More micromonomania

  
You sit in the window, watching for her. Passersby mistake you for a prostitute.

—–

  
When you look at yourself through a microscope, all you can see is Dr Mort’s frown. 

—–

  
You keep your memories in a cage. When you’re trying to sleep, they shriek and squawk. 

—–

  
Life is like a silent movie. Incidents stutter. There is poetry in their melodrama. 

—–

  
Occasionally, friendly faces interpose themselves between the world and you. 

—–

   
 
Eve’s children mock you from the woodlands. 

—–

  
Eve is not as you remember. Her eyes seem different, expressionless. 

—–

  
Things are ambiguous. They stare at you. You can’t write about them. There are no words. 

—–

  
When you whistle, your enemies drop dead. It only works on Sundays. 

—–

Thanks to everyone who provided source photos for these Mono miniatures. For further micromonomania, click here.

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Competition to win a copy of Mono

To celebrate the publication of Mono, I’m offering a free copy and other prizes (including publication in an ebook) to whoever wins my creative writing competition.

The competition 

Look at the three monochrome pictures further down this page. I made them all using image-editing software. Your challenge is to choose one and write a creative response to it of no more than 200 words, posting your work as a comment on this page. 

The rules

1. Please give the number of the picture to which you have responded.

2. Your response must include a title.

3. Your response must be in English and not exceed 200 words. 

4. You may make up to three entries, but if you do, please select a different picture as your stimulus material each time. 

5. The competition closes at midnight BST on Friday 31st July 2015. 

The prizes

All of the best entries will be published in an exclusive free ebook called Broken Reflections, which will be available through this website and Lulu.com. 

The overall winner will receive a signed copy of Mono, plus the ebooks of The Mannequin and In the Dark Room. The ebooks are compatible with Kindle, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. 

Two runners-up will win the ebooks of The Mannequin and In the Dark Room.

Some pointers

I used my pictures as stimuli when writing Mono. They were springboards for free association. I did not try to merely describe them or provide a written equivalent of them. So my advice is to react freely to whichever picture(s) you choose, interpret them, see where your thoughts take you. 

The pictures

1. 

  
2. 

  
3. 

  
Have fun and good luck!

Micromonomania

Yesterday, to celebrate the launch of my new book, Mono, I invited Twitter users to tweet me pictures, which I turned into monochrome oneirographs, adding a brief text, in the style of the book. What follows are the micro Mono pieces that I tweeted as a result. 

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You found your hand in a bird cage. Dr Mort had put it there. Your fingers chirped. 

—–

  
In last night’s dream Eve put her hands over your eyes and Dr Mort stuck nails in you. 

—–

  
Cats adore you. When you’re sleeping they hiss at the vampires gathering at your window. 

—–

  
His spies disguise themselves as birds. Never feed them. 

—–

  
You work the machinery of the clouds. Your face distils pleasantries into poisons. 

—–

  
You tried to write a factual report, but it was impossible. Dr Mort rolled his eyes. 

—–

  
When you were nine years old Mr Punch sent you to work in the derelict factory. 

——

  
In last night’s dream you made a black hole out of coat hangers. It was child’s play. 

——

  
Serge’s plot depended on the presence of a cat, which was to be kept in a lead box. 

—–

  
Under the microscope, everything looks like history. The present loses definition. 

—–

  
In the dark room, everything multiplies. The faces stop being faces. 

I don’t like blurbs

  
A blurb can make any book, nomatter how idiosyncratic, sound very run-of-the-mill. I suppose that’s its job, up to a point: if you’re going to challenge a reader with something outside the mainstream, you need to secure that reader to begin with, and the best way to do that is to entice them with a blurb that says, “This book is interesting and exciting, but not totally alien.”

When I wrote the blurb for my new book, Mono, it was with that consideration in mind. The blurb doesn’t appear on the back cover (I prefer a plain back cover, decorated with nothing more than a barcode), but will appear as the product description when the book is available from Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al. Here it is:

Set in a surreal totalitarian state populated by spies, vampires, robots and chimpanzees, Mono offers the reader a kaleidoscope of mutating story-lines. Eve is abducted and imprisoned in a subterranean compound. The sinister Mirrors inject readymade dreams into the minds of citizens. Dr Mort brings extinct animals back to life. Serge plots the assassination of a dictator… Binding all the strands together is the portrait of a writer who is desperate to expose the truth about the bleak world in which he lives, but who cannot distinguish between memories, fantasies and dreams. 

Accompanied by sixty monochrome illustrations and written in Knight’s characteristically terse, darkly humorous style, Mono is perhaps best described as an entertaining nightmare.  

I found the blurb much more difficult to write than the book itself and I don’t like the end result, but I do think it’s OK, from a marketing point-of-view. Of course, in adopting a recognisable blurb style, I have provided a misleading impression of the book. The blurb implies that Mono is a novel. It is not: it doesn’t tell a story. Instead, it suggests or sketches out multiple, mutually contradictory stories that are never realised. And the “writer who is desperate to expose the truth about the bleak world in which he lives” is nothing of the sort, really; in writing about him in the blurb style, I’ve mistranslated him into something altogether more coherent and sensible than he is in the book.

Another way in which the blurb is misleading, is in its cursory reference to the illustrations, which are not illustrations at all, in that they do not illustrate or clarify anything in the text. They are not secondary to the text. In fact, the pictures are just as important as the words. The book is divided into 60 unnumbered parts, each occupying a double page spread, with a monochrome picture on the left page and writing on the right. In each case, the writing was inspired by the picture, which provided a platform for free association. Once I’d completed the first five or so parts, the ideas cropping up in the writing started coming not just from the pictures but also from what I’d written before. And so Mono developed its own illogical coherence, its own structures. I merely recorded them. 

All being well, the book will be available on Sunday, with a Kindle ebook version appearing some time next month. 

Don’t trouble yourself with truth

What follows is some material from a work-in-progress. You can find more here.


 

You can’t remember much about Eve, but you’re pretty sure you love her. Her skin smells of cinnamon and tastes of bacon. Her eyes are anemones. Her hair is the wicker basket Little Red Riding Hood carried through the woods. Her neck is napalm. Her breasts are vampire bats. Her etcetera is something else. 

Last time you saw her, she was a vision in a dream in a stone cell. The Mirrors were nearby. You’d pissed yourself. Silly boy.  

Next time somebody asks you a question, just make up the answer. Don’t trouble yourself with truth. It’s not worth it. 

 

 

Trees are horrifying. They look like intestines. 

When you were nine years old you got lost in the woods. No one ever found you, so you died there. 

The trees assimilated you. 

Your roots go deep, drinking dark water from the earth.  When there’s a full moon you sing. Death isn’t so bad.

 

 

Looking in the mirror, you see Eve. No, not quite Eve. An ape with Eve’s smile. 

Smiling is Mother Nature’s way of showing her teeth. 

When was the last time you had an orgasm? When was the last time you had an erection? When was the last time you pictured yourself fucking Eve?

If you tell us everything we want to know, everything will be ok. 

 

 
You’d like to keep the Pickled Punks in the basement, but you don’t have a basement, so they’re stacked in your bedroom, from floor to ceiling. It’s not a very practical arrangement. There’s a narrow pathway from the door to your bed, but otherwise there’s no space. Your clothes are in the lounge, organised in piles: underwear, trousers, shirts, jumpers, outdoor wear. 
 
The Pickled Punks bring you good luck and bad dreams. They grin at you blindly from their jars. Sometimes they look as if they’re moving. They’re probably not. 
 

 

You went out of the house and then a car screeched round the corner and doors opened and black shapes spilled out and you were being pulled into the car by the black shapes and the doors closed and the car screeched away. 

The room was like a gigantic glass jar. Lights went on and off and on again. 

The Mirrors looked like Eve. They called you a maggot and stuck needles in your eyes. 

 

 

In last night’s dream a vampire bit your ankle and sucked you dry. You saw your shrunken corpse on a CCTV monitor. Dr Mort tapped you on the shoulder and tried to kiss you. A car pulled up and Eve jumped out, laughing. 

If you close your eyes for too long all you can see is maggots. 

Killing a man is as easy as drinking a cold beer, explained Serge. All you have to do is relax. 

 

Mono: a work in progress

  

He’s on the TV again. A grand announcement. His mouth moves like a machine. His teeth are too white. Someone’s working him from behind. 

You don’t masturbate often. Can’t muster the enthusiasm. Anyway, your hands are reptilian, and that’s a turnoff. 

Things happen fast, but nothing changes. You’re quite the philosopher. 

  
When you look at blood under a microscope it wriggles because it objects to the gaze of the observer, especially if the observer is male or creepy or dead. 

Supermarkets are morgues for the living. 

A woman came up to you the other day and asked if she could bite your neck. You had no idea how to respond, so you pretended you hadn’t heard her. She asked you again, quite loudly, and people around you struggled to feign a lack of interest. You looked at her red mouth and felt sick. She was probably an actress. You couldn’t see a camera crew though. 

  
Dreams are nothing to be ashamed of, except perhaps for wet dreams. 

In your favourite dream you run a business that manufactures countries and sells them to drug addicts. Profits soar, like eagles. Bar graphs strike mean poses. Your minions do everything you say, even if you’re only joking. It’s a massive turn on. 

You once killed a bear and flayed it. Then you made its skin into a suit, which you wear to the office whenever you’re up for promotion. A bear is easy to kill. All you have to do is stun it by reciting haiku, then finish it off with a sonnet. It’s child’s play. More people should try it.

  
When he’s speaking cities crumble and monuments to his decisiveness, Machiavellianism and virility shoot up from the dust. Members of the opposition droop in the shadow of his achievements. Snap snap snap chat chat chat. Cameras and eyes and mouths go mad. If you see his face on a billboard you’re likely to feel nauseous or afraid or angry. If only you could remember his name. 

Faulty dream. Not for sale. 

It was a faulty dream. It was not for sale. 

  

It yawned, or the darkness yawned. It stretched. Limbs rooted around. It couldn’t contain itself.
  
It found a mouth, teeth, a tongue. It tried words: BLOCK, FOG, KNOT, THROTTLE, POT, LOCK, NOD.
  
It sprouted a tail. The curious curl made a question mark. Red, but not hot. It was calm. It pulsed quietly in the dark.
  
It added one to one, and then two to two. It smiled at its hands, its crooked smile in the mirror of the lake.
 

It set about inventing. First the flower. Then the window. Next came the book, the gun, the mountain, the moth, fear. 
  
It spoke the language of the bees. They took nectar from the delicate machinery of its words.
  
It died fifty times a second. Its screams were inaudible. We all remember funeral number 700,890,761. 
  
It lived in a city that existed only in the memory of a film of a book.