say about a flash fiction collection, is there? I always compare flash fiction to Ramones songs – short, punchy, often rough around the edges and then BOOM DONE start the next one and then wrap up the set. And that’s as both a writer and a reader – flash stories are quick to cook, quick to digest, and if they leave you with a pleasant aftertaste then I think I’ve done my job.
So if you’re keen to read ‘Got the Horn’, ‘Ghost (Moustache) Story’, ‘Dear Penthouse Forum: I Fucked Godzilla’ and the other six stories in this collection, you can get it for less than a dollar from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store and other places. It’s not on the iBookstore yet for some reason, though, and I wish I knew why.
Kendall Barber calls himself an obituarist – a social media undertaker who settles accounts for the dead. If you need your loved one’s Twitter account closed down or one last blog post to be made, he’ll take care of it, while also making sure that identity thieves can’t access forgotten personal data. It’s his way of making amends for his past, a path that has seen him return to the seedy city of Port Virtue after years in exile.
But now Kendall’s past is reaching out to drag him back into the world of identity theft, just as he gets in over his head with a beautiful new client whose dead brother may have been murdered – if he’s even dead at all. Chased by bikers, slapped around by Samoans and hassled by the police, all Kendall wants to do is close the case and impress his client without winding up just as deceased as the usual subjects of his work. Will the obituarist have to write his own death notice? Or can Kendall turn the tables and put this body to rest?
The Obituarist is a crime novella about identity theft, the digital afterlife industry, death and redemption. It’s my attempt to write a Chandleresque detective story, except with more humour, and to examine the growing issue of what happens to the online portion of our lives when the offline portion comes to an end. I had a lot of fun writing it and a lot of people seem to have really enjoyed it, so I’m planning on writing a sequel later this year.
Free short fiction
That’s why I have six short stories available totally free to download from your preferred ebook seller! Well, unless your preferred seller is Amazon, as they don’t distribute free indie material. Poops. But you can get Kindle-compatible versions from Smashwords instead.
The stories I have up at the moment are:
- ‘The Descent’: When Mister Smith looks out the window of a plane and sees a man standing on a cloud, nothing else in life seems to matter as much anymore.
- ‘Watching the Fireworks’: A mirror breaks, a marriage explodes, and all the fine things they once collected and showed off now serve to demonstrate just what went wrong.
- ‘The Recent 86 Tram Disaster as Outlined in a Series of Ten Character Studies’: What caused the recent explosion on the 86 tram? Who were the people who witnessed the event? And how does the omniscient viewpoint of a narrator affect the lives of those characters it describes?
- ‘Hearts of Ice’: You come home one night, worn out by another day of hard work and not falling back into bad habits, to find the woman you love has left you. What now?
- ‘Pension Day’: Dunny thought that he was onto a good thing when he stole that cab and used it to rob old-age pensioners. But today he may have picked up the wrong passenger…
- ‘The Obituarist: Inbox Zero’: Kendall Barber has discovered something an email set up to be sent after a man’s death. What is in the email – and why is his client, the dead man’s brother, so eager to find out? This short story is a stand-alone mini-sequel to The Obituarist.
There’s some weirdness, some crime, some metatext and some just plain old storytelling there, all in a variety of formats. The easiest way to find them is from my author page on the various sites – Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store and the iBookstore. The first four of those stories are also on the Downloads page here as free PDFs; the last two will go up there sometime soon once I get the time to format and upload them.
If you haven’t read any of these books or stories, then I hope you’ll go check some of them out. I think they’re worth your time.
Once you have read them, and assuming you like them (oh please god like them), it’d be great if you told other people about them on social media, gave them positive reviews on store sites, pressed them upon friends and relatives, sent me the spare change behind your couch cushions and generally did all the things that help independent writers let the world know that they exist.
It would also be cooler than cool if you liked my Facebook page, circle and +1 my Google+ account, followed me on Twitter, rated my books on Goodreads and – more than anything else – left the occasional comment on this here blog to let me know that you liked my stuff and/or think that my latest blog entry is a pile of wank. Both are good, as long as you’re a human and not a spambot.
If you are a spambot, that’s okay. We can still be friends. Just not close friends. Christian side-hugs only.
Thanks for your patience, folks. Next week we’ll talk about something else!