Collisions

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I shared my Inspirations Song List today as I’d updated it (Songs that Inspired Stories), then joked that I should make a list of stories that started from collisions. Not literally — although I do have one or two of those — but collisions of ideas.

Example: later this month Empty Mirror will publish my essay ‘Chaucer and the Art of the Grift’ which came from a collision in my head between The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale and David Maurer’s The Big Con. It makes perfect sense to me but maybe this is why I have a hard time getting people to follow my thoughts. Possibly they seem random and incoherent!

But they seem reasonable to me. Here’s a random selection of things what I have written and the collisions from which they sprang:

The Mangrove Legacy: Peter Cook & Jane Austen

White RabbitBlue Sunshine & Seance on a Wet Afternoon & certain London pubs

How to Be Dull: academia & Jerome K. Jerome

Airships & Alchemy:  <— exactly that

Owl Stretching: The Descent of Inanna & Spike Milligan

‘Elf Prefix’: The Maltese Falcon & The Fairy Melusine

‘Headless in Bury’: The Big Sleep & vikings

‘Wordgeryne’: Lovecraft and medieval charms

‘Losing My Religion’: REM, Tony Hancock & social media debates

“Domus inferna Sancti Guthlaci: A Rediscovery of the Twelfth-Century Narrative of The Saint and the Money Pit”: my Pseudo-Society talk that sprang from rearranging the Harley Roll illustrations of the life of the saint so they became a sort of DIY disaster

…and of course there’s a whole random Fall song + whatever random obsession has fired in my brain this week which covers most of my crime writing that isn’t currently inspired by Robyn Hitchcock.

It’s not just me, right?

[Image from the Cosmagraphia Scoti MS. Canon. Misc. 378 via Bodleian Library]

Fox Pockets Party

Viktor Wynd’s Wunderkabinett

The last time I was at the Last Tuesday Society it was to attend a night featuring tales of ghost trains and the music of Sarah Angliss. I got to play her theremin, which was enough of a thrill that I finally did have to get my own theremin. I also wrote down the phrase ‘luminiferous ether’ which led to my writing White Rabbit (in concert with a lot of other strange head explosions).

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I had not visited the Viktor Wynd museum, however. Drawn by the occult theme of the week, I decided I really needed to see its ‘largest collection’ of Austin Osman Spare works on public display. The south London artist has long occupied that strange niche between occult and art, cultish devotion and imperious neglect, which makes it difficult to see more than isolated pieces at any one time (cf. the Language of Birds exhibit).

Crowded into the back room of the establishment are indeed several works by the artist which are difficult to get a good look at both due to the lighting and the profusion of other curiosities about (thus the poor pictures here). It would be great to have a proper exhibit that allowed better access, of course. Yet I’m grateful nonetheless for the opportunity to see these. Handily, they had copies of Phil Baker’s bio of the artist for sale so I picked one up.

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The museum itself is a mad jumble of nigh-on Victorian gloom, down a vertigo-inducing spiral stair, full of beasts, freaks, monsters, dandies, dead things, a little occult & magic, and some pulps. The dandies include not only Stephen Tennant‘s ephemera but also Sebastian Horsley‘s red sequined Savile Row suit. There are lots of skulls and bones, fossilised things, an ‘alchemists toolkit’ and all manner of weird and interesting curiosities crammed into a very tiny couple of rooms. It’s all a bit overwhelming. You can’t possibly take it all in in just one visit. So if you’re in Hackney or need an excuse to be, you should drop by.

TOA/V — Tea: The Dark Side of the Cup

“Billions of cups are sunk a day for centuries and nobody says a word – until now.”

A mockumentary exploring the silent epidemic of tea dependence. A plight, engulfing our society for a millennia – undocumented.

Click here to watch on Vimeo

I supported their kickstarter and received a lovely tea coaster like the image above. I will admit to a tea addiction but I see no harm in it. It fuels my whimsical imagination — how dull I would be without it!

Check out all the overlooked A/V gems at Todd’s blog.

SpeakEasy Radio: Fox Spirit Books head, Adele Wearing

St Urho Hopper“Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!”

Happy St. Urho Day! As usual, we commemorate the saint (or his wife) who chased the grasshoppers out of the vineyards in Finland in the usual manner — by fire-grilling the grasshoppers! No, wait — that’s just a cool design made by S. L. Johnson who thought this holiday a little crazy but a good excuse to make a hellfire hopper. I love it.

SpeakEasy sqwebToday brings another episode of SpeakEasy Radio: I chat with Fox Spirit Books head, Adele Wearing, who talks about starting her small press, folding in her love of martial arts and how much she loves her readers, writers, artists and staff. Fox Spirit Books include TALES OF THE NUN & DRAGON, EMILY NATION, THE STARS SEEM SO FAR AWAY, EUROPEAN MONSTERS, WHITE RABBIT, DRAG NOIR and the entire Fox Pockets series.

Tonight: Nassau Free Library 6pm

Cover art by S. L. Johnson

Now that the snow’s done for a while why not consider hopping on over to the Nassau Free Library (just east of Albany) for a fun event with me and my fellow Sister in Crime & Maven of Mayhem, Frankie Y. Bailey. We’ll be chatting with lovely librarian Katherine Chansky and have some books available.

Be there 6pm for all the fun!

Upcoming Appearances

Cover art by S. L. Johnson° Meet the Authors: Frankie Bailey and K.A. Laity

Nassau Free Library
January 26, 2015 @ 6:00 pm Rescheduling due to snow

Professor Frankie Bailey (UAlbany) and Professor K. A. Laity (College of St. Rose) will be visiting the library to talk about their published mystery books and will introduce Mavens of Mayhem, the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, founded by author Sara Paretsky. Learn more about how mystery writers compose the intriguing tales we love to read.

° Mavens of Mayhem at East Greenbush Library
Saturday Jan 31, 2015 from 12-3pm (click pictures to embiggen).

MofM Sisters in Crime Flyer 2015 p1 MofM Sisters in Crime Flyer 2015 p2

° WORKSHOP: HOW TO KEEP WRITING WITH A FULL TIME JOB

Have you always dreamed of writing, but didn’t think you had the time?
Sat Feb 7: 10am-1pm
Universal Pathways, Berne NY
Cost: $50 (Paypal)

Register here. Enrollment limited!

How to Keep Writing