Notes from New Sodom

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

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!