Guerrilla literature

Lunar splashed. Fragile liquid wings. Spine cracking mornings. Keyboard played and fingers flitting…the upload begins..icon initialization – Virulent Blurb

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Twitterary innovation

I have written elsewhere about Twitterature’s quiet revolution. I suspect it is about to get much noisier, thanks to Kneel Downe, a Twitter writer of exceptional boldness and energy, whose work is creating a buzz online. His long narrative @VirulentBlurb, begun in January 2012, depicts a poetic sci-fi universe that has spawned diverse side projects, from the detective fiction of @DetectiveLobo to the mythicism of Amelia, tweeted from Kneel’s main account (@kneeldowne) and recently collected into a beautiful book, Amelia’s Song. Yes, there are books (three so far and more promised), but they’re just one manifestation of Kneel’s tireless creativity.

Kneel shares with other Twitterateurs a facility for condensed expression, but he differs from many of them in his refreshingly heterogeneous style. The reader experiences a series of jolts as the prose shifts gear; hard-boiled brutality is juxtaposed with poetry, archaic syntactic inversions with outlandish neologisms. Kneel enjoys the sound and feel of words, the story as song. The effect is often thrilling. Here are two examples, one from @VirulentBlurb and one from Amelia’s Song.

Mine ears have heard the thrumming and the humming of the Lord. Secreted in the basement on a bed of circuit swords… the fatherlode shifts.

When Amelia was a little boy she dreamed of her husband… she saw maybes in a pool of when… so long ago. Steam trains and lonely queens…

Kneel’s polyphonic writing is most at home amidst the multitude of voices murmuring though a Twitter feed. His tweets come in manic bursts, out of nowhere, vivid and loud as parakeets. He improvises, riffs, lets the words take their natural course. He’s unguarded and volatile. This is guerrilla literature, raw and dangerous, a world away from the stability of books.

Part of the attraction of following Kneel’s main feed (@kneeldowne) is his personality. Much of what he tweets is not fiction. Like most Twitter users, he makes observations, interacts, retweets. But the personality that comes through those tweets is bigger than most. His enthusiasm, sense of humour and occasional irascibility are evident throughout his timeline. He delights and provokes, laying himself bare and not attempting to create a smooth persona that will gain him book sales. He tweets about other authors’ books more than he does about his own. Ironically, it’s his disregard for conventional marketing that is his most marketable trait.

 

Power to the self-published!

Although Kneel is self-published, he has friends on Twitter who promote his books. His agent, Steve Taylor-Bryant (@opiniongeeks), runs the DreamCage media group, which has its own Twitter feed (@DreamCageAgency), advertising books by Kneel and others. Meanwhile, Kneel’s creative partner, the supremely talented Susan Omand (@OmandOriginal) markets his books through another Twitter feed, @Blurbinfo. Both of these official channels have low numbers of followers at present, but everyone has to start somewhere. Because Kneel, Steve and Susan have cultivated strong friendships online, between their various personal and official accounts they have plenty of followers (including me) who are happy to retweet a book plug or help spread news of Kneel’s activity.

 

Rock n roll

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Probably the most exciting and unique aspect of Kneel’s publicity machine is the merchandise, designed by Susan and sold through various websites, notably Kneel’s main hub, www.virulentblurb.com. Kneel’s not just an author; he’s rock n roll! You can buy some very cool t-shirts, mugs, calendars… I can think of no other author whose work is promoted in the same way. Even his fictional rock band, the Phaze Lords, has its own website (www.phazelords.com), where you can read tributes to the band and information about the albums and tours. As André Breton put it, “the imaginary is what tends to become real.”

I’ll finish by recommending you check Kneel out for yourself. The best place to start is his main Twitter account, @kneeldowne. Say hi and tell him the Bird King sent you.

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