Tag Archives: fast food at the centre of the world

Audio fiction at the centre of the world

I am delighted to announce that my speculative novel – Fast Food at the Centre of the Wold – is now entirely up at bandcamp and you can start listening to it here – https://nimuebrown.bandcamp.com/track/fast-food-at-the-centre-of-the-world-part-one

This is a novel recorded by me in 22 episodes – each episode is about twenty minutes long. If you listen on bandcamp you can hear the whole thing for free, so far as I know. I encourage you to do that! (If you want to throw money at me, that’s lovely, but you definitely don’t have to.)

This is a story with a lot of magic in it. While the magic is considerably more dramatic than the kinds of experiences Pagans tend to report, I’ve tried to root it in ways that make sense. The most obvious sorcerer in the mix – Dunsany – is very much a will worker and comes from the kind of tradition that draws complex sigils on things and reads a lot of books. He’s also touched by otherworldly influences.

Some of the magic is wild, chaotic and instinctual. There’s also a lot of bardic magic here and I think that’s the most realistic part of the mix. I firmly believe in the power of song, poetry and story to act on people and radically change them. There’s a lot of that sort of thing in this story. And it is a story that has managed to cast a spell on at least one person – resulting in her now writing poetry. This is something I’m enormously proud of.

I’m pondering what the next audio project might be. Poetry? Chants? Short stories? Songs? Another novel? Obviously some of these things I can do more quickly than others. If there’s anything you’d particularly like me to do, please say.

And in the meantime, if you want to help me get more stuff out there free at the point of delivery (this blog, youtube videos, informal mentoring, etc) consider supporting me on Patreon if you want to make a monthly commitment (and get more of my creative stuffs). Or, if you want to do a one off thing, throw money in the ko-fi hat below (everything helps). Thank you!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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Magic, fast food and an excerpt

This is the opening from Fast food at the Centre of the World – it’s a speculative novel, with a fair amount of silliness and seriousness tangled up in each other.

Across the road in a vacant parking lot, a man was down on his knees. Arms spread wide like he’d just been shot. As he didn’t fall over, it rapidly looked more like theatrical praying. Hazel couldn’t see anyone else around. She stopped at a safe distance to take a look. It might be a surrender. No sense running into a gang war. There were no shots, no warning sounds. If anything, the lot was too quiet. Still the man hadn’t moved. No blood pooled. He didn’t fall down. The situation no longer struck her as dangerous, so long as she moved on. There were packages in her pockets that needed delivering.

The man on his knees raised his head, and even at this distance, locked her gaze with his. Straggly hair fluttered around a narrow face. He had the emaciated build of a druggy, and being here, like this… did not bode well for him. Still she lingered, fascinated by the scene. Her first take on him was ‘trouble’, but ‘nutter’ came a close second. Substances seemed likely. Rapture maybe, or delirium. He could have picked a better place. Maybe he’d done a blend. That could fry your mind no trouble. Whatever he’d taken it didn’t look clever and staying around dumb people wasn’t her style. Dumb people turned into dead people so very easily. This nutter looked interesting, because he made no immediate sense. Curiosity remained one of Hazel’s big weaknesses. That, and being a soft touch. He might be in trouble.

She moved in closer, keeping to the buildings and alert for signs of possible threats. It might be quiet now, but there were no guarantees the street would stay that way, the disused car parks and empty buildings sometimes got themselves inhabited. Currently this dead zone made a good short cut on her rounds, but it never paid to get over confident. The overconfident people were usually second in line behind the dumb ones, when it came to getting dead at short notice. Or worse. Hazel had spent nineteen years successfully not becoming dead, and meant to continue that way.

Mister crazy car park man dropped right down, hands on the cracked tarmac, long hair falling around his face. He looked thin and odd, but not like he was street. Too clean. Too unshredded in the clothes department. So what was he doing? Hazel had watched people in the throes of all kinds of insanity, from just about every mad making chemical a body could take. Not one of them had ever done anything quite like this before. He seemed too still and quiet to be off his face. However, straight, clean, normal guys did not, in her experience, lie face down in empty parking lots, unless someone killed them first.

She knew it would be sensible to walk away and forget all about it. Spending her whole life running along the edges between sensible and insane to make a living, Hazel trusted her instincts. They kept her alive. Stupid risks were not part of her plan. Not very often. Hardly at all really. And after all, it wasn’t a huge risk, just a lone nut job in a big empty place with no one else around. What could possibly go wrong?

Getting closer, Hazel saw the man was crying. Not your regular understated bloke with leaky face scenario either. This looked serious. His whole body shook with it, low, agonised sounds coming out of his mouth in short bursts. Hazel revised her opinion of the whole setup. Less likely a drug fiend, more likely he was sick or injured.

“Hey mister, you in some kind of trouble there?” Hazel asked.

He straightened up, wiping a sleeve across his tear-streaked face. The intensity of his gaze startled her. He didn’t look hurt or wasted. Which left the possibility of him being just plain loopy. Hazel took a step back, very casually.

“I’m fine, thank you for your concern.”

That sounded coherent, if weird.

“You appear confused,” he continued.

“Oh yeah, well, I saw you…. wondered… though you might need some help.” She took another step back just to be on the safe side and well out of arm’s reach.

The man said nothing for what seemed like a long time. He just kept staring at her. Hazel had the uncomfortable feeling he was looking a lot deeper than her mop of tangled hair, piercings, war-paint and tatty clothing. Lifting her chin, she returned that searching glare as best she could. Looking down on him was a plus, but not a big one. The weird man could have been in his thirties, plus or minus a bit. Gaunt, and fierce looking, but not, she decided, mean. There was something about his mouth that struck her as generous. Not a man who smiled much though.

“You’ve a good head and a decent heart,” he observed. “You know the area? Live round here?”

“Round about.” She offered no details. “Here and there, you know how it is.”

“I don’t, but I mean to learn. I get the feeling that you’d like to help me.”

A warm feeling pooled in her stomach. The man’s lips were still moving, but no sound reached her ears. She had the vague feeling there were words, somewhere beyond the reach of her perceptions. Dancing, joyful words full of good things to come. Words that promised safety and a home. For a moment, Hazel became aware of all the many things she wanted and didn’t have. The moving lips said so many things, but through and between the words, she heard, “I will give you the world if you help me out here.”

“Yes. I’m a helpful sort of person,” she said. “What is it that you need?”

The guy wiped his eyes again and frowned. “Still working on that one. Stick around, yes?”

Again that warm, melting feeling caught her, the need to say ‘yes’ stronger than her usual good sense. It seemed like he couldn’t possible ask anything bad. “What, around here? This parking lot?”

“That’s the one. I need to fetch a few things, but I should move in tonight, before anyone else does.”

“Move in here?” She looked around, reassuring herself that there were absolutely no habitable buildings. Not even by her low standards. At the very least you needed a door to bar.

If you’d like the rest of the book, you can listen to it for free on bandcamp or download it from there. Here’s the first episode – https://nimuebrown.bandcamp.com/track/fast-food-at-the-centre-of-the-world-part-one 


Something novel and full of magic

Those of you who have been with me for a long time may recall the Nerdbong podcast and a 22 episode serialisation of my novel Fast Food at the Centre of the World. Many of you have started following this blog far more recently, so this may be news. Twenty two episodes of a strange and speculative novel, read and recorded by me. The British amongst you will discover that I sound like a West Country yokel. For you Americans… I have one of those sexy British accents! (I never cease to be amazed by how much Americans seem to like my voice, because to me I sound like girly Hagrid).

Fast Food at the Centre of the World is based on a handful of ideas and characters Tom Brown came up with but does not have the time to do as a graphic novel. The premise is that a sorcerer called Dunsany discovers the magical centre of the world, buys it, and sets up a restaurant. That of course had me asking questions about why a restaurant, and why fast food. I rapidly discovered that Dunsany’s idea of fast food is an apple and that he lives in a place and time with a worse food crisis than our own. That’s Gary in the image. Gary is a demon. He likes making pastry.

When I started writing fast food, food banks were not a big thing, first world hunger was much less of a thing, and I was angry about licensing laws for music. I wrote about poets, but there were very few actual poets in my life at that point and far more of them now, which makes me feel a lot more exposed sharing this. Although I gather that during the Nerdbong period, the book caused someone to start writing poetry, which is an awesome outcome.

I shall be putting Fast Food onto bandcamp every Wednesday until all 22 are there. Part of the reason for using this platform is that you can listen to each episode for free if you do so on the site. You can also choose to buy and download. I’ve kept it cheap – episodes are fifteen to twenty minutes, and I’m charging about the normal price for a song. I want to make things as accessible and affordable as possible, which is very much in keeping with the ethos of the book. If a few people buy copies then I can justify doing another book next year.

I’ve seen other authors putting up free blogs and then making whiny noises about how much effort it takes in the hopes of eliciting money, and this is not what I’m about. I believe in gift economy, I want to offer access to my work for free. I don’t want money to be a barrier for anyone. If those who can afford to and want to buy something or drop something in the hat now and then do so, I stay viable and it’s all good. I’ve got a patreon for that. In the meantime, please enjoy the free things. It’s a massive validation to me to have people engaging with and enjoying my work, and as ‘professional author’ is increasingly something professional authors (as with Philip Pullman recently) are saying it is now almost impossible to make work, I figure I might as well focus on how to make this work creatively and not get trapped by the money issues.

Here’s episode 1 – https://nimuebrown.bandcamp.com/track/fast-food-at-the-centre-of-the-world-part-one