Review of "On Wings of Pity"

This is last year's news, but I ought to boost this review of my fantasy erotica novel "On Wings of Pity", from BCN.

"With the opening line (“I met the succubus when I was dying for the first time”), Neil James Hudson immediately caught my attention, and the tone was set for the rest of the story. There are plenty of other examples of clever phrasing throughout the book, which is one of its strengths. There are plenty of things happening throughout the story, it is fast paced, and you won’t get bored reading it ... All in all, I liked this book and would happily read more from the author."

Book available on Amazon here, or from Kobo with a £3 sign-up offer that would probably make it the cheapest thing you'll buy in a month.

Kobo adds "The Bog Warrior" as a related title. Then again, they also mention "Carnal Magic". You can decide for yourselves which is relevant.

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Neil's Christmas message to the nation

Cross-posted to all my bits of the internet:

How the Trump Stole Christmas

The people were spending, and spending a lot,
But Vlad the Imputin in Russia was not.
He hated the time and he hated the season
For one misanthropic and world-weary reason.
So what was the cause of our Vladimir’s groaning?
As soon as it’s Christmas, the people start moaning.
“It’s all come too soon and it’s over too quick
The turkey’s too small and we ate till we’re sick
It’s all for the children, you have to be small,
But the kids don’t appreciate Christmas at all.
It used to be magic when I was a tot,
An apple and orange was all that you got.
But now we’re obsessed with amassing more stuff
And the presents I get simply aren’t good enough.
It‘s bad for the soul and it‘s bad for the planet
And Birmingham Council are trying to ban it!”
“What’s this?” muttered Vlad, watching everyone frown.
“The season of Christmas just brings them all down.
I know what to do to bring back their good cheer -
I’ll make Christmas Day, and its Eve, disappear.
But who shall I get to re-fill Santa’s sack?
There’s always the Trump - he likes taking things back.
He took back his country on finding it broken
And then he took back every word that he’d spoken.”

The Trump was a creature both hairy and yellow
That sat on the head of an unlucky fellow
Controlling his actions, controlling his thoughts,
Controlling his settlements outside the courts.
But Vlad took control of the arrogant pig,
His hackers attacked and reprogrammed his wig.
So Vlad was delighted about his new puppet,
He bent the West over and shoved the Trump up it.

The Trump set to work in American lands,
And the people cried, “look at the size of his hands!
Those hands are for grabbing and taking and stealing
And knocking down migrants while claiming they’re healing.”
The Trump set to work with the hands that he’d shown
And he built up a wall made of mortar and stone
And behind it he placed all the Christmassy things
Like the ropey old song by McCartney and Wings
And the couples who shout at each other with stress
And the cards that were sent to a former address
And TV show specials all filmed in July
And the carols sung flat as a post-Brexit high
And all of the office night out indiscretions
The genitals copied in xeroxing sessions
The Christmas release by the X-Factor winner
And the gaseous fumes we emit after dinner.

With these all immured, the Trump turned his attention
To Biblical tales of divine intervention.
“I think that some changes,” he said, “are in order.
The shepherds should stay on their side of the border.
The part played by Gabriel shouldn’t be large,
We’ll make our ambassador Nigel Farage.
And Mary, we’ll say, just to keep it Christmassy,
Not touched by the Lord, but was grabbed by the pussy.
And though the Wise Men said that Jesus was king,
Let me tell you, these experts don’t know everything.
We’ll cancel the census, pay taxes to no man -
It’s just the invention of some nasty Roman.
And now it’s all true!” said the Trump.  “Although actually
Some of it needs to be taken post-factually.”

That night, as he slept in some awkward positions
The Trump was approached by three dire apparations.
He knew who they were, though their faces were hidden -
The ghosts of Theresas May, Might Not, and Didn’t.
“Oh phantoms,” he said, “with your wails so intensive,
Your chains made of iron, and your trousers expensive,
Why have you arrived at this ungodly hour
To my roost in the roof at the top of Trump Tower?”
And then with a howling and wailing and keening
They cried, “we are here to explain the true meaning
Of Christmas, to someone who thinks it’s a con.
Christmas means Christmas!”  And then they were gone.

“Well that was unhelpful,” the Trump said and yawned,
And then he discovered that Christmas had dawned.
“I must see the people!” he cried.  “How they’ll cheer
To discover that Christmas is cancelled this year!
They’ll dance in the streets, and they’ll all raise their voices
To show how a Christmasless person rejoices!”
But all he could hear was a low steady droning -
For all of the people were still bloody moaning!
“It’s all come too quick and there’s nothing on telly
Our relatives came and they’re old and they’re smelly
It’s cold and it’s freezing and still hasn’t snowed
And I borrowed enough to pay half what I owed.”
But when no attention was paid to their moans,
They spent Christmas Day simply glued to their phones.
“How odd,” said the Trump.  “I removed all the traces
Of Christmas, but still there’s no joy on their faces.
So Christmas is something that nobody stops,
However expensive it gets in the shops.”
So then the Trump ordered a huge wrecking ball.
He started it up and demolished the wall,
And Christmas was back!  There was no need to shout it.
If only he’d done risk assessments about it.
The ball swung around, to his hairline it sped,
And it knocked the Trump clean off the poor fellow’s head.
“I’m free!” shouted Donald, “a man once again!
Now the Trump’s off my head, not controlling my brain!
Give thanks to the ball, it has served the world well!”
And then it swung back and killed Donald as well.

And Vladimir Putin watched all this take place,
And he shook both his fists, slapped his palm on his face.
“I’ll never make anyone happy because
That’s the last time I try!” he exclaimed.  And it was.

So celebrate Christmas and be of good cheer
And let’s all give our thanks it’s the end of the year.
And if you feel something’s gone missing, don’t jump
To conclusions - it may have been thieved by the Trump.
And there’s one particular thing you might lack
For the Trump stole some cards and did not give them back
And I didn’t forget them, whatever you feel -
For they said, “to my friends, Merry Christmas!  Love, Neil.”

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Tuesday in Edinburgh

I went back to the Modern Art Gallery this morning to see the thing I didn’t have time for yesterday, Paintings 1963-2015 by Bridget Riley.  Although this was presented as an overview of her career (she was most famous in the sixties but is still working today) it was really about a dozen random pictures, all exemplifying the “op art” that she’s famous for - swirling repeated patterns of the sort that you often find in books of optical illusions.  I quickly discovered that you could cross your eyes in front of them and treat them as autostereograms, and went round the exhibition a second time watching each pattern take a physical form in the air between the wall and my eyes.  This can’t possibly be what the artist intended, but I have never been a respecter of artists’ intentions.  Nor of cartographers’, as I left the gallery by such a wrong route that it seriously called into question my ability to carry out any of my other plans for the day.
   Nonetheless, I made it to Radio Active, the revival of the eighties radio programme that I felt should go to as a kind of comedy pilgrimage.  Angus Deayton, Helen Atkinson-Wood, Michael Fenton-Stevens and Philip Pope made up four of the original cast - I’d assumed Geoffrey Perkins was too busy, but in fact he was too dead, and was represented only by a pre-recorded segment (I now have to question how hard “pre” was working in that word, but never mind).  I’d wondered how they were going to present a radio programme on stage, and the answer is, they pretended it was still a radio programme, with the four actors stepping up to the mike holding their scripts and switching from character to character at a dizzying rate.  The show was compiled from the fourth series, and I was struck by how their voices were the same as on the original broadcasts, even though they were all looking their age (Deayton didn’t look too bad actually, perhaps because I wasn’t that near the front).  They finished, inevitably, with a performance of “Meaningless Songs (In Very High Voices)” by the HeeBeeGeeBees, and I did wonder if it wouldn’t have killed them to write some new material and add a few jokes that acknowledged it was no longer 1985, but a lot of this stuff was as funny as when I first heard it as a starry-eyed teenager and I’m glad I made the effort.
   In the evening I went to Miranda Kane’s new show 07800 834030, as I‘d loved The Coin-Operated Girl and wondered if she‘d be as good without that subject matter.  The theory behind this show was that the show would be based on calls and texts from the audience, however as she pointed out, the Free Fringe guaranteed you a room and a microphone, but not a phone signal.  Instead she built the show around messages she’d previously been left.  She began by handing out social awkwardness stickers, two of which I grabbed - one saying “I’m not listening to you because I’m trying to think of something interesting to say, but I’ve got nothing”, the second saying “your face is too out of context for me to recognise right now”.  Her first voicemail was an inaudible one; when she rang him back via internet, he told a story in which he and his girlfriend had used mayonnaise as a substitute for lube.  I won’t tell the punchline, partly because it’s disgusting and partly because it was such an obvious urban myth that I had to question the veracity of the whole show (I googled it as soon as I got back, Snopes’ version dates from 1999).  In fact I think MK was innocent here, none of the other stories seem to be online and as she encouraged the audience to come back as the show was different every night, it would difficult to have plants in the audience.  It was just her bad fortune that the first person she rang was a liar - I sometimes forget that bullshit exists outside of Facebook.  Before we’d finished she’d managed to phone up a couple and convince them to move to Norway because of his sweating problem, and got the audience to tell her about their worst sexual experiences (remember I was wearing a sticker saying I couldn‘t think of anything interesting to say).  It may not have been the deepest thing I’ve ever seen at Edinburgh, but it was hilarious and filthy which is good enough for me.
   After this I succeeded in my second attempt to see Samantha Pressdee’s show Sextremist.  Pressdee’s thesis is that if men are legally allowed to show their nipples, so should women, and she put her money where her mouth was by performing topless (with the phrase “still not asking for it” written on her stomach).  I am a firm believer that one can be a feminist and like boobs, in fact I’d go so far as to say this is my life’s project, but an illiberal subroutine in my head suspects that the inequality would be better settled if men were forced to put them away.  I also feel that the problem might be less with the law and more with creepy men following her around.  She told a lot of stories about being a groupie with people I’m too unfashionable to have heard of, and had a lot to say about women’s control of their own bodies that I could scarcely disagree with.
   I called it a night after this.  On the way home I overheard a couple arguing.  “We could just look at a map,” he was saying.  I think he was puzzled by my attempt to hire him.  If anyone else wants to follow me around in Edinburgh telling me to look at a map every thirty seconds, I can afford about fifty pounds a day.
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Edinburgh trip part 2, Monday

First order of the day was the “Surreal Encounters” exhibition at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.  This was easy to find as I’d been there before, a point that was to echo through my mind as I realised that I’d set off in the wrong direction as soon as I left my flat, and wondered how long I’d leave it before finally admitting that I wasn’t going to correct my route through instinct and would have to simply retrace my steps.  Still, I had plenty of time so arriving an hour later than I intended wasn’t a problem, and my own surreal route seemed entirely suitable.  The exhibition was enormous, taking up 13 rooms and including a lot of very familiar works, including paintings by Dali and Magritte that I’ve known since I was a teenager (there was something thrilling about finding myself next to a genuine lobster telephone that wasn’t at all diminished by the news that I wasn‘t allowed to call Hitler on it).
   I did, however, have one massive problem with the exhibition.  I know I’m being a bit obvious and born-again, but it just doesn’t make sense to put on an exhibition of twentieth-century surrealism, especially of this size - around 200 works, I think - and have so few by women artists.  The gallery mentions Leonor Fini’s “Due Donne” and Dorothea Tanning’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” among its four highlights, correctly in my opinion, but doesn’t mention that that’s one sixth of women’s entire contribution to the show.  Women were painting alongside the men, exhibiting with the men, and in my opinion, were usually better.  It’s not the gallery’s fault - the show was made up of four large private collections - but they didn’t seem to notice.  The result is that they represented virtually any man who’s ever drawn a pair of boobs without a head, but cut out half of surrealism’s history, and there’s an argument that it’s the better half.
   If one can stomach that, this must have been one of the best exhibitions of surrealism to have happened in this country, but I found it was Dorothea Tanning’s picture I really couldn’t drag myself away from, and I wished I could have gone into the building next door for the missing half.  In any case, I left with any sense of reality deliciously purged from my mind, and set off for my next show, in the wrong direction.
   I eventually arrived though, and I could see from the queue that half of the audience for Solotronik’s “The Sanctuary of the Minds” wasn’t going to make it to the end.  Perhaps I’m wrong and the audience for electronic music is indeed made up of pensioners and Japanese tourists, but events would suggest that my prejudice had some foundation.  Solotronik consisted of a man playing music through two laptops, although in fact he may just have been e-mailing the woman next to me who was unable to tear her eyes away from her phone for the entire concert.  The music was actually pretty good, if a bit derivative, but I felt that the visuals were the result of a sixth-former applying his first video editing software to some home-shot footage that was never terribly interesting in the first place.  Fortunately Solotronik spiced things up by ensuring that his head was usually in the way of the projector.  The audience had indeed halved by the end, which was a shame as the leave camp had missed the chance of a free dvd of the show, which they could have watched and walked out of to their heart’s content.
   I rounded off the afternoon with “The Sensible Dresser” by Elsie Diamond, this was a hilarious account of her experiences as a dresser in an opera house told in burlesque form, or at least as burlesque as you’re going to get in a free show in the afternoon.  I have long since learnt to sit in an inaccessible part of the room at shows like these in order to avoid potential audience participation.  This was a mistake as it meant I didn’t get to participate in such harmless horseplay as whipping her behind as she sang “The Masochism Tango”, or helping her in and out of her clothes during the costume changes (hint to the man at the back: if a woman asks you to zip her dress up, put the beer down).  However I at least avoided the fate of the man who was forced on stage to play the role of a nasty singer who made ED sew a button on his trousers while he was still wearing them.  The poor sap had to sit there while she fiddled around his groin with a needle and thread, singing a version of Radiohead’s “Creep” to him - “You’re a creep, you’re a weirdo, you’ve got a semi, it smells of smegma” and the like.  Some of it was quite touching as well, and it finished with a burlesque strip with a “Les Mis” theme.  As I left I remarked to her, “You’re the weirdest looking person I’ve ever given money to,” and spent the next half hour wondering if I should run back and say, “you do realise I was referring to the fact that you’re wearing a false moustache and beard, tricolor hot pants, and you’ve got your boobs out?  I wasn’t actually saying you look weird.”  But I left it.
   The evening didn’t quite work out.  Misirlou’s act consisted of standing outside the venue being annoyed that it was closed and they hadn’t told her.  I still have no clear idea what the act proper might have consisted of.  I had a ticket for Samantha Pressdee later, so I sat in a nearby bar and decided to go to the first free show I found.  This turned out to be The Middle-Class Rapper, but as I was queueing a few things occurred to me: it might be a one-joke show, I’d probably have to leave early, and I was the only person in the queue.  I ran.  I finally made it to Samantha Pressdee, only to find that the show was cancelled for personal reasons, a fact I would have known had I checked my messages before leaving.  So I saw nothing in the evening, which is the kind of thing that can easily happen at the Edinburgh festivals, although as I trudged home alone among all the partying groups of friends, it didn’t seem to be happening to anyone else.
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My late and painfully slow write-up of my Edinburgh Festivals trip

One of the best things about going to Edinburgh every year is that I don’t make rookie mistakes such as buying tickets at the last minute or setting off too late.  This is what went through my mind as I raced through town trying to get to the only EIF show that hadn’t sold out, Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart.  It was entirely through choice that I had decided not to buy a seat but a piece of floor space, and I felt remarkably smug and superior to the seated people as I was shown to my cushion in front of the stage.  Actually this turned out to be the best seat in the house, the stage was only raised by about a foot and I had a perfect view of everything that happened.  The show itself was as folk as folk - the first line was “As I wandered up yon hill”, and I seriously worried that she was going to sail out of Liverpool, never to return.  Not my type of music really, but I was quite engrossed for the whole evening, as she weaved a story of her neighbour’s grandparents’ lives through it, took in descriptions of the local area and wildlife, herbalism, history and folklore, and Alex Ferguson’s surprise decision to bring on John Hewitt in the 87th minute of the 1983 Cupwinners’ Cup Final between Aberdeen and Real Madrid.  Only in the second half did it become clear that the real theme from which everything rippled back and forwards was her own experience of childbirth.  The music was pleasant and the whole experience a charming evening that I’d just never have gone to deliberately.
   I walked back to my room, delighted that I hadn’t made a rookie mistake like forget that I wouldn’t be able to get a bottle of wine after 10 o’clock.  I deliberately chose to stay sober tonight.  It was weird.  The room looked so real.
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(no subject)

I was actually quite down and unenthusiastic about still going to Bicon after all these years, and I came very close to knocking the zine on the head at least, but I had a good enough time while I was there.  On Friday I thought of a couple of jokes about the workshop I'd just been to, and I thought I'd better write them down for when I write a "what I did on my Bicon" piece in a panic in a year's time.  Then I thought of a few more jokes and kept making a note of them, and realised I was writing the piece as I went along, so I spent the entire weekend acting out a comedy sketch that I hadn't finished writing yet.  I think this means I'm in for another year.

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On Wings of Pity

I'm delighted to report that my novel On Wings of Pity has now been published by eXcessica, and is now available as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play and Kobo.  The book is an erotic paranormal story about incubi and succubi, blurb as follows:

     Marec Neumann has been diagnosed with Thirds, a new disease that kills its victims in exactly fifteen days. He has one hope--Ellathea, the succubus who cured him of meningitis when he was a student.
     But the incubi and succubi have their own problems--they are under attack from the angels, powerful ethereal beings who have a plan of their own for humanity. And that plan does not include the survival of the incubi and succubi, nor of Marec himself.
     Marec becomes the lover of Ellathea and the incubus Azaret, as well as Catamella, the angel who infected him, and who is determined he should die on the appointed day. But Marec has a unique role to play in the battle. The stakes are his own life, the lives of his demon lovers, and the very future of humanity.

The film rights are still available.

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Things I writed

Quick round-up:
Third Flatiron has published my story "The Mytilenian Delay" in their "Hyperpowers" anthology;
The First Line has published my story "A Visitor from the Independent Republic of Scotland" in their spring issue;
and eXcessica will be publishing my novel On Wings of Pity some time in July.
Unfortunately this means I don't have time to write blog posts, but you can get computers to do that sort of thing nowadays.

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(no subject)

Now I'm not one to blow my own trumpet (although that should probably be recorder, since playing "Merrily We Roll Along" in junior school is the zenith of my musical achievement), but I think I'm justified in having a quick parp.  Des Lewis, publisher of Nemonymous, has been reviewing my self-published collection of short stories "The End of the World: A User's Guide".

Let's have some quotes: "staggering ... a work of genius ... a masterpiece ...brilliantly witty ...mind-boggling ... NJH does something I feel no author can, i.e. make you doubt your own reality - for real ... this is indeed a great book."

I've decided to let this go to my head.  Des's reviews can be found here.

A need to buy the book can be satisfied by clicking here.

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