Thursday, 6 December 2012

Words of Encouragement

Well, what do you know, another delayed update.

I didn't make my self-imposed deadline, unfortunately. It's a shame, but for a very good reason - after months of unemployment (and thus being able to sit and write full-time), I got a full time Christmas job working at Head - a local record, CD and DVD store. I simply haven't had the time to dedicate myself to the novel. I have, I'm pleased to say, been writing on most of my lunchbreaks lately and I'm currently sitting on 95,525 words.

It's tough to say how close I am to the end. The duration of the final 'battle' is a little uncertain, and it's supposed to take place over the course of a night, so how long the scene itself will be is unclear. I won't know until I start writing it, in other words. I'm so close though, so it could be 110,000 as planned, or 120,000. When it's done, it's done.

It's going pretty well though. There's one or two scenes I'm looking forward to writing in particular. I'm nervous about the love scene I have to write (not erotic, focused on the emotions), but I ran part of it past a very good friend of mine, and she seemed to like it. So, that's something!

My main reason for this entry was to reblog a video from Neil Gaiman (who, many of you will know, is my writer hero). In it, a fan tells Neil how she has been told there are 'too many artists in the world', and she shouldn't pursue her dream of becoming a director. I'll type Neil's response here directly.

'Saying that we have enough artists is like saying we have enough scientists, we have enough designers, we have enough politicians ... but, you know, nobody gets to be you except you, nobody has your point of view except you; nobody gets to bring to the world the things that you get to bring to the world uniquely ... except you. So saying there are enough writers out there, enough directors out there, enough people with points of view, well yeah there are, but, none of them are you. And none of ... those people is [sic] going to make the art that you will make, none of them will change people, and change the world, in the way that you could change it. So ... if you believe some who says 'No, no, we've got enough of those, then all it means is you're giving up your chance to change the world in the way that only you could change it.'
This might just be my love of Neil Gaiman and his work talking, but, this is one of the most inspiring things I've heard in a while. Yes, Mr Gaiman. You're right.

I have a few ideas for upcoming entries, but for now, thanks for reading everyone.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Contest Results, and One Month To Go

Hey readers,

So, let's start with the bad news, shall we? Unfortunately I didn't make the shortlist for the Fantasy Faction Anthology competition, which I spoke about here. It's okay, really. I was up against around 1700 entries, only 30 of which were picked for the shortlist (which will now be whittled down to a final six). 
The good thing is I chose the 'entry plus' option, which nets me a full critique of my story and writing style in general. So, onwards and upwards! When the critique arrives towards the end of this year, I can use it to redraft 'The Keeper of Tales' once again and start hunting for a market to submit it to. All part of being a writer.

Meanwhile, it's now around a month until my self-imposed deadline, by which I should have the first draft of 'Lucian' finished. I have around 25,000 words to go bringing me up to a total of around 110,000. This is a little on the long side for a Young Adult bracket debut novel, but that's what the redraft is for. I actually have a lot to talk about with regards to what's left to do, and how I'll go about doing it. For now, Angela Goff requested a little more information with regards to the plot, so let's start to that.

As I said in a previous entry, Lucian is about a seventeen year old boy called David Gardener living in the west of Ireland, who has since birth been able to see 'beyond the veil'. Any recently dead, any denizens of the other worlds, seem to flock to him like a beacon in the darkness. They haunt David no matter where he goes, and when he sees them they cause him pain so excruciating that he often collapses just from their presence. They are, in his belief, responsible for his life falling apart, the loss of any friends or jobs. As an orphan he has nobody to turn to, so David turns to suicide.

But he's pulled from the brink of suicide by the enigmatic Lucian Ducant, who seems to know all about what Lucian calls his gift. Not only that, but Lucian says that he knows where David comes from - a parallel Earth. Initially mistrustful of Lucian, David eventually gives the man the benefit of the doubt. If he follows Lucian he'll have answers - he'll know where he comes from, know why he was born with the ability to see the dead, perhaps even find his family. He might finally be accepted for what, for who, he is.

But what are Lucian's motives? Is he really helping David selflessly? Lucian is hiding something from him, this much he is certain of. The truth soon becomes apparent that Lucian was always meant to bring David back to that world; that David has a purpose, a destiny that is revealed to him over the course of the novel. Something dark just lurks beyond the veil, 'its hour come round at last'. David must learn to trust Lucian if he is to survive a destiny as cruel as it is hidden from him, against an enemy that cannot be easily defeated.

I'm unwilling to give much more of the plot away, so chew into that. There's more to it, of course; just what the enemy is, and its link to the history of that world and the changes that brought it so far from what is familiar to us; David's love interest, whose destiny is intrinsically linked with his. The novel was initially supposed to take place over the course of October, leading up to Samhain (the Pagan holiday, the origins of Halloween, when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and the dead, and other things, can more easily pass through), but over the course of writing it I've come to believe that a span of two weeks would be better. So, the final two weeks of October. Tis' the time of the year, after all...funny how things work out, isn't it?

This entry has probably gone on long enough. I have a lot more to talk about; next couple of entries will be about my trip to England (and how inspiring a certain city turned out to be) and, closer to November, 'NaNoWriMo' - National Novel Writing Month. Until then, thanks for reading folks. Let me know what you think of Lucian in the comments below, share on Facebook and Twitter if you have enjoyed, and keep reading. I honestly can't wait to finish - I've known the ending for a long time, so getting it down on paper will be an incredible feeling to say the least.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Five Years Ago

Dear readers,

So, it's been a while since I updated. I've been focused on writing, among other things, and as such not really had a lot to blog. There's only so many times you can update how things are going, after all, before this blog starts to become a little stale and repetitive ;)

However, I couldn't let today pass without noting something. As you may well know from my last entry, it was five years ago today that I wrote the first words of my novel, 'Lucian', when two ideas coalesced. These were;

1) A world where the so-called Occult Renaissance actually discovered some hidden knowledge
2) A vision of my main antagonists and the Yeats poem 'The Second Coming'.

Little did I know it would become be my first novel, or be this huge in scope.

In my last entry I hoped I would be finished by now. Sadly, I'm not. However, as of today I have 81,949 words; I originally estimated that the novel would be 90,000 at the end of its first draft, though now I'm thinking it'll be closer to 110,000. I'm finally getting closer to the denouement and the ending I have had in mind since the beginning. I'm over the writers block for the most part, and am just eager to get it finished!

Likewise, I spoke about Aurora (my FMC) and her insistence to have another scene, when she wasn't supposed to be in it for a little while. This actually turned out well - it's led to a whole storyline I didn't anticipate but has enriched the story to no end, and solved a few of the issues I was having with portraying certain changes to the world as everything approaches endgame.

My new deadline is mid-November. I plan to finish the first draft as part of National Novel Writing Month (I'll write an entry about this soon), then perhaps use the remaining time to begin my next novel (which I already have partly planned).

I promise I'll try to update again soon. I have a few ideas in mind, at least!

Thanks for reading, and happy writing.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Seed of the Story

Last week, at long last, I made some progress with my novel Lucian (or The Shadows at Sunrise, whichever I decide to call it). It had been on standstill for almost two years, a combination of plot trouble and a writer's block caused largely by my father's death.
When I sat down to write, I realised that sinking back into that world, of cobblestones and clockwork, to be easier than I had anticipated. Sure, the writing is a little haphazard through lack of practice, and I feel like I'm floundering to find my footing once again, but the world was still there, like nothing had happened. My characters were still waiting for me, still willing to say 'okay, here is what happens next', and all I had to do was put my fingers to the keys and let myself write.
Part of this is silencing my inner critic, that constant nagging voice that everything I write is terrible and that nobody will ever want to read it. This is, however, a first draft, and as Hemingway once said 'the first draft of everything is shit'. So, I have to let myself be shit, don't I? I have to allow for bad writing, for less than fully three dimensional characters, and just focus on the story.
Some of it came easier than other bits. One of my characters, having left the story only a chapter previously and who I had not planned on returning for a while, decided she wanted a viewpoint scene. This was fine by me, to a degree - I realised half way through my current draft that I needed more scenes from her point of view and that I would need to work on that in the second draft. So, I gave her a scene. She contemplated the events of the chapter previous and, as is in her nature to be strong-willed and stubborn, she told me that she wouldn't be kept out of the loop. She wanted back, she said, she had a part to play in the coming events and she wouldn't sit and let the other characters have all the fun.
For those fellow novelists reading this, you'll know how this feels. Those of you who don't write, this will sound strange to you. 'Has Matt gone crazy?' you may ask. 'Does he think his characters are real?'
Well, yes and no. I went crazy a long time ago. It's strange when a character does something unexpected, something unplanned, but they really do take on a life of their own sometimes. Aurora's decision to come back has thrown the next few chapters into a dark place which I have not considered. It adds a certain degree of conflict to the plot which is, of course, always good - she left following a fight with my MMC, David, when he told her that she was slowing him down in an effort to protect her. But what part will she play in the events that follow? What effect will her presence have?
This is entirely unplanned, but while it is worrying it's also exciting. I want to see what she does. I want to see what she's made of. So, I'll let her have her moment. I'll let her confront David and see what she says to him.
While I didn't write at the weekend (due to being away on a small holiday and not wanting to pack my laptop), I hope to launch back into things now. I set myself a 1st of October deadline, during which I need to get from 66,000 words to roughly 100,000. This is an immensely doable task. Even if I only write 400 words a day, I will reach my deadline with time to spare. On average, on a good day, I can write upwards of 1500-2000 words, so I might even reach my deadline long before then.

I hadn't planned for this entry to be so long, so if you're still reading, thank you. I have a bit of a treat for you, so please, go a little further. Late last night, a friend of mine said she was clearing out an old hard drive and found something I might be interested in. This was, it transpired, the very first thing I wrote of my novel.
A few entries ago I talked about how the story came to me - how a character appeared in my mind's eye and, as all good characters do, began to tell me their story. I had to listen. From that I began to write, just a few hundred words, which over the next few years morphed into something entirely different to how it began. My writing style here is, at the very least, nowhere near as strong as my writing is now. But this is what I wrote.
The flame flickered over the end of the cigarette, illuminating the man’s face for just a second, before he was plunged into near-darkness once more. The smoke rose and swirled about his darkened features, causing him to appear like a mirage across the dank and grimy table. He stared down the stick into the embers, twirling the cigarette around his fingers in an absent minded way. Then he began to speak.
‘What I am about to tell you is the truth. You can choose to believe me, or walk back out of that door.’ he said, pointing through the crowds of the pub to the heavy door at its entrance. ‘I don’t care either way.’
The man waited for an answer, but the solitary figure before him did not speak. He merely watched inquisitively, wondering if this stranger could be trusted. It seemed he chose to believe him, for he did not speak a word, nor did he leave. He simply took a swig of the pint in his hand, and let him continue. Almost instinctively, the smoking man continued.

‘It is said that many worlds exist outside this one; that we cannot see the boundaries and doorways that lead between and cross into ours. From time to time, however, we catch a momentary glimpse - a spectre of something that resides where we may not wander.’

His voice was calm, as though talking about the ordinary and the mundane. As he folded his arms and savoured another drag, he closed his heavy eyes for a moment longer than a blink.

‘Most live their lives without ever glimpsing this world, while some…’ he said, pausing to choose the words, ‘…some have to live with it all their lives. I am one of those people - the ones lucky enough to have to fight.’

As the light changed in the bar, the listening man caught a glimpse of his storyteller’s features. He was in his mid thirties, with ragged short hair and an unshaven mask of stubble. He seemed like he had been through battle, he thought, as darkness closed in once more.

‘The world outside ours isn’t like the fairytales’ he continued, ‘isn’t so peaceful and idyllic. Things reside in the Otherworld more terrible than your most terrible nightmares.’

For the first time, the second man spoke. He was younger than the first - clean shaven and with ashy blonde hair. When he spoke, he sounded inquisitive - almost childlike in his simplicity.

‘So they exist then? Faeries?’

The smoking man laughed. ‘Not in the way you think.’ he answered plainly, ‘Not in your storybook world. The beings that reside in that world - some are peaceful. Most are not. Most would not hesitate in devouring you alive, taking everything you own and then taking your very soul.’

The younger man was taken aback. He did not expect such a straight and bitter answer. Admittedly, the thought of faeries and goblins still made him think of the Brothers Grimm, of Hansel and Gretel and those cautionary children’s tales of the nineteenth century. But the idea that they could all be real? He had always passed it off as childhood fancies. These things could not exist - not in the real world, not in the rational world. But as this man insisted, they lay outside the rational world.

And yet, it was something he had always been fascinated with - something that he had researched in his spare time. He devoured book after book on the subject - accounts of meetings with the fair folk, of baby snatches and banshees. But until now - until tonight - it had only been an interest. Now, when this man had come to him, he was being forced to admit it was all true.

His attention turned back to the speaker. He was taking another drag from his cigarette, and taking the chance to speak, asked him a question that was troubling him.

‘Why are you telling me this’, knowing full well why. He pulled his bag closer to his waist, as though protecting it.

‘Because I have come to this pub every night for the past two weeks, and I have seen you in the same seat; reading the same books. “History of Folklore”, “The Court of Unseelie”, “The Revolt of the Faeries and the Elves”. All books which I, too, own.”

The younger man was taken back again. Had this man been following him? Had he been stalking him every night for the past fortnight? He was right, though - they were books which he had in his bag even now. Every night, he would come into this bar, choose a private cubicle, and read for hours. Normally, he would be left alone, but not tonight. Tonight, he had been approached.

Trying not to show his surprise, he took another sip from his pint and asked another question. ‘So what can I call you?’

The smoking man smiled, knowing he had really captured his audience’s interest now. ‘You may call me Lucian’ he said, holding out his hand to invite the same question.

‘David. David Singer’ he replied, extending a handshake but being met only with air; Lucian had already retracted his hand and laid it back on the table. David took his hand away feeling rejected, and took another swig of his pint.

‘Well, Mister Singer’ Lucian said, ‘I have more to tell you, if you wish to listen. I realise this may all come new to you, but you strike me as…interesting. The question is, are you capable to stomaching the things I will tell you?’

David blinked, uncomfortable of being put on the spot. He had only met this man, who had sat down across from him so suddenly and started telling him that faeries were real. For all he knew, he could be a raving lunatic who would take him into a dark alleyway and kill him. But yet, in that momentary glimpse he caught of the man’s features, he saw a sincerity that would only come from heartache. Heartache, and trouble. If this man was indeed mad, he certainly believed his own delusions with enthusiasm. Choosing to throw caution to the wind, he nodded.

‘Good’ Lucian said, without a hint of emotion. David wondered if he was smiling through the darkness, and hoped that if he was, it was not delight that he had found a new victim. ‘But here is not safe. We can meet somewhere more private, where I may properly tell you what I know.’

David’s heart skipped a worried beat, but as though Lucian had read his mind, he continued to speak. ‘It will not be devoid of people - you are at no personal risk, Mister Singer. Meet me in Botanic Gardens tomorrow morning at eleven. At the entrance.’

Without so much as another glance, Lucian got to his feet and edged out of the private box. His long coat billowed behind him, caught in the wind from the open door. The pub was emptying now, but the patrons left were eyeing him suspiciously. As he began to walk towards the door, though, David called after him.

‘Why me, Lucian?’

Lucian stopped in his tracks, turned around just a little, and replied. David could not properly see him, still. Just the wild ragged dark hair, the heavy eyes, and billowing coat.

‘Like I said’, he answered, ‘you interest me. Do not be late, Mister Singer, as I will not wait for you.’

With that, Lucian left the pub, leaving David alone with his books and the remainder of his pint.
Here, David is more wholly me than he would eventually become, partly because it was I that Lucian was talking to in my mind's eye, not David. Lucian also changed - he no longer smokes, and his personality here is more akin to how he will be at the end of the story. At this point in my current draft he has not suffered, not experienced the heartache I saw when I met him. He came to me from a point after the story's conclusion, a point where all had been said and done.
When I wrote this, I had no idea that I was writing the seed that would, inevitably, lead to my first novel. I had not yet studied my Yeats module at university, not yet made the link between the story's seed and the Occult Renaissance of the Late 19th Century. The filename itself shows this - 'Two Guys in a Bar - A New Thing'. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Last but not least is the time stamp on the file. I wrote this on 2nd of October 2007. My current deadline of 1st October is, unknowingly, almost 5 years from the day I first met Lucian and David, the day I first peeked into the world of cobbles and clockwork. Perhaps I should celebrate that day by, finally, reaching the end of this road I set out on so long ago.
This might just be my longest blog entry to date, so if you've come this far then, as always, thank you for reading. I hope this has been interesting for you.
Tell me, how did your novel come to you? What was the first thing you wrote? Sound off in the comments below, and I look forward to reading whatever you have to say =)

Until next time, dear readers. Keep writing.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Fantasy Faction Contest

Hey everyone,

Just a short update for now. I've just submitted my short story 'The Keeper of Tales' to the Fantasy Faction Anthology Competition. I'm immensely proud of the story (though I wouldn't be a writer if I didn't hate it a little as well), so I really hope I win.

The great part is, they have an 'entry plus' option. While the entry itself is free, for £7 you receive a full critique of your story by one of the judges, including what they liked, what they didn't, and what to work on as a writer. For the cost of a few cups of coffee this will be invaluable!

For those who don't know, 'The Keeper of Tales' is a fantasy/horror story taking place at the turn of the 1800s. Two brothers, both writers of children's folk tales, seek to bury the body of a woman in the haunted, snowy woods of Germany. But this is no ordinary body, and as we learn the identity of the brothers we come face to face with not only what caused them to commit this terrible crime, but what it means to be a storyteller.

Should I win, the story will be published in the upcoming Fantasy Faction Anthology, along with 5 other unknown writers and several known writers. As such there will be six winners all in all - all six winners will not only be published in the anthology but will receive a glass award to commemorate the achievement. The top three winners will also receive a cash prize.

First Place - $500
Second Place - £250
Third Place - $100

So, here's hoping. Do check out the website, feel free to enter, and as usual thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Guest Blogger: Miranda Boers, 'Be Inspired' Blog Hop

Hey all,

When I wrote my answers for the 'Be Inspired' Blog Hop a few days ago, I tagged the lovely Miranda Boers (@PurpleQueenNL on twitter). Unfortunately she doesn't have a blog at the moment, so I agreed to post her answers here. Do read them, her novel sounds great! So, without further ado...

'Be Inspired' Blog Hop

First, the rules:

1. Answer the ten questions
2. Tag five other writers, link to them in your post so we can hop over and see their answers too.

The Questions:

1. What is the name of your book:

Jade (working title, not come up with anything better yet – it the name of the MC’s nightclub in the book)

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

That’s a long winded one. As an early teenage I used to dream that I was a man, and it led me to thinking what my friends would think if they met me later in life and I was a man, so I would ask them! I also always wanted to own a nightclub – I was inspired by going to the Hippodrome in Leicester Square in London when I was 16 (and old theatre transformed into a nightclub), and with both those two idea, the fantasy grew of me being in my own nightclub, as a male, and some friends who knew me as a female came in one night, and I chatted with them, and they had no clue. Thus the book was born.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

I have been trying to categorise it, and found one called Realist Fiction, which is is in that it is set in the here and now, with what is possible today, although I tend to refer to it as a Suspense and Reveal story, which is very character based.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

Lead MC would be a Brad Pitt (in his early days) look alike maybe…but otherwise I don’t really know, and although the faces of my characters are very clear to me, and the whole thing plays like a movie in my mind, I have never actually thought of what actors today would suit them. I am not a big fan of movies from books I have read! Many Stephen King films have ruined the characters I had in my mind, so I tend not to watch them.

5. Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book:

Michael Nelson owns an exclusive nightclub in the centre of London, and is in love with his girlfriend Kate Turner, but has to tell her something that just might break them up, and ruin his business too.

6. Is your book already published/represented?

No, it’s not quite finished, and still deciding on what route.

7. How long did it take to write your book?

I started the book September 2010 – and I am hoping it will be only another month or so – so not quite 2 years.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

I am not sure; a friend that read it said it reminded him of Sidney Sheldon novels in terms of the setting. But really I have yet to really be able to place it. I haven’t read anything like it – well the suspense might come from my years of reading Stephen King, but that is about it.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

This book specifically – none. But inspired me to write? It has to be Stephen King, I also love James Herbert and Clive Barker, and Terry Pratchett and Raymond Fiest.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.
Michael Nelson loves his life as a nightclub owner, but loves his girlfriend more, and wants to marry her, but before he can do that he also has to tell her something about himself that might cause her to leave him, and if word gets out; destroy his reputation too.

He plans to tell her when they go to Australia together for work – he is setting up a new nightclub, while she is looking after clients.  But when he meets a work colleague of hers, who recognises him – although not completely, things get a little big difficult, and he is pushed to tell her sooner than planned. What will happen if he tells her work colleague who he really is, and that they were once lovers? And what will she do once she finds out?

And now – to tag five other bloggers (apologies if you've already been tagged):

Laura Huntly @LauraHuntley
Edward Fraser @EWFF88
Jessica Maybury @JessicaMaybury
Jonathan D Allen @crimnos
Michael Haynes @mohio73

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Napping Blogger Award (and a little fan love)

So, Angie Richmond of Write Me Happy nominated me for this little meme/award. The rules?

1) Link back to the person/blog that nominated you
2) Tell us what you do to make time you YOU. That might be a hobby, a musical break, a favourite show or movie, sitting outside etc.
3) Nominated 5 bloggers - especially those you think could use a break.
So, what do I do to make time for me? Away from writing? Honestly I've spent so long procrastinating from various projects that the list is as long as my arm - gaming, seeing friends, watching an unhealthy amount of TV. But through it all, one thing stands out as something that helps me to just relax, switch off, and simply be.
Those of you who know me best will know I've had a tough year. My main escape from this has been a greater focus on guitar. I might be a writer of fiction but a songwriter I am not, so don't think I sit and compose glorious melodies and lyrics that would make the angels weep. No, I'm more about covers.
Those of you who know me best will also know I have a mild obsession with one singer-songwriter in particular, by the name of Josh Ritter, going so far as to have a line of his lyrics on one of my tattoos. His lyrics are, simply put, incredible. He's been compared to greats like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and while other people may escape into a great book, I escape into Josh Ritter's songs of love and loss, of Americana and endless searching. He even released a novel last year, titled 'Bright's Passage', which is probably one of the best novels I've read in recent years. Over the past year I've learnt as many Josh Ritter songs as I can, specifically teaching myself to fingerpick.
I've embeded one of my favourite songs of his, the one I'm the most proud of being able to learn. When I'm playing and singing this, everything else just disappears. All I've been through this past year melts away, and for a few minutes I'm lost in the world he creates. This is one of many Josh Ritter songs I would recommend to people. I could spend hours interpreting and discussing his lyrics, as I have done with friends who are fans.
I realise I've rambled on for long enough - I guess that says it all. In short, when I want to relax and just make time for me, I pick up the guitar and I lose myself in whatever song comes to mind - oftentimes the first thing I play will be Josh Ritter. I hope, one day, to be able to write even a single line with the brilliance and genius of his. So many songwriters these days are unable to write lyrics the way they used to be written - lyrics that can be discussed and interpreted; songs which leave you breathless.
So, now to tag people - and apologies if you've already been tagged! As usual thanks for reading - sorry this was a long one.
Dreaming of Stories / @Afsaneh_Dreams
Catching Hummingbirds / @2CAHummingbird
Eilis Phillips / @EilisPhillips
Andrew Moore / @AGRMoore
Angela Goff / @Angela_Goff

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

'Be Inspired' Blog Hop

Hey folks,

Another meme, though this give me an opportunity to write a little about the current novel in progress. I was tagged by the lovely Angela Goff (@Angela_Goff on twitter). As usual thanks for reading, and even if I don't tag you please take part anyway!

First, the rules:

1. Answer the ten questions
2. Tag five other writers, link to them in your post so we can hop over and see their answers too.

The Questions:

1. What is the name of your book:

Lucian (working title, possibly being changed to 'The Shadows at Sunrise').

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

First, in my undergraduate degree I took a module entirely on Yeats. One of my favourite aspects of this module was studying Yeats' fascination with the Occult, and the so-called Occult Renaissance that took place at the end of the 19th Century. Societies like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society were so sure that they were about to discover something special, some hidden knowledge that would explain our place in the universe. I began to wonder, what if they did? What if we were contacted by some otherworldly force? The world of Lucian was born. Of course, since then the moment of contact in Lucian's world has been driven back by a few hundred years, but the seed was still in the Occult Renaissance of our world.

Secondly, and rather more simply, A man sat down in front of me in my mind's eye. He was a man who had seen things, a man who life had not been kind to. As with most writers this came completely out of the blue, but suddenly I was there, we were sitting in a dark bar, and he spoke to me. He said 'What I am about to tell you is true; you can choose to believe me, or you can walk out that door.' He motioned to the heavy door of the pub, cigarette still in hand, and took a draw. 'I don't care either way,' he finished, and I was hooked.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

Young Adult Urban Fantasy

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?  

I honestly have no idea. Unknowns would be good, simply because I don't want people looking at David, or Lucian, or any of my other characters and thinking 'oh hey, it's James Bond, and look there's the guy from Jumper'. Fresh faces are always good, so long as they can act. But why start thinking about this now? I have to finish the damn thing first.

5. Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book:

A teenage boy with the ability to see the dead is told that he is from a parallel Earth; taken there by the enigmatic Lucian, promised the truth about where he comes from, there are darker forces afoot that threaten not only Lucian's world, but all worlds.

6. Is your book already published/represented?

Not yet. I ran into some trouble with it, and it sat undisturbed for a while, but I believe I'm finally getting to a state where I can finish it. It's currently sitting at 66,000 words.

7. How long did it take to write your book?

Too long.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours? 

I'm honestly not sure. Readers of Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, even J.K. Rowling. It's tough to's dark at times, so I can only hope that readers of any upper band YA would likely enjoy it.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

Obviously W.B. Yeats is responsible for the seed of the story itself. Otherwise, as above, writers like Neil Gaiman who are able to weave fantastically real fantasy worlds that skirt the edges of our society, or J.K. Rowling for her ability to carve a grandiose epic from a beginning so small.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

I find it so hard to boil down the story to a single sentence, something which I know I will have to work on for query letters and suchlike. As such, here is a longer synopsis.

'Can anyone really change their destiny?

Seventeen year old David Gardener has always been able to see the spirits of the dead, and those nameless things that lurk just beyond the veil. He never knew his family, so when the enigmatic Lucian Ducant tells him he is from a parallel world, he doesn't know what to believe.

Desperate to discover where he comes from, clinging to the promise of answers, he joins Lucian in a world of cobbled streets and clockwork, where history took an entirely different turn and magic is fact. But something is stirring beyond the veil, and Lucian is not being entirely truthful with David. What of the strange dreams he is having, of the trenches and the dying, and the wall of mist so thick that it blocks out the sun? A terrible destiny awaits David, one which threatens not only the fate of the world he comes to think of as home, but the fate of every person in every world.'

And now – to tag five other bloggers (apologies if you've already been tagged):

Dreaming of Stories / @Afsaneh_Dreams
Catching Hummingbirds / @2CAHummingbird
Eilis Phillips / @EilisPhillips
Miranda Boers / @PurpleQueenNL
Angie Richmond / @write_me_happy

Friday, 8 June 2012

Five Sentence Fiction: Lost

It's Five Sentence Fiction time again! As usual, every week Lillie McFerrin posts a prompt on her blog (now moved to a new site). The goal? A flash fiction story, five sentences long, based on the prompt.

This one is a little formulaic, but I think it might work regardless. As usual, thanks for reading, and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

This Week's Prompt: Lost
(Photo taken by me - please do not use without permission)

It was starting to get dark; mist was rolling in from the reservoir, blurring the lines of trees and fallen logs and the slopes where, Sophie knew, she could easily fall and break her leg. As she stumbled on a mossy log she called out for them again, but she knew it would be fruitless; it had been hours since she had strayed from the path, and her parents were likely searching in completely the wrong direction.
Her eyes stung after the deluge of tears; another log, another stumble and she caught her balance on a huge tree, resting her back against it to try and let her despair subside. And there, almost hidden by a huge oak, was the smallest cabin; threadbare curtains hung on the windows, illuminated by the flickering candlelight within.
Her heart screamed that this was not right, that something seemed off, but she approached the cabin anyway; it was only when she got closer that she saw a hand let the threadbare curtain fall, and her voyeur’s shadow dart past the candlelight.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Five Sentence Fiction: Foggy

Time for another Five Sentence Fiction post. As usual, every week Lillie McFerrin posts a prompt. The objective? Write a five sentence long Flash Fiction story based off that prompt. It doesn't need to include the word, but just be the seed of the story.

My original idea for this prompt was different, but I couldn't get the idea to work. Perhaps I'll go back to it sometime, and write another story based off the idea. Perhaps it simply can't be told in five short sentences, and needs to be something a little longer. As usual, thanks for reading and hope you enjoy!

This Week's Prompt: Foggy

Despite the density of the fog I knew that something was wrong.

I should have been able to see movement in the cabin’s windows, a shadow pass as my wife laid the table and my son did his best to distract her, but not the porch swing nor the trees dared to move and not a single light shone from within.
I got out of the car, my heart beating so hard I thought it would burst out of my chest, my mind whirring through all the possibilities. As my foot touched the porch step I had almost convinced myself that, just maybe, Sheryl had simply fallen asleep; a short lived lie, and in retrospect my last moment of solace before my world was ripped apart.

My foot slipped on something wet and I had to grab onto the railing to keep from falling; I looked, my heart beating even harder; the porch, the doorframe, and the door itself were soaked in what could only be my family’s blood.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award

Hey all,
So, I've just been tagged in the 'Kreativ Blogger Award' by Lisa Shambrook (check out her blog...) so here goes...

The Rules:
1. Thank & link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the ten questions.
3. Share ten random facts/thoughts about yourself.
4. Nominate seven worthy blogs for the Kreative Blogger Award.

The Questions:
1. What's your favorite song?
This tends to change a lot, but Josh Ritter's "Wings" gives me chills every time.

2. What's your favorite dessert?
Cheesecake, every time. Honeycomb Cheesecake is incredible.

3. What ticks you off?
Disrespecting another's beliefs, opinion, or way of life. We are, each of us, entitled to our say, unless that way of life directly harms another person or yourself. That and racism.

4. What do you do when you're upset?
You'd expect a writer to say "write", correct? Surprisingly I can't write at all when I'm upset - instead, I play guitar. 

5. Which is your favorite pet?
I have two cats, Selene and Solstice, who I could not be without. I'd probably go crazy with loneliness without them. I'll never forget my last dog though, Shadow. He's dead a year and a half, and was my best friend for a decade. Rest in Peace, buddy.

6. Which do you prefer: black or white?
Would you like a literal or philosophical answer? Can black exist without white? Good without evil? If so, then I'll say black ;)

7. What is your biggest fear?
Losing those I care most about.

8. What is your attitude mostly?
I'm a worrier, unfortunately. I'm quiet, shy, can become quite introverted, and self-conscious, though online I'm almost a different person.

9. What is perfection?
A house by the sea, with two cats and someone who loves me. A few novels published, a comfortable amount of money in the bank, and for one person in the world to finish my novel and think ' life is never going to be the same again'. But does perfection exist? All we can hope for is to get as close to perfection as is possible, with minimal heartbreak along the way.

10. What is your guilty pleasure?
God, there's far too many to even list...

The Random Facts:

1. Beginning from when I was a kid, I've wanted to be everything from an archaeologist, an astronaut, a palaeontologist, a videogame journalist, a psychologist, a teacher, and a writer. I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.

2. I gave up the dream of archaeology because I was scared of ancient Egyptian curses (I was 6, to be fair...)

3. I live in Northern Ireland, which can be nice...sometimes. We have an 800 year old Norman Castle in our town, perfectly preserved.

4. I want, more than anything, to go north and see the Aurora Borealis with my own eyes.

5. I am quick to fear someone will let me down, but equally quick to give people second chances. I place a lot of faith in people sometimes.

6. I've been working on my novel, in some shape or form, for 4 years (from when the initial idea struck me). I have two other novel ideas waiting in the wings.

7. I was vegetarian for ten years until last summer. Since then, I've been trying any kind of meat I can get my hands on. My favourite so far is either Kangaroo or Venison...

8. I struggle to write, a lot, and have little faith in my own writing ability. When someone gives me positive feedback I often disregard it, thinking they are just being nice, and I find it far easier to accept criticism.

9. My favourite movie is still The Shawshank Redemption. Can't get much better than Shawshank.

10. If I was going to change my name to anything, it would be Alexander. I don't know why. 

The Nominations:

No idea if these bloggers have already participated, but here you go! - @angela_goff - @awkwardoptimist - @jean_elaine - @lilliemcferrin - @2CAHummingbird - @AGRMoore - @write_me_happy

Saturday, 12 May 2012

One Year Ago

(Photo taken in 2008, at my Bachelor's Degree graduation)

One year ago today, at 6:52am, my dad left this world after a short battle with cancer. My mum was by his side as he took his last breath, while I never had the chance to say goodbye.
For many reasons this has been the hardest year of my life, so I want to say, while I have the chance, how much I value each and every one of you who have stood by me during this time. Life is short, and it can end so suddenly. So if you love someone, tell them. If you need someone, tell them. Don't waste time. Don't have regrets. We have once chance at this.

I love you Dad, and I miss you more than anything.

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Delayed Update

So, unfortunately it's been a month since I updated - the result of a lot going on in the world of Matt, but not a lot going on in the world of writing. If you're reading this and wondering where I've been, I'm sorry.
Chiefly, tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my father's death, a date which has overshadowed most of the last few months. Suffice to say, I'm dreading it.
As a result of this, though I would be naive to think this was the only cause, I've barely written this past month. A few flash pieces here and there, though nothing substantial enough to think it could spark a longer story (and not anything that is worth posting here).
I've been preparing The Keeper of Tales on and off for the past month, having a few people read the (almost) final version, with my sights firmly placed on a competition hosted by Fantasy Faction for their upcoming anthology. First Prize is $500, but I'd be happy with simply having my work published in the anthology. The competition seems to be a bit of a career maker, with the winning entries being published alongside several renowned authors. I'd be a fool not to submit, and The Keeper of Tales seems a perfect fit.
Apart from this? A little planning for The Shadow of Death, and a lot of sitting around considering what to do with my novel-in-progress, Lucian (Working Title). This is the big one, and it needs finished. Fast. Before I go insane and set fire to the manuscript.
Before we wrap up, I'd just like to take a moment to plug Eschatology Journal, which I was previously published in. They really are a great journal, specialising in apocalyptic fiction, and are great for aspiring writers to get their work out there. They're currently looking for donations, and I'm happy to say I donated what I could. If even half their readers donated $1, they could raise their payscale from Token Payment to Semi-Professional, so every penny donated goes back to the writers they publish. Just click 'become a patron' if you are interested. I want to see this, and all literary journals, succeed.
I have a few ideas for upcoming entries, so hopefully I'll get them written hard and fast. Aside from this, any writing games, competitions, or updates on my many works in progress will be posted here!

Thanks for reading folks. As usual, any suggestions for blog entries are very appreciated.

Happy writing!


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Five Sentence Fiction: Armour

First time doing this - Every week, Lillie McFerrin posts a theme on her blog for a FSF challenge. Decided, at last, to give it a go!

This week's theme - Armour.

(Yes, I'm British, so I spell it with a U)

She donned the armour in silence, as best as she could considering she would have to manage on her own. First the leather hide, that part was easy; then plate metal, rubbed in goose fat for lubrication and insulation, for in the North Lands the cold could freeze your bones with just a whip of the wind.
She found that she could move easier than expected, and the magic of the armour changed its shape to accommodate her smaller physique, but as it twisted to the contours of her breasts the hole over her heart remained. The armour could not knit this back together, for the sword that had pierced it had been spelled with dark magic, with runes to degrade and destroy.
Cloaked now in the armour her father had died in, she took up his sword; tonight, her father would be avenged.