Friday, 24 September 2010

Extract from the Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil

Chapter 3 – Ritual Mechanicians

Having broken down on their way to Blackpool, to save the place from becoming a seedy, tacky and depraved town, our magickal heroes are wondering how they will be able to continue their journey.

Inside the crowded motorway services at Knutsford, The Three Hidden Masters, two from Hemel Hempstead and one from Bricket Wood, sat around three cups of coffee and three doughnuts. Nigel’s hair steamed gently as it dried off in the warmth of the café. Around them, the sound of The Girl from Ipanema wafted gently above their heads in a version almost, but not quite, specifically designed to induce madness.
“What do you propose we do now?” asked Wayne.
“Well, I left my tools at home, so I could get all the gear in the boot,” replied Clint.
“That was a spectacular idea,” responded Wayne with a sarcastic tone.
Clint looked at Wayne with an irritated look, but didn’t have time to say anything as Nigel spoke. “I’ve got a multi-tool.”
“‘Scuse me, can I borrow your sugar?” asked a burly caricature of a truck driver. He sat down at the opposite table with a copy of Steven Hawkin’s Brief History of Time and a folded copy of The Sun newspaper.
Wayne passed the sugar to the truck driver who proceeded to pour a long stream of its contents into his steaming mug of tea.
“A multi-tool?” quizzed Clint.
“Oh yes,” replied Wayne enthusiastically, “rather clever, brushed steel devices similar to a Swiss Army Knife, except that they have spanners and scissors and contraptions attached. They are awfully good.”
“I had a Swiss Army Knife once,” said Clint, “it was made in China.”
“That would be a Chinese Swiss Army Knife then,” responded Wayne.
“That’s what I used to call it.”
“Can I look at it?” asked Wayne of Nigel.
“No, that’s a bit personal. Piss off!” replied Nigel.
The truck driver glanced across at them briefly over the rim of his mug.
“I think he means the multi-tool,” said Clint.
“Oh yeah, sorry.” said Nigel in response “It’s in with my stuff for the weekend.”
“Surely not in with your magical equipment?” asked Wayne with a mock tone of shock.
“No, with my spare t-shirts and clean underwear and stuff.”
Clint raised his eyebrows at Nigel. “You brought clean underwear! I bet you won’t use it.”
“There speaks the voice of a true festival goer,” replied Nigel.
“That all depends what we come up against this weekend,” injected Wayne in sympathy. “I remember the last time we saved the universe, I nearly …”
Nigel interrupted before Wayne could say anymore, “Too much information!”
Clearly, Wayne’s grammar school education, which he sometimes claimed was a fee paying education, had only influenced his accent and had not affected his sense of vulgarity, or rather lack of it.
“We could try to suss out what’s wrong with the car,” said Clint bringing the subject back on topic. “The way it happened so suddenly, it sounds like electrics.”
“On the other hand, it could be mechanical,” added Wayne.
“Or fuel,” continued Nigel.
“Well, that would just about cover all the options,” said Clint completely unimpressed, “I suppose, I should check it out.”
Clint was definitely the most mechanical of the trio, not that he did much of that sort of thing these days, preferring to trust to the infinite cycle of the second-hand car. Having been in the Royal Navy as an engineer, he had experience of all sorts of machines from the huge Deltic diesel engines, used in locomotives and ships, right through to some of the first nuclear power plants in submarines. Having left the navy so many years ago, he didn’t do much with engines now. These days he drove a road sweeper for a living, described as having more instruments than the Starship Enterprise.
“I think we should enchant to get it started,” said Nigel hopefully.
Clint looked scornfully at Nigel. “No way, man, you can’t do a ritual to repair a car!”
Nigel continued. “Well, if it’s an electrical fault, and a wire has just come loose, then surely a microscopic or quantum level of change might just be enough to make a contact.” The truck driver raised an eyebrow, glancing up from Stephen Hawkin as he took a longer look at the trio.
“I think you’re a bit out on the edge there,” responded Clint.
“We could draw a sigil in the oil on the top of the engine and perform an enchantment.” added Nigel becoming enthused.
“Let’s have a look at that multi-tool of yours,” replied Clint, trying to ignore Nigel’s madness, “and who said there’s oil on my engine?”
Nigel was, by now, scrawling a phrase on the back of the till receipt that read ‘Get us to Blackpool’. He crossed out all the letters that occurred a second or third time in the phrase and was quickly left with ‘GETUSOBLACKP’.
“Look dudes,” continued Clint, “you two are weirding me out! I can’t believe you are even thinking about this!” Clint’s complaint was tempered by an attempt to avoid raising his voice. Looking about, he checked that there was nobody paying any attention to them.
Wayne looked on silently for a moment then added, “Perhaps it would be a good idea to add something pertaining to getting us home again?”
Nigel stopped and gazed into the distance for a moment, as he is inclined to do. Some think that at these times he is consulting his inner oracle while others suggest he is listening to the voices, others believe it’s down to indigestion. “No I don’t think so. Once we’re there we’ll be fine. We’ll get back okay,” he replied with confidence.
“I think, perhaps, I can detect a Ten-inch Pianist coming on,” said Wayne with a note of concern, but without any care for people who might overhear the statement.
The truck driver glanced up briefly from his book and frowned.
* * *
The Ten-inch Pianist is a term The Three Hidden Masters use for any magical working which could go awry. The idea came from the joke about the man who walked into a pub and put a tiny man and a piano on the bar. When the barman asked for some explanation the customer explained how he met a Genie who gave him his wish for a ten-inch penis, but he happened to spell his request wrong. It’s an old joke, but it serves a purpose.  So the Ten Inch Pianist is used for acts of magic where the magician gets exactly what is asked for, rather than what is desired.
The fact that the truck driver and a couple of other people in the café thought they heard Wayne say ten-inch penis was completely missed by our three heroes.
* * *
Nigel tore off and discarded the part of the till receipt with the original phrase, so he had just the string of letters remaining. Then, on a separate scrap of paper, he started to draw a diagram made up of each of the letters in the string. This left him with a jumble of letters, some large, some small, some upright, some inverted, which people in the know will recognise as a sigil. Those of you not yet in the know can think of this as a magickal symbol. The original piece of receipt, with the string of letters, was discarded into the ashtray and he held up the finished sigil.
“Okay, orrff we jolly well go,” he declared.
As The Three Hidden Masters, two from Hemel Hempstead and one from Bricket Wood, got up, they nearly bumped into the truck driver as he stood up to make his way towards the toilets. Stepping back carefully, the truck driver let them go in front of him making a mental note to avoid any contact with them again.
* * *
Out in the drizzly car park, now with more wind than rain, they stood in front of the slightly descript Japanese car. The bonnet was up as Wayne held a torch for Clint as he looked at the engine, gently tugging wires and leads to see if any had come loose.
“Here it is,” said Nigel emerging from the boot as he squeezed from between Clint’s car and an elderly Volkswagen Beetle which had parked close behind them. He proudly held aloft a small elongated leather pouch with a press stud closure.
“That is nice,” declared Wayne taking the pouch from Nigel. He was fascinated by the quality of the workmanship as he looked at the fine stitching and smooth hardened leather. “This looks like one of those devices available from Sunday supplement catalogues for executive toys.” He popped the press-stud and removed the smart brushed steel multi-tool from inside.
The folded device was about ten centimetres long and perhaps two or three centimetres across. The ends were pleasantly rounded with a pair of rivets through each end. The rivets at one end were connected by a hidden hinge between the two sides and each side had a small elliptical cut out, which Wayne grasped as he pulled the two sides apart.
Unfolding the device, he pulled the two sides outwards and back on themselves as they rotated around the rivets at the connected end. This left Wayne with a pair of pliers about 15 centimetres long and a series of other tools now revealed where they had been hidden in the handles.
“Where did you obtain this delightful device?” asked Wayne as he passed the tool to Clint.
“Oh, I treated myself to it when I left my last job,” replied Nigel as Clint examined the various penknives, screwdrivers and things for getting boy scouts out of horses’ hooves. “It was in the shop at work where you can buy all sorts of executive stuff like in those Sunday supplement catalogues.”
* * *
What none of our heroes knew was that Nigel’s multi-tool was an imitation of a device known to many as a Leatherman. Quite where Nigel’s multi-tool originated they knew not, but it may very well have been from China. Of course this would be another example of synchronicity and the interconnectedness of all things. Perhaps then, all multi tool copies—whether they be Chinese Swiss Army Knives, imitation Leathermans (Leathermen?) or other such cheap versions of useful camping equipment—are connected in some way by a sort of symbolic representation of handy screwdriver and boy scout removing essence. There may even be a demi-god of imitation multi-tools, subordinate to the god of genuine branded multi-tools, all paying homage to the greater god, Grand Old Penknife himself who leads the pantheon from his palace in the shape of a neat little pouch hanging on the belt of the supreme deity of all campers, Ray Mears … or something.
* * *
As Clint tried the various options offered by the multi-tool, tightening screws, fiddling here and there, Nigel leant forward to look at the top of the engine.
“Has it cooled?” Nigel asked.
“Sure, it’s okay,” replied Clint “Try turning it over,” he said looking up at Wayne.
Wayne climbed into the driver’s seat and tried the ignition…
Clint continued to fiddle under the bonnet, but he knew it was really just for show.
“I don’t think this is really doing any good.” Clint was growing a little frustrated by the situation. “We’re hung up without my full tool kit.”
Nigel leant forward over the engine and brushed his finger across the edge of the air filter cover. Looking at his finger tip, he observed a thin film of blackened oily grime. “Hmmm.”
Clint looked up at Nigel but said nothing. His silence, however, was enough to show his disapproval at what Nigel was clearly suggesting.
Wayne stepped out of the car and stood with the other two staring at the engine.
“I think we should put our robes on,” declared Nigel.
“This is rubbish!” replied Clint.
“Well, we have to do it properly, if we’re gonna do it at all,” responded Nigel to Clint’s complaint.
“What sort of magical weapons would you recommend?” asked Wayne.
“Not you as well!” said Clint increasingly irritated as he tried crimping a wire as a last ditch attempt at rationality. “I suppose you’ll suggest you want to use the sacred soldering iron of the art!”
Nigel was not at all fazed by Clint’s sarcasm. “Well, there is an argument to suggest that in this sort of circumstance the mediaeval elements and weapons would be inappropriate.” As he spoke, he was already carefully copying the sigil from the scrap of paper onto the flat circular space on the air filter. “Grab my robe from my box, will you Wayne.”
Wayne opened the boot and pulled his robe from his violin case and then rummaged around for Nigel’s from the tarot chest.
“All right then dude! Just what sort of magical weapons would you suggest?” Clint spoke in a defiant tone.
“I’ve got a multi-tool!” exclaimed Nigel smiling. He was clearly gleeful at having got the better of Clint.
Wayne handed Nigel an unkempt bundle of grey fabric as he struggled to pull his own black robe over his head.
As Wayne and Nigel climbed into their robes, Clint looked on in some disbelief. The large car park was quite dark with cars peppered here and there but mostly away from where they were parked. Their robes were of different designs, but they were similar in that they were both hooded and very flowing. Nigel’s hood was detachable where it was attached to a diamond shaped tabard the width of his shoulders. Once in place, the matching grey tabard came to a point at Nigel’s waist both at the front and back.
Wayne and Nigel tied knotted white cords around their paunches, leaving the loose ends hanging down to one side. They pulled the hoods up, giving them some protection from the wind and rain, but also obscuring their view as the deep cowls were blown across their faces.
“I’m getting in the car,” said Clint. “You two are going to get us busted!”
“Ready?” enquired Wayne. Nigel nodded in response.
Unnoticed by the two magicians, a figure came out of the building and started walking towards them.
“The abbreviated version I think?” asked Nigel of Wayne in a deliberately overacted voice with more than a touch of pretension.
Wayne nodded in response as the wind blew their robes flat against their bodies causing the rolls of fabric to outline their contours as they billowed like sails.
Holding up the multi-tool, Nigel began his magic with the standard incantation that he used in most of their rituals. This was the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. There is a Greater Ritual of the Pentagram, but they tended to use the lesser as it was easier to remember and they couldn’t be bothered with the extra complications of the full version. It was adapted from the works of Aleister Crowley, who undoubtedly got it from someone else, probably McGregor Mathers who, in turn, had probably got it from someone further back in history, in much the same way that second-hand cars change hands.
The Greater Pentagram ritual can be used for both banishing or invoking, but The Three Hidden Masters, two from Hemel Hempstead and one from Bricket Wood, tended to use the lesser ritual, just for banishing at the beginning and end of their ceremonies. Effectively, it was like a magical air freshener, which banished the mundane world at the beginning and banished any unwanted magical influences at the end. (The Grumpy Wizard of the West might have interpreted this with the idea that it primed the mind for magical practice and made you feel like a magician.) This time, because of the circumstances, Nigel shortened the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram even further to its most basic elements.
Bringing the multi-tool to his forehead, he spoke with a deep, vibrant, serious tone, “Ateh.” Touching the tool to his chest, “Malkuth.” Touching his right shoulder, “ve-Geburah.” Touching his left shoulder, “ve-Gedulah.” Clasping both hands to his chest with the multi-tool between them, “le-Olahm.”
As the truck driver approached he stopped dead for a moment, almost dropping the collection of chocolate bars, CDs and other stuff he had just bought in the shop along with his copy of A Brief History of Time and The Sun newspaper. As he stood there, he felt the wind gusting, blowing the rain into his face.
Holding the multi-tool in his right hand, Nigel drew a five-pointed star in the air above the engine and chanted, now in a more guttural tone, “Ye-ho-wau, Adonai, Eheieh, Agla.” When delivered, each word was almost reduced to a single syllable, forcing the words out with a punch on each breath.
Extending his hands out to either-side, he spoke again, his voice now strong and clear, the bat-wing sleeves of his robe blowing dramatically. “Before me, Raphael; Behind me, Gabriel; On my right hand, Michael; On my left hand, Auriel. For about me flames The Pentagram, and in The Column stands The Six-rayed Star.”
Dropping his left hand to his side, he raised the multi-tool to his forehead again and repeated the first sequence of movements, only this time with greater resonance. “Ateh, Malkuth, ve-Geburah, ve-Gedulah, le-Olahm…”
The wind seemed to blow stronger, his voice trailing off on the wind and rain as he paused, standing before the car in silence save for the sound of the weather. Clint looked on in continued disbelief from his position in the driving seat.
Looking around to see if anyone else was taking any notice, the truck driver continued to walk towards his car. Apparently he wasn’t a truck driver at all, or if he was it was his day off. He ducked his head down to escape the worst of the rain in his face.
Nigel stepped back, his work complete for a moment, as Wayne took his place and began to enchant with his face raised to the heavens and the wind and rain lashing his thick black beard.
Nearly all of Wayne’s words were lost to the lorry driver as he neared them. He did hear something sounding like ‘give us the swiftness of the beasts that we might run’ as he skirted round the back of the Volkswagen Beetle, fumbled for his keys and quickly climbed inside. He never took his eyes off the two robed figures standing in front of the Japanese car, dripping with rain by the time he sat behind the wheel.
Wayne finished his incantation and stepped back from the engine of the still silent car.
Clint sat in the drivers seat with the door partly open, not daring to look at the figure whom he had seen climbing into the car directly behind. He called out to the two magicians. “I told you man! You can’t start a car by magic!” The others seemed oblivious to the off duty lorry driver behind.
The lorry driver sat and stared at the antics, as he watched Wayne lowered the bonnet while Nigel approached Clint’s door.
“Do you feel better having tried that?” enquired Clint.
Thinking it was time to leave, the lorry driver, grasped the gear leaver of the Volkswagen Beetle, depressed the clutch and turned the ignition key. The engine of the Beetle burst into life, his wet foot slid off of the worn clutch pedal and the car shot forward at as much speed as an ancient Beetle might muster under such circumstances, perhaps even more!
There was a crunch, as the front of the Beetle pushed forward into the slightly descript Japanese car, denting the rear—so making it that little bit more descript—causing its boot lid to close as the whole car rolled forward. Having been left in gear, with the ignition on and the handbrake off, something microscopic took place deep within the mysteries of the engine, and the Japanese car burst into life continuing to roll across the car park, towards the exit.
Wayne, still standing in front, leapt out of the vehicle’s path as Nigel looked on in amazement. Their hooded faces looked at each other across the space where the car had been, stunned for a moment, as it started to move away from them, the engine revving as it receded. Then, taking to their heels they chased after Clint as he wound the window down shouting for them to get in.
The driver of the Beetle–now half sitting, half standing in the open door of his car—called out to the disappearing magicians, shouting after them.
“Sorry … my foot slipped!”
Wayne and Nigel clambered into the back of the increasingly descript Japanese car amongst a flurry and tangle of hoods, batwing sleeves and general hanging out robes. At the same time, music started to emerge from the tape player, something appropriate about leaving.
“Who left it in gear then?” asked Clint of Wayne.
“You must have left the handbrake off,” replied Wayne.
“And you left the ignition on,” continued Clint.
“I would have sworn that bloke was a lorry driver when he sat down next to us in the café,” said Nigel, “it just goes to show how you can never tell people by their appearance.”
Meanwhile, back in the car park at Knutsford Services the driver of the elderly Volkswagen Beetle thought exactly the opposite as he spoke to himself.
“You can always tell a bunch of weirdoes when you see them!”

Taken from The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil

Read another extract

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Have we reached the peak of the scientific model of reality?

Radio 4’s Today programme, today, had a short feature on the thoughts of a physicist named Russell Stannard. In his new book he suggests that we may be coming to a point where science has made the majority of its major advances and that we may not be able to learn a great deal more about the universe.

This is very interesting as this concept is the absolute core of the subject of my first (non fiction) book written back in 1989. In Satanic Viruses I suggested that by observing astrological events I could predict that the Age of Aquarius, that people thought had been a flash in the pan, would really begin to take off in the last decade of the twentieth century and continue to accelerate into the new millennium. People may not remember how the seventies and eighties really were but many of the ideas that have come to be acceptable in our culture simply would not have been given air time or a place in people’s thoughts before the turn of the nineties. We can easily see the flavour of the change in that we have gone from a culture that asks ‘where do we live?’ and ‘how shiny is my Porsche?’, to one that also includes concepts of ‘how are we going to survive as a community, or even as a species?’

Without repeating the whole book my thesis was that we were moving from an age that was characterised by heavily structured modes of thinking into one that would be more fluid. Religion, for two thousand years, has been characterised by hierarchical, top down, structures but those religions would soon be faced with the prospect of people seeking more personal bottom up solutions to their philosophical and theological dilemmas. People would seek answers from within rather than from a god that lies without or above.

Over the same two thousand year period, hence the subtitle of the book ‘The fall of the Roman Empire and how to bring it about’, science has developed hand in hand with the dominant religions of the world. However, science, as we know it, is also greatly dependant on those heavily structured models of thinking. So my thesis was that we might be about to witness the end of science as the dominant world view.

Now it seems some scientists are beginning to say something strikingly similar. Russell Stannard, described in the Observer as a high energy nuclear physicist at the Open University, has written a book titled The End of Discovery. He seems to be suggesting that humanity may soon reach a time when the peak of scientific discovery may be behind us.

Much of what science now investigates, particularly in his field of physics, now requires such massive experiments, such as the Large Hadron Collider, that we will soon no longer be able to investigate the next level down. Apparently Stephen Hawkings cherished M-theory, associated with string theory which few people really understand, would require a collider the size of a galaxy to perform the required experiments. It seems some physicists are so attached to M-theory, despite its lack of an equation to define it, that they are saying it must be right because it is elegant. Elegance is often a feature of that which is described as truth in science but it’s hardly the only test. This is beginning to sound like faith and may be evidence of the change taking place before our eyes.

It strikes me that we have been faced with other apparently insoluble problems in science for some time. One example is complexity theory, where our models have to be so complex that we can no more predict their behaviour than we can that which they model. Weather forecasting improves with the increase in computing power but there may be a scale of diminishing returns as the models become more complex. Another field that may suffer from the complexity problem is the study of consciousness which has been promising results just over the horizon for as long as I can remember. However the brain is so complex that we can’t model it for the same reasons as we can’t model the weather.

Obviously Stannard, and I, may be wrong as this sort of end of science has been predicted before. The Observer article describes how, in the 19th century, it was predicted that science had discovered everything that there was to discover. I remember an old issue of the Fortean Times that quoted a Victorian gentleman who said that transatlantic communication would be impossible because the flag would have to be as big as Ireland. Clearly there are some developments that we can’t predict but this time things may be different. Science has become massive and expensive. Some research can only be performed by nation states or even conglomerates of nation states and many companies are unwilling to fund blue skies research because they want a return within a reasonable period.

It may turn out to be the case that there is research to be done but who will want to fund or perform it? If, as Stannard suggests, new developments start to become less frequent over a longer time scale, people may just decide to do other things with their lives.

However it comes about, either by us feeling we have learned as much as we need, or finding that’s its just too much trouble to learn any more, the result will be the same; a diminishing of the influence of science and, perhaps, a consolidation of the benefits we can glean from what we already know. It seems then, the end of the road might be within sight. Of course with a two thousand year time scale the end may not be any time soon but it looks as though it may be on the way.

Link: Satanic Viruses - The fall of the Roman Empire and how to bring it about 

Link: Observer interview with Russell Stannard on his new book The End of Discovery

Just remember I said this in 1989.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Barrow's Law

Social media promotion expands to fill the time allocated for the creation of that which is being promoted.

Has anybody said this before I wonder?

The importance of feedback from readers

I was talking with a reader of mine on-line earlier. He was asking about my next novel and I mentioned that the Knights Templar will feature significantly.I've edited the conversation slightly but it went something like this.

Jack Barrow:
The Templars are due to be a major theme of my next novel if I can ever get around to writing it.

A Reader:
That sounds right up my alley! I may have to get a copy when you are done with it. I'm nearly done with Hidden Masters, some of the humour in it is brilliant - "You breathe it in. You've got a cold, not constipation!" What area of the Templars will you cover? A comical quest for the Holy Grail?

Jack Barrow:
The Templars are involved on the Welsh borders in the modern world. I can’t say too much until it’s written.
I don't recognise that quote. Are you sure you're reading my book?

A Reader:
The scene where Clint is making a herbal remedy for Wayne’s cold. p.131 Templars story sounds good, how far along are you with it?

Jack Barrow:
Okay I remember, the infusion scene. That scene is one of the ones that might get chopped in the second edition. It doesn't do much for the story but I suppose it does help develop Clint as a character. The new book is about two chapters done, but has been stuck at that for about 198 months.

A Reader:  
That's a shame, I do like the side scenes. I feel it gives an insight into their relationships with one another and the one liners are brilliant.
Ah, good luck with it. Lets hope it doesn't take another 198 more.

Jack Barrow:
Oh, sorry, typo, it was meant to say 18 months but it does feel like 198. Interestingly though if the side scenes help to develop the characters then perhaps they should stay. Feedback like that is always useful. I might blog that.

So here I am thinking now that the bits of the story that don’t add much are more important that I thought. What can you do without feedback?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Stuck on viral marketing

Coming soon to a viral marketing campaign near you
So here’s the thing. I’ve talked in the past about doing an animation to promote my first novel. (I’ve only written one novel so far but there are plans for a further three in the series, honest!) The book was published a few years ago but since then I’ve decided it needs more polish and would have a better chance in the pagan community if I corrected a few mistakes that some people can get a bit indignant about. (Interestingly these issues don't apply to my non-pagan readers who just take it at face value and laugh out loud on the train, apparently.) I’ve not been deliberately offensive, well not much anyway and those aren’t the bits they complain about; more that some people don’t like to be miscategorised. So the second edition is in the pipeline.

So here’s the other thing. I really, really ought to use viral marketing to promote my work. Back in 1989 I had some ideas that I put together into my first book. Satanic Viruses was a non fiction essay about how I thought the years ahead would see a change in society. The thesis suggested that the purely scientific perception of reality that had been taking hold of the world throughout the twentieth century would weaken and a more holistic perception would take its place. That holistic perception would have space for philosophical perspectives such as is evidenced in modern neo-paganism and there would be a weakening of more structured theological traditions. To this day I am convinced that the rise in religious fundamentalism that we have witnessed is a part of the death throes of the major religions. In the future religion will be much more bottom-up rather than hierarchical and structured.

Just add figures and darken the surrounding background
Anywho, at the same time I had another idea that, for the want of a better way of getting it out there, I tagged onto the end of the book. That idea was the information virus. Back in those days there was no Internet to speak of, only academics and a chosen few had email and there was no world wide web. However, it struck me that, if presented in the right form, easily copied and with a reward to pass it on, an idea could spread like a virus. Richard Dawkins had written about memes about ten years before but it wasn’t his idea and he hadn’t suggested a formalised mechanism. My solution was cumbersome and unworkable, involving photocopiers and chain letters, but the theory was there. About six years later Tim Berners-Lee came up with the web and viral communication became a real possibility. Satanic Viruses was republished in 2008 with considerable additions to the original text. I’ve looked and I can’t find anything published on viral marketing that predates the nineties and the whole idea may not have been written about other than on web sites until some time after the millennium.

There is a very real possibility that I came up with the idea that led to viral marketing, so it sort of makes sense that I use viral marketing to promote my work. But how do you make a viral about a book? After discussing this with a few people, including some people who work in the new field of viral marketing (I don’t remember getting a thank you for creating their jobs), the idea arose for an animation of a part of the Hidden Masters story. A scene from Chapter 7 was chosen as it shows the nature of the characters and contains good examples of the humour and magic.

Minor artefacts of construction, such as seams, will be removed in Photoshop
To cut a long story long I’ve built a 3D model of the location that I can move into any position to present the characters in front of. I’m currently trying to create a storyboard so that I can either continue with the project or hand it on to an animator to complete. An experience with an animator last year, while I was committed to other things, has taught me that I need a storyboard at least to be able to communicate my vision so I have to do that myself.

I’m currently trying to figure out if I can develop the skills to draw the characters onto the backgrounds. (Actually, at the moment, I’m writing this and not getting on with it.) I’m using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to sketch some characters in. Or should I just try to figure out why my scanner hasn’t worked for years and draw the figures on by hand and scan the whole lot in?

So ultimately, I’ve been stuck here for months. I need to produce a viral video to go with the second edition now I’ve learned that I have a potential readership. I know that if I can just reach enough people they will make comparisons to Dan Brown, Douglas Adams, Robert Rankin and even Terry Pratchett, though the last one is a bit of a stretch. I know they will make the comparisons because those comparisons have been made already. Should I be making these claims? No, my agent should be making them but I can’t seem to get the attention of anyone in the publishing industry. (A smart middle class woman at the Hay Festival once asked me who I was with when I handed her a flyer a few years ago. I fumbled my response and undoubtedly missed an opportunity.)

The camera can be put anywhere as in a virtual film set
This all has to be ready to run a campaign on Facebook, Twitter, the blog, and generally around the web.

Now I don’t really know why I started writing all this, probably to avoid trying to learn how to draw in Illustrator. So if you know an animator, graphic artist, agent or even a publisher, you could save me a whole load of crap because the second novel is there, ready to go with a couple of chapters written and I’d really rather be doing that.

Oh and I’m told that publishers these days are looking for writers with more than a single book and with the web and IT skills to take on some promotion. If that’s the case, see above!

In case you missed the link about here's the finished video