Vote for Headcase!

Hey, if you’re in Australia, can I implore you to vote for Headcase in the Dymocks 101 Club? If it gets on the list, it’ll be stocked in every Dymocks bookstore for the rest of the year, instead of disappearing after three months like most books do. That means when stressed-out people are frantically searching for last-minute Mother’s Day gifts on May 13, their gaze will fall on an astronaut/cannibal crime thriller, instead of I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. Think of all the mums whose feelings (and children whose lives) will be spared! How could you not vote for my book?

Seriously, Hangman got on the list once, and it was life-changing. If Headcase makes the cut, I promise to email you some new gruesome recipes from Blake’s collection! You know, just in case you want to try a real “hand-shake”…

Screenshot of voting website
Vote now!

Virtual book club on January 24!

Join me and Ben Hobson (author of Snake Island, To Become a Whale and The Death of John Lacey) for a fun chat next Tuesday! First Ben will interview me, then you can hit me hard with your hard-hitting questions.

You’ll get that joke when you see my hair (and/or an episode of The Simpsons from 1996.)

The book club is on Zoom, so you can join Ben and me from the comfort of your study / doomsday bunker / flight deck of a passenger plane. But you do need to register:

Ben's Book Club, Tuesday 24th January

Headcase, as written by AI

I sometimes end these emails with a short story. Last time I got lazy, and linked you to someone else’s story. This time I got even lazier, and plugged the first 33 words of Headcase into Sassbook AI Short Story Generator and let the algorithm write the rest. I wanted to see how our future machine overlords will write Blake after I’m dead and buried. This is the result:

'I eat people,' I say.

The psychiatrist doesn't blink. 'Tell me about that.'

Her office is plain. Just two low chairs facing each other, a box of Kleenex perched on a coffee table in between. She sits in her office, her head in one of her hands, staring at her phone. Her eyes dart back and forth between the two screens. She doesn't blink, doesn't even look up. What is wrong with me? She's not here. There's no one here, just her and me and a knife. And I'm scared. Scared of what? Of course, she is here to kill me! She's the one I want, not you, you My eyes were wide, and I could see the tears rolling down my cheeks. There was no way I would ever be able to escape from this room or this girl. But I didn't have any choice. And then I felt a hand touch my shoulder. George? I thought. Where is he? He's here! He's right here. You can see his arm, it's still there. We're going to be okay. Come on. Let's get you out of this place. You're in the way, Kathleen. We have a job to do. If you want to live, get out. Now. Get out!" My heart was beating like it's trying to beat itself out and my hands were shaking

Wow, that went off the rails fast. Let’s try a different generator called NovelAI:

'I eat people,' I say.

The psychiatrist doesn't blink. 'Tell me about that.'

Her office is plain. Just two low chairs facing each other, a box of Kleenex perched on a coffee table in between. A couple of bookshelves line one wall with a small TV mounted above them. The only decoration is a framed photo on the opposite side of the room. It's a picture of her family. Her parents, brother, sister, and her son, who must be around ten or eleven years old now. She has to have married young because she looks younger than twenty-five.

'It wasn't always like this.'

She nods for me to continue. We're sitting across from each other at her kitchen table. She's wearing jeans and a loose t-shirt. I'm in my usual grey hoodie and jeans. Every time we talk, she makes me feel comfortable enough to just sit back and talk without any awkwardness. Maybe it's because she's always smiling.

'When I was little, I used to watch shows where they ate people,' I start. 'Not every day – only when I got bored. I thought it was cool how their teeth could shred a man into pieces while he screamed.'

OK, that actually wasn’t bad. I don’t feel quite as safe up on my high horse now.

If you’d like to compare Skynet’s efforts to mine, you can read the real first chapter of Headcase on Scribd.

Read now

Honestly, I have heaps of thoughts about this, but I’m a novelist, not a tech commentator. I have books to write. (And also, it’s lunchtime. Unlike an AI, I have to eat.) Byeeeee!