Tag Archives: being nice


Sometimes we struggle. Motivation fails us. I got a taste of that recently as I neared the 30,000 word point in my latest book. Knowing that I was writing horror a friend (thanks Jo!) recommended I check out a podcast called Lore.

Humans are the real monsters

Lore is a fortnightly podcast (or web radio programme for those who prefer that term) that discusses the paranormal, the odd, the unpleasant. However, its primary focus seems to be the darkness that dwells in us all. The selfish voice, the creature that panders to fear, the red eyed monster of rage; all of these are distinctly human, distinctly internal, monsters.

Listening to tales of Lore drew me to that dark place, allowed me a closer view of those nastier human foibles that are the true basis of horror. Aaron Mahnke (the host/researcher/creator of Lore) introduces the listener to a selection-box of human awfulness. From the true story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin (NOT for children or the faint of heart), on to multiple tales of witch hunts through the ages, to the story of H. H. Holmes, a conman who created, and utilised, a hotel full of secret passageways and an underground ‘lab’ for his own sick ends (this hotel has since gained the name ‘The Murder Hotel‘).

The events in ‘Marcus‘ don’t come close to the horrors Mahnke describes in his show (for starters mine is pure fiction). However, I’d like to give credit to Lore, and Mahnke himself. He produced something that offered a custom set of blinkers for this first-time horror writer at those times when sitcoms, kids books, and social media, threatened to draw me away from my writing.

More to learn

There’s something else that Lore helped me see though. Mahnke persisted, every two weeks he got another solid bit of work out into the world. Well rehearsed, well researched, well performed. You can go back to the very first podcast and see the show evolve, gain a following, and importantly offer Mahnke the recognition he deserves.He made something people enjoyed and the world rewarded him. It’s an important takeaway whenever you come across this sort of creativity. The word ‘inspiration’ is banded about a lot, it has transient, insubstantial overtones. Instead I would say that Mahnke’s efforts provide more confirmation than inspiration.

Listening my way through the first episodes gave me confirmation that the right content, found by the right audience, and offered up consistently, will yield positive results.

Mahnke has his own Amazon TV series now (based on the podcasts) but he has also demonstrated his mastery of storytelling through the podcast in a way which has allowed him to market his own writing. Author of a host of books, and clearly working purely within a field he enjoys. What he has done has given me confirmation that all the slog is worth it.

Thank you Aaron.

Why listen to Lore?

Simply put it’s fascinating (if disturbing in places). Often we hear that the world has ‘gone to the dogs’ or that society is being eroded by one modern creation/concept or another. A step back in time (and in some cases it’s an uncomfortably short step back) is enough to show us that human beings have always found ways to be awful to each other.I’m not trying to suggest that we’re living in a golden age but lore can take the rose tinted glasses off of the reminiscence to ‘yesteryear’. We get by, we look after one another, we do what we can to help one another. The stories in Lore highlight this as well. It’s in our nature; the flip side of our darker internal demons.

Watch the news and you can be forgiven for thinking that we live in an age of terror. I find it odd that comfort can be found to remedy this perspective by looking at the horrors of the past.

I hope you take a moment to pop by the Lore podcast page and give it a try yourself (and no I’m not being paid to promote it/endorse it/otherwise send traffic his way).

As always thanks for reading, and feel free to pop back and tell me if you enjoyed the podcast,

All the best, John

Boy from guitar lessons (it’s nice to be nice)

14224700_10157295428425401_4845612948376145664_nA few weeks ago, on the way out of my son’s guitar lessons I noticed one of the other kids watching me with a puzzled expression on his face, clearly trying to figure out where he knew me from. It’s not uncommon for me, for many years I worked in the local toy shop so a lot of local kids know me but struggle to get who I am out of context.

This wasn’t one of those times. Laden with bags, guitars, packed lunch boxes, and all the other paraphernalia that parents so often end up stuck with, I waddled along the corridor outside the music room. The puzzled boy kindly held the door open.

I thanked him and was half way through the doorway when he blurted out “Are you an author?”. At first I wasn’t sure what to say, I decided against my regular ‘Kind of, I write kids books.’ Replacing it with a simple “Yes, I am.”

He remembered me from a talk I’d done at his school. When I told him I’m still working on more books he explained that he thought the Fey Flame was great, then he thought for a few seconds and told me that, in fact, it was his “favourite book ever”.

It’s amazing to know that you’ve made something that someone has enjoyed that much. I’m so pleased he decided to share that with me because it made my day. It actually made my week.

Simply telling someone that you appreciate something they have done/made/written can be the most awesome thing, so thank you boy from guitar lessons. Thank you sincerely.

It’s so easy to praise people. Sometimes we need it more than you realise. None of us should be afraid to say a few words that could make someone’s day. So here’s a wee selection of praise I thought I’d pass on:

June: I have no idea where you get your energy and enthusiasm from but you’ve added a lot to our wee town. Thank You.

David: The Artspace is shaping up to be something brilliant. I don’t get along to events as much as I’d like because childcare isn’t always easy but I’ve always enjoyed the things I made it along to. It’s a real asset to the town.

Fun Junction: You guys are awesome. There’s a whole heap of stuff I could list here but mainly I’d like to highlight your awesomeness.

Valentines of Crieff: Superb clothes. Every shirt I owned used to bake me. I wasn’t a fan of dressing smart because it meant a day spent sweltered and sweaty. I have to admit I never spent as much on a shirt before but then I also never wore the cheap ones any longer than I had to. Thanks for helping me feel comfortable in my own clothes.

Marrianne: You are mental but like June you seem to give people the wee pushes they need all over the place. Most of all, on my part, thank you for being a constant wee niggling reminder that I need to get back to my writing.

On that note I’ll get back to my writing. I’m planning on sending Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame in to a publisher soon so it’s getting one last wee polish before it gets shipped out.