James vs. Story Cubes: Furious Fingers Flying for Fresh Flash Fiction…

*Clears throat* Alright! Are you sitting comfortably, my Preciouses? Good – then I’ll begin…

Once upon a time (last week) I had the thought “Hey, I haven’t started a new blog in a while” while simultaneously having the thought “Hey, I want to get back to writing some flash fiction“. These thoughts started dancing together and then they grabbed me and dragged me down a path of fresh creative action.

Here’s fresh action: ‘James vs. Story Cubes‘. It’s like Alien vs. Predator, except better/worse. Here’s how it’s going to work: I’m going to roll my set of Voyages edition Rory’s Story Cubes (recommended for fun with friends or personal creative impetus) and come up with short stories inspired by the images in oooh, say, around 10 minutes and no longer. The results – whether they be good, bad or abominable – will be written up on the new Tumblr blog on a relatively frequent basis. (Probably a few times a week.)

I figure this will be fun creative exercise – on-the-fly story fabrication with built-in limits and without excessive thought. I’ll see what happens (probably multiple atrocities). You can see what happens by heading to the James vs. Story Cubes site and I hope you enjoy what I come up with in the clutch when I’m challenged by the Nine Perilous Pictorial Polyhedrons of Power.

Alrighty? Write on… *attacks the story cubes, and they return fire with extreme prejudice…*

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Kill, Kill, Natural Born Killer! A new chooseable path adventure…

Slash! Bang! Crack! Other assorted action noises, followed by signs of damage, destruction and grim bloody death! I’m doing some horrible things and will be doing some horrible things and here are fresh details…

I’ve launched a new blog and this here is the blog: ‘So, who do you want Nina Desai to kill next?‘ It’s a choose-your-own-adventure-style story about a natural born killer named Nina Desai and I intend to add something to it on a daily (or quasi-daily) to stimulate my writing and imaginative muscles and have some creative fun.

I like this kind of storytelling and always have a blast when I mess around with it (like when I’ve employed it in teaching English to Italian kids or when I’ve collaborated on The Working Barbarian saga). This particular character and kick is also inspired by my love for movies about lonely assassins and sociopathic avenging angels (both the sublime and the ridiculous and both at the same time, from Lady Snowblood and Branded to Kill to Lèon and The American to Kill Bill, Hanna and The Equalizer and so on, so on as the bodies stack up). I saw John Wick the other night and it reminded me of that fondness and fascination, so I decided “Yeah, I want to playfully pay tribute to the genre and write my own silly sprawl about someone who just kills and kills and kills and kills!” That someone is Nina Desai, and you can get her introduction by reading this first instalment.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s the charm and challenge of a creative project like this. I also figure it’s a good idea to dabble in different, more ‘mature’ material after focusing solely on child-friendly fare for several months. Please, don’t hesitate to pitch in – either by commenting on the posts, hitting me up on Twitter or sending me an email – so I can keep it going and hopefully write some absurd action scenes and glorious fictional deaths. Because I’m a despotic control freak who likes to maintain a veneer of democracy, the most popular choice (or the only response) will be the one I follow. I urge you to abuse your power and I hope you enjoy this fresh chooseable path adventure/distraction/writing exercise. As for me, I’m writing ridiculous ultraviolence, so I’m definitely enjoying it…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Restless Spirit’…

Alrighty, I’m a bit restless and nervous-excited. “You should write something, man!” I said to myself, and that part of myself was thinking right because writing is a righteous and an effective way to deal with nervous-excited restlessness. It’s also a good idea when you’re trying catch up with a personal writing challenge. The personal writing challenge I’m trying to catch up with is John Steele‘s monthly Pictonaut, and that’s all about turning an inspiral image into some kind of story/fiction bit. I’m now up to December (last month) and December’s chosen image was this beautiful piece of work by artist Joshua Hutchinson

‘Soul Ascending’ by Joshua Hutchinson…

I like this piece (title: ‘Soul Ascending’) and thought I could go off and do something shamanic (or ‘Noveau Shamanic’ if I’m looking to channel Nicolas Cage). Unfortunately (?), I went and saw Wild last night and am preoccupied with my upcoming trip to Italy, so that affected the kind of tale I wished to tell. I’m thinking about journeys and the idea of journeys being opportunities (or, indeed, the means) to find yourself or find some spiritual truth. I really like and believe in that, but this little flash of fiction I’ve spawned is a bleaker, more downbeat affair. Instead, it’s more about being lost and unable to settle (physically, mentally and spiritually). I saw something a bit tragic in the image, so quickly knocked up a thing titled ‘Restless Spirit‘ that I hope doesn’t bleak you out too much. Make of it what you will by clicking on this link to read it, while I go about preparing for travel so I can find myself/find something else/find spiritual truth…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: The Phantom Pains of Duane Jenkins…

I like writing and I like having fun with dead people so today I wrote a story about a ghost. This story, like most of the stories I upload here, is an effort for John Steele‘s Pictonaut challenge which I’m still trying to catch up on (’cause it’s January, and I’m only up to October as you’ll see in two sentences’ time). Same objective as always: the Steele Supreme selects an image every month and says “yeah, write something inspired by that”. The following photo (we know not its source) was picked as October’s picture, back when it was Halloween and there was suitably seasonal spookiness in the aether…

It’s a ghost! Unfortunately, no one knows who took this photo. I’d like to pretend that it was a ghost because that’s a nice fantastical thought and saves us from guilt about not correctly attributing our human sources. (Ghosts don’t have human rights, right?)

I like this picture. I saw that phantom and, after thinking it through a few minutes set about knocking out the following vignette. It’s called The Phantom Pains of Duane Jenkins and I hope you enjoy it…

Pictonaut Short Poem Challenge: ‘Those Eyes So Green’…

Okay, write on. Yesterday I uploaded a short story titled The Death of Earth Patrol for the monthly Pictonaut short story challenge (set, as ever, by the eminent John Steele). That was a piece loosely inspired by August’s image, and I thought I’d try and push my catch-up mission further by getting September’s done ASAP. ASAP is today because I’ve written it, though it’s not a short story. It’s a very short poem and it’s based on this photograph (source unknown, I’m afraid)…

Those eyes… so green…

So, a pair of beautiful green eyes on a face veiled by bright orange fabric. I decided to write a pretty little ditty about it that leaned towards some of my main interests instead of concocting a longer narrative that I don’t really care about. I’m not much of a poet, but I am a Cosmic Romantic so, in total, here’s a thing about an interstellar traveller come to Earth to grace our rock with the most amazing eyes in the galaxy. It’s partly inspired by all the space rock I listen to, Pixies’ Andro Queen and things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stories like A Princess of Mars. I’m all for cosmic wonder and building relationships with graceful, intelligent alien beings (platonic and romantic) so, yeah, that’s how this comes to be, I suppose. Its title is Those Eyes So Green and this introductory ramble is now longer than the poem itself so I’ll just let you read it and go back to waiting for the love of my life to arrive from another star system…

 

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘The Death of Earth Patrol’…

Writing! I love writing and I always want to write more and more and more than I actually do write. Such is life, but I’m not happy settling with “such is life“, oh no thank you very much. Inching up towards the year’s end and getting reflective I already know that one of the top targets on my hypothetical New Year’s Resolution list is write more and write harder, better, faster, stronger. (Most of my draft New Year’s Resolutions are suffixed Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.) Anyway, one thing I’ve been meaning to do writing-wise is catch up on the way overdue Pictonaut challenges. Set by Sir John Steele every month, the idea is to write a short story based on an inspiral image. Right now I’m up to August, and August’s image was this illustration by Kali Ciesemier

Image by Kali Ciesemier

The picture captured my imagination and I came up with a short story called The Death of Earth Patrol. I won’t say anything else about it apart from this: it’s not quite what you think it is. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that I can make up some more ground on the Pictonaut challenge soon. Feel free to read that effort and just know that I’m out there, working hard at being harder, better, faster, stronger. Write on…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Jumping Off Point’…

*Retro alarms beep and boop, strings twitch, strung-out nerves spasm* Hey! What’s the action? The action is this: tomorrow I’m going to the Thought Bubble comics festival in Leeds. I’m also writing stuff and, thinking about writing stuff, I acknowledged that I’m still behind on my Pictonaut Challenge catch-up mission. With comics on my mind, I decided to knock up a story in that format.

Thus, the late, late, very-late entry for the July Pictonaut Challenge – set, as always, by the feted, formidable and part-time ferocious John Steele – is a script for a silly two-page comic. It is inspired by this image created by Polish artist Michał Karcz

The Lair update by Karezoid

“The Lair” by Michał Karcz…

The story is called ‘Jumping Off Point‘ and you can read it by clicking right here. There is no art so you’ll just have to imagine what the finished comic would look like, though my attached rough layouts might help (I always do rough layouts before writing a comic script. I think visually like that.) More Pictonaut stories should be coming soon because I fully intend to fill in the blanks and catch up on all those I’ve missed (both writing them and reading them). Until then, feel free to look back at old ones or, better yet, read this fresh one. I hope you enjoy this and Thought Bubble if you’re going. If not, enjoy life anyway…

(By the way, I have no idea why I turned into a Stingray puppet at the start of his blogpost. I think I just wanted to say “What’s the action?” and was ruminating on underground complexes and things escalated from there. Don’t worry because I’m not a puppet. I’m a real boy. Anyone who finds me in Leeds tomorrow will see that there are no strings on me. Erm, yes. As you were and enjoy…)

 

 

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Definitely Not a Royal Gala: a King Charles III Tragedy’…

Eeeeh, b’gum, owd’s ye like ’em apples, eh? What apples? These apples? Let’s roll, ’cause this is how I roll (or used to roll)…

Once upon a time not so long ago I was a regular responder to Sir John Steele‘s monthly Pictonaut challenge. Th’gist were this: John picked a picture and challenged the world to write a story of around a thousand words inspired by the image before the month was through. I like this idea. I like the challenge of writing something with set parameters and then I like messing with the inspiral source and doing something completely different with it. Anyway, I did it every single month for a time until earlier this summer when I went travelling. I fell off the wagon, but now I’m trying to hitch myself back onto the wagon and play catch-up. At least that’s the plan and I aim to slowly but surely get back to the present and pump out some fast-and-very-loose short blasts of fiction (very loosely) based on the images that Sir Steele selected for June, July, August, September, October and November. I haven’t seen the images or read the other stories, so I’m throwing myself into absolute mystery.

Without much further ado, here’s the first of the catch-up quickies which I knocked up today at high speed while listening to groovy Witchfinder music. Here’s the image interested writers were asked to adapt into prose for June’s Pictonaut Challenge

An old lady with apples. We don’t know who the lady is, who took the photo or what is going to become of the apples…

Old lady with apples it is. I got an offbeat idea and, ignoring the anachronisms in the background behind her, blasted it out and uploaded it for you to read right here. I apologise to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and apologise if you don’t enjoy it. If you do though, thanks! More Pictonaut stories (or quasi-stories) will be coming soon. For now, I’ll leave you with Definitely Not a Royal Gala: a King Charles III Tragedy

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Third One, Not a Charm’…

It’s Saturday morning, so it’s the perfect time for a slightly silly sci-fi fantasy. I will, thus, give you a slightly silly sci-fi fantasy and upload my May Pictonaut challenge effort onto the internet. To recap for those unfamiliar with the format, every month the admirable Imagino-Admiral John Steele picks a picture and urges people to write a short story inspired by it. Participants then take up the challenge, weave a yarn and exhibit them in their own private section of cyberspace. I do this every month and it’s a nice creative exercise, albeit one I won’t be exercising for a while while I go off travelling and unplug from this laptop for a while. (That blogpost is coming tomorrow, so watch this cyberspace-space for further details.)

For May 2014’s Pictonaut image, John picked the following photograph (credit unavailable and unknown, unfortunately) of a woman doing some hardcore stretching atop a mountain…

Epic stretching…

It’s a very evocative, beautiful image and, most of all, it made me want to do yoga because I miss doing yoga as a proper discipline. It was a great opportunity to take some yogic spirit to writing but that got a bit lost as all the spiritual ideas somehow got sifted out in the cerebral sieve. A clunky lump stuck in place and that ended up being a half-written story about a very weak and woolly character who runs away from all her domestic heartbreaks and liberal middle class anxieties to a mountain resort (“What the hell is this you’re writing?” I asked myself). There was a fantastical twist though to save me from banality that just ain’t me as our protagonist finds that the resort’s yoga instructor is actually an underage supersoldier war child in the Hanna vein who is undercover and on a mission to assassinate a Russian secret agent.

It was beyond tolerable levels of terrible, so I swiftly discarded it, re-aligned with some yoga stretches and asked myself what I really wanted to write right now. The answer: “Hey, I want to have fun and space is fun so, by the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, I’m gonna go full-frontal sci-fi on this, sister…

So I did, and the result is an out-there yarn I’ve quickly blasted out called Third One, Not a Charm. It’s silly and off-the-cuff but way more fun than my first idea and way more ‘me’ in terms of style and themes. If the mood takes you, feel free to take a read of my Pictonaut challenge effort for May 2014 and, of course, please consider writing your own before the month is out. As for myself, the lesson I’ve learned is that life is better if you meditate a bit, align some yogic spirit and write the things you love the most…

‘We Made It’ Zine Available to Download…

Ahoy! We Made It! Yes, I’ve written this blogpost before, but am flagging up the issue again because there’s fresh news. Fresh news is this: the first issue of the We Made It zine edited by Rembrand Le Compte is now available to download. Download it and you get the opportunity to enjoy an excellent anthology package anchored around the theme of ‘whales’. My secret history short story about Whale Caesar (Emperor Publius Cetus Traianus) is in there and if you’d like to read that, you’ll have to click on that link because We Made It is the only place it will be published. Esoteric mysteries do not make themselves conspicuous, y’know, and you have to make certain pledges if you wish to reach enlightenment…

And some more news: We Made It is now accepting submissions for issue 2 and the theme is ‘Fat Unicorns’. I’m determined to have a fat unicorn of my own creation in the zine so have already begun work on my masterplan and started consulting the arcane literature as research. Manifesting mythical creatures is something I’m very much interested in…

Anyhorn, We Made It #1 is there and available online for your reading pleasure. Enjoy…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Black Bella Donna’…

Time marches on and March is almost over so it’s high time I got the monthly Pictonaut short story challenge out of my system. It is now out of my system but first, the fundamentals. At the beginning of every month, the most rawksome Steeley John throws down the following challenge: “See this picture? Write a short story about it. You’ve got around 30 days. Do it.” I do do it, and I’ve duly done it this month. For March 2014’s challenge, Mr Steele selected the following photograph taken by an enigma named An Nguyen or Pournoirr

An evocative black-and-white photograph by An Nguyen…

Looking at this picture I got vibes and a drive to tell a certain type of story. This photo whispered to me and it whispered “Giallo“. The decor suggested Italy, the clothing suggested fashion and that also suggested Italy. There’s also something cinematic about this monochrome scenario and I felt stirrings of vintage art film in here. Hey, that also makes me think of Italy! Altogether, thoughts blended together and I came to the conclusion: “I want to dabble with something a bit sinister and tell a short tale that channels Giallo“. So that’s what I attempted to do, even though I’m in no way a great expert on Giallo – an Italian film and literature genre that revolves around crime, mystery and sometimes the supernatural. With films like Dario Argento‘s Profondo Rosso and Mario Bava‘s Blood and Black Lace on my mind, I set to work.

In the end, the various ideas I started typing up got rejected in favour of a different story and then they were subsequently also switched aside. Finally I stuck with a particular premise – partly influenced by the ethereal kitchen sink sci-fi art movie Under the Skin – and turned that into a rough ‘first draft blast’ short script. It’s the opening sequence of an imaginary film titled Black Bella Donna and, though it’s formatting ain’t quite proper, ideally it gives you a feel for what I’m picturing in my head and sets up some beguiling mystery. I hope you enjoy it or find it in some way interesting and perhaps, after reading, are intrigued to watch the rest of a vintage, arty chiller that doesn’t exist but if it did it would have been made on the cheap in Italy in 1974. You can read Black Bella Donna‘s opening here

Adele Dazeem and Flash Fiction Inspired by the Oscars…

The 86th Academy Awards ceremony happened the other night. As ever, the event was an odd affair that leaves me ambivalent. I like the celebration of cinema, the lauding of great movies and the heartfelt and inspiring speeches of humbled performers who deserve accolades. I don’t like the fact that – unlike the BAFTAs – the Oscars feel drawn out and, bizarrely enough, badly co-ordinated and stage-managed. There’s very little in the way of zip and energy. It’s a long trawl through awkward tumbleweed moments and a whole lot of self-awareness. All the hype and A-list glamour just adds to the peculiarity of the whole shebang. Of course, it gets even weirder when really odd stuff happens…

Ellen DeGeneres ordered some pizzas and took some selfies and I guess ‘Oscar host turns into a stereotypical 15-year-old’ is a bit unusual but, really, I’m not impressed. Matthew McConaughey’s full-on Southern preacher acceptance speech was way further out there but the stand-out weird moment of this year was undoubtedly John Travolta’s introduction of Idina Menzel ahead of her performance of “Let It Go” from Frozen. Travolta’s baffling mispronunciation spawned an online meme frenzy. Worse news: it inspired me to blast out some flash fiction in honour of Adele Dazeem. Here is that very short piece of writing for your consideration…

Academy Award Disappointment for Adele Dazeem

Her cell phone rings. She looks at the screen and sees Max’s fizzog. She doesn’t want to answer.

She really doesn’t want to answer.

She answers. Fuck it.

Yeah?

Adele! Honey! Hey, how ya doin’?

That sigh says it all, “honey”. Urgh.

Awwww, c’mon, hon… aaaaah, did you, ahhh, tune in?

She gulps. Yeah…

She said she wasn’t going to tune in.

She tuned in anyway.

So? he inquires, cautiously.

So… the sigh is heavier and soaked in sadness.

She’s hurting.

She’s hurting so bad.

She was good, huh? I mean, sure she’s Idina Menzel and she put on a good show but nowhere near what you’d-a brought to the party. I suppose folks are happy, what with her singin’ it in the movie an’ all but, hey, the whole shebang was a real drag, anyhow…

There is sorrow in the silence and, sensing it, he stops. Max figures himself as an empathetic guy. It’s why his clients like him, he tells himself.

Listen, Adele. Hon, sugar, it’s… it’s okay…

It’s not frickin’ okay, Max, she says choking back bitter tears, her tender eye stinging as she does so.

Well, what I mean, is ahhh, at least he still said your name! That’s somethin’ right? John Travolta said your name, honey!

It was my night, Max. It was my moment and that moment is gone. Forever.

Awwwww, there’ll be other times! You bet your last nickel there will! I can guarantee it!

No, Max. I’m not sure there will be and I don’t care anyway. I wanted my time to be last night and it was taken away from me.

Awww, sugar, these things happen. How is the eye, anyhow?

She’s too choked up to answer. Truth is it’s real bad. It’s swelled up terribly and the discharge is just gross. It’s hurting, but not as much as her pride.

Awww hell Adele! Damn that pink eye! I tell ya, it’s just the worst luck! The worst, worst luck, honey!

You’re tellin’ me, Max…

But, you know, it ain’t the end of the world, hon. You’re sick now but… you’ll get over it soon enough…

Okay, she’s heard enough.

Shit Max, don’t start with any of your ‘better luck next time’ crap ’cause I can’t take it now. I am sick, I am devastated and I’ve had the greatest moment of my life ruined by frickin’ conjunctivitis.

Hey hey, hon! Easy! I know it feels bad right now but, y’know, don’t get upset! Calm! Calm! Let it go…

Adele Dazeem hangs up and the tears stream and stream. The weeping will go on and on and the inflamed eyelid will carry on stinging like a bitch and the hurt will throb on forever.

Forever until she can let it go…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?’…

It’s time to tell a tale, and that tale is this month’s effort for the Pictonaut challenge. The nature of the challenge is this: every month the very excellent Sir John Steele picks an evocative image and throws down the gauntlet to writers. “See this picture? Write a thousand-word short story based on it. Alright?” Alright, it most definitely is and I duly give it a crack and see what I can come up with. What have we got to work with a February 2014’s image? This photograph taken by, it’s believed, Eric Peterson…

What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?

It’s a picture of a door in a forest. The key question that needles me: ‘What’s behind the door in the forest?‘ I couldn’t decide, so I decided to write a short fiction-bit about that question and spin a yarn with a slight fairytale-ish/olde folk storytelling edge to it. It’s no doubt influenced by my enthusiasm for fantasy, myths and legends and fond memories of my own grandfather. I don’t rate it much at all, as far as things go, but it is what it is and it’s always good writing exercise to have a go at the Pictonaut challenge. I was shooting for a freewheeling, simplistic oral legend feel and I think it works if you read it aloud in an elderly Eastern European accent. In fact, read everything aloud in that accent. Life is more fun when your internal monologue speaks with an exotic and/or ludicrous voice.

The positive thing I take from this month’s Pictonaut trip is that it’s got me looking forward to future adventures in the open outdoors when the bleak winter is behind us and the weather is not unbearable. As I look forward to that future, feel free to have a glance at ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?‘ and keep on opening doors in real life. If you don’t you won’t discover anything and you’ll be stuck in one room for eternity (both metaphorically and literally. You need to get out. Damn. I can’t wait for the weather to get better…)

Search Engine Adventures and Kit Harrington Fan Fiction…

Sometimes, search engines can take you strange places. One example: while researching ‘best Sean Bean deaths‘ recently I somehow ended up being directed to an excellent recipe for falafel. That’s not actually true but in the weird world of tags, SEO, promoted links, algorithmic sorcery and other things I don’t fully understand, it could happen.

Regardless, sometimes people put queries into search engines and end up on my site. Phrases that have led people here include “infinite golden sea“, “squiggly squid“, “things to do in clayton, nc” (sorry, I’m not a small town in North Carolina) and “german expressionism get from the faves“. There’s also “van dam robocop” (something relevant here) and “thinggs that will be big in 2014” (I got this) so it appears that I attract readers who can’t spell or are lazy when it comes to typing things into Google. I know I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to these things but really, it’s disrespectful to misspell ‘Jean-Claude Van Damme’. Tssk…

Anyway, the only ‘search engine terms that have sent people here’ on my WordPress dashboard at the moment is an interesting, intriguing one. Someone (Hey you, whoever you are!) arrived on my site after Googling “kit harington fan fiction tumblr“. This isn’t a Tumblr site, nor is Kit Harrington spelled with only one ‘R’. There is also no Kit Harrington fan fiction on this website so I fear that somewhere out there there’s a very disappointed individual.

I feel bad about this – both because of my contribution to someone’s disappointment and the dearth of Kit Harrington fan fiction around here. I need to rectify this. Thus, I decided to write some Kit Harrington fan-fiction so that my main website has some and so that the people get exactly what they want from the internet. Ask and you shall receive, because I’m generous like that and just want to make people happy. Here is the Kit Harrington fan fiction, especially for you…

Search Engine Adventures with Kit Harrington

It was a cold day on the Game of Thrones set. It was a cold day every day on the Game of Thrones set. Kit Harrington – the young actor who plays Jon Snow the Northern bastard – was holed up in his trailer, keeping himself warm. He was also trying to keep himself entertained.

Kit Harrington was bored. Bad lighting had meant a delay in that day’s shooting. He’d been sat there for hours, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for the call. Iceland’s weather wasn’t being supportive today. The wait to start shooting again went on and on and on and on.

Kit Harrington had had a nap. He’d done some crunches. He’d made a cup of peppermint tea. He’d called his agent to check in and have a chat for a couple of hours. He’d re-read George R.R. Martin’s entire bibliography. Still, the call didn’t come. Kit Harrington’s patience was wearing very thin.

Desperate for a new distraction to pass the time, Kit Harrington flipped open his laptop and turned it on. It made a warm welcoming noise as it booted up. He opened the browser and started to enter random search terms into Google for kicks. ‘Joffrey slap‘ got tedious after a while and ‘beautiful horse photos‘, ‘bastard etymology‘, ‘what time is it in Winterfell?‘ and ‘is anybody there?‘ failed to raise him out of his ennui.

Now listless and descending into the lowest of low ebbs, Kit Harrington typed out his name. He was loath to Google himself for that way lies madness and tremendous hurt. Nevertheless, impulsively deciding that he’d exhausted all other options Kit Harrington went ahead and did the unthinkable. As his eyes alighted on his own name appearing on the screen he felt a sublime streak of masochistic curiosity surging in his breast. He figured he might as well do the even more unthinkable. He added the words’ fan fiction‘, a wicked smile flashing across his face. Then Kit Harrington pressed enter.

The search engine responded with a ream of promising hits signposted with hyperlinks. Without hesitating, Kit Harrington clicked the first link. It was the personal website of some hack writer and the top post was a story about Kit Harrington. Kit Harrington started to read it. In the story Kit Harrington was bored and decided to tap ‘Kit Harrington fan fiction’ into a search engine in order to amuse himself.

Kit Harrington felt considerable unease and confusion.

Kit Harrington/Jon Snow: “…”

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon’…

It’s time for an imaginative challenge. (It’s always time for an imaginative challenge. In fact, time is an imaginative challenge.) Every month, crack dance-commando John Steele (he has a war face and makes us dance and, thus, he’s a dance commando) calls us to action and sets up a fresh Pictonaut challenge. The objective: write around a thousand words of fiction inspired by a particular image of his choosing. I get a kick out of this exercise so I always make sure I come up with something. I recommend it. It’s fun and provides an opportunity to creatively experiment and engage with a challenge with built-in limits or requirements to meet (which I kind of ignore, ’cause I dance freestyle, totally to the syncopated beat of my own drum. I’m sorry, Dance Commando. Please school me and bring me back into line…).

The inspiral moodpiece for January 2014’s Pictonaut is this image by German artist Cornelius Dämmrich and it’s titled ‘Mercury‘…

‘Mercury’ by Cornelius Dämmrich…

I see this picture and am several shades of excited because this picture spells sci-fi. I love sci-fi. I get high – nay, stratospheric – on sci-fi. Furthermore, extra cosmic stimulus has come from watching BBC Stargazing LIVE and reading The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester over the past week. I’m in a very science fiction state of mind and have also been in the scriptwriting mood lately so knocked up this month’s Pictonaut piece as a dialogue. The image suggested scenarios and characters soon followed. Relocating to the Mimas moon of Saturn – because Mercury isn’t very hospitable and because Cassini mission leader Carolyn Porco‘s discussions of Saturn’s rings on Stargazing LIVE intrigued me – I came up with ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon‘. You can read my first Pictonaut piece of 2014 here and I hope you enjoy it…