Monday, 27 January 2020

Kit Power's Life In Horror

My life with Kit Power:

  • He wrote a book which, when I reviewed it, all I could manage as a first sentence was, "Well, fuck."
  • Two reading slots I've done with him involved hammers
  • Myself, Kit and Mark West spent what felt like hours talking about IT at the con bar at Fcon Peterborough
  • Umpteen political disagreements
  • I've featured him in a forthcoming short story, although he doesn't know that yet. Nor that in it, I claim that he isn't real
  • Those trousers
  • The support he's shown my own writing, especially his kind words about Paupers' Graves

So anyway, he's crowdfunding what sounds like a brilliant book, My Life In Horror Volume 1 and he's   written this piece, to persuade you to donate your hard-earned towards it. Which you definitely should - did I mention the hammers?

Take it away, Kit:

Sure, it’s a cliche, but it’s also true; life comes at you fast.

It’s January 2014. Having completed an Open University course the previous summer, I’ve discovered I have 10 - 12 hours a week I could be using for something other than watching bad TV. Having also over the summer of 2013 devoured King’s On Writing, I’ve decided to start writing.

Since then, I’ve written one 17,000 word piece I’m optimistically calling a novella, another 12K piece, another 6K piece, and a handful of short stories. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but I am having fun.

The 17K piece is called Lifeline, and I’ve shopped it to a few small presses with no success. Most of the feedback suggests it may be a bit… much. I think it probably is, too, but that’s what I like about it. Then, one small press explicitly says it’s too much but if I have anything else, I should send it - they really want a novella and they like my style.

So I send over the 12K piece, and say I know it’s too short, but I have a 6K piece that might pair with it and bring the wordcount up… and they go for it.

Just like that, I'm going to be a published writer.

And then, hot on the heels of that moment; I should probably figure out a way to tell people about the book.

Enter: Gingernuts of Horror.

Green as I was, I knew the site was a big deal; respected by indie and named authors alike, pulling in some huge interviews, and covering a dizzying range of books and movies. Jim Mcleod, the site proprietor, had also already struck me as a fearsome figure - passionate about the genre, but clearly unwilling to suffer fools gladly, or really at all. Landing a review there would clearly be A Big Deal. So I made the approach, via email.

I heard nothing back.
Undeterred, I continued to plug the book, finding blogs willing to take a review copy, and doing author interviews. And at some point, I completed the Gingernuts ‘5 minutes with…’ template and subbed that. At the same time, I mentioned to Jim that, in the unlikely event no-one of any importance had yet signed up for it, I’d love to take a crack at an essay on Stephen King’s IT for the site’s ‘The Book That Made Me’ series.

To my utter astonishment, he said yes.

So there I am, February 2014, writing a non-fiction essay for one of Europe’s biggest independent horror review sites, about one of Stephen King's biggest ever novels (in terms of both sales, and page count).
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I had fun.

Flash forward a week or so. I’m on Twitter. I am new to Twitter. In what you’ll have already realised is a pattern, here, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m having fun.

There’s a twitterbot. Whenever you tweet a tweet that contains the word Robocop, it replies to your tweet saying ‘I’d Buy That For A Dollar!’ This is clearly the funniest thing I have so far encountered on Twitter, and during a tweet interaction with Jim, I tell him about it, hoping to impress him.

And it doesn’t work.

I track down the tweetbot, annoyed and a little embarrassed, and discover it’s creator has turned it off in protest at the recent Robocop remake. I explain this to Jim, still a little embarrassed, and then, more or less off the cuff, and certainly intending it to be a goof, I tell him if he ever does a series called The Film That Made Me, I could write him a doozy about Robocop.
Let’s do it, he says.

You can write the first article, he says.
Fantastic, I say.

I have no idea what I am doing.

So I write. And write. And write some more. I discover memories tied to this movie that have sat in my mind, unearthed and apparently unremembered since puberty. And yet here they are, vivid and alive. I write, I remember, I write some more, I get excited, I start cutting loose, and somewhere around the two thousand word mark I realise I am asserting, in an article for The Gingernuts Of Horror, that Robocop is the greatest horror movie ever made.

I read it back. Shamefully, I admit to laughing at my own jokes.

So I send it to Jim.

He runs it. It goes over gangbusters.

A couple of months later, he asks me if I want to write something regular for the site.

I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. But I’m having fun. So I say yes.

We kick ideas about; Jim’s main suggestion is ‘something like the Robocop piece’, which is flattering and scary all at once, as I still have no idea where most of it came from. But eventually we settle on a monthly format where I explore works - books, movies, music - that messed me up as a kid in some way or another, and that I think of as horror or horror related.

In June 2014, I submit my first column, and My Life In Horror is born.

Fast forward to July, 2015. I’m at my first genre con - EdgeLit in Derby. I am there early, and I am nervous as hell. I’ve had a few shorts in a few anthologies, self published Lifeline as an ebook novella, and I am trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with my debut novel, GodBomb! You’ll be astonished to learn I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote it, but I had fun.

I’m early enough that the venue isn’t even open, so I sit at a table outside, and soon, I am approached by a guy who knows my name. This guy is Neil Snowdon, and he knows me from Facebook, and in particular, a recent interview I conducted for the site with Stephen Volk - oh yeah, by this point I’m somehow interviewing Stephen Volk for the site. Guess how much I knew what I was doing. We chatted non-fiction and process (I can’t remember if My Life In Horror came up or not), and our shared love of the longform essay/interview. At some point, I confessed that I had no idea what I was doing. Neil opined that nobody else did, either.

Before the event had even started, I’d made a friend.

Fast forward to October 2016. I’m a podcaster now - as well as a blogger, reviewer, interviewer, and oh, yeah, still author too, the novel’s out now. My podcast is called Watching Robocop with Kit Power and every month(ish) I watch Robocop with a friend and record the resulting conversation. It’s huge fun, and I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.

I am also guesting on other people’s podcasts, including They Must Be Destroyed On Sight! - a movie show about cult cinema. I basically invite myself on to talk about two movies - Parents, and Ken Russell/The Who movie Tommy. My reason for picking the two films is simply that they are the two most cult movies I know and like, and they both kinda messed me up as a kid. I’m also double-dipping the subject matter - my plan is to write a My Life In Horror piece about Tommy, so I figure the rewatch and conversation will help with that. And so it proves.

And Neil Snowdon is listening too. And he gets in touch.

“I like what you had to say about Tommy and Ken Russell. Fancy writing a Midnight Monograph book about the film? I’ve been enjoying your My Life In Horror stuff, seems like Tommy could be a good fit for a longer piece.”

“Well, I don’t know, man, that’s really flattering and I’d love to give it a go, but I’m not really a film expert - in fact, most of the time I have very little idea what I am doing. It’d really just be my take on the film, you know, really personal.”

And then Neil said the words every writer longs to hear from an editor: “Well, that’s exactly what I’m after.”

I waited on making a final decision until after the My Life In Horror article dropped - I thought I’d give Neil a chance to back out once he’d seen me actually flinging written words at the subject. I sent him the link when it went live. “What do you think?”
“I think that’s the introduction.”

Flash forward. Its July 2019. I’m at Edgelit. Again. With Neil. Again. I’ve just interviewed Stephen Volk on stage about his new non-fiction collection, Coffinmakers Blues, which is launching at the event - alongside my own non-fiction debut, the Midnight Monograph book on Tommy. It’s turned out better than I could have dreamed possible - but, then, Neil is one hell of an editor.
Post launch, we break bread and chat, the conversation covering a bewildering array of subjects, before Neil casually asks “So, Stokercon 2020. What are you going to have coming out?”

I explain I have a couple of possible irons in the fire; a short short story collection with a press that specialises in such editions, and a novella I am racing to get finished for another press that I am hopeful will make the grade.

“What about a My Life In Horror collection? I’ve always thought they’d make a good book. Put ‘em in chronological order, it’s almost an autobiography. And you’ll never find a better crowd than Stokercon, it’s tailor made - all that 80’s and 90’s nostalgia.”

“Yeah, but it’s already basically too late to shop around, everyone’s going to have their plans already, I should have been thinking about it months ago to be in with a shot.”

“Self pub, maybe? A WARNING went okay.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

The conversation moves on to other things.
But the idea festers.

Fast forward to November 2019. The novella is with the publisher. So is the short short story collection. I probably have two Stokercon 2020 releases set. I can relax.

I am not relaxed. The conversation with Neil is playing on my mind. Festering. I’ve put the first three years of My Life In Horror together in chronological order. I’ve revised and expanded every single essay.

I think I like it. I think it works.

So do the publishers I show it to, but it’s not for them, at least not for Stokercon. And that’s fine, I have two books coming out already, three might be considered greedy.

But.

It’s My Life In Horror.

Post Fcon, I’m chatting with another friend. We kick it about, and he names the publishers I’ve already approached. Then he casually tosses into the conversation “Of course, you could crowdfund it.”

Bloody hell, I think.

I mean, bloody hell, I guess I could.

I mean, I’d have absolutely no idea what I was doing.

But it sounds like fun.

Kit Power’s My Life In Horror Volume One is crowdfunding until 23rd February. The campaign features two limited edition hardbacks, both of which are exclusive to this campaign, signed paperbacks, ebooks, and audio recording perks. To back the campaign, please visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-life-in-horror-volume-one/x/22919255#/. If successful, books should be ready by Stokercon 2020.

Assuming Kit has the faintest idea what the hell he’s doing.

No comments: