Chapter 23 – July 2020

Hi! Welcome to Chapter 23.

Become evil. Rule the world. Maybe drink tea first and sit down for a bit.

“You don’t write a novel out of sheer pity any more than you blow a safe out of a vague longing to be rich. A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.”

― Nelson Algren

I want to open a pub called Crowley’s. Not to open a pub — just to meet all the interesting oddballs who drink there.

This month, I made t-shirts, there’s a free audiobook up for grabs, plenty of stuff to read, and I confess just how much I hate Harry Potter.

As most of you know already every month I send out a not-so-secret post to all paying subscribers on the 23rd of every month.

This month this edition is public in a vain attempt to encourage more people to pay to subscribe.

Please let me know if you like Chapter 23 and what if anything would persuade you to support my writing with more than just kind words.

Why? Because I write for a living and ghosts don’t type. Unless they’re ghost writers.

I’ll see myself out.

Tweet Shirts

People on Twitter keep asking me for merch with something that I said on it. It took me two years to get around to it but I’ve finally made my first tweet-shirts!

Please join me in my Sarcasm Prayer: “Grant me the sarcasm to mock the things I cannot change, the wit to change the things I can, and the cynicism to know the difference.”

Bespoke t-shirts and other merchandise are available upon request; so long as you give me lots of money.

On sale for a limited time at Hellvetica. Get it whilst it’s hot!


My first happy customer!

Thanks to @samanthabwriter, pictured above, for being the first proud owner of one of my tweet-shirts.

And, you know, for being a Twitter friend, subscriber to Chapter 23, and all round wonderful writerly person!

Hating Harry Potter

I hate Harry Potter but love JK Rowling — this is why.


James Garside @jamesgarside_

Q: Why don’t you love Harry Potter?
A: Because it’s for kids and I’m not one.


When I taught Creative Writing to young people on the gifted and talented young people programme I had recourse to defend my hatred of Harry Potter — not of JK Rowling personally, just of the books.

First, I agreed that Harry Potter was entertaining. And I emphasised that there are things that I like about Harry Potter and adore about JK Rowling. This is always a good idea when faced with a room full of Harry Potter fans.

What I disliked about Harry Potter series: They’re badly written and badly edited. They got flabbier with each book — from the first slim volume to doorstoppers that weighed-in at over 700 pages.

I believe in quality, not quantity. And the idea that “they’re only kid’s books” doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be made as good as they possibly can before they go out. It’s important for children’s literature to be great.

I also worried that “the Harry Potter phenomenon” eclipsed other books that were just as good, if not better, and worthy of attention.

What I liked about Harry Potter: I watched the special where JK Rowling read from the new book.

Several thousand excited kids were screaming and cheering when JKR arrived, as though they were waiting for their favourite rock star. All this for a writer!

They then sat spellbound as she read, and cheered at the end… all this for a book!

In the days of Playstation and Xbox, Britney Spears and the f*~king Tweenies, Harry Potter made reading cool.

Thousands of young people have taken an interest in reading, and are willing to queue around the block to get a copy of a book on the night it is published.

When I was doing my MA in Creative Writing, I was the only bloke doing a module on women’s writing. The tutor would let her daughter sit in on the lesson. She would sit there quietly reading Harry Potter, and now and then giggle to herself and continue reading.

THAT is why I like Harry Potter.

What I like about JK Rowling: She wrote the Harry Potter books. She’s intelligent, smart, and seems like a lovely person. She has donated lots of money to charities and worthy causes, and is perfectly level-headed and pragmatic about the whole thing in interviews. She also managed to charm Jeremy Paxman!

What I dislike about JK Rowling: Nothing, I don’t know her. She seems very likeable and people that are critical of her success are probably just jealous.

But there are better writers out there — some starving, mad, dead, or languishing in obscurity — people that I’m passionate about and would give blood to get other people to read.

Friend Links

Here’s some of my stuff to read on the interweb. They’re all Friend Links so anyone can read them.

Tough Love Astrology — Fake horoscopes because I think that’s funny

There’s Nothing Correct About Political Correctness — But it is political

I’ve contemplated suicide every day of my life since the age of eleven — My ability to procrastinate knows no bounds

Friend Links for Medium — All my Medium posts to the end of 2019

One Minute Reads for Writers — 30 posts in 30 days — My website has links to most of my writing

PS. Asshole Astrology is now its own newsletter. You can sign up to the public posts for free.

I will gladly comp a lifetime paid subscription to anyone who pays for a subscription to Chapter 23 or vice versa.

Note: If you have a problem opening any of these links just try to view them in private browsing mode and that will probably do the trick.

FREE Audiobook Giveaway


Is listening to Epic Fantasy your thing? Enough to write a book review about it?

Epic Fantasy author Karen Gray has kindly given me an Audible code for a free copy of the audiobook of one of her books.

This isn’t an advert — it’s a favour to a Twitter friend and it would mean a lot to me if you could help me out.

For King and Country: The Saga of Thistles and Roses is the first book in The Warrior Queen series. It’s already highly rated but would benefit from reviews from discerning readers such as yourselves.

Please comment or message me if you are interested. You must be willing to write a review of the book.

Thanks for reading.

As always feel free to #AskMeAnything