Archive for Australia

BULLYING!

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, revenge, set in Australia, Set in Germany, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by ROD MARSDEN
DEMONS OF THE MIND AND  THE SOUL - THE BULLY!

DEMONS OF THE MIND AND THE SOUL – THE BULLY!

OVERVIEW
This is a complicated subject in that bullies have often been urged to do what they do or have been bullied themselves and are seeking their own form of revenge. I came across a story in Kindergarten when I was a young kid that stuck with me. It involved a man stressed by bullying at work who hits his wife and in turn his wife hits their son and the son then hits his little sister. So who does the little sister hit? Her teddy bear. What’s the message here? It is transference of anger and hurt. It isn’t very nice but it is understandable and it is, sadly, all too human.  

In the movie The Breakfast Club starring Judd Nelson (1985) a youmng man is urged to pick on a brainiac because his dad is a jock and so hates brainiacs. The young man doesn’t want to do it but he does want to please his dad. Later on in the film he says he is sorry to the kid he picked on to please his dad and they decide that they can be friends after all.

RELIGION
Religion can be a factor in bullying. In a doctumentary I saw a while ago a high school girl living in the Bible belt of the USA was picked ion by teachers as well as students because she was Jewish. I just hope that since that film was made the particular school in question plus its teachers have managed to clean up their act. Even so, that it should happen in the USA where freedom of religion is assured by the constitution is scarey.

In New South Wales, Australia a small group of Muslim youth decided to pick on Australian girls on Australian beaches because they were wearing bikinis and not tents. To add fuel to the fire, a life guard was hit after he had saved a life. Was this bullying on the part of this Muslim youth? You bet it was. The result? A peaceful demonstration against this abuse got out of hand and turned into a riot. Unfortunately the media today only remember the riot and not what caused it.

RACISM AND SEXISM

Racism and sexism exist. What’s more, they have been with us a very long time. Wars have come about because of racism. Dictators have been put into power because of fear and hatred for the other whoever the other might be.

hitler

Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany because the democracy created in the last year of the First World War had, in the eyes of the people, failed. Its failure in the eyes of the people could be linked to the bullying the German people suffered from the English and the French after the First World War. The people had gone through shortages of food and medicine. Jobs were hard to come by and for years inflation made life very difficult. The USA calmed things down with loans to Germany but, when the Great Depression hit, those loans were called in. It seemed obvious that a strong leader was needed. Hitler seemed to be that leader. The Jews, Gypsies and what Hitler thought of as other non-Germans living in Germany were blamed for Germany not winning the First World War. Communists and strong union leaders were also seen as the enemy of the developing Nazi state. In a sense those who had felt bullied were now becoming the bullies. The result of all this? Concentration camps, death camps and all out war.

SCHOOL BULLIES

Nowadays in countries like the USA guns are too easy to come by and there are strong divisions within schools. A kid picked on by jocks because he isn’t a jock can too easily get a gun to get even. A jock humiliated in class by a brainiac might turn to violence but will most likely use his fists. Women are not cut out of this business. Young women don’t seem to be as yet responsible for hands on violence in schools to the extent of young men but they have been known to egg bullies on. This I believe is worse than ascting the bully. The answer? Weaken the divisions in the schools. Make guns hard to come by. Make sure bullioes are properly punished for what they do and also have them come to terms with the wrongness of what they have done. Also punish any cheer leaders of violence by at least making them aware of the damage they do.

RACISM AND SEXISM IN THE OFFICE

I am with Franz Kafka on this one. I am also with Lewis Carroll. Governments may do their best to address these issues but it is really up to the people in whatever office. I know about political correctness. I know it doesn’t work. What you end up doing is substituting one form of racism wirth another, one form of sexism with another. I make this clear in my novel Desk Job.

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

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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

 

WATTLE

Posted in Australia, Great Britain, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Romance, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
WATTLE IN BLOOM IN AUGUST

BLOOMING WATTLE IN AUGUST

If I were to ask someone from Britain or the USA if they know of a plant that, when its flowering, is bright, cheerful and yellow they’d probably say the buttercup. This is fair enough.

In Austria, near Germany the bright, cheerful flower is basically white instead of yellow but does nevertheless lift the spirits of those who live there. It is edelweiss. Mind you there is a little bit of yellow in the flower just to keep botanists on their toes. There’s a popular song about edelweiss that came out of the 1959 musical, The Sound Of Music.

If you were to ask the same question of someone living anywhere on the coast of New South Wales they’d probably say the wattle. It is definitely bright, yellow and cheerful.

It is August as I put pen to paper and, eventually, type this up on computer. I am on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia traveling from Wollongong to Sydney. Green bushes with bobby dazzler yellow flowers are everywhere along the train tracks coming into and going out of most stations. Fellow passengers on board the train don’t seem to notice. They’re busy with their I-pads, their tablets, their mobiles, and their newspapers. It is their lose.

For those who do notice and appreciate this wondrous flowering, it is the sign of the coming of spring and then summer. Blossoming in the cold, the wattle is there to remind us that winter cannot last forever. Even in the cool winds of August that cut right through you there is hope.

Back in the early 1990s some idiot politician by the name of Ros Kelly moved Wattle Day from the 1st of August to the 1st of September. As far as I am concerned this was not a good move. There is even some wattle that blooms before August and, even if there is some still blooming in September, to discount the blooming in August is just plain wrong. To me and my family the 1st of August will forever be Wattle Day regardless of what some politicians and busybodies might think.

Green and yellow are often put forward as the colors most representative of Australia. This is a good thing. I believe in hope for a better future. If it comes in the guise of a bush or tree flowering yellow along the train tracks as I ride to work on the train then so be it.

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!

NIGHT TO DAWN

Posted in art, Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Egypt, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, Teresa Tunaley, Tom Johnson, Uncategorized, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

Night to Dawn is a semi-annual horror magazine put out by Barbara Custer. She goes to some effort to get the best stories, poetry and artwork from around the world. Though an American publication, it often contains stories from as far afield as Australia.

Starting out as primarily a vampire magazine, Night to Dawn has spread its black wings of late into other areas of horror. Tales dealing with zombies, ancient gods, and the Egyptian dead are now most welcome. Egyptian horror has, in fact, appeared in issues 21 and 22. As for what kind of story fits into the magazine, there’s everything from your classic romantic undead piece to a salute to Joe R. Lansdale’s Dead in the West.

Since 22 is the latest issue (It is dated October 2012 but I have an advance copy), I’ll pick out my favorite stories, poetry and illustrations within to give you an idea of the quality of Night to Dawn magazine.

The front cover to 22 is an eye catching red and gold. The illustration by Marge Simon appears to be reminiscent of the Roman era and puts me in mind of a female Roman vampire story I read ages ago. The back cover by Teresa Tunaley shows a female vampire with blood on her lips. The way her eye lids are painted, she might be off to some mardi gras celebration somewhere in the world.

In the editor’s section we learn about the latest round of books being published by Night to Dawn. They include Desk Job by Rod Marsden, City of Brotherly Death by Barbara Custer, and Tom Johnson and James Reasoner’s Jur: A Story of Pre Dawn Earth.

Of the interior illustrations, I am drawn to the third eye effort by David Transue (page 14), the all teeth and eyes freak out by Denny E. Marshall (page 32), and the zombied out mardi gras spectacular by Chris Friend (page 40).

In poetry there’s Tod Hanks’ splendid though traditional take on the vampire, Concubines of the Vampire (pages 6 and 7), Fatale by Cathy Bryant (page 14) which has a nice, bouncy rhythm, and Christmas Eve by Chris Friend (page 39) which is a delightful bit of fun with the spirits of the dead.

Of the tales I liked Rajeev Bhargava’s Mirror, Mirror on my Cellar Wall best. Here we have a touch of Greek mythology with a modern take on a particularly monstrous legend.

Coming up a close second is The Harlots of New Chapel Row by a writer going by the name Horns. It is a to be continued tale of bloody intrigue where lust and keeping up with your mates already goes terribly wrong.

A very close third is The Triangle by Derek Muk which hauls out the Bermuda Triangle for inspection. The suspense builds up in this one making it well worth the read.

For more information on Night to Dawn magazine and books check out these sites:

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

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/tom-johnsons-sf-and-adventure/jur-a-story-of-pre-dawn-earth/

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/

THE WIND WITCH!

Posted in Australia, Banshee, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Japan, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Marvel Comics, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Storm, Warlock, Wind Witch, Writer, X Men with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

COMMANDING THE ELEMENTS

The witch as elemental has been with us a long time. She has been involved in many cultures, past and present, and has crossed over many countries. In Japan she is well known in myth and legend as a terror of the night. In Britain she is best represented by the crazed banshee.

Sometimes the wind witch is a living being. At other times a particular type of ghost that haunts and even destroys the living.

Males of Britain supposedly capable of stirring up winds and thus the sea through supernatural means came to be known as Warlocks, the male equivalent of the female wind witch. This was way back in the 17th Century.

In The Wizard of Oz there are two female witches with elemental powers. One is considered good while the other is bad. A fairly recent stage play, Wicked, has sought to change this rather simplistic view.

Then there is Marvel Comics  Storm – a female mutant with the power to alter the weather. Generally speaking, she is a force for good. Also a force for good is Marvel Comics Banshee. Here tradition is broken in that the Marvel Comics  Banshee is a male mutant rather than a female.

In my novel, Desk Job, there is a Japanese wind witch with the power to disrupt people’s lives and generally to cause havoc in the office where she resides. She is not a creature of harmony but of destruction. Strangely enough, away from the office she is something else. Wind witches can be territorial and may affect nature but their own natures can be affected by their surroundings.  In the right place under the right circumstance there is calm and clear sailing. She has a green thumb and loves gardening. Under other circumstances, of course, the heavy winds stir in her blood and the sound from the witch is furious indeed. Where there is disorder and disunity she will make more of the same. It is what she does and the question arises whether anyone has a right to stop her during one of her rampages.

http://www.amazon.com/Desk-Job-ebook/dp/B008FF7E1K/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341092241&sr=1-2

 

 

REVENGE!

Posted in Australia, batman, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, set in Australia, Set in Germany, Set in italy, the punisher, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

SEEKER OF REVENGE! 

Revenge is a relatively new television show that has done well in the ratings. There is intrigue, nice settings and a top cast. Revenge is also something that turns up quite often in movies and literature.

 

    Plenty of people dream of ‘getting even’ with past wrong doers. Some people even make plans on how to ‘get even’ and eventually carry them out. The thing about ‘getting even’, though is that no one really succeeds in doing so. Usually by the time the persecuted are able to rise up and strike back the playing field has changed.

Someone who was utterly horrid in their youth might have a change of heart and become a much better human being. You could get revenge on them for past misdeeds but the person you really want revenge on is them the way they were back when and not the way they are now. Hell! They may not even remember all the misdeeds of their past and be sorry if they really had committed them. Striking back soon after the offense has bee made would seem to be the best way to go but for many people this just isn’t possible.

In a playground near Dubbo in NSW some years ago, I stopped a fight between two boys in their early teens. One was the class bully who was outraged that this skinny kid he’d been picking on most of the year wanted to fight back. He was a dumb S.O.B and, if I’d been anything but an adult at the time, I’d have liked to have thumped him but good in place of the other weaker looking kid. I hate bullies, especially sports freak bullies.

Meanwhile the skinny kid was on a kamikaze mission. Things had gotten so bad for him that he didn’t care if he got beat to death just so long as he got a few good punches in. It was the skinny kid who had started the ruckus. He’d snapped from past abuse and his mind was set on what he had to do. I believe he’d spent the early part of the day working on his courage and his self righteous anger. If might truly had anything to do with being in the right I wouldn’t have intervened. As things stood, I had to prevent the skinny one from getting hurt. I don’t know if I did him any favors by doing so. I don’t know if the talking to both boys got from the principal penetrated into the head of the bully. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do about bullying.

Quite possibly the bully mentioned has already forgotten this incident and the others he was primarily responsible for. Hopefully the desire for revenge doesn’t continue to haunt the skinny kid. It is difficult to know where bullying begins and where it ends. The same can be said for revenge.

In the movie The Breakfast Club (1985), a former jock gets his high school jock son to pick on a smart kid because he still hates high school smart kids. The son doesn’t want to do this and only does it to please his dad. Then he has regrets about picking on someone who could be his friend for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense to him. In the end the jock and the smart kid make peace with one another. Thus this particular chain of hatred is broken and the desire the smart kid might have for revenge against the young jock is also broken.

An old saying has it that the person seeking revenge had best dig two graves. There’s something in this. Revenge can consume one’s life to where, once the deed is done, there’s nothing to go on with.

       It is said that the best revenge you can have against your detractors is to be successful. Even though this is often the tougher option to swallow, it is the best. You may think that once you make it big you’ll look down and scoff at your old enemies. Generally speaking, those who do make it big never go in for the looking down or the scoffing. They have far more important and often far more pleasurable things to occupy their time and their minds with. Those who have helped you get somewhere have got to be, in the end, far more important than someone who was once a bully or a downer.

Revenge is a motivating force in many of Agatha Christie’s novels. She took this motive to exceptional heights and lows in Murder on the Orient Express where virtually everyone on the train has revenge as a reason to murder a particular passenger.

In the D.C universe, a  boy’s parents are killed by a small time hood and that boy, when he grows up, becomes the caped crusader, Batman.

Then there’s Marvel Punisher. A man’s family is wiped out by a crime boss and, for his revenge, the man becomes a vigilante, The Punisher. Much like Batman, as a vigilante he spends his days and especially his nights warring on crime.

In my novel, Disco Evil, the driving force behind Paul Priestly is revenge on all male and female jocks. When he is made over into a vampire he realizes he can have all the revenge he can handle.

Over time, however, Paul begins to understand that such revenge eats away at him till there’s nothing else left and finally ends in his second death. Paul, when he is human, sees the hippy ideal of ‘make love, not war’ perverted by the Sydney disco scene and it is there, as a member of the undead, that he first seeks recompensed in blood.

In my novel, Ghost Dance, a young vampire named Petra becomes all too aware of how the desire for revenge on the Germans by the English and French after the First World War inevitably led to the Second World War. She is also aware that love, even hope, can change the present and make for a better future.

In my latest work, Desk Job, the seekers of revenge on past sexists and racists only manage to create new forms of sexism and racism. The idea that everyone should be equal is there but the practice is that some people are more equal than others. Meanwhile, where people are treated in a fair and open manner, work of a higher standard does get done and cooperation between various groups isn’t very difficult to achieve after all.

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