Category Archives: Authors

What are your favourite epic fantasy shows?

Okay, so I’ll admit up front to being a die-hard GoT fan (I’m not going to talk about the ending to the TV show, as it just makes me cross). What a perfect way to spend a bank holiday weekend, tucked up with a great book or re-watching an epic series like Games of Thrones. Actually, that might take several weekends and a few fights over the TV remote! You know already that I love The Witcher and can’t wait for the next instalment. I was pleasantly surprised by Shadow and Bone, the new Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series – mainly because I’ve tried a few times to read the books but found it difficult to get hooked. However, the style of writing and the world the author has created lends itself perfectly for the screen, so it is definitely one to look out for. If you’re lost for some ideas this weekend, check out this article in Paste Magazine:

https://www.pastemagazine.com/tv/shadow-and-bone/best-fantasy-series-streaming/

Or… you could just go and sit outside in the sunshine with a good book – I’m reading The Thirteenth House, by Sharon Shinn. What are you reading?

Happy May Day!

The Witcher: season 2

Are you a fan of high/medieval fantasy? If you didn’t catch season 1 of The Witcher, now is your chance, as season 2 is on its way. Personally, I am not bothered by the wait – the first season was so beautifully rich and evocative, if they can bring the same production values to season 2, it is worth the wait. No spoilers here in this article, just vague promises and a few tweets on the progress of filming. I’ll take that, though and look forward to seeing the trailers soon… If you don’t have Netflix or prefer reading, The Witcher is adapted from the fantasy novel series by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The protagonist, Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill), is an assassin trained to hunt and kill monsters. War hangs over a world populated by humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves (as well as monsters!), in which Geralt is bound to a prophesy to protect a child who has the power to change the world. Watch the first season or jump into the books – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Amazing e-book deals

BookbubIf you love reading and you love deals, have you discovered Bookbub yet?

It is free to join and you can choose to follow all your favourite authors and get regular updates on deals and notifications on new releases for their books. I love reading as much as I love writing, and this is a great way to keep up to date with what is being published and who is new on the scene.

As well as listing my favourites, I am also discovering new authors who write the kind of fiction I want to read. What is not to love about that? As an author, I have also created my own profile so that my fans can easily find me and keep up to date with my books. It is also a great way to do market research, try out book ads and test the market.

Check out my profile here.

Fairy Tales and Fantasy Fiction

FairytalesSo, I have binge-read fantasy during lockdown (well, why not, eh?) and I’m halfway through writing my own next novel, what else is there to do?

I’ve always been fascinated by fairy tales, myths and legends. You might even have noticed a fair degree of inspiration in my stories, so when I saw a course about Fairy Tales on FutureLearn, I jumped at it. There are some great short courses, by the way, in so many different subjects and interests that I challenge anyone not to be able to find something of interest. Anyway, I digress… the course Fairy Tales, Meanings, Messages and Morals, delivered by the University of Newcastle in Australia, was a delightful dip into the world of literary analysis by exploring the meaning of fairy tales.

The course takes participants on a journey from the early origins of sixteenth century French writer, Charles Perrault, through to the more recognisable tales of the Brothers Grimm. We studied some familiar stories, starting with Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard, exploring the significance of cultural context and looking for meaning. It was fascinating to then delve in and discuss the relevance to a modern audience, also spreading our writerly wings with our own versions.

Analysis of my all time favourite, Beauty and the Beast, led me to revisit some more modern versions, including; Beauty by Robin McKinley – an extraordinary retelling that is close to the original, but will enchant fans and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – a gritty and romantic Fae Fantasy that departs somewhat from the original, but still holds its own. My all time favourite, which also departs significantly from the original, but I deem to be of the same ilk, is Robin McKinley’s Sunshine – a modern version with vampires and a hauntingly romantic tension that grips you from the start and just won’t let go long after you’ve finished the book.

I am currently reading Mageborn by Jessica Thorne, which is a gripping dark fantasy with all the familiar elements that drew me to love this fairy tale inspired genre. Check it out… now I’m off to continue my binge before the workday steals me back to reality.

 

New Release: The Prince of Carentan

Alliance quoteEasy-reading fantasy adventure for all ages. Follow the exploits of Gereinte Andolin as he travels across the Western Isles, trailing mishaps and assassination attempts along the way.

I have joined a new publisher, which has taken over the Double Dragon imprint. So my books are still published under Double Dragon Books, but are now part of the Fiction4All publishing company.

Great news for wider distribution and a re-release of my titles at a reasonable price. Available now on Amazon and also in paperback.

Lockdown reading

BooksI read an interesting article in The Conversation the other day, linking the similarities of our current lockdown and the thirst for reading with book clubs in the Second World War during the blitz. Interesting parallels, although I think these days, it is much easier to get hold of books than it was in 1939. Today, bookshops on the high street might be closed, but the online book industry must be booming. Got to love your e-reader; instant libraries at the touch of a button.

Personally, books are my current choice of drug, having recently quit alcohol. I am hearing stories all around of people stockpiling booze to get through this crisis, but I have found that reading is a much more effective and safe way to get out of your head. It has the power to transport your mind to somewhere completely different, and at the same time aids reflection on your current life, situation or quandary. On the plus side, no hangover, no headaches, no tiredness or depressive thoughts. What’s not to like about that?

So, what am I reading during lockdown? On the fiction side, I am chomping my way through Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy, starting with Red Sister. Having read his previous two trilogies – The Broken Empire and The Red Queen’s War – I like his style of writing, which is quite dark and intense, but with a subtle black humour, which is timely and uplifting. I also can’t resist a good fight and a kick-ass female lead, which ticks all my boxes in Red Sister.

On the non-fiction side I am reading Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari; a fascinating look at the history of drug prohibition and addiction. This is a book that everyone should read, and deals with issues that touch all of our lives one way or another. The stories here are powerful and real; they resonate on a level we can all identify with. If you cannot or don’t want to read the book, at the very least, I urge you to check out his TED talk Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.

So, what are you reading to keep you happy and grounded in lockdown?

Surrey New Writers Festival 2019

Festival flyerLooking forward to attending Surrey New Writers Festival on Saturday 8thJune in Guildford. Fantastic programme of events for the day including; panel discussions, readings, masterclasses on pitching to an agent and building your career as a short story writer. There will be a wellbeing table, with the opportunity to chat about your work, a poetry stage, headline readings and an evening soiree. Phew! That’s a lot to pack into one day, but well worth the price of the ticket (with lunch included). Check out the link above to find out the finer detail.

What I’m really interested in is a panel that I will be chairing on the theme of ‘Female Futures’. We will be discussing the future of women’s writing, as well as women writing the future in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I will be exploring this theme with Kate Potts, whose second poetry collection, Feral, sets out to explore and trouble the boundary between ‘animal’ and ‘human’; Stephanie Saulter, who is the author of novels Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration, a science fiction trilogy which uses the lens of an altered humanity to take a new look at the old issues of race, class, religious extremism and social conflict; and Kerry Drewery, the YA author of Cell 7, Day 7 and Final 7, a dystopian trilogy which takes a sinister look at the future of the justice system. Join us on the 8thJune for what promises to be a fascinating discussion.

During the day, we will also be launching our third print issue of the Stag Hill Literary Journal, carrying the same theme of Female Futures. My story, Shooting Stars, will appear in this issue; a time-travelling alt-history look at one hundred years since British women were given rights to vote. Copies of the issue will be available for purchase and we will also be doing readings during the day.

Look forward to seeing you there!

On Writing Groups

Newham Writers WorkshopVery proud to have my work featured on the Newham Writers Workshop – published authors page. I was a member of the group in the early days of my writing career, when I was just working out what kind of a writer I wanted to be. It was an inspirational experience and one that I could highly recommend to any writer who is looking for a like-minded group of people to hang out with. I would also say that getting feedback on your writing progress is fundamental to the journey – wherever your writing goals may take you and is essential to the creative process. As a writer, you are often blind to failings in your own work that others with a more impartial view are able to see.This is how we improve our work.

Here are my top tips for receiving and using feedback from anyone and it is relevant to any genre of writing:

  • If someone tells you that something is wrong, they are probably right. If they try to tell you how to fix it, they are probably wrong.
  • Try to forget feedback at least for a couple of days. If you can’t forget it, then there is probably something in it. If you can’t remember the feedback, it probably wasn’t useful.

I’ve been a member of a few different groups over the years, always seeking out the opinion and expertise of others and sometimes, it is good just to know that other people face similar challenges and setbacks along the way.

These days, due to work commitments, I mostly hang out online – the British Science Fiction Association has some very good online groups, as well as regular face-to-face meet ups. I also used to spend quite a bit of time with the wonderful folks at the Litopia Writers’ Colony, which I can heartily recommend. But Newham Writers was my first experience of giving and receiving feedback in a workshop environment. So I am especially delighted to have my books listed on their website.

The Prince and the Assassin (2018)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com/ Barnes & Noble/ Kobo/ Apple

The Gone Gods (2017)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com

The King of Carentan (2016)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com/ Barnes & Noble/ Kobo/ Apple

The Prince of Carentan (2015)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com/ Barnes & Noble/ Kobo/ Apple

One Fine Morning – Story Development

Story DevelopmentLast Friday, I attended a fascinating workshop facilitated by Caitriona Fitzsimons, the creative practitioner behind One Fine Morning. The workshop was designed to explore creativity through techniques traditionally used to teach drama that have been adapted for writing. The technique used is called ‘given circumstances’, which is particularly useful for character-driven stories, as it has been adapted from the Russian theatre practitioner, Konstantin Stanislavski, who is well known for his unique system of training actors, often referred to an ‘method acting’. Stanislavski believed that in order to convincingly portray a character, an actor should prepare by immersing themselves in the situation of the person, fictional or otherwise. As a fiction writer, it is also necessary to profile your characters and their circumstances in order to be able to walk in their shoes. During the process of writing, you become the character, and as such your descriptions are richer and more convincing.

The Story Development Workshop enabled its participants to map the process of character development across a story arc from beginning to end, using global themes, thematic statements and ‘given circumstances’ for the characters in the story. It was an immersive process which involved collaboration and interaction between participants that resulted in an agreed final story, told by the participants to each other as a group.

If you are struggling with an idea and are not sure how to structure or develop your story, this workshop will give you some practical tools in order to move your creative thinking forward. I particularly liked the interactive nature of the session, as writing can be quite an isolating endeavour. This approach allows you to explore ideas in a safe environment and often, one comment or observation from another participant can open up your mind to all sorts of possibilities. It also gives you the opportunity to road test the credibility of an idea from a global story perspective, and see how each individual story element fits in to the whole structure. An inspiring experience and highly recommended!

Check out One Fine Morning for future workshop dates.

Surrey New Writers Festival

Slide from Surrey New Writers Festival
At the weekend, I joined a lively group of writers in Guildford at the Surrey New Writers Festival at G-Live, organised by the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey. The mix of discussion panels and workshops made for some insightful debates, including; literary start-ups, creating and nurturing a support network, writing for TV and Film, a panel of agents, publishers and editors as well as a lunch time workshop delivered by writing coach and author, Melissa Addey. There was also a poetry stage going on throughout the day with readings from special guest poets.

It was a great opportunity to network with local writers and chat with students and staff from the University, who invited me along to do a reading at the evening launch of the Stag Hill Literary Journal. As a contributor to the inaugural issue, I was honoured to read an extract from my short story, Habitat, an near-future SciFi story, which appears in the journal. Stag Hill Literary JournalYou can follow the future of the journal on their facebook page here, where you can get a copy of Issue One, read the online version or send in your own submissions. Thank you to M.E. Rolle and the editorial team for the opportunity to network and share my work with a wider audience.

 

 

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