Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Quentin and the Picnic // National Flash-Fiction Day

So the build up and celebration of National Flash-Fiction Day has begun in my glorious homeland of Northern Ireland - go "Like" it on Facebook here. I'll concede right now it's something I'm genuinely awful at. However, it just so happens I have a little children's book I've been playing about with for the past wee while, in between redrafting A Boy Named Hogg and writing The Unseen Trials of Amelia Black. So in the spirit of it all I'm going to put the whole thing in its current draft online for all to read along with a teaser illustration by the lovely Elissa Elwick.

If this ever sees the light of day as an actual children's book, there's a good chance some of the text will have changed and the illustrations would be much more expansive and hopefully present itself as a beautifully crafted wee book. For now though, if you have a little one curious, peering over the laptop/tablet screen, by all means sit them on your lap and entertain them with the jolly little tale of when a mouse, a robot boy made of tin and a kind, furry, monster, who's not really a monster called Quentin Muldoon went on a picnic...

There once was this monster,
This kind, furry, monster,
Who’s not quite a monster,
Named Quentin Muldoon.
And one day this monster,
This kind, furry, monster,
Who’s not quite a monster
Named Quentin Muldoon...
But that day, that monster,
Named Quentin
Was lost,
So lost it seemed,
He stepped right on a house!
And who lived in this house?
Who was it indeed?
It’s was Mouse having biscuits,
And drinking some tea.
But that Mouse with a house
Welcomed Quentin with glee,
He whispered, “Don’t panic.”
“I know where to be.”
They travelled far...
They travelled wide...
They travelled...thin?
They also travelled within...
And while travelling within,
They met Mouse’s friend,
A curious little thing...
A boy robot made of tin.
Nervously he asked, “Can I come too?”
“Of course!” cried the mouse.
“We have plenty for you!”
“But where should we go?” Quentin did ask.
“A beach,
Or a park or
A very large ark?”
“Best not,” Mouse said it was so.
“One’s rather busy, and one’s full of bark.
And since when was the last time,
Did you glance at an ark?”
“Well, what about this graveyard?” declared Quentin Muldoon
“But don’t it have ghosts and horrid ghouls too?”
“Don’t fear,” said Mouse. “They can’t hurt you!”
“Okay,” said the boy robot made of tin.
“I trust you more than my great granny’s bin.”
So that kind, furry, monster named Quentin Muldoon
And that Mouse with a house
And the boy robot made of tin
Sat in a peaceful graveyard
For their picnic din din!
What did they eat?
Oh, all sorts of treats!
Some cheese for Mouse,
Goats, Stilton and Brie.
Some oil for robot boy,
He drank mer-ri-ly.
And what about dear Quentin, you may well say...
He had marshmallows with chips,
And orange juice coloured blue.
Why blue you ask?
Frankly I haven’t a clue.
Then look what popped up,
A ghost and a ghoul.
They both said, “Hello,
Any ecto-plasmic gruel?”
“I dare say we don’t,” said Mouse with a sigh.
“But next time we visit we’ll be sure to say hi.”
Quentin brought out his watch,
And said “It’s time we must go.”
So they waved their waves, and gave good to their byes,
Mouse went to his house, and the tin boy went back within.
While Quentin Muldoon flew up into the air,
With a huge big grin!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Senseless rambling at 2am...

I'm currently sitting in front of my computer screen, in the dead of night, collecting a trolley full of thoughts. None of them particular exciting I must admit, no new stories, no rewrites, no new film to gush on and on about. Just bits and bobs really. It is a Monday night after all. If all the exciting thoughts were collected on a Monday, the rest of the week would seem somewhat dull in comparison. Anyway I digress...

I was just doing my usual rounds of the interwebs before I retired to bed to continue reading more of George R R Martin's epic fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, when I stumbled across this wonderful video on Youtube...

Now obviously if Star Trek and/or Wars etc isn't your cup of tea, the idea of space travel might seem like a bit of a wet blanket. Frankly speaking the sheer idea of exploring the stars above utterly terrifies me as much as it insanely excites me. But the video makes a good point, when did the human race stop being ambitious? Stop...dreaming. Stop wondering what 'tomorrow' might bring us. Yeah sure technology is more prettier, faster, efficient. Hell, we've got a third generation iPad coming round the corner! I'm able to catch reruns of Neighbours on demand when I bloody well want! I can send e-mails from my phone! Thanks to the magic of the Kindle I've more books now than I'll read in a lifetime! It's the stuff my dad would've replied to as, "the mind boggles."

Yet tomorrow shouldn't be about making life easier. Tomorrow should be about pushing the boundaries. In 1969 NASA landed men on the moon for the first ever time. Landed on the f*cking moon!! How is it in 2012 that idea seems as equally insane as it might have been to H.G. Wells when he first published War of the Worlds in 1898?! Yes there's something of a mix up in the world finances but will we ever have a world leader with that kind of vision for the future? Be nice to see it in my lifetime. Sadly it ain't easy being that idealistic, no matter how hard you try to be. And yes, at 2am in the morning I don't really know where this senseless ramble is going either...

I'll end on this though. One of the greatest pieces of life advice I ever received was during my journalism training in 2010, when I got the chance to work at the Belfast Press Association. The editor told me two simple things which have really stuck with me. The first simply, "Be ambitious. Aim as high as possible no matter how silly it might seem to others." The second was particularly poetic, "Be open minded about everything. If you don't you'll be a cynical asshole by the time you're 30."

Time for bed...