Scary Pumpkins, Killer Clowns

Yes, it’s been a while. Won’t bore you with the details – just look at some of my previous entries, then copy and paste. However, I have managed to split myself into two this weekend, and because of that I’ve managed to whack the book out on a Kindle Countdown for 99p in the UK and 99c in the US – first time I’ve done a combined transatlantic promo but there you have it.

I’ve also done a little video as well. Well… it’s a flash player animation really – nothing fancy, but I think it’s pretty cool.

 

You’ll have to look at it on the facebook or twitter pages because if I want to put it on here I need to ‘upgrade my plan’. Like I don’t pay WordPress enough anyway given that most of the business’s IT is mounted on it. Check out the links down the page.

The book has sold pretty well this year – despite one or two negative reviews. But hey – it’s one of those novels. It’s always going to be niche. I think people either love it or hate it, which is fine, I can live with that.

Haven’t read it yet?

Why not give it a go this weekend while it’s on offer through Amazon?

Until next time.

Paul

 

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Spitting Feathers

I’m struggling to express what I’m feeling right now about the decision for England to quit the EU. Anger. Mostly. And I’m trying not to overreact. I’m trying to remain calm, rational and considered.

As the owner of a fledgling business which sells a premium service to retailers and manufacturer who depend so much on a strong, stable currency, I have to be rational and put a plan in place to ensure that it continues to grow. This isn’t easy, but it can be done. In fact I started a while back – always plan for the worst. We’ll battle through it, but I’m struggling to understand why any small business owner would have voted to leave the EU. I know quite a few who did. Having open access to a market as big and strong as Europe, with restrictions that primarily exist only to safeguard the quality and delivery of goods and services into that market, is a good thing. Right? Or did I miss something? Am I being too naive?

Anyway, the business thing is difficult enough. I don’t like it, but I can weather it. The business will survive. It has to because I’ve spent too much time, money and energy on it to watch it unfold.

Outside of the business, however, I’m furious. I feel sick and ashamed, horrified even, that the future of this country has been herded into a sociological blind alley by a tremendous campaign of fear and hatred stirred into rage by the blatant lies and false promises of the fuckwits who stand to make considerable political gains out of it. I am ashamed of the ignorance of the millions who engaged with their propaganda, who pored through the inflammatory stories in the Daily Mail and found connections to something within themselves, and that they believed it. And I’m ashamed that the European Union and our Government allowed these sentiments to fester unchecked for whatever reasons for so long, oblivious to the reality that as many as half of the country’s population were being sucked into a black hole of suspicion, fear and hate.

It was easy for the Leave-campaign to target these feelings kept simmering by the rhetoric of the tabloids.

Freedom of Speech has its price I guess and the Leave-campaigners certainly exercised their right to it.

Is that too strong? Surely the Leave-campaign had more to say about leaving the EU than ‘take back control of our borders’ and ‘keep the foreigners out’. Surely their campaign involved far more intelligent poster-messages than the one Farage put up which showed a Photoshopped line of dark-skinned ‘immigrants’ winding their way across England’s lush green fields, ready to take away our homes and our jobs, to fill our schools with extremist dogma and backpacks stuffed with  explosives.

I thought about re-posting that image when I saw it – complete with an expression of my shock and horror that the Leave campaigners had stooped so incredibly low – but I couldn’t do it. I woudn’t do it. Such images truly deserve to be burned, not shared. Invoking the horrors of a very real Apocalypse to tap so cheaply into the emotions of disaffected people is something I never thought I would see in what I used to think of as a progressive, 21st Century country. Shameful, frankly, on so many levels.

I don’t think there was more to the Leave-campaign than that. I read the literature. I mean plenty of it dropped through my letterbox and now I wish I hadn’t thrown it all away because I’d quote it here. But I remember reading angrily the ‘warnings’ being made to me about the ‘evil of Turkey’, and that the £350million we paid into the EU each week could fund so many schools and hospitals. I’m sure it certainly would fund plenty schools and hospitals, but the implication in the rhetoric was clear: by leaving the EU it most definitely would be used to fund schools and hospitals – a claim Farage denied this morning on national TV when he was questioned about it by an incensed Susannah Reid on ITV’s This Morning programme.

They even had it plastered across the side of a massive fucking bus!

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On a more sombre note, last week saw the brutal murder of Jo Cox, a rare politician and mother of a young family who practised the liberal values she preached in her constituency. And when her murderer stood in court and gave his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” maybe then the Leave-campaigners paused for a moment to reflect on the toxic effect of the words they’d been spinning in ever-darkening layers around the country. I’d like to think that many of them woke up to their responsibility and regretted what they’d done.

In the end, I can accept that some people are distrustful of a faceless European Bureaucracy blamed for making all the laws we don’t like, (whether in fact they make them or not) and I can accept that maybe it served our government to perpetuate this image of a monstrous, restrictive Brussels strangling us with red tape because it deflected so much attention and blame away from the halls of Westminster. But that’s not a good thing, not for us, the people of Great Britain. I wonder if the civil servants and spin merchants of Parliament are regretting some of that now.

I doubt it. They’ve still got jobs.

Talking of jobs… I’m stupefied as to why anyone would vote to put their jobs and lifestyles in jeopardy. In 2008 there was a world recession which forced redundancy on me. It was a scary time. I was just a month away from losing my house before I eventually found another job and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody – I certainly wouldn’t fucking vote for it to happen.

But of course it isn’t going to happen is it? Because we’re making all up. For Remain read Doom-Merchants. The Leavers labelled the Remain-campaign Project Fear, gave it a hashtag and maintained that the Remain camp was whipping up an increasingly outrageous list of nightmares that had no basis in reality. At all. Claims of division and socio-economic collapse had been engineered by a bunch of scaremongers, they said, not business leaders, experts and authority figures. No no, they continued, it’s just a stream of bullshit propaganda designed to scare ordinary people who have nothing to fear, everything to gain. Don’t listen to them, howled Boris Johnson and his cohorts. Fact is, said the Leavers, no-one knows what will happen, and so all this dribble about a divided United Kingdom, a currency hit by sudden devaluation, a stockmarket crash followed by a recession, the resignation of the Prime Minister and the installation of a buffoon in Parliament, was nothing more than a bunch of ridiculous, outlandish fairy tales.

Poppycock! As Boris might say.

Here’s a selection of news stories from today.

Stock market panic 

Cameron resigns

Sterling Value Crashes

And finally, I’m annoyed by David Cameron for starting this thing off in the first place. He didn’t have to do it. But he promised a referendum on the EU during his campaign in the last General Election and it cost him his job.

I guess we’ll have to design a new flag – it’s very likely that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom. And maybe Northern Ireland will join Ireland: it’s either that or they start building walls and checkpoints on the borders again.

England could well be governed towards the end of the year by Boris Johnson, who cultivates an air of innocent buffoonery to mask his ambitious, calculated political deftness. Going forward, maybe in the US we’ll have Donald Trump before long too, making good on his own polemic of hatred and isolationism – although surely the Americans aren’t as dumb as we appear to be are they?  And let’s not forget Putin and Kim Jong Un, building their totalitarian Empires on the fringes of sanity. And lest we forget, there are whole populations of people being massacred in the Middle East, and desperate survivors of horror risking their lives in their search for new homes, for somewhere safe to live. That’s not going to change. But I guess that, once England ‘takes back control of its borders’ we can let them die on the other side of our walls without a thought or a care.

And this is the world my children may grow up in. So yes, I’m fucking angry.

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Splitting Time

The new novel continues! It’s very exciting and I’m really enjoying writing it – that is, whenever I get time to spend on it.

Time really is the killer. Splitting time between The Business and The Writing, not to mention The Family and that other thing, Sleep, has been tricky these last few months, especially as The Business has been flying. Sleep takes the biggest hit as I tend to be writing late into the night, literally until I wake up suddenly, raise my head from the keyboard and see the screen filled with pages and pages of

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Clearly I need more hours in the day to get everything done.

But since it’s The Business that’s currently providing food for the family table, that’s the thing which is taking priority. If my twenty-year old self looked through a window in time to check on what he’s doing in his mid-forties, he might be somewhat disappointed. Although, if he caught me asleep at the keyboard, he’d realise that actually nothing much has changed (although he might be impressed at how slim and cool these 21st Century Typewriting Machines look).

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However, by a bizarre quirk of irony, it turns out that I’m actually doing the kind of writing I always wanted to do.

For one thing I’m writing sitcom scripts.

I always wanted to write sitcoms.

When I published Awake In The Dark and told my friends about it, two things happened. First thing was that they were hit by complete astonishment. “You wrote a book?” they gasped. Second thing was they all said “I’m gonna read it. It must be hilarious!”

“Er… no… It’s, um, not really a comedy,” I had to tell them. “It’s actually a very dark psycho-drama filled with incest, brutality, violence and torture with the occasional gory murder and some stuff about art. There aren’t so many ‘laugh out loud’ moments in it. In fact there aren’t any. At all.”

Most of them blinked at me, then laughed. “You’re so funny!”

Few believed me, until they read the book and were forced to say things like, “Crikey! That’s a bit grim, Laville!”

The new book is a lot lighter in tone, but still hardly a comedy.

The sitcoms however…

These are cunningly disguised as Training Films – or “Training Dramas” as my video production partners have called them. So, OK, maybe ‘sitcom’ is stretching it, but in my head that’s exactly what they are.

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It’s how they’re written, and for the most part they are quite funny. They’re light-hearted and crammed with in-jokes, situation and banter, with real characters that you can relate to. As one of my clients put it, “I love these films, Paul. And you know what? You really care about the characters. That’s the icing on the cake. You get all the training stuff, but it’s mixed in with the characters and what happens to them, and that’s why you watch them.”

‘Warm glow of pride’. Is there an emoji for that?

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click the pic above to see a couple of examples (opens in new window)

 

The other thing I always wanted to do was write for a magazine.

I always wanted my own column and now it seems I kind of have one. Since October last year (missing out November) I’ve been contributing to the top industry magazine in my market: around 700 words a month imparting sales tips and advice in a mildly amusing, yet wholly professional, tone.

Of course, back in the day, I’d hoped for a regular slot in a world-leading sci-fi extravaganza, NME or a literary/ arty journal writing reviews and critiques. But this’ll do for sure. It’s a great magazine, the articles are fun to write and it’s a subject I love. “Really?” you may ask. “Sales? You love sales?” Well, if I didn’t have a passion for the day job, I wouldn’t have set myself up in business doing it.

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And then there’s the blog, the actual training stuff, the social media, the advertorials – it’s all about writing.

So, even in The Business, 80% of what I do is made up with writing. And it’s generating income, which is great.

But it doesn’t quite satisfy every sequence of my writer’s genome. If it did then I wouldn’t have written Awake In The Dark or be working on this other thing. I need that fiction outlet.

So there’s another dark thriller waiting to be written; people seem to want more of that from me and I’m only too happy to oblige. Plus there’s another thing I’m working on with Tanja – another book combining her art with my writing. This is very exciting, and will be amazing when we’ve finished it.

Which we will do… One day…

As soon as I find some way of splitting time so that I can get my bit done…

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I’m Working on a New book!

Actually I’m working on plenty of things… Which is why I haven’t written anything on here for a while…

I set up a new blog for The Business (which I’d been meaning to do for ages) and we recently won a new Big Contract which is going to be taking up all my time pretty much imminently. So, time spent writing fiction is growing ever more precious…

Still, I’ve managed to cover off about 120k words of this new novel since July. When you consider that Awake In The Dark stands just short of 142,000 words, then it’s not bad going. Difference is that the new thing is truly immense. I reckon it will come in with a wordcount of around 230,000 words.

Wow…!

Once I realised how big it was going to be I split it off. I took a huge chunk out of it and used that to start on the sequel. Yes, it’s going to be over two books – possibly three.

Should I tell you a bit about it?

Like any writer I’m a bit protective of something that’s a long way from finished. But, unlike many writers, I’m also a massive ego-head so I’ll share Five Interesting Facts about it so far:

1. It’s a lot lighter in tone than Awake In The Dark. I certainly will be writing another intense, dark and suspenseful psycho novel and I’ve been drafting up a few ideas for that. One in particular is really exciting, so we’ll see how that turns out. But for now it’s quite refreshing to have a bit of fun. There are still some dark and violent moments in the new novel, but I think on the whole it’s much more … cinematic. Yeah I’d go with that.

2. it involves a much wider cast of protagonists. This is one of the reasons I split the thing out. I only want to concentrate on two or three main characters, and follow their stories. Trouble is all these other characters started developing their own stories and they were equally as interesting and exciting as those involved in the primary plotline. I didn’t want to ditch them, so I took them out and began to develop a sequel or two. Opening it up in this way actually makes the story stronger and more focused.

3. The book is written in 3rd-person narrative rather than first-person. Not that this is ever a conscious decision. I just start writing and there it is. I wonder if any authors do make a conscious decision to write in either 1st or 3rd person narrative. Lee Childs, for example, flits from one to the other across his series of Jack Reacher books. I wonder what his editors and publicists make of that? Would they prefer him to stick to one mode of narrative throughout the series? I think it’s good to mix it up. I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher books btw. What the f**k Tom Cruise was doing in the film I don’t know… but I digress…

4. It’s much more plot-based and action-packed than Awake In The Dark and there are some mind-boggling set-pieces I’m hugely proud of. Just you wait and see!

5. It features a Truly Awesome villain.

I’ve been sending the text off to Tanja Hehn, just to see what she thinks of it, and she sent me back a drawing from one of the novel’s more grisly scenes.

It’s down below, although I’m not going to explain what or who it is (or was) just yet…

All in all, I’m enjoying writing this new book. It feels fresh and exciting. I love my characters and I’m enjoying the crap I’m putting them through. They won’t all survive it but it’ll be a hell of a ride for the reader!

By the way, if you like Tanja’s drawings, check out her new blog by clicking here. You won’t be disappointed! There is some great stuff on there. She is a rare talent, and the energy that she pours into her work is really impressive.

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Still awaiting the Apocalypse

So this morning I thought I’d go out and take some pictures of this rare SuperBloodMoon Event that happens like once every billion years or something. I’d been in two minds whether or not I should, but to be honest I think I always knew I was going to go see it… I knew it as soon as I decided to set the alarm for stupid-o-clock when I went to bed. There’s a rash and impulsive streak in my nature, and as usual this won out over my less assertive Voice of Reason.

So around 3am I was awakened by the sounds of John Barry’s/ Monty Norman’s James Bond theme tune creeping out of my phone on my bedside table.

Did I really want to do this?

Hell yeah! Quickly I got quickly dressed, made some hot tea in a Thermos, grabbed my coat and scarf (first time this year for the scarf), threw a camera, a tripod and a few lenses into the back of the car, and drove out, half asleep, to a place up the hill nearby Where No Lights Did Shine.

And I took some pictures.

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It was very surreal.

As promised, the Moon, already much larger in the sky than normal, turned steadily blood-red, the landscape around me ominously darker. Sipping tea from my Thermos it seemed as though the Earth’s ancient companion was stirring into life up there in cold space, and as though some ancient Bacchanalistic party was just getting started.

The red grew deeper.

PLL_7828_NEW02As I alternately stood and crouched by my tripod, and fiddled with the settings on the camera (in the vain hope that one of these days I’d learn how to work it properly), things shuffled in the bushes and trees around me and creatures howled and screeched in the near-distance. Other things flapped about.

Ok – so some dogs barked from a nearby farm and maybe there were a few bats about. Lots of bats up on The Hill. I’m scene-setting. It was creepy though.

I was out there for almost two hours and I must have snapped over a hundred photographs. I had my binoculars with me too, and the detail they revealed was amazing. I could see that the surface of the Moon was not just red, but brown, amber, orange and crimson. I’m not kidding – it really seemed as though the Moon was alive.

The picture below is probably my favourite, but it doesn’t do it justice. One of these days I’m going to have to get a telescope with a camera attachment.

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Unfortunately most of the photographs I shot weren’t so good. Taking pictures at night is challenging to say the least: equal measures of trial and error. This is what it looks like on the 1:1 lens. I set it for a long exposure hoping to get a good starfield behind the trees.It didn’t quite work out that way. I don’t know if that orange is afterglow from the town. I guess it could be but it wasn’t so apparent with the naked eye.

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I don’t like being defeated however. And I really wanted to take a good few star shots because the night was so clear and it was so damned dark.

But I realised that it was even more difficult taking pictures of the stars, because for the first time I realised that you can’t actually see them through the camera’s viewfinder. Which meant that spinning the focus ring was pointless. In the end I just set the camera to auto-focus, pointed the lens in the general direction I wanted, opened up the aperture and hoped for the best. God only knows how, but I did get some decent-ish pictures of Orion looming over the hillside. I’m reasonably happy with this shot.

I took it specially for my youngest daughter, who seemed taken with the idea that stars could be different sizes, different colours and light years apart in just a small patch of sky. In this patch alone there are entire galaxies on display. And the Orion Nebula shows up pretty well too.

I really want a telescope.

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Anyway, at some point whilst I was snapping the stars, the landscape flooded with light. A switch had been flicked on and the Moon lit up like a lantern. I mean it was really, really bright. I hadn’t realised just how dark it had become. The image below was taken on the same settings as the ones above. Yes, I swung the camera round but forgot to change my f-stops.

PLL_7869So then I had to fiddle with the damn thing all over again.

Actually… I quite like the blue light racing over the edge of this pic. Even though it is blurry.

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Eventually I managed to take a few images where the Moonlight didn’t bleed out the rest of the frame. However, because everything on the camera was turned down (and because the Moon was so bright), the stars weren’t picking up. And our Moon looked alone again. And lifeless once more.

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It felt kind of sad watching  the shadow of Earth slide away from the Moon’s barren surface like a cloak, peeling off the beating bloodlight in its wake. Through the lens of my camera the Moon was the Moon again. It no longer resembled the colourful, livid sphere I’d spent the last hour or so watching. At the end of my nocturnal photoshoot it looked just like what it’s always been – an ancient, cold, grey rock falling through space at two-thousand two-hundred miles an hour. Impressive, but far less so than it had seemed just moments before.

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I was glad I saw the BloodMoon though. Glad I made the effort. The next one is 2033 I think, at which point I’ll be … um… much older. It was genuinely impressive out there in the cold.

One up to the impulsive part of my nature I think.

24 Hours Left

The clock is ticking down to midnight and he’s still out there. My enemy…

Less than 24 hours to go until the draw for my first ever Goodreads Giveaway!

If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of AWAKE IN THE DARK, signed by yours truly, (and why wouldn’t you?) then visit the Giveaway page on the Goodreads site and stick your name down for a chance to win.

Click on the image to jump to the Giveaway page, and Good Luck!

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Terms and Conditions are available HERE

Two months again…??

Crikey! Time flies don’t it?

Quick post this one – just to indulge in a bit of shameless self-promotion and tell you all that AWAKE IN THE DARK is now up for a freebie Goodreads Giveaway!!

It’s for UK readers only this time round but fear not, my trans-continental chums, for I shall be running another giveaway later in the year for the uncivilised barbarians of the Americas.

Probably…

Want to win a copy? Follow the link Here.

Bets of luck.

Paul