Quickie update as I haven't posted for a while. I don't know whether anybody actually reads these posts, but last month's stats shot up to over 2,500 views, which is something of a record for me as I generally get about 1,000 hits a month. I'm not that interesting...
So the new book will be called Calling the Tune and will complete (oh, yes it will) Michael's story. It will hopefully tie up a few loose ends, introduce at least one new character and provide a resolution to events that have happened. There'll be a blog post over at Authors Electric on 6th July (my monthly day to post) which will talk about book titles and how they work for me.
Just over halfway through writing. I have a couple of beta readers, I hope (haven't asked one of them yet) and with any luck it will be out in e-book and paperback before the end of the year, depending on how long edits take. I've also just approached my designer about a cover.
I may even post a few more extracts. Watch this space ...
Moulton Crow Fair!
Friday, 14 June 2013
Thursday, 30 May 2013
An anthology of twenty-five crime, thriller mystery and suspense stories from twenty-three authors, including Booker prize nominated Jim Williams. All profits to Booktrust.org.uk.
Authors: Jim Williams, Mike Berlin, Kim Fleet, Eric Tomlinson, Grace Fallon, Eileen Condon, Dennis Thompson, Gerry McCullough, Debbie Bennett, John Holland, Judy Binning, Pat Griffin, JJ Toner, Harriet Steel, Anthony Farmer, Tom Rhoyd, Maura Barrett, Kathy Dunne, Diana Collins, Damon King, Janet Wadsworth, Mike Berlin, Stewart Lowe, Ruby Barnes
Published 30th May 2013
Kindle ISBN 9781908943262
ePub ISBN 9781908943279
print ISBN 9781908943286
What's the significance of the title? My story in this anthology is called The Leaving of Liverpool
Friday, 17 May 2013
Reeltime Pictures are pleased to announce a new drama production for release on DVD to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.
White Witch of Devil’s End is a spin-off from the highly regarded Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story The Daemons and will star Damaris Hayman reprising her role as Miss Hawthorne.
Miss Hawthorne was my all-time favourite role and I was enchanted by the thought of being her again for a little while.”
“I was amazed and delighted that, as an octogenarian, Damaris was prepared to take this on,” says Keith. “We had recently recorded an interview with her for our Myth Makers series profiling actors who had appeared in Doctor Who and I already knew she still had a hunger to act. But I really didn’t expect her to be so keen.”
Although eager to take the project on, Damaris knew she had to pace herself, so in an innovative move, director Anastasia Stylianou decided to film the drama in a “talking head” style – adding dramatic cutaway material to bring Damaris’s words to life!
Says Anastasia; “I knew it would be a challenge. We needed to film a 50 minute drama at least, so I decided to make an asset out of a limitation.”
Primary filming has already taken place at a cottage near Damaris’s home. The crew collected and returned Damaris each day – allowing her to return home each evening to recover and study the next day’s script!
“We used autocue to help Damaris,” says Keith. “It was an impossible task for any actor to learn so much dialogue. Damaris was a true professional and took to it instantly.”
With a planned release date of 31st October, which is appropriately also Halloween, Anastasia hopes to have the project completed for the 50th anniversary celebrations. “It’s just getting all the dramatic cutaway material ‘in the can’ that is crucial. The drama is really an anthology – a set of connecting stories about Olive’s life told, as it were, in her own words.”
When considering who to approach to write these stories which would exist within an overall theme, Keith immediately thought to contact old friend David J Howe at Telos Publishing. “I thought it would be fantastic to ask individual writers knowledgeable in the occult and magic to write each story and David, through Telos, knew so many of the best young talent in the country.”
“I was delighted when Keith got in touch,” says David Howe, “and immediately started to think of who might be a good fit for the project. Along with my partner, the award-winning author Sam Stone, we contacted several authors who we felt would be sympathetic to the material and were pleased to get them all on board for the project.”
“I took on the task of outlining the whole story,” says Sam Stone, “and then asked the writers to come up with ideas which fitted that framework. We needed to tell stories at different points in Olive Hawthorne’s life, and the writers rose to the challenge and delivered scripts which exceeded all my expectations. I then worked with them to refine the scripts into the completed screenplay.”
The writers involved in the project are, as well as David J Howe and Sam Stone, Raven Dane, Debbie Bennett, Jan Edwards and Suzanne J Barbieri, with a final script-polish from Big Finish writer Matt Fitton. All have brought a unique perspective on Olive’s life, and the end result is an anthology of tales which will surprise, entertain and hopefully move the viewer.
Does Damaris have any regrets about throwing herself into such a big commitment? “Definitely not! I was enchanted to work with Anastasia and Keith again, who are great friends anyway. After a lot of working together consulting over the scripts, I’d subsequently never enjoyed filming more - and I can’t wait now to see the final result.”
PROVISIONAL RELEASE DATE: 31/10/2013
PRE-ORDER FROM: Galaxy4: www.galaxy4.co.uk/product.thtml?id=3556&vts=geBkAgQ
Friday, 10 May 2013
The attached link is a podcast of a council planning meeting - round two which was adjourned from its first incarnation in April. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of listening to me rant on facebook or talked to me in the pub or around the village, this concerns a battle that has been raging for 9 months or so now - ever since a few people were spotted mooching around a field behind our village last summer...
So Richborough "buys up" 20 acres of green field site on the edge of our village, pending planning permission to build 148 houses. A greenfield site, protected by all sorts of laws and policies - or so we thought. Mr Cameron himself protects us - Hands Off Our Land: Housing estates will not be 'plonked' next to villages, he tells us in the Telegraph in 2012. This is an estate that will be accessible only through one small cul-de-sac off an existing small estate, in a small village that has one co-op, two pubs, a post office, chip shop and tiny Victorian primary school, which is full. There are already village kids who can't get primary school places and neighbouring primary schools are also full.
Moulton is one of a handful of villages in the country with only one road in and out. Main Road is a dead-end. The Victorian layout and sharp corners make it difficult and dangerous for buses and delivery lorries which frequently mount the pavement to get by.
Now nobody is against development per-se. But it needs to be sustainable. This proposal would increase the size of the village by 15%. There's nothing in this application that benefits our village at all - even the people who buy these new houses will lose out (they'll be living on land that floods regularly, on an estate with one narrow way in and out, in a village where the nearest "service centre" for doctors, dentists, etc is a couple of miles away, with a school that has no places). In fact the only beneficiaries appear to be Richborough Estates who would have a parcel of land with a much higher value on it if it had planning permission attached. But hey, that's what all these planning policies are for, surely? To protect our precious environment. To ensure that things are fair, that they work, that everybody is happy?
No. Apparently not.
The school is full. Site constraints make it near-impossible to expand. No problem. The developers bung some money at the council and that's sorted. Where do the kids actually go to school, then? Doesn't matter - it's not relevant and not a reason to refuse a planning application. The road infrastructure won't support more traffic. No problem. The developers bung some money at the council and that's sorted. There's insufficient play facilities to meet current requirements for play space for children. No problem. The developers bung some money at the council and that's sorted. But there is nowhere else to build a new play area (because they built houses on the last one...). Doesn't matter - it's not relevant and not a reason to refuse a planning application.
Are you starting to see a pattern here?
To consider a planning application, various bodies have to submit reports. Education department, highways department, etc etc. Most of the reports seem to be desk assessments based on information submitted by the applicant. Hmmm - spot the bias there? As it happened, the education people didn't get their reports done in time which is why the first planning application was deferred to the recent meeting a few days ago.
And at the recent meeting, the helpful council advisors advise the planning committee that they have no grounds to refuse the application, that all the policies to protect us bear no weight against the apparent "need" for more housing in the area. There are huge developments going on in a ten mile radius - who is buying all these houses? There are houses for sale in the village now - from terraces to four-bedroom detached houses - and I don't see a queue of people fighting to buy them. There are many brownfield sites locally that would benefit from redevelopment - but that costs more money, doesn't it? Not quite as attractive a proposition as a nice green field...
Fortunately our committee see sense and reject the application. And our ever-helpful legal team advise them that they have no grounds, that when it goes to appeal they will personally have to give evidence to back-up their vote, that they will cost the council huge sums of money in legal costs. Yes, it's down to money again, isn't it? Money versus integrity.
Thank God for integrity. Despite the bullying tactics, the vote had been cast and was irrevocable. Our councillors vowed to stand-up for their beliefs. And the battle was won. With one of the biggest cases the council had ever seen - in terms of numbers of objections raised - we now have to go and fight the rest of the war at the inevitable appeal.
But it all makes you wonder, doesn't it? Cameron says one thing, local councils do another. Plans and policies change so fast, nobody can keep up and the greedy developers latch on to the confusion and stick their applications in. But where will we be in 20 years time when we've destroyed our countryside to line the pockets of people who don't give a shit?
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
This is a school photo from summer 1976 (old secondary school 1st year = new year 7, except in my day it was UIII alpha). I was twelve, I guess. Which one am I?* I'll tell you at the end ...
Why am I posting this? Because over recent months, the past seems to be hitting me from all sides. On facebook recently, there's been a group set up for my old school and it's been fascinating poring over old pictures that I've never seen before. Who knew that there were air-raid shelters under the garden? Apparently everybody else did but I don't remember it at all. There are even photos from the 1950s and 1960s. Is it strange that my memory focusses in more on the strange man caught in the girls' cloakroom one summer's afternoon?
School-days weren't the best days of my life. I was quite bright as a kid and won a scholarship to a private school. In retrospect, it wasn't the best move I ever made - I suspect I'd have been far happier at the grammar school with my primary school friends, but there you go. What's odd though is that while I've made contact with quite a few people I knew from school, virtually none of my actual peer group has made an appearance - the girls I was closest to, who I partied with and socialised with out of school. I'd love to know where they are now and what they are doing.
And there are other people I've caught up with lately. People from university days; friends and boyfriends - people who haven't changed in my mind since the last day I saw or spoke to them and are now older (and probably greyer like me), with families and lives. It's fascinating to catch up with them again, and scary as I realise how much we all change and grow older.
At what point in life do you start looking backwards more often than you look forwards? Is that turning point the moment when you become "old"? I'll be fifty next year and that seems like a milestone of sorts. I don't feel old and people tell me I don't look my age. But there comes a point in your life when you realise that there are things you'll never do - from a world of possibilities as a teenager, I now know I'm never going to be an astronaut, become prime minister or marry into royalty. I'll never be a dancer on Top of The Pops or be a famous scientist/engineer/whatever. Not that I necessarily wanted any of those things, but they were possibilities that no longer exist for me.
That all sounds sad and yet it isn't at all. The world narrows as you grow up and yet it's also richer - where would I be without my wonderful husband and utterly gorgeously talented sixteen year-old daughter? It's something I tell her constantly - that you can be whoever you want to be and achieve anything,so long as you are prepared to work hard for it. There are still things to dream of, things to aim for - in my life and hers.
* I'm the one in the yellow dress. Even then, I liked to be different...
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
“I don’t believe this.” Michael looked as if he was about to stamp his foot. “Are you screwing him?”
Amanda's hand shook for a fraction of a second and she put the mug of tea down. “I really don’t think that’s any of your business, Michael.” She was clearly several years older than Michael, and Becky wondered what the dynamic was here. She didn’t look his type at all and yet she was nervous and in some way needed his understanding, if not actual approval.
It didn’t look like she was going to get either. “Do you still not understand?” He was practically yelling at her now. “He’s part of the problem.”
Becky stepped between them. “Hey, Michael - calm down.” She wondered where the man had gone. Who is this guy?
But Michael’s attention was focussed entirely on the woman in front of him. “He worked with Mal Pearson. You know – the psycho nut-job who tried to rape you?”
“That’s not fair.” Amanda took a step backwards.
“Well how about the fact that he worked with Eddie? He still works for Carl. Did none of it matter to you? What I did for you, to try to keep you out of this?”
Becky grabbed both his wrists. She didn’t think he was violent but she’d seen this before, this simmering rage. Danny was like this sometimes when the world didn’t live up to his expectations. “Michael. Stop it. Now.” She held his arms tightly, pulling them down to his sides. “Look at me. Focus.”
Amanda had tears in her eyes. “Of course it mattered,” she said softly, “but—”
“No,” Becky interrupted. “I have no idea what you’re both talking about, but you’re not going to get any sense out of him right now. Leave it.” She steered him across to the window. “Focus, Michael. What can you see outside?”
“What?” He shook his head, trying to pull away but she wouldn’t let him.
“What can you see outside? Describe it.”
“Anywhere. Just talk.” Behind her she heard Amanda slip out of the room.
“What colours are the doors?” Come on, Michael. Work with me here.
“Who cares what—”
“Tell me.” She was still holding his wrists tightly.
“They’re not all green, are they?”
“Blue, I guess. And a brown one at the end.” His voice lost some of the anger. “OK, I’m good. You can let go of me now.”
“Yes. I promise to behave.” There was a tiny note of humour in there.
Becky let his wrists go and he turned around, sitting down on the window ledge. He pulled the elastic from his hair and combed it with his fingers absently, like it was some kind of security blanket. Way past fucked-up.
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
Me – I fly by the seat of my pants. I really do have no clue of where things are heading until they get there. I find things out as and when my characters do. And sometimes I have to think my way around an idea for quite some time, pass it from hand to hand and look for the opening.
So it is with this latest novel. The third of the trilogy that will bring Michael’s story to a conclusion. It wasn't something I was planning to write at all, but people who have read Hamelin's Child and Paying The Piper have said they want to know what happens to Michael and whether he makes any sense out of his life. Well, I don’t do walking-off-into-the-sunset style happy endings, but I do have some Ideas.
So, since this appears to be a crowd-sourced novel, let’s start with a title. Following the theme so far, I was thinking of something along the lines of Calling The Tune. Or A Different Tune. Any other ideas or suggestions would be most welcome…
The funny thing is, I was mulling over the first 8,000 words so far and trying to think who or what Michael is going to be fighting against this time around. I can’t just rehash the same old story – that’s cheating and I don’t write like that. So it has to be something new, something relevant, something that ties in the unanswered questions from the first two books (Who exactly is Jackson working for? Who wants Michael so badly and why?). And then in the opening chapter of this 3rd book, Michael sees Eddie across the courtroom and Eddie smiles at him and I’m wondering what it is exactly that he knows. And I’m remembering a throwaway comment from Hamelin and only now realising its significance. Isn’t the subconscious a wonderful thing?
Here’s a draft snippet from the scene…
And there he was. Eddie. The first time he’d seen him since the day the drug squad had busted through the door in the flat over a year ago, when he’d woken up with Lee to a room full of police. More than a year fell away in seconds and he just couldn’t tear his eyes away. The man looked no different – still the same blond hair and a smug expression on his face as if he knew exactly how all this was going to play out.
Somebody coughed. The spell broke and he glanced around the courtroom. His dad was in the back of the gallery with his sister Kate. Twelve jurors stared at him like he was some kind of museum exhibit and even the judge was watching him.
You can do this, Redford. You can. He was not going to let them win. He looked back at Eddie. The man met his eyes and smiled.