Monday, 17 September 2012

Firewitch release!

After a crazy, hectic final month, my series; ‘Firewitch’ has finally been released!

There have been ups and downs and a few late nights over the last month, trying to get everything finished and handed over to the publisher etc to try to makes sure everything was ready to go for the release date!

This is just the start though, I know that from now on there is a mountain to climb in getting my books noticed and read and, most importantly, enjoyed, by as many people as possible.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Review: The Best Fairytale Movie EVER!

The Princess Bride

There is a huge revival of fairytale movies at the moment: ‘Mirror, Mirror’ and ‘Snow-White and the Huntsmen’ just to name the most current, with a whole host of new ones on the horizon. They all want to take a new spin on the fairytale, everyone wants the tales to be dark, and grim, with the girls in armour, weak princes and understandable villains who were damaged in their childhood.

But where are all those good old romping stories of yore?

Well that is where The Princess Bride comes in!

I hadn’t seen this movie until recently, which I know can shock a lot of people as apparently the whole world has seen it. I was concerned that the glow of nostalgia had tainted their view of the film and as a result I was ready for a dud when I finally saw it for myself.

But I was not disappointed

Written by William Goldman, The Princess Bride has everything you could want in a fairytale, and more.

There is true love in the form of Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, who play Westley and Buttercup (yeah, I know, who would name their child Buttercup? She sounds like a dairy cow), and it is their love that drives the main plot forward.

However as we all know; true love never runs smooth!

There are Pirates, Dastardly Princes, arrogant rogues, vengeful Spaniards, friendly giants, Rodents of Unusual Size, Impressive Clergymen (Mawwiage is wot bwings us togedda today), and mad wizards, all thrown together in a magical Kingdom with humour and swashbuckling sports-manly swordplay.

The baddies are bad and the goodies are good, there is a satisfying happy ending and everyone rides off into the sunset.

Negative points: Well if you twist my arm I would have to say that Buttercup could have smashed that Rodent of Unusual Size over the head rather than just watched, and the scenes with the old Grandpa and the sick kid added nothing.

But I have to say that the Princess Bride comes out as one of my favourite movies of all time.

If you want a cracking good film, with great quotes (“He is only mostly dead. Not all dead.”), and some fantastic swordplay then The Princess Bride, one of the biggest cult classic movies of all time, has to be the one for you. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Things that inspire me: Pokemon, Captain Planet and Fire-Juggling

Yes, I know that is a strange compilation, however, allow me to explain!

I was just within the right age bracket when Pokemon first came out and at the time I was intrigued (as I’m sure many people were) with the idea that you could collect together hundreds of powerful and magic animals who would then do your bidding.

I was particularly taken with the fire Pokemon and the idea that you could grow a dragon to fight your enemies. I also liked the idea of the animals coming from specific groups; there are the elemental groups of earth, air, fire and water but in addition to that there are the plant Pokemon and the electric Pokemon and I am sure that by now there are a hundreds other types around, but it is the elemental idea that stuck with me and is a theme which turns up in my writing.

This nicely leads me onto Captain Planet. It is only a vague memory of watching the show, but I distinctly remember the rings the characters wore and their ability to control the elements which then combined into Captain Planet; one hero who is able to combine all of the elements together and that is the source of his power. This stayed marinating in my brain for quite some time before I was able to make use of this theme within my writing.

Finally, of course, is the fire juggling. Admittedly it is not quite controlling the elements, but the spectacle of seemingly being able to control fire has always impressed me and I have fond memories of seeing some great fire jugglers. It is their influence that made me sure I wanted my main character, Serafin, to have power over fire, above any other element.

It is strange to think back over the influences I have had and those things that inspire me.

If you want to see how these inspirations have impacted my work, you could start reading my latest story which I am blogging, chapter by chapter every Friday.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

How do I keep it up?

I want to be a writer; now I have heard many rumours and whispers of how this is achieved.

Enid Blyton wrote up to 10,000 words a day (depending on who you listen to), Amanda Hocking tells us she did the bulk of her novels within a period of around three weeks. Whereas the great Graham Green made a point of stopping at 500 words a day, no more and never less.

So all that tells me is that there are different ways and methods that suit everyone, so all I can do is share mine with you.

I write everyday, without fail.

I keep a journal and I write what ever I am thinking. It doesn’t matter, even if I am writing about how I don’t have anything to write! I think the act of putting pen to paper every day is important, if it gets left then it is so difficult to come back to later.

In addition to this I keep a dream diary. I don’t write in it everyday, but I do keep it by the bed so that if I have a particularly interesting dream then I record it in detail – some of those dreams have popped up in my writing; in fact the orchard scene which starts my ‘Serafin’ story is actually lifted straight from a dream!

I also carry a notebook with me everywhere. I record anything that piques my interest, names, places, overheard conversations; I record it all and make notes on any ideas that occur to me, again I can pick this up and rifle through the ideas if ever I get stuck on a plot, or get writers block.

This is just what I do to keep writing, I’d lover to know what other people do to keep their creative juices flowing….

Monday, 4 June 2012

Research: Dactyls

For my ‘Serafin’ story I wanted to include a flying animal, one that embodied the tropes of other fantasy flying animals such as the dragon and the griffin.

I drew my greatest inspiration from the dragon in ‘The Neverending Story’, Falcor, I wanted something that would convey a friendliness and, I don’t know if it just me or something that is common amongst other people as well, I find that animals with fur come across as more friendly than those with scales.

Perhaps this is because we are mammals ourselves and so have an affinity with other mammals more than with amphibians or lizards, or something to do with the more common pets being cats and dogs and so we therefore have a stronger connection with these animals.

Either way I knew that my flying dragon was going to have fur. I also wanted there to be the possibility of fire-breathers, however I have linked this up with the idea that in Serafin’s world only certain people have control over the elements and so it is with the dactyls, only certain ones are able to breathe fire.

Now as for the name, this is interesting as many people would assume I simply took the last section of the word pterodactyl. Now in one aspect this does work, as there is an unconscious connection to the flying reptiles of the past; however if we break down the word pterodactyl it means ‘winged-fingers’; the part ‘ptero’ means wings and the part ‘dactyl’ actually means fingers.

My beasts do reflect this aspect in that they have great long talons, however the connection lies with the ancient dactyls of Greek mythology. There were said to lived in a great mountain and invented the art of metalworking as well as having a strong connection with healing. I wanted these beasts to have that history and connection to the earth and more specifically to a volcano. They were animals of the volcano and that is why many of them have the ability to breathe fire.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Things that inspire me: Walled Gardens

As a location I feel that walled gardens can lend a mythical and secretive aspect to a story. The Secret Garden is, of course, and obvious story which involves the walled garden as its focal point.  

I have always wanted to have a walled garden and although a wall can be interpreted as a prison, I see it more as a retreat. 

This is the walled garden that the Kingswood heritage museum, I think the patterns in the wall really add to the beauty of the garden and the also to the sense of mystery.


This is the beautiful gothic gate in Basingstoke's walled garden. I love the way the symmetry also manages to maintain a sense of the wild with the different types of plants leading up to the gate. 

This is an impositng walled Garden from Southwest and Ayrshire, again there is a rugged symmetry and this time the wall is huge and imposing, yet there is no gate.

It is the mystery and attractivness of the walled garden that made me want my story 'Serafin' to start off with the title character hiding in a walled Garden.

You can read the first chapter of the story here

Monday, 21 May 2012

Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who is caught between two worlds. One is the dark and twisted world of civil war in fascist Spain, the other is an eerie fantasy world of which she is the lost Princess.

Both worlds are dark and unrelenting, both worlds have their challenges and as a viewer there is part of you that won’t be sure which world you want Ofelia to end up with.

The imagination of del Toro is astounding. There is no one else that could have directed this masterpiece, no one that could quite have brought this world to life. There are clear influences from Jim Henson films such as Dark Crystal and, of course, Labyrinth however the dark twist that is shown here takes the fairytale to a new level. The kind of macabre truth that probably hasn’t been seen since the Grim Brothers collected their folktales together.

Within this story are a lot of tropes that people will recognise, the princess, the fairies, the challenges even a fawn meeting with a little girl in the woods. However these elements a juxtaposed by a violent story of resistance and a fight for survival and our heroine is caught in the crossfire.

The film is pacy, frightening, graphic, uplifting, harrowing and is able to completely transport you to another world in another time. Perfect. 

Image: smarnad /