DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Matt visits Badgers Crossing & Paul Childs

Tales From Badgers Crossing

Paul Childs (@paulychilds


Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

“ 4.40pm Full time. Spurs 2-1 Chelsea. Tambling’s header gave Chelsea a brief glimmer of hope but in the end they were outclassed. The Robbers “Where are we?” Frankie stepped down onto the gravel and looked out over the murky, still waters of the canal…   

Every town has its Mysteries.
Every town has its Secrets.
Every town has its Ghosts.
This town...

Has MORE - this town is the infectiously disturbing and wackily brilliant brainchild of Paul ‘World Geekly News’ Childs.  Tales From Badgers Crossing is a fantastic collection of partially interlinked short stories, think 'tales of the unexpected - with added badgers, superheroes, and time travel.

I've been taking my time reading through this book - as each of the stories within are worthy of contemplation and reflection. There are numerous easter eggs for fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror as well as an abundance of nostalgic references that will make you grin if of a certain age!?

The prose crackles with energy and is engaging in the way it delivers such many and varied concepts as pout from the seemingly boundless imagination of Child's creativity. One minute you're taken back to school for some cloakroom spookiness, the next you're deep in a folklore / Footloose mash up and then you'll be swept up in a heist or gigglingly captivated by superhero antics that would make The Boys blush.

Overall the quality control is refreshingly high, sure - like most collections of shorts there were some that resonated more with me than others (personal favs were Phenomenal and A Game of Two Halves) but there are no outright duffers to trip you up here!

Be careful how you go in this town...

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(5 - Badgers Crossing is a very special place, highly recommend you take a visit!)

Get your copy of Tales From Badgers Crossing

I was fortunate to get to ask Paul some searching questions - let's see what he said:

Matt: If a mad scientist turned you into a giant badger, who or what would would be your nemesis?

Paul: Well, in the UK, the badger has few natural enemies, so I guess it would be Badger Baiters (a particularly nasty gang of them are the villains in Bait, my follow up novella to Tales From Badgers Crossing). I'd catch them, cage them and then maybe make them fight each other before a baying audience of badgers, so they see the error of their ways. Or maybe just eat them.

Matt: What is the most disturbing thing you’ve ever read or watched in a book/film of any genre?

Paul: I think I'd have to say, for film, it's probably the found footage movie The Borderlands (or Final Prayer in the US). It starts off like a fairly standard ghost story, with some paranormal investigators being sent to an allegedly haunted church by the Vatican to verify the credibility of a miracle - and then it veers into a nightmarish scenario that culminates in one of my worst fears being realised. I can't really say what that fear is without spoiling the ending, but it's... horrifying.

For books, the one that has stayed with me for such a long time is the Stephen King short story The Jaunt from his collection Skeleton Crew. It's a science fiction tale about a father and son in a travel lounge, waiting to teleport to Mars. The son asks how teleportation was discovered, and the father tells most of the story, but leaves out some really horrific details about the times it has gone horribly wrong, so as not to scare the boy. The ending really got under my skin, and it's still there now crawling around.

Matt: If you were hired to throw a parade of any scale or theme through the centre of London what type of parade would it be? Badgers maybe?

Paul: A badger parade sounds awesome, but I'd love to see a big celebration of geek culture in a parade - like a moving Comic-Con. Instead of standing for hours waiting for a signed photo of Lou Ferrigno or Dirk Benedict or Dezi Arnaz Jr or whoever, let them come to you, riding on giant Hulk and Battlestar Galactica and Automan themed floats through the streets of London, throwing candy and souvenirs out to the crowd. You could include various film and movie vehicles throughout, like the A-Team Van, KITT or Street Hawk actually being driven by Mr T, David Hasselhoff and Rex Smith. That would be awesome! I really want this to happen now. Even just the vehicles part of it would be the greatest day ever.

part man, part badger, all hero!

Matt: You are granted a supernatural power to bless the world, what does that look like for you?

Paul: I quite like the idea posed in the Red Dwarf episode Justice. The power to turn people's bad deeds back on themselves (so thieves end up having their own things stolen, arsonists suddenly catch fire, badgers baiters are forced to fight each other etc) would soon put a stop to all that pesky anti-social behaviour!

Matt: Who or what inspires you most (can be living or dead)?

Paul: Stephen King is the obvious answer. The sheer volume AND consistent quality of his work just astounds me. I've never read a King story I didn't like.
Also, there is a writer I know called Gemma Amor who quit her job and overcame some really serious personal odds to become a well known and successful horror author. I am in awe of the sheer fearlessness it took to make that decision. Also, her stories are pretty good too!
Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely
to be under the mask?

Paul: I’m a pretty nice guy so, like the badger, I have few natural enemies. However, in a previous job someone seemed to take an instant and intense disliking to me and I can't for the life of me work out why. I forget his name, but it's probably that guy under the mask. I haven't really thought about him since I left, but I imagine he has been seething with rage for the last eight years, plotting and muttering things like "Why I oughta... I'll get that Paul Childs if it's the last thing I do..."

Matt: What is the meaning of life?

Paul: Hey, I'm a nerd. Obviously it's 42. Seriously though... If something makes you happy - do it. For example, I love Lego (who doesn't) and with the first batch of proceeds from Tales From Badgers Crossing, I bought the new Optimus Prime kit, much to my mum's dismay ("Why?", "Where are you going to put it?", "You're a grown man," etc). I spent years as a kid trying to build him from the various multicoloured bricks I had, but never quite got it right, so for there to be an actual kit, in the correct colours, that even transforms without having to take him apart, was an utter dream come true. I enjoyed building him so much. Don't let what people think stop you from doing something that makes you happy.

Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given?

Paul: The boring answer is probably the car I got from my parents about 20 years ago. It was already 10 years old at that point, and not a very exciting model, but it was exactly what I needed at the time, and it was cheap to run (it was diesel - how things have changed) and reliable. I was very sad when it finally died due to corroded bodywork (the mechanic said the engine would have done 500,000 more miles, easily).

The exciting answer will be something from my childhood - children get so excited over Christmas and birthdays. I got the Millennium Falcon from my grandparents for Christmas one year - would have been around 1981-82. That was pretty cool. My wife got me a sweet Telecaster for my 30th - I still love that guitar, even though it's very battered now. It just put a new tortoiseshell scratchplate on it and it's a thing of beauty.

Matt: If you could create a badger robot – what would it be able to do for you?

Paul: Well badgers are known for their digging, so it would be a digging robot. We could tunnel all over the place, maybe even build a new society under the ground, like Davd Essex in War of the Worlds.

Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?

Paul: “I’LL BE BACK" would be pretty good, to freak people out. Or a URL opens a website with a treasure hunt on it, which leads one lucky person, via a series of brain-taxing challenges and deadly booby traps, to my lost fortune (hahahahaha!)
Matt: Any final words you like to add...

Paul: Nice guys only finish last because we let you win. Think about that ;-)


Paul was good enough to expand on his creation of my fav of the Tales From Badgers Crossing Phenonmenal - read on… “I originally wrote Phenomenal as just the main story (without all the email stuff around it), and read it at my writing group, who said it would be better in present tense as it would feel more like reading a comic book. It took AGES to change it, and then the editor of TFBC asked if I could change it into a film script. It's definitely the most gonzo of all the stories in the book (although A Game of Two Halves comes fairly close). I actually shelved it for a couple of years because I didn't know what to do with it (and it was a little too similar to The Boys, which came out on TV after I'd finished it). Then, when I was doing a horror writing course last year, I wrote the barebones of Vulpine during one of the prompt exercises (basically, what if the monster at comic-con was real), and I worked out how to tie them both together and into the wider arc of TFBC. It was SO much fun to write though, playing about with superhero tropes, and coming up with ridiculous names for the superpowered characters.”

Still reading?  In the mood for something chilling? May I recommend this new anthology which I had the pleasure of writing the foreword for and submitting a short story that is included. Proceeds go to charity too so jump in (click the image below):

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