Monday 18 March 2013

Blog Swap: Put to the Sword in the Name of the Lord by Barry Hutchison

"What's a blog swap?" I hear you cry. It is an idea that Barry Hutchison, friend of The Book Zone and children's author extraordinaire, came up with whilst we were chatting on Twitter recently. I told him that I was pulling back from taking part in blog tours as a general rule (although exceptions will be made - come back tomorrow to find out more) as a) I hated visiting other sites and seeing a lengthy column of blog tour banner after blog tour banner and b) I'm not sure they are particularly good anyway (again, I'll explain more tomorrow).

The first rule of blog swap is that there are no rules. So today Barry is featuring a post I have written about my passion for car boot sales and charity shops, whilst Barry is here to tell us about religious fanatics and death threats. Over to you Barry:

Put to the Sword in the Name of the Lord

It’s not all fun and games being a children’s author, you know? Oh sure, I might be jetting to the Bahamas one minute, and enjoying a hot tub with the cast of Hollyoaks the next – but it’s not always like that.

Actually, it’s never like that, but let’s pretend it is.

So when I’m not being pursued by soap starlets, signing autographs and accepting Hollywood film offers, what does a children’s author do?

In my case, I get death threats. At least, I did for a while, and today I’d like to tell you all about them.

First, let me set the scene. It’s October 2011. I’m all excited about my new novel, The 13th Horseman, which is due out in February 2012. It’s my first standalone novel, and a complete departure from my Invisible Fiends horror series, being a comedy adventure about the end of the world.

I decide to start the publicity ball rolling early, and put together a gently amusing list of things you should and shouldn’t do come the Day of Judgement. I call it The Dos and Don’ts of the Apocalypse, and the lovely people at HarperCollins Children’s Books make it look all nice and that as a poster:

I put the poster image up on my website. A few hours later I get a comment on it from someone cryptically calling himself “skdbpf”. It reads simply: “not funny” – no capitals, no punctuation, just that: “not funny”.

Which, you know, is absolutely fine. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hardly side-splitting stuff. “Gently amusing” as I said. Emphasis on the “gently”.

Things take a turn for the worse just a few minutes later, though, when someone calling themselves “apsfn” passed the following comment:

“not funny jesus died for youre sins way to repy him”

Again, no capitals (not even on Jesus, which I’d be quite annoyed at, if I were him. Er… Him). The meaning of the comment took a few seconds to fathom out, but I got the general idea. I had caught the attention of a semi-literate religious zealot, and tempted as I was to get involved in a public debate on it, I spammed the comments and thought no more of it.

Until the death threat arrived a few days later. It was sent via my website, using a similar name format as above. I’ve cleaned up the spelling and grammar enough so that you don’t sit scratching your head for 20 minutes trying to decode the message, and this is what it said.

“So you think you’re clever making a mockery of the Lord? We’ll see how you laugh when you burn in Hell. And don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get their real soon.”

Naturally, I replied with: “Thanks for that. Hope you’re well. Love, Barry” but the email bounced back to me as undeliverable – whoever had sent the message had used a false email address.

The annoying thing is, The 13th Horseman doesn’t make a mockery of anyone (well… maybe Pestilence), and had they actually read the book they would have realised that fact. The Book of Doom, on the other hand… well, let’s just say I’m bulletproofing my windows now that that one has been published, lest I be violently killed one day in the name of peace, love and goodwill to all men.

The frickin’ maniacs.


  1. Love it! Does Barry need a bodyguard? I'll be happy to work for free (or at least a new story every now and again).

  2. Oh my, first the dog abuse lady, now this! You do attract your fair share of weirdos, don't you Barry?

  3. That's a novel approach to the general tenets of Jesus and Christianity. You know, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill, Do Unto Others...' etc etc