Archive for the Scotland Category

AN ENGLISH SUMMER IN SCOTLAND BY NEIL. K. HENDERSON

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Scotland, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

A HOLE IN THE FLOOR

Neil K. Henderson’s An English Summer in Scotland and Other Unlikely Events does have more than its fair share of the unlikely and also the just plain demented. Each story takes you on a trip into Henderson’s imagination and it is some imagination.

 

It seems that no one can put meaning to butter and parsnips the way this wild Scot from Knightswood can. Also, no one can put together a dream girl, a birthday and a quiet time at home with a hole in the kitchen and creepy-crawlies doing their thing quite the same way. The hole is so deep it may reach all the way to Australia! What’s more, there’s a candle of all things shedding some light at the other end, making the hole even more of a wonder.

Colour explodes. There’s a kind of magical mystery tour going on amidst ancient grim even though no one is going anywhere fast except the crepy-crawlies. Then the scene changes.

Does Bunchie Nuttall get Ali Butterfield in the end? Does he even want her in the end?

Also, what’s with this dead, demented zombie cat? Is witchcraft afoot in Scotland or is it just the heat?

Can you have a quick draw thing happening in Scotland? Well, there is a Quick Draw at the Lazy B.  Laundrettes are places where apparently a mamn has to do what a man has to do.

Bath-time in Hell can be a bad scene especially when the number one bad guy turn up.  Again there are the creepy-crawlies to consider.

There are The Cat with the Inside-Out Head and The Cheesey Buscuit Goblin to make you wonder or at least push you in that direction.

Henerson’s style isn’t quite like fantasy writer Terry Pratchett but, then again, Terry Pratchett is English and loves his swords as well as his sorcery. Also in style Henderson is definitely more over the top and a dozen or so valleys away.

This book could be compared favourably with The Steam-driven Boy and Other Strangers (1973)  by Englishman John Stadek. Also An English Summer in Scotland is Henderson’s salute to british writer Lewis Carroll in that it has a mysterious hole, a girl like Alice in Ali and creatures best read about in the context of this fiction. Be warned though that this is experimental stuff. If you want further comparisons than try A Spaniard in the Works by John Lennon (1965).

An English Summer in Scotland and Other Unlikely Events by Neil K. Henderson was first published in 2005 by Skrev Press. For further information on grabbing a copy go to:

www. skrev-press.com

or write to:

Skrev Press

41 Manor Drive

Hebden Bridge

HX7 8DW

Scotland

UK

 

DESK JOB REVIEW FRESH FROM SCOTLAND

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, birds, Butterflies, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Moths, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, Scotland, set in Australia, Teresa Tunaley, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
DESK JOB

DESK JOB BY ROD MARSDEN

Review by Neil K. Henderson

Knightswood, Glasgow G13 4SB, Scotland, U.K.

DESK JOB: SARAH IN OFFICE-LAND by Rod Marsden, ISBN 978-1-937769-14-7 Night to Dawn Books, P.O. Box 643, Abington, PA 19001, USA (www.bloodredshadow.com) 243 pp.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

Set in the offices of a big Sydney business concern in the 1990s, DESK JOB, by former Masque Noir editor Rod Marsden, reads like staring through a hothouse window at a weird menagerie of mismatched captive fauna. Among the exotic and nightmarish metaphors for office ‘types’ – such as praying mantises (women ‘of a certain age’ out for blood at a sniff of male impropriety), dung beetles (sycophants to the mantises), hawks (upwardly mobile managers), caterpillars (semi-comatose top brass), mules (disregarded drudges) and butterflies (pretty young do-nothings) and their older, drabber moth counterparts – real human souls live out daily dramas in this infernal inversion of Alice’s Wonderland. Animal behavior is controlled by the government-imposed political correctness dictates of the period. No-one dares infringe the rights of a ‘protected species’. On the other hand, it’s open season on the native wildlife. Tensions mount. Fear, paranoia and madness ensue, until one employee is murdered by another while most are too busy watching their own backs to notice. It‘s the kind of mess you’d need a psychic investigator to work out.

Enter Sarah Hollingsworth, who’s seen it all already in a dream. She can read people’s minds to present the reader with psychological profiles and biographical insights into the group of characters under the microscope. (She even interviews the victim!) This lets her give the kind of non-judgmental overview that keeps things nicely in balance and stops the reader (and some of the characters) from totally losing the plot. She also provides a few surprises along the way with her own interaction among the forces of the mystical realm. It’s a testament to Rod Marsden’s easy style, that the whole unfolding kaleidoscope of animal imagery, social comment and dark fantasy reads with a page-turning immediacy that keeps the attention gripped until a satisfactory conclusion is reached. (Not so much a Who Dunnit, this, as a Why Dunnit.)

But that conclusion is not the end of the book. What Marsden does with the remaining third is to literalise the previously metaphorical types as living dream creatures, in a totally fantastical coda  section reflecting back the Lewis Carroll motifs from a new perspective. Sarah here ventures through an interdimensional portal, like Alice’s looking glass, to interact with real mantises and beetles and a Queen of Hearts who wants to psych out the office workers visa computer consoles and hand-mirror gateways. A fast and furious fantasy adventure follows – ensuring the novel achieves a flying finish.

Sandwiched in between the episodic close-ups on specific cases in part one, collected quotes from contemporary Australian books on office psychology provide a comic Greek chorus to the developing drama. These interludes continue as a unifying factor through the second part. Here, the lika-lika bird (every conversation starts or ends with “Like a…”) rears her gorgeously plumaged head. She’s still young and uncorrupted, prior to landing that fatal office job. Her outside view is refreshingly alternative. There is also the graffiti-spraying mall rat, destined to become a mule, or even a hawk, someday.

It is difficult to encapsulate in a brief review the complex interplay of fantastical dream situations, figuratively represented actuality and actualised fantasy contained in DESK JOB. Odd magical moments come to mind, such as the vision of several ‘brown-nose’ dung beetles lining up to boil themselves in a cauldron because the praying mantis they worship likes soup. There’s also the annoying whistling man who appears in the office every so often, and is perfunctorily assaulted by a member of staff. Then there’s the cats which periodically pop through mirrors or get their tails pulled by startled mortals. Particularly amusing is the scene near the end of lika-lika birds all crowding round one such hand-mirror, convinced that the cat which just appeared was cleverly programmed in by the manufacturers. I can just see them haunting all the shops in Sydney asking for the mirrors with the pop-out cats.

Does that make sense? Not maybe on the face of things, but in the context of this curiously individual and delightfully engaging novel it makes perfect sense. If you don’t believe me, I recommend you take a psychic trip through the portal of its covers and experience it for yourself. DESK JOB is a book with “Read Me” written all over it.

 

Note: Neil K. Henderson cleverly ends his review with an off hand reference to the Alice books. Meanwhile Neil is busy on his own novels which are most curious and fun to read.

 

 

A TAIL TO TELL

BOTH A TAIL AND A TALE TO TELL. WHAT FUN!

REVIEW OF DISCO EVIL: DEAD MAN’S STAND

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, Scotland, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Disco Evil

Disco Evil back cover art

Neil K. Henderson

Knightswood, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

6th Sept. 2009

Dear Rod,

Finally getting the chance to comment back on DISCO EVIL: DEAD MAN’S STAND…You have certainly taken an interesting angle on vampire culture, with not only the uncompromising contemporary setting, but the ‘moral code’ adhered to by your (anti-) hero. Indeed, the entire novel has a ‘both-sides-to-the-story’ aspect which leaves one finally unable to take sides. As in life, no one is either all good or all bad. You make this point repeatedly, and stress the need for mutual understanding and co-operation. This indeed comes to pass not only between the Secret Compass and Rising Sun Group, but with Muslim and non-Muslim Australians…

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed being transported around the globe for a bat’s-eye view of human existence in recent times. I like the way you handled differing timescales, with life going on as normal in NSW, while Paul maintained eternal youth. The only fault I found with this was that it didn’t leave enough scope for in-depth vampire adventure on those travels. That’s an unavoidable problem, I suppose, since too much time spent with Paul would unbalance the structure of the novel. He did at least have some exciting near-misses with the forces of Life and Order. I have to say, I didn’t fancy his chances with those Maclean fellows one bit…

Anyway, I’ve had a ball reading your book. I found myself drawn into your fictional world and engaging with your characters in a way that says plenty for your descriptive skills. I hope you have a great success with it, and that it leads the way for many more.

All the best,

Neil

Neil k. Henderson is the author of a number of fictional works including MALDEHYDE’S DISCOMFITURE, or A LADY CHURNED (Pentagraph Press, Brighton, 1997), FISHWORSHIPPING – AS WE KNOW IT (Regent Books, Wolverhampton, 2001), AN ENGLISH SUMMER IN SCOTLAND AND OTHER UNLIKELY EVENTS (Skrev Press, 2005), and HORMONES A-GO-GO (Atlantean Publishing, 2009).