Do you hit the ground, or does the ground hit you? Sadly this isn’t a lurcher post, but a thought or two on websites, reviews, exhaustion and other animals. Many will have heard that the redoubtable Jim McLeod has closed his UK review site, Ginger Nuts of Horror, which has been running for years. Jim prided himself on providing a wide range of review and features covering the horror genre, with especial attention paid to independent authors and ventures, who might not otherwise get decent coverage. It was unique in many ways, a major endeavour. And major endeavours are exhausting, even if you have an informal team behind you.
Greydogtales is almost two years old, and in thinking about Ginger Nuts, there’s a lot of material to mull. Obviously, we never attempted to reach the height of what Jim did – we’re a quirky set-up which ignores many of the rules, but you can see how it starts to grind you down. We’ve often followed Ginger Nuts’ comments about the difficult aspects of the game, and had a few similar problems, though not on the same scale. To take a few examples…
a) People don’t always get that you have to work to pay the bills, and that the vast majority of these sites are done out of love (or occasionally obsession). They happen in the small hours between shifts, at times when you should be recovering, at times when you should be doing family and friend things. And they happen when you’re feeling ill, or depressed, if you can manage it.
b) Things run late, and sometimes a few of them never run. There are guests and other contributors who have their own lives, shocking though that is; book publicists who accidentally promise things they can’t deliver; publishers themselves who are great but who run late on their output schedule, and books or projects with which you just cannot click, however much you try. Or ideas that seemed great after an ale and playing with dog, but which don’t pan out the next day or the next week. A dozen reasons, sometimes more than one at once. We can get it wrong.
c) The communications network does your head in. Between multiple email accounts, forms, other projects, Tweets and Facebook, private messages and the occasional actual letter, it can take on the appearance of a thousand people all wanting you to do something – and do it now. Even if individually, they’re nice, easy-going people, en masse it gets scary.
d) People remind you of what you planned, and may even nag, but you haven’t got an immediate – or helpful – answer (see a, b, c and e). It’s not unreasonable – we all want our own work to be highlighted, pushed forward, held up in front of the world. We are You.
e) The technology collapses. Things get bugged, you can’t access your own site, the server slows or crashes… and it requires at least some design work to be readable. You get things sent which won’t open, even with a crowbar. Links die or move, and ought to be checked more often, and then your scanner won’t speak to your central heating system, or some such nonsense. This stuff eats up more time and temper.
So if you try to do something ambitious and well-meaning, it can bite. We empathise with sites who feel the pressure; we know what the cost can be (and yes, there can be a financial cost as well as an emotional one).
For greydogtales, if it don’t happen we live with it, and occasionally apologise. We occasionally mean it, too. We don’t have a team of reviewers. We have a handful of nice folk who help out greydog when the heat is on. We look at themes and ideas in people’s work, and interesting books that we’re offered – or which we come across by accident. Once in a while we get so excited that we ask for an ARC or review copy. And then we wish we had time to read it.
We post long, complicated features about dead writers, obscure philosophies, detectives, history, folklore and legends, because… no, we can’t remember why we do that. It’ll come to us.
Our other staple is the interview, and we won’t do one of those without reading some of the works, looking at the background and so on. We have no set list of questions, which makes each interview harder but usually more interesting. Makes it a slow process, as well.
In between the above, we still have plans for our most popular feature, Lurchers for Beginners and its spin-off articles. The Little Donkeys told us to keep doing those.
We mourn Ginger Nuts of Horror (unless it arises again one day, maybe), and we understand at least some of what makes websites a nightmare. And we can only wish Jim McLeod the very best.
Despite the fact that it would be a darned sight easier to potter along doing an author blog, we’re still here. So the oddity that is greydogtales.com survives, to stagger on and do what it can to signpost new and interesting stuff in weird, horror and related fiction. And to mention lurchers a lot.
We’re simply… dogged (in any sense you want to take that).
UTTERLY DIFFERENT NONSENSE
Away from the wild glamour and prestige of heading greydogtales, the confused horror that is John Linwood Grant has put together his first collection. Except that it’s not supposed to be his first collection, which is more likely next year. A Persistence of Geraniums and Other Worrying Tales is a selection of strange stories, all set in the Edwardian era. Some are exclusive to the collection, and have never been published anywhere. It happened sort of by accident when he realised that he had a number of these tales in hand.
Geraniums contains murder, madness and the supernatural, but not necessarily all three at once. Illustrated delightfully by Paul Boswell, it should be out in the next month or so, and be available (in print at first) on Amazon, from Electric Pentacle Press. We may go on about this at more length in the future, because we’re running short of dog food.
Oh, and for those in the know, the collection will include the first print appearances of Mr Edwin Dry.
The Deptford Assassin is in town.
Over the next few weeks – lots of weird features and ‘sort of’ reviews’, plus we have some decent lurcher photos again, from their adventures, thanks to the camera finally agreeing to download them. Which was another cause for delays and temper…