Friday, 27 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy: We have been, and always shall be, your friends

Hearing about the death of Leonard Nimoy has been a poignant and strange thing today. He was an incredibly talented man, loved by his colleagues and fans across the globe, and leaves behind a legacy like no other. The things he did, the decades spanned where his work had become part of the backbone of popular culture, the number of things he created which have entered the lexicon of our lives is astounding.

His sad passing has made fans new and old revisit some of his greatest moments as Spock, the many glorious moments from TOS, the iconic and now even more poignant death of Spock in The Wrath of Khan, along with all the other moments which further strengthened his legendary status.

Personally, something which has stuck with me for years now is his performance onstage with a number of other Star Trek luminaries in Alien Voices: The First Men In The Moon, a live adaptation of the HG Wells classic. Hearing Nimoy perform without the expectations that came with him being in costume as Spock gave me the first real taste I'd had of his versatility. As much of a Star Trek fan that I am, the thing I'll remember the most is that powerful performance. I must revisit that soon.

Leonard Nimoy's passing has also made me think about how things continue to change around us each day. The heroes I grew up with will one day all be gone, replaced by things I can't imagine and which I won't understand as I age myself and move away from being in the loop about the latest cultural changes. It hasn't happened yet, but it comes to everyone eventually.

However, even when heroes such as Nimoy are claimed by failing health, the eras they created that defined generations of fans around the world live on in the recordings, the continued passion of the fans and what we pass on to future generations. It's important that the wonderfully creative work of people such as Leonard Nimoy isn't brushed aside and forgotten by future lovers of the fantastic. The original series may seem quaint now, but it was groundbreaking when it first aired. It changed perceptions. It challenged established ideals. It changed popular culture forever.

Leonard Nimoy was an integral part of that change. That zeitgeist. That cultural shift.

What an incredible thing to leave behind.

Monday, 16 February 2015

More words in, more words out

I really need to finish reading some of the books which have found their way into my bedside table. The above pictured books are recent additions to the library which appears to have taken over our house, but I've not had chance to finish any of them yet. This has had a knock-on effect with my writing, as the more I read, the more I'm able to write. It's a well-worn bit of advice for writers to read as much as possible in order to develop and maintain their craft, and the proof for me is that when I can't get the time to read enough, my productivity also suffers. 

I've certainly noticed this recently. With a full time day job, two small children, work on the house and my regular freelancing, time available for my books is at a premium. Energy is a rare thing too, as sleep has been a scarce creature since becoming a father again. 

All of this sounds like me making excuses. I'm really not. It's just important to me that people know I'm working hard to get to the place I've always wanted to be with the stuff I write. It's not been easy lately, but I'm battling on. I love doing this. I promised myself and those around me that I would carry on, following the experiment of putting out A Stolen Fate, and so here I am. I'm really enjoying it when I get the time to actually get some words down into the various files, but I would really like those moments to be less infrequent.

February 2015 - portrait of a caffeinated hack
One way I've got around the lack of time at home is to work on my commute, during which I've actually made a hell of a lot of progress this past few months, making my magazine deadlines easier to fit in with daily life, work and my unending desire to get the stories out of my skull and into the skulls of others. However, recently even those times have been fruitless, as they've been taken up with me either feeling too ill or sleepy to concentrate, or with me trying to focus on whichever book I'd taken out with me and failing miserably due to tiredness.

Thus my productivity has wavered somewhat. The less I read, the less my brain is well-oiled enough for hefty bouts of writing new content. The books I have scheduled to come out this year are all on target, but there's so much more I want to get out there for you. I mean, what else am I going to do with all this stuff?

Incidentally, I had 90 minutes of free time today with no other distractions and got another 1,500 words added to the current novel. It just goes to show you.

So the point is simple. Keep reading and you'll keep writing. Keep it varied, too. Read widely. Read voraciously. 

Oh, and if you see me nodding off with a book in my lap, give me a poke, yeah?


PS My blog will now have a conscious focus rather than the random jumble of stuff which it's had since I started it. I'm going to gear it more towards the life of a semi-pro hack trying to fit in interviews with rock stars in the middle of getting the kids to bed and then getting something done on the novels.
So yeah, a new start from here.

BTW - look out for my interview with none other than Lzzy Hale of the mighty HALESTORM at the end of the month in our next issue.

Friday, 9 January 2015


Cover to be finalised - but this is close!
ROGUE SOUL, the continuation of the story which began with A STOLEN FATE, will be released on April the 6th. The Shadow Children return, and this time they're not alone.

The events of the first book have stirred up forces darker than the undead heroes of A Stolen Fate have ever imagined. Secrets will be revealed, new mysteries discovered and a threat like no other must be overcome, or the fundamental rules of existence may be shattered forever.

The Shadow Children will face their origins, or lose everything.

Full blurb coming soon. Rogue Soul will arrive in trade paperback and Ebook from Dreamrider Media in April.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

That was a year

I wasn't intending to do an end-of-year post this year, but 2014 has turned out to be a little odd. It has been a year both life-affirming and heartbreaking, energizing and exhausting. I began the year optimistic that I would be able to achieve a few things, and it was a marvellous thing to be able to see two long-standing projects come to fruition at last.

The first was the release VHS ATE MY BRAIN back in March. The limited signed run sold out in six days, and the book has been selling in physical and digital form way beyond my expectations ever since.

I'd like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to every single person who has checked it out. I genuinely had no idea that a print-on-demand book about such a niche interest would be picked up by so many people. Thank you so, so much.

The other was my debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE. It's imperfect, but I'm extremely proud of how it turned out. I am certainly excited to be bringing you the first sequel, ROGUE SOUL, in April 2015. There will be various other releases from me throughout the year.

This year was defined mainly by the birth of my second son, who is a wonderful little person full of laughter and dribble. My first son continues to amaze me every day with his sense of humour and rapidly developing intellect, and my wife continues to be my best friend as well as my spouse.

The year draws to a close with some sad family news which came about this very morning, on the last day of the year.

Thus I find myself in a reflective mood as 2014 ends and I welcome 2015. What to I strive for in 2015? To be better. To do more of what makes me happy. To create more. To remember who I am a bit more often.

I wish you the very best of luck with your new year. Treasure its newness. Run with it.

Endings are beginnings.

Much love,

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Review: IN FAITH - 'There's a Storm Coming'

“There's A Storm Coming” 
Genre: Melodic Rock 
Rocktopia Records 

After reading a number of reviews essentially deeming this to be the Second Coming, I figured I should really check it out for myself and see what the fuss was about. Was the hyperbole just that? Something had to be up. Surely nothing could legitimately get that many good reviews and such a wave of positivity, could it?

Actually it could.

The quality of the debut In Faith album is astounding. The songwriting, performances and production are all phenomenal. As soon as 'Radio' gallops out of the speakers sounding like the lovechild of UFO and Steelhouse Lane, you know you're in for a hell of a good time. This is melodic hard rock played with massive amounts of passion and truckloads of talent.

While the guitars of Tony Marshall and the drums of Pete Newdeck are both sensational, it's the truly stunning voice of frontman/bassist Pete Godfrey which sends the quality soaring ever higher. Songs like first single 'Does It Feel Like Love', 'Where I Wanna Be' and 'Addicted' are all prime quality rock anthems, but the golden pipes of Mr Godfrey turn them into instant classics.

Evoking bands like Tyketto, W.E.T., Eclipse and Kansas as well as the aforementioned UFO and Steelhouse Lane, the music of In Faith has the perfect blend of riffs and melodies. Tony Marshall is a brilliant guitarist who shines on every track, his solos having a superb balance of shred and structure, and his chunky rhythm playing is so satisfying it's basically like a big pie. A big guitar pie. Make what you will of that simile.

But great musicianship (and a powerful mix) are nothing without the songs to back them up, and thankfully that's what is at the heart of the In Faith sound; Great songs. 'All Or Nothing' and 'A Million Ways' are later standouts, while closing track 'Bitter End' leaves you with anything but a bitter musical aftertaste.

'There's a Storm Coming' is a somewhat misleading title. The storm has already arrived, and it's right here on this disc.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Putting the novel out: What I've Learned

So, my debut full length novel came out on October the 6th. A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 as a screenplay outline and some storyboards, and then over the years it became something I would toy with here and there whenever I wasn't writing something else. In 2007 I went legit and became a writer for a national music magazine, which I'm still with to this day, but that (along with a lot of other writing gigs, day jobs and life stuff) meant I never got around to writing much of the novel.

That changed when I started taking part in NaNoWriMo, and suddenly I had 50,000 words of the novel done and ready to be completed. The other stuff continued to hod the novel back, but I did finally finish it a little while back and decided to publish it myself as an experiment. I'd already put seven books out, but never a novel. I wanted to see what the experience was like, and what I could learn from it.

I actually learned a fair few things, and I'd like to share some with you that might possibly help you with your own projects.

With A Stolen Fate, the story was part of my life for so long that a lot of it was set in stone, but I found that breaking out of that set concept now and again was very liberating and made for a better experience for both myself and the readers who have checked it out so far. I wrote a number of the scenes out of sequence, which helped me direct the flow of the action towards later scenes and also allow me to add some foreshadowing of events during the climax.

I wasn't sure if I would ever write another book (long story) and thus I also wanted to have this one be as complete as I could make it, but allowing for enough loose ends for there to be a sequel if the demand was there (right now it seems there is, but we shall have to wait a little longer for the final decision). Your novel, even if part of a series, still needs to be able to offer a complete and satisfying story to readers, as not all of them will pick up the other volumes which might follow.

The main thing I learned though, which I learned through my own mistakes, is to make the book as professional as you possibly can, and not just visually. The cover is a hugely important thing. If it looks amateurish and unable to stand next to professionally published books, then a lot of readers will just scroll past it. I tried to make A Stolen Fate look great, even though all of the tools I used (Pixabay, Pixlr and Cooltext) were all free.

However, the cover and blurb aren't the only thing to do to a high standard, which is where I made my mistake. Despite several passes through the book, hours upon hours of editing and reworking it, there seem to still be errors that I missed. I didn't get it checked over by a fresh set of eyes, and as such while the book looks brilliant, there are typos in it which I missed. I'm saddened by this and annoyed at myself, as I could have easily sorted those out. The book is getting a great response, but those typos are a downer for me.

Thats the thing though – the book really needed to be looked at by another reader. I am doing this now, and will put out a new edition of the book with corrections in the near future. If people are going to keep buying it, then they deserve the best version that it can possibly be. I've let myself down with this and will ensure it won't happen again. My wife (an incredible writer whose columns and fiction are far more widely appreciated than mine so far) is now proofing the book again so I can put things right. However, I really should have done that I the first place.

Also, make sure you read it in print as well as digitally, as you'll always spot things you need t change in a print copy that you may miss digitally.

Another thing I learned is that the book will take you to unexpected places that will dictate changes to your plans for the future. When I finished A Stolen Fate, I had already written 43,000 words of a possible sequel, but those 43,000 words are now being almost entirely scrapped. Why? Because once I'd completed the 83,000 words of the first book, a lot had changed with the characters and what they had to do. Still, it's a starting point.

So to recap, write well, write what the story needs you to write, and make sure you get it checked over before publishing it. Good luck with your own projects. I'll see you next month for this year's NaNoWriMo adventure, where I'll be starting the sequel from scratch.

Next time, I'll do things much better, for myself and my readers. Thanks for being there.

Monday, 6 October 2014


A STOLEN FATE, my debut full length novel, is available to order now! Paperback and Kindle editions are available from Amazon sites around the world.

It's been a long and strange journey completing this story and being the only person who has been around these characters until now, and it's a weird feeling finally sharing Louise, Mercy, Veil, Vincent, Brandon, Eve, Fate and the others with you now. It's a good feeling though.

A dark urban fantasy story with a UK edge, it follows the young lady called Louise and the strange world she uncovers when she wakes up after her own murder…

Check it out at the links below, or at the Amazon local to you. 

Dear retail stores: Feel free to stock the book! You can find it via Createspace's wholesale service. 

A Stolen Fate: The Soundtrack 

 Ok, so it's not an official soundtrack as such, but these are some of the songs which helped to me to finish the novel. The bias is towards alternative rock and gothic metal, which fits the book perfectly. You can purchase the MP3s from the widget below the playlist.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE: As one journey ends, does another begin?

After seven books, seventy-or-so issues of a national magazine and a bunch of other stuff, the time felt right to get one of my most precious projects out there. All writers have those special save-it-for-the-right-time project, and this year it felt right that one of mine should come to fruition.

A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 under the title of THE SHADOW CHILDREN, as a screenplay and some storyboards, all stemming from a script cover image I made in a library, of a young Goth lady merging from a tunnel, the title below it and the slogan “Even hell has its angels” over the top. I've always liked to start a project with a visual reference, be it images I've found or something I've made. Once there is some kind of visual representation of a project it can start to develop for me. Yeah, that's not how a lot of people work but it's been a method which has often worked very well for me with other projects.

This one was inspired by the Goth subculture I was part of, X-men comics, films like Highlander and The Crow, novels like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Clive Barker's Cabal (filmed as NIGHTBREED) and other such delights.

I wrote 43,000 words of the novel's first draft a few years ago, 2010 I believe, but it remained unfinished for years due to the growth and development of my career as a rock journalist, changing day jobs and in 2012 becoming a father. I always told myself I'd keep that project safe until the time was right to take it to someone, but then it dawned on me that I'd had some success with putting things out myself, such as with my previous book, VHS Ate My Brain.

This realization also brought to light a fear I'd had about the project since starting it. I'd never put out a full length novel before. This is uncharted territory. My other books have been short fiction, novellas and non-fiction.

This was a big step, and I realized I had been scared to cross it. I had to change that. I'd submitted early samples of it to publishers, but I didn't push it enough. Now the time had come to take a chance, to prove to myself I could complete a full length novel and get it out there. So I have, and I am doing so. I revised the original 43,000 words and wrote a further 40,000, revised the whole thing and trimmed it. More new scenes came, and more trimming. Suddenly it was finished, and I was uploading it to Createspace and KDP with covers I'd made online.

Why take this approach? Because I'm curious. I want to see what happens. I would love to develop my career further, but above all else I want this story out there and being read. It's lived in my head for long enough, and now it's time to share it. Where do I go from here? I don't actually now. Will this be a one-off? The figures between now and the end of the year will dictate that. There is already a sequel at 41,000 words, and other stuff too.

This is a new adventure for me. A new journey emerging from another which lasted 16 years. I know where the story of the novel will go next, but I have no idea where my own will go now. We shall see. What do I want from the release of A Stolen Fate? I want people to enjoy it. I want people to share the characters and story I've played over in my head for my entire adult life. I want to see what happens next.

Please do check out A Stolen Fate and let's find out together.