Dark Side of the… cake?

floydcakeA friend of mine sent me this wonderful photo after a recent trip to London.  It’s cake, but not as we know it… from the Victoria & Albert museum, who are currently hosting an exhibition on Pink Floyd.

The exhibition takes in the history of the band, their sound, and their very iconic ‘look’, from their earliest Syd Barrett incarnation right through, presumably, to the present day.  It includes sound, vision, and interactive elements and sounds absolutely fascinating; although it’s not cheap at a minimum of £20 per head to get in, it’s on my list as a ‘must do’ later this year.

The event ends on 1 October, but I’m assuming the cake won’t last anything like as long.  Apparently it was orange cake with chocolate ganache, and quite delicious!  Ten out of ten to the V&A for a bit of additional, tongue in cheek, advertising for the occasion.

If we get there, I’ll try a bit for myself and let you know what it was like.  And many thanks to Andy for letting me use the photo.

Dark Minds success

darkmindsIt’s official – the Dark Minds charity anthology from Bloodhound Books has been a roaring success.

Word is that so many copies have sold, the company have been able to donate almost £5,000 to the two charities the book is supporting – Sophie’s Appeal, and Hospice UK.

This is amazing news, and I’m delighted that my own contribution (in the shape of short story ‘My Own Eggsecutioner’), has helped in however small a way.

The anthology is still very much available to buy, so if you’d like to see what all the fuss is about (as well as reading over 40 great stories in the crime, noir and horror genres) then head to Amazon to order a copy now.  You never know, you might be helping Bloodhound donate another few thousand in due course.

Hipgnosis in pictures

Dark_Side_of_the_MoonTo celebrate the launch of a brand new book about cult design company Hipgnosis, the Guardian is running a picture gallery of some of their album covers.

Their work includes some of the most influential cover designs ever, for a whole range of bands and musicians from the 1970s including Yes, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, 10cc, and of course, Pink Floyd.  In fact, it’s thanks to Pink Floyd that Hipgnosis existed at all, after they asked two college friends, Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, to design a cover for their album ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’.  Thorgerson and Powell went on to found Hipgnosis together, with the addition of Peter Christopher, and became highly sought-after, particularly in the prog-rock community where their ideas chimed with the themes of the time.

Sadly, album covers became more restrained from the late 70s onwards and work gradually dried up for Hipgnosis, but they are still remembered fondly by fans around the world, in particular for their most iconic work, Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.  Unlike some of their other work this is simple, uncluttered and abstract, but strong enough to have survived as a classic, and one of the most-recognised album covers even today.

The book, ‘Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue’ by Aubrey Powell himself, is available from Thames & Hudson.  I might just treat myself to a copy.

Up and running

cropDesktopNexus2Rather to my amazement the new website uploaded like a dream, apart from one image that needed renaming and a few typos.  This was far more by luck than judgement and I still can’t claim to understand most of what I’ve done, but I’m very relieved.  Even better, the site seems to work just fine on a phone screen.  Phew!

I’m taking a few days off before I try any upgrading or tinkering, but for now you can find all the main information on me, my books and my stories at www.tessmakovesky.com.  I hope you like it!

New website?

image_73I realised last week that my concerns about my tessmakovesky.com website have come true.  Either the elderly html coding and/or my ancient html editor are no longer up to scratch and text and pictures aren’t showing up correctly on a mobile (cell) phone.  The site looks fine on a pc or even a tablet, but switch to a phone and the text and pictures have re-sized, apparently at random, so the whole thing looks a complete mess and is quite hard to read.

I tried a couple of quick fixes (simplifying the layout, reducing the number of columns) but nothing worked and I realised that scraping by with Frontpage Express is no longer an option.  So I set to work, installed a more up-to-date editor and began to teach myself Html5 (and by default, CSS).  In a hurry, because the longer my current site is unusable, the more readers I’m likely to annoy.

Luckily I have a reasonable, basic knowledge of html coding but even so it’s been a steep learning curve trying to figure out how to do the simplest things, what the new commands achieve, how to stop the entire site turning purple, and how to rescue it when it does.  Thanks to a couple of stars on the internet (theSiteWizard and HTML5Up! ) I found a simple template, crawled through the instructions on how to customise it, and three days later I have a reasonable, working, and hopefully fully responsive new website.  It’s not as pretty as the old one but it should do for now while I slog through and learn how to re-create what I originally had.

Now comes the interesting part – trying to upload everything in the right order, without losing any folders, images, assets, stylesheets or God knows what else, so that the whole thing still works online the way it did on my pc.  Fun fun fun. #notreally.  And in order to avoid a clash between the old site and the new, I’m going to have to delete the old one first.  So if you’re looking for my usual site (www.tessmakovesky.com) and can’t find it, this will be why.  Don’t worry – like Arnie, it will be back.  I’m just not so sure about me, as I slide, feet first, ever deeper into a heap of broken html code.

Pink Floyd – the shrimp

shrimp

Meet the newest member of Pink Floyd – synalpheus pinkfloydi.  Ahem.  Well, maybe not.  But this isn’t a late April Fools joke, because scientists really have named their latest crustacean discovery after the band, as you’ll see from this BBC science news report.

It’s a nice way of honouring the band, and oddly appropriate given that the new shrimp is pink, and Pink Floyd had an album out called ‘Animals’.  Sadly, it didn’t feature shrimps – that would be too much of a coincidence – but it has inspired some amusing artwork showing a giant shrimp above Battersea power station!  Whether it was inflatable or not I don’t know, but I guess someone had to do it…

 

Death in the library?

9781911320272-510x823I’ve just spent an enjoyable couple of hours in Windermere library, listening to crime writer Ian McFadyen talking about his writing and his books.

Ian writes the Inspector Carmichael series of “cosy” murder mysteries (although don’t let him hear you using that term!) which are set in northern and western Lancashire, not a million miles from Windermere.  Hence his visit.

The talk was really interesting, covering everything from how he started writing, through his writing process, to the publishing and marketing of his books, and their overall brand in terms of distinctive ‘look’ and cover art.

I haven’t read any of the series but if you like police procedurals set in slightly unusual, out of the way rural areas featuring intriguing puzzles and a recurring team of central characters, then these will be for you.  And if Ian writes in anything like as engaging a style as he speaks, they’ll be well worth seeking out.  His latest (the sixth in the series) is Death in Winter, which features a woman disappearing from a train at Christmas time.  It sounds fun – do go and look it up!

Updates

I realised to my shame that it’s been ages since I last updated the other pages on this site and they were horribly out of date.

I’ve just been in with my tool kit and done some trimming, pruning and replanting, to the point where they now make sense and include details of all my current works in print, as well as who on earth I am (always a moot question).

I hope you’ll find the new information useful.  You can find it by following the links (Tess who, Finding Tess, and Tess in print) in the nav bar on the left hand side of this page.

Art Attack

artattackMy latest short story, ‘Art Attack’, is out today at British crime magazine Near to the Knuckle.

The story is loosely based on real life: a news item about a sculpture created from knives handed in during a police amnesty.  The real story ended well (and the sculpture is impressive to say the least) but I’m afraid as usual my mind wandered off to some very dark places, and ‘Art Attack’ is the result.  Apologies to the sculptor and the people who dreamed up the original, very laudable scheme for any liberties I took!

You can read the story at Near to the Knuckle (free) – I just hope it doesn’t put you off art for life!

Crime and Publishment 2017

I’m up with the larks this morning (or more accurately, next door’s yowling cats), after a brilliant weekend at this year’s Crime and Publishment writing course.

I’ve been three times before and have always loved it, but I think this one was the best yet.  All the old faces were there, plus lots of new people to meet and make friends with, and a set of truly inspirational speakers in Lin Anderson, Tom Harper, Michael J Malone, Paul Finch and agent Simon Trewin.  All five were fascinating on their own subjects (including forensics, adding tension and suspense, the art of positive thinking, and how to write a horror/crime novel).  Paul in particular was so passionate that he’s convinced me to try my hand at a horror novel – and I don’t even like horror!  And Simon gave us some valuable insights into the way literary agents work, and how to get on their good side.

As ever the sheer friendliness and opportunity to chat to fellow, like-minded authors was equally invaluable and I’ve come away fired with enthusiasm to finish ‘Gravy Train’ so I can start submitting it.

Many thanks to Graham Smith as ever for organising such an informative and above all enjoyable weekend.  If you can put up with me I’ll be back next year for sure!

Tickled Pink…

85183245_hi018536501Having been a massive fan of all things Pink Floyd for most of my adult life, on Saturday I was really excited to be heading for a concert by Think Floyd, one of the top British tribute bands featuring their music.

We’d originally been going back in the autumn but the concert was postponed due to a band member’s ill health, and Saturday was the re-scheduled date.  We’d never seen Think Floyd before and weren’t quite sure what to expect, but boy, was it worth the wait!

The concert took the unusual path of playing at least one track from each of Pink Floyd’s fifteen studio albums, from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn all the way to The Endless River.  Along the way the band visited some of the iconic tracks (‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Breathe’) but also played some less well known stuff – so much so I’d never heard one or two tracks before.

The four main musicians were perhaps a little less comfortable with the earlier music, with its heavy folk influence courtesy of Syd Barrett.  But once they got onto ‘One of These Days’ from Meddle they suddenly hit their stride, and went from playing cover versions of Floyd tracks, to recreating with meticulous detail the whole Floyd sound and experience.  And when they got onto Dark Side of the Moon, from which they played pretty much the whole of the first side, they were a revelation.  Even better, their rendition of ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ was just brilliant – the best I have heard, anywhere including Floyd’s own concerts, with the exception of the original.  Most modern versions include two separate vocalists due to the sheer complexity of the track, but the young lass singing here managed it on her own, note (and perhaps more importantly, emotion) perfect, and got a standing ovation for her efforts.

And I was absolutely delighted when they also treated us to ‘Brain Damage’, one of my favourite tracks and the inspiration behind ‘Raise the Blade’!

Of course, they aren’t Pink Floyd and nobody but Pink Floyd ever will be.  The show also suffered very slightly, in my opinion, from a tiny (if immaculate) venue with a small stage, which couldn’t live up to the massive stadium concerts Floyd themselves put on.  If nothing else, there was no space for an inflatable pig – or any other sort of animal!  But they were a very, very close second, and since Floyd themselves rarely-to-never perform together (all the more so since the death of keyboardist Richard Wright), it’s a wonderful way of experiencing their music, live, all over again.  We would definitely recommend Think Floyd, and definitely go to see them again ourselves.  And it tickles me er, pink, to be able to say that.