So I signed up to gishwhes this year, pretty much on a whim and without any planning aforethought. For those of you who don’t know, gishwhes is short for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen and it is seriously awesome!

The hunt takes place over a week at the beginning of August. Teams are limited to fifteen people and this year there was a list of over 200 items to complete. Some are almost impossible, others just plain ridiculous. All are fun.

Item 35: Design a device that would allow a five ounce swallow to carry a one pound coconut. SF note: I’m really proud of this one. Click on the pic to see a bigger version.


I mention the lack of planning aforethought because while all items were enormous fun, they also took time and gishwhes just happened to take place on the same week that I started a new job and had writing group commitments in the evening, leaving me to mostly complete my tasks late into the night.

Next year, I’m planning on taking the week off and doing it properly!

Item 165: WILLIAM SHATNER ITEM – Carrie Fisher is known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars. Her memorable hairstyle was often called the Princess Leia Bun. Bake a portrait of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in bread.

Leia bread Team Impala Rock Fans


There I was in my kitchen alone late at night, everyone else asleep or out,  busy rolling out dough and trying to make it look like Princess Leia. I had a very strange sense of: what the hell am I doing? And the odd thing, is that because of the internationalness of it,  I knew that even though I was doing it all alone in the middle of the night, all over the world total strangers were doing the exact same weirdness.

Item 34: How do you do it? Everyone on your team has such beautiful mustaches? Do you have some sort of hair growth cream you slather on or pills you all take? Let’s see a grid photo of everyone on your team that features your mustaches prominently. SF Note: mustache made out of kale? This is without doubt the most hipster thing I have ever done, and may ever do (until next year’s gishwhes of course)


Like I said, lack of planning, and I didn’t know anyone else who even knew about it, so instead of forming my own team, I was assigned one. One of the great things about Gishwhes is that it is international. People from all over the world take part. We created a facebook group to organise the items and I got to meet some lovely and wonderfully creative people.  My team were mostly young Americans (with a couple of exceptions) and I think I was pretty much oldest in the group by a long chalk. Shout out to Team ImpalaRockFans for being wonderful!


Unfortunately, my team submission list on gishwhes has disappeared so I don’t have everyone else’s items (and there were some incredible ones), but it’s worth a google to find what people have done generally because gishwhes is really is a tower of super awesome creativeness.

IMAGE. Where in the world was this selfie taken? Find ONE of the places on the linked page and duplicate the selfie from exactly where they might have been standing: This is a location-based item: you must find the exact location. You can’t use a location that looks similar. You can copy the selfie taker’s pose if you wish or do something completely weird and different, but you should have the exact same camera angle.

SF note: this one was a little awkward. I happened to know exactly where it was but there were a lot of  tourists with kids trying to take pictures, I had sun on my phone and really struggled to get the right angle. I may have looked a little odd, but that is at least 70% the point of gishwhes.

Shaun the sheep

Because of said lack of aforeplanning, many of the items (for me at least) had to be made with whatever I had to hand or could get from the local supermarket. This was good, but I did have to rush a little sometimes.

My five-year-old absolutely loved getting involved, and while his enthusiasm was wonderful, it didn’t always help. Like when he blew on my salt-and-pepper portrait of Ironman ( which I then needed to ‘fix’ and it ended up with an odd neck/jaw concertina thing). He then burst into tears at the suggestion that we may need to vaccuum it up once done, instead of leaving it on the dining room table forever. (It may have been a little past his bedtime).

Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey, Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweet it to him (@robertdowneyjr) with @gishwhes in the tweet. SUBMIT a link to the image to us, NOT a link to an image of the tweet – but you must tweet it to him for your image to count.

ironman sp

Winners of gishwhes get to go on holiday somewhere fun with Misha Collins (Castiel on Supernatural) who began Random Acts the charity that benefits from all the gishwhes insanity, but this really isn’t about winning, it’s about taking part (to use a giant but true cliche). And the spirit of that is present in the judging. Extra points are awarded for extra effort, so it’s not simply about ticking items off of a list.

Item 96: The Tooth Fairy is on strike. Invent another fairy that provides a service in your home for your children, or your dorm room/apartment for your roommates. Dress up as the fairy providing the service, and then caption the image with what you are. SFMy son told me that the most helpful fairy service would be the cupcake fairy (obviously), so here you are:

Cupcake Fairy


Item 57: You know how sometimes you look at your child’s weird behavior and think, “Where did you come from? You certainly didn’t come from me.” Well, after extensive DNA analysis (thanks for sending that in) we just discovered they did not, in fact, come from you. They came from the new planet that was just discovered: Earth2.0 ( They’ll behave better if you stop trying to make them human. Dress them up or convert them back into keplerians and take them to a park, playground, ice cream shop (or similar). Teenage keplerians are acceptable and even encouraged as long as they’re with their parents. Really go to town on the costumes, make-up and location for this for bonus points!



And sometimes what looks the most awesome, is not necessarily the most fun. I could easily have made a more impressive alien but my son wanted to do it himself and had a great amount of fun doing it.

Item 108: VIDEO (Time lapse this down to 14 seconds.) Lay your bets, and time lapse a snail race from the starting gun to the finish line. SF: Please excuse the quality.  5yo + crappy video on my phone + zero experience in filming and editing videos = amateur hour.

Same with the snail race item. We had to make a video of a snail race and he was so enthusiastic that it really made for an odd video – moving snails into position, arguing about whether it counted when they went off track, and so on. Adult-me on my own could have made it more professional but at the expense of 99% of the fun.

So that was my contribution, here are some other super things created by the rest of the team. As I said, unfortunately I’m not sure how to capture them off gishwhes now the item list has gone (anyone?) so it’s far from a full set:

Item 92: RACHEL MINER ITEM. Make and wear a “Save The Unicorns” t-shirt and stand in a crowded public place asking people to sign a petition to “Save The Endangered Unicorns.

Item 160: Let’s see an ice, snow or sand sculpture of an SPN character.


Item 51: Death’s funeral.  SF note: you may need to be a Supernatural fan to fully appreciate this one


Item 172: Build a raft made entirely out of empty plastic water bottles. Float in a lake on your raft

Item 95: Show Kim Kardashian how to break the Internet.

Item 93: Contribute the recipe for ‘Dinomite’s Fluffy Bites’ to and get at least 20, 5-star reviews from people who enjoyed the recipe



And finally I give you:

Item: 104  Turn your living room into a giant snow globe with fun props and falling “snow.” SF: This is not the full item, just the Christmas tree. For the non-Supernatural watchers, this is Castiel Angel of the Lord. I love this so much.


And that’s all I can find for now.  I’ll see if I can cadge the links from the team and add them in. (And you really should come back and check because some were incredible. Yulexy’s hipster trap made me laugh out loud).

Right, so end of post.

And I hope I’ve persuaded at least a few readers to get involved next year. Because next time I am going to do it with bells on!



I’ve been intending to see the original 1922 version of Nosferatu for ages. It’s one of the seminal horror films of our time (arguably even the most influential). I got to see it in the best possible way: in Bristol’s Victoria Rooms accompanied by original organ music — just as it would have been shown back in the day. (Enormous kudos go to David Bednall on the organ and his improvised score. It was incredible and I can’t believe how much talent must be needed to improvise something that awesome.)

I’m not sure if anyone could possibly complain about a review of an almost hundred-year-old movie containing spoilers, but if that sort of thing bothers you, consider yourself warned.

Nosferatu is a thinly-veiled version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The original script was the Dracula story, but the film makers couldn’t obtain the rights so they ended up changing the names and the ending. Unluckily for them, it was still close enough that Stoker’s heirs sued successfully over the adaption, and a court ruled that all copies be destroyed. Luckily for us, all copies weren’t destroyed. At least one survived to become one of the oldest and greatest horror movies of our time.

The film hasn’t aged nearly as much as it could have. It’s still relevant. Still scary in parts and it’s had me thinking about it on and off over the last few days. The most obvious difference to modern movies is the over-acting, but I really enjoyed that part of it.


Gustav van Wangenheim as Hutter was the most manically jolly character I have ever seen on the screen. It felt a little silly at first (there were a few titters in the audience), but it did mean that when he does finally realise the nature of the Count and cowers in his bed, terrified of the monster coming towards him, it felt like watching a happy, bouncy puppy realise it’s about to get a kicking. I haven’t felt that sorry for a fictional character in some time. Poor innocent little puddle.

coming into the room

Nosferatu (Max Schreck) was fantastic too. There was no angst or guilt or sparkles. He was just pure creepy vampire and I loved him.


Greta Schroder as Ellen was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting such a strong female character from such an old movie. I thought she was going to spend the film screaming and fainting. There was plenty of that but she was the one to save the day. She was certainly a lot cleverer and determined than her innocent puppy of a husband.


Ultimately, a fantastic film and one I was really pleased to have seen. It was even worth the wait to get to see it with such a fantastic live score. This evening I’m going to watch the 1979 remake. Let’s see how it measures up.

Goodreads Giveaway!

Woohoo! Physical copies of A Murder of Crones are now available on Amazon.  (UK link, US link)

To celebrate, I’m giving away signed copies of both A Murder of Crones and The Secret Dead on Goodreads.

The Giveaway will open on 29 January and close on 5 February. You can enter via the link below.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Murder of Crones by S.W. Fairbrother

A Murder of Crones

by S.W. Fairbrother

Giveaway ends February 05, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination – Review

The always fascinating British Library has an exhibition on at the moment titled Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.


As with every other exhibition I’ve been to at the British Library, it was well worth a visit. The exhibition begins with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, considered to be the first gothic novel, and continues all the way to the present day, discussing gothic influences on everything from Hellraiser to Twilight.

A highlight for me was the handwritten manuscript of Jane Eyre, a particular favourite of mine. I’d never thought of Jane Eyre as particularly gothic (if asked I’d more likely have come up with Dracula or Frankenstein), but, of course, it does have mystery, an isolated gothic mansion, the stern Mr Rochester, and a madwoman in the attic.



Plenty of original manuscripts and first editions are on display (of course, it is the BL) as well as a nineteenth century vampire staking kit


Fans of supernatural literature and classic horror will love it.

The exhibition closes on 20 January so if you’re a Londoner, or are going to be in London, get your tickets quick. It was also, unfortunately, fairly crowded. I went in the afternoon though, and usually find the early morning tickets are usually quieter.

Highly recommended!


Campaign for damp squid

Ever since seeing that one episode of the IT Crowd where Roy gets the term ‘damp squib’ wrong, I’ve wanted to propose a campaign for the term ‘damp squid’ to replace ‘damp squib’.

‘Squid’ is just so much better. ‘Squib’ is just boring. Of course, I can start using ‘squid’, but more than likely I’ll just get corrected and no one will believe me when I say I said it on purpose.

So, I hereby launch the official Campaign for Damp Squid. Pass the word along.

(We’ll leave ‘pedestal’ where it is. ‘Pedal stool’ is just silly.)

In which I finally provide some updates

Anyone paying attention (and there may be at least one of you) will have noticed that I haven’t been providing a lot of updates recently. This is been due to me working flat out on the sequel to The Secret Dead and not spending time on luxuries like the internet, or sleeping.

The book (which was going to be titled Hag, but I’m not now so sure about) is sort of finished,  but needed some outside eyes and I needed a short break from it. So, in the last week, I have:

*Visited the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library.  Verdict: Highly recommended. Of course, I love love love comics and graphic novels, so I may be prejudiced. It’s a fascinating exhibit displaying comics and their evolution over the centuries. It ends on 19 August, so get in quickly if you want to go. comics unmasked

*Flown all the way from summer to winter.  Brrr.  I had a really bad flight due to what I thought was a particularly uncomfortable seat and overheated plane, but was actually caused by:

*the fever and back pain of a nasty kidney infection which laid me out flat for a couple of days. (Boo! Hiss!)  I am fortunately now on the mend, and all ready to tackle the next edit of May-Or-May-Not-Be-Named-Hag.

*I also finally finished the new The Secret Dead cover in preparation for the relaunch with May-Or-May-Not-Be-Named-Hag. This will be revealed soon! Yay!