Stephen Amos

The demon Hammersmith in a multi-coloured coat, and with shoulder length hair

Hammersmith as he started out – Hair by Anne Rice.

They often say it’s not what you know that counts in life, but who you know.

Of course, they’re frequently wrong. Frequently, but not right now, because in the wake of Christmas and before we get all frantic for the new year, it occurs to me that I know some seriously good and talented people.

Being an editor in my day job of course, I’m privileged to know a lot of people who are either published, or good enough to be published. And yes, you’ll get to meet some of them over the next few months. I know talented podcasters – and from time to time I’ve even been honoured to help out with one or two of them – Jake Farr-Wharton’s Imaginary Friends Show in particular. As an editor, I also surround myself with talented people on a daily basis – I have two authors working as editors at Jefferson Franklin who are simply destined for bookshelves, and a young filmmaker who thinks about things more than I’ve done in the last ten years, but still manages to be funny with it. I know musicians, poets, journalists who all blow me away – and when I say I know them, I mean I really know them, rather than Facebook-knowing them. Some of these people I’ve known most of my life. Some live around the world, some just down the road. At least one, rather confusingly, does both. All of them help make my life that little bit more colourful or musical or funny or dry.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of them in particular – a man named Stephen Amos.

I’ve known Steve since comprehensive school, though in the last twenty years we’ve actually seen each other fewer than a handful of times. Like a lot of us, Steve has a job and a family and knows when he’s well off, but he also has a creative side, and recently it’s been coming to the fore a bit more than usual. He’s started making videos on Youtube.

I said I’d share them with you because they’re short, delicious examples of storytelling through image and music, so for instance, try Mare Tranquillitatus for a meditation on the Moon (sigh – I’m going to be humming that tune all day tomorrow), or Faerie Tale for an exercise in mood and pacing. Go now, and do all the usual Youtubey things – comment, follow, I daresay there’ll be more coming soon.

Recently, Steve posted me a cryptic message on Facebook. ‘Sorry in advance,’ it said. I was curious – we’re old friends, and we disagree about a solidly respectable number of things when it comes to life, the universe and everything, so I wondered what he’d done.

Turned out what he’d done was a massive favour. He’d taken some of the Wonderful images from by PS Brooks that I’d posted on Facebook, and worked them up into a ‘book trailer’ for me. I was flattered and flabbergasted that he’d have done such a valuable thing without me begging him to, or without at least a healthy sackful of cash being deposited on his doorstep – I’d toyed with the idea of getting a book trailer done before, but hadn’t found anyone who I felt ‘got’ it, and I wasn’t sure even I could boil the book down to a short enough precis to work in book trailer form.

Steve managed, with a degree of skill that’s frankly infuriating, and without having read the book, without having lived it and breathed it and edited and re-edited the book over months of his life, to encapsulate it for me in just ten words. Elevator pitch, be damned, this is brevity as a science, but it works. Take a look at his impromptu Wonderful trailer and try telling me it doesn’t work. Did I mention – good and talented people?

I couldn’t help myself of course – I pointed out one typo, and the fact that he’d used images of a couple of different versions of Hammersmith in it (‘Oh yeah,’ said d, ‘I prefer the other version.’). So I’ve now given him access to all the real, finished images there are to date, and he’s said he’ll have a noodle with them as and when he can. So at some point, there’ll be an updated book trailer to take a look at. (I know, I know – at some point, there will be a book to take a look at too, I promise!)

But for now, ladies, gentlemen, freaks, geeks and fellow fiddlers about on the funny side of life, I give you Stephen Amos – go like him, follow him, go wild and crazy for him. The foolishly generous fellow deserves it.

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