Who On Earth Is Saxon Bullock? (A Re-introduction)

Hi There! Thanks for popping by. I may have missed the new year by a considerable margin, but there are a few new people on my friends list (and who knows who may be randomly dropping by), so I thought it was probably the right time to say a proper hello. Consider this the blog equivalent of those TV episodes where an officious villain/authority figure turns up and demands to know what’s been going on, thus meaning a convenient explanation of the show’s setup for any viewers who may have missed the first ten episodes. I did this kind of thing last year, and I figure it’s a sensible thing to every so often let people know who I am, and exactly what this blog is about.

So… hello.

My name is Saxon Bullock (a gift of nomenclature that means I regularly get people staring blankly at me and saying “Is that really your name?!?” It’s a question that usually makes me wonder exactly who would want to pretend that their name is Saxon Bullock?). I’m a 34 year old freelance writer and proofreader who’s been writing for a variety of magazines and websites for just over eight years. I’m currently based in Manchester in the UK, I’m a regular contributor to SFX magazine, up until recently I’ve been reviewing for Channel4.Com/film, and I’ve made my first steps into the world of writing novels, with my first book – a fast-paced, comic-strip sci-fi romp entitled The Hypernova Gambit – which is finished, and currently being looked at by various publishers.

This blog goes through different phases- sometimes it charts the ups and downs of my life, sometimes it’s an outlet for my writing worries, and (at least fairly regularly) it’s where I gabble on at length about SF and Fantasy TV. I’ve been fascinated by long-form storytelling from a very early age (mainly as a result of growing up with the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who), so I always find watching TV an educational experience, even if it’s only trying to work out why a particular show doesn’t work. Most of my TV related talk comes under the heading of “TV EYE”, while I’ll often blog about films, books, comics, and anything else that comes to mind.

Essentially, I just wanted to say a big hello, and that any comments, greetings, or random comments would be very gratefully accepted. Please feel free to introduce yourself- and hopefully there’ll be something happening around her fairly soon that might actually make you want to stick around…

Pleased to meet you. How’s it going?

P.S.: For anyone who’d like to know more about me, here’s a lengthy selection of facts, truths and outright oddities about me, culled from a meme that’s been spreading like wildfire on Facebook – 25 Random Things that you may (or may not) want to know about me…

1: I have had an awful lot of unrequited crushes in my life, but I’ve only been properly in love once. At least, so far…

2: I once hi-jacked a large chunk of my Media Studies A-Level just so my friend Tristan Barratt and I could team up and make an epic video project. 25% of the coursework was ‘free choice’ – no limits whatsoever, and what they usually had was people doing adverts, or photo-stories, or a short music video. We went and made a one-hour, no-budget science fiction epic shot on VHS and entitled The Alchemist, spent about two months shooting it, and I then drove most of my lecturers crazy by not telling them I was going to spend a whole week editing it, instead of anything unimportant like going to lectures (I was operating on the ‘If I ask them, they’ll say no!’ strategy). Amazingly, they changed the ‘free choice’ rules fairly soon after that…

3: Up until around the age of 18, I played the Classical Guitar, and passed my Grade 7 music exams. Anyone who’s ever complained about how tough normal school exams were – music exams are a whole other universe of tension. It’s just you, your instrument, a sinister bespectacled bloke behind a desk, and a selection of pieces of music that you’ve simply GOT to get right. Toughened me up, make no mistake…

4: My first- and really, only- grand pop passion was The KLF. In 1991, I went from thinking “Oh, yes, those blokes who were The Timelords” to being totally obsessed, and it certainly helped that there were so theatrical and enigmatic that it was hard work in the pre-internet days to find out anything about them. Still love their music, but the more manic edge of my fandom eased down, and eventually sputtered out when the whole ‘Burn a Million Quid’ stunt happened, and the supporting documentary made them unwittingly look like a pretentious version of Spinal Tap.

5: I have slept at the summit of Ben Nevis in Scotland (it was a late night hike where we camped out for a couple of hours at the top and waited for the sun to come up). Not exactly comfortable, but it was one hell of a view when I woke up.

6: I owe a tremendous amount of what’s happened to me over the past decade to working at the Oxford Street branch of Borders Books, where I ran the science fiction section for three years, and used it as a way of hanging out at lots of SF book launches. It is amazing how many people you can get to know by the simple strategy of getting drunk, staggering up to them and saying “Hello! Who are you?”

7: I never actually meant to end up as any kind of journalist. It’s a profession I accidentally fell into thanks to a bizarre series of occurrences and a monthly quiz night at Borders being run by the late, lamented Hotdog magazine. Plus, if I hadn’t been nudged into asking about film reviewing by a girl called Lydia Julien, I’d never have bothered and my life wouldn’t have gone in an exceptionally entertaining direction.

8: Hotdog was the magazine that I started with, and that I did some of my favourite articles and reviews for. It also had the bad luck of being run by companies that kept going bankrupt, resulting in £5,400 of unpaid invoices going up in smoke. Not that I’m bitter, oh no…

9: I’ve always loved The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy for its humour and its wonderful strangeness – but when I first saw it (a repeat of the BBC TV adaptation, screened in 1982), I didn’t actually realise it was meant to be a comedy. In my defence, I was eight at the time – but when you look at Hitch-Hikers and ignore the gags, it’s a very, very strange and dark story. Some gags took me a long time to work out – especially the ‘What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?’ ‘You ask a glass of water!’ joke…

10: I have also walked the Two Moors Way, a 100 mile walk that stretches (as the name suggests) all the way across both Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon. It took my Dad and I exactly four days and four hours – and on the last day, we managed the not inconsiderable feat of walking 28 miles in a day (we were really, really keen to finish by then…)

11: Possibly the most famous star I’ve ever actually seen in person is Michael Jackson – seen sitting in an office, talking on a phone and looking terribly pale (No surprise there, then). It’s all thanks to Jarvis Cocker. I used to work at a post-production company called Tele-Cine where they did all the editing work on the Brit Awards show, and in the year of Jacko’s ‘EarthSong’ nonsense and Jarvis’ legendary disruption, Jacko and his entourage descended on Tele-Cine to supervise in person the removal of any footage of Jarvis. I can clearly remember two very, very tall bodyguards standing outside the Edit Suites…

12: I made a brief appearance in a BBC 2 documentary in 1996. It was part of the ‘Modern Times’ series, it was all about flatmates and – in another weird twist – the show was edited at TeleCine where I was working. I was also oddly proud of the fact that while I made it in for two brief cameo appearances, the household I originally interviewed for didn’t actually make the final cut.

13: A drama series project that ended up with me taking meetings with production companies (never got any further, though) started through some very odd late-night conversations with my friend Tris, and a series of surreal ads for the non-existant series that I started mailing out to production companies. It was mainly intended as a joke and a way of filling time in a rather boring job – but when I started getting serious replies, things soon progressed…

14: Out of all the interviews I’ve ever done, my favourite was probably Guillermo Del Toro – an absolute dream to interview, and the kind of conversationalist where you just have to sprint alongside desperately trying to catch up. Least favourite? Well, if only for what a sheer disappointment it was, I’d have to say Bruce Campbell – interviewed over the phone for the release of Bubba Ho-Tep, and okay, I may have caught him on a bad day, but the words ‘unresponsive’ and ‘dull’ might as well have been created for this. I got to the end, and had to think – ‘I had more fun interviewing the director of ‘It’s All About Love’ than I did interviewing Bruce Campbell – something’s wrong with the world…’ Haven’t watched Evil Dead 2 since for fear of getting annoyed, which considering how much I enjoy that film is something of a shame. I’m not actually certain he liked doing the film that much (considering he dropped out of the sequel), and especially since it’s about the best work he’s ever done outside of the Evil Dead series…

15: When I was young, I was bitten by an Alsatian dog in the street. Considering my family had two Alsatians, this could have been a problem – but while I had a few twitchy moments with unfamiliar dogs, I was never scared of our two pets (Ivan and Penny) as they were both fantastic and trustworthy.

16: In 2002, I travelled across America (and parts of Canada) visiting obscure movie locations – partly for a book project that never quite got off the ground, and partly just for the sheer hell of it. I visited Toronto, Niagra Falls, Martha’s Vineyard, New York, Washington, Chicago, Rapid City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

17: As well as being a fan of their music, I also once made a five-minute audio documentary on sample-happy pop mavericks The KLF, as part of my University degree. It was a rather absurd idea – mainly because I could only fit a fraction of their story into the running time – and it took a hell of a lot of effort, but I did it, simply due to the fact that it was the only documentary idea I could think of that actually interested me…

18: Famous people I served while working at Borders include Lenny Henry, Dennis Norden, Ewan McGregor, Chris Morris and Tom Baker. Possibly the biggest example of this, however, is the day when I was manning the Information desk on the first floor, looked up, and suddenly realised that someone who looked very much like Jon Voight was walking towards the desk and about to ask a question. And then, just to make it even weirder, Angelina Jolie turned up as well. The word ‘mind-boggling’ doesn’t even cover it…

19: From when I was around four or five years old (or probably, to be honest, earlier, but four or five is when these memories start), my dad would read to me, virtually every night. We started off with fairly simple stuff – Winnie the Pooh, Danny the Champion of the World – but then things started branching out with a factual book about submarines, a WHSmith-published guide to Physics (which I never quite got my head around), a big chunk of the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Hobbit, and then The Lord of the Rings (which, quite obviously, took us a long time – nearly two years).

20: At the costume parties that we used to throw at the shared house I lived in from 1999-2004, I appeared on separate occasions as a Space Bucaneer, Linus (from Peanuts), Richard Hannay (from The 39 Steps), Dale Cooper (from Twin Peaks), Han Solo, a member of Kraftwerk, and Caligula. And, would you believe it, I pulled on three of these occasions…

21: My middle name is John – and the main reason I was given it (other than it being my father’s name) is so that if I ever got fed up of being called something as odd as Saxon, I could swap. However, this idea never even occurred to me, and I was genuinely shocked when I found this out.

22: I love making baroquely complicated and beautifully designed CD music compilations and giving them as Birthday and Christmas presents – even if I usually set myself too many to make at Christmas, resulting in a hideous amount of work and at least fifteen cries of ‘Why do I do this to myself?’

23: My first novel, The Hypernova Gambit, started off life as a pitch for a Doctor Who book. Thankfully, the idea was turned down, as I’ve no clue how I’d have ever fitted in everything I wanted to do. The average Who novel was around 80-100,000 words, while The Hypernova Gambit weighed in at 165,000 words.

24: I separated from my wife on the 29th September 2008. It’s been a very difficult time for me, but I’m determined to be positive and strive on, and I’m also determined to handle the situation the right way, and do everything I can to remain on good terms with my wife. Whatever differences we’ve had and whatever problems we’ve gone through, she’s still someone who’s had a massive effect on my life, and I hope we can remain friends.

25: After bouncing around between different aims (for ages I wanted to direct films, despite the fact that the kind of filmmaking I adore was guerrilla-style ‘get out there and shoot it’ stuff), I’ve eventually come to the conclusion (which was probably obvious to everyone other than me) that I was destined to write stories. And that’s what I’m going to continue to do. I’ve got an agent, and while I’m still waiting for good news on my first book, I’m working away on new projects, and if I can get myself in a situation where I’m earning actual money for thinking up crazy stuff, I will happily do it until I drop dead. There’s so much strange and wonderful stuff in my head, and I just want to concentrate on getting it down on paper. That should occupy me for a while, at least!

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