Thursday, 20 August 2015

Rat Run

And the muse awakens. Scribbling (OK, typing) madly these past few days as my fingers can't keep up with my brain. This is what I just love about writing - when it all comes together and I feel like I have a foot in each of two different worlds, when I'm living and dreaming the book, when I'm literally scribbling with a pen on odd bits of paper at home, in the car, at work and trying to keep up with my imagination. When you get that little frisson of excitement on reading something back that you don't actually remember writing because it happened so fast ...

So I thought I'd better get me a cover, since I'm really not that far off finishing now. What do you reckon? Same model again as I have on all my Rat books - but since this one starts out in Liverpool, I've got a little Liver Bird in too! Should be out by Christmas, if not earlier, but depends on how long the editing takes!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

I'm stalling on my latest book. Rat Run is the third in the trilogy which is Lenny's story - Lenny Dixon being the bad-boy we were introduced to in the first trilogy. I was fascinated by him and wanted to explore him further to find out what makes him tick. It's been a bumpy ride with several surprises along the way, but the end of this story will be the right time to say goodbye. And I'm sad. This isn't fantasy, and I'm not leaving a world behind, but I'm leaving my world - my little fictional bubble I created over 20 years ago when I first heard Michael's story in my head.

Will I go back again? I don't know. Whilst I've written series books, they're not police procedurals and there's no cop with a different case to solve in each book. I enjoy reading them, but that's not how I write. And I refuse to churn out rehashed plots over and over again, so this really is likely to be the last visit I make to this world.

It's funny how we get to know characters as real people, isn't it? Both writing and reading - the people come alive in a good story and you start wondering where they go and what they do when they wander off the page. Or am I just weird?

So nearly 30,000 words into this latest book and I think I've got a plot now. I hope. I just have to talk myself into finishing it. Saying goodbye is hard and I wonder if that's why my subconscious is playing all sorts of games with me and refusing to co-operate.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

A Plot is not Just to Grow Potatoes

Am I too old for this social media lark? Being slightly the wrong side of 50, I’ve always been transparent and open in who I am. Maybe that’s na├»ve in the new online world, where things last forever and once said, can never be unsaid this side of the (zombie) apocalypse.

I’ve always been me online. My accounts are always as near to my name as I can get, and I don’t hide behind pen-names or aliases. I can understand why people do, but I’ve never felt the need until now.

Read more ...

Friday, 29 May 2015

A Good Face For Radio?

I'm involved in a community radio play project. Littlewich Ways Productions is an idea from a member of our village drama group. Many actors can't commit to line-learning and/or rehearsals; some older members are no longer comfortable on stage and newer members may lack the confidence.

So Littlewich Ways was born. Think The Archers and you'll be on the right track - only our characters are funnier. Life in small Cheshire village peppered with black comedy and exploring human relationships in a series of short radio plays. Actors come from the community itself. Some are members of the drama group; others are not, but we're all having fun being creative!

A small script-writing team (of which I am a member) meets each week in the local pub, where we come up with new and interesting ways to torture our characters. We also read and review each others' scripts and provide feedback and support.

I've not done much scriptwriting. I tried my hand at writing the screenplay for my novel Hamelin's Child. It's not easy. I'm not a 'visual' writer - I prefer to get into people's heads and find out what makes them tick. Up close and personal, I have a lot of thoughts on the page of a book, which doesn't translate to the medium of film. It was an interesting exercise and I learned a lot, but I think I'll wait and maybe one day the amazingly-talented Jimmy McGovern will write the screenplay of my books!

I also wrote an episode of White Witch - a Dr Who spin-off drama narrated by actress Damaris Hayman (and available to buy on DVD at Galaxy 4). So far that's my only professional credit, so I'm still learning!

But radio scripts are a whole different ballgame again. It took us several episodes to realise that radio scripts have to be just a little over-the-top, exaggerated, hammed-up even. You only have one of the five senses to engage. Start a scene and how do you know who is talking? Giving every character a different accent would get tiring to listen to after a while, so you have to name-drop in the first few lines so that the listener can get an immediate grasp on who is there. Similarly sound-effects become much more important - you can't 'hear' a sunny outdoor scene, so you have to convey it in birdsong, children playing, wind, the occasional car, the non-echo of a voice spoken outdoors.

We're in the local paper and appearing at Northwich Literary Festival next week on Tuesday 9th June where we'll be talking about Littlewich and its inhabitants and what we've got lined-up next for them.....

Monday, 27 April 2015


This evening's writing challenge - the green suitcase. 10 minutes. Go.

Nightwalkers. Always the nightwalkers.

I wait in the shadows for the right moment. When the cloud cover is absolute, when the Watch Guard are bored enough – cold enough – to light up cigarettes, their heads close together as they compare conquests, body-counts – whatever passes for kudos these days in the Guard.

But there are still the nightwalkers.

It’s impossible to hide from them completely. They see. They see everything. The spill-out from the ale-houses, the gamblers staking their world on the turn of a card. And me with my ratty bag, my battered green suitcase and the parrot on my shoulder; Charlie knows to keep quiet – I’ve trained him well.

It isn’t like they said it would be at all.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Book Sale!

For anyone who's not read my crime books, I'm currently offering the first in the series for 99c/99p for a limited period on Amazon. Hamelin's Child was long-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger Award and is a dark and gritty read that's not for the faint-hearted!


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Clean Reader? F**k off!

Clean Reader. Sounds like something you could wipe the screen of your kindle with, doesn't it? Some kind of wet rag to get of the dirt, the greasy fingermarks - the general grubbiness?

Well that's exactly what it is. Except it goes a level deeper and wipes out the actual words. Yes - that's right. Clean Reader changes the words of the ebook you are reading.

Apparently some readers don't like swear words. Or descriptions of sex, or certain body parts. Or even words like bitch. So Clean Reader replaces them with alternatives - what it considers to be a suitable replacement.

God help us all. Allegedly bitch becomes witch (sorry, pagans), damn becomes darn, all references to sexual body parts become bottom (making sex scenes ... erm ... interesting, if anatomically difficult) and so on.

Now this is a free app. It sits over the top of any ebooks downloaded and does not change the content of the actual book. Therefore it doesn't break any copyright and is legal. But that doesn't make it right! What kind of message does this send out to our children? That using the correct words to describe parts of our body is somehow dirty and wrong? That sex is dirty and wrong and should be covered up with nice clean words? Surely kids shouldn't be reading these books anyway, and adults are old enough to either read this book - or if it's not to their taste, then put it down and read another?

Author Joanne Harris sums it all up rather well here. And there are further posts on her blog containing emails sent to the company expressing her concerns - and the replies she received.

My books contain sex. And swearing. And violence. Because I wrote them that way. I chose my words carefully - I'm a writer and that's what I do. Sticking a filter over the top is going to make my writing at best comical, and at worst totally unintelligible. I don't want that. I don't want any app to do that without my permission, whether the actual ebook itself is unchanged or not. It's simple really - if you don't want to read what I write, the way I wrote it, then don't read my books. How hard is that?