Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stuff to Buy for Christmas!

I’m going to do a couple of blog posts about stuff I’ve done this year and things I’ve published. I thought I better do it now, while people are still Christmas shopping…! I'll begin by talking about books and audios in series that I've contributed to...

Firstly, right at the start of the year there was ‘Vince Cosmos’ on double CD from Bafflegab Productions. said:

“In Paul Magrs’ version of 1972, it’s another glam rocker whose fuchsia-slashed cheekbones have stolen the hearts of teenage fans across the land, and his name is Vince Cosmos.  Vince – who may or not hail from Venus – is a Ziggy Stardust/Doctor Who hybrid who, assisted by his new young friend Poppy Munday and mysterious space dwarf Mr Glister, takes a somewhat Tomorrow People-style turn at defending the Earth from hidden Martian invaders.

“Fans of Magrs’ Doctor Who audios will enjoy its idiosyncratic blend of the mundane and familiar with the fantastic and absurd.  Magrs’ take on magic realism thinks nothing of giving us a Doctor Who/assistant set-up that plays out to some heavily disguised events from Bowie’s career, whilst set in the milieu of an ITV sit-com like George and Mildred.  Imagine Roald Dahl writing an episode of Budgie or the third instalment of those David Essex ‘rock star’ movies.  As ever, there are wonderfully strong female roles and the star of the piece is Lauren Kellegher as Poppy.  She is joined by Doctor Who’s own Jo Grant (and Iris Wildthyme), Katy Manning, who gives Yootha Joyce a run for her money as landlady Gilda.”

Then there was my first (and possibly last!) foray into Sherlock Holmes fiction with my story, ‘Mrs Hudson at the Christmas Hotel’ in ‘Encounters of Sherlock Holmes’ from Titan Books, edited by George Mann. This came out in February and prompted to write:

The notion of Mrs. Hudson housekeeping for Professor Challenger after Holmes has retired in “Mrs. Hudson and the Christmas Hotel” by Paul Magrs was so chock full of win I stopped breathing. Throw a Christmas Hotel, an exorcism, a disturbing Mrs. Claus figure, gypsies, and the ominous crystal Eyes of Miimon (they’re Finnish, of course) into the mix, however, and you have given me no mere crossover sandwich. You have given me a reuben on rye on top of a tuna melt on top of a PB&J. And I’m not quite sure how to fit my mouth around it, though I applaud the effort.”

Also early in the year came ‘Resurrection Engines’, Snowbooks’ steampunk anthology edited by Scott Harrisson. My story ‘Talented Witches’ seemed to go down well with

Talented Witches by Paul Magrs is extraordinary. There’s really no other way to describe it. A semi-stream of conscious sprint through the history of the Bronte sisters, Haworth where they lived in Yorkshire and the Magrs family itself, it bounces and twirls around normal time and narrative structure in a way which will certainly frustrate some readers. Others will see echoes of the Brontes, Alan Moore’s Voice of the Fire and James Joyce. Obtuse, beautiful, heart-breaking and one of the most profoundly bizarre short stories I’ve ever read."

 Then there was my essay 'The Monster Queer is Camp' in 'Queers Dig Time Lords', edited by Sigrid Ellis and Michael Damien Thomas for Mad Norwegian Press. Finn Clark said: "Paul Magrs yet again writes a piece with which I fell in love, full of perceptive analysis and delicious observations..." 

I wrote another polemical piece - this time about education - for the Times Higher Education at the start of the year. It went a bit madly viral, as they say, and it's still here

'Shenanigans' came out from Obverse books! It was a labour of love of mine. I commissioned a whole bunch of favourite gay authors to write me stories in all kinds of genres... and the results were a sheer delight.

Then came my contribution to Doctor Who during its fiftieth anniversary year. It was a historical adventure set in a university and the Dark Ages starring Peter Davison and Janet Fielding, plus hordes of vikings and academics. reviewed it:

"Hurrah, it’s time for Tegan to take centre stage. ‘The Lady Of Mercia’ is a mix of history and time travel and a little bit of campus intrigue. It’s a bit of an homage of Peter Davison’s other role in ‘A Very Peculiar Practise’, a quirky campus satire that he did after ‘Doctor Who’. It’s also set in the North and writer Paul Magrs, himself based at a campus university, has plundered history for this tale about Queen Æthelfrid, daughter of Alfred the cake burner and its simply great.

I also contributed a tale to the 'Hammer Chillers' audio series from Bafflegab...

 Starburst magazine wrote about my instalment, 'Spanish Ladies' : 

"The year is 1976: this is the era of Crossroads and dreams of holidays on the Costa Brava. Phil (Bailey) is 36 years old and still lives at home with Mummy (King) who will look after him forever and keep him away from girls. To make sure, she reads his diary, checks under his bed and steams open his letters. Mummy’s only other hobbies are her Spanish Ladies and bingo with her friend Renee (Camille Coduri).

Mummy is worried that Phil is seeing someone and asks Renee to find out more – but how will Mummy react when she discovers it is in fact Renee whom Phil is seeing and planning on running off to Spain with?
The ability of this series to start with a recognisable situation and twist it first one way then the next into the horrific is something to marvel at. This particular story moves through the unpleasant, the horrific and into the downright shocking in the space of the final 15 minutes. I apologise now to anyone sat on the train opposite me this morning when I listened to the final scene of this remarkably well constructed tale."

And the most recent things are Iris Wildthyme-related. First there's Big Finish's audio boxset of Season 4 of their popular audio dramas. And there's Obverse Book's 'Fifteen',  with stories celebrating fifteen years of the cosmic ratbag in print - and finally there's my very short epistolary novel about Iris and Panda, 'From Wildthyme with Love', from Snowbooks.

All of these would make perfect stocking fillers...!
Next time I'll tell you about the two of the biggest projects of this year...

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