Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Beware the Brandished Torches!

One of the hardest things in writing is telling a story about a place everyone knows, The fact is they live there…, with you…, and like you they know everything about the locale. Except they don’t. And neither do you, the writer. This is because everyone views any place they interact with and contribute to through their own experiences. This is what makes stone-walling seem like honourable defence, one person’s bigotry seem like justified anger and one person’s paradise another folk’s hell.


As a writer taking on the challenge of story telling about the area around you, even if the characters are fictional, though based on various people one knows or has had experience of, you have to be careful. Not in case they come for you in the night, pitch forks at the ready and dipped flaming branches giving the night sky an eerie glow and your feet a hot toasting. Not in case some people don’t speak to you, offend by who they believe themselves to be in your story. No, the part to be careful of is to say what the story wants to say.


Stories are generated from thoughts and deeply held observations or beliefs and therefore deserve to be written in their entirety, not altered for passable consumption. And should the writer fear having caused offense if they are actually describing what is? Surely worse happens. They could simply put the book down in boredom. Now that would be devastation. So write to your observations, your revelations, your take on this life.


And so remember me, when you see the brandished torches, or the small boat with the man, hands tied behind his back and walking a modern day plank into the sea. They will say, he wrote to his convictions, he called it as it was. Short career though!

Posted on Leave a comment

The Changing Face of Evil

Don’t panic, you’re not about to get a lecture on the current terrible state of the world, rather a bit of an observation on the dark characters we seem to be getting on the screen and in our books.

Nice Tie

I think it all started when we started taking what would have been traditionally evil characters and creatures, and made them a bit more friendly, more human (if indeed we are friendly). Suddenly werewolves were simply shape shifters following a social change agenda, wronged and mistreated. Vampires were just unlucky people who didn’t want a break in the summer sun. And ghosts were actually helpful, misunderstood souls who were in the wrong place due to some supernatural accident.

Noone knew his years on the dole


I remember growing up and evil was evil. Often there was no understanding of why the bad stuff was happening, why these dark things of the night wanted to do these horrible actions to us. They were simply evil. It seems with changing times and the acceptance that old ideas about different lifestyles, race and social classes are erroneous, our characters seem to reflect that. In fairness I remember it starting in “Cabal” by Clive Barker, a super novel I thoroughly enjoyed but one that invoked sympathy for the dark things, even if they were all far from perfect.

“Don’t you just love him and his lights!”


Maybe it is a good thing that art mirrors the times we are in, but forgive me if I crave that unfathomable entity that simply wants to destroy because that’s what it is. It has no understandable social make-up, no difficult back story, no sad tale of its own – it is simply evil. And it is distinctly un – human, bearing nothing of our qualities, unfathomable. I guess it’s because against such a thing we can throw the full weight of our aggression and defence, knowing there is nothing to understand, nothing to rectify in its past. Today’s depictions don’t allow us that luxury and in truth, neither does real life, and it really should not.


But this is fantasy so give me one more malevolent, undeniably evil being to pit my fragile heroes against. You know you want to.

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

Posted on Leave a comment

Who is Mr. Kirkgordon?

As an author I am often asked where my ideas come from for characters and plots which makes me pause and actually think, where have they come from? In response to this feeling, I’m taking a few blogs to discover for myself which bit of this dark mind of mine has produced my main characters.


Mr. Kirkgordon is the one of feuding duo who had their relationship first formed on paper in “Crescendo!”, although a later short origin story, “Footsteps”, takes us back to their first actual meeting under a grave. Agile and a former bodyguard, Kirkgordon can handle himself in trouble and is ideal to look after the volatile eldritch genius that is Mr Austerley.

Kirkgordon comes from that part of us that knows what the right thing to do is, and that we’re going to have to do it despite the hardship that comes from doing it. He cannot walk away, even if the people he’s involved with do the exact opposite to what he would. Having a faith in God, Kirkgordon is not a religious nut but rather is the atypical believer struggling with his faith as well as his behaviour to others he loves and those he loathes.

“Death? That’s it? Indy, everywhere we go there’s a general implication of death. Do you mean death here, in the corridor, or death in a more widespread sense?”

From Ship of Doom by G R Jordan


As a man of faith I wanted to have Kirkgordon put under pressure, both from the outside darkness but also from his own darker sides. He has a wandering eye when it comes to women and when Calandra comes on the scene, they have to fight the immense attraction between each other while working closely together in front of her former lover Austerley.

The archer in Kirkgordon comes from myself and was a lot of fun to write, although I doubt anyone in the real world has handled a bow like him. One of the sides of Kirkgordon brought out to me by a reader was how harsh he is on Austerley. Constantly pilling on the banter and sometime abuse, his understanding of his colleague takes time to grow until there is a mutual respect and distrust in the same measure. Each knows the other frailties and the trouble that comes from them.

“Nailed to your cross then. I hope you believe in redemption and foregiveness too, Havers?”

From Crescendo! by G R Jordan

Ultimately, I think Kirkgordon is ourselves thrown into the mess of situations with all fears, beliefs, pressures and blind corners, knowing that we still have to get it done. He’s not the most powerful, most clever, wisest or even the bravest of the characters but he always gets it done, fighting his conscience all the way. In that I reckon he’s like a lot of people on this earth, albeit his demons tend to jump out of the ground at him.

Check out Kirkgordon’s psychologist’s report here and see what the professionals at SETAA think of him. Or for the books check out my shop and find Kirkgordon for yourself!

Posted on Leave a comment

Genre or not to Genre?

Do you read a specific genre? If so, why? Why do we limit ourselves by looking only for books within a certain style, storyline or feel? I came to think about this because my novels tend to move across genres. Take “Crescendo!”, the first in my Austerley & Kirkgordon series. It has certain Lovecraftian throwbacks to it, so obviously it’s horror. But hang, it is set in the real world with a number of fantastical creatures and happenings in it. Ah, I hear you cry, its Urban Fantasy. Well, yes, but… It also has plenty of action and adventure in it too. And also investigators who have been described as old fashioned cop show buddies in that they can’t stand the sight of each other.

It’s hard boxing things in in real life too. Working in the emergency services, you have standard protocols and procedures but everyone will tell you there is no standard job. And in life there are no standard people. Variety and complexity is what makes life the vibrant maelstrom it is. And thank goodness, otherwise we would be board senseless by it.

Romance? Well maybe, but also fantasy and adventure

When I was writing “Surface Tensions” I was fortunate enough to have a group fund a developmental review of it. On its return to me, I was informed that it needed a serious plot change as the romance genre required a certain path to be followed. But surely the reader would see this coming? Do we really want to have the same things replayed to us. I understand seeking the same feel. I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series but I wouldn’t ever accuse him of simply replaying the same story even if his initial devices were similar in their instrumentation.

Terry Prachett – never simply repeating

Maybe I’m just too eclectic. I’d rather take stories in all shapes and sizes. Some I may like, some maybe not, but at least I won’t be bored into a rut. Let us all be eclectic and to the blazes with genre!

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

image

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

image

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

image

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