June 2015

NEW Bolan Biography!
Italian rock music specialists Tsunami Edizioni have just published my new Bolan biography, ‘Bolan Boogie’, which looks superb and is very nicely illustrated. Response at the Turin book fair they tell me was very positive and it is hoped that it will be translated into other languages (including English) in the coming year. Here’s a snippet from the preface which explains why I felt the need to write another Bolan book and what Marc’s music has meant to me.

“I owe it all to Marc Bolan.”

I have heard that phrase so many times from musicians and other creative people over the past 35 years that it has made me realise how profoundly an artist can affect those who are moved and inspired by their music. I was one of those adolescents who, in 1972, heard ‘Salamanda Palaganda’, ‘Lofty Skies’ and other early Tyrannosaurus Rex/T.Rex tracks and was awoken to infinite possibilities. The combination of the often unintelligible words, sublime music and the rich tapestry of sound produced by jangling acoustic guitars, exotic percussion, lyrical guitar embellishments and of course that remarkable voice, cast a spell that transported me to somewhere truly magical. I have been trying to recapture that feeling and that moment ever since, through my own music and by re-listening to Bolan and other artists. Several stimulated a similar response, but I always come back to Bolan.
It was Bolan who informed and inspired my first attempts at songwriting and also my first book, a ‘scissors and paste’ biography called ‘Electric Warrior’ which helped me to enter music journalism. I was also very fortunate indeed to have met Marc’s parents who shared their memories of his childhood with me and allowed me to play his guitar (the sunburst Epiphone acoustic he is seen playing in ‘Born To Boogie’) on which I strummed ‘Blades of Battenburg’ as if seeking his blessing on my own efforts. I suspect it may have been the touchstone or talisman that gave me the confidence to pursue my own career in music and it can’t have been a coincidence that soon after I found myself being managed by David Enthoven (of E.G.) and June Bolan. June gave me Marc’s very own acetate of his first recording, ‘The Road I’m On’ and shared some of the secrets behind his early songs. Just prior to that I found myself recording in a studio where Andy Ellison had been working and before you could say ‘Life Is Strange’ he was producing my single ‘Dr Strange’ and a cover of Bolan’s unreleased song ‘Hot George’ and inviting me to write songs for a John’s Children reunion album. None of which would have happened had I not been ‘touched’ by the magic of Marc Bolan.  
I hope this book will explain why he has had such a profound effect on me and so many others in the four decades since his tragically early death at the age of 29.
It might also explain why I felt compelled to write three biographies on the same subject. The first, ‘Electric Warrior’, was written in 1979 when I was 19 (and published under a pen name by Omnibus Press in 1982). I had compiled it from dozens of interviews that Marc had given to journalists, so that I could tell his story through his own words, supplemented by comments from musicians and music business people that I had interviewed for extensive articles in ‘Record Mirror’ and ‘Sounds’. Then in 2012, after having written 35 books, I felt it was time to write a more comprehensive biography drawing on the mass of new material that had come to light in the intervening years, with yet more interviews I had conducted with several of Marc’s close friends who had not spoken before and augmented by my insights into his personality which I could not have identified or articulated as effectively back in ’79. But almost as soon as it was published (as ‘Cosmic Dancer’ by Tomahawk Press), I realised that I had written it from a music journalist’s perspective, highlighting the qualities that had made Marc unique, but also being perhaps overly critical in evaluating those later records that had disappointed me. So when Tsunami Edizioni gave me the opportunity to write an entirely new Bolan biography for his Italian fans (and hopefully those in other countries through future foreign language editions) I didn’t hesitate. After all, I owe it all to Marc Bolan.
PR

 

May 2015
Earlier this month I was sitting outside the Rhiz club in Vienna under the stars and glaring neon street lights an hour before our performance enjoying a lively conversation with Austrian crime novelist Andreas Gruber, promoter and Klangallerie label owner Walter Robotka (famous for organising a concert by Nurse With Wound in the city’s anatomical museum) and Andreas and Sylvia, the owners of the Record Bag store/label. 25 years ago when I played at the Chelsea I would have been pacing anxiously up and down impatient to go on, but time seems to have mellowed me and now I can sit and chat about the sorry state of the music and publishing business in these difficult times. I imagine hit men get used to their ‘work’ in much the same way after wasting a couple of dozen victims.
It seems that free downloads and the advent of ebooks are not the only threat to artists and authors. Andreas told me that publishers are now so ‘risk averse’ that they refuse to publish anything outside an author’s proven genre. I would have thought that once a writer has several bestsellers under their belt their publisher would agree to publish anything with their name on it as it would be a guaranteed success and if not, then they would publish just to keep that author happy. But it seems that is no longer the case. Andreas originally wrote horror stories which did pretty well, but after he graduated to crime fiction and had several best sellers his publisher refused to publish anything but his gory crime novels.
He now has the option of offering his non-crime fiction to another publisher under a pen name, or abandoning the whole idea. If he decides to write in a different idiom then he says it would mean starting all over again to establish a reputation as a writer of that particular genre. I would have thought that his readers would have bought anything that he wrote, but he told me that there are not enough ‘hard core fans’ to underwrite the risk and that world famous thriller author Ken Follett went through hell to have his fantasy saga ‘Pillars of the Earth’ published despite having sold millions of books and making a fortune for his publisher. Andreas said that major publishers need to sell at least 10,000 copies to justify the expense of printing, marketing and distributing a novel these days. But if you want to live from writing, you have to sell at least 100,000 copies every year. So the marketing-strategies have to be much bigger. The result, I suggested, of having the publishing business run by accountants and corporations rather than book lovers.
And the same can be said of the music industry (and the movies too). The upside of this though is that a number of small independent publishers have emerged who are willing to publish high quality fiction that the major publishing houses have rejected due to the financial risk and nothing else. I’m hoping that one of these might publish a book of my complete lyrics and perhaps some more horror fiction in the future and preferably before I’m too frail to type it up! 
It was also interesting to compare the process of writing of non-fiction (which I write) with fiction. Andreas told me that he spends 2 months planning a novel, working out the plot, the timeline and how the subplots will impact on the characters and resolve by the end. It is only then that he starts to write, finishing some 5 or so months later. I asked him if anyone simply started with a good idea (what the entertainment industry calls a ‘high concept’) and went wherever it led them, but he said that only Stephen King and a handful of other highly experienced writers can afford to ‘go with the flow’ and trust that it will evolve into something worth reading. 
PR

 

December 8th 2014

Paul has given an author interview to The Savvy Reader website. You can read it here:

http://www.jamesticknor.com/?p=163

 

Competition is closed!

Win! WIN!! WIN!!!

We have three copies of Paul’s new biography of H.P. Lovecraft ‘The Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft’ to give away!!!

To enter visit and ‘like’ the HPL Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Curious-Case-of-HP-Lovecraft/919809491367952?ref=hl then send your answers to the 3 simple questions to the usual PRAS email address. Don’t forget to include your postal address so the postman knows where to find you!! The competition closes November 25 so don’t delay!

  1. Which bestselling modern author called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale”?

  2. Name the Roger Corman film which was based on Lovecraft’s unpublished novel ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ but was credited to Poe?

  3. What is the title of Paul Roland’s Lovecraft-themed album? (Clue - the cover features a sketch of HPL by artist Virgil Finlay)

You may also be interested to hear that not only has the author page had a major makeover (www.paulroland.net) but the German site has also been redesigned and there is an updated Italian site with all of Paul’s lyrics and chords. www.paulroland.de and www.paulroland.it

 Finally, Paul is guest blogger on the Tor Books website with his choice of the ten essential steampunk books (part 2 will be posted at the end of this week) http://torbooks.co.uk/2014/11/10/steampunk-an-intro/#more-13736

 Greetings from the PRAS

 

November 4th 2014
Welcome to the spruced-up, updated and redesigned author site which has been given a major makeover by Mikael Runnström of MiRu Design.
Here you will find all of my books. Just click on the covers to see sample text and reader reviews.
There are also newspaper and magazine features plus interviews with some of the musicians and actors I had the privilege of talking to during the time I was writing for ‘Kerrang!’, ‘Which CD?’, ‘Total Film’ and ‘The Mail on Sunday’, among other publications.
There is a page too for the Kabbalah Cards that I created primarily to offer psychological insight and guidance, as well as being a visual aid for understanding the basic principles of this ageless esoteric tradition, rather than for divination as offered by conventional Kabbalah-themed tarot decks.
I have also added a section with the complete text of my short playlets which are available for any drama group to perform if they find them of interest, or they can be read just for fun.

I have approached every one of my books with the same degree of commitment and attention to detail, whether they were my suggestion or that of the publisher, and I would like to think that I have highlighted the humanity in even the most disturbing of the True Crime books, and taken the sensationalism and superstition out of the supernatural in the esoteric titles, as well as revealing the personalities behind the public personae of both the famous and infamous historical figures that are the subject of my biographical books.

The latter is the underlying theme of the latest title ‘The Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft’ (Plexus Publishing), in which I have attempted to identify the nature of the personal demons which drove Lovecraft to write his most memorable and haunting work.

“The Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft not only pays homage to previous publications but offers itself as a unique volume that will stand tall on its own…it will be a prized volume on our shelf. The contents are well sourced, has a brilliantly written narrative and extensive material in the Appendices.  ” Comfychairzine.com

“A wonderful book.” SFCrowsnet.org.uk

“a keenly written insight into the life of one of the most recognised names in fiction.
A fan approaching this book will rightly be impressed by the detail Roland has included, the intelligent, informative analysis of many of Lovecraft’s stories, how his life influenced the writing, and how the writing equally influenced the life. The Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft is a must read.”
8 out of 10 ‘Starburst’ November 2014

 

NEW Bolan Biography!
Italian rock music specialists Tsunami Edizioni have just published my new Bolan biography, ‘Bolan Boogie’, which looks superb and is very nicely illustrated. Response at the Turin book fair they tell me was very positive and it is hoped that it will be translated into other languages (including English) in the coming year. Here’s a snippet from the preface which explains why I felt the need to write another Bolan book and what Marc’s music has meant to me.

“I owe it all to Marc Bolan.”

I have heard that phrase so many times from musicians and other creative people over the past 35 years that it has made me realise how profoundly an artist can affect those who are moved and inspired by their music. I was one of those adolescents who, in 1972, heard ‘Salamanda Palaganda’, ‘Lofty Skies’ and other early Tyrannosaurus Rex/T.Rex tracks and was awoken to infinite possibilities. The combination of the often unintelligible words, sublime music and the rich tapestry of sound produced by jangling acoustic guitars, exotic percussion, lyrical guitar embellishments and of course that remarkable voice, cast a spell that transported me to somewhere truly magical. I have been trying to recapture that feeling and that moment ever since, through my own music and by re-listening to Bolan and other artists. Several stimulated a similar response, but I always come back to Bolan.
It was Bolan who informed and inspired my first attempts at songwriting and also my first book, a ‘scissors and paste’ biography called ‘Electric Warrior’ which helped me to enter music journalism. I was also very fortunate indeed to have met Marc’s parents who shared their memories of his childhood with me and allowed me to play his guitar (the sunburst Epiphone acoustic he is seen playing in ‘Born To Boogie’) on which I strummed ‘Blades of Battenburg’ as if seeking his blessing on my own efforts. I suspect it may have been the touchstone or talisman that gave me the confidence to pursue my own career in music and it can’t have been a coincidence that soon after I found myself being managed by David Enthoven (of E.G.) and June Bolan. June gave me Marc’s very own acetate of his first recording, ‘The Road I’m On’ and shared some of the secrets behind his early songs. Just prior to that I found myself recording in a studio where Andy Ellison had been working and before you could say ‘Life Is Strange’ he was producing my single ‘Dr Strange’ and a cover of Bolan’s unreleased song ‘Hot George’ and inviting me to write songs for a John’s Children reunion album. None of which would have happened had I not been ‘touched’ by the magic of Marc Bolan.  
I hope this book will explain why he has had such a profound effect on me and so many others in the four decades since his tragically early death at the age of 29.
It might also explain why I felt compelled to write three biographies on the same subject. The first, ‘Electric Warrior’, was written in 1979 when I was 19 (and published under a pen name by Omnibus Press in 1982). I had compiled it from dozens of interviews that Marc had given to journalists, so that I could tell his story through his own words, supplemented by comments from musicians and music business people that I had interviewed for extensive articles in ‘Record Mirror’ and ‘Sounds’. Then in 2012, after having written 35 books, I felt it was time to write a more comprehensive biography drawing on the mass of new material that had come to light in the intervening years, with yet more interviews I had conducted with several of Marc’s close friends who had not spoken before and augmented by my insights into his personality which I could not have identified or articulated as effectively back in ’79. But almost as soon as it was published (as ‘Cosmic Dancer’ by Tomahawk Press), I realised that I had written it from a music journalist’s perspective, highlighting the qualities that had made Marc unique, but also being perhaps overly critical in evaluating those later records that had disappointed me. So when Tsunami Edizioni gave me the opportunity to write an entirely new Bolan biography for his Italian fans (and hopefully those in other countries through future foreign language editions) I didn’t hesitate. After all, I owe it all to Marc Bolan.
PR

 

hp

book

The Curious Case Of H.P Lovecraft

Preface

You need to read him – he’s where the darkness starts.’ – Neil Gaiman

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was haunted by demons. They stalked him in daylight and darkness alike, from childhood until his premature death at the age of 47. They took the form of his earliest memories – of losing his father and of life with his hysterical, emotionally abusive mother.

They leered over his shoulder as he gazed at the distorted reflection in the glass. They taunted him as he struggled to endure blinding migraines, crippling fatigue and periodic breakdowns – debilitating psychosomatic disorders which threatened to suck his vitality and curtail his creativity. He fled from them in his sleep – in dreams so terrifyingly vivid that they left him fearing for his own sanity – and mocked him in the street in the form of ‘evil-looking foreigners’ who threatened to overrun his picturesque colonial hometown of Providence, New England.

They left him riddled with self-doubt, disappointment and despair, but like a man possessed, he drove them from his mind time and again in bouts of feverish activity. Even as his fortunes declined and various publishing ventures failed to materialise, he worked tirelessly to create an extraordinary and highly influential body of work that has secured him a prominent place in the history of imaginative fiction.

H.P. Lovecraft is widely regarded as the most original writer of modern horror fiction and a pervasive and enduring influence on popular culture. His primordial universe of elder gods and eldritch horrors – existing just on the periphery of the more mundane, ordered world we know as ‘reality’ – has inspired authors as diverse as Stephen King, Robert Bloch, Clive Barker, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Lovecraft’s most memorable creatures – notably the tentacle-headed god Cthulhu – have been invoked by such giants of rock music as Black Sabbath, Metallica and Iron Maiden, and continue to feature in almost every form of fantasy art: from graphic novels to computer games. His compelling creations have influenced the look of major movies such as Alien, Hellboy and even Pirates of the Caribbean – although the grotesque otherworldliness of Lovecraft’s original tales is yet to be captured by any director onscreen in a way that fully realises the author’s fantastic vision in the truest sense of the word. Yet this eccentric and reclusive resident of Providence, Rhode Island, did not have a book published by a major commercial house during his lifetime. He died at the age of 47 in comparative obscurity, convinced that he had failed to achieve the recognition he craved.

The Strange Case of H.P. Lovecraft examines the life and work of the man Stephen King called ‘the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale’, revealing how Lovecraft’s disturbing creations may have been an attempt to exorcise both his inner-demons and the elemental abominations which haunted his recurring nightmares.

 

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