Notes from New Sodom

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scruffians Stamp

OK, so I thought in the interest of subsidising my eating hobby, I'd experiment with this online direct publication malarkey, straight from me to yerself. Like, invite the whole Paypal donations thing via the button to the left there, in exchange for a previously unpublished 3000 word short story (hot off the press, in fact,) to be made available for download when (or maybe if) donations reach a certain amount. What's a fair amount? is of course the Big Question. Well, it's an experiment, so I'm not going to ask for pro rates of five cents per word (which'd work out at $150); instead I reckoned I'd knock it down to, say, a straight hundred.

Feels a little like sticking yer balls on the block, to be honest, cause my natural paranoia and pessimism scoffs at the idea of getting enough folks willing to chuck a buck or two my way for this to work; but hey ho, I'm hungry, so it's worth a shot. And in case it doesn't work out, I don't wanna stiff them what's donated, leave em with sod all. So instead, I'm reckoning that anyone who donates gets a nice pdf of the story sent directly to them. How does that sound?

So what's the story? Well, it's called "Scruffians Stamp," and it seems to be one of about a dozen sparking off the basic idea what's eating my mind at the moment. Did it as a reading at the Merchant City Festival on Saturday there and it seemed to go down a treat. Trust me, ye'll like it. Anyhoo, with a good few stories all shouting to be written around this theme, (fuck, there might even be a novel formulating,) if this direct release malarkey works there may well be more where this comes from. We shall see.

As a taster then, here's the opening two sections:

Scruffian's Stamp

Hal Duncan


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

From his seat on the bench, the Scruffian who didn't know he was a Scruffian yet, who didn't even quite know what a Scruffian was, watched the other kids in the park, half-wishing he was like them, with their homes and happy families -- well, families, at least -- and half-hoping he would never be like them, never. Soon they'd all be going home to their tea, though they probably called it dinner. He wasn't going home to neither, not ever, not likely.


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

They were playing hopscotch, boys and girls together, which was a bit strange cause hopscotch was really a girl's game, he'd always thought, and none of the boys looked like sissies. Not that looking like a sissy meant you was one, or that not looking like a sissy meant you wasn't one. The Scruffian, who wasn't really a Scruffian yet, just on his way to it, knew that.

He shivered in his thin red windbreaker, which wasn't anything in this kind of weather.


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.



Orphan was the first Scruffian, they says. See, he had the sweetest voice ever heard, did Orphan; so sweet it was, there's many as think he must have come from Heaven. Well, he was found as a babe, abandoned on a mountainside. Would have been left there too if it weren't for the fact that even his crying was like music. The shepherd that found him, he was flat astounded, took the lad home just so's he could sit there listening to him... bawling and bawling. Why, that's bloody beautiful, the shepherd thought. And did fuck all to soothe him.


Weren't long before the lad started singing. And how! When he sang a sad song, that's what made the willow tree weep, and when he sang a happy song, why, even the stones would dance. So naturally the groanhuffs all wanted him singing at their funerals and weddings. No matter how he felt. Sing us a sad song, they'd say, even if he was happy. Or sing us a happy song, they'd say, even if he was sad. And because the foundling didn't have no-one as truly cared for him, they'd just clip his ear if he says no.


You was in one of those foster homes before you run away, right? I've heard what goes on in some of those places, from the telly, from the news. And I remember me own days in the workhouse. I'll tell you this: I don't know if it really happened the way the stories tell it, but even if it didn't, it did, I'll bet. If you see what I mean. Even if Orphan's story was just made-up to fill in what none of us know, it's not a fucking lie the way that pixie dust and pirates bollocks is.


And on it goes from there.

So, yeah, if ye like the looks of it, punt a few bucks my way and you get a shiny pdf of the full thing. And if enough of yez do it, why, it goes up on the interwebs for one and all. And needless to say, any spreading of the word will be much appreciated.



Blogger Marjorie said...

I like the idea (especially having a taster first) I'm in. :-)

9:02 pm  
Anonymous Penagain said...

If this is successful, will this model help get City of Rotted Names into existence? If so, I'm all in :)I tracked down the rest of the Corn, Poet, Watch, Tomb sequence, but not having Corn is killing me in a non-violent but highly frustrating way.

11:45 pm  
Blogger Mark said...

Hmm... that link to Paypal: UK Edition asks for donations in pounds. Any idea how that works--do they automatically convert the currency as a courtesy to us lowly American types?

Either way, I should probably go have a glance at the exchange rate before I do anything... In the meantime, SAVOR those ramen noodles, chew them slowly...

4:48 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mark: yes, they convert automatically and charge you with your currency.

Hal: any chance of getting the story in another format (that would go better in my shiny new ebook reader than a PDF)? ePub would be best, but I can convert from (for example) a Word, RTF or HTML file.

8:51 am  
Blogger meika said...

I think I've sent enough for two packets of them noodles but I'm not sure what they cost over there in UKland. Nice paypal calculator here includes FX.

8:51 am  
Blogger meika said...

I don't like PDF either, and second Tero's suggestion.

8:52 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Penagain: I'll make no promises yet, but it might be an option.

Mark: I have it set up for a USD balance too, so if it give you the option to change the currency, go ahead.

Tero, Meika: Have been looking into ePub for stuff like this, but my first attempts was kinda hassley, so for now I've sent you Word docs.

Anyone else as would prefer Word, just lemme know. And today's mailing is all sent, so anyone who donated before the time-stamp on this, DO let me know if ye don't have it shortly.

5:37 pm  
Blogger meika said...

Have you seen smashwords for e-publishing? They actually expect word docs for grinding.

1:20 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

And courtesy of Meika, actually, it's now available in pdb form, for reading on the (older) Palm OS devices.

5:25 pm  
Anonymous Penagain said...

Well-- the possibility of CORN is better than a NO... so I am indeed in!

11:39 pm  

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