Welcome to this December 2019 edition of Hackwriters. 20 years on-line, 7700+ articles - reviews - stories - travel - share any feature you like and pass them on using the links.
PS we are mainly in archive mode now with sporadic updates.
EDITORIAL: All Hail Emperor Boris
Boris and the Conservatives won an 80 seat majority in the UK (which could have been 20 seats more if not for the pointless votes for the Brexit party). But now, a few days later, Boris is wandering the Downing Street garden with Dylan the Terrier and thinking of that scene in the movie 'The Candidate' when having won the Presidency Robert Redford is wondering 'What now?' There will be a lot of 'what now's' ahead. Reviving the economy that is massively relieved not be facing mass nationalisation and utter Marxist chaos, but still has the complications of 'leaving the EU' come Jan 31st. How do you make a real difference to a place like Grimsby - despite them electing a really good person in the shape of Lia Nici. * Just noted that the House of Fraser (Binns) is closing there - another nail in the retail coffin.
There will be talk of reviving the fishing industry (and the docks have been allowed to fall into disrepair) but the real money is in renewables and the town is already well advanced in that sphere. Many towns in the North of England need re-purposing and a deep investment in Further Education so people can constantly retrain or upskill. This isn't overnight stuff but would help. And heading towards us the fast train of AI which will decimate middle-class jobs. No quick fix for those left behind there I suspect.
If only our ballot papers contained a list of things we want fixing, like they do in California with their 'Propositions' then we would be able to measure the success come the next election. (The boxes with the most ticks get acted on.) Think about what you want fixing in your town and start making a list. It might be harder than you think. I'm talking infrastructure - not knife crime - although that is a number one priority for all of us. Perhaps health care - but then again it should be a massive national campaign on diet and nutrition so less people need Doctors to start with. *Put 'How Not to Diet' by Dr Gregor on your Christmas list.
Only after the 31st Jan can start trade negotiations with the EU but meanwhile the whole world economy has moved on from 2016. We're woke now. Not only do people not want to own diesel cars, they are having their doubts about electric ones too and all those lithium mine slave-workers. The whole world, especially the potential millenial car owners, are questioning the idea of owning anything, let alone cars. They are stuck with thousands and thousand of debt from worthless degrees that haven't skilled them for the new world digital economy and once they are tired for flogging crap to each other via Insta - they will wake up to what? I wonder. We generally elect politicians who have the answers to questions we no longer ask.
Climate Change everyone says is an emergency. The solution activists propose is to stop people using energy, or heating our homes, or consuming and perhaps for the more woken - stop having babies. I suspect all this is a very hard sell.
I really hope Boris and his team negotiate a good deal with Europe and concentrate hard on that. For the alternative, a trade deal with the USA and a very fickle Trump will simply not be worth anything. One tweet against him will kill his ardour and we will up to neck in chlorinated chickens and very little else. At least Europe wants some of the stuff we make or sell. And vice-versa of course.
So as the year ends we start with 'hope' and await 'despair'. But right now I am in the hope camp and wishing Boris all the luck in the world to get the UK on the right path and you, dear reader, a Happy Christmas.
December 12th was a day that didn't down in history after the General Election in the UK. It was unnerving that three million students that registered to vote have no memories of 'Old Labour' in power or interest in history. But who can blame them for worshipping at the altar of Corbyn who promised them nirvana: free university education, free broadband, free travel, and nationalising all key industries and lying about all the tax they will have to pay in future. They perhaps didn't realise that all the non civil-service jobs would disappear and their only option after graduating was working for Momentum in the mass re-education camps that would have sprung up all over the UK or planting trees in the bleak outdoors for the next twenty years to hit the two billion tree target.
So I was thinking about when I was a student so long ago and Labour were in power under Wilson and Callaghan. Inflation peaked at 23%. The pound was on its knees, foreign currency was restricted, and there were often queues to buy bread. Strikes every day made life intolerable and heaven help you if you wanted a telephone (although you could choose a blue or green handset once connected). If you wanted a future you had to emigrate. A whole generation of students were condemned to struggle and possibly never reached their true potential.
London in the 70’s was not great. The Swinging London of the Sixties was always a fantasy. Imagine a place where there were only two coffee shops open late in the whole city or you had to go to Dino's in Sout Kensington. The only place where students could afford to eat was The Stockpot (much missed). Nothing worked very well. Especially British made cars such as the Allegro or even the Mini (horrid gearbox). There was a constant air of despair and of course, Corbyn’s pals at the IRA made sure that all the restaurants in the centre of London were heavily sandbagged to protect from explosions. You wanted to make an overseas call? You had to queue to book a call from the post office opposite the National Portrait Gallery or the one near the Palace of Westminster. That was it. Luckily the music was great. Bowie, The Clash, and Debbie Harry, Kate Bush, Queen … And flairs, I had great flairs. (And hair - miss the hair).
If you were a property owner you were too scared to rent it out because the GLC (McDonnell and Livingstone) and other Labour Councils would always support the squatters who didn’t pay rent. Finding somewhere to live was a nightmare. The ‘70’s was squalid. If you want proof, look at the architecture of the period. And to be honest there wasn’t much building going on. That’s when Americans would visit and do the crane test. If there weren’t any on the skyline, the economy was bust and there were definitely no cranes in London in 1975.
I was studying at the London Film School in Covent Garden – which then was pretty poor institution lacking proper equipment and didn’t even teach screenwriting. I was so lucky to answer a query from an American student who was looking to swap his place at Columbia University Film Degree in New York. He’d made the mistake of falling for an English girl and wanted to study in London. It wasn’t hard to leave London. I often wonder what happened to him. Probably really famous, but I forgot his name. As for New York in the winter of '76, living in a apartment with the L train scraping past the window was alarming at best. Never seen so much snow either, but New Yorkers thrive in it and you soon learn to wear sensible clothes. The film students were all ambitious and talented and never once did we have to study German Cinema of the 1930's. (Although Andrew Sarris made us study Howard Hawks endlessly).
What I do miss about the 1970's? - the ability to talk to someone face to face to sort out issues with water, electrics, gas, telephone. Banks had managers who made decisions, there was none of 'the computer says no' malarkey. Being able to park! I drove a Citroen 2CV and parked right outside the film school. No speed cameras, not that the 2CV could get much past to 60mph on a good day. We were all astonished by the heatwave of '76 (where I caught strep throat in Hampstead Heath pond). Our favourite restaurant was Parson's in the Fulham Road and I don't think there was a single shopping mall in London. I don't miss instant coffee though. Can't believe we drank that stuff. I remember us being unable to borrow any money to buy the two bed flat we shared in Putney for under £12,000, which we thought was an outrageous price. I gave myself a challenge to finally get published by 1979 or become a teacher and I just squeaked in with a thriller published in London and New York. Ten years later I finally became a teacher anyway.
OK that's enough nostalgia. I guess the truth is every generation finds happiness whatever happens politically because fresh air is free (although Corbyn may have had plans about nationalising it).
*Ok this is it. Last edition of Hackwriters. 20 years on-line is quite enough. Life and the Internet moved on and we got older. So did our readers and well let’s face it wouldn’t you rather be watching cat videos on YouTube or liking food pictures on Insta or are you too busy trolling someone on all the other platforms. It’s kinda funny, I’m old enough to remember the World Wide Web was supposed to be a good thing and Google at one time didn’t do evil. Now Facebook feeds us alternate news and truth is lost, possibly forever in a parallel reality. You’re on your own now. You’ll have to make your own judgments. Be master of your own fate. It’s harder than you think. Bon Voyage ...
© Sam North December 23rd 2019
*As ever Hackwriters is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle, we aren't picky.
Read Girl with Cat (Blue) - 'funny, scary and full of surprises - a must read' LD
Magenta - A chilling story of kidnapping, burning and strangeness set in the wilds of Lincolnshire
The Sam North Novels - still available to order on Lulu or Amazon
** The Heaviness, also recommended & The Repercussions of Tomas D
-'best time travel WW2 story in a long while'
||Girl with Cat (Blue) - Shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award 2018
'a funny, bloody, colorful narrative that never fails to surprise the reader. Girl with Cat (Blue) provides great entertainment'.
'This book was amazing! I was hooked from the first few pages and couldn't put the book down.'
26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. - Honorable Mention
|J&K 4Ever - Love and Devotion in the Wastelands
Sixty years after the end of everything the city of Bluette survives, controlled by a malignant sect. A place where men rule, girls receive no education and are matched at 16 to the highest bidder. No one is ever permitted to leave the city and outside is a murderous wasteland of despair. Orphans Kruge and Jeyna have been devoted to each other through all the years of terror in this harsh regime and sworn never to be parted. But the beautiful Jeyna has been betrayed by the Warden. Kruge has been swiftly banished to the Scraps, under the control of the Keeper. Jeyna is heartbroken; she will not accept her fate and escapes to find Kruge. She is pursued by ruthless Enforcers on horseback, whose task it is to bring runaways back, dead or alive. 'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
||MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2
Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book
‘Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, you will gasp with shock, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk 2015
The new edition of 'ANOTHER PLACE TO DIE: ENDTIME CHRONICLES
By Sam Hawksmoor & Sam North
Could you live in a world where antibiotics no longer work?
Print & Kindle
Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear as a lethal virus approaches from the East. No one knows how many are dying. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Do you stay and hide, or do you flee?
Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...' Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk
||Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download
All proceeds go to keeping Hackwriters going
The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here
'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
'This is Man in the High Castle for teens and scarily plausible with alternative facts '
*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
|'The Heaviness' for any reader who likes to think about such things as betrayal, revenge, relationships and the laws of gravity. An original Genie Magee story
Genie & Renée have just 36 hours to save Rian or he dies
'Without a doubt, one of the best YA Sci Fi series out there.' Evie Seo Bookish
Kindle & print
Thanks to readers who have been buying this title. . * Also published as Rüya by Marti Yayincilik - The Turkish publishers of TOZ & Golge
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