First Interview


When I wrote 'Filthy Henry: The Fairy Detective' I never figured one day I would be getting interviewed about it.

Last weekend I went to Dublin Comic Con (keep meaning to put up an entry about that) and went to a panel on self publishing and indie authors. It was ran by four guys that each have books out in the big bad world and all went about it themselves. Telling the publishing world that they wanted nothing to do with them.

It was a really interesting panel it has to be said. Each of the lads gave an account of their own journey, from scribbles on the napkin in a coffee shop to actually holding a copy of their finished novel in their hands. They had all tried getting agents, shopping to publishers direct. Each had hit the same pitfalls I had myself. The agents wanted the full thing then never got back to them. Agents wanted things changed, when the changes were made nothing more was heard. Publishers looking for money from the author instead of giving them money. It was oddly encouraging to hear, even though it was sucky stuff that happened to them. It made me feel like I wasn't alone in the waters of writing.

But, after the talk, one of the lads, a guy by the name of Owen Quinn, asked to have a quick word with me.

Owen writes a series of books, that can be found at his site The Time Warriors, and goes around to cons to get more and more indie writers into his network. He interviews them and publishes the interviews on his site.

We exchanged some details and tonight I finished my interview. I have no idea when it will appear on his site, but I will let people know when I do myself. In the meantime why not pop on over to it and check out some of his work.


A Tiny Drop Of Sadness


At some point in their life everyone will die. When most celebrities die the news has registered with me in a very empathic, normal, way . I would have enjoyed listening to their music or watching the movies and shows they were in. I would feel sad that their life was cut short, or glad to learn they passed away peacefully at a ripe old age, and wonder what their poor family would go through in the days and weeks that followed their departure into the Great Unknown.

But today marks the day that the world lost a true genius and a genuine human being, for today is the day that Robin Williams is no longer on this Earth. For a man I never met, didn't know on a personal level, it has hit me in quite a profound way.

My first encounter with Robin Williams was when I was seven years old, leaving my grandmother's house on Christmas night. As all the kids stood with coats on and bellies stuffed with sweets a comedy show started on the television. Out walked this man with more hair on his arms than I had ever seen and he made a joke. People laughed. Something I had never seen before. Sure I had been in a room when family had laughed, but here was this guy making a hall of what, to my child's mind, looked like a million strangers laugh out loud. Truth be told I doubt if I got 1% of what he said, but it was mesmerising to watch. To this day I remember he made a joke about Optimus Prime that had me laughing. Not because I fully got the joke, but because the punchline contained the word 'fuck'. To a seven year Transformers fan that was just hilarious.

Later I learned who he was and that he was in a show called 'Mork and Mindy'. I must have devoured every hour I could of that show, this being back in an Age when you had to pray to the TV Gods that the episode you were watching was new and you were home in time for it. If I was ever not in the sitting room and the mother-figure happened to flick over to a channel where it was showing she would call me down so I could watch it.

This manic man saying crazy things and making people laugh, it was inspiring stuff to a growing boy. I know that my own manic story telling method has more than a hint of how Mr. Williams tells tales in it. As I grew older I started to watch the movies that he was in, finally getting more of the adult comedy than I had in my younger days. To this day Aladdin is my favourite cartoon and at thirty-one I ain't ashamed to admit it. Hell the Lady friend even got it for me on DVD as a present. How can you not love a magical being that has phenomenal cosmic powers and is also voiced by a brilliant comic? That's a rhetorical question if ever there was one.

What I always found mind-boggingly impressive about him was how he never seemed to let his inner demons stop him from making others laugh. For years he had suffered from depression, the black dog never far from his mind, and battled alcoholism. After the attacks on September 11th Robin Williams walked through the streets of New York with the rescue workers and other folk, helping them find people or dig out rubble and telling some jokes to help make them laugh in a dark part of human history, not unlike the scene from Good Morning Vietnam. When Christopher Reeves was in hospital after his accident, completely paralyzed, Robin Williams showed up dressed like a doctor and gave the Superman actor some of the best medicine he could to help boost the man's spirits. These are but two of the stories that very few people know about Mr. Williams, because he never made a big deal about them. They weren't for him, he wasn't interested in winning popularity like so many famous folk these days. These were just acts of genuine human kindness from a man who knew that even though he was going through some shit he could help others get through their shit with a smile on their face.

That is the mark of a truly great man.

For a lot of people today is going to be one of those 'Where were you when....' days. We all experience the black dog at some point in our lives, shit just gets on top of us. Williams himself gave advice on the topic saying that 'If you're that depressed reach out to someone. And remember suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.' Sadly it looks like his own demons left him with no other choice.

Like everyone else in the world I am thinking about his poor family and how they are going to deal with such a great loss. But also about the man himself and that even though he is gone he brought so much joy to people. Not a bad legacy to leave behind, even if he left us far too early.

"We're given a tiny drop of madness, we must never lose it." - Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)


Random Instagram Back


A few weeks back I logged onto The Bauble to post up an entry and noticed that the site was taking a lot longer to load than normal. After it finally did appear I spotted the Instagram bubble, usually displaying a random image from my Instagram account, had up and died on me. The bubble was there, just no image.

This sorta thing gets at the pedantic coder in me. The feature had been working before for months and now suddenly wasn't. Worse I was in work and had no chance during the day of discovery to try and fix things.

What is a Jester to do?

I quickly logged onto the site and disabled the feature until I could get some time to work on it.

What had happened was the third party site that I used to pull down my Instagram feed from had decided to rebrand themselves. Rebrand and at the same time inform nobody they had done it nor make sure that the new stuff was backwards compatible with the old services they provided.

This of course presented me with a problem. I needed to recode the feature so that I could get my random image bubble working again. But should I go down the road of coding to the new service or using the actually api calls that Instagram provides?

See, back when I first wrote the code for that bubble Instagram kept all their calls private from the public. Now, it seems, they have opened up everything. So one quick developer account creation, a little json parsing, and some multi-dimensional array headaches later I was once again pulling down my Instagram feed and getting a random image to load.

This time from the source itself.

Not a bad way to waste some time on a weekend where the aim was to do very little ;)