Archive for September, 2008

A Cracking Review

30,September, 2008

Mark Robson, my new favorite author, has written a cracking review of Shadowmagic on his blog.

I first heard about Mark on Scott Pack’s blog, where I discovered that he is one of the rare breed of self-published authors that has broken through to the mainstream.  In Scott’s interview he recommends that the first book of Mark’s to read should be Firestorm.

I just bought a copy today and you should too – he’s got great taste. 

John L

Congrats Nick

29,September, 2008

My old mate Nick Wilty got married this weekend.  Nick is a stand-up comedian and professional vagabond.  A Falklands War veteran that for years would make just enough money so he could disappear and travel the world.  You may not know about him – he’s a comedian’s comedian.  When Nick is on stage all the rest of the comics come out of the dressing room to watch him work – high praise indeed.

Nick told me a lovely story about his second gig.  He had only performed on stage in London once, for an amateur night (that Nick admits didn’t go very well.)  That didn’t stop him, two weeks later while walking down a street in Sydney, to walk into a comedy club and announce that he was a comedian.  As it happened they needed an opening act that night and Nick was on stage five hours later. 

When the show was over, the seasoned headliner act said to Nick, “Good opening line,” as he passed him backstage.

“Thank you.” Nick said.

That made the old comic stop, “No you misunderstand me,” he said.  “You need a good opening line.”


He’s got great ones now as well as a lovely new bride.  Good luck Nick.


John L

Could you have resisted?

24,September, 2008

Don’t get me wrong, I love the cover of Shadowmagic but I wonder if it has that special quality that makes a customer pick it up and buy it on spec.  

This weekend I was in a remaindered bookshop and just couldn’t help but buy this:

Seriously, could you have resisted?

Shadomagic copies are arriving

22,September, 2008

Waterstones Books still has Shadowmagic as a pre-order and when I asked about it in their Leeds branch the clerk looked at the computer and said it was “Unorderable.”  Then someone else said they saw a copy in a store – so who knows? 

What I do know is that Shadomagic copies are arriving from  The Book Depository and Amazon UK.  I got an email from an Irish reader.  Any of you yanks get one yet?


19,September, 2008

I’m in Leeds.  As my old friend, comedian Dave Cohen used to say, “Leeds, a town so great they named it once.”  Actually the sun was shining as I arrived here – it’s amazing what a little of that rare UK sunshine can do for the appearance of a British city.  Leeds actually looked fun.

I’m up here because I’m performing at a black tie corporate event and realised after my arrival, that I had forgotten my cuff links.  After a quick jog to the Next Clothing Store I found these for 12 pounds.

Now I don’t what to doubt the claim that the stones in my 12 pound (24 dollar) cuff links are actually semi-precious but to make that claim the least they could do is tell me what semi-precious stone it is.  Don’t get me wrong they are nice cuff links but I think offering anonymous stones for a little over a tenner is deflating the semi-precious rating.  Maybe it should have been called Quasi-precious – or how about, Not quite just rocks.

PS  Next has some cracking socks.  I’ll show you soon.


Win a Copy of Shadowmagic

17,September, 2008

My publisher Scott Pack is running a competition to win a copy of Shadowmagic.   Have a look at his excellent blog – Me and MY Big Mouth.

John L

“If you unite behind a man you don’t believe in – it’s a lie.”

17,September, 2008

Another gem from Slate V.  John Dickerson (who I think is one of the best minds following the US election) has put together some classic political ads from the past.  I love the first one.

Shadowmagic orders from The Book Depository

12,September, 2008 – the online book seller that I recommended about 400 people to buy their copies of Shadowmagic from, is now sending out emails canceling the orders.  My publisher Scot Pack and I are trying to get them to wait until the Harper Collins warehouse delivers the books before they do this but I just found about it late on Friday and couldn’t actually speak to anyone there.

Hang in there guys – it’s worth it – trust me.  If you have problems email me at john(at)gratuitoussocks(dot)com and Scot and I will make sure you get a copy.

John L

Lighten Up

12,September, 2008 has a comment page where I have received over 100 comments for my Shadowmagic podcast.  Almost every one of them has been enthusiastically positive but then I saw the most recent one:

Good book/podcast and it makes a fascinating listen. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend this to any young’uns of mine, and I’d actually steer them away from it. The problem is that Conor is such a cluessless pansy, wholly devoid of any initiative and always being acted upon by outside forces that surprise and baffle him. Does he actually learn a damn thing while as he’s undergoing his various tribulations? Sorry, but I like the rug rats to pick up something useful as they’re entertaining themselves and a hapless, naive lad without initiative doesn’t do it for me.


The performer in me knows you can’t please everybody and I should just ignore him but I couldn’t.  Here is my reply:

After receiving over 100 glowing revues on this web site, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t tempted to see if I could get the previous comment erased from the system.  But maybe Mike is doing me a favour and preparing me.  Since Shadowmagic has just been published by Harper Collins here in the UK, I guess this won’t be my first stinging review.  Saying that I wouldn’t have minded as much if he criticized my writing or my plot construction, (ok maybe I would) it’s just that I very strongly disagree with each of his criticisms.  He has made three:

1 – That Conor is a “Clueless pansy… wholly devoid of any incentive and always being acted upon by outside forces that surprise and baffle him.”

Well yea – that’s the point.  The basic plot of Shadowmagic can be summed up as: an ordinary kid thrown into extraordinary circumstances.  (Have you never read the Hobbit?) It’s a story as old as storytelling.  The protagonist’s job in this plot is to survive the situation as best as he or she can and possibly bring a conclusion that is to his/her advantage – in a comedy, or fail – in a tragedy.  In the case of Conor I am offended by the “clueless pansy” line.  I think he weathers the hurricane that his life becomes with wit and aplomb.  It’s not his job to show up and force a constitutional democracy on Tir na Nog.  (You need an army for that and as we are learning, it doesn’t work.)

2 –  Conor doesn’t learn a damn thing during his various tribulations.

As Billy Joel once wrote, “I find that just surviving is a noble fight,” but beyond that I think Conor learns a lot.  He learns the joy and importance of family, the comradery of friends, the sweetness and pain of young love, and most importantly for me, he learns that he has underestimated his father all of his life.  A lesson that most of us only find out when we have a family of our own.  Did Dorothy learn much more?

Sure he makes mistakes (most notably his last decision seems to be a big mistake) but he’s a teenager.  Can you imagine a teen character that is faultless?  How dull would that be?

3- Mike wrote: “I wouldn’t recommend this to any young’uns of mine, and I’d actually steer them away from it… I like the rug rats to pick up something useful.”

Firstly, as stated in the podiobooks blurb, Shadowmagic is designated for an audience of 12 and up.  Even though I am sure I would never use the term “rug rat” for a child of mine, I certainly wouldn’t use it for a 12 year old.  If you want a story for children who are still crawling then Shadowmagic is not for you.  Shadowmagic is also not a fable.  You will find no hidden or obvious messages about global warming or nuclear proliferation or even how to deal with bullying (actually a banta stick would work for that.)

I have spent over twenty years as a professional comedian/magician.  While my colleagues would step onto comedy club stages and attack the government of the day or the hypocrisies of society – I did tricks and told jokes.  I believe that life is heavy enough and an audience deserves at least one act on the bill that takes their mind away from their hard lives – as opposed to putting a magnifying glass to it.  I have extended that philosophy to my novel.  As far as difficult lives go, I truly believe that being a teen and a tweenager is much more difficult than “grown-ups” remember.  We look back on our youth with rose tinted glasses and forget that every emotion is a new one and that every interaction has major consequences in where and how the teen places within the pecking order of his or her world.  I wonder how us old guys would last under such scrutiny.  Being a teen is very hard.

If you are a dad Mike I’d like to give you a piece of advice – lighten up.  There are few things better than getting lost in an adventure for adventure’s sake.  If you make sure everything your child reads is worthy – you are almost surely going to raise a non-reader.

John Lenahan

You too can get a copy of Shadowmagic!

10,September, 2008

Shadowmagic is actually out and here’s a picture of me actually holding it.

It’s gorgeous – a limited edition (1000 copies), signed, numbered, hardback.  The demand has been so great that there was a worry there wouldn’t be enough to cover the Amazon order but because of Borders UK delaying their order, that’s no longer a problem.  If you have pre-ordered from Amazon then they say things should be working by the end of the week.  A company called The Book Depository is offering free shipping worldwide.

Thanks in advance to all of you who are buying one for yourselves and then buying one for everyone you know.
John L