Monday, November 23, 2009

The doctor will see you now.

“Oh, really?” said the specialist. “An author, eh?” and so began an enthusiastic ten minute chat about the merits of Dan Brown, which was all very nice and cordial, except I was sitting there, waiting anxiously to get the results of my MRI and find out if I had terminal Brain Death Lurgy or Sudden Cerebral Splat Out The Ears Syndrome, or whatever.

So I was a little tense and braced, and a ten minute chat about the relative merits of D. Brown Esq was not high on my list marked ‘to do’. Maybe, I suddenly thought, this is his way of relaxing me so he can Break It To Me Gently. Oh god...

Turns out, I have epilepsy. I ‘just’ have epilepsy. No family history, no explanation of why I have suddenly developed it, but I know what’s going on now, and, without making light of the condition in any way, it seems like a pretty good result, considering where the Dan Brown chat could have been leading.

Can I just thank you all for your messages of support and encouragement here and on Twitter and Facebook etc. You guys...

As many of you have mentioned, it’s now been revealed that I wrote the screenplay for the 40K animated movie 'Ultramarines' ( I’ve been itching to let the cat out of the bag about this, and I’m properly excited it’s now been officially announced. Lots of you already have questions, and I’ll be answering them here and on the official site as we go along. But be patient! I’ll bring you the first update on the production as soon as they un-cuff me and let me out of this cupboard marked ‘secret movie stuff’.

Seeing as we’re getting all link-happy, I would like to point you to Nathan Long’s spiffy new website (, and also to an interesting dialogue I had with Mark Charan Newton, which Mark ran as a guest on Jeff Vandermeer’s blog (–-a-conversation-between-mark-charan-newton-and-dan-abnett/). As the link suggests, it’s a chat about tie-in fiction, which some of you might find thought-provoking.

One of the questions I got asked by the specialist was “do you ever experience deja vu?” Do I? Not again! I get deja vu a lot (along with its close kinfolk Astonishing Coincidence, Synchronicity, Morphic Resonance and Jamais Vu). What that means for my head, I don’t know, but it segues me neatly to the last thing I wanted to mention. About twenty five years ago, as an undergraduate, I went with several of my friends to a Lloyd Cole and the Commotions gig. We liked them very much, and we liked the show very much too, especially the endearing fact that they played some of their best numbers more than once (“because we don’t know that many songs yet” Mr Cole offered by way of an explanation).

One of my best friends - we’ll call him Duffy, because that’s his name - decided, for reasons he later came to regret, not to come to the gig. He was kicking himself for missing it within days, if not hours, of the concert.

Last week, he emailed me (he lives in a distant part of the world now). He wanted to tell me that he had finally got the chance to go to a Lloyd Cole concert (no more Commotions these days), and had enjoyed it hugely. After the interval, Mr Cole had played one of his most famous songs, but because some of the audience had been late back from the bar, and had missed it, he played it again. Then he said, “I haven’t played a song twice in one concert since 1984. Back then it was because I didn’t know many songs”). He was referring, you see, to the actual concert that I had been to, and which Duffy had missed, and now Duffy and been there when he said-

I’m sure you get it. Nice and synchronous though, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Caution: Unexpected honking"

So I’m sitting here, writing this, watching the finals of the Over 35 Bronze Man-Lady. I assume that’s hyphenated. It could be, at a pinch, a slash. And before you go all taste and decency on me, it’s a ballroom dancing competition, and Man-Lady is a category that simply denotes a man dancing with a lady. Unnecessary clarity, I feel, unless there are categories I don’t know about like Man-Rotary Washing Line or Gnu-Lady.

Daughter B is taking part - she just won her third trophy. I’m sitting on the folding chairs with one eye on the dancefloor and my lap top in my lap. Outside in the park, thanks to the weekend storms, it looks like someone went bug-funt with an industrial leaf-blower.

I mention all of this simply for colour. It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. Thanks for all the messages of encouragement and support, I’ve really appreciated them. I did indeed break the MRI machine - this was just after they had scanned me to establish I have no cats in me. It’s probably their fault for not including the question “Are you an omega-level telekine scheduled for termination by the Ordo Hereticus?” on the pre-MRI checklist (between, presumably, “Have you got any metal plates, pins or stents?” and “Are you wearing tattooed eye-liner?”).

Anyway, it broke, and I had to come back later. In fact, when I say broke, it actually had the MRI equivalent of a paper jam, which, if you’ve ever had an MRI, you’ll be able to picture. Curious thing: they warn you about the odd loud noises, the banging, the necessity to stay still, and the potential claustrophobia (you’re inside a metal tube - now I know what an individually-vended King Edward cigar feels like), but they don’t warn that about halfway through, the MRI machine will stop banging like a pneumatic drill and starting making a noise like... Well, you know those horns that kids have on their bikes? A squeezy rubber bulb attached to a chrome horn? The sort of thing a seal would use in a circus? A honking thing? A sound most commonly experienced in Looney Tunes cartoons and Benny Hill sketches?

A noise like that. Behind my head. Over and over and over again.

Odd. Anyway, I didn’t break it this time, and the doctors and technicians were all smiley, and in a week or so, I’ll get the final results - “I’m sorry, Mr Abnett, but we’ve scanned your head and we can’t find any trace of a brain at all.” Equally odd is the fact that I choose this week to watch the final few episodes of the fourth season of Bones. I don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn't seen it, but odd, that’s what I’m saying. Odd.

Still, I’m getting a lot of reading done. More news as it happens. We’re off home, where there’s a dumpling with my name on it (note to self: stop labeling things).