The cover for Tea II

Image

Tea II concludes the story of Shadow Killer (Werewolf) and his unusual, and platonic friendship with an old man called Samuel (A Tailor). The tale is set exactly one year after ‘Tea’, on the coldest and darkest night of winter, and by the end of the night their relationship will have changed forever.

 I’ve written this story to say thank you to all those people around the world who downloaded ‘Tea’.  ‘Tea’ It is by far my most successful short story with over 800 downloads across the world, and when on promotion constantly makes it into the top 10 of gay fiction

Both short stories (Tea and Tea II) are set within the dark fantasy world of The Storm Series Trilogy and can be read in conjunction with the trilogy, to obtain extra background information, or alone just as two short stories.

Tea II will be available from Amazon from Sat 1 Mar 14

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I’ve just returned from Edinburgh

I’ve just returned from a short holiday with my better half and her youngest son to Edinburgh. It was a great few days, my accent has been topped up nicely and we did all touristy things.

It was also great for my writing, as there was so much to gain ideas from. There was:

 

  1. Museums.  A great place for inspiration
  2. Art Galleries. There were some truly wonderful paintings, which triggered ideas for characters and places.
  3. The Hotel. I do like people watching and where better to get ideas or mannerisms for characters
  4. The train – See Hotel above
  5. The Castle – Edinburgh Castle is a must see, but it is expensive, hence you need to spend half a day in it to get your money’s worth.
  6. The Real Mary Kings Close. Travel under Edinburgh itself and back in time.
  7. Statues and Monuments – Who are they? What did they do? What is the history of the regiments?
  8. The city itself. There are some truly magnificent old building in Edinburgh.

 

I am now all fired up and ready to get writing.

Although I’m a west coast Scot I would highly recommend, if you get a chance, to go to Edinburgh for a couple of days. You won’t regret it.

Alan

PS – and yes I did leave a review about the hotel when asked. How could i not, after all my moaning about people not leaving reviews lol.

Scions of the Storm – Thoughts on the writing off.

Scions of the Storm

Warning: contains spoilers

I will confess now, I never thought I would write a second book. I thought I would write Echoes, it would sell five copies, and that would be that. Yes, I had left some plotlines open, just in case, and yes, I did know how they would end, but that was just in my head. I never thought I would write them down.

However, over the course of a month’s worth of bus journeys to and from work (each journey was about an hour), I started to piece together the plotlines for Scions and, with the growing need to write again (yes, I had caught the writing bug), I started to put pen to paper.

With Scions, I wanted to write a different kind of story. I wanted one that would be grander and bigger in scope. There are a lot more characters and locations, and you get the feeling of a bigger world and bigger politics.

Scions is all about the rise of the Midnight Man, the fulfilment of the Prophecy, and the discovery that there are two power forces hiding in the shadows, manipulating everything – those across the water and those across the sand.

With Nathanial being banished to the sidelines for most the book, I needed a new leading man – so step forward (ta-da!) Twever the Magnificent! And his invisible pet, Ardo! I am extremely proud of the Twever/Katrina storyline and, for me, personally, it is the best storyline I have written to date.

I would say that Scions is the darkest of the trilogy and has the most bittersweet storylines, including the breakdown of Karl and Kathleen’s marriage, which ultimately leads to both their deaths. As for the ending, well, it ties up everything, nicely.

It’s confession time, again! In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to write a trilogy, but I was unsure if I could do it. Also, quite a few copies of Echoes had been downloaded, and I did not want people to be disappointed or feel let down if I failed to provide a third book. That is why Scions ends the way it does. You can read Echoes and Scions, and feel a sense of completion. The foretold Prophesy has come true and almost everything is tied up, nicely…

… almost! I do love that word; it allows you to add something else, if need be, and in this case, it was the third and final book in the trilogy – ‘A Dark and Hungry Storm’.

Mills & Boon’s world of innuendo

I saw this on the BBC website and just had to re post – Sorry : ), but it is a wonderful insight into the murky world of Mills & Boon

Alan

A tattered notebook dating back almost 50 years gives a glimpse into the mischievous minds of romantic publishing house Mills & Boon’s editors.

Compiled in the 1970s, the book contains their favourite sentences clipped from the unedited manuscripts of romantic novels.

Many are unintentional innuendos that tickled the editors at the time, though they might seem tame to the Fifty Shades of Grey generation. Others are just toe-curlingly bad.

Mills and Boon cover
By 1968 Mills & Boon were turning out 130 hardback and 72 paperback romances a year

To mark Valentine’s Day, the University of Reading has given a peek into the so-called “Anthology of Artless Extracts”, part of its Mills & Boon archive.

The A5 notebook contains such gems as:

He paused and then added more softly, ‘Come on Elaine, it won’t be the first time we have doubled up on a bicycle.’ (Flora Kidd, Dangerous Pretence)

and

‘My darling, help me grope back to your white ways,’ he said, his voice hoarse with emotion.

‘You won’t have to grope. You got there last night…’ (Louise Gerard, The Sultan’s Slave)

and

Mrs White… heaved at something under the blankets and produced a pineapple. (Betty Neals, Pineapple Girl)

Judith Watts, a PhD researcher at the university and author of erotic fiction, says the notebook – and letters in the archive – reveal much about the relationship between writers, their readers and the publisher.

“They show the importance of women writers earning their living, the desire of the reader to get their next romantic fix, and the publisher’s need to stay in business,” she says.

“The authors were trying the reflect the times, but they were very limited about what they could say about sex and desire.

“A lot’s been said about things stopping at the bedroom door. As some of these snippets show – they didn’t. There was pre-marital sex and affairs, but it was all couched in innuendo and euphemism.”

Steamy sentences

Pages 1 and 2
Pages 3 and 4
Page 5 and 6

The Mills and Boon catalogue shows the changing nature of the romantic novel over the decades.

Themes of class and wealth in the 1920s gave way to wartime concerns in the 30s and 40s.

In the 1950s the woman was often a widow and a mother, while the 60s brought an influx of glamorous career women. More stories were set abroad and the romantic encounters became more sexual.

Mills & Boon covers
Gerald Mills and Charles Boon launched the publishing company in 1908

30 questions

Another insight into the pressures on authors to keep in touch with their readers is seen in a letter and questionnaire from novelist Violet Winspear in 1973.

Winspear became Mills & Boon’s top-selling writer and shocked the older readers with her erotic tales. In 20 years, she wrote 37 titles, most of which were set abroad.

Among the 30 questions she asked Mills and Boon bosses were: Are love scenes too tame? Are virtuous heroines out of date? Are bedroom doors to be flung open. Are bedroom doors to be left ajar? Are bedroom doors to be firmly closed?

Winspear Qs

In her accompanying letter Winspear wrote: “I don’t think even publishers realise how far removed from public opinion an author often feels… if you can spare the time to run through my questionnaire and give me a sort of guide to M&B’s present-day requirements, then it will be of great help to me in guiding my romances along the sticky road to good sales or that remainder shelf we all dread.”

Winspear letter

Says Ms Watts: “Violet lived with her mother and her cat, but she had dreams and fantasies like everyone else.

“I think she was worried that times were changing. She used to write her romances with the bluff hero and the virtuous girl.

“There are lots of letters in the archive discussing how far you can go.”

She adds: “I had a nana who, when I went to the library, ordered her Mills and Boon and would ask for ‘two doctors and a sheikh’. They were marketed like that.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26135504

The Importance of an Excellent Proof Reader

I’ve been merrily writing away for a couple of years now and I’ve been lucky enough to have a little bit of success (Worldreader, Readwave, over 5’000 download, etc) all of which would not come about without the help of a great proof reader.

 If I had to give one piece of advice to any self-publishing author, it would be – get yourself a good proof reader. They are worth their weight in gold.

 So what makes an excellent proof reader? Well for me it’s the following:

 

  1. Someone with an excellent command of the English language (or the language you write in)
  2. Someone you trust.
  3. Someone who will give you honest feedback – including – that’s a load of rubbish.
  4. Someone who enjoys reading the genre in which you write

 

I was very lucky in finding a lady called Lisa, who proof reads all my work (though occasionally I do manage to slip a posting on various sights unproof read lol).

 Lisa has a very difficult job as she in an American who lives in Texas, and is proof reading work by a dyslexic Scot who writes in UK English.  How she manages to do what she does, to the very highest standard, I will never now.

 For me Lisa meets all the requirements for an excellent Proof Reader. Because:

 

  1. She has an excellent command of the English language
  2. I trust her 100% with my work
  3. She is always totally honest with her feedback  (trust me she is extremely honest)
  4. She enjoys the genre in which I write

As most of you will have guessed, this post is really just to say thank you to Lisa for all her hard work and to let her know it’s greatly appreciated.

Thank you : )

Alan

 

The Top Five films or TV Shows That Have Influenced My Writing

Following on from my top ten books /Authors that have influenced me I thought I would do my top five films or TV Shows.

 I have to say that, Films and TV have had a great influence on the way I write my stories. I have always said that my writing style is like a film director – I place my characters into a scene, turn the camera on them, and then say- Lights, Camera, Action.

 I’m not really interested in the surrounds (ie i don’t describe every inch of the room) I am more interested in the way the characters talk and inter act with each other.

 Right, onto the films / TV series, and in no particular order:

 1. The Nightmare man – BBC – 1981 (pg) Based on the 1978 book Children of Vodyanoi by David Wiltshire and adapted by veteran Dr Who scribe Robert Holmes, this gripping horror/sci-fi drama tells the tale of a lonely Scottish island stalked by a brutal killer who may be from another world. Dismembered corpses are found and a flickery film of one of the murders seems to show a terrifying, shadowy monster.

I watched this series as a 12 year old and it scared the hell out of me. I bought the DVD a couple of years ago and noticed the PG rating on the box. I watched it again and yes it still scared the hell out me, as I went back to being a 12 year old boy again. Nowadays, you most likely see worse things on Children’s tv!!! However, this series did plant the seed that would one day grow up to become the character The Midnight Man in my novels

2. Blakes 7 – BBC – 1978 to 1981. I could write pages on why I liked Blake 7, but this review from Amazon sums up everything perfectly for me – “Blake’s 7 is a puzzle. It shouldn’t work. It’s cheap, frequently tacky, occasionally camp, and sometimes just plain embarrassing. It was in many ways a major miscalculation on the part of the BBC (who gave it the same budget as the cheap police series it was designed to replace). And yet…

It is also brilliantly cast, expertly scripted, performed with utter conviction and is possibly the darkest SF series Britain has ever produced (The Prisoner notwithstanding). Set in a rubble-strewn galaxy of strip-mined planets, radioactive wastes and grimy power complexes, Blake’s 7 offers little in the way of comfort and definitely no hope for the future. In Star Trek, the coming centuries belong to the humanists – in Blake’s 7 they belong to the fascists.

The Federation is a merciless, nightmarish bureaucracy that only exists because of its uneasy alliance with Space Command, headed by the seductive, selfish and utterly lethal Supreme Commander Servalan. All dissent is ruthlessly suppressed and even the inhabitants of the Federation’s homeworld, Earth, are dosed with drugs to keep them subservient. Blake’s cause was hopeless from the start, and that is what makes it so heroic.

 His crew are not the willing freedom-fighting comrades of a futuristic Robin Hood, but hunted, damaged individuals simply trying to stay alive. This is what made Blake’s 7 so addictive – the interaction between the main characters (Blake and Avon especially). Season One sets the scene perfectly with its opening four episodes, then almost immediately begins to show us the futility of Blake’s cause. Blake and his crew are only ever able to inflict mere pinpricks on the totalitarian regime that threatens them, but we share their longing, their hopes and fears. We cheer at every minor victory and feel despair with every major defeat.”

My books, though fantasy, are heavily influenced by the gritty, black, old world, feel of Blakes 7.

 

3. The usual Suspects  – Film -18. Bryan Singer’s film noir The Usual Suspects casts a mesmerising spell, with the plot luring the viewer into ever-deeper and darker places. According to director, Singer, the premise for the film evolved from a magazine article. What does the phrase “usual suspects” actually mean, who are they and what happens when you probe their identity? Here, they are five expert criminals and a crippled con man in a line-up. The story, told via flashbacks, interrogation scenes and explosive sequences of a heist gone wrong, is a labyrinth of sub-plots and red herrings.

For me this film is simple perfect. In some small way, I just hope I have managed to capture the essence of the complex and gripping storylines this film has.

 

4. Kind Hearts and Coronets – Film – 1949 – U. “Set in Victorian England, Robert Hamer’s 1949 masterpiece Kind Hearts and Coronets remains the most gracefully mordant of Ealing Comedies. Dennis Price plays Louis D’Ascoyne, the would-be Duke of Chalfont whose Mother was spurned by her noble family for marrying an Italian singer for love. Louis resolves to murder the several of his relatives ahead of him in line for the Dukedom, all of whom are played by Alec Guinness, in order to avenge his Mother–for, as Louis observes, ” revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold”.

 He gets away with it, only to be arraigned for the one murder of which he is innocent. Guinness’ virtuoso performances have been justly celebrated, ranging as they do from a youthful D’Ascoyne concealing his enthusiasm for public houses from his priggish wife (“she has views on such places”) to a brace of doomed uncles and one aunt, ranging from the doddery to the peppery.

 Miles Malleson is a splendid doggerel-spouting hangman, while Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood take advantage of unusually strong female roles. But the great joy of Kind Hearts and Coronets is the way in which its appallingly black subject matter (considered beyond the pale by many critics at the time) is conveyed in such elegantly ironic turns of phrase by Dennis Price’s narrator/anti-hero. Serial murder has never been conducted with such exquisite manners and discreet charm.”

Dennis Prices character is very much to the fore in my mind when I write the Brethren of the night. It’s that mixture of politeness and evil and I try and capture when I write them.

 

5.Conan the Barbarian- 1981 version. There is only one Conan the Barbarian film and that is the original one with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Mythical hero Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) vows to take revenge after the murder of his parents and destruction of his village. Determined to learn the ‘riddle of steel’, he sets off with his companions, Subotai the Mongol (Gerry Lopez) and Queen of Thieves (Sandahl Bergman), to kill Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of an evil snake cult. John Milius, who co-wrote the script with Oliver Stone, directs.

 What can I say except – The definitive fantasy film. I rest my case.

 You may be surprised by the lack of certain films or TV series, but you have to remember, I like my fantasy to be dark and I like it be subtle but hard hitting.

Alan

Return of Empire Strikes Back’s lost short Black Angel

Return of Empire Strikes Back’s lost short Black Angel
 
The reason i’m posting this is because ‘Black Angel’ was shot in and around my home town of Dunnon and I knew two kids who were picked from my Primary school to play two (non speaking) parts in the film.

For the full article please see – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-25781629

Alan