Static

My brother has a new short film out! I posted his last film on my website and so I thought I’d post Static (which in my opinion is even more excellent) as well. You might even spot a little cameo from yours truly – enjoy!

You can watch more of Jason’s work on his Vimeo page and follow him on Twitter here.

November 4, 2016Leave a comment

The Ten (More) Books Tag

I was tagged by Laura Lovelock to choose ten books that have stayed with me long after finishing them. I’ve actually taken part in this tag before, but there are plenty of stories I couldn’t squeeze in to my previous effort so here come ten more!

1.) Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places is a super-addictive thriller from Gillian Flynn, author of that Gone Girl book you might have heard of. It’s the story of Libby Day, a young woman investigating the slaughter of her entire family by her older brother twenty years ago. The book’s heartbreaking ending (where we find out what really happened) has stayed with me for a long time, and I often find myself thinking about the book’s tortured characters too.

2.) The Caseworker’s Memoirs by Dan Thompson

This book is actually a series of interconnected short stories, each one concerning a particular phobia and character. Learning how each phobia afflicts its accompanying character is equal parts fascinating and troubling, and the caseworker’s notes at the end of each story tell their own sad tale. One of the stories, Hatred. Hidden. has recently been released on it’s own as an excellent standalone story and audiobook.

3) How to be Brave by Louise Beech

How To Be Brave is a charming ghost story about, well, being brave. The relationship between mother, Natalie and daughter, Rose is unforgettable. You can read my full review here.

4.) Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin is a zombie book with a difference. Sure, it contains all the usual zombie tropes; desolation, disease and lots of teeth, but under the surface there is much more going on. The book is really about how we as a society treat ill people and it ends with an epilogue more powerful than any I’ve ever read.

5.) Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I can’t stop thinking about this thriller! There is just something so creepy about an anonymous person following you your whole adult life and doing nothing but planting a few dainty black-eyed susans in your garden. Of course, we soon find out the true significance of the flowers, and the terrifying past of the main character.

6.) Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

This is another book with a heartbreaking ending, it won the Carnegie Medal for a reason y’know! My full review here.

7.) Heart of the Comet by David Brin and Gregory Benford

For me, Heart of the Comet is one of the great science fiction works. First published in 1986 it reads like it came out yesterday – the technology and predictive science is bang on. But the reason the story sticks with me is because of the alien life found on Halley’s Comet. The alien lifeforms are quite basic by sci-fi standards, but they have adapted to conditions on the comet perfectly. When I ponder on the existence of alien life I always think of this book as probably having got it right!

8.) Mishaps in Millrise (Omnibus Edition) by Tilly Tennant

The Mishaps series is a collection of rom-com novellas following Phoebe Clements as she blunders adorably from one disaster to the next. There is plenty of humour and romance, sure, but it’s also a shrewd take on modern family life and a celebration of overcoming those recognisable life challenges we all face.

9.) The Paper Menagerie by Ken Lui

The Paper Menagerie is a short story of incredible power and emotion. It centres on an American/Chinese boy’s relationship with his mother and explores the effect of the cultural clash. Origami animals feature heavily in this tale and the magic they bring makes for a truly memorable short. You can, and should, read it for free here.

10.) Animorphs by K. A. Applegate

This is a series I devoured as a youngster. The books see a dying alien give five kids the ability to morph into various animals, all so they can battle an invasive force of parasitic yeerks. The yeerks are slug-like creatures that crawl into your brain and take you over. You remain sentient inside your own head but are virtually powerless to resist. This theme of dehumanisation has kept me thinking about the series for years, it’s deep stuff!

Fancy having a go at the Ten Books Tag? Go for it! Let me know how you get on 🙂

September 15, 2016Leave a comment

Just what the doctor ordered

‘Write what you know’. It’s well-known advice but, actually, I think you can’t help but write what you know. That’s hardly a revelation; it’s a popular notion that a writer’s politics, experiences, agendas etc will always infiltrate their writing no matter how hard they try to stamp them out. I’ve been in a reflective mood recently, and I’ve been thinking about how my personal circumstances have affected my own writing.

I’ve been in a reflective mood because, last year, I suffered a relapse of my illness and have been spending a lot of time resting/thinking. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have it easier than a lot of other sufferers (I can write every day and manage low exertions) but, sadly, my illness still defines what I can cope with during my day to day life. Leaving my little village is always a struggle, sometimes even leaving the house.

Looking back, I can see that this frustration underpins nearly all of my stories, narratively, thematically, everything-ly. In the Tethers trilogy (my first book series) Karl and Esther complain about being stranded in their home village of Shraye. To them village life is so tedious that, as soon as an excuse to leave arises, they do so, regardless of any obstacles or dangers they might encounter. Some readers have had a problem with the logic of their decision but, given my own personal experience, it seems like the most natural thing in the world to me.

In Wye (my fourth novel) Wye is travelling from A to B with B being halfway across the country. Travelling so far on foot is arguably a stupid risk to take in the dangerous world that Wye is inhabiting. Once again, however, I’d do it too. Even in my current WIP Seren Temples is running away from her home planet, seeking out the deepest, most remote part of the solar system.

As soon as I write something substantial (in terms of word count) I don’t think I can help but let my personal frustrations and wants seep into the text. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing either. In a way I’m living out adventures through my characters. It’s just happening in my imagination, in my head rather than in reality. Despite being near-housebound for large chunks of the last few years I’ve sailed along Victorian coastlines, sliced through hordes of zombies and dodged bullets in zero-G. The ever-quotable Albus Dumbledore has something to say about the legitimacy of such experiences:

I think ‘head experiences’ are real/legitimate as well. Beneficial too. Recently, I’ve come to realise that writing is a kind of therapy for me, not just a career choice. By allowing me to have adventures and explore worlds beyond my village I think my characters help me just as much as medicine and medical advice does. In fact, I think I’d be lost without them!

What do you think? Perhaps you find a different activity therapeutic (I get similar benefits from reading). Let me know in the comments section!

August 2, 20168 Comments

Anchor Leg Vlog #2

Earlier this year I recorded a vlog in which I introduced my upcoming novel, Anchor Leg. Well, the novel is progressing nicely (I’m just entering the editing phase) so I thought it was high-time for another update. Click below to watch me reading from Anchor Leg‘s first chapter.

Let me know what you thought in the comments section, more vlog updates coming soon!

You can view my YouTube channel by clicking here.

June 9, 2016Leave a comment