Q&A #6 now online

The sixth monthly video Q&A is now online, exclusively for I, Universe readers and/or Patreon supporters. Topics covered this month are ghosts, spiritualism & mediumship; the most valuable religion; travel; reaching the spiritually disconnected; depression & mental health.

Access the video using the “Vlog” link at the top, then click “Secret Videos.” (Instructions regarding the password are under “How to Access.”)

“Black Lotus” – new original music

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to sit down and compose some original music for the first time in ten years (since scoring Don’t Look in the Attic). I tinkered away at this track most evenings, and it was difficult to get it to come together. Sometimes inspiration just hits you, and an entire song will flow from your fingers almost effortlessly. Other times (like this time) it’s a real struggle to construct interesting melodies. Despite putting in a lot of work on this, I couldn’t stretch it beyond about two minutes without feeling like I was padding it out, so I left it short. The end result sounds like the theme tune for an imaginary 1980s television series. If you like the style of music that John Carpenter writes for his own movies, then you might like my little effort. He’s a huge influence on me, along with Tangerine Dream, Depeche Mode, and Gary Numan.

Welcome to the new blog

Well, I’ve decided to migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress. Whether it now looks better or worse than the old blog, I’m not sure. One thing’s for sure, it’s more functional.

One of the most important things to me about blogging is receiving comments from readers. You’ll notice the new blog lists the last five comments down the right-hand side – a nice touch. Those of you who were in the habit of commenting regularly, please keep ’em coming. Obviously, you’ll no longer log in from your Blogger account (if you had one), but comments are open to everyone. Just state your name and post away.

You’ll notice there’s now a “Categories” section on the sidebar. This should give a bit more exposure to some important older posts, like my writing and filmmaking tips, that are currently floating way back in the mists of time.

I always hated the navigation (or lack thereof) on the Blogger template. Now, I’ve been able to move all the clutter that was on my sidebar into handy pages along the top.

Expect further changes and enhacements in the coming days.

Book swapping

Like most avid readers, I’ve got a collection of books in my house, many of which I’m unlikely to read twice. I’ve come across a neat way to trade those books for other volumes: Read It, Swap It. I discovered the site when I was vainly Googling my own name, to see if there were any new mentions of Chion out there on the far reaches of the worldwide web; I was delighted to come across a past pupil of the school (hello, Megsy) plugging my novels on the site’s forum.

On Read It, Swap It, you create a username for yourself, then put together a list of books you’re willing to exchange. Now you’re ready to browse the full library of books on offer by all users. When you spot something you want, you click to request it. The owner of that book then has opportunity to browse through your books. If he sees something he likes, a successful exchange takes place. What I find charming about this site is that it’s completely devoid of any monetary exchange; even kids can use it.

I’ve made several requests for books, but unfortunately the other user doesn’t always find anything of interest to him in my selection. It’s a pity, because I located a few books that I really wanted (in particular, the original novels behind the movies Battle Royale and Ring, translated from Japanese), but I couldn’t pique the owners’ curiosity. Likewise, I’ve received requests for some of my books, but I don’t always find the other user’s selection interesting. The system works on a simple book-for-book basis, so it’s possible you might end up swapping a perfect-condition 500-page first edition hardcover for a tatty old 150-page paperback. You can think of these as drawbacks, but I actually feel it adds a bit of excitement to the process.

One thing I’ve found interesting is that I’ve had requests for several small-press print-on-demand books by practically unknown authors. It’s probably too early to suggest that there’s any kind of trend to be witnessed here, but it’s possible that in this second-hand trading environment, people are more on the look-out for the unusual and unfamiliar. Thus far, I’ve traded two self-published books (by two authors who have now completely dropped off the radar) for Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Simon Clark’s Blood Crazy. (The plot of the latter got me excited: think 28 Days Later except it’s only the adults who go bananas; kids are left to fend for themselves in a world where every adult is out to slaughter them. What a great idea for an apocalypse!)

Read It, Swap It is a UK-only service. Here’s my book list, if anyone out there wants to trade books with me, whether inside or outside the system.

The Freedom Triangle

I have this little project I’ve been tinkering with on and off for the past seven months, called The Freedom Triangle. It’s a novella which takes place in the mythology of The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher. Although mine is an original story, it’s technically “fan fiction” or “derivative fiction,” and that turns it into a copyright nightmare. I was discussing this with my writer friend Will Hadcroft, himself a Tripods fan and someone who has met the author of the trilogy. A few days later, there’s a message in my inbox from a sender called Sam Youd. For those who don’t know, John Christopher is actually the pseudonym of a man called Samuel Youd. Here’s what he had to say:


Will has passed me your request/query re your novella, and I wish I could be more helpful. It’s not just Disney – I’m also contracted to Simon & Schuster who have kept the books in print for nearly forty years.

I’m not sure whether your book would be seen as a violation of copyright, not (thank God) being a movie/publishing lawyer; but I know their minds work in strange and often jealous ways. I don’t think they would take private circulation among friends seriously, but actual publication would be a different ballgame. So would publication on the Net: the question of copyright in that area is still to be worked out. What I’m afraid is indisputable is that I personally am in no position to offer a go-ahead or clearance – it’s not in my hands.

Sorry about that!

Best wishes

Sam Youd

I don’t want to sound like a starstruck teenager, but it was great to get an email from the man himself. Ain’t the internet a wonderful thing?

"Warrior" – my song for the MacIdol contest

I’ve been really busy for the past month reviving an old piece of music which I composed in 1992, called Warrior. I’ve basically scrapped all the old instruments and imported the musical notation into Apple GarageBand, where I can take advantage of the professional sounds. To give it something extra, I asked my musician friend Mike Andrews to play one of the instruments on electric guitar. All I can say is “WOW!” You can download the finished song at my MP3 page. Hope you like it. Incidentally, this is my entry for the MacIdol music contest, where the first prize is an Apple iPod!