All my many thousands of fans (… and by “many thousands”, I actually mean my girlfriend Julie and my online stalker, Brian), may have been wondering what’s happening with my next novel, Confessions of an Invisible Man. Well wonder no more, because it’s coming out on Valentine’s day. That’s only about two weeks away.
So what is it about? It’s about 350 pages, that’s what! Haha. Well, it’s about a guy who’s going to be invisible for exactly seven days. During this he hopes to win the heart of Lucy Pendleton, the girl at work who treats him like he’s invisible all the time.
I’ve been heavily influenced by H.F.Saint who wrote the brilliant Memoirs of an Invisible Man, and I’ve always thought about doing my own take on the classic story by H.G. Wells.
But what sort of a story is it, I hear you all shouting in a frustrated manner – well, hang on, cos I’m going to tell you. It’s a rom-com with lots of comedy, several twists and turns, a couple of gratuitous sex scenes (OK, that’s not really true), there’s drugs, Elton John and a rug featuring the lovely mug of Rylan Clark-Neal. What more could you ask for? Nothing! And let’s not forget that for my die-hard fans, there’s also a fair smattering of swearwords to add a certain something.
At the moment I’m reading a classic science fiction book called The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis. You might remember David Bowie playing the lead roll in the movie? Anyway, this is a fabulous book – and you can get it from HMV in their 2 for £6 sale! Bargain.
OK, that’s all for today, but watch out for an interview with Sam Eastwood, the brilliant designer of my book cover for Confessions of an Invisible Man. She’s one of my best friends and I might tell you all about her amazing wedding, if you behave yourselves!
You’ve all heard of The Commitments haven’t you? Well it was written by Roddy Doyle. Now, being honest, I’m not a fan of his – infact I’ve never read anything by him, so that seems a bit harsh really. Anyway, I’m sure he’s a lovely fella! I did like his writing tips which I saw online somewhere, so I thought you might like them too.
To start you off, here’s a writing tip of my own: Make sure the room you’re writing in is nice and warm! OK, that sounds shit, and not as good as Roddy’s but honestly, if you’re comfortable, then you’ll be more creative. That’s my opinion and I’m not even getting a kick-back from the central heating companies to say it!! Although I am open to all forms of product-placement advertising and bribery. C’mon British Gas, get your cheque-book out!
Here are Roddy’s tips!
1 Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.
2 Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph…
3 Until you get to Page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety – it’s the job.
4 Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.
5 Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Don’t go near the online bookies – unless it’s research.
6 Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, eg “horse”, “ran”, “said”.
7 Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It’s research.
8 Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to call them the Commitments.
9 Do not search amazon.co.uk for the book you haven’t written yet.
10 Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – “He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego.” But then get back to work.
So, there you are, I hope you liked those! Roddy, of course is now a multi-billionaire and lives in a caravan just outside Skegness. He doesn’t welcome cold-callers, so don’t go getting any funny ideas!
You’ve heard of The Amazing Johnathan haven’t you? WHO? The Amazing Johnathan, the WORLD FAMOUS American magician and TV icon, who starred in his own Vegas shows for years, that’s who!
Well last week I had the pleasure of talking to the Amazing Johnathan via a call to his home in Las Vegas. He retired a couple of years ago due to health issues and now he’s doing all sorts of stuff in retirement – such as learning how to play the piano. He says, “I’ve one good hand.” So not exactly Billy Joel then, I reply. He tells me he’s hoping to get good enough to play some Radiohead.
So why am I grilling The Amazing Johnathan, known around the world for his outrageous humour and quirky magic shit? Well, I’m doing an interview with him for magicseen magazine, Europe’s number one magic magazine.
Magic can be boring, so I ask him about his comedy heroes. “Charlie Chaplin!” says Johnathan, “a f**king genius!” As he says this, I show him the latest book I’m reading: Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography! “That’s cool, man!” he says nodding. That’s right, Charlie Chaplin was a genius, no doubt! Go and watch The Flower Seller or Modern Times and you’ll know what I mean”.
So, what else does the Amazing Johnathan get up to? “Well, I write now and again for Criss Angel, Copperfield, Penn & Teller and others…” But The Amazing Johnathan doesn’t have to do anything, he earned a fortune in Vegas. “I was having a clear out and threw away a load of my payslips. Jesus, I couldn’t believe how much I was earning then…”
The Amazing Jonathan made his comedy club debut on the very same night as the comedy legend Robin Williams – they became life-long buddies – and they were in a bar together the very night that Robin Williams got his contract for the TV classic ‘Mork & Mindy’. “He came into the bar clutching his contract! He was in high spirits – they were paying him $5000 an episode, which was massive back then!” I ask Johnathan if his autobiography is ever going to get released? He laughs, “It will probably never see the light of day. In the US, they love a story where the guy takes drugs, losses his career, gets clean and then becomes successful again! Unfortunately for the publishers, my story is: ‘Guy takes drugs, becomes successful and so takes even more drugs – and is EVEN MORE SUCCESSFUL!’ It’s not a story the US public will find palatable!”
Read the full interview in magicseen magazine out soon!
Hey! Every couple of years or so I get around to writing a new comedy book of original material for performers to use in their magic and mindreading acts. My new book is called The Comedy Climax: Visual gags, one liners, tricks and routines to make you memorable! As usual, it’s been designed by Phil Shaw, design editor at Magicseen magazine and he’s given it the retro feel that I love. Nice one Phil!
This book (printed and ebook versions) contains guest contributions from the brilliant Nathan Kranzo, the hilarious Mel Mellers, and the fabulous Mike McClean.
Mike has contributed a quick and simple gag/routine called: The Mindreading Chair, which he uses in his cruise ship act every single time he performs. It’s simple but will get you a BIG laugh!
The Mel Mellers effect is P.A.T.E.O Socks – a great stand-up routine which he uses in has cabaret shows and on the ships. Once again, a very simple effect, but one that has a big impact.
Nathan Kranzo’s contribution is purely a gag which he uses for kids AND adults. All you’ll need is a miniature air-horn and you’ve got a great little thing to do between tricks!
The printed version of The Comedy Climax will soon be available through wholesalers for magic shops, and it will also be available as an ebook version too. I’ll keep you posted!
Well, here’s a bit of news – my next novel Confessions of an Invisible Man is now going to be launched towards the end of January and it’s all because of that flippin virus! As many of the major publishers have been holding back launches of their titles, it seems that almost a thousand books are being launched before Xmas! Yeah, so that means small publishers like Chronos get squeezed out by the big corporate bully-boys! I’m not sure if they are bully-boys, but it certainly sounds dramatic!! So don’t despair dear fans, the book is coming soon.
So what is Graham doing meanwhile I hear you all ask? Well, I’m currently watching series 3 of The Bridge (on BBC iPlayer) which is brilliant. I’ve now put brown leather trousers at the top of my Xmas list. Fans of The Bridge will know why!
But I haven’t just been watching the telly 24/7, I recently finished a screenplay for a movie that will probably never be made: Kendo & George, about iconic wrestler Kendo Nagasaki and his manager George – written by myself and Nigel Fitzhenry.
I’ve also been writing my next comedy ebook: The Comedy Climax which should be out in a week or so. It’s currently being designed by ace designer Phil Shaw on his private island just outside Malton.
It’s choc-a-block with one liners, visual gags and some easy tricks for magicians and mindreaders to use in their shows. The last one I wrote did fantastically well, with all six issue selling out within a matter of months. Er, yes, I’m joking!!
This new ebook has contributions from the sensational Mike McClean, fabulous Nathan Kranzo, stupendous Gary Jones and mediocre Mel Mellers! Sorry, I mean Marvellous Mel Mellers!
Right, I’ve got to go now as I need to cook some sausages which went past their use-by date yesterday. They won’t kill me will they?
So, at last, the first draft of the Kendo & George screenplay is done. My co-writer, Nigel Fitzhenry and I have put a big effort into this movie screenplay and we’re pleased with how it’s turned out – at least for the first draft! It’s now been sent off to one of the UKs greatest-ever comedy writers (sorry I have to be a bit vague at the moment, due to confidentiality!) who is our ‘script advisor’, so we’re waiting for any info back from him. The next step is to send off the synopsis and screenplay to several of our contacts in the industry and we’re fortunate to have a couple of movie companies interested in seeing our work, so at least we aren’t having to sent it out blind.
As a little taster, here’s a bit of our synopsis:
Two men – one touching, heart-warming and often hilarious TRUE STORY.
Peter Thornley (aka Kendo Nagasaki) Adopted at birth and after a far from idyllic childhood in Crewe, Cheshire, Peter Thornley grew up to become one of the world’s most famous wrestlers.
Inspired by Japanese Judo master, Kenshiro Abbe, Peter becomes a student of meditation and after an operation to amputate part of a finger puts a stop to a promising career in judo and weightlifting – Peter creates his alter-ego, Kendo Nagasaki, and his career as one of the most iconic show wrestlers ever, begins.
Watched by millions on TV throughout the 1970s and 80s, Kendo Nagasaki – a mysterious, masked Samurai warrior – remained an enigma, never giving an interview and remaining resolutely anonymous, despite countless attempts to reveal the man behind the mask.
Gorgeous George Gillette Flamboyant, outspoken and outwardly gay, George was an iconic figure in the London scene during a time when homosexuality was illegal and homophobia was rife in the establishment and society in general. Never one to shy away from the limelight, George is well known and well-loved throughout the capital’s gay community. His personal life is chaotic and his life spirals downwards, eventually ending up with George living in his local burger bar. And then he meets Kendo Nagasaki…
And there’s a lot more. This is the story of Kendo and George…
I’ll keep you posted of developments as they happen!
Halloween is an annual holiday in the USA, celebrated each year on October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward-off ghosts. Imagine hundreds of people all moaning and groaning, all dressed in strange outfits. A bit like pension day at the Post Office.
Halloween of course, is the time when people all sit around to watch a horror movie. But which movies are the scariest of all-time? I’ve put together a list of the creepiest halloween movies I could think of. Don’t complain if your own favourite isn’t included, because this just a fun item – so don’t come running ‘round my house with a big cleaver saying you’re going to do stuff to me! In no particular order, my off-beat look at some of the best Halloween movies…
The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson plays a writer who gets a job as a caretaker in an empty school during the holidays. He thinks it will be great to have peace and quiet to write his book. It all goes horribly wrong, he gets possessed or something and runs ‘round with an axe. You can imagine what that school’s OFSTED report was like!
Scream (1996) People are being bumped off left, right and centre in this ace horror movie. We couldn’t stop screaming when we went to the cinema to see this – and who could blame us? Have you seen the popcorn prices in Vue??
The Whicker man (1973) A guy goes to an island and there’s loads of creepy stuff going on such as strange dancing, effigy burning and nudity. Sounds like a typical Saturday night party at my house!
Psycho (1960) The classic Alfred Hitchcock movie about a weirdo serial killer who runs a shabby motel in the middle of nowhere while dressed as an old lady. I didn’t actually realise that Grayson Perry had a background in acting!
Saw (2004) Two friends wake up semi-naked and chained to a sink in a bathroom – nothing unusual there, that’s a regular occurrence during ANY Fresher’s Week in the UK. But, in the movie Saw, one of the pals has to kill the other, or his family will die. You don’t get to find out whodunnit until ‘Saw 346’ which is due for release in 2087. Oh, I can’t wait!!
Silence of the Lambs (1991) A woman from the CIA goes to interview a serial killer in prison about some crimes that are being committed. She thinks he might be able to help her, and he wears this mask thing which makes him look scary. He seems very bitter about the whole prison experience. And you can’t blame him, so would you, if YOU’D been given a triple life sentence for parking in a disabled space outside Aldi.
Halloween (1978) One of the classic Halloween movies. A guy with a mask on causes mayhem on Halloween night. It all starts off where he’s quite happy knocking on doors and getting sweets – until some rotter gives him a pickled onion dipped in chocolate – the rest is history!
The Exorcist (1973) A girl gets taken over by the devil, and her head turns around 360 degrees. A vicar comes round and tells the devil to sling his hook! It all ends happily when the devil stops possessing people and goes back to his normal job as traffic warden.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) An all-time classic. Some young people get lost in the rough part of West Yorkshire and a mad man goes on a savage killing spree. People were physically sick in the cinema, which is not surprising – those explicit images of Huddersfield Town centre in the 70s were stomach churning.
Wolf Creek (2005) This always comes near the top of people’s favourite Halloween movies. This is where another group of youngsters accept help from a friendly local in Australia. He tortures them by playing Crocodile Dundee 3 on a loop. It’s a horrible way to go.
Let the right one in (2008) A story about a bloodsucker who has no friends. No, it’s not about a solicitor, it’s about a young vampire who plays centre-forward for a soccer team in Denmark. He’s good with his feet, but he’s not a fan of crosses!
Carry On Screaming (1966) Perhaps the greatest ever ‘horror’ film isn’t actually a horror movie in the true sense. It’s a comedy starring Kenneth Williams, Fenella Fielding and Jim Dale. Women are mysteriously disappearing – at the same time as similar-looking mannequins are appearing in a local shop window. Are the two connected? The Carry-On team featured some incredible comedy talents, plus Bernard Bresslaw. Oh, google him!
So, you’ve written your latest novel and you’re reasonably pleased with it after the usual changes and improvements… and then the publishers say it’s gone out to a focus group for their comments. What does this mean for you as an author? And is it going to make your book better?
My forthcoming novel ‘Confessions of an Invisible Man’ (a rom-com about a man who’s going to be invisible for EXACTLY seven days) was duly completed and passed to the publishers. It came back, as expected with quite a few changes, but nothing to give me sleepless nights. Then, the publishers tell me it’s gone out to a “focus group.” Woop-de-doo!
So my novel is then sent out to selection of people. Actually a selection of people of all ages and who are not chosen for their love of rom-coms. They are a group of people who read books they are sent and then pass on their thoughts to publishers. They may hate rom-coms for all I know, they may not… The group reports back on the characters, the idea, the pace, the storyline, the writing style and more…
Their comments (and scores) come back, it’s an interesting mix of remarks. Some will pick out a word or phrase that they’re not happy or comfortable with, others will tell you where they see weaknesses in the plot. One reader says my very first line could be improved and tells me which word to use in order to improve it. One mentions that the main character isn’t likeable, two have an issue with a sex scene, one says the pace of the story is too fast, another isn’t keen on the ending. It’s an interesting mix of comments. *Just for the record, I got the distinct impression that the people who had an issue with the sex scene were ‘older’ people who had never read a sex scene in a book before! Plus, it was actually meant to be a comedy scene and I’m not sure they understood that. Then again, maybe I didn’t write it skilfully enough!
If I changed everything the focus group mentioned, it would be a different novel to the one I’d envisaged. So, does a focus group help or not? Well, it’s easy to get defensive when going through all the comments, but I guess where focus groups are good, is that you can pick up patterns. If several people are making similar comments, then you can assume that particular thing may need looking at, tweaking or changing. Of course, when all the comments come back from readers, you have to stand back and not take things personally. Look at their comments positively, pick out the one’s which make sense and then improve your book. Better to fond out weaknesses now, rather than later.
At the present time, I’ve made a list of possible changes and things to look at, and I’m going through my novel improving where necessary. I must point out that whilst there were several negative comments from the focus-group, there were also lots of positives too, so the publishers and I are looking forward to producing a successful book later this year. Do focus groups help? I’d say yes, but be selective about what you take from their comments!
Confessions of an Invisible Man is published by Chronos Publishing and released later this year!
I decided to form a comedy cult because a few of my friends said they were bored during ‘lockdown’ and needed to do something. Plus, I was in the mood to exploit people, and what better way than starting a cult?
Call me old-fashioned, but I think that people like to belong to something – a golf club, a society, a group – so why not a cult? In my cult I’ll be getting my followers to work hard to make MY life better. Then, they’ll have the joy of seeing me deliriously happy, living like Vladimir Putin, riding a horse half-naked through my lounge and doing exactly what I want. Sounds pretty good, eh?
My followers will still have to work full time but have their wages paid directly in to my, er, the cult’s account. And that cash will pay for things such as gardening implements, bedsheets etc for my followers, and a massive flat screen TV, a speedboat and a big flash car for me. No cult leader can have credibility if he’s seen driving around in a Fiat Punto. That goes without saying, that does.
Here are the first few rules from my comedy cult manifesto:
1. The cult leader (me) has total control over your finances and any vinyl records you have. Also, ALL chocolate biscuits must be declared AND handed over to me. Additionally, all copies of Health & Efficiency magazine are to be kept under my bed, for my own health-related purposes.
2. Rituals may change at short notice, depending what’s on the telly. (Eg: if there’s a good film on such as Jurassic Park, I can’t be expected to break off to reprimand a follower etc.). Any dancing naked at midnight rituals may be cancelled if there’s a cold snap or heavy frost.
3. ALL members of my cult MUST listen to the new album ‘Together’ by The Vapors EVERY DAY (on vinyl). They sang Turning Japanese in the 80’s you must remember it, for crying out loud. Anyway, failure to do this will mean extreme punishments such as having to watch school choirs performing on BGT or made to join a Morris Dancing group.
Right, got to go now as I’m planning a ‘free-love’ evening with about twenty of my followers. If I don’t blog for a while, please call the emergency services and send them round to my gaff pronto with a defibrillator. Thanks.
Guest blog #1Writer and artist Jay Fortune explains how he works during lockdownwhen he’s not confined to his straightjacket…
Potter & Fondle. Lockdown. Stay home. Well, let me say that I’m an artist (not THAT kind!) and I’m used to staying home. Us arty types work more-or-less in isolation. My day begins around 6:30am. I get up when the sun gets up (and to let it dry the sheets – the other uncontrollable reason I rise early). Then it’s into the art studio. Bright and early. Not to actually do any work though; more to look at yesterday’s efforts and try to quieten the perfectionist in me that has awoken overnight and realises that what looked totally brilliant last night isn’t quite so stunning in the full glare of day (and without the alcohol flowing freely).
Me and my perfection go downstairs to breakfast (rule one; never, ever take your perfectionist self into the bathroom at this early stage; you will suffer when ‘it’ sees your natural born glory reflected in the full length bathroom mirror). Radio goes on. As does the ‘Porrange’. This unique breakfast concept is my own creation. (Note to self; look into trade-marking ‘Porrange’. Make sure this note is removed before sending this to the blog as guest writer. Wouldn’t want anyone nicking the concept.) Porrange is porridge with an orange. Simples. Breakfast done and I’m back in the studio. How is Mr. Perfection now feeling? Is he a) still being bloody judgemental about everything or b) quieter now he is full up on Porrange. If ‘a’ then it’s into the bathroom to turn the mirror around against the wall, shower, shave and allow the internal judgment to continue. If ‘b’ then it’s into the bathroom. Shower. Shave. Simples. (Perhaps even a quick glance in the mirror pre-steam. Lookin’ good! The more steam, the more I like the reflection.)
Daily Duties taken care of and I’m back in the studio again. More self-loathing, inner turmoil and frustration. I potter around like an ageing gardener forever fondling his pansies. And, like gardening, the art world has its fair share of pansies. And fondling. Few hours later and it’s lunch. Often I’ll try to be social and go meet a friend. But not at the moment. Staying 2m away makes what is usually a close friendship into more of a stand-off conversation. Think pre-virus when you would be in a rush to catch a bus and a friend wants to stop and say Hi. You can’t stop, so stay a good distance from them so you can socially get away to catch the bus before they can get too close and chatty. That’s how these lunch meetings now feel. Like one of us is in a rush. Usually me.
The studio always beckons. Lunch. Back in the studio yet again. More pottering. I get adventurous and squeeze some paint onto the palette. I even dip a brush in and let the paint dry to a crust while looking at yesterday’s efforts. It’s dried to a nasty crust so I can take great delight in washing the brush thoroughly. A proper scrub. I sing ‘happy birthday’ twice. Cleaned it goes back into its holder. Afternoon tea-time. I’m feeling quite exhausted what with the demands of being an artist. A nap is called for. This takes place over a short period of no more than 3 hours. Nothing major. I wake sluggish. It’s getting dark. Another 5 hour power-nap. Too long. There’s not enough time left to do anything worthwhile now, apart from grab a bottle of lager and retreat to the lounge. Bung a tray-dinner into the microwave. I forget to pierce the film again and the resulting ‘pop’ after a few minutes adds a surprise highlight to the day.
And now it’s time for bed. The sun is going down. I’m aware of a huge smile on my face as I realise I get to do it all over again tomorrow. Potter and fondle. NOTE: All of the above is not true. Except for the fact I am an artist. And the sun dries the sheets. And Porrange. Jay Fortune spends his time as a professional artist and part-time writer and on rare occasions is slightly comical. But only on rare occasions. This isn’t one of them. www.jayfortune.co.uk
Thanks to Jay for that. It’s no wonder he only produces one piece of work every twelve years!
*Join me next time dear readers, I’ll have the chocolate digestives open and displayed provocatively for your pleasure…