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It’s Right Windy!

This week the weather on the Hebridean island where I reside has been, as a guest at my wedding once commented, right windy. We’ve seen the power of nature once again up close as causeways were closed, and roads and streets flooded. Thankfully everyone seems to have stayed safe.


Living with the more extreme weather up here becomes part of life. I belong to an archery club who, if we shot outdoors at this time of year, would have to shoot sideways to let the arrow return to the target. We cancel meetings when the conditions look rough and non-essential travel is not advised.

Here’s a few youtube clips to give you a flavour.


I’m currently writing my second Highland & Islands Detective novel and the extremities of the weather are going to feature quite heavily. We’re on the Black Isle this time but with winter comes snow, sometimes in a mere dusting, other times in large dollops. The changing features of the season and the frustrations it causes make writing about the landscapes of northern Scotland fascinating. Linking them to the problems suffered by my two detectives helps bring a realism to the stories and gets past the simple picture perfect beaches and moors the brochures sometimes show.


Whilst I stretch the detail of how people misbehave in the Highlands, I never feel the need to “big up” the weather and its impact. For a writer, the elements and how they deal with the landscape and us mere humans give a tapestry to write against that is second to none. From water to land, snow to rain, wind to sun exposure, it all happens here in one of the most dynamic weather patterns there is. They say up here, if you don’t like the weather just wait an hour. And they’re right!


Change is always rife with the Highland weather and that means challenge, picking your time for whatever jobs you have and taking the moment when it comes. No wonder it paints a great scenery to write a story over.

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Waiting on a Dust Jacket

The Proofcopy of my last Hardback, Dagon’s Revenge

The song says the waiting is the hardest part and it’s a truth that is too easy to dismiss. I’m currently expecting my proof copy of a hardback of “Darkness on a Foreign Shore”, my first role-play book. I ran a Kickstarter for that project and we were vey successful. I’m keen to give out the pledges my backers signed up for but I am waiting to see how the interior artwork looks before getting all the books ready to post and letting the finished product go on sale.


Christmas is a funny time for books as hardback sales go nuts and eBooks can often take a wee hit. I haven’t written anything particularly seasonal yet and so I am not in a mad push for a specific book other than getting behind “Water’s Edge”, my just released Hebridean detective thriller novel. And so I’m in a kind of limbo where I carry on with the daily write (a pandemic novel by Dictaphone and the follow up to Water’s Edge on the tablet) as well as other projects. But my eye is on the post.


You see the first time you hold a finished book in your hand is quite special. There’s a sense of completion, a little pride and a general satisfaction before the inevitable draw of breath as you launch into the marketing. There’s also that feeling of the start or continuation of something, depending on whether it’s the first or later book in a series. And unlike an eBook it’s tangible, the feel of the paper, the book in your hands, flicking through pages and placing the copy on the shelf.


This time I’m waiting on a dust jacketed hardcover which is a first for me. I did produce hardcovers before but they were hardboard, the last being Dagon’s Revenge. This time it’s something new and there’s more than a few butterflies flying around my stomach. But as I wait, I’ll keep writing, keep plodding on, for there’s nothing else I can do but pass the hours until the book arrives. Kids are lucky, at least you know the night Santa comes!

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My First Detective Thriller

One of the joys of living in a place for a long period of time is that you get to see it in its fullness, good and bad, different and passionate. Couple this with a desire to write a different genre of fiction than I previously had and you begin to understand the genesis of my new novel “Water’s Edge”. But little did I know where the writing process would take me.


I live on a conservative island where changes that cut against both traditional and religious views can dominate the debate. Yes, there are extremes in this, but there is also a vast number of people who simply want to get on with life and learn how to get by with everyday necessities. But often the extremes of the argument do not allow this to happen. And it was this effect that was to dominate my main character.


Seoras Macleod, born and raised on the Isle of Lewis returns after a long time away, forced by his job to make a return to the scene of the worst moment of his life. The death of his wife years before has dominated his personality, and left in him a conflict with his God and his view of life. Through the resultant clash, I was able to throw the newer way of seeing things against the older conservatism and hopefully find the good and bad in both.


In societies the unspoken, lying beneath the veneer of normal life, shows where things are really at and I use the murder of a young woman to drive my detectives through this layer, exposing the lies beneath. This caused my murder mystery to become more of a thriller, events becoming less of a conundrum and more an act of social discovery. But still some have said they didn’t see the perpetrator coming.


Ultimately the book explores how wholly different characters can find support in extreme circumstances to drive through their mission when the house of cards around them starts to kick when toppled.


“Water’s Edge” my first Highlands and Islands detective thriller is available in paperback right now in my own store, or at Amazon (UK / US / AUS / CAN). If the eBook is your preference then you can pre-order here until the 1st Dec 2019 when it goes on full release. Check the 3 chapter sample out here. And let me know what you think. Book 2 is underway because all things come to the surface eventually.

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A Change will do you Good!

One of the ruts to fall into with writing is to simply write the same thing over and over again. I’m not talking about when you have a good series and you need to keep churning out the books for the readers who are keen to read more and more. Rather, when times get tough and you stay put on your favourite genre and keep doing the same thing. Terry Pratchett spoke of reading other genres to keep the writing of your own material fresh and I think it’s productive and refreshing to try another type of writing, even if your love for a particular genre still burns strong.

The book purchased from Jonathan Green


I used to love the Fighting Fantasy books back in the eighties and I was lucky enough at the UK Games Expo, to meet a man named Jonathan Green, author and one of the biggest names behind that type of book. I bought a copy of his latest book, based on the wizard of Oz, and as much as I enjoyed playing it, it actually got me thinking, maybe I could write this kind of book

If you’re not familiar, these books allow you to make different choices in the story and this directly affects your hero journey. Decisions come back to haunt you and often there are a number of endings. They also tend to be highly varied in topic, from fantasy adventures to star ship captains, ninja warriors to explorers and wild west cowboys.

Cover art for the new novel by J Caleb Clarke


I decided to write a spy story but based in the second world war when many female spies were sent by the allies to France. It’s a classic set-up as you make decisions that could cost you your life, based on scanty information and guesswork.


And so I set about mapping out the adventure, writing the paragraphs for each option and winding various paths back into each other, desperately trying to hold the whole thing together. I don’t need to tell you, it was a lot of fun, a lot of work and an education in seeing things from all angles.

The cover for the book


Now I have a first book in what will hopefully become a series of books, suitable for teens and young adults but perfectly enjoyable for any age above. Testing so far seems good, not just in the number of errors but in the enthusiastic responses of the players.


In order to fund the book I have also begun a kickstarter, a place where fans and interested parties or people can put up funds in return for rewards. These funds will ensure the book will be launched successfully, and with a little advertising revenue to go with it. You can check the action out at the Kickstarter website. Please do and support this new venture of mine, it’s a right good ripping read and a lot of fun as you replay situations you initially made a mess of.


I’m already thinking of book 2 and the nautical theme it’s going to have. But only if we float this first book. But then that’s what it’s all about. Branching out, learning more, so that when I turn to my traditional fantasy writing, I’ll be a better story teller and a more accomplished writer.

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Write Apocalyse Now!

I’m just starting out on writing an “end of the world “ thriller and have been thinking about how these will compare to my dark fantasy adventure novels. The term apocalypse for me has always brought up great heavenly battles, four horsemen (updated to persons these days of course) racing across the sky, the world gathering at Megiddo and such like. So are the apocalyptic tales in the pandemic / zombie / EMP / natural disaster genres really any different.


One thing that comes straight to mind is that the old magical / fantastical element is gone. The days of a learned genius waving his hands and opening portals or creating hellfire will have to go and more pragmatic solutions will have to be found. This causes a greater emphasis on tactical or mechanical solutions, or simple butchering in the case of zombies. Transformations of people may have to be kept to a low variety instead of the many magical forms that characters take.


Another point spotted while reading these genres is the technical detail, sometimes far and beyond the grasp of many characters: you need to be an expert to survive. How far this is the case and how far the human spirit and determination will get you is another question but certainly the science (or at times pseudo-science) needs to be to the fore and loaded with the best bullets.


But overall this one thing remains although it has been lost in a few tales from the genre I have read. The character remains the thing. The human conflicts, the dreams hopes and aspirations and then the devices that thwart these goals, must not be simply there but must drive the tale. As I read across many genres, the best stories always resonate around the person whether it’s a woman stuck at a train station in the middle of nowhere (Absent in the Spring, Agatha Christie written as Mary Westmacott), a captain of the guard holding together a magical and manic city (Feet of Clay, Terry Pratchett) or a woman fighting to reunite her family after a nuclear holocaust (Point of Impact, Kyla Stone).


So whatever I come up with, it will certainly take my characters and break them as ever, only to have them claw their way back. But this time it will be in the midst of a pandemic, lawlessness and a country falling apart. It almost feels like home! My writing home that is, the Outer Hebrides hasn’t got to that stage yet!

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Better to tell a Story or Write a Story 

In the forthcoming year there’s going to be a slight change in the way that I produce my books. Actually it’s a pretty fundamental change. Various authors have seen the benefit of dictating their books in a rough first draft before then editing. But the amount of writing produced has increased and enabled them to produce more whilst not sacrificing quality.

I have prepared for this step change by purchasing a dictation machine with software for my computer which will translate the dictation into written format. So far I have completed some tests with the device and have started training it to my Northern Irish brogue. And I have to say that first results are pretty good.

I still remembering having dictation on the computer some 20 years ago when the results made my words look like Yoda was on speed. Despite creating a whole new language, it was a disaster and I abandoned the idea of “talking” to the machines. But technology has moved on and hopefully it will move on my writing this year.


Last year I produced 2 novels, “The Darkness at Dillingham and “Surface Tensions”, both early in the year. Things got a little delayed after that but I also have my 3rd Austerley & Kirkgordon novel in the final drafts as well as a short story to go with it. There is also a totally new venture, “Dark Wen” awaiting more editing.


The thing about using dictation is that my writing habits need to change. I need quiet to dictate, so for the first drafts the coffee shops will not be so prevalent (this is a major disappointment). Even in the house it will require getting up early to dictate so as not to be disturbed. This will hopefully also fit better into the daily workings of our household but there is definitely a suck it and see aspect to it all.

The grand plan is to produce 8 books next year. This is ambitious but then we need to aim for the heights or we stay in the valleys. So look forward to more intrigue, fantasy, action and adventure, as well as some new characters, including a Scarlett O’Meara and a myriad of mythological beasts.

So this is a sign-off for this old year and hopefully bounding into the new year to bring novels aplenty!


Happy reading in the New Year and as always thanks for your interest!

Gary

G R Jordan

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Pressure

pressure

One of the things common to us all is that at some point in our life we will have been under pressure. Be it a moment that jumped up in front of us, say a bank robbery or seeing someone about to be hit by a car. Or whether it’s the slow build up of a situation which requires us to endure some sort of pain to see it through. Whatever it is, we all experience pressure.

How do you convey pressure in fiction?

When writing, especially action and adventure, or dark fantasy, there are situations where the characters are in wild moments I have never faced. One wonders how they would react. Personally, I have never looked a demon from the deep in the eye, swung from a hangman’s noose or faced strange creatures intent on taking my head off. The only way I know to generate these feelings is to drift into the characters shoes, drawing on my own reactions to horrors I have had in my own life. Not that my life has been a rollercoaster of disaster, it’s been bloomin’ good to be honest. But we all have the well of dark moments to draw from.

Sometimes people say my books would make a great movie, or that they could see it as a TV drama. I think I know why. When I write, I write describing the movie in my head. The creatures move for me, I hear the drop in the noose, I look into those demon eyes. And I then feel what comes. I don’t see words, I see pictures and then the job is to put that picture into words. The further distillation by the reader reversing the process hopefully brings the movie back to life.

Character development, making the unreal seem real

It begs the question, are my characters real to me? Only in my head, only in the movie. And that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want a mad cap professor summoning up who knows what, an emotional father pulled from his family by every woman that walks past, or an ice cold winged femme fatale. Life is weird enough. When you put these people under pressure the real emotions come out. Hopefully then the real life heroic decisions we make or fail to make surface.

If you haven’t got it already, then you can purchase the first Austerley & Kirkgordon novel “Crescendo!”. The follow up “The Darkness at Dillingham” has just been released.

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Sarcastic Innocence – Here’s Nefol!

One of the joys about writing fantasy, be it dark, urban or whatever, is that you can play around with the “norms” of society in one facet of a person while keeping their everyday traits. In my new novel, “The Darkness at Dillingham”, I introduce a new character Nefol. She’s the daughter of a priest, only twelve, and a sarcastic bane to Kirkgordon. But she’s also a stronger fighter than Kirkgordon and better versed in the weirdness of the A&K world than he’ll ever be.

This allows for the normal dynamic of senior and junior to be challenged and often overturned. And in that I believe lies an important point to the real world. Too often we quieten down those around us with less life experience or who are weaker in body or mind. And yet we get the most honest assessment from these people, too honest for us more often than not.

When taking Kirkgordon and pairing him with Austerley, the insane but highly driven seeker of the weird, Kirkgordon has a perfect forum to unload all he sees as wrong with getting your hands dirty in the occult world. But lest our hero becomes too high and mighty, here comes Nefol to show up his ineptitude and blast his fondness for all the wrong women! Ultimately the book highlights how paths to our redemption become blocked or at least sullied by others and that a little humility can help get us on the real path, the one so rarely seen from the mountian top!

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Coming soon from Carpetless Publishing “The Darkness at Dillingham” the second Austerley & Kirkgordon adventure. Not read the wild ride that is “Crescendo!”, the first A&K adventure then you can pick it up here.

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Writing Update and a Sneak Peak at a new cover!

So last time I was explaining that Book 2 of Austerley and Kirkgordon’s adventures, “The Darkness at Dillingham” was with the editor for a final pass and should be available pretty soon. But what else am I doing?

I have a mermaid fantasy based around a Scottish Island at second draft stage. The concept is that mermaids arrive on the shores of the island causing many different reactions ranging from hate to joy, wonder to disgust. A media circus ensues and the normal island life is upset as greed and then rumour cause many to fear the creatures. Meanwhile, a young islander finds and then protects one of the mermaids causing some comedy moments as he involves a woman of his dreams. All in all it’s a fun romp with some serious tones.

I have also embarked on another urban fantasy series but this time with a female protagonist. Scarlett is a bored call centre clerk who gets involved with a race to explain the signifigance of a prized glass which seems to be wanted by evil hands. It’s early days but it is fun to have to see everything from the other sex’s perspective.

Also in the mix is an allegorical piece set in a fantasy land, a world war one ghost story and the tale of a Singaporean bin inspector. Yes, I know, how rock and roll!

But back to Austerley and Kirkgordon. Book 3, with a working title of “The Nether Lands” is first draft complete. And when I say working title, I do mean working title as so far none have made it onto the final cover. But also at first draft stage and rapidly advancing is a novella piece to accompany Book 2 and which will be available in the hardback edition of “The Darkness at Dillingham”. It’s entitled “Cally”, and guess what, it’s about Calandra. Providing a more detailed back story to the characters is fun and certainly “Footsteps” helped bring Austerley and Kirkgordon’s relationship in “Crescendo!” to life for me.

And as promised, here is a cover reveal and it’s for “Cally”. Personally I think this is one of the best covers my artist has compiled for me. Jake has really grabbed Cally’s persona for me and the essence of the story in one picture. So I’ll leave you with the cover and look forward to talking more next time!

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If you haven’t got into the joy and wonder that is the Austerley and Kirkgordon series then you can find the first book “Crescendo!” here in all formats. The “Cally” cover was designed by Jake Clarke and you can see more of his work here.

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That Difficult Second Book!

Well, it’s been a while but here I am back on the old blog. Little did I know after getting Crescendo!, the first Austerley and Kirkgordon adventure, out there that the second would take so long. The crazy thing is that most of the difficulty has had nothing to do with writing or editing or graphics production. Instead it has had all to do with personal difficulties that have happened to the team involved in putting the books together.

It has been a trying time and one which has been frustrating but I have kept on writing through it all and now have a number of projects at the “first draft complete” stage and some even further along. But the even better news is that the second Austerley & Kirkgordon adventure is with my editor for a final pass. The artwork is complete as it can be before final production and it should be all systems go for launch in about a month.

This time Austerley and Kirkgordon are sent to the English seaside town of Dillingham for Austerley to recuperate before an important operation. But it isn’t long before the boys are getting into trouble with the locals. Composite monsters, a witch and more special agents, all wrapped up amongst ghostly pirates, give our boys the run around and drive one of the pair to a very dark place. If you thought they had it tough in the first book, just wait until Dillingham gets a hold of them!

And just to whet your appetite further, here’s a wee pic of the ebook cover. The Darkness at Dillingham, coming soon!

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If you missed “Crescendo!”, the first Austerley & Kirkgordon adventure then you can grab it here.