The Writers Conference 2015

Yesterday I attended the Writing East Midlands Writers conference at Nottingham University. It was amazing! I met so many interesting people, learned so much at the various talks and also picked up a load of freebies which is always a bonus!

However, the real highlight was sitting on the Reaching Young Readers and Writers panel. Literary agent, Davinia Andrew-Lynch, authors, Emma Pass (who chaired), Tamsyn Murray and little old me discussed writing for the children’s/YA market, interacting with the readership and using social media to find an audience for your work.

There was also a lot of discussion about implanting an author’s work into other mediums; audio, gaming, film and TV etc. The wonderful audience seemed particularly enthused and engaged with this topic. My view is that utilising multiple formats is a great thing, it allows authors to reach into other audiences and for stories and characters to grow beyond the constraints of their original medium. Davinia in particular was passionate about the opportunities that cross-platforming (did I just make that term up?) can afford the author, and when I think about the success of franchises such as The Walking Dead (from comics and novels to the TV adaptation and games), I think this is something the market will be seeing a lot more of in the coming years.

As for Emma and Tamsyn, their insight into writing and their passion for ‘always putting story first’ had me mesmerised to the point that I forgot to pitch in on that particular section – I was listening that intently!

Anyway, as I understand it the panel was recorded and the audio might become available in the near future. If that happens I will let you know!

March 29, 20152 Comments

Release: Six Short Stories

I’m thrilled to write that my new eBook, Six Short Stories is out now! Below is the cover as well as a short extract and blurb. I’m so excited by this release, I just can’t wait to see what you guys think!

I die the same way every time. A bombardment of radioactive dust and debris, and the alarm begins to sound. React, retract, jettison are the instructional words the chief drills into our heads every day, but there’s a problem with the hydrogen capture arm and the mechanism refuses to bring it home, refuses to blow the couplings too. That just leaves React. But here’s my problem: whilst I am easily skilled enough to manoeuvre the arm (all 123m of it) and receive the minimal amount of damage possible, I don’t care to. Sure, it takes a lot of concentration, effort, and quick thinking, but that’s not why. I want the situation to play out naturally, I want the arm to succumb to the nebula’s will and take whatever the gigantic cloud of gas, dust and other assorted refuse throws its way. I don’t entirely understand why I let it happen, but I always do. The arm buckles and fractures, explodes, and then I die.

A collection of six incidents, memories and curiosities. Some of these short stories are happy, some of them are not so happy. It’s difficult to tell whether any of them are related, such quandaries are never resolved easily.

Includes the award-winning, X.

A huge thanks to Jason Croxall, filmaker, for his wonderful cover design!

Six Short Stories is available via Amazon UK now.

February 8, 2015Leave a comment

#SciFact

As some of you may know, I tweet about all things science over at @UnpopSci. I particularly love posting some of the fun science-related factoids I stumble across during any given day. So much so, I thought I’d bring a few of my all time favourites together in this blog post. If you have any amazing facts of your own, be sure to let me know!

#SciFact(s)

An adult human is comprised of roughly 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms.

The dinosaur with the longest name is Micropachycephalosaurus. It means ‘tiny thick-headed lizard’.

Seahorses mate for life. They meet every morning to reaffirm their bond with an elaborate courtship display.

The technical term for a baby pterosaur is a ‘flapling’.

Some starfish can regenerate an entirely new, fully functional body from just one severed arm and a portion of the central disc.

Trees are 90% air! Contrary to popular belief, trees receive only 10% of their nutrition from soil and the rest from air.

Every second approximately 100 lightning bolts strike our planet.

The asteroid belt found between Mars and Jupiter is most likely the outcome of another planet failing to form.

On a reasonably clear night, you can see stars 19,000,000,000,000,000 (19 quadrillion) miles away.

Roughly 60% of the human brain is fat.

Fire isn’t a thing/object, it’s an event.

Stars don’t twinkle. It’s actually turbulence in our air which makes stars appear to blink.

Giant squid have eyes as big as basketballs, and the largest specimen reported was 60ft long and weighed 1980lbs.

 

Pretty cool, right? If you find any incredible facts of your own, do let me know in the comments section or message me on Twitter!

January 30, 2015Leave a comment

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Right from the foreword and first chapters of A Monster Calls, it’s clear that the novel is not so much about the tree monster pictured on the wonderful front cover, as the destructive influence of cancer. The central theme is all the more pertinent as Siobhan Dowd, the author credited with the inception of A Monster Calls, tragically died from the disease long before she could finish the book.

Whilst two of Dowd’s completed novels were published posthumously (Bog Child and Solace of the Road), A Monster Calls needed a champion to see it through to publication, and so Patrick Ness, author of the award winning Chaos Walking series, agreed to take the reins and finish it.

The book begins with Conor O’Malley, teenage son to a single mother battling cancer, awakening from a recurring nightmare to find an ancient and well-versed monster at his bedroom window. The monster eventually threatens to eat Conor alive if he doesn’t divulge the secrets of his nightmare – the details of which Conor has vowed never to tell another living soul. Crucially, though, Conor is not in the least bit frightened of his visitor.

Conor’s lack of fear might seem slightly odd, but it’s a powerful mechanism for showing just how dire the thirteen-year-old’s circumstances are. His life is on the verge of being destroyed and the daily horror of his mother’s illness far outweighs anything the monster can threaten to do. Conor’s situation becomes even more harrowing as the development of his mother’s cancer and the effects of her chemotherapy are seen through his eyes and memories. During these intimate moments, Ness conveys the emotions involved with a suitably deft touch, and it should be noted that Conor’s thoughts infiltrate the descriptive aspect of the prose exquisitely, flavouring the lyrical text without ever saturating it.

A non-illustrated version of A Monster Calls exists but Jim Kay’s artwork is a fine addition to the book, forging a dark and moody atmosphere to accompany the excellent writing. The larger illustrations (often double-page spreads) mostly involve the monster or scenes from his stories, and this only adds to the anticipation of his arrival. Whilst it’s possible older readers might be skeptical of a fully illustrated book, it’s worth remembering that prominent authors such as Philip Pullman have been vocal about the merits of illustration, and the interplay between artwork and text here is wonderful. To put it simply, the illustrated version of A Monster Calls is unmissable.

A Monster Calls is available through Amazon UK now.

January 25, 2015Leave a comment