The Black Tattoo
The Black Tattoo - a book about demonic possession, flying kung fu, vomiting bats, the end of the universe and other fun stuff like that, by Sam Enthoven.

Friday 25thAug '06

Pan's Labyrinth

Off-topic I guess, but I HAVE to tell you about this! Tonight I had the enormous good fortune to get to go to the world's second ever showing (the first was at Cannes!) of PAN'S LABYRINTH, the latest film by my absolute favourite film director, Guillermo del Toro. I've loved his films ever since I saw his first, CRONOS, in the cinema when it was on back in 1993(I think). This one, I reckon, is his best yet. Here's a pic I took of the fliers they gave out on the night - including the one that I got him to sign!!!

Pan's Labyrinth

I was in two minds about whether to mention the film here on the site as (in places) it's one of the scariest I've ever seen in my life - and believe me, I know my horror! The story is set during the Spanish Civil War, and is unflinching in the way it shows the real-life brutality and cruelty of the time. Monster-wise(YAY!), there's a character in it called The Pale Man who just has to be seen to be believed - my brother said afterwards that that scene had him feeling like crawling up the walls! But it's an absolute gem of a film: a proper frightening fairy tale in the true tradition, full of hope, sadness, imagination, passion and beauty. As it turns out, it's now not actually coming out in cinemas until close to Christmas (-WHY??) but there are some trailers and reviews floating around the net already. If it comes on near you (and - ahem! - if you're old enough!) then don't hesitate to go and watch it, it's AMAZING.

Afterwards my brother Jack and I set out into the rainy London night to take some photos of a couple of Black Tat's locations in the West End. They came out very well - as I hope you'll agree when they eventually appear (as the WebSphinx and I are planning!) in the FUN STUFF section of this website. Watch that space!

 

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Saturday 19thAug '06

Anime Crackers

Films again! -Off-topic? Bah! I love films, so too bad! ;) This weekend there was an anime festival at the National Film Theatre here in London - and I tell you, I saw a couple of absolute CRACKERS. I went to the European premiere of the short film http://www.negadonattacks.com/)NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS, after which the film's director, Jun Awazu, who'd flown over from Japan specially, did some Q&A (through an interpreter!) Mr Awazu worked for two years, for ten hours a day, almost entirely by himself, using off-the-shelf software to create this twenty-five-minute CG giant monster flick in the exact style (faded film-stock and all!) of the kaiju classics from the Sixties. The results are astonishing - including some of the best CG human character animation I've yet come across - and I can't wait to see what he turns his hand to next. However, whether it was jet-lag or the personal price of his labours, Mr Awazu did look rather thin and exhausted. Some members of the audience plainly thought he was quite crazy for working so hard and so long on something like this - but speaking as someone who's just spent five years toiling over a book about demonic possession, flying kung fu and vomiting bats, I'd like to think I have an idea of how he felt...! ;)

I also took the hens'-teeth-rare big-screen opportunity to watch the brain-puckeringly awesome and almost totally inexplicable film MIND GAME. It was stunning: wild and warm and mad and inspiring - I haven't felt that excited about an animated film since the first time I saw AKIRA. However, as often seems to happen with films I love, even though it's been out in Japan since 2004 it's currently almost impossible to get hold of it on DVD over here without going the pirate route and/or paying fabulous amounts of money(RRRR!) Until some US or European distributor wakes up to it, here's a review with pics to whet your whistle.

 

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Thurs 17thAug '06

LibraryThing!

Have you seen LibraryThing? It's a rather wonderful (and incredibly addictive) website that helps you catalogue and keep track of your book collection. Their nifty search facility helps you put up the details of as many of your treasured editions as you like with incredible ease and speed - and then the fun stuff starts! You can find out which other LibraryThing users have similar tastes in books to yourself. You can see what they've got that you haven't, and get recommendations. You can also take a peek at the personal libraries of some of your (ahem!) favourite authors... Hint! Hint! It's sort of like MySpace, only without the fluff and corporate advertising, and run specifically by and for people who love books. Give it a go, I think it's brilliant.

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Tues 15th Aug '06

Signing at TBS

TCheck this out...

Yep, that's me standing in an entire roomful of Black Tats! I'd been invited out to the TBS warehouse in Colchester, where I signed ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED BOOKS. Believe it or not, those ones in the pic aren't actually all of them there was a whole other tableful just outside!

TBS are the biggest bookshop-suppliers in the UK. The idea of my signing so many copies of the book was that having signed ones on offer might make booksellers all over the country decide to increase their orders though I have to say, with my signature, who knows? Let's hope it doesn't have the opposite effect! ;) At any rate, I sat down and set to work. You see that board behind me? That's where the people at TBS record who the fastest-signing authors are! Current top of the heap was Robert Harris, on a frankly insane twelve hundred(plus!) signatures per hour. With my handwriting (one of my teachers once described it as "melted barcode") and my longish surname(!) those kinds of speeds were never going to happen, but at one point I did manage four hundred and eighty in an hour, which apparently is /fairly/ respectable, at least.

The people at TBS and Laura from RHCB were all wonderfully kind to me. I had a splendid time chatting away with everyone while I signed, and felt very well looked after all day. Plus, when I was finished (I'd gone through five pens!) I was then taken on a tour of the warehouse itself, with all its glorious and mesmerizing machinery. As you can probably tell from my expression in the picture, I'd thought it was pretty exciting seeing all those copies of my book in one room like that but then seeing them all boxed up and waiting to be sent out to bookshops was a real thrill, I can tell you! All in all, it was a terrific day: HUGE thanks to Laura and all the staff at TBS for being so welcoming and friendly. Who would've thought that writing one's own name that many times could be made to be so much fun, eh??

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Fri 11th Aug '06

Dragons!

Today I renewed my subscription to adopt an animal at London Zoo. The animals I'll be sponsoring for the second year running now are the Komodo dragons, who really are the most astonishing creatures. Did you know, for instance, that while they're not technically venomous a bite from a Komodo dragon can still kill its prey inside of a week, simply from the amount of bacteria that they have on their teeth? Better yet, as I read to my delight in Lifewatch [the excellent magazine of the Zoological Society of London that they send you, free, if you adopt an animal] the recent hatching of four baby Komodo dragons at London Zoo has triggered a genuine soap-opera-style dragon paternity scandal! I quote:

"The lizards hatched in March, emerging from their leathery eggs as just 50cm long from nose to tail they will grow to around three metres by adulthood. Their conception already has tongues wagging because mum, Sungai, laid the eggs before mating with our male dragon, Raja. Sungai was loaned to London from Thoiry Zoo in France as part of the European breeding programme, but laid her eggs before she and Raja were introduced. Keepers at Thoiry Zoo reported that she was last mated by their male in early 2003, meaning she must have stored sperm in her reproductive tract since then before fertilising her own eggs when she was ready."

Amazing!

Richard Gibson, Curator of Herpetology at ZSL adds:

"The breeding programme is a valuable component of the global action plan for dragons and zoos keeping them, supporting essential conservation initiatives in Komodo and Flores, Indonesia, as well as raising awareness through the exhibition of these magnificent lizards. The future of the world's largest lizard is far from secure, but the combined impact of captive management and field conservation is having a positive impact."

If the idea of adopting an animal appeals to you, take a look at the ZSL website.

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Tues 8th Aug '06

Presents!

TThat was a very fine birthday. My favourite presents included a entire dinosaur-sized leg of smoked ham from my lovely girlfriend [mmm, smoked ham!], a subscription to The Wine Society [mmm, wine!] and THIS:

(Click on image to see a larger version)

Yes, it's a hand-knitted Flying Spaghetti Monster, complete with posable noodly appendages! For more information about the FSM and the wonderful world of Pastafarianism, visit this website. Mean time, an ENORMOUS and gleeful thank you to my friend Elaine for hand-crafting this particular incarnation of Our Noodly Master. He has come down from the tree and is currently sitting in pride of place in my flat, on top of my tv. She has kindly said that she might knit me a nautiloid next can't wait! ;)

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Mon 7th Aug '06

Happy Birthday!

The WebSphinx would like it to be known that today is Sam Enthoven's birthday.

She and all the monsters hope he has a fabulous day! There was talk of a cake but since certain bats provided the icing, it might be adventagous if Sam didn't actually try to eat any of it.

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Friday 21st July '06

The First Finished Copy of THE BLACK TATTOO Arrived Today!


As you can see, I'm absurdly excited. The general 'SQUEE! SQUEE!'-ness of the moment was, I admit, slightly diminished by the fact that the book appears to have been clawed, on its way to me, by a passing velociraptor. But even slightly mangled-on-voyage as this copy is, I'm very, very, very, very happy with it. It's taken me ten years of hard work to get to this point: my own book, beautifully published at last.







(And check out those endpapers!) HEE HEE HEE HEE!)








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Thurs 13th July '06

The Chap Olympics

A little off-topic, but today I attended The Chap Olympics. Here's a link to an article with pictures on the BBC website. It was a splendid affair. The Three-Trouser Limbo was, felt, a particular highlight.

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Thurs 6th July '06

My First School Visit

I've always intended to be the kind of author who does a lot of events at schools, libraries, bookshops and so forth, so it had to happen and eventually the day came. There I was, booked for three separate hour-long sessions with sixty young people in each session, to talk about myself and Black Tat, read extracts, and answer any questions. I'd done my best to prepare, timing myself reading various different passages from the book so I could tailor my choice to how well (or badly!) each session was going - but that was all I could do. Not having set foot in a school since leaving my own, I don't mind telling you I was pretty nervous. But you know what? It was BRILLIANT.

The pupils at Park High School, in Harrow, London, are an absolute delight to speak to (and the staff are a very nice bunch of people too!) I had the most wonderful time answering all kinds of excellent questions over the course of the day. In no particular order, my favourites were:

At the end of the last session I was allowed to overrun a whole ten minutes into the next lesson, just so I could finish off reading a kung fu scene - amazing! Better yet, afterwards some of the students came up to me with things for me to sign - which is still, by the way, a bit of a novelty to me. Since the book's not out yet, they came with pieces of scrap paper. Astonishingly everyone continued to be unfailingly polite and courteous, even after they'd witnessed the full horror that is my signature! ;)

All in all it couldn't have gone any better from my point of view: I hope everyone who was there got something out of listening to me. I'm very grateful to Ms Kanathigoda for organizing the visit, and to all the staff and students of Park High who helped make this such a wonderful and memorable first go at this. If my future school events are even half as much fun, then this new part of my job is going to be great!

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Tues 4th July '06

Black Tat Battalion Takes to the Streets

Once a year the British book trade charity BTBS holds a fundraising walk through the streets of London's West End. Since that's where a lot of The Black Tattoo is set - the bits that aren't in HELL, anyway! - it was decided that this year a team should be put together to take part and promote the book. Look how many people kindly volunteered! And check out the T-shirts and the excellent transfer tattoos that Barry – RHCB's marketing genius – supplied for the evening! (Thanks, Barry!) I tell you, seeing everyone in a T-shirt with my name on was a very peculiar feeling. Here's a pic of us forming up outside a certain pub. If you've read the book, you'll know that this particular West End watering-hole has a dark and terrifying secret...!

Here's one of some of the team pausing for some well-earned refreshments: you can see what was on the back of the T-shirts. [Incidentally, the gentleman wearing one saying 'It's your city, make the most of it' is the excellent author Dean Vincent Carter.

Finally, here's another one of almost all of us. My slightly... *strained* expression is due to the fact that I've just discovered I'm standing in a (dry, fortunately) picturesque mini-moonscape of "pavement pizza" – and from the smell, not one left by a Chinj, either. Well, that's the West End for you!

A HUGE thank you to everyone for kindly coming along. It was a wonderfully silly evening, and a terrific way to kick off promoting the book. On with the sinister masterplan!

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Thurs 29th June '06

Goon! Yammering Goon!

I filmed a short clip this week of me talking about the book for www.MeetTheAuthor.co.uk. You can check it out here.
Done in one take, it's a little obvious that I'd just drunk an enormous cup of very strong coffee, but what the hey. I think the 'black on black' colour scheme worked out very well, don't you? I look like some kind of nightmarish shiny talking lollipop – EXCELLENT!

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Wed 28th June '06

Spreading the Word

This from Kelly, Black Tat's editor at RHCB. I'm HUGELY satisfied with this, as this kind of response is exactly what I was hoping for when I wrote the book in the first place. HEE HEE HEE!

"I've had some rather wonderful feedback - was at an event last night run by the Children's Book Circle at North Bridge House Prep in Camden with a panel of several 11-yr-old boys. The woman running the event first read out a short passage from an unidentified book, and the boys had to comment - they weren't that impressed. Then she read out a passage from The Black Tattoo without telling them the title or author (it was the bit where Charlie appears at Jack's window at 4am) and when she'd finished all their hands shot up in the air and they were all desperate to comment, saying things like, 'that sounds really interesting, I want to hear more', 'Charlie seems mad', 'I loved it, it was so surprising,' 'it had exactly the right amount of description and the description was really good', 'it had so much suspense, I didn't want it to stop'. An all-round massive thumbs-up from the target audience!"

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what the Hell is this?