42’s Andrew Owens introduced Polly Stretton the first performer of the evening. Polly read three of her poems, Shadow of Fear, Spilt Milk, and He Drinks Blood. Two are vampire poems and the other, Spilt Milk, is about a long-term homeless person in the city.
Next on was Tony Judge, with an extract from his book The Whole Rotten Edifice set on the Russian Front in WWII – Marta prepares to fight, (pp.20-25), her colleague, Tanya, is killed ‘her quivering boots playing random drumbeats on the wood’ – a vivid description of life in the trenches with the protagonists held as ‘a pair of fledgling raptors’. This reading made many in the audience want to read more and luckily Tony had brought along a few copies of the book, just in case!
Andrew announced Michael R Brush, who read two short stories, The Skeleton in the Cupboard and The Good Scientist. In the first a cabbie takes an elegant man, the wealthy Mountfell, to The Nichol – Mountfell is described as a man of ‘splendour’, and as such he needs help. It transpires that the young ostler he’s been bringing on has a foul temper and light fingers ‘but no longer’. We mustn’t spoil the ending for others, so be there when Michael reads this one again! The second The Good Scientist, in which the main character decides he must measure and experiment ways of leaving his money, was another entertaining read.
Time for a break and a catch up with friends. Everyone was invited to come along to other events in the festival including You Must Be Joking, Flash Fiction and the Poetry Slam and reminded that it’s all in the programme, on the web and on Facebook. Andrew handed over to Adam Millard, the speaker for the evening, to ‘Talk about Horror’.
The first thing that Adam Millard said was ‘’write what you know’ doesn’t apply to Horror!’ He said that in the Horror genre, there are no boundaries, nothing is banned, nothing impossible, you write it, it is. Like many Horror writers, Adam believes there to be a stigma in writing Horror, some writers deny ever having written Horror at the start of their writing careers despite evidence to the contrary. But, he said, ‘People like to be scared, people enjoy it’. He is scared of spiders.
Adam discussed Mary Whitehouse and her attitude to Horror videos, so-called ‘video-nasties’ in the 70s & 80s and how he felt about the films, in which, he recalled, blood was cartoonish – ‘you could see the baked beans in some of them!’ – lots of these videos were banned but copied and at the age of ten, Adam used to see them even though they were ‘well-thumbed, rewound many times’. They could be found at petrol stations and corner shops – the ‘Mary Whitehouse police’ confiscated films like Evil Dead II. Some years later censorship was relaxed, though as we know some films are still censored.
Adam particularly likes J-Horror and said ‘No-one does Horror like the Japanese, there are some brilliant films coming out of Japan’ and he likes the original series of The Twilight Zone. He really rates ‘the Stand’ by Stephen King and went on to talk about the major influence that King has had on his life ‘Misery’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘The Shining’ are amongst his favourites – however, he identifies that even the best writers can have ‘off’ times and views Lawnmower Man as pretty bad. On the subject of Stephen King books made into films, Adam commented that there have always been awful adaptations of books, when a movie strays too far from its roots it’s never good eg Phantom of the Opera, ‘there’s never been a good film made of Phantom’.
Adam Millard had some tips for writers:
- Excessive gore is no good but you have to disgust the reader.
- Google maps is brilliant, you can write a scene from Google maps so use it.
- Comedy and Horror go so well together eg American Werewolf in London.
He believes we’re in the golden age of Horror with contemporary writers such as Laird Barron, Craig Saunders, Adam Millard, etc, lots of exciting Horror writing and, Adam said, print is not dead.
This was followed by an interesting and informative Q and A session.
Following a short break, Andrew Owens performed a fine story about a lake and a girl who visits.
Suz Winspear, second prize winner in this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition read her story about an election, in which an electioneer is drawn into a house by a woman …
Adam Millard then took to the stage again to give us a story about a picnic in which many distractions occur. Birds attack and a family flee for their lives; reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, it took on another dimension.
Overall, an interesting evening with many different styles of writing showcased and it was a very great pleasure to meet Adam Millard. Do come along to the next 42, 19:30 Wednesday 27 June, The Lunar Bar at the Swan with Two Nicks, just £3 entry – always an entertaining evening at 42.