A brilliant review of Benedict's book has appeared over at the 'Sci-fi and Fantasy Reviewer' - where it was said the story was: "…a tense, atmospheric and well-written slice of horror based in a severely under-used setting and period…"
Read the full review here: https://scifiandfantasyreviewer.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/the-devils-portion-benedict-j-jones-mini-review/
Well done Benedict and thank you for the review.
A cracking review of Calvin's 'The Town That Feared Dusk' has appeared on the brilliant horror site Kendall Reviews. I won't say any more except...(to quote the late Lil Chris!) CHECK IT OUT:
So - we have dropped some hints from time to time but happy to announce today: running alongside the Short Sharp Shocks! will be the Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! - collection of crime / thriller novellas. We are looking to publish one / two a month (first in ebook, then in paperback) novellas, word count 10,000 - 15,000 (or slightly longer). We already have our first couple of books in the bag but are currently reading MS - so if you think you have something suitable, please contact us and we'll talk more to you about it. We envisage right now that the first books will launch probably from August. But if you do have something we suggest you start the conversation now. Looking forward to reading more of your amazing stories. Cheers and good luck!
We will be taking a short break from publishing any new SSS during June but will return from July - this is mainly due to the team attending Cannes and looking after the potential other side of the business...films! If you are still looking to submit, please do so (via the contact page) and all MS will be read in due course - it might just take a little longer during May.
Well done to Erik who, only after a couple of hours after being available for pre-sales, is already number five in the Amazon horror charts! Well done Erik!!!!
Happy to announce that the next batch of SSS! are available now for pre-sales (with a launch date of May 10th), here are the links:
Book 18 - Night Of The Rider by Alyson Faye
Book 19 - Isidora's Pawn by Erik Hofstatter
Book 20 - Plain by David T. Griffith
Book 21 - Supermassive Black Mass by Matthew R. Davis
Book 22 - Whispers Of The Sea (and Other Stories) by L. R. Bonehill
Book 23 - Magic by Eric Nash
Something for everyone!!!
So just a little reminder that the anthology which Dean put together for Alex S. Johnson's Nocturnicorn Books is out on May 9th on Amazon kindle. It's a brilliant little anthology if we do say so ourselves with some top notch writing talent within the covers. The cover is by Adrian Baldwin (central art piece by Billy Chainsaw, and a thanks to Jonathan Lyons). We thoroughly recommend it. Here are the links:
There won’t be any hard and fast rules but now and again Demain will publish non-genre works. The first of these will be Joe by Terry Grimwood. Terry and Dean had already worked together previously and when he approached Dean and told him about Joe, Dean asked to read it as the subject matter sounded intriguing if nothing else. On receipt (and subsequent reading) of the MS the decision was made quickly. Of course it was a yes. Late May sees publication of Terry’s seminal novella – with a foreword by John Gilbert and a cover by Adrian Baldwin.
For your interest / pleasure, Dean had many questions for Terry…but let’s allow the author to speak first because Joe is a very personal story…
TERRY GRIMWOOD: Joe is inspired by the true story of a young gay man who attended the same (British) Baptist church as my first wife and I in the 1980s. His name was Simon, and he was charming, intelligent, kind and devout. I can’t say that we were close friends, but we were certainly acquaintances and he was someone I respected for the very obvious depth of his faith. I too was a convinced believer in the Christian faith in those days and regularly attended the church’s weeknight prayer meetings. Simon would inevitably stand and pray and was always eloquent and respectful. He was also in pain. His cries to God for help were soul-felt and often heart-breaking. Like most of us in the church, I had no idea that he was gay and that trying to reconcile his faith and sexuality was the cause of his agony, until it was too late. To my surprise, Channel Four broadcast a documentary about Simon in 1996 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHUcpqpIkRE - see also The Independent’s review of the documentary at https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/morality-play-1592563.html). It was a difficult watch, which left the story lodged securely in my mind. I knew that one day I would tell this story myself, in one form or another. I didn’t have the maturity or confidence as a writer to attempt it at the time. Perhaps I still don’t have the maturity, but I do have the confidence!
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: You’re right it is difficult but I thoroughly recommend it…
TG: Although the documentary was excellent and, as I intimated, emotionally harrowing, I wanted to get inside the man’s skin. I wanted to explore his motivations, confusion and pain more deeply. That is the writer’s job. There is a lot of debate and snobbery about fictionalised history, but the author’s task is not to recycle what the historian has written, rather, it is to put the reader into that moment, to smell, hear and taste, to rage, laugh or weep over what happened. There is a lot to rage and weep over when it comes to Simon / Joe.
DP: It is the job of the writer, you are correct. You’re also right about the snobbery aspect too which I’ve never understood – but hey, what do I know? You mentioned earlier that you couldn’t write Joe (say) twenty years ago because of confidence / maturity…so why now? What’s changed?
TG: We are living through an era when being gay is no longer a crime or stigmatised. Most of us are doing our best to understand and accept that sexuality is not a simple binary and to no longer make a person’s sexuality an issue. In other words; “This is Bob, he is a writer and he is gay” has become “This is Bob, he is a writer.” However, as [Isaac}Newton explained, with every action there is a reaction. The more society strives to understand and readjust, the harder certain sections of society, and certain cultures, fight back. My anger is not only directed towards the more right-wing, and occasionally fascistic, arm of the Christian church, the Westboro Baptist faction if you like (do they actually exist, by the way, and are they as hateful as we are led to believe? Whichever, they serve as a useful representation), but also the insidious, institutionalised homophobia that exists even in the best of our churches. Proclamations from the pulpit such as the one I once heard stating that AIDS was the punishment of God poured out on vile sinners. Why only the gay community? Where, I asked myself, was the punishment poured out by God on such vile sinners as Idi Amin and Peter Sutcliffe?
DP: Yes Westboro does exist! And I totally subscribe to the ‘insanity’ that your sexual preference – if you are not straight – is always used in introductions / personal descriptions etc etc. I’m a big fan of REM and Michael Stipe has articulated about this subject so much better than I ever could but the basic point is true and which is why I’ve always ignored ‘labels’. Sorry Terry, I interrupted, please continue.
TG: …the right-wing Christian church has set its face against homosexuality, in some cases spewing out vitriol worthy of Reich Minister Goebbels, the grandmaster of hate-speak. And all disguised as a concern for people’s souls. There is a tendency to pick out suitable verses to hammer home that hatred. Odd that other, extremely difficult passages condoning such things as slavery, killing witches and not mixing certain fabrics in your clothing are ignored. Ironically, the Bible says very little about the subject and I have never been able to find any link between Sodom and Gomorrah and homosexuality in the Genesis text. Jesus is certainly never credited with saying a thing about it. On the other hand, there is a willingness among more moderate and loving Christians to discuss the subject and accept people’s sexuality. I am hoping that this novella can be a part of that discussion. I will certainly be offering it to many of the Christians I know and love…
DP: …Yes, John Gilbert actually makes that point in the foreword doesn’t he – that there has been a serious ‘mis-translation’ made several hundreds of years ago…
TG:…I must emphasise here that Joe is NOT, a religious book!
DP: No, it’s not and I think that a couple of lines into the story and your readers will see that. It’d also be great to catch up with you about this in a couple of months (following publication) to see what your Christian friends did think of the book. Being that you ‘lived the story’ – so to speak – did you have lots of additional research to do before putting pen to paper?
TG: I am not gay, so I was nervous about writing so intensely about a gay character, particularly as there is a lot of negative talk about the sin of so-called cultural appropriation. I disagree, by the way. The writer should absolutely indulge in cultural appropriation, whether it be societal, cultural, religious or sexual. Yes, research can be vital, as is sensitivity and a healthy avoidance of stereotypes. But, surely, any writer worth their salt must try to inhabit the bodies and souls of others. Writers must reach out and explore the other. It’s all hypocrisy anyway, no one accused Hilary Mantel of cultural appropriation when she published her Thomas Cromwell novels, or Graham Greene when he wrote Brighton Rock. Mantel is not a Tudor man and neither was Greene a young, murderous thug. Oh, and please note; I am NOT comparing myself with those two literary giants.
DP: It’s okay, I take your point, these are ‘heady’ times for sure and the path is not always straight and there is lots of ‘noise’ (sometimes it’s just a case of ‘I’m right because I can shout louder than you’). It is a very serious subject and needs to be discussed succinctly and calmly. I’ve literally just been reading something that Brett Easton Ellis said on the subject [because of his new non-fiction book White] and how he was subsequently torn apart in the media for it. So, research…
TG: Research? That’s a difficult one to answer. I did look into the attitudes, sociology and legal positions of the era in which Joe is set, and, as you say, lived the story to a certain extent, but as for the reality of being gay, I wasn’t sure how or where to go for information. Yes, I have friends and acquaintances who are gay, but I think I my first instinct was to go ahead and write the story, see where it took me. I found myself examining my own relationships and inner emotional life and applying it to Joe.
DP: I think you’ve been very successful and I personally don’t believe it matters whether you are gay or not – you’ve crafted a top notch story and deployed your many skills as a writer…how hard was it to actually start writing Joe?
TG: I find all writing hard (except my novel Bloody War - that poured out of me like tears). I was nervous at the start. I had the bare bones of the story and that was all. I’ve never been a great planner. I tend to dive in and see where the tale takes me (often into a cul de sac!). I was always conscious of the tripwires of stereotypes and assumptions and found myself treading far too carefully. My caution threatened to strangle Joe at birth, but I gained confidence when I realised that Joe was simply someone looking for love. His desire, emotion, excitement and hurts were the same as anyone’s. When that became my starting point, I was freed. In short, I needed to give myself permission to write Joe.
DP: Interesting…because of your personal connection then did you also have to seek the permission of anybody else? It must have been a very hard book to write…
TG: Joe wasn’t hard to write because of my personal connection with the people concerned. Although the story is inspired by true events, it is not an account of what actually happened. As for the ethics, Joe is not Simon, his background, his family are different. The other players are composites, representations of various aspects of chapel life; the golden couple, the serious, the earnest, the lonely, the friendly and affable, the benevolent and malevolent. I had no problem with assembling and playing with this cast because I wasn’t trying to ‘get at’ anyone. I have great affection for the people I met and befriended during my church-going years and have no intention of dealing harshly with them. This was a world I am familiar with and a world that has, I feel, been largely unexplored in literature. I do not believe in the use of fiction to launch a personal attack on any individual. That is cowardly. If I have a problem to sort out with someone then face-to-face is the correct way to deal with it. On the other hand, public figures, those who are out of reach and have set themselves up in positions of authority and influence are fair game, as far as I am concerned.
DP: The characters in Joe anger you then?
TG: In some cases, yes, but not all. Few of the characters have any understanding beyond the prevailing views of the time. They cannot be blamed entirely for how they felt about what they saw as deviations from the norm. The media, their own religious leaders, all portrayed homosexuality as an aberration, and worse, as a lifestyle choice and something that could be cured. It is difficult to swim against the tide of opinion, especially in a closed-in society like an evangelical church where a person can be very quickly ostracised by the membership. That fear is heightened even further if you believe that the future of your eternal soul is at stake.
DP: (The character of) Joe is as guilty as everybody else then?
TG: Indeed, Joe is almost as guilty as his peers in his fear of both human and Divine disapproval and even goes as far as attempting a ‘cure’ via a ‘normal’ romantic relationship.
DP: There were several places in the book that I was also angry at Joe which surprised me actually…
TG: What angers me is the insistence that children must follow the path trodden by their parents. Of course, we must give our successors a structure for their lives, a sense of right and wrong, and we should offer them a belief system. But that is all. Joe’s father represents the odious demand that the child be a clone of its parents. Yet, even he is acting out of a deeply-ingrained belief that he is doing the right thing by his family and his God.
DP: I wonder if the story was set today whether the father would have acted any differently…sadly I suspect not…
TG: I have to admit that the moment Joe turns on the Golden Ones, as I call the pillars of the church’s young adult clique, was rather satisfying. That trip to Cambridge was based (loosely) on true events - as they say in films - and was an indulgence in the devilish act of wish fulfilment available to anyone who writes!
DP: Ah! They are some of my favourite parts of the book. I have come across people like them several times in my life and yes, it is satisfying when you can knock them down a peg or two…very satisfying…when we were first looking at publishing Joe I was going to ask you at one point whether you were ever considering using a pseudonym?
TG: Never. When Terry Grimwood writes a story, that story is by Terry Grimwood. Plus, I’m terribly vain and like to see my own name in print.
DP: Ha ha! The first couple of times I read Joe I kept looking out for any characters which could have been based on ‘Terry Grimwood’…
TG: There is a lot of Terry Grimwood in Joe. Not least in the feeling of being an outsider. Part of something yet not wholly part of it. When I was a practising Christian I was deeply involved in the life of the church. I participated in the youth group, I ferried people to events, I attended prayer meetings and all the rest. I had a lot of friends and came to know and love some wonderful people. And I had an unshakeable belief in the God and theology of the Bible. But. I never felt completely a part of it all. This would probably surprise some of my friends and acquaintances from that time. I was always looking outwards. I was fascinated by literature, film, art and what was considered to be weird and raucous music. I could never dampen my imagination. I could never give up my thirst for the strange and fantastical. It confused me at the time because I wanted to belong, desperately.
DP: Ah, disconnection. I suspect most writers (if not most people actually!) have had those feelings. When I’m not in France I spend time at the family home in Maidstone. Now this is a town I have also lived as a late teenager and for a while went to school here and over the years I’ve visited my family here and yet, I have absolutely no connection to the place. I couldn’t even tell you the street names! It means nothing to me.
TG: That is where Joe’s sense of separation comes from. The fact that he tries to work his way into the heart of the church’s social world, but never quite succeeds is part of my own experience. He tries to do the conventional and acceptable, but it doesn’t sit well with him. My own Baptist chapel was unique in many ways. It was in the heart of a Suffolk village and attracted a lot of people who would never normally attend church. There were some troubled and damaged people who found peace and meaning in that congregation. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, anything like the larger Baptist ‘cathedral’ where Joe is a member (that exists as well - nuff said). The scene in which the church’s young adults descend on a gay pub to bring the gospel to the lost souls within, is typical of the adventures we indulged in back in the day. However, I would find myself talking and identifying with the people I was supposed to be converting. Again, it was the need to push outwards and break out from the boundaries of my church and its social circle, I suppose.
DP: That’s another scene I love, in the pub! Funny because when I was at University I had a similar experience when on a bus a guy sat down next to me and tried to convert me…I made the ‘mistake’ by telling him that he should try someone else as I already had certain beliefs…well, he saw that as a ‘red rag to a bull’ and followed me off the bus and then to my front door telling me how my beliefs were wrong and his were right. I was living with other students at the time who for the ‘craic’ invited him in. It turned out that he was part of a cult (I’m serious about this by the way) and it all turned a bit nasty, we managed to get him out of our home but he kept coming back over and over again and ringing us up…we had to involve the police…he started following us at one point too…but anyway, I loved your scene better than my real life experience ha ha. What’s your image of God by the way…
TG: Joe’s fear of God is also my own. The feeling that He was a thunderous, frightening presence was always with me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved God and my faith was, for the most part, a positive thing, indeed, I sometimes miss its certainties and the comfort that it can bring. But my faith was tempered by a sense of God as a brooding, fearsome force that bore down on me and knew every thought in my mind and intent in my heart and was angered by them.
DP: My image of God has changed over the years and as I’ve got older that image has become a lot more complicated and expansive…writing Joe energized or exhausted you?
TG: Energised, definitely. My default positions as a writer are horror, the supernatural and science fiction. However, I believe in exploring other forms of writing. I have several non-genre stories out there and even a romance in People’s Friend. I find it immensely satisfying to stray outside the boundaries of genre. It’s also a little intimidating. Suddenly you have no magic to fall back on, no entity or supernatural get-out clause. What happens is down to the characters and the characters alone. There are monsters. There are always monsters. In this case, guilt and fear of discovery. As potent and frightening as any drooling, fanged and taloned beast out of one of my horror tales.
DP: I think it’s brilliant you work in other genres even if horror is your ‘bread and butter’…
TG: Horror provides a good grounding for writing in general. I compare it to comedians ably playing serious roles because comedy is a harder art to master than straight acting and the inherent sadness of the clown provides a unique form of creative energy. Likewise, horror writers have to expend a lot of creative energy of their own in the building of a realistic framework and believable, three-dimensional characters on which to convincingly hang the strange. That skill translates well across the great divide between the disreputable back streets of their chosen genre and the respectable, slightly snobbish neighbourhoods of non-genre fiction. And before the angry letters arrive, I do not see horror as disreputable but a valid literary form. The real energising force of this story was that I was able to say something. I know that sounds corny and cliched, but I was speaking out for people like Joe. It feels worthy.
DP: Ah, let’s not even get started on the snobbery…we’ll be here all night, won’t we?! What was the hardest scene for you to write?
TG: The hardest scene? Definitely the passages in which I try to show Joe’s first awareness of his sexuality. How would that feel? At what moment in your life do you become aware of who you are? Have I handled it in a sensitive and realistic manner? There are people I could have asked, but when it came to it, did not feel able to. So, again, it was a matter of putting myself in Joe’s skin, drawing on my own experiences to give the narrative depth and authenticity. But I wasn’t sure, which was why I felt it so important to subject the manuscript to a sensitivity reading. The rest, they say, is history.
DP: I’m convinced we never know who we are really are – I believe we are forever changing. Are we the same person we were yesterday or will be tomorrow? As a kid I ate certain foods which I absolutely hate now and as you’ve said, you had certain beliefs which at the time were unshakeable and then with the passage of time or because of certain events…was that a challenge for you to write about then…how could you keep your perspective?
TG: As I mentioned, I was once a devout Christian believer. I took the Bible at its word and believed all of it, from the seven-day creation to the second coming. However, personal difficulties and tragedy have made me radically question my beliefs. I can no longer believe the way I once did. I cannot accept the concept of Heaven and Hell and a God who is reduced to a set of theological constructs. Also, good and evil are no longer so easy to separate. Yes, terrible, unforgivable things are inflicted on the world and they are undoubtably evil in and of themselves, but everyone has motivations, everyone has a history, criminals, concentration camp guards, all of them have a road they travelled to bring them to this point. Fear, upbringing, psychological illness and emotional damage, all components of their ‘sin’ that are beyond their control. I don’t condone bad deeds. Of course not, but I struggle to believe that some people are simply evil and deserve Hell. Jesus talks about forgiveness, and yet the church so-often gleefully pronounces damnation on any who do not conform to their beliefs…and the Christian God Himself is full of inconsistencies! He sought to kill Moses because he didn’t circumcise his son, He instructed the Israelites to massacre every man, woman and child in Jericho, most of whom were innocent of any crime. He struck dead the poor sap who reached out to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from slipping off its wagon. And then manifested Himself in this world in the form of Jesus Christ, a man of great wisdom, mercy and infinite forgiveness.
DP: Yes, the ‘God’ in the Old and New Testaments could almost be two different entities altogether…
TG: Christianity is like a coal, smouldering inside me. I can’t leave it alone. I have often returned to the subject of religion in my writing, from the mysterious beings who haunt the early chapters of the Bible and feature in both my novel Deadside Revolution and my short story Man of Renown, to direct references and questioning in my play The Bayonet, the Soul Masque chapbook, my current work in progress, Skin For Skin and, of course, Joe. It is a subject I have not finished exploring and I doubt I ever will.
DP: Good for you – I found that a lot of my work (around the time of my father’s death actually, though I don’t necessarily see that they are connected) did contain a lot of ‘anger’ against God but I made a conscious decision to stop that – I know that in me I have a great ‘fantasy’ book (which will be called The Keeper Of The Bees) and ‘God’ will be a central character and that will be almost my ‘final battle’. It will be a big big book…I’ve been planning it a while…so we briefly touched on it, you believe that your Christian friends will read Joe?
TG: I have many friends in the church and I definitely want them to read Joe. As for an audience, I’m telling a story and I want that story to strike a chord, to provoke thought and discussion and also reassure people that they are not alone in what they feel or experience. In the end, however, I’m a writer which means that I want to be read by as many people as possible.
DP: Yes, as far as we are concerned Joe is a universal story and should have a vast audience. We really want it to do well for you. Okay, last one – can you sum up in a line or two what you think Joe’s message is.
TG: Love is love, no matter what form it takes and we are all entitled to find, and be made whole, by the happiness it can bring.
Perfect – well done Terry, thanks for your time and truly all the best for Joe!
Joe will be published as an ebook on May 24th (paperback available late summer) and is available for pre-sales now.
Well - the reviews have been coming in thick and fast. Thank you to our readers and reviewers.
Calvin Demmer has now got 5 five star reviews on Amazon (US) for his The Town That Feared Dusk (Book 17 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series) with recent comments including: "A great read", "Total classic" and "Another hit".
Chris Stanley received a five star review on Amazon (UK) for his The Forest Is Hungry (Book 16) with the added comment: "Compelling!".
Dan Howarth received a four star review (Amazon UK) for his Dulce Et Decorum Est (Book 14) with the reviewer saying: "Great story."
Kev Harrison received 2 four star reviews for his Cinders Of A Blind Man Who Could see (Book 13) with the comments including: "Thoroughly entertaining" and "Exciting and pacey."
Well done all and keep 'em coming!
Demain Publishing has in recent weeks been receiving many plaudits. Of course that has something to do with the amazing stories our authors have created (that goes without saying!) but some of the congratulations MUST also go to cover artist Adrian Baldwin (thank you to Trevor Kennedy for making the introductions) who’s work has gone above and beyond what was asked of him. As well as designing covers / artwork etc Adrian is also an accomplished author and screen-writer – in fact he has many strings to his bow as the recent chat between Dean and him goes someway to prove:
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Adrian, your turn now (and I’ll be next don’t worry) for an interview – I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while...
ADRIAN BALDWIN: Hello, Dean. Thanks for inviting me along to participate in a Demain interview. Rather than plead the 5th I have decided to answer all your questions - you only have yourself to blame!
DP: Don’t worry, I think I can live with it on this occasion ha ha. Okay, so for those that don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background.
AB: I am an artist, writer and designer. Back in the 90s I wrote for a number of comedy television shows; I have written 3 novels (to date) and I’ve had several short stories published.
DP: Yes, your cv is very impressive. I have seen a lot of those shows you wrote for (and watching them again on the ‘net brought back some happy memories)...if someone (well, me in this case) asked you: “why do you do what you do” – how would you answer?
AB: I’ve always been a big reader and have written comedy material since I was at school. I have no idea what compels me to write / create. I think it might have a lot to do with being allowed to stay up late and watch Monty Python when I was a kid! I’ve always been interested in art too so I attended art college for four years to avoid having to get a real job! I studied photography layout, format, and typography. I never thought I’d be designing book covers one day but I’m very happy to be doing so for Demain, Phantasmagoria and the like.
DP: It was only when we started talking that I realised how much of your work I had seen without appreciating fully it was all by the same artist. You do really have a keen eye and I love that for each publisher etc you work for that the art / cover etc is unique to that particular brand – so for example, what you do for Demain is very different to what you do for Trevor Kennedy which again is very different to what you’ve done for Alex S. Johnson – I definitely raise my glass to you my friend. How do you work and do you you think your work has ‘developed’ over the years?
AB: I have an idea; I run with it. I scrub what I don’t like and work over what I do until it hopefully reaches a point where I feel it’s good enough to share. I’m really unmoved by a lot of modern book covers, I think so many just look the same. The covers I saw on books when I was a kid seemed to have so much more colour and character. I now draw on these covers from the 50s and 60s for inspiration. Retro is the new trendy!
DP: Yes, I know what you mean – I personally love those old garish Grand Guignol posters too...would you say that your personality is reflected in your work?
AB: Well, I guess it shows what moves me and that I like fun and eye-catching forms but basically I just go with whatever feels right to me.
DP: Of your many talents / mediums – what do you enjoy doing the most?
AB: I enjoy both writing and creating covers but which do I enjoy most? I guess it just depends on my mood for that day. Primarily though, I would class myself as a writer who moonlights as a book cover designer.
DP: In your work (stories or art) do you think there are particular themes you return to time and time again?
AB: Well, for covers, the themes are usually dictated by the publishers’ outlining brief, plus my spin on what I think works for that particular volume or individual story. As for my writing, I think that probably has a lot to do with using my dark sense of humour as a coping mechanism for dealing with setbacks of any kind - including death and illness. Especially since my father passed away a few years ago. Deep huh? - maybe - but if you can sometimes laugh in Death’s face, at least you won’t be too sad all the time.
DP: That’s a good outlook and philosophy to have. My father also passed away a few years ago (actually just as I was having success with the anthologies etc) and I noticed that my writing ‘changed’ following that. I’m not sure how it changed exactly but I know that it did – saying that, I suppose my style has always been a little bit ‘out there’ (I’m getting better though and am trying to be more mainstream ha ha) and I remember my parents coming to see one of my plays in London (about serial killers – natch!) – afterwards, in the bar, some of the cast spoke to them and asked what they thought. My mother smiled politely but my dad said: “Don’t worry, I’ll speak to Dean when we are alone! I think it’s time we had a little chat!” What would you say was your favourite piece of work to date?
AB: I couldn’t choose a favourite from my stories (I love all my children). Covers wise I like those that include the art of others, such as Roberto Segate or Les Edwards. I do have a favourite sketch: The Predictable Lighthouse Keepers (which I wrote for Smith & Jones). Link follows:
DP: Oh my Lord! Griff is amazing isn’t he – he reminds me actually of one of those silent film comedy stars...hang on, I’m going to watch it again...I’m laughing...brilliant, brilliant, well done. Let me get a grip of myself...so as you are (more than) capable of creating across the mediums do you feel that the two disciplines of writing / art are connected?
AB: Yes, for sure. As a writer I’m basically painting with words. With either discipline I am aiming to amuse, disturb, entertain - invoke a reaction of some kind in the reader / viewer. (I say disturb because dark comedy can often venture into the arena of the troubling; I think of Dark Comedy as Horror’s weird cousin.)
DP: Definitely, which is something which I wager the League Of Gentlemen would also agree upon. What (if any) is Adrian Baldwin’s artistic outlook on life?
AB: I always aim to create what pleases me, and hope others will enjoy the results. And if they don’t: Oh well, never mind. Artists should always be true to themselves. As David Bowie once said: Never play to the gallery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Rsx-3RoY8
DP: The response to your work for Demain has been overwhelming – I really mean that. We have received so many amazing comments – I hope that as time goes by and the output continues that you are recognised in some way – how have the responses been your end?
AB: I’d have to say mostly positive, which is really cool. My work isn’t for everyone of course but that’s fine. My writing can be quite strange at times too and I have heard from a few who just don’t get it. I don’t think I’ve heard from anyone yet that they dislike the covers I’ve done but maybe it’s just a question of time!
DP: I will also be grateful that we were all on the same level when we launched the Short Sharp Shocks! Series – as soon as we spoke, you just got it...some quick questions then if you don’t mind: Does food, drink or music inspire you?
AB: Food and drink, no. Music, books, films, and people I’ve met, yes.
DP: Do you have to do a lot of research for the covers (and / or for your stories)?
AB: I research all the time; details often need to be accurate. Sometimes I feel I need to add an “I’m a writer!” footnote to my Google searches. Example: How much does a human head weigh? Would it float? - that kind of thing.
DP: Ha ha – I know that...I won’t say any more but I know exactly what you’re talking about there. Advice: I suspect you’ve been given lots (haven’t we all – often by people who’ve never written a book / created a piece of art!) – what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
AB: Go with your instincts.
DP: What’s your professional goal (if you have one obviously).
AB: Books: as I’ve said, to entertain, amuse and disturb. Covers: to catch people’s eye and if I can, build a brand for a publisher.
DP: Well, for us you’ve certainly achieved that. Would you say your work aims to say something (or is it just a ‘distraction’?)
AB: Covers: Look over here! Look at me! Books: All sorts of things. If you’d like to know more why not try one?
DP: For the covers / as an artist who are your biggest influences?
AB: Salvador Dali, Edward Hopper, and David Bowie.
DP: Three amazing artists in their own fields aren’t they? For those that may want to hire you...do you seek out opportunities or do Clients come to you direct?
AB: I’m usually pretty busy so I tend not to actively seek out opportunities; most jobs come from word of mouth recommendations / requests from friends of friends. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes no; depends on my workload and/or the attraction of individual projects.
DP: Yes, knowing what you’re doing for Demain alone I imagine that you are very very busy. Do you ever have writer’s / creative blocks and if so, how do you overcome them?
AB: Take a break from that particular section; work on a different part; come back to the ‘tricky’ bit later with a fresh eye - seems to work in the end.
DP: Finally Adrian, what is your most important tool as an artists and is there anything you couldn’t live without in your studio?
AB: Gimp. And it’s free! Amazing tool.
Thank you so much for your time and again for everything you’ve done for Demain, may it long continue!
If you would like to connect with Adrian direct – please visit him here: