Fri, 20 January 2017 Resistance is Fruitful

Art by Hayley Gilmore

It should comes as no surprise to any readers of my blog or Twitter that I’m not a fan of the soon-to-be elected President of the USA. I have taken a policy on social media of not posting any of the stream of prophesies of doom of what’s coming over the next four years, but I’m making an exception with this segment from the recent episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

This show has provided exceptional, pointed, satirical reporting since it was first aired, and I think it’s essential viewing (you can find it all on its YouTube channel, including extra online material). At least you can laugh while you despair. This clip has no sugar coating, and does offer an expert’s opinion of what the 45th president is going to attempt. I expect freedom of the press will be one of the first rights he will go after, and Masha’s prediction that he will encourage citizens to report on one another made me shudder – it’s an old tactic of authoritarian regimes, and America has seen it before.

Ultimately I believe in people and their basic decency, but I also know that people do strange things when they are afraid. So, be brave. Resist the fear-mongering. Look at your neighbours with clear vision: they are the same as they have always been. Decide there is a line you will not cross and defend it. Speak up when others are unfairly maligned. Be a decent human being. We are all on this planet together and how we conduct ourselves matters.

And remember – we elect politicians so we can unelect them in the future. They do pay attention to their electorates if they make enough noise, regularly. We are not without power so employ it effectively. Those of you who can march (or roll) tomorrow in one of the many demonstrations around the world should consider it an imperative as this is our first demonstration of resistance to demagoguery. Yet there are many ways to participate. Use whatever is within your means and ability. However you can resist peacefully, do so. But acting in solidarity with others helps.

I was thinking last night how I was full of joy and optimism at President Barack Obama’s inauguration eight years ago. Then I reminded myself of my despair eight years earlier when George W Bush got elected. All things cycle around, and good can emerge from testing situations.

But it depends on us stepping up and facing our responsibilities to our communities and ourselves.

I won’t be watching the inauguration. I will not give the event the ratings (and a tactic stamp of approval), and would recommend others do the same.

Instead I will focus on positive work and people I love, and tomorrow I will march on the Women’s March on Washington – Galway.

Art by Shepard Fairey for the Amplifier Foundation

Sun, 01 January 2017 parade your glorious bones

Shipwrecked, Polish American String Band Division, at Mummers Parade on New Year's day, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (LOC)

[Shipwrecked, Polish American String Band Division, at Mummers Parade on New Year's day 2011, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - photographer: Carol M. Highsmith.]

So you’re a skeleton. Grab your gaudy glad rags and celebrate your pirate past.

Dance. Rattle. Shake. Imitate the life you once possessed.

Your damned style outshines the costumes of the living.

2017: the year to parade your glorious bones.

Sat, 31 December 2016 Happy New Year!

Every day, every minute, and every second contains the potential for change.

Don’t doze. Crack open 2017 and race it with madcap abandon!

Happy New Year!

Wed, 21 December 2016 Solstice salute

Newgrange at solstice

After the long, dark night the light returns, and grows.

Thu, 17 November 2016 Re-Animate Europe

I’m pleased to say that I’m part of the jury for the 2017 Animate Europe comic book competition, organised by Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

This is the third round of the competition and its theme this time is ‘Re-Animate Europe’.

Here’s what it’s all about:

After many external crises and internal shake-ups, from the migration crisis to Brexit to a lack of trust, the once strong and confident body of the European Union seems tattered and tired.

The European heartbeat has lost its rhythm.

How can we help to get Europe back on its feet?

Who or what will be the healer, who can find the magic potion for Europe’s ailing heart?

Share your vision with us – send us your „medication“ for a healthy European heartbeat!

Anyone is welcome to participate in “Re-Animate Europe”.

All you have to do is to send us the first page of your graphic short story, together with a summary of your story and the entry form.

Please send it by email to animate.europe@fnst.org by Sunday, 5 February 2017.

End of February, our seven-head strong international expert jury will select seven finalists who will then be asked to finish an eight-page graphic short story by Monday, 22. May 2017. The finalists will receive a grant of 800€. Their entries will be published in an anthology at the end of the competition and they will travel around Europe in form of a travelling exhibition.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on 11 July 2017 at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels and will receive a prize of €500.

More information about the competition is on the web site.

The jury consists of: Maura McHugh (Ireland) Kalle Hakkola (Finland), Andreas C. Kniggeknigge (Germany), Mélanie Andrieu (French/ living in Belgium), Gert Jan Pos (Netherlands), Tobias Dahmen (German/ living in the Netherlands), and Valérie Constant (Belgium).

I’m very much looking forward to reading through the entries with my fellow jurists.

Fri, 14 October 2016 Octocon 2016

It’s time for Octocon, in the Camden Court Hotel, again! It’s one of my favourite conventions in the calendar.

Here’s the schedule of events in which I’ll be participating this year:

Saturday, 15 October

Space X Time; Plot in Graphic Novels
Dave Ferguson, Maura McHugh, Anthea West, Leeann Hamilton, C.E. Murphy, Paul Bolger
11:00, A. Tivoli/Yeats

Development in a Static World
Maura McHugh, Diane Duane, Peter Morwood, Michael Carroll, Allen Stroud
12:00, A. Tivoli/Yeats

The Arc of Women’s Fandom
Fionnuala Murphy, Ruth F. Long, Maura McHugh, Celine Kiernan
14:00, E. Wexford

Sunday, 16 October

Interview with Guest of Honour, Rhianna Pratchett
Rhianna Pratchett, Maura McHugh
15:00, A. Tivoli/Yeats

To Every Book Its Copy, To Every Cow Its Calf
Janet O’Sullivan, Gerry McEvoy, Maura McHugh, Brian J. Showers
16:00, C. Gaiety

Mon, 03 October 2016 Think of A City: we live side by side with the past

Some time ago artist Alison Sampson asked me to be part of her and Ian MacEwan’s on-going project: Think of a City: a mass storytelling project ‘to experience this city of the imagination, told page by page, by storytellers from around the world.’

Artist and writers are matched up and given time slots in which to produce the work. Alison hooked me up with Pablo Clark, a half-Scottish, half-Spanish illustrator and comic book artist.

I offered him a variety of four ideas, and the one he engaged with most was my favourite, which was an immediate pleasure.

The concept was to evoke how we move through the past in cities in a concrete fashion every day, and how the people who created those buildings and neighbourhoods are part of our realm of daily activity.

I suggested a fixed city street scene, with buildings from a variety of time periods and influences, and women from various historical eras and ethnicities in different portals – window frames or arches – to represent the people from the past who helped build and shape the city.

In response to that Pablo sent me two thumbnails, and we went with this one:

I loved the idea of the panels with the women in them floating out, comic book style, over the city, and adding the layer of a graduation from night to day from the top to the bottom of the image.

We discussed some minor details, and Pablo set about the hard work of realising the concept.

The next image I got was this:

To which there is little to add, except, ‘wow!’ and ‘carry on!’

And yesterday I received the following artwork – you can see it fully realised on the Think of a City web site.

It’s a beautiful piece of art and I have enjoyed pouring over it and looking at all the details. It’s a credit to Pablo’s dedication and talent that he invested so much time in the piece.

If you want to follow Pablo he’s on Twitter, and if you want to order a print of the artwork you can do so here.

This is one the great joys of working in collaboration with an artist: the call and response you get to work. Ideas develop and evolve as people communicate and create. At its best it’s a wonderful act of communal creativity.

Thanks to Alison and Ian for asking me to contribute, and to Pablo for his gorgeous work of art.

Wed, 21 September 2016 FantasyCon 2016

This weekend I’ll be attending FantasyCon By the Sea, in Scarborough.

I’ll be involved in the following events during the convention:

Holding Out For a Hero
Is the Rise of the Superhero Medium Boosting Genre Fiction?
From 10:00 am – 11:00 am on Saturday, 24 September in the Palm Court Ballroom – The Grand, St Nicholas Cliff
Maura McHugh, Mike Carey, Alasdair Stuart (Chair), Peter Sutton, Natasha Bardon

Book Launch – NewCon Press
Ten Tall Tales
From 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Saturday, 24 September in Main Ballroom (Grand Hotel), St Nicholas Cliff
With Ramsey Campbell, Edward Cox, Simon Clark, Andrew Hook, Paul Kane, Maura McHugh, Lynda E Rucker, Mark West

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Celebrating Women in Genre Fiction
From 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm on Saturday, 24 September 24 in Royal Ballroom (Royal Hotel), St Nicholas St
With Marie O’Regan, Anne Nicholls, Maura McHugh, Heide Goody, Priya Sharma, Caitriona Ward

I’ve been an active member of the HWA for several years, so I’ll also be going to:

Horror Writers Association And Jo Fletcher Books Party

From 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm on Friday, 23 September 23 in Palm Court Ballroom – The Grand, St Nicholas Cliff

The HWA UK Chapter Presents…Every Day I Write the Book
Advice on How To Get Published and Stay Published From Members of the HWA
From 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm on Saturday, 24 September in Palm Court Ballroom – The Grand, St Nicholas Cliff
With Ian Drury, Jo Fletcher, Stephen Jones, Paul Kane (Chair), Marie O’Regan

Thu, 01 September 2016 Ten Tall Tales

I’m happy to say that my dark fantasy story ‘The Fruit of the Tree’ will be in the Ten Tall Tales anthology from NewCon Press, edited by Ian Whates.

You can pre-order it online now.

The book will launch at 3.00 pm on Saturday, 24 September at Fantasycon in Scarborough, and I’ll be there (along with many of the other authors).

The ToC is:

  • Introduction – Ian Whates
  • Ten Twisted Limericks – Ramsey Campbell
  • The Power Of… – Paul Kane
  • We Know By the Tenth Day Whether They Live or Die – Simon Clark
  • One Little Mouth to Kiss You Goodnight – Lynda E. Rucker
  • The Fruit of the Tree – Maura McHugh
  • 9 + 1 – Michael Marshall Smith
  • The Book of Sleep – Edward Cox
  • For The Win – James Barclay
  • Do You Believe in Ghosts? – Mark West
  • The Loathing of Strangers – Sarah Pinborough
  • The Marble Orchard – Andrew Hook

The cover is by Sarah Anne Langton.

Tue, 30 August 2016 Jennifer Wilde – the Computer Game

I’m pleased to announce that Outsider Games is partnering with Irish comic book publisher Atomic Diner and Northern Ireland Screen to adapt the comic book Jennifer Wilde as a Point & Click Adventure game.

I’ll be writing the script for the game, which is based on the original comic book series I wrote for Atomic Diner.

Here’s the official blurb:

At the start of the Jazz Age in Paris in 1921, young French artist Jennifer Chevalier becomes embroiled in death, espionage and revolution which takes her across the three nations of France, England and Ireland – ably assisted by the ghost of Oscar Wilde.

Jennifer believes the recent death of her father was no ‘accident’. Finding a chained locket in her father’s hotel, Jennifer attempts to use her childhood gift for talking to ghosts to call his spirit back. Unwittingly, the ghost recalled is that of Oscar Wilde, famous Irish playwright, whose affair with Jennifer’s father has bound his ghost to the locket.

Jennifer and Oscar find themselves involved in schemes of murder, ghosts and intrigue as they attempt to solve Jennifer’s father’s murder, and develop a deep friendship along the way…

Developed by Outsider Games and the team behind body-hopping, musical adventure game, Wailing Heights. Jennifer Wilde features black and white, ink washed 2D graphics that perfectly capture the aesthetic of the original comic book.

For updates on Jennifer Wilde, follow Outsider Games on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s been a lot of fun to return to these characters, and it’s been an interesting learning curve figuring out the intricacies of writing for computer games.

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