The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Swarf is the waste generated by drilling or turning metal. Here's a picture:

I mention swarf for a couple of reasons. First - it's a fun word to say. I can imagine the person who coined the term saying it with disdain. "I'm knee deep in this goddamn....this goddamn...this goddamn SWARF!"

Second - it's interesting stuff. It really is beautiful to look at because it is usually coated with a thin layer of oily fluid called cutting fluid which keeps the cutting bit and the workpiece from overheating. Depending on the metal, the oil tends to reflect the light imparting a shimmering rainbow effect. A single coiled strand of swarf can be hundreds of feet long and usually works itself into a rough ball-like structure like some kind of razor sharp cotton candy.

Third - I grew up with swarf. My dad was a tool and die maker and there was not a working day he didn't come home with a tightly condensed coil of swarf hitchhiking in some fold or cuff of his clothing.

Finally, I speak of swarf because it is the introductory image in the new story I'm working on. Almost the entire story takes place in a machine shop with one exterior scene and a very brief glimpse at the main character's home life. It is a story about human cleverness, opposable thumbs and alien need and envy. This one is shaping up to have a very Twilight Zone-ish feel to it.

On another note - got a letter from the good folks at the 3 Day Novel Contest. They're looking to past participants to sign up for this year's ordeal. It's a tough old haul of intensive, almost non-stop writing which takes place over the Labour Day Weekend each year. I've done it twice before and have been very pleased by the results. I skipped last year because with kids heading to the first day of school the next day it seemed a little daunting. This year - due to the calendar, the kids head back to school before Labour Day. My wife asked if I wanted to do it this year and whether I had any ideas for a short novel that might be written over three days.

I'll need to ponder...

Monday, 6 July 2009

A whole new look

I've had the blog's new look up and running for about a week now. What prompted a make-over? Well...a couple of things.

The Sand-dragon eating its creator was a fitting symbol for a blog about writing. It fit in with the fantasy theme and often when writing it feels like the writing is trying to devour the writer. Lately, however, I find my writing moving away from the fantasy genre. To tell the truth, Loremaster, my 700 page novel, is about the only thing truly "fantasy" that I've written.

More and more, of late, my writing has moved toward stories more rooted in worlds we recognize very much as our own. It's true that I've put out some horror stories lately and I'm currently working on a science-fiction story with a real Twilight Zone feel to it but more and more I keep returning to my Patriot re-write and The Witch and Small Town Secrets, all stories placed in reality (more or less).

I also wanted a more personal touch to the blog. The Sand-dragon was not my picture. It was a photo from a competition held in Vancouver (I believe) and the picture spoke to me so I used it on the title bar of the blog. The tin-boat above is a photo taken by me during a vacation in Northern Ontario a few years back. I snapped this picture shortly after dawn while the mist was still dancing across the still waters of the lake.

The boat, incidental, was on loan to me from my brother-in-law. I've caught a lot of bass in that boat...

Speaking of a whole new look - on a personal level - after 42 years yours truly finally has an ass. It's barely noticeable to the casual observer, but to me it's positively magnificent. My wife attributes the bike riding and the elliptical machine at the gym. After a lifetime of having an ass you could use as a straight edge, I finally have a little curve at the base of my spine. And hard! Sweet Jesus - if you need to strike a match or crack a walnut - I'm your guy. (Well, not quite yet...)

Anyway - kids are heading to bed and want me to read a story so I guess I'd better get my brand new ass upstairs.