Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Scruffian Survival Guide

A Scruffian Survival Guide is a ~116 page illustrated chapbook collecting / collaging four new works of dark queer fantasy in the "Scruffian" mythos of writer Hal Duncan--author of various works including the internationally renowned debut novel Vellum, nominated for the Crawford, Locus, BFS and World Fantasy Award, and winner of the Spectrum, Kurd Lasswitz and Tähtivaeltaja.

Waifs stolen from homes & streets down the centuries, Scruffians are fixed as ageless and indestructible by a magical Stamp for use as child labour, but with spirits as resilient as their flesh, they're underdogs more likely to bite back than submit. In the rhymes and "fabbles" by which they remember their secret history, they're always already rallying and resisting, a fierce sodality of the abject determined never to let marginalisation mean victimisation. Though nodding to classic children's fiction like Barrie's Peter Pan or de Larrabeiti's The Borribles, this is fiction wielding whimsy in the service of satire and LGBT themes, aimed squarely at an adult audience.

A Scruffian Survival Guide follows on from and expands upon works previously published in the author's short story collections, Scruffians! and The Boy Who Loved Death, but is intended to work as a stand-alone volume, accessible to new readers as well as those familiar with the mythos. Self-published via Lulu under the author's own New Sodom Press imprint, it will be released in August in limited edition hardback and trade paperback.

"Hal Duncan's cheeky and charming Scruffian stories hide a steely shiv of inspection that digs uncompromisingly into the ribs of  the establishment. This latest volume, populated as always with wonderful characters old and new, deepens that exploration and brings it bang up to date. I loved every word of it." -- Neil Williamson, author of The Moon King

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Grand Competition

Chapbooks Afoot

So, after a loooooooong time since Fabbles: 1, it's looking like Fabbles: 2 is on the horizon. I've got three brand new stories, all of em of a good length ("A Scruffian Survival Guide" "The Waiftaker's Daughter" and "How the Fox Took London" to give you a hint of the flavour.) I'll be aiming to do this in hardback like the Sodom chapbook, with readings and some other goodies, something handmade and unique in there.

If I'm going hardback for Fabbles: 2 though, it did occur to me to also do, separately, a hardback edition of Fabbles: 1 to go with it... if enough folk were actually interested. Part of the reason: "The Taking of the Stamp" could be a lot of fun in an audio version, I reckon, but with the ebook rights for that licensed, I can't do it in instalments via the Patreon, say; that rights situation stymies the Fabbler reward level. I could do it in Bandcamp though, on the same model as the Sodom chapbook or Fabbles: 2.

However, while a new deluxe hardback seems fair enough for anyone who doesn't have the original, for those who do... it would be a bit of a swizz just slapping that in a nicer cover and playing on completism. Even with the addition of audio, it would be a bit cheeky to my mind if that's all there is to it. That's where the Scruffianisation mentioned in the previous post comes in, as an idea for filling out the goody bag, and as part of a Grand Competition.

Now, if there's not enough interest in a hardback edition of Fabbles: 1 (which would be perfectly understandable,) no matter. I might find time to do an audiobook of "The Taking of the Stamp" anyway just because I wanna. And I'd likely then just use the Scruffianisation and Grand Competition idea with Fabbles: 2. I'll freely admit that I'm a fussy aesthete who just can't abide the idea of not having a Fabbles: 1 with the finish to sit beside Fabbles: 2.)

If Fabbles:1 is doable on account of a demand for it though, the plan would be:
  • A lettered illustrated hardback chapbook
  • A digital download of readings
  • A JPG of your selfie Scruffianised
  • A drawing by Gob based on the JPG
  • A Scruffian naming by Teh Roolz (ish)

Note: The notion is for the JPG to actually be, strictly speaking, free to anyone who enters a Grand Competition, a runners-up prize for all. This being my sneaky notion for sourcing material for my illustrations.

With entrants submitting a wee selection of selfies (for a choice of material for me to work with) and granting permission for a one time use in the finished chapbook, the idea would be for a joint Second Place prize of a naming and visual Tuckerisation for those whose images I select as the most awesomely Scruffianised. There'd be a minimum of twelve illustrations, in B&W, each with the name invented for this alter ego, a wee rogues' gallery of winners.

The First Place prize would be this plus inclusion of that character in one of the stories plus one full goody bag: the copy lettered A and all the gubbins to go with it.

What If I Just Want the Audio?

If you like the sound of the digital download readings, but don't fancy the chapbook because you already have the stories elsewise, don't worry; I'll make them available on their tod.

What If I Don't Wanna Be In the Book?

If you like the sound of the chapbook but don't want your image used like that, again don't worry; as long as there's enough interest in the competition to make it viable, I'm planning to set aside some copies for orders from people who might not feel comfortable with their pic in a publication, Scruffianised or not. The JPG and drawing and naming would still come with the chapbook if you want them, but they'll be private.

How Would It Work Then?

So, as long as there's a dozen usable illustrations, that seems like a decent minimum to me. I'd set a deadline for contest entries, and if there's not nearly enough entrants when that date comes, well, I'll say the game's a bogey and that's that.

If there's just enough, a dozen and no more well, I can gamble on additional orders and go ahead, and everyone gets in the chapbook as wants in, yay!

If there's more than enough, I'd select the best twelve to definitely go in the chapbook, and maybe even slip in a few extra if the choice is too damn hard. And you'd get first dibs on a copy, natch, cause it would suck to be told your Scruffian alter ego's in, hurray, but they're all sold out already, oops and sorry.

Up until that deadline, if ye fancied a copy of the chapbook, maybe even a Scruffianisation, but yer not comfortable with your Scruffianised selfie being used in the book, I'd ask ye to let me know, (comment on the blog, hit me up on Patreon, @ me on Twitter, whatever,) so I'd get a rough idea of how many there are of ye, if any.

That way at the deadline, I could factor this in and not, say, slip in so many illos it puts all the copies on first dibs to someone else. I don't think there's a huge worry with that here, given that the poetry chapbook still has copies going and this would be a reissue. But if there's to be a copy basically earmarked for each scruff as is in it, I don't want that to end up a fuck-you to someone who'd love a copy but doesn't want their face put on display, even altered like so.

So Are We Doing This Or What?

As I say, I don't know if there's really interest in a reissue of Fabbles: 1 like this, or whether it'd be better to just leave that as a done thing and run this Grand Competition for Fabbles: 2. Hell, I don't even know what level of interest there might be in Scruffianisation, as commission or as freebie for entry in a contest. So I'll maybe try running a couple of polls on Twitter to gauge interest, but if you're not on there, by all means weigh in below--anonymous is fine if you prefer.


Orphans, foundlings, latchkey kids. Urchins, changelings, live-by-wits. Rascals, scallywags, ruffians, scamps. Scoundrels, hellions, Scruffians STAMP!

With the last word the girl or boy playing hopscotch would come down hard with both feet, and the rest would all stamp a foot. Made it all like some... war-dance. Weird. And some of them was a bit old for hopscotch surely.

Orphans, foundlings, latchkey kids. Urchins, changelings, live-by-wits.

They all had such sharp looks on their thin faces too.

Rascals, scallywags, ruffians, scamps. Scoundrels, hellions, Scruffians STAMP!

And they was all looking at him on that last word.

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some of my dabblings in Scruffianising myself and, well, a bunch of random images off t'interwebs, to put some faces to the Vermintrudes and Puckerscruffs of the fiction. Well, I kinda like these creepycute little tyke faces that result, but Scruffianising random celebs is really just faffing, so it got me thinking: I should see if I can actually make this productivity rather than procrastination.

In the first instance then, I thought, I'd open up to commissions. A big part of the mythos for me, since its storybusking origins, has always been the importance of cribs and crib mates, and the way these fabbles try to engage with the audience to cast you as part of that. You wanna be a Scruffian or not? says Gob at the end of "Scruffians Stamp" and it's an invite to the reader as much as anything. A fabbler needs their cribmates after all, don't they?

So with those images I got to thinking about offering Scruffianisations--a JPG and a Scruffian naming by Teh Roolz (ish). Like a street artist doing caricatures. The JPG being a few hours work on four or five different apps, it's not so automated it'd be taking the piss to charge for it, but not so time-consuming I'd have to charge silly money. With a few photo to choose from, I could likely do you a Scruffian alter ego. With yer Scruffian name in place of that daft waterstamp as is left by one app.

See, while one fabbler and one crib-mate-to-be can't replicate Teh Roolz exactly, as per the game of eeny meeny in "How a Scruffian Gets Their Name", it's not entirely undoable. I mean, if a scruff knows their name already, well, Nuff said. If you're swithering though, so Gob and yerself have to take turns suggesting names until one sticks, knowing Gob, he could probably come up with some ideas based on answers to a few questions, like:
  • "Urchin or hellion or just plain scruff?"
  • "Scamp, scrag, scallywag, scofflaw?" 
  • "If yer was an aminal, what aminal would yer be?" 
  • "Is it eleven or oneteen?"
  • "Cake, shiv or Scalextrics?"

So, for a commission, you'd fill out Gob's questionnaire and send it in a few mugshots, with payment (it should be doable via Bandcamp), and by Teh Roolz, Gob would begin: Eeny meeny miny mo, catch a nipper by their toe. If they squeals, let em go, eeny meeny miny mo. You are not...? And "Scrumper Leggit!" ye'd shout out if it come to yer in a binding flash, or "Fucked if I know," if it don't--in which case Gob takes a turn.

There might be a limit, to be sure. If there ain't a name settled on after three turns each, I imagine Fob's guesses would be variations on Fusspot Pickybrat from then on in. But we'd want yer to be satisfied, eh? If that seems like an ace idea, by all means, in the comments below, do whatever yer equivalent is of a scamp bouncing up and down on their arse, waving an hand in the air and crying, "Me! Me!"

I'll have to think of what a fair rate is, but in the meantime, if it does appeal, I've plans afoot that would mean getting that for free, and more for one lucky winner. So hold that thought, cause Imma kick some more ideas about in the next post... for a Grand Competition!

UPDATE: A Grand Competition!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sodom / New Sodom @ Bandcamp

The 26-copy lettered limited edition of SODOM / NEW SODOM, releasing April 1st, is now available for pre-order over at my new Bandcamp page. There's a 15% discount code for Patreon sponsors, so if yer signed up there but missed the latest post, head over to get my wee thanks for all yer support. If yer not signed up there, well, I'll be looking to give my Patreon peeps such discounts on any subsequent releases too. Just saying.

Anyway, here's some pics of my pretty book baby and its accompanying CD and bookmark (each one unique, handmade out of old notes from the period I was working on The Book of All Hours,) along with the cover art for the digital download that a pre-order gives immediate access to.

Just click on the Bandcamp link above for more details.

As you were. :)

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Sodom

Bring me the light the fire of angel's tongues
     in severed heads held high
     a burning halo in each fist
     a balanced scales of seraph skulls
     the murderers of my mother city
     Sodom's genocide avenged
Bring me the light the fire the scorching curse
     of jackbooted archangel ethnic cleansers
     Gabriel and Michael
     still aflicker in their jaws agape
     as Caravaggio's Goliath
     as celestial Jack-o-lanterns
Bring me the dying wicks of zealot's flames
     that razed our mother to a salted waste
     to kindle a hearth within our hearts
     firelight the temple of our bodies round it
     limn a city in our flesh
            forever wherever
Bring me illuminating torches from a lynch mob
     fascist rally for New Jerusalem
     smashed in Nuremberg or New York City
     shattered scattered
     as we hurricaned Sodomites
     were strewn to the winds of exile
Bring me the light
     the fire searing nova bright
     desire against the trumpist’s warped despair
     the white hot singularity of yen
     to put to shame and rights
     failed nihilism of the alt-reich unterkind
Bring me the firebrands
     from the blasted pyres of burning men
     descended to screams
     inquisitor behind impaled upon the stake
     alchemic crucible of medieval hate
     forging a citizenry of fiends
Bring me the fire!
            Bring it!
            Bring it!
     Bring me the lightning make
            a rod of me
            to call down gobshite fury
            ignite my words as beacon
     gathering a queer karass
     upon Golgotha founding Golgonooza
Bring me the spark of a Zippo in a park at night
     to fire up a fag in cruising communion
     tentative to fuck a stranger
     or abandoned to lust
     my lost little hustler
     slutting Antinoan arse to a queue of cocks
Bring me the flame
     of the wine-bottle candle on the wooden table
     wax-spattered and beer-wet
     on that pub night in my twenties
     when at last I'd fortified my nerve
     to savvy a newfound throng of mates
Bring me the candlelight and lamplight
     sun and moon and O
     the fucking starlight of the Milky Way
     cosmic jizz trail
            of a song god older than Moloch
     framed by tenements and trees as we fucked
Bring me your bodies to this light
     and with your bodies bring the light
            and heat of your souls in chalices
     to warm each other with couth of
            cocks cunts kisses caresses and
     the quietude of cum-slick snoozing
Bring me your bodies blood sweat tears
     and piss and vinegar
     your fists and open hands
     to grandstand at a ruined bandstand
            Moloch would demolish
     but for the new plan of trombones and summer guitars
Bring me your bodies and the songs
     of toil time truth and tribulation
     of all tribes and tongues and nations
     people gathering quick and
     dead carried within the quick
     witnessed to conjure multitudes of flesh
Bring me my body electric
     behemoth unyoked beast of mob
     the poor the queer the swarthy
            crippled crazy fags whores and dogs
                        all dogs
     all barking fucking dancing dogs
     to the tinker's fiddle
            all humanity
Bring me my brother back
     bring me the sister I never had
     all others mad and broken
            naked newborn
     torn from the same lapel
     dead to the pasts dead to us
     my siblings my citizens of Sodom born anew
Bring me New Sodom! Bring it! Bring it on!
     where shall we phoenix cuckoos
     hatch in fire a city spilling out of us
     weavework of nest wiring the world
            Out of oblivion!
                        Sodom returns!
Bring me New Sodom! Bring it!
     if you'd live to see it:                       Bring it!
     if you'd work to build it:                 Bring it!
     if you'd fight to keep it:                  Bring it!
     if they'd curse your sodomy
            then tell them:
                                                            Bring it on!
Bring me New Sodom in your works and deeds
     no hope no fear
     !No pasaran! my queers
     no trite belaboured fabrications
     but your rawest songs ripped free
     I tell you open up and bleed or go home
Sing of the merchant who awoke in Zoar
     on the first day after Sodom
     in a tavern TV news exulting in his city's end
     some cuntfucker for Christ
            Falwell or Phelps, Robertson or Pence
     blaming catastrophe on sin
Sing of the Necker Cube flip reading
     of a city damned for xenophobia
            not in homophobia
            but a crime of hospitality's violation
     as brute history all kindred must admit to
     that we were the rapists slavers monsters
Sing of the desolation to know
     the helplessness to be for eternity
     dependent on the hospitality of strangers
     ever a refugee begging asylum
     every land you'll walk in
            lost last citizen of Sodom
Sing of the oath sworn
     that in memory of Mother Sodom
            to redeem her name
     that we should never never never never
     never again deny another stranger
            shelter food
            the couth of ardent kindness
When did it happen this destruction
     Mother Sodom lost in
            vengeance warcrime chance catastrophe
     if not always already
     dead sea valley of salt
            upheaval rout annihilation
     wrought by any Krakatoa or Katrina?
When in all history has Mother Sodom not been burning
     Babylon falling Ilium tumbling
     Jericho into Carthage into
     Dresden into Antioch into
            Sarajevo Guernica Paris
     crumbling rumbling roads of tanks?
When of all crystal moments
     of a grain of salt dissolved
     was not contained every tear
            ever wept to look back on loss
     becoming all tears rivered to a Heraklitean torrent
     smashing rapids cataract over a cliff?
When of all dawns
     were we not waking bereft of yesterday's self
     and suddenly other
            under a stranger's roof
     opening curtains to summer rain or winter sun
     crisp frost and grit crunch salty underfoot on the street?
When have we not been
     wandering seeking glancing dancing
     drunk in a London molly house
            San Francisco bathouse
                        or Orlando nightclub
     in the days after death
     sworn to live hungry sleep fucked and die trying?
When have we not been
     painting selves as Sebastians
     or mincing as Rosalind as Ganymede as Rosalind
     as actor charging a bard's words
     with a secret shouted open for the gallery:
            and I for no woman!
When have we not been
     weaving our fuckery into eclogues sculptures
            subtexts of agons beefcake photographs
            slashtastic frenemies of fiction myth
     the Bible itself shipping Jonathon and Michelangelo's David?
When have we not been         
     making Sodom of the arts in
     winks and wigs of a tapdance
            ballet torchsong musical cabaret Berlin or Broadway
     to welcome wide-eyed twinklings in the stalls
            to sanctuary found?
When Sodom fell for me
     age seventeen in 1988
     ground down by Section 28
            the ravager Saville's
             Iron Lady bosom mate's
     edict forbidding even
            school debate on Section 28
            as breach of Section 28
when I was seventeen and Sodom fell
     a high school hell
            of would-be Columbine
     dissolved to nothing
            at my brother's death
     a hollow child
            black winter howling wild inside
            the wasteland unbound
when I was seventeen and still illegal
     mute in Moloch
     seeking solace in a book
     Delany's Driftglass epigraph lit the light
     with conjured exile's cry for Sodom:
            where now shall we go to make a home?
When I was twenty-one
     and trembling brave to cross a threshold
     I stepped out into a scene
     not home for me but dancing queens
     whose music I abhorred
     black leather rockboy out of place and yet…
When I was twenty-one
     and only read of cottages and cruising
     read of constables swooping stings
     and registries of sex offence and HIV and
     O how I hated fucking dance music
            to be pulledand pulled offO
When we first wake as Sodomites after Sodom
     all sole survivors
     each of us alone in Zoar
     some have couthie kin ensconcing
     taken aback or wryly smiling
     but resolving deeper love in truth
            but some do not
When we first take one step
     as child of Sodom then how many
     fledgling souls cast out of Pence's torture camps
     have glimpsed in gay porn the truth of desire
     but never dreamed what's hidden there to find
when we spread across the Earth
     as Sodom's lost diaspora of millennia
     the work began
     with trade or tristes in the markets
            couplings in dark parks
            a cottage claimed
            a street of pubs and clubs
            and lo a village! So…
when you look for Mother Sodom
     look around you for our Mother Sodom
     she is here in every city of the world
     beneath each rainbow flag
     as faggot Yeshua under every rock
     and in each broken stick of soul
When did it happen such restoration
     Mother Sodom built anew
     New Sodom risen
     in revelry revelation revolution?
     I say New Sodom is evermade returning
     ever forged in yearning furnace passion burning
When shall we build New Sodom
     if we do not build today
     if we're not building in this second
     every tick and tock of clock
            each breath
     each holy breath the sacred inspiration
     of an advocate for every exile?
When we have built New Sodom
     I for you and you for me
            and thee and they and thou
            and he she ze
     for all humanity encompassed in the tiny plural we
     then we
            we joyous mob
     we'll be the citizens of love set free
When do we want it?                                      Now!
When do we need it?                                       Now!
When will we bring it?                                    Now!
When will our voices sing it into being?
Now bring me New Sodom
     my Jerusalem my Mecca and my Rome
     my sacred home a pandemonium to the pious
     haven to the hellion rabble
     dogs and sorcerors and fornicators
     fuck the haters:
                                                                        Bring it on!
Now build me New Sodom
     in the earthquake fracturing of Moloch
     in the cracks and nooks between
     in niches and crooks
            love flourishing unseen
     mycelial boom town
            in the interstices blossoming
Now bring me New Sodom
     as I bring it in this verse to you
     in a communion of the queer
     a fierce sodality of the abject
     bastioned in punk art and attitude
     rending the fabric of an Empire ending
And with you as citizens of New Sodom we will build
     and with all
            citizens of New Sodom
            we will build
     that for all strangers
            every outcast sibling lost in danger
     every queer in fear beginnng here
            we'll build
And we'll remember that our Sodom came from Canaan
     under the curse of Ham
     who saw his drunken father naked
     idiom for fuckery
     for Ham being fucked emsaculated
     bitch boy damned to slavery
And we'll remember that as ancient rivals
     crowed sweet justice of
     the unmanned Ham's children as chattelry
     that Europe's slavers raping Africa
     painted Ham's Curse on black skin
     made such slaves our kin
And we'll remember that the pious Lot
     fucked his own children too
     another drunk seduced they say
     aye that's abuse's way
            to blame the victim
            blame the wife erased
            and sluts of daughters begging for it
And we'll remember that
     to wed his nameless daughters
     is to cast all wives the husband's child
     infantilising wife-as-peer
     for sham of patriarchy
            fratriarchy's lie
     so I defy denial of our equal sisters
And we'll remember then
     that Sodom's lesson
            is not brotherhood's no homo only
     but the bloody birth of fratriarchy
            that excludes by race and gender too
     New Sodom standing as defender then of every you
And we'll remember this as fascists march today
We will stand in New Sodom for the queers
     the Texas fags and dykes fearing teacher informants
We will stand in New Sodom for the trans
     of bathroom hysterias and new panic defences
We will stand in New Sodom for the black and brown
     facing death squad cops and registry
     disenfranchisement and deportation
     internment ever rotting into labour camps
We will stand with the socialists
     and anarchists
     as antifascists
     never giving ground
            ¡No pasaran!
We will give no ground but take it
     the terrain of history and myth
     pressing on to the last Trump
     to every last Pence spent in       shock and awe
     with every last breath holy holy holy
            making holy the profane
            as sacred salt of the earth
We will survey the land of rhetoric and dreams
     stripping tabloid lies to the fresh loam
            digging under dirt to bedrock
                        and begin
We will invite to us all strangers still to come
     to feast and rest before the work
     in these first days of a better nation
We will bring it this firelight in dawn's mist
     to gather throng
     in worker's song

And we will build New Sodom for us all.