About me!

Posted: October 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

Source: About me!

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 I have spoken, with a great deal of excitement, of the Hoddescape open submission window. Well after weeks of writing, rewriting and editing I finally took the decision to down tools and to pass on the opportunity this year.  It was disappointing to come to that decision as it was and is a. Wry exciting chance.  However, I reread my work and ultimately came to the conclusion that this time it wasn’t for me.  In fact I have appraised my entire choice of writing and genre and have come to the decision to refocus my work away from my beloved sci-fi, horror and fantasy. I have decided that it is time to give the genre a rest.

I am not giving up of writing though!  Despite many suggesting I do.  I am refocusing my efforts towards the historical thriller and adventure stories.   Now, the neighsayers might say ‘ what qualifies you to write about history?’  Well, that is an easy question to answer.  I am a graduate of history and a work background in museums and I have been described as knowledgeable in such areas.  I have a vast amount of knowledge in a great many areas of History and I am going to focus my work to suit my expansive knowledge.  

So, I am in research mode.  I love being in research mode learning, adapting knowledge and discoveries and hypothesising about events.  To adapt actual events into a fictional context sounds easy but requires a meticulous amount of detail.  Nothing at all can a be out of place, every detail must be accurate.  For example, when talking about the Battle of Britain it is important to ensure that the right mark of spitfire is described.  I have seen so many files where they use older types of spitfire, that weren’t developed until years after, as there vehicles.  This blunder can instantly destroy any work.  How about a historical story of the ancient world and they use iron forged swords before smelting had been discovered.  Attention to detail is paramount.

It is my hope that I produce a work that flows at a breakneck pace and has many twists and turns whilst maintaining a very British feel.  To this end I am going to write about a historian at a university who, through greed and mercenary desires, is embroiled in a plot to uncover the secrets of the Second World War. Some of the protagonists will be driven by greed some by desire some by a necessity for discovery.  It’s going to be multi-levelled intricate tale of intrigue, deception, high adventure and  historical accuracy.  

It will be in a similar vein as some of the great writers, Nernard Cornewell meets Clive Cussler with a hint of Len Deighton and Ian Fleming.  That is my hope.  I will write some accompanying short stories to underpin the story and characters and publish those here. 

I am very excited by this and I hope you will join me on this journey!

This week saw a rare event, and one that gives me the opportunity to flex my reviewing muscles.   I have children, 2 small boys that require a great deal of time.  We don’t have babysitters, mostly because family are too far away and we just have not found a suitable sitter.  So, we rarely go out.  My boys, this week, had a little holiday and went to stay with their grandparents.  We had a whole day and night off.  And we were not going top waste the opportunity!

A busy day was planned.  Our first port of call was to the Medieval cathedral town of Salisbury.  Driving up the A-338 north towards the town you drive through some stunning and inspiring country.  Rolling hills, green fields and suddenly, coming over the crest of the hill you see the spire of the cathedral.  As your elevation increases as does the stunning scene of the monumental cathedral as it is revealed to you.   It is magnificent and a wonder to behold, it dominates the skyline and is simply breathtaking.  But, that is not why we were there.   We were there to follow the Barons Charter trail. 

This might not mean a lot to you.  It is a charitable ordination that has created 25 statues that have been uniquely decorated.  The Barons Charter was a group of landed gentry who were intent on enforcing the laws of King John, including the Magna Carta. It is the anniversary of the Magna Carta this year, 800 years since it was signed, and this is part of the commemoration.   It seems to be a strange thing to try to visit, and something that may not hold much interest, except for one statue.  Decorated by Paul Kidby, Discworld Illustrator, he created a baron that memorialized and represented the life and work of Sir Terry Pratchett.  As many of you know he is one of my favourite authors, and I felt obliged to visit this as a memorial to the prolific and comedic author.  

To learn more of the barons visit the website here:  http://www.thebaronscharter.org.uk/

Part 2 of our day off was to leave Salisbury and head to Bournemouth.  I love Bournemouth, I have lived there and it is a wonderful place.   We walked on the beach, had a paddle.  It is something I have to do.  I love the sea.  I love the smell of the briny ocean, I love the feel of the sand between my toes.   I cannot express how much the beach and the sea means to me.  I have an attachment to it.  Although, oddly i prefer to be in it than on it.  I don’t get seasick I just don’t like boats particularly.  Much rather be in or under the sea.   It was a nice sunny afternoon, the sun was hot, the water cool.  Lovely!

But the evening was a departure from our routine, we went to the cinema.  We have not been to the cinema since before the boys were born and I was so excited to see Jurassic World.  Here is my review:

Jurassic World is exactly what you would expect.  The Park has grown into a successful and profitable attraction and from that respect is amazing.  It is great to see what it could have been following the first film.  Expectedly the dinosaurs escape and eat people.  This is all it needed to be.  There are subtle undertones of corporate greed, military interference and conspiracy and also the risks of genetic manipulation.  It has all the themes that Michael Crichton warned of in his original novel.  unfortunately it was all there in short supply during the film. 

What was missing was characterisation.  It was effect heavy and unfortunately the characters were wooden and predictable.  Which is not to say it wasnt a good film, it is what it is.  It was enjoyable and vast in its scope.  The 3-D was some of the best I have seen.  Not a bad effort, but it has very little relation to Crichton’s superb original work. 

My review in a word:  Passable.

Which is not to say that it was not an enjoyable film. it has many subtleties to the plot.  It just felt that some of the characters did not come across well and is just a cash cow for the studio.  A shame as there could have been so much more to it, perhaps the next one will have more substance.

And to Top things off an update on the writing front.  I have been working hard on submissions for the Hodderscape open submission window and also a few short stories which I think are working well.  But I am having a bit of a rethink.  It has been often said to me that my historical fiction is better than my Sci-Fi, I have a style akin to Ken Follett.  I studied History at university and have an in-depth and working knowledge.  I was always criticised in my essays at uni for being too literary in my writing.  Perhaps this is a way to go? 

I have an idea that utilises my knowledge and passion for the subject.   I have been criticised that I am not finishing projects, I get stuck and move on to the next one.  This is disheartening for me.  I lose the thread and the impetus and lose the momentum because I feel that it is not working.  It is a curse I have.  Frustration takes over.  Very annoying for me.  I know have new ideas pinging around my head and it detracts from the ideas I was running with.  My time is very limited I work a lot of hours in a week and my writing time is short .  I try to write when I can but do struggle when I am tired.  so, I need to sit and finish a project, them start a new one.  Arrgghh it is so very frustrating and I spiral into lack of production as a result .  im sure it is an affliction that affects all writers.  I hold out hope that other great and prolific writers took years to produce work, to find their own style and voice.  Time, that is what I need, Time!

 

I have had a tumultuous week.  I have been disappointed with myself.  Somehow in the past week I have mislaid my flair and inspiration.  I have not created anything worthwhile for many days and it is beginning to frustrate me, especially with open submissions looming.

Work has been full on busy and i worked an extra overnight shift which led to tiredness, also my twin boys have a sniffle and spent a great deal of the nights crying, only settling if rocked in my arms. 

I am so tired, worn out and it has been impossible to try to produce a thing. I started a horror story that I discussed.  I stalled at about 1600 words, I also started a medieval fantasy and again got to 3500 words and stopped.  I look at the screen and I am writing the equivalent of a monotone voice.  Flat, boring, droning on with no interest.

So, I went back to try some short stories again to kick-start the creative juices.  Yeah, that didn’t work!

In a way I am over thinking things, what could be, what will be, what should be.  and not one of these things leads to good writing.   I am in desperate need for a win, a success no matter how minor.  I have lost enthusiasm and despite wanting to write the loss is causing some doubt in my own ability and all told it is crippling my output.  I am questioning everything.  it is not working.  I can’t stop the desire, the need to create.  it’s just what is being created is crap.  The more it goes on the worse it gets. 

I can still think of ideas, but I just cannot get over the first hurdle.  ARRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

That is all!

I am in a quandary, a dilemma.  I am wracking my brains and thinking.  This is a recent phenomena and one that I am not accustomed to.  Hodderscape, the Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror wing of Hodder & Stoughton are opening their doors for a 2 week open submission window.  This is a fantastic opportunity and one I fully intend to take a firm grasp of.  I have been working to complete my novel, Salvation, as you are aware, and it is going well.  For the submission I am rewriting the opening chapter, re jigging the story and editing the shit out of it.  That is not the dilemma.  The dilemma comes that they are accepting multiple submissions and I want to write a horror story that I have in my mind, that I think would blow their socks off.

There is time to write enough of it to submit and I have the plan of the book in my head, so will be able to write a synopsis.  My dilemma is do I divert attentions away from Salvation.  I have already heavily edited that work and I think that further tinkering may be detrimental.  There is just over a month until the submission window ends, Midnight on the 16th August, that is so much time its unreal.  I have worked on the story, I can see how it would play out, I can see nearly every scene.  Do I just say, ‘Right, just write you fool’ or do I just focus on the one piece that I have spent so much time on.

Surely 2 eggs in the mix is better than one?  if my writing and storytelling is good enough with Salvation is that enough?  What if the second story, lets call it ‘Tortured Souls’, (I have just thought of that and actually quite like it), is actually brilliant.  The story I have in my head certainly is.  BUt, 1 month, 1 short month is that really enough time to write 15000 words.  I write at about 2000 words a day currently so would take just 2 weeks to prepare a submission.

But, I really ought to just work on Salvation? Tortured Souls can wait for another time.  But, I might be missing a great opportunity!

You see my dilemma.  This has been my thought process a lot of the last few hours.  I need to make a decision as my mind is arguing with itself and as a result I am not writing anything. 

Wow, reading this post back through I can suddenly a see how jumbled my mind is.  I have just poured onto the page what comes to my mind.  Probably wont make sense, I often don’t.  But, it’s a nice position to be in and I promised myself with competitions etc that when opportunity comes knocking I would open the door and welcome it with open arms.  Maybe I need to crack on.  Yes, I think that is what i will do.  Time to write!

I have often spoken of my admiration of my favourite authors.  Stephen King and Terry Pratchett are amongst two I have spoken of fondly.  I am sat on the night shift at work and it is 03:45 in the morning and the tiredness is hitting me hard.  I have tried to write on the projects I have spoken off, the problem is tonight is that I am running n empty.  My boys woke up this morning at 5:30 and I got up with them.  I attempted to sleep this afternoon but it was a restless sleep, and only for a few hours.

So I have set aside writing for the night.  It really is not happening for me.  So, I am reflective, thinking of who has influenced me, what authors have really made an impact on my life, and the two I have mentioned are way up there.  But there are others, and one of the biggest, and most engaging authors, now lost to us, is Michael Crichton.  I challenge anyone not to know his work, whether you have read his novels or not, you will have seen something of his vast array of works.  I am going to start by talking about his novels, for they are superb.   His first novel was ‘The Andromeda Strain’, and what a way to introduce oneself to the literary world.  Based around Dr’s trying to find a cure for a pandemic, it is just 6 characters locked in an underground installation.  A theme he would revisit with the superb time travel odyssey, ‘Sphere’.  What Crichton does best is take ordinary people, and in small numbers and place them up against nature, technology but mostly up against themselves. 

Crichton is known as a ‘Techno’ author, using technology as a protagonist and often as a vehicle for the story.  But some of his best work is just thrillers, like Disclosure or Rising Sun.  His prose is engaging and entertaining and often moves at  a brisk pace.  So, if you havent read his work (and I have no idea why you wouldn’t) then do so, and I suggest you start with his magnum opus work of man v’s technology v’s nature, Jurassic Park! (Yes it was a novel first).

Crichton did not just stop at writing good books, he wrote a TV series, ER, which launched George Clooney’s career.  A world-wide phenomenon that was unprecedented.  He was a successful film director with Westworld and Runaway.  Runaway, by the way, is a fantastically intriguing thriller set in the near future and focuses on a Police unit dedicated to robotic crime and dealing with ‘Runaway’ robots.  Starring Tom Selleck, it is a fantastic movie and often overlooked.  Watch it if you can find it, utterly brilliant, but it has dated.

If all that was not enough, he wrote non-fiction as well, his book Five Patients and Pirate Latitudes are fascinating. 

Crichton was a gift to us all, his life cut horrendously short.  he died in 2008 aged just 66.  

Would you like to know more?

http://www.michaelcrichton.com/

 

 

This weeks blog does not have any deep meaning or any analogy or metaphor for why the writing is not working.  No, this week I am continuing on the positive note from last week.  I spoke of the resurrection of a novel that I shelved a year ago and since then I have written an additional 5500 words towards it.  I am very happy with this and I am very happy with how its coming together.

I thought a lot with what went wrong with writing it before.  I was going great guns, lots of ideas, lots of twists and lots to add.  Unfortunately all the things I was researching were detracting from the story and I got myself bogged down in details. I am focusing solely on writing the story I want to tell.  I am developing the characters.  I have learned that by adding events, that although effect the storyline, but are not necessarily needed to be described in prose, is just extraneous, time-consuming and actually breaks the story up.  So instead of describing how an oil tanker is assaulted and researching the Suez canal and tanker security processes, (My thanks to the merchant seamen who provided a vast array of info), I have decided that it is enough just to put in a line or two explaining that the event happened.  It does not break the story up, it does not detract or distract the reader from the flow and pace of the piece. 

I am learning so much.  every day I discover new ways to write, new styles and perspectives.  I think, and it is in my own mind, I am finally back on track.  To write 5000+ words in a week is amazing and I am taking a short break just to write this entry and will get back to the WiP. 

But, I have not just been focused on the novel.  Oh no!  when I say I have been productive I really have.  I have written 2 short stories for competitions.  Stretching my style and also my genre.  The first was a story of lost love and the second a children’s story.  I have never been a mushy type of guy, sentimental, yes, mushy no.  so a love story was a bit of a divergence. I really enjoyed writing it and hopefully it will do well.

And yes i did say i wrote a childrens story.  I exploded the word count of 1500-1750 words and ended up with a piece that was 2250 words long.  I had, somehow, to cut 500 words.  I am actually gals i did because it forced me to edit the shit out of it.  As a result i think i have a much better piece of work that has a much higher tempo and flows better, without some of the extraneous wordiness. 

I vowed, when i started writing in earnest agin, to write a competition entry a week and so far, over the past 6 weeks, i have done so.  Even if some of those were just flash fiction, i have met my targets.  As a writer it is important to have targets.  It keeps you focused, it keeps you determined.  Deadlines are a writers friend.  There are necessary.  My advice of the day is to set targets but importantly meet them.

With that in mind i still have a daily target to meet so off i go. 

I have many irons in many fires, aside from short stories, learning how to write screenplays, I have decided to resurrect a work I had hitherto left dormant for 12 months.  In 2013 I entered the first 10,000 words of a novel I named Salvation into the Richard and Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’.  I did not get very far in the competition and then I learned of the premise for Christopher Nolan’s most recent offering, Interstellar.  the plot to the movie struck many chords and I felt the stories were too similar for me to continue. 

I am a huge Nolan fan, and I enjoy his films and am influenced by his style of storytelling.  However, when I eventually watched Interstellar on DVD, as I don’t get to the cinema anymore, the hazards of having children, I realised that it was a very different story that has a premise that is slightly similar.  My heart was overjoyed, it meant that I could continue with my tale and develop the characters that I poured so much time and effort into.   My only issue then was confidence.  I lacked it, and I felt that the work maybe did not live up to how I felt about it a year ago. 

I re-read the work and was delighted to see that although there was flaws within it a lot of it was good, some of it very good.  I determined that it was time I dusted it off, re worked the parts that failed and finish it off.  Tell the story as I want it to be told.  So I am.  I am feeling positive about the work again and enjoying getting to know the characters once again.  If I am to be asked any advice about working on a novel by a new writer it would be tis, write it, edit it, then forget about it and look again after a while, you will view it very differently. 

So I have a new plan, and this is what it is.  Over the next 2 months I will work to complete Salvation, I made a good start this evening adding 1500 words, if I can maintain that sort of pace I should have a workable manuscript by the end of August.  I am having a holiday in the last week of August and attending a wedding of two fantastic people and can’t wait for my first proper holiday with my children.  During that week away I will not write, I will not read about writing, I will take a break.  When I return I will begin the edit.  I will look objectively and subjectively at what works and what doesn’t, I will do the rewrites and cutting of extraneous sections.  and by Christmas I will have a completed manuscript to give to friends and family for their reading and suggestions. 

Then by January 2016 I will begin the submission process and send the work out to agents.  In the meantime I will also work on my screenplay and I intend to also have one completed by Christmas. 

Over the past 12 months I have thought a lot about writing, and have come to the conclusion that I must be patient, I must work hard, by the time I have submitted and been rejected by the agents I will be underway on more works, I have so many ideas and work has already commenced on those.  But I am trying not to get too distracted and overloaded, I am going to finish the two projects in hand.  That is my aim for the second half of 2015 and 2016 will be the year I get signed and get published!

for those that have been following my posts of late, you will know I am about to enter a new stage of writing development.  I am going to undertake the task of writing a screenplay.  It is a daunting task, that much is certain.   For if there was rejection in writing before that will now be massively shadowed by the rejections I am sure to come in the future.  But, I have an idea, and it is strong, very strong.  It is an idea I had some time ago and could never quite get it to work as a piece of prose.  It was never the right medium for the piece.  I feel, that, a screenplay would work for the tale.  

My issue is that it is dark, the subject is terrifying and I am reflecting in what it says about me.  The subject matter would be right at home coming from Clive Barker, for those that know his work will understand that the subject matter is grim.  Mr Barker has written some truly horrendous work, his most famous creation, the Cenobite Pinhead, is regarded as one of horrors great icons.  My story is not as gore soaked as Hellraiser but does touch on some of the same themes.  Pinhead, as a character, is not what is horrorfying in Hellraiser and the cruel and unusual punishments he doles out are not what is horrific.  No, it is the souls that’s seek such terror, it is the characters that seek the hellish pleasures and how there warped murderous minds are truly the subject of such terror.  It is themes such as this that make truly great horror fiction. 

There was a spell, and it is still prevalent, within Hollywood that a horror film should be blood drenched gore.  This is it what true horror is about, it detracts from what is frightening.  I wish to address this, return to the glory days of cinematic terror.  Horror’s greatest characters are not generally supernatural, it is the soul of mankind that provides a suspense and fright that can be used to create a chill in the spine.

I have been a horror officianado for some time, I used to get her with friends on asaturday night, as a teenager, and watch any and all films that are designed to send shivers down the spine.  I read a great deal of fiction based in that’s genre.  I have encyclopaedic knowledge of the fiction of the paranormal, supernatural (yes there is a difference) and the ethereal. But, I have nevertheless come across anything quite like what is currently roaming the recesses of my mind.

I entitled this blog into the darkness, and that’s what I mean, for I am opening my mind to the dark places no one wants to think about, opening my mind to such terror that it sends shivers down my spine.  I have not been frightened by a film since I was 16, and what I have concocted is darkness imagined.  What does that say about me, am I a bad person? Does the darkness exist within me?  Just because I imagine bad things am I a bad person?  Within us all are bad thoughts, we are conditioned by our youth to destinguish between what is right and what is evil, and it is my belief it is when the lines between the two are blurred that we find the horror.  That is the basis for my screenplay, the characters I have in mind are engaging a definite yin/yang, two sides of the same coin.   The basic premise is this, what if two characters who share a common upbringing, a similar and shared sense of ideals follow different paths, the divergence of right and wrong.  It has the theme that we are all led to believe that evil is fundamental and is imbedded within us, no matter what we do we cannot escape the fact some are born good, some are born evil.  

Anyway, I waffle on.  I have so much to say on this subject that I should just get it down on paper.  Hopefully the theme will appear in my story, that what my thoughts are will reveal themselves into a tale of terror.

I have been pensive of late.  I have come to the conclusion that I am both blessed and cursed at the same time.  The source of such mixed emotion is creativity, imagination and a flair for stories.   I feel a burden upon my soul, so much so that it crushes me daily.  My head is full with rampant visions of tales of such majesty and originality and I fear now that my skill is not much up to the task of it.  Everyday a new tale papers within my head, everyday I drift off to new lands, new planets, new horizons.  Stories of such grandeur, stories of magic, stories of myth and majesty.  Stories that can chill the soul, or break the heart.  

Yes, for I am cursed with creativity, I see it is a blessing, for I would not be without it.  But, I am cursed that although the gift has been bestowed upon me I seem unable to produce work of sufficient quality to warrant recognition.  I do not seek fortune, I do not seek to be famous with my bank account showing zero’s as far as the paper will allow.  No, indeed not, what I seek is the opportunity to live in my worlds.  To have a living wage equitable to what I currently receive would suffice.  Time is of the essence.  I need time to sit and conjure the worlds that inhabit my mind, to explore and share what I see.  

Creativity is a curse I bear, one that I wish to share with you all.  If only you could see what I see, if only you could meet my friends, if only you could glimpse such wonders.  It is my everlasting hope that one day my hands, my voice will be up to the task of showing you.  I will work hard to show you such wonders.  Time, it comes down to time, but in order to have time I need money.  I must care for my wonderful family, I must provide for them so they want for nothing.  Mouths must be feed so I engage in the everyday task of employment.  To be paid for creativity is a dream, one I fear I will also strive for but never quite reach.  The skills are mine to gain, to acquire, to develop.

I failed in all competitions entered thus far, and I am grateful for the opportunities.  I received such wonderful and helpful feedback and I know more of what I must do of how I can develop further the tools of my trade.  It is not about the equipment I use, although it helps, it is about words.  Crafting them to form the shapes within my visions.  I have been described as a sociopath, but aren’t all creators, aren’t all visionaries detached from reality and form their own worlds.  Sometimes those worlds take on physical manifestations and that battle between reality and fantasy takes a very real world turn.  I have battles against demons all my life. I escape into fantasy to deny the existence of real world problems.  Although I have not needed to do this for some time my past encroaches and the guilt of what has gone before, the lies I told, the actions I took, take on and cause me grief.  

I have changed, channelled into fiction what my mind tells me to say and do.  Fiction has been an outlet for the grim reality of life.  I have such a wonderful life now in all areas except one.   My curse, my blessing, my creativity needs to be realised.  I am both happy and sad.  My success in life is shadowed by the failure of my fantasies and I am redoubling my efforts to change that.  Oh, I do not expect overnight success, I wish it so, but I do not expect it.  I will find my way, I will find the manner of outlet that best suits my visions.  I will find a way to express myself with such eloquence.   I am capable of such beautiful writing.  I will craft the words to my will and one day I will support my family, my way of life, while giving the world the kingdoms of my mind.

Thank you for listening.