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Getting mugged in Amsterdam

Content warning: knife threat

Hello there <<First Name (optional)>>,

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the time I got mugged in Amsterdam. 

I was in the Dutch capital to cover an album launch party for the US hardcore band Bad Religion. I was there with a fellow journalist, making merry and getting drunk. And then we walked back towards the hotel, probably through the red light district, at about two in the morning. Yeah, I know, that probably wasn't the wisest of moves, but we were young and invincible.

Some guy accosted us on your classic Amsterdam bridge, no different from the one in the picture above.

He held a knife right up to my throat - one of those knives where the blade is retracted into the handle. His finger was on the button on the side, and so, provided the knife was real, if he'd pressed the button the spring-loaded blade would have shot into my neck.

He asked for money or whatever we had. The only exact quote I remember him saying was, "Give me your money or I'll cut you up like pieces of meat." What a charmer, eh? 

And so we gave him  the little money we had. But we both had bags with us. And for instance, I was left at the end of this episode with my tape Walkman. Which was a relief, because the tape in that Walkman probably had interviews with Bad Religion on it.

So this guy was vicious, but not very thorough.

Maybe this next part says something about trauma and threat, I don't know, but at the time I wasn't upset or traumatised or even shaken.

Meanwhile, my fellow journalist, the guy who didn't have the knife jammed up against his throat really was quite shaken.

We went to a jazz bar afterwards, as you do when you've been mugged, and had bit another beer or two to kind of settle him down.

The whole thing hasn't even seemed to really affect me long-term either. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because I'd had several ales and the whole thing never felt entirely real to me. It felt quite surreal.

Funny, though, isn't it? The only time I've ever been mugged, having been all over the world as a rock journalist, to America, Mexico, Japan, Australia and Europe, and the one place where I got mugged was in Amsterdam, the the liberal city of peace.

This has been an edited transcription of the audio from the video I shot for my awesome Patreon supporters, while walking from my home to Brighton station. During this journey, I'm happy to report that I did not get mugged. 
It's been my birthday this week.

One of those 'round number' birthdays.

<Cough> Forty. Let's just call it forty and move quickly on to the next paragraph. 

I just got back from a picnic lunch with my excellent pal Vicky (check out her NangleKnits Facebook group for wonderful knitwear and blanket pics and chat!) who gave me this Viking helmet to go with the sword she got me for Christmas.

Clearly, this woman has mistaken me for a simple buffoon. 🧐

<is literally wearing the helmet as he types, with sword beside him>
If you're a Substack reader AND interested in writing, you might be interested to hear that I've started a Substack for writers!

It's called Jason Arnopp's Scary Truths Of Writing and will be free to read on launch. 

I've set out my very brief mission statement on my first ever post, here. Have a read and follow me there if it pleases you to do so.

The content will start to arrive during June, and focus heavily on how to deal with the many fears that will assail you as a writer.

While I have you: you might also like to sign up for my other free newsletter, The Sunday Confession Booth, a simple, weekly affair that creatives say boosts their sense of motivation and accountability. 

Auto Rewind, six years on!

In each monthly edition of The Necronoppicon this year, I've written a bit about one example of my short-form fiction work. 

And now it's the turn of Auto Rewind, the e-book novelette published in 2016.

What's a novelette? I can't entirely remember, except that it's something to do with word count. :)

If I had to nominate one of my short-form fiction works as having been somewhat overlooked, it would be Auto Rewind. But then, it's probably odder and harder to categorise than, say, Beast In The Basement (twisty thriller) or A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home (ghost story). 

Auto Rewind is also probably even harder to discuss openly than Beast In The Basement, without committing major spoiler sins. 

Suffice to say, it's about a child of the '80s who takes ever more extreme measures to protect his family's lifestyle.

I still really like this one and believe it to be quite emotionally powerful by the end.

It also features Doctor Who VHS, a nail-gun and a man being beaten to death with an Atari 2600 video game console.

Cover note: the one on the left above is the finished cover, while the other is an alternate version which was ultimately discounted because I really liked the white purity of the other design. Actually, I wonder if it looks too bright and 'un-horror' for some folk? That would be ironic, seeing as it might be my most violent book, second only to Jack Sparks.  

If you're solely into the scary supernatural elements of my novels The Last Days Of Jack Sparks and Ghoster (thank you!), then the grittier nature of Auto Rewind may not be for you. But if you're up for reading something rather weirder (and in some ways more personal) of mine, then step this way and take a look

Netflix's Texas Chainsaw film - any good? 

This mini review contains no spoilers, apart from the name of one returning character. I will never intentionally spoiler you about anything, ever

Now, I'm a horror fan, but even I have officially lost track of how many remakes of Tobe Hooper's grimy 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre have now been made.

Don't even ask me how many Texas movies have now been made, overall. I would estimate at least ten, though?

The latest Chainsaw movie is a Netflix original, directed by David Blue Garcia. I wasn't sure of what to expect but decided to give it a shot anyway.

I actually had a pretty good time with this one. Here are a few bullet points:
  • This is surely the most gory Chainsaw movie ever made. Whether that's a good thing or not, depends on your point of view
  • There is a returning character from the first Texas movie (Leatherface aside, obviously) in the shape of Sally Hardesty, Tobe Hooper's 'final girl'. Sadly, actress Marilyn Burns has since died, and the role goes to Olwen Fouéré in this 2022 film.
  • There is an outrageous slaughter sequence on a bus that really goes for the jugular, and indeed every other major vein and organ.
  • The final scene manages to be really quite horrible and memorable. Definitely one for the rewind button.
  • It's beautifully concise at around 80 minutes! I love an 80-minute movie. Always have, ever since the video rental days. 
Now, even though I had a good time, I should stress that I'm not claiming this is a masterwork in any serious way. It is a nasty, fun, popcorn-friendly horror movie, however, that doesn't take itself too seriously, and it made me go, "Oh no!" and "Sh*t!" a fair bit. So how bad can that be? 


Every month in the newsletter, I'll share tips for three types of folk. Here goes:

Sometimes you'll find yourself interviewing someone whose classic past is far more interesting than, say, their lacklustre current novel or solo album. Some of these people will be sick and tired of talking about the past and their PR may have even given them false expectations that you'll want to ask them mainly about the present. Their PR may also not have briefed them at all. So I think it's best to quickly brief the interviewee upfront and explain, for instance, that this will be a chronological career overview and you WILL get to their New Thing which you really are cock-a-hoop about, oh yes and no mistake. 

If the interviewee still sounds disgruntled, and it's affecting the quality of their answers, then flip the interview structure and cover the stuff they want to yap about first. After that, they can hopefully relax and give you the stuff they know you really want. Just make sure you keep a close eye on the timings! As I say in my book
How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else, you should always establish upfront how long your allotted time with them will be. Nobody wants a nasty surprise at the end...
This Isn't Pork Sausages are the best veggie sausages I've ever tasted. They have a real sausage and mash feel about them, blacken beautifully in the pan and really take me back to the type of sausage I used to enjoy before I spurned meat a good decade ago. Basically, the type of sausage that you'd be delighted to find on a hotel breakfast plate, and which would actually raise your opinion of the hotel. (And so, this newsletter is not sponsored by This Isn't!)

Here's an idea point of view that I find myself increasingly drifting towards. Unless your plot is absolutely rock solid from the off (bearing in mind that it can often SEEM that way, only for reality to spit right in your eye), and you 100% know that every scene is essential, consider not pouring your absolute heart and soul into the writing of every scene during the very first draft.

Why spend your precious time writing a restaurant scene that painstakingly describes the sights, sounds and smells drifting from the kitchen, not to mention the wry facial expressions of the characters and the way the restaurant's resident cat stalks charmingly around the place, when you might need to drop the whole scene in a later draft? (Actually, that restaurant scene sounds like it holds too much superfluous detail in general, but you get my point, and there are ways of layering such info across the text.)

The future drafts will be a different story, but why devote loads of time to loading your canvas with paint and fine detail, when you're not entirely sure whether the painting will ultimately form part of the exhibition? Maybe apply fewer layers of paint to that initial draft. God, I can't tell you how many days' work I've had to discard, after having poured so much work into a scene or even a chapter, only to ultimate ditch the thing.

One final thought on this general subject: it's almost impossible to ditch a day's writing work at the end of that same day. But three months later, and especially six months later, and ABSOLUTELY one year later, you'll delete 5000 or even 20,000 words in a heartbeat, because you'll know this stuff has to die in order to make the story work, or function better. All that old stuff now practically feels like it was written by someone else.

Final caveat for the above: you may be the kind of person who absolutely cannot write a scene without layering the prose to 100% 'perfection' and that's absolutely fine. Whatever works, works.

If any of these tips have felt useful, feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

Behold! The link apocalypse awaits you

Thanks so much for reading this far! I really appreciate you hanging around as a subscriber, and I will do my best to inform and entertain you every month.

Next time, I'll write about American Hoarder, the book you received for free when you signed up for this newsletter. Do feel free to reply to this newsletter to tell me what you'd love to see in the July edition of The Necronoppicon. Is there a burning question you'd like to see me answer? Let me know. 

Now, here are some excellent resources and offers to see you off into the online universe...

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LINKS FOR YOUTUBE CREATORS: Disclosure: some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that when you buy something through them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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