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Literary Stalker – A ‘Gay Novel’ by a Straight Author

February 1, 2019 Leave a comment

As part of The Ginger Nuts of Horror LGBTQ+ Horror Month, I have penned this piece concerning the rationale and technical challenges I faced in producing Literary Stalker as a ‘gay novel’, with references to gay novelists Alan Hollinghurst, William Burroughs, Joel Lane and others. William Burroughs’s second novel Queer was a particular inspiration, as was Joel Lane’s From Blue To Black. Queer photo: 1986 Picador edition.


 

At the Hay Festival last year, prominent gay novelist Alan Hollinghurst declared that the gay novel has had its day. He said that in earlier decades it possessed urgency and novelty, but now it is ‘…dissolving back into everything else and we are living increasingly in a culture where sexuality is not so strongly defined.’ Broadly speaking, Hollinghurst feels that as homosexuality is now so familiar and generally accepted, the ‘gay novel’ no longer has an edge.

Yet the recent story of Matt Cain and The Madonna of Bolton (published in 2018), shows there is some vibrancy left in the phenomenon of the ‘gay novel’. A tale of a northern gay lad growing up in the 1980s and worshipping the singer Madonna, Cain’s novel was widely rejected by publishers for being ‘too gay’, ‘a little niche’ and also for not having the highbrow literary credentials of Hollinghurst’s work. But through a crowdfunding campaign and the support of backers such as David Walliams, Mark Gatiss and Lisa Jewell, it was published and proved popular with a large audience.

Nonetheless Hollinghurst does have a point. In an age where gay love stories and their tribulations are featured universally in screen dramas and soaps such as Coronation Street, what can the ‘gay novel’ do to be transgressive again? It has become a well-trodden path with familiar tropes, and so has the status of a genre one can dabble in, such as horror or science fiction. Which is the precise point where I personally interfaced with its world. For reasons of plot expediency, I set out, as a straight man, to manufacture – to the best of my ability – a ‘gay novel’.

Read more on: The Ginger Nuts of Horror

To read other Ginger Nuts Literary Stalker pieces, please follow these links:

Book Excerpt, Medusacon 2006

Author Interview with Roger Keen

Review of Literary Stalker by Jim Mcleod

Ginger Nuts of Horror Review of Literary Stalker

December 4, 2018 Leave a comment

Here, Ginger Nuts main man Jim Mcleod playfully explores his scepticism of ‘meta-horror’ by writing a ‘meta-review’, but through grappling with the ideas he comes out positive about the whole concept:

In all seriousness, though Literary Stalker is an ambitious book and one that for the vast majority of its length works exceptionally well. This is a rich and slightly darkly comic novel that has a lot to say about the not so new culture of social media and the instant unearned quest for fame and validation…Keen could have taken the easy route and written this as a straightforward novel with a linear narrative, but Keen isn’t your average writer, and his use of a story within a story multidimensional narrative is more than just a gimmick, it takes reading experience into a whole new level of cleverness.

So here is yet another most generous review from a high profile critic or writer. Big thanks is due to Jim for the review and for hosting the interview and book excerpt, making up the package (see posts below). In January I will be contributing an article to Ginger Nuts LGBT+ Month, concerning the challenge of a straight author creating an authentic gay narrator for Literary Stalker, touching on the influence of gay novelists such as William Burroughs and Joel Lane, and looking at the phenomenon of the ‘gay novel’.

Read the full review on: The Ginger Nuts of Horror

Book Excerpt: Literary Stalker

November 20, 2018 Leave a comment

The first of three pieces featuring on the prestigious Ginger Nuts of Horror site, this excerpt is taken from Chapter 11 of Literary Stalker, about half way through, dealing with a tipping point in stalker Nick’s obsession where his intent turns nasty. It is set at a fictional horror convention called ‘Medusacon’ in London in 2006, drawing on many convention experiences. It also features cameo appearances from several real-life horror writers: Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Kim Newman and Brian Lumley.

Medusacon 2006 was held at a big swish hotel in London’s Docklands, with commanding views of the Thames, Canary Wharf and the pristine Docklands Light Railway providing a cool backdrop to the proceedings. All the ‘usual suspect’ horror, fantasy and sci-fi writers were present, including Stan, Darren, Crimpy, Otto and Darius, together with more illustrious scribes and the Guests of Honour. Film critic and writer Kim Newman attended, in Victorian Gothic mode as usual, with his long flowing hair and full moustache, silk waistcoat and cravat. Horror veteran Brian Lumley enlivened the atmosphere, looking awesome in a white suit and shirt with silver collar tips, and a leather bolo tie and ornate aiguillette around his neck. And horror newcomer Joe Hill floated around enigmatically, with his jet black hair and equally jet black full beard, having recently come out as the son of Stephen King. I liked the look of him, but of course he was married and straight. And besides I was after bigger fish, as the Guests of Honour were Neil Gaiman and the man himself: Hugh Canford-Eversleigh.

Read more on: The Ginger Nuts of Horror

Literary Stalker Blog Tour Finale

All good things come to an end, and sadly that’s true of the terrific Literary Stalker Blog Tour with Confessions of a Reviewer. Confessions themselves have hosted the final stops, which include a two-part in-depth interview with myself and a review of the novel. Big thanks to Nev Murray and the rest of the team for the excellent hard work in putting the tour together, other social media publicity and the concluding pieces. I would strongly recommend Confessions if you are considering publicity for a horror-related book.

The first part of the interview covers early influences, my writing and TV careers and the evolution of ‘mad artistry’. And the second part looks into the ideas behind Literary Stalker, metacrime and metahorror and also the challenge of a straight author creating a gay narrator, drawing on novels such as Queer by William Burroughs and From Blue to Black by Joel Lane. Then there are some more revelations of social media debacles in the ‘Ten Confessions’ section.

From the review:

There are a lot of references to movie plots and murder scenes, as you would imagine when the main character is murdering people just like in his favourite movies. This part I enjoyed because having watched most of the movies mentioned, it was easy to relate to them…It is full of a darker kind of humour and on occasions, a certain Britishness comes through in the story and it certainly lends an extra flavour to it.

Read more:

Confessions Interview Part One

Confessions Interview Part Two

Confessions Review

Terror Tree Review of Literary Stalker

Watch Nick! He’s a real loose cannon. You never know how he’s going to take umbrage and react. And if you annoy him too much on social media, it might be curtains. His fictional alter ego Jago might even come off the page and enter the real world to get you – like Freddy in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare! Ha! Ha! Ha!


 

Such sentiments as the above are becoming commonplace in reviews of Literary Stalker. Read the latest on the current blog tour from Terror Tree, with big thanks to Yvonne Davies.


 

The majority of us live on social media and it is one of the best ways to spread the word about what you are doing. But what happens when an innocent comment is taken the wrong way or someone does not like your work. Nick Chatterton, an Indie author uses his personal experience on social media to pen The Facebook Murders.

Nick is an aspiring author, working the horror scenes whilst connecting with other authors and a major user of social media. Having published a few short stories, he was looking for that next big novel. An idea came to him when he re-watched Theatre of Blood and the novel was born. Using Jago as Nick’s main character showed how vindictive and petty Nick was. How he fixated on certain Facebook comments and wanted to seek revenge. However he had a dark side which showed itself when he was conjuring up the murders, whilst they were based on scenes from films, you could feel his blood lust and knew he enjoyed them too much.

Read more on Terror Tree

Literary Stalker, Metacrime and Metafilm

Guest post for The Haunted Reading Room, which travels the meta-road from highbrow Borges and Martin Amis to the popular culture of Wes Craven’s Scream series and Joe Hill’s stories, relating it to the writing of Literary Stalker. Thanks to Mallory Heart for hosting.


 

Though Literary Stalker is primarily a psychological crime/horror novel about revenge, another important aspect is the metafictional dimension, the nested novels-within-novels and the self-conscious play with the different levels of the ‘real’ and ‘fictional’. When I mention a word like ‘metafiction’ I can almost hear the groans of some readers, expecting to get a lecture on highbrow postmodernist writing of the kind practised by Borges, Nabokov, John Barth, Doris Lessing and Martin Amis…to name but a few. Or on films by the likes of Fellini and Truffaut. Yes, all that self-referential deconstructionist stuff hardly conjures up a vision of a fluent entertaining read or watch, but still the principles of metafiction have filtered down into the mainstream somewhat, and have also reached works of popular culture.

Read more on The Haunted Reading Room

 

Now Read This: Literary Stalker

A new incisive, very positive review of Literary Stalker from Josh Hancock of Morbidly Beautiful:

 

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC—FRIGHTENING WORDS FOR THE VENGEFUL, UNSTABLE PROTAGONIST OF ROGER KEEN’S FUN AND THRILLING HORROR FICTION NOVEL “LITERARY STALKER”.

 

Buckle up for the fun, meta-rollercoaster ride that is Roger Keen’s Literary Stalker, a novel that mingles fact with fiction and fiction with fictional facts. If that sounds confusing, allow the first few chapters of this novel to wash over you slowly, and soon the story of a struggling writer who longs for revenge against his detractors will make delightfully morbid sense.

Nick Chatterton is our protagonist, a gay novelist fighting to keep his relationship with flat-mate Robin together and to compose his new book titled The Facebook Murders. If that title sounds a bit sophomoric, perhaps it’s intentionally so — for Nick is by no means the perfect hero; in fact, he’s got a big chip on his shoulder, exists on rocky ground between reality and fantasy, and believes wholeheartedly that his new novel will soon take the world by storm.

Read more on Morbidly Beautiful

 

The Real Literary Stalkers

Guest post for Morbidly Beautiful, on a subject that I’ve had in mind for some considerable time, as there is a wealth of interesting material, and it ties in well with the story in Literary Stalker.

Stephen King constructed the most famous fictional literary stalker ever, in his novel Misery. But he had several real ones too!

Find out more about the stalking of Stephen King, Peter James, James Lasdun and other authors. Morbidly Beautiful have done an excellent job with the layout, text headings and quotes, and have furnished a wealth of great photographs.


 

My novel Literary Stalker constructs a fictional scenario where a writer/fan becomes embittered by a series of negative encounters with others in the writing game, and in one particular case he tips over into becoming a stalker, heading inexorably towards bloody revenge.

In fiction, a variation on this theme has been explored most famously by Stephen King, who gave us literary stalker Annie Wilkes in Misery, and brought to life every paranoid writer’s worst nightmare. But what about in real life? Are there actual literary stalkers out there, preying on illustrious scribes? You bet there are!

Read more on Morbidly Beautiful

 

GetWordy Review of Literary Stalker

Another generous review on the Literary Stalker Blog Tour from Laura James of GetWordy. A disturbing reading experience and social media anxieties are themes that emerge, once again!


 

Where to begin. I will read anything and everything as long as the theme is somewhat disturbing – yeah ok I know that might make me kinda weird but I know what I like – and after reading the synopsis of Literary Stalker, a disturbed read is what I thought I’d get. Let me tell you, Roger didn’t disappoint in that regard at all.

Basically we follow Nick as he tries to write his great masterpiece, with an unsupportive partner and thoughts of revenge on a certain few, we are with him as this latest (& he hopes the best) work is written.

The novel Nick is writing, The Facebook Murders, is about an author, Jago,  who is planning on killing his critics and using that experience to plot his own novel. Hats off to Roger for writing a novel, within a novel, how he kept things straight in his head is beyond me, man Roger has some skill. Saying that, I was confused on occasion as I found I had to re-read bits to check whether the killings were fictional or actual but to be honest by that point I didn’t care…

Read more on GetWordy

My Movie-Buff Literary Stalker

Guest Post for GetWordy on the Literary Stalker Blog Tour. Thanks to Laura James for hosting.


 

When I constructed my literary stalker, Nick Chatterton, I tried to make him unlike myself in many ways – ‘…so people won’t think he’s me’ – as Nick says about his own fictional creation, Jago Farrar. I made Nick thirty-eight, gay, unemployed, with a full head of long hair, borderline personality disorder and a criminal record – none of which apply to myself. I also gave him a different profile as a writer to my own, though there are some similarities (we both wrote horror short stories for small press magazines). But in one particular area I fashioned Nick very much in my own image – I gave him my taste in movies and made him a movie buff.

My own background is art college, film school, and work in broadcast TV and video production as an editor and director; and later I added film and DVD reviewing and feature writing to the skill set. I’ve loved ‘the movies’ since childhood, when I saw films such as Jason and the Argonauts and The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, way back in the early 1960s. Since then my tastes have developed along certain lines, and I’m known as an aficionado of the weird, surreal and offbeat in cinema, a tendency which touches upon art movies, horror and crime, science fiction and metafiction. I also love film noir and intelligent gangster and dark transgressive movies generally. So I bequeathed these interests to Nick, and thus I was able to add another layer to Literary Stalker, where the films Nick uses in his plots and references in his daily life become adjuncts to the storytelling, bouncing the ideas around the text as though in a hall of mirrors…

Read more on GetWordy

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