Monsters’ Inn

I was checking the stats for this website yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see that the short vampire story When the Bells Ring Out I uploaded before Christmas has been downloaded 49 times, which by the standards of this blog makes it practically a runaway bestseller. So it’s encouraged me to dust off another from the Monsters talking book CD release.

Monsters’ Inn is a shorter, much more lighthearted piece than When the Bells Ring Out. Written by Mark Simpson, read by Mark Kalita and produced by myself, it originally appeared on the old Phantom Frame website.

“Anyone will tell you that Hollywood is mean place to earn a living. But for artistes belonging to a very singular community, at least there’s one place where everybody knows your name.”

You can listen or download the audio talking book below:

Monsters’ Inn by Mark Simpson

Thanks for looking in. Hope you enjoy the story.


Young woman lying in bed

Whilst looking for an unrelated piece of old fiction that I hope to revise and complete, literally a story for another day, I came across another work which I’d forgotten about. I wrote Cornucopia for a neoartists exhibition. This creative organisation used to renovate old shops, turn them into temporary galleries and exhibit art from its members. Back in 2011 I used to belong to this endeavour, alongside my friend Scott, in a imaginative but ultimately doomed attempt to link creative writing with conceptual art. Hence this story was chosen to be printed, framed and displayed in an ex-carpet shop in Bolton.

The idea behind my piece was to show how English contains an embarrassment of riches when it came to styles and vocabulary. It features the opening line on an imaginary novel, retold in twelve different ways (and twelve different fonts too, which was me trying to think visually, as well as in prose). You can see what the finished piece looked like by downloading a PDF version from here.

It might be a touch portentous but re-reading it I liked it enough to think it deserved a second showing on this blog. Hope you enjoy it too.

Chapter One
She rose from the bed with a smooth movement, pulling the rumpled sheet from her legs and padding over to the bay windows to discover where she had landed this morning.

The woman got up with an enviable sense of purpose, swinging her lean legs down to the carpet and walking over to the large picture window to look at the wooded hills beyond.

The woman in question climbed out of the double bed with an effortless action, drawing the puckered slip away from her limbs and stealing across to the large casement to ascertain where she had alighted at the start of the day.

Cathy floated from the bed, warm from their bodies and alighted at the window, gazing at the rural paradise that somehow seemed to have been created solely for their pleasure, and which they would explore together.

Sunday 7:43am. Female, 31 years old, 11 stone 3 ounces, Caucasian, red hair, mole on left shoulder blade, got out of bed, moved to stand in front of window 2800mm by 1500mm looking out north by norwest.

Int. Bedroom – Day.
CATH wakes and sits up, she looks around the room with curiosity, then glances at the sleeping figure of JED. She pulls back the bed sheets and gets up. She is nude. She walks to the window. Outside is an English countryside landscape.

Young Catherine was never one to linger in bed, not when there was a fresh day to explore.

The dame raised herself up and emerged from the bed like a panther coming out her lair, her toned body moving with oiled grace as she strode towards the sunlight which sternly illuminated her lover-boy’s extra-marital hidey hole.

Thus ye damsel rose fromst her bed and walked across her masters bedchamber to the window, to gazeth upon ye kingdom.

With her client still fast asleep, Catherine quietly tiptoed to the window and watched as Harold’s squat little car slowly wound its way towards the house.

Curvy Catherine (36-24-36) leaves little to the imagination as she sashays across the luxury bedroom of three times married womaniser Jed (age 42).

Used to their expensive isolation, the bedroom curtains had been left open, affording Dimitri a clear view of the girl as walked into his telescopic sight.

Santa Claus Conquers the Mayans

For the past few years, my friends and I, under the guise of Westlake Films, have made some kind of comedy video to tie in with Christmas. This year’s production, made despite all kinds of problems and completed against the clock by director/editor Kevin Hiley, is Santa Claus Conquers the Mayans. Written by John Isles, it features a Mancunian Santa and his Chief Elf in a race against time to stop a deadly boardgame from destroying the world. A plan that involves robbery and Mexican wrestling.

As well as helping to make the film in general assistant category, I also make a couple of onscreen contributions, playing a dubious Australian TV historian and providing the opening narration.

You can find out more about Westlake Films and our past work at our website:

Merry Christmas everyone!

My pitch? Orcs podcasting on Youtube.

A few years ago I wrote a pitch for a Warhammer 40000 anthology called “Fear the Alien”. In case you don’t know, Warhammer 40000 is a huge SF franchise that has grown around a tabletop wargame set in a distant future. A universe where humans, elves, orcs and other races were fighting a never ending war with super technology rather than magic, although this scenario was equally fantastical. I must admit I was not a player or collector of the series, nor had a read any of the earlier books. However it was an open submission window, and after doing some research on various Warhammer fan sites I felt confident enough to pitch my idea and included the sample below. The story was about an orc engineer who fancied himself a filmmaker and who was trying to make a propaganda video.

I think you can guess that I never heard back from the publishers Games Workshop. However recently I came across the sample again and not only still liked it, but I performed it at local open mic evening in Bolton called Georges to a good response. So I thought I would share it here:

A shell exploded above them, illuminating the trooper’s furrowed brows in orange light. He gaped at the foreign looking object in BlastGud’s hands.
“Wot kinda gun izzat?” he asked, his yellow eyes flicking between the Lookbox and his own shoota. His weapon had a huge front barrel leading back into a lump of crudely welded together powerpacks, with a metal frame wrapped in leather strips making up the butt. Before the Mek could answer, the soldier’s eyes had glazed over. BlastGud’s gun was lighter, obviously less powerful that his own and not worth haggling for.
BlastGud raised the Lookbox to his eye. “Iz not gun. Iz Lookbox. New mech.” His thumb pressed the red button. The top of the troopers head was blurringly framed in the viewfinder. BlastGud frowned and squeezed the button until the picture was sharp. Now he had a perfect view of the soldier’s disappearing back. He lumbered forward to keep pace with the ShootaBoyz, who ignored him.
“Can memorise wot you can see. See it again,” he explained. He did a quick pan of the mountain ridge ahead of them, catching two more colourful shell bursts. Then stopped the LookBox and presented the viewer to the trooper.
The orc scowled but nevertheless looked into the viewer. He glanced up and glared at BlastGud, confused for a moment. Then he looked at the mountain range and shrugged.
“See better with mi eyes. Your mech is garbage!” he advised.
BlastGud’s explanation was cut off by a horn blast. Immediately the ShootaBoyz were jostling with each other to find a space on the ridge that looked down into the valley. The signal meant the humans had been spotted entering their patch and everyone wanted to be first to get a shot in. BlastGud raised his Lookbox, drooling a little in excitement. This was what he had come for – combat. Seeing the glorious Boyz in action. Best fighters in the clan, thanks to his shootas.
“There dey are!” shouted Fista, waving his blaster-harpoon kombi. Through the viewfinder, BlastGud zoomed in on a column of marines, cautiously clambering over a rockfall to the far east. One of them seemed to look straight at him.
“WAAAGH! Let ’em ‘ave it!” cried Fista. The air was alive with radioactive beams and streams of hot metal as the Orks poured death into the valley. The clacking, barking, roaring sound of the shootas was wonderfully painful in BlastGud’s ears and he considered adding some kind of mechanism to Lookbox to make it work louder. People would really know he was working then. It would make the film better too. The ground around the humans exploded into a dust cloud. A few shots came out of the brown mist but none reached the ridge.
After two minutes of this Fista howled to them to stop firing. A few minutes later, they did. They peered into the dust as it cleared. To their joy several burnt human bodies were revealed, sprawled on the ground. The Boyz roared in approval. Fista was the first over the ridge, greedy to scavenge the human weapons for himself. BlastGud followed him as he lolloped down the slope. A shadow moved behind the rockpile beyond. Fista’s comrades got one cry of warning out before a column of angry red plasma struck out from a human trooper’s rifle, hitting Fista square in the neck. Instinctively, BlastGud followed the arc of Fista’s severed head as it flew backwards over the ridge and landed with a metallic thump on the rock. He filmed it as it lay there smouldering, wondering if this moment counted as a funny or a feel bad.