Assassins Of The Dead 1: Dark Blade

While choosing what I wanted to write next, I decided to work on something new. I wanted to come up with a new idea rather than pick one of the many ideas I’ve made notes of over the years.

I needed to decide what I wanted the book to be about. Setting was my first thought and I do enjoy fantasy, particularly a medieval style fantasy world. That was sorted so next I needed to figure out if it would be real world, completely made up or an alternate reality. The ideas began to flow. I wanted magic in a world I had created. There needed to be warriors, assassins, vampires, ghosts and shifters. Within minutes I came up with the idea for a series. Numerous possibilities, storylines and characters instantly formed in my mind.

I couldn’t wait to get started and began immediately. In fact, I enjoyed writing the first book of Assassins Of The Dead so much that I began the second book in the series after I’d barely written the first.

Assassins Of The Dead 1: Dark Blade is now available on Amazon with the second book of the series well on the way to being finished.

Tales Of Old Buildings

I’ve always been fascinated by old buildings and often wonder at the many stories that have played out in them. The lives that have been lived within these walls, the ones that have passed through and the secrets they contain.

Looking at this image I see a car broken down on a lonely stretch of highway and a person who knows there is nothing for kilometres. Yet they can see a light in the distance and in desperation head towards it to find an imposing building that shouldn’t be there. When they enter, their footsteps echo in empty rooms, the feeble light from their torch showing very little, the batteries beginning to fail. They search for the staircase leading upwards, wanting to find the lit room, they saw from the highway, before the darkness closes in around them.

When they do find the room, what is waiting for them? Something demonic? Or something from another world that only slips through into this one at certain times of the year, trapping them a long way from home when it returns. Or a curse they are tricked into accepting, needing to pass it along to another innocent if they wish to be rid of it. So many possibilities. So many stories. And never enough time to write them all.

Demon Hunters 5: Cursed

The initial idea I had for Cursed was the moment when Penelope meets Luca. So that’s where I started writing. When I finished the scene I knew it wasn’t the start of the story, that something came before it. I began to ask questions, trying to figure out what came first. I eventually figured it out, needing to add a few more details to the first scene I wrote so it fit in with the beginning.

I don’t always write in order. There are times when scenes are so vivid it’s necessary to write them so I can focus on the scenes that come before them. That happened quite a few times while writing Cursed. Many scenes were so vivid I could see every little detail, hear every single sound and knew what the characters could smell and feel. In some ways these scenes can be difficult to write as there are so many details to get down that my fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts as I type. And the voice to text program also struggles to keep up with my dictation when I rapidly speak all the words. As difficult as they are to write, it’s amazing being so immersed in a world that you feel like you might be there.

Demon Hunters 5: Cursed is now available on Amazon.

Parachute Silk Dress

I’ve always been interested in history, even as a child. My nana had a tendency to keep everything so her place was like a treasure trove of things to be discovered. Nana used to be a seamstress so there were old cottons, a treadle sewing machine, heaps of material and numerous buttons. Everything had a story. I spent hours asking her to tell me the story behind all the things I discovered.

One of the items was a dress I loved to wear. It was far too big, dragged on the ground and I used a scarf around the waist to make it look less like a decorative sack draped over me. The stories about it fascinated me. They involved World War II, rations, a lack of material and things remaining scarce even when the war had ended. Nana told me how there was an excess of parachute silk, left over from the war, and some of it had patterns printed onto it so it could be used for dress fabric. She was able to get hold of a piece of the material and make herself a dress. After years of rations and being unable to get much more than the basics, she had something completely frivolous and unnecessary. The war had ended and people were trying to reclaim their previous lives.

I still have the dress and occasionally wear it, thinking back over all the stories attached to it like threads holding it together. Memories of mine and ones that belonged to others. Of war, loss, scarcity and hope.

Realms Of The Fae 3: The Magic Collector

Realms Of The Fae 3: The Magic Collector is one of the story ideas that came to me in a dream. Sometimes it’s only a single scene that comes to me. At other times it’s nearly the entire story. This time it was numerous fragments of scenes. Enough to have me intrigued and wanting to know more of what was going on, how all the scenes fit together and what happened in between each of those scenes. Some fragments didn’t make it into the final story, others changed slightly, but many remained exactly as I’d initially dreamt them. Ones such as the existence of the cursed exit, the cat and the waterhole are exactly as I dreamt them. Every little detail identical to those of my dream.

There were times when I had no idea how the many scenes would connect together to make an entire story. Or the order they all belonged in, but I had a lot of fun figuring it out and answering the many questions I typically have when writing.

Realms Of The Fae 3: The Magic Collector is now available on Amazon.

Memory Black Market

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For me they become so many more. I can rarely look at a picture without also seeing a story idea, which is why I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write in a lifetime. Most people would only see a bubble. When I look at this picture all kinds of ideas run through my head.

Memories are fragile. Can often be important. They can contain important information, knowledge and skills. What if some had the ability to collect them? Gather them into a sphere that others could use. This could be a quick way to learn new skills. But then that would also mean someone would lose a skill. There would be the desperate ones willing to sell memories to get what they need. Others close to death who want to bequeath memories to their children. And what about those who wanted a particular memory, no matter the cost.

The people those memories were stolen from, would they know something was missing? A memory that was stolen too quickly and without absolute care due to the fear of being caught. What other memories might also be stolen? Or might have been fragmented. And how could someone take back those memories they’d lost and who would help them?

It’s no wonder I have an endless supply of ideas when the simple image of a bubble can trigger yet one more.

The Death Of Koshchei The Deathless

This time when it came to choosing a fairytale to retell I didn’t spend the usual amount of time reading through fairytales deciding which one I wanted to retell next. But that’s only because my daughter heard about an interesting tale she wanted me to write so she could read it. I told her I’d have a look and set about finding several different versions of The Death of Koshchei The Deathless to read. She was correct. It was a fascinating tale and one I wanted to write.

There were several versions and I mainly focused on one of them, using some of the details of the other versions to answer parts of the story that needed more depth or explanation. I enjoyed writing about Prince Ivan and Princess Marya Morevna. It isn’t often you come across fairytales that contain a warrior princess. Or even a strong female character. So it was nice to find a fairytale that had a female character who was both a strong character and a warrior.

Fairytales Retold: The Death Of Koshchei The Deathless is now available on Amazon.

No Regrets

Forest Path

I recently had an interesting conversation with someone about some of the many things I’ve done in life and about some of my experiences. They wanted to know what gave me the confidence to do the things I’ve done, particularly when I was very young. It took a bit for them to understand what I meant by, “The thought of not having that experience.” They took that to mean ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ Which is miles from what I meant.

It was around my early teens or just before I was a teenager when I first started living my life by two simple rules. ‘If I was to live to a hundred would I regret having done this?’ And, ‘If I was to die tomorrow would I regret not having done this?’ I have no idea how I came up with those questions, but I do know it was when I was trying to make a decision. It isn’t about fear, it’s about regrets and being yourself. About living the life that suits you. Being the person you choose to be.

Fast forward quite a few years to 1991 when I was eighteen and Metallica released their song ‘The Unforgiven’. The moment I heard it I loved it. And I remember thinking, that is it. That’s the reason behind my questions. A person who never had a chance to be themselves and dies full of regrets. That is the person I don’t want to be. Luckily I’m quite stubborn and good at following my own path, even when it’s overgrown and more like hacking through a jungle with a blunt machete, having no compass and no map. Then just when you think it can’t get worse, the sun is starting to set, there’s no torch, no matches and no other means of creating light. Sometimes it has only been my belief in my ability to eventually get there that has kept me moving forward. Even when people were telling me things were impossible.

I’ve had more than my fair share of setbacks, dramas, horrifying events and sorrows. And just like everyone else there have been times when I’m not sure how I’ve managed to keep going. I guess I don’t know how to give up. That’s not to say there haven’t been times when I’ve changed directions, removed things from my life that it isn’t good to have in it and replanned my path. But my main targets, goals and dreams have stayed the same. And the questions have never changed.

Answering those two questions doesn’t mean life will be without heartache, failures, sorrows or pain. It will hopefully be without regrets. It will hopefully be a journey you can look back on and be proud of having experienced. And it will hopefully help you become yourself, not an imitation of someone else.

So who do you want to be? Someone you don’t recognise and who has never done a single thing that matters to you? Or the person who has lived their life on their own terms, following their own path, believing in themselves and not riddled with regrets. I chose to be the person who has done things, not regretted things. Even if sometimes it is the harder path to travel.

 

Metallica’s ‘The Unforgiven’ Official Music Video on Youtube.

Over Too Soon

over-too-soon

When writing Over Too Soon I tried to find out details of what I could use, instead of actual human ashes, to figure out how large a circle I could make with the ashes from a teenage boy. Unable to find all the details I needed online I rang a crematorium, explaining who I was and what I needed to know. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at the lengthy silence on the other end of the phone. It took some convincing that I was serious about my question, but eventually they told me all the information I needed. Course sand was a suitable substitute. They also told me how much sand I’d need for a boy the weight and height of my character.

Once again, research kept me from making a mistake as the circle wasn’t as large as I thought it might be. Not that it mattered since it was more than large enough for the story. You can see a photo of one of the circles we made on my Behind The Scenes page. The initial area wasn’t large enough and since there was sand left over I found a larger location to recreate the circle. Sometimes research can be interesting, fun and rather strange.

Over Too Soon is now available on Amazon if you want to find out why the characters needed to make a circle using human ashes.

Bring On 2017

Fireworks

It’s difficult to believe another year is ending. This one feels like it has flown by quicker than usual. As always, I’m feeling a touch nostalgic as I look back over not only this year, but some of the proceeding ones and the changes they have brought. It shall be interesting to see where 2017 takes me and I’m keen to discover the new challenges in store for me. Hopefully you’ve all collected many treasured memories this year and are looking forward to starting the New Year.