Archive for July, 2015

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/