the questing beast books blog


a passion for words


Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Race Glass - three stories by Remy Dean

questing beast books is proud to announce The Race Glass by Remy Dean.

Special Launch Party Promotion - details below...

To help celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Scraps - the first book published by questing beast - we asked the author to suggest titles for a retrospective of his work published over the last two decades. Of course, being Remy Dean, he bent the rules and dug up an unpublished piece from before the allotted period, making this a collection of three short(ish) stories spanning the past three decades... From the 1980s we present Snail Racing - published here for the first time, from the 1990s we have Guitar Hero, and from the 2000s, the slipstream story, Homunculus... 
The Race Glass by Remy Dean
Paul, Mark and Nancy have finished school and are facing a British summer of uncertainty while they consider how to move on… three ‘average’ teenagers who learn the meaning of growing up and letting go. Snail Racing tells the story of three friends attempting to take control of their futures, dealing with the subtle and complex issues of gender, belonging, connection, and alienation - a short story that is both poignant and told with an underlying wry wit… and, yes, they do race snails.

College student Mac, lonely though surrounded by friends, is obsessed with his guitar – the only thing he can really relate to and express himself through. Guitar Hero picks up on the themes of Snail Racing and ups the anti in a world of free sex, cheap drink and expensive amplifiers – the second short story presented in this retrospective is delineated with a gentle humanity and reminds those who may have forgotten, that the 'folly of youth' is often a brave front.

In a future world of virtual warfare, those with the fastest synaptic responses become heroes. In Homunculus, we meet Gurt, a ‘Top Tester’ for a bio-tech conglomerate that develops new kinds of weapons – but he is being changed by his experiences just as any real soldier is. Has he been contaminated? Is he losing part of himself or discovering himself anew? What secret is Gabby hinting at? Something strange is happening… and soldiers must have their orders. Mixing elements from SF, zombie horror and romance, the third short story in this collection remains highly relevant in a time when we are gradually losing-and-finding ourselves in the digital world…
Remy Dean holds the actual race glass prop used in the 1986
short film he made of  the story, Snail Racing... and now uses 
to race garden snails with his daughter.
"Re-reading these stories brought back memories," Remy commented , "I realised I have some affection for them and so I'm delighted to see them preserved in this way. As for Scraps being twenty-years old! It represents some sort of achievement that the novel is still 'alive' - in paper and pixels formats - and so am I!"

The Race Glass is a retrospective, novelette-length, collection of short stories from the author of Scraps and Final Bough - presented with an insightful introduction by Remy Dean

Available from Friday 21 March, exclusively via Amazon.co.uk

SPECIAL LAUNCH PARTY PROMOTION: 
The Race Glass by Remy Dean will be available to download FREE on day of release!
Follow this link during 21 March to download - sorry this promotion has expired (now available at £1.85). Thanks to all who joined in and grabbed the freebie, all we ask in return is that you post a brief amazon review, just let us know which story was your favourite from the collection!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Lydia Lunch - Brought to Book

What is the first book you can recall that really grabbed you and carried you along with it? 

Last Exit to Brooklyn, at the age of 12 or 13.

Is there an all time favourite book, or one you keep coming back to? 

All of E M Cioran… The Temptation to Exist, The Trouble With Being Born, All Gall Is Divided, Short History of Decay… Cormac McCarthy, Suttree and Blood Meridian… Joan Goytisolo, Juan the Landless, Marks of Identity… Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Can you tell us a little about your own writing process. Do you have a ritual or regimen, do you write long-hand, into a word-processor or dictate? 

 Consume massive amounts of coffee, enough cigarettes to kill off all of Texas, pace a hole in the floor, rip out clumps of hair, kick the wall, scream AS LOUD AS YOU CAN and then settle down and JUST DO IT!

With speeches, stories, books… I always start writing at five or six a.m. and quit by ten or eleven. Paradoxia I wrote on an old typewriter. It took about three months. It just didn’t feel right doing it on the computer. For my columns I use word-processing. Songs spurt forth whenever they feel like it, so I usually keep notebooks full of random lines… which eventually get compiled… or they’re shat out all at once.

Any advice for the aspiring writer? 

All a writer needs to do is find their voice and tell thee truth. Or at least their version of it. Editing is one of the most important aspects of what makes good reading. Most of my editing is almost ‘in-camera’. I have such a fat-free style, and being the contrarian I am, I usually need to expound more, not edit. But that’s me. 

What do you think the social roles of the writer are? 

Depends on what kind of writing… The only ‘social duty’ a writer has is to not be boring.

Read the extended Scrawl interview with Lydia Lunch here ...or go to the official Lydia Lunch website.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Evolution of Western Art by Remy Dean

Evolution of Western Art is the new non-fiction book by Remy Dean - an essential resource for the art student, novice practitioner and general art enthusiast who would like to expand their knowledge, and enhance their appreciation, of art. 

This fresh approach to art history follows a timeline that spans more than 40,000 years, from pre-history to the present day, using clear language and specific examples to chart the development of key ideas and major concepts along the path. Art is the ultimate expression of a culture and often survives as the only evidence of how people thought and acted. Could art be one of the factors that saved the human race from early extinction? Do we make art because we are intelligent, or has human intellect grown as a response to our art? How does our art define us?

Remy Dean is a teacher with more than a decade’s experience of lecturing in art history and contextual understanding to young adults (levels 2, 3 and 4). The aim is to remain clear and concise without over-simplification and not shy away from the important concepts. Each example is approached using a method of analysis suited to the work.

This book guides the reader along a path that runs through the major landmarks in the evolution of western art. It takes in ancient art, mediaeval art, the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, the art of the Enlightenment, the Romantics, Impressionists, Expressionists, Modernists, the Abstract, the Post-Modern, the Conceptual and the contemporary scene…

This is the first non-fiction title from Questing Beast Books since Maren Hancunt's Lady Lazarus: Confronting Lydia Lunch, published ten years ago, and follows 'hot on the heels' of the electronic re-issues of Dean's novel, Scraps, and novelette, Final Bough...

Click here to preview or buy Evolution of Western Art by Remy Dean

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Scraps by Remy Dean - Kindle Edition

questing beast books are proud to present the new Kindle edition of Scraps a novel by Remy Dean:

Tom doesn't know which city he is in or what drug he is addicted to and is forced to confront himself on a strange journey of self discovery - or maybe self deception.

On the run from the cops and two factions of the mob, he falls in with a gang of street punks and poets.

Under the influence of three very different women and assorted substances, Tom must sort out his dreams from his memories and come to terms with what he has done, or failed to do...


Scraps is brave and uncompromising - a surprising story told with startling style - brutal, flippant and fun.

Lydia Lunch, author, confrontationalist, musician and multi-media artist, said of Dean's first novel, "great language, poetry and images..." she also commented that, "the sex was hot".

Miles Hatfield in his review in 'The Champion' described it as, "a twisted tale... a freewheeling, experimental novel". He realised that, "Dean has taken a few risks... there are some startling and surreal episodes," and goes on to say that, "there is plenty of energy in the writing and the yarn rattles along at a cracking pace".

Susan Watt, a senior editor at HarperCollins described Scraps as, "a really moody, and inspired portrait of urban life at its seediest".

Writers News called 'Scraps', "a fast moving, gripping story of love, lust and moralities," whereas Writers Monthly branded it as a, "shocking debut novel, also describing it as, "racy, gripping, brutal and startling..."

Others have likened Dean's distinctive gritty-crime-noir fantasy style to the films of Quentin Tarantino and Scrawl UK said, "An intelligent crime novel with a romantic twist... A dense and powerful debut novel, 'Scraps' has the visual impact of cutting edge cinema and the lyrical quality more often found in good song writing. The theme challenges you to re-think your own morality."

Remy Dean has added this note to the new edition: "Music was an important part of the writing process for this novel – it helped me to create and capture certain moods and atmosphere. I was writing as if describing a film I had dreamt, and I had music in mind for the dream soundtrack of that film. The sounds that were playing as I wrote, and in various ways filtered through into the text, included music and lyrics by the following artists, to whom I wish to extend my gratitude for their positive influence upon this piece of writing and upon my life, then and now: Dave Graney (The Moodists / The Coral Snakes), Lydia Lunch (8 Eyed Spy), Gavin Friday (Virgin Prunes), BrainDeath, Slab, Eric Serra, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Go-Betweens, Hunters & Collectors, Nick Cave (Birthday Party), Scott Walker, Gordon Lightfoot... If you really listen to this book, you will hear them all."


Buy Scraps direct on-line

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Russell Grant - Brought to Book

What is the most recent book you have thoroughly enjoyed? 

The Isles by Norman Davis. Gave me great insight into the true origins of the British islands. For instance the Welsh are the real British, the Scots are Irish, the Irish are Europeans and the English are Germanics! Simplified, but in a nutshell!

What is the first book you can recall that really grabbed you and carried you along with it? 

The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan. A brilliant book that was so compelling I couldn't put it down. I read it around the age of ten, I was at school in Hillingdon, Middlesex and had to write a review for my English Lit exam… I passed.

Do you have a favourite author? 

No, I don't really have a favourite author. I tend to have a favourite subject. Any kind of local history particularly where my ancestral roots are. On my mother's side that tends to be Meirionnydd, Glamorgan/Morgannwg, Middlesex, Isle of Wight and Cornwall whilst my father's lineage is Scottish Highlands, Devon, Middlesex and Yorkshire. I suppose that makes me a true Brit!

Russell Grant in the Snowdonian sunshine
Is there an all-time favourite book, or one that you keep coming back to? 

MMmmm… difficult, but Bartholomew's Gazetteer Ninth Edition is one, Place Names Of The British Isles is another, plus my own tome: although I have written dozens of books on astrology my particular favourite is the definitive book on counties, The Real Counties Of Britain - my last British best seller. It contains information and research that is proving invaluable for work on a new series of web sites I am involved with in an advisory capacity.

Russell Grant is a well-known TV personality, astrologer, author, new-age guru and a bona fide ‘household name’. In 1978, he became the first astrologer in more than three centuries to (openly) present a consultation to members of the British Royal Family. His astrological columns have appeared in more than 250 newspapers worldwide and he was the UK’s first ‘live television astrologist’. He is also a popular writer on travel, people and places – and lists Penmon Priory in Anglesey, and Portmeirion Village, among his fave locations in the entire world. He was a resident of Snowdonia and is often involved in local community events. For more information on Russell’s life and works, visit www.russellgrant.com

This snippet originally appeared in the second news stand edition of Scrawl Magazine.
Russell Grant was talking with Remy Dean.

Friday, 8 October 2010

AB-solutely FAB-ulist: The Heart & Soul Of Clive Barker

Clive Barker is no longer the foremost figure in British ‘horror’. He is the world’s foremost ‘fabulist’, a genre he created for himself that he says stems from folklore, fairy-tales and scripture. He has also fled these shores, having set up home just outside Los Angeles.

The fame of Barker has grown and grown, from the first cult readership of The Books Of Blood short stories more than two decades ago, to the now world-wide audience that keep his novels in the international best selling charts for months on end.

Clive Barker photo courtesy of HarperCollins

His more recent works have been epic tales that sweep the reader along from world to world and from one reality to another. Galilee was the novel to firmly establish Clive Barker as a literary presence outside of genre, it is a huge generation-spanning family saga set against the broad canvas of America’s bloodstained history - a little bit of a departure from what his vast audience may have come to expect. Although there is action occurring on supernatural planes, much of the drama is earthbound and human centred. So was Barker deliberately trying to come down to earth in order appeal to a yet wider audience?

“I could not say that I woke up one morning and decided to do this - I don’t have a lot of control over the way my imagination works, it sort of decides by itself. I always had a passion to do a multi-generational family saga. I wanted to do something with a real sweep to it.”

“I’ve made sure that supernatural stuff is going on in the book, but I can see by the numbers that we were widening the readership as I context these fantastical events in more realistic settings. As I’ve moved more in that direction, my readers have moved along with me…”

He has turned four of his stories into major movies, Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman and Lord Of Illusion, in addition to the numerous adaptations based on his huge repertoire of short stories. His epic saga, Weaveworld, has been adapted for television as a series, though this project has yet to reach fruition after ten years in development. It did see a transmedia manifestation when it was published back in 1991 as a three-part comic series, adapted by Erik Salzgaber, who has more recently written for the CSI franchise.

On its release, Hellraiser was hailed as heralding the resurgence of British horror cinema... So what happened?

“The problem is that the Americans stole our thunder. They make these movies so much faster and so much cheaper than we do. I had to go to America for the money to make Hellraiser, I had to for Nightbreed. I went to America to make movies there... there’s nowhere to make my kind of movies here.”

Clive Barker made his presence felt in the USA, rapidly earning himself a degree of notoriety and infamy. Hellraiser and especially Nightbreed stirred up plenty of trouble with the MPAA, the American equivalent to the British Board of Film Censors. Are the States a suitable climate for making his kind of movies?

“They gave us seventeen scenes they wanted cut from Nightbreed... I got four Xs on the movie and I only got one on Hellraiser. Which is bizarre to my mind because the movie is a much mellower and less aggressively horrible movie than Hellraiser. Well both movies are fairy tales.

“What can you say - they’re inconsistent. That is the nature of the censorship game: you never know where they’re going to come from. They’re always going to find something, that you don’t think twice about, bothers them in an incredibly weird way and then something that you think is really gonna cause trouble, they just pass over. There’s no logic or pattern to it and that’s very irritating.

“There are people who have suffered it far worse than I have, Cronenberg is obviously an example, but that’s the way it is, you’re dealing with irrational people.”

What was it like dealing with David Cronenberg - one of Barker’s heroes and one of the horror genre’s most respected directors himself - who starred in Nightbreed?

“Wonderful, a deeply rational man. He is someone who’s enthusiasm for the genre is not dissimilar to mine in the sense that we both feel that you can do things with the genre which are more than saying ‘Boo’ behind people’s backs. I’ve never been interested in ‘Boo’ pictures, and David isn’t either. You don’t go to one of David’s movies to be made to jump, you get something different, a kind of intelligence and poetry which is missing in most horror movies.

“And he had a good time making the movie. He said, ‘Hey do I get to come back with worms coming out of my eyes?’ And I said, ‘David, if you want to come back with worms coming out of your eyes, you got it guy, no problem’!”

It’s not only the MPAA that get worked up over Barker’s fiction and films. We all know that the States are crammed with fanatics and bible-thumpers, but Clive knows this better than most...

“I get so much mail, some saying I am already burning in Hell - which is an interesting theological notion - but many saying I will burn in Hell, or that I’m the Devil’s child or on occasion I’m elevated to the Devil himself. I get copies of The Bible with passages underlined and so on. I mean the hypocrisy and nonsense of it all, where does one begin?”

Which of course leads us to believe that these god-bothering people actually read Barker’s books... Does it worry him that there is this fascination with the darker side, which is always a prominent theme in his works?

“I’m much more concerned that people are interested in the Catholic church. I’m much more concerned that the Catholic church prevents contraception in nations that are spilling over with starving babies. It seems to me that the people who pull on the black magic string don’t look at the organised religions and their horrors anything like closely enough. If you want a really scary religion, look at fundamentalism, in any form.”

Clive Barker was born and raised in Liverpool, which has a strong Catholic community and culture, how much does he owe to his roots? The accent is now lost and his speech liberally spiced with Americanisms...

“I never had the accent. Knowing what part of is your roots, what part is your education, what part is genetic, what part of you is self made - those are difficult analyses. It’s a bit like being told by some body that you look like one of your relatives... and you can’t see the resemblance, it may very well be there, but you just can’t see it. And I feel the same about my roots. Maybe I do seem like a child of Liverpool, but I can’t see the resemblance. Your environment makes a mark on you, of course.”

Ever since the first groups of humans huddled round the first fires, the Shaman has been with us - priest, teacher, medicine man. A storyteller recounting his dreams, tales of spirits and animals in the Otherworld. His dreams would become the dreams of the tribe, their identity.

It is from his dream diary that Clive Barker plucks many ideas and themes for his bizarre creations. His dreams become his drawings, stories, novels, films, and our memories and nightmares. There are many parallels between the state of dreaming and watching a movie in the darkened auditorium. Does Barker parallel himself at all with the Shaman?

“The whole idea of the shamanistic principle, that the tribe can collectively dream a solution to a problem and that the shaman somehow indicates the direction in which the tribe heads off into their collective unconscious, to pick around amongst the bones of old gods and return with news and indications... that is very easily parallel with what, particularly the writer of the fantastique is doing.

“The realist, the writer of naturalist fiction, is necessarily bound, by definition. The fantasist says, all right, I can write about divinity, semi-divinity, demons, gods and spirits of air and water or stone. I can write about human beings, sane, crazed, visionary, even dead and I can write about them all in landscapes that are very realistic or very unrealistic. I can write about them in states of mind which are also worlds unto themselves.

“So when you’ve got that range of possibilities, reality dissolves, which I think is a dreamstate in a way because in our dreams we also meet the dead, we commune with gods and spirits. Whether we literally do that is an issue which I haven’t resolved for myself. I’m tempted to think that sometimes we do, that there is a literal sense in which in certain states of consciousness, dreaming, trance states, drug states, any altered states, I think it’s very possible that in some instances we are actually communicating with entities other than human, at least other than living human.

“But even putting aside that possibility - which I realise marks me as a crazy - let’s just assume that this is all the mind’s creation. Even under those circumstances, in dreams we are learning from our subconscious, which is, to take the realist view, representing itself as the dead or the semi-divinities in order to instruct us. We are learning from those forms and forces in symbolic form, and we are growing by the exchange.”

The Shaman was the most respected of the tribe, he has a great power, but little wealth. Is it the power or the wealth that motivates Barker? Does he find himself exercising restraint in his fiction to comply with what his now vast audience want to see?

“I don’t know what they want. They seem to be willing to take me at my most extreme. Which pleases me. Great And Secret Show doesn’t soft pedal any of its themes, which are very difficult. There is some strange fantastical stuff, the odd sex, some very violent material, it’s a big book and so on... Yet it was one of the most popular books in terms of number of copies sold that I’ve done. So I don’t think about my audience in the sense that I think, ‘Oh, I’d better not do that - it might turn them off’.

“With movies it’s a different thing. You’ve got the constant problem of the MPAA and the BBFC and so you’ve got people telling you that you can’t do this... but in books it never occurs to me to mellow what I do...

“As for motivation... I got through my twenties without earning a dime and not worrying about it. Money has never been a motivation.

“It is very important for me to produce - to make things that don’t resemble other people’s things. Not just for my audience’s sake but for my own so I don’t bore myself... It’s important for me to have the power storytelling gives. There is something very wonderful about holding someone enthralled, just as there is something wonderful about being held enthralled.

“I love to be told a story, I love to be in the middle of a movie and know that this movie’s got me. Not just fantasy stories, it’s all kinds of stories... The story is about what happens next. That’s what the kid wants to know when he’s told a story, ‘What happens next?’ It’s very primitive, very simple. And I love to have that done for me.

“I hate knowing what is going to happen next. My problem with most Hollywood movies is you always do. There’s a terrible predictability about most movies, particularly horror movies. You enter most movies knowing who’s gonna live or die, knowing what the division of good and bad is, knowing who you’re going to end up caring for and who you’re not.

“I have nothing in my life but work - that may sound like a trial, but it isn’t. I desire nothing in my life but the making of stories on the screen or on the page, and it obsesses me.”

Clive Barker has more than enough to keep himself busy... In addition to creating and writing his ‘fabulist’ tales – currently concentrating on the Abarat series that he also illustrates – he has ventured deeper and deeper into the world of Hollywood and film production. He was Executive Producer on the 1998 film, Gods And Monsters, the critically respected biopic of cult horror director James Whale. Dread, adapted from Barker’s short story by Anthony DiBlasi was released in 2009 and there are two more movie manifestations currently awaiting release: The Thief Of Always, scheduled for 2010, and Tortured Souls, adapted from his own Hellraiser-linked short story and being directed by Barker himself … and he tells us that he intends to, “get on with the business of making movies on a case by case basis...”

Then, after a short pause, he adds, “But I don’t take movies as seriously as I take books. And never will. ”

Clive Barker was in conversation with Remy Dean.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

A Trilogy Of Appropriation

- three plays by Ian Rowlands
Parthian Books, ISBN 1-902638-01-8

Reading plays does not always work… Words on dry paper can never have an effect like words spoken, shouted or whispered by a flesh and blood fellow human upon a stage. The author of these three collected plays would agree, yet in text form, Rowlands' dialogue has enough rhythm and finesse to carry the reader along and into the worlds of the characters, however unusual they may be.
Blue Heron In The Womb is the first of the plays presented in textual form here, a sharply paced scenario based around the funeral of a baby, bringing out underlying frustrations and resentments within the family of mourners. Sexual tensions and jealously soon transcend grief and the boundaries of life and death become confused.

There is certainly something deep and symbolic going on here, as there is in most of the works of Rowlands, but even if the reader ‘don’t gerrit’, then the skill, pace and intensity of the writing should still leave them with something to grab onto.

Love In Plastic ventures further into a surrealistic mindscape. A story about a man who deals with the death of his parents by transforming his house into a symbolic womb and becoming a recluse for nine months before re-birthing himself into the world, obsessed with tracking down an actress he has seen in a TV advertisement - more death, wombs and birth. It may appear that the subjects of these plays get ‘a bit heavy’, but the dialogue and characterisation is imbued with a lot of wit and philosophical tomfoolery that successfully lightens the tone, often to the point of comedic farce.

The final of the three plays, Glissando On An Empty Harp, continues the thematic journey mapped by the first two plays, with a woman giving birth to a box. The meat of the play is the debate sparked off by this event between two bards who argue about the nature of truth, beauty and art, sometimes falling toward preachy polemic, but usually redeemed by self-referential puns and self-conscious parallels with religious dogma.

On the surface, these texts can be read as lyrical interactions, much like successful poetry. If the reader ponders longer, there is always a little more to what is being said… well perhaps not always… you’ll have to decide that for yourself!

- Reviewed by Remy Dean