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