Tag Archives: creativity


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

Fitting in (Crieff Writer’s evening/ literary open mic night)

It doesn’t matter how confident we are, sometimes we will inevitably feel like a round peg in a square hole (or a square peg in a round hole even). It’s a simple fact that we are all individuals and that even where a number of us find common ground someone will feel excluded.

Odly the barriers we hit aren’t always what we expect. Back when I was working on my MPhil thesis I came accross a study on second generation Portuguese immigrants in Paris who faced an unusual barrier.

When speaking French they sounded hip, urbane, youthful, and cultured. They spoke to contemporaries in Paris in this way and seemed to fit in comfortably.

However, their experiences of Portugal appeared so different that they sounded like genuinely different people.

You see, the Portuguese they knew came from their parents who spoke a rural and provincial dialect. This meant that their behaviour and speech in Portuguese simply couldn’t match the way they behaved when speaking French. Without the urbane, inner-city language they became very different and found it difficult to act like ‘themselves’ in Portugal.

What binds us can vary drastically, we might think that our tastes arethe simplest connection to share but sometimes we instead find kinship in our behaviours and aspirations. I found that last Saturday.

I had just completed a day of talking about the Jack Reusen books along at Fun Junction and remembered that there was a literary open mic night in the Strathearn Artspace 9as part of Crieff Arts Festival).

As a student I made it along to plenty musical open mic nights but I had never come across a literary one. To be honest it left me expecting something pretentious and a little clique-ish. I know Crieff already has a solid writers community so I couldn’t help worry whether I would fit in.

The atmosphere was extremely laid back, and the overall attitude from the audience was open-minded and welcoming. It meant that those reading for us were relaxed too and showed their work at its best.

The work itself was eclectic, including readings/performances of music, poetry, prose, and biography. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to and the only negative I could take from the night was a slight annoyance that I hadn’t prepared something to read.

I genuinely think we could make a monthly event of this (and not just because I’m itching for a chance to get up). I don’t know how we would go about it but I’d love to hear from others who might be interested.

Have you found a place that you fit in in surprising ways? Do you think creative environments are typically inclusive, or have you encountered clique-ishness in such groups?

As always thanks for reading, it means a lot to have people pop by to read these posts. All the best, John