Tag Archive: General Ramble


Watched the first episode of the Capaldi era and have a few thoughts. 

 

What I Liked

Capaldi after he got over his regeneration sickness was THE DOCTOR. Brilliant manic, wild and with a dangerous undertone.

New TARDIS interior, like how the central column doesn’t seem to move up and down but the TARDIS spins around it (least thats the effect I got from the window lights spinning round.

The Doctor the killer, hints this will be a darker Dr and I like that. 

 

What I didn’t Like

The theme tune, seriously, what the fuck?

The T-Rex, how big to the writers think a T-Rex is? No-way would a police box get stuck in its throat, it probably wouldn’t be able to even get its mouth around it. It was like the Rex’s you used to see in the old old dinosaur films when people didn’t really know how big they were.

Madam Vestra standing in a group of Londoners looking up at the Rex and no-one seems bothered by A) the T-Rex and B) there was a Silurian in their midst.

The “battle” with the metalmen. Strax had a fricking laser and the metalmen were all slow moving and he only hit a couple. Come on!

 

Theories

“Missy” I first thought perhaps it might be a somehow regenerated River Song, but after a comment on Twitter I’m thinking maybe its the Master (Missy…Misstress?)

The Promised Land, is it Utopia (another link to Missy maybe being the Master)

If the Promised Land is Utopia does that them (possibly) make the metalmen Toclafane (a further link to Missy being the Master)

 

All in all the middle part was fun, the beginning and end not so. The Matt Smith cameo wasn’t needed.

Next week Daleks, not looking forward to them because being honest I find them boring and about time they were well and truely rested. 

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The end of April races ever closer and the final edit of my novella Life In The Fastlane: Brave New World is nearing its end. Initially tallying in at just over 16,500 ish words this final edit – due in part to Beta guidance from The Life Of Spike author Jodie Portugal  jvoportugal.wordpress.com – has already gained just over 2,000 extra and I still have halfway to go.

As well as the final edit I’ve also been preparing for actual P-Day, and part of that preparation – along with all the work in the Kindle direct publishing back room (so to speak) – has been the cover. Now I’ve always had an idea or two of how I wanted the cover to look, what I wanted it to say about the story. But the problem is I’m no artist. So after putting a shout out on Twitter for guidance I was given the contact details of Susan Omand – www.omandoriginal.com – and contacted her about doing a proper job of my ideas.

Susan is very professional, she listened to what I wanted and set to work giving me a first draft with a week of initial contact.

Book cover first draft

I liked this from the off, I like that she has used the same sort of font used during the Next Generation years of Star Trek for the main series title and my name – something she did with no input from me. My idea for the cover was to show the two main forms of technology featured in the story, I also wanted to depict a scene that I enjoyed writing and introduces the ship on the cover. But after seeing the first draft I realized my idea to have both forms of technology present on the cover didn’t really work, the effect in the top right above the title drew my eyes away from the main image. An image I felt needed total attention. So I asked Susan for some changes.

Book cover second draft

I feel this second draft better captures the image I want, along with removing the effect above the title I also corrected an error in the ships designation, moved it more to the front. I feel these changes made the image I wanted on the cover clearer, more defined. This is not a war story but a story set during a war, that’s what I feel the cover tells any prospective reader. So with what I wanted locked in Susan did the tweaks needed to clean the image up and re-size for the Kindle.

Final cover for website

So there we have it, the cover to my book and a damned fine cover if I say so. Susan has done a sterling job in doing this and if anyone ever wants someone to do a book, CD cover or any sort of artwork I recommend you contact her.

 

Publication Day Is Coming

After a lot of faffing, re-reads, re-writes, abandoning, resurrecting and general wasting time dicking around on the internet, I’ve finally picked a date to publish my novella. It’s been an ongoing project for some time – in one form or another about 2 and a bit years – but I’m biting the proverbial bullet and going for it. Had the final beta readers feedback and am now editing based on their suggestions. Once that’s done its one more read through and I’m good to go.

I’ve also gone with a professional designer to do the cover – the wonderful Susan Omand over at Omand Original  http://www.omandoriginal.com/ – who is working on the design based on my very rough sketched idea. I’ve gone for a retro looking cover a bit like the old 1950s movie posters, and chosen a couple of scenes from the story to highlight the technology present in the world I’ve created.

Once I have the finished cover I’ll do a post about the process and include my rough attempt and the proper version that will be uploaded to Kindle when done. I’ve already been on Amazon and created my account and put most of the details in I need to, all that remains is the novella.

At present it stands at just shy of 17,000 words, but I have the feeling it could be gaining  some with this final beta readers input. I already have the 2nd draft of the second novella done – and is already longer than the first – I’ll be looking to get that out to beta readers once part one is published.

I’ll be doing updates from now to P-Day, and there will be some serious pimping as well.

Oh yeah, what’s it called? Ha, ha, see not as organised as I thought. The overall series title is Life in the Fastlane and part one is called Brave New World.

According to my account on Goodreads I’ve read 32 books this year, well 33 as I’ve just finished one that is not currently listed on the site. So that’s 2.75 books a month, and I wonder sometimes what I spend all my time doing!

So this year, for the first time, I decided to look through what I had read and list my top 10. I’m not usually a fan of best of lists purely because tastes change on a regular basis. What might be the best today may not be tomorrow simply because something better comes along. But seeing as 2013 is in its last few hours, and the books I have read during the last 12 months will not be repeated, I thought it was fairly safe to put a list together, because even if something better does come along tomorrow, it’ll be 2014 by then.

I should point out this is a list of books I have read in 2013, not a list of books published in 2013.

So to kick things off…

No. 10: Ace Of Skulls by Chris Wooding – whilst I was not totally blow away by this final instalment in the Tales Of The Ketty Jay series it gets a placing simply because it is the final instalment. The series as a whole has been brilliant, with a mix of fantasy, horror and steampunk it was something different and entertaining. The  mixed crew of misfits were instantly likeable and grew on you with each book. Was it original, maybe not. A lot of people likened it to Firefly, but having never seen the show I had no comparison to make.

No. 9: The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig – a mix of organised crime, fantasy and horror, this is the story of Mookie Pearl. Pearl is a hard man, an enforcer, a killer. He is also privy to the knowledge of the dark forbidden underbelly of the city where monsters lurk and death is ready for the unwilling. Along with Wendig’s trademark no-holds-barred style of story telling this is a great tale full of wit, blood and kick-ass action.

No. 8: Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell – the sequel/prequel to the excellent The Angels Are The Reapers. Set in a post apocalyptic world where humanity has fallen to the zombie hordes. But unlike your run-of-the-mill zombie tale here the walking dead are mere bit part players. Carrying on the tale of Moses Todd this story flashes back to his days on the road with his psychotic brother Abraham,  as he tries to find some form of peace in a broken world. Along the way they encounter a gifted woman who may very well be the cure everyone has dreamt of.

No. 7: Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell – Ack-Ack Macaque is a cigar chomping, whisky swilling one-eyed spitfire pilot, he is also a Monkey. Fighting the hordes of ninja-Nazi paratroopers is what he does, but he is beginning to think everything is not as real as he thinks. This is a unique tale of a sentient ape and his part in the saving of a prince and battle against the coming apocalypse. There is a twist, and its a very inventive twist that allows Ack-Ack to bridge the gap between the 1940s war and the 21st century workd where most of the story is set. Look out for the sequel Hive Monkey due out soon.

No. 6: Age Atomic by Adam Christopher – this is the follow-up to the brilliant Empire State and carries on the story of the Pocket universe that is the mirror of Manhattan. This time round the Empire State is in danger of being destroyed as earth tremors and a freezing winter threaten to tear the fabric of the Pocket apart. On top of that someone is building an army of nuclear powered robots and plan to invade New York.

No. 5: The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell – this is the latest in the Saxon Stories and continues the tale of Uhtred. King Alfred is dead, Edward now sits on the throne and his advisor’s and the church have distanced him from his fathers greatest warlord, the pagan Uhtred. After an ill advised trip to punish a wayward son, Uhtred finds himself banished from Wessex, penniless and with only a few faithful warriors still at his side he heads north to finally retake his ancestral home. But the long peace between Wessex and the Danes is about to come to a crashing end, and when the Danes strike, and blood is spilt, Wessex as always will only have one man to turn to to save them.

No. 4: The Split Worlds Trilogy (Between Two Thorns/Any Other Name/All Is Fair) by Emma Newman – the Nether is home to the Fae-touched and is a mirror to Mundanus (Earth). There is a treaty in place that forbids the Fae and their puppets from interfering in the lives of the Mundanes, a treaty enforced by the Sorcerers and their Arbitors. But someone has corrupted one of the Chapters and Mundanes are being snatched from the streets of London. This trilogy is a debut fantasy series and if you didn’t know that you’d be hard pressed to notice. Emma’s writing is pitch perfect, her characters vibrant and three dimensional. The story is one of adventure, conspiracy and rebellion. But in amongst this there is also dark subjects including murder, marital rape and slavery.

 

No. 3: The Copper Promise: Let Sleeping Gods Lie by Jen Williams – I reviewed this in the previous post to this, so most everything I have to say can be read there. But I will say this is a debut fantasy novel that breathes life into the pulp style of story telling that I grew up reading. brilliantly paced, great characters and a plot that carries you through a breathtakingly imagined fantasy world.

No. 2: The Broken Empire Trilogy (Prince Of Thorns/King Of Thorns/Emperor Of Thorns) by Mark Lawrence – another debut fantasy trilogy, and another breath of fresh aired breathed into a genre stuffed full of grim and dark. Jorg of Ancarth has to be one of the darkest characters I’ve come across in a while. Haunted by a childhood tragedy that saw his brother and mother brutally slain, and treated with scorn by an unloving father Jorg does what many boys have done before and runs away. But in running away he joins a troop of road brothers and embarks on a killing spree that would be seen as bloody by any counts, but is made more so because Jorg is barely into his teens at the time. Through the course of the three books Jorg cuts his way from road brother, to King to the Empire Throne, the body count is countless, no-one is safe, including those who ride with him. Does Jorg have redeeming qualities, yes, he is not a mindless killing machine, he does what he does for a reason. But those reasons are not always as clear as you might think.

No. 1: Sarah Pinborough’s Modern Fairy Tales (Poison/Charm/Beauty) by Sarah Pinborough – the title I made up, not sure this series of three novellas actually has an overall title? But still, Sarah’s re-imaging/retelling/modern interpretation (call them what you will) of classic fairy tales are brilliant and by far the best thing I’ve read this year. These are fairy tales for grown-ups, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty all come under the spotlight and are given the Pinborough treatment. These are not suitable reading for children, some adults of a sensible nature may want to steer clear as well. Sarah has taken the core of each story and given it a twist, added ingredients and also brought in elements from other fairy stories to make original stories that intrigued and delight.

 

Bubbling under and worthy a mention…

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough – a fresh new take on the Jack the Ripper legend that isn’t about Jack the Ripper.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill – twisted serial killer Charlie Manx kidnaps children and takes them off to Christmasland where he feeds off their fun.

The Shinning Girls by Lauren Beukes – another serial killer but this time one that can time travel between the 1920s and 1990s killing girls that show some spark of greatness.

Space Danger by Doug Strider – a series of self published novellas set about a starship captained by Kurt Dangler. To sum this up its a mix of Monty Python, Douglas Adams and Ripping Yarns, in space.

 

 

 

 

Not sure how I’ve let this slip past without posting about it here, I mean the title of this blog is Philip Norris: Writer. So anyhoo, without further ado, I’m pleased to announce, after much…..oh bloody hell here this explains it all.

2013-Winner-Facebook-Profile

Yep, there you go, it’s big, it’s bold, it has a very 1980ish computer graphic thingy going on, but who cares I only wnet and won NaNoWriMo (snoopy dance). OK, I know I’m not the only one, thousands (possibly tens of thousands?) of other authors won or hit the target they were aiming for. But for me its a personal thing, I had to prove to myself I still had it in me.

Before we go any further we all know what NaNoWriMo is right? November, 30 days, 50,ooo word target, National Novel Writing Month…OK, we all there?

Back in 2009 (the last time I entered NaNoWrMo) I also won, I wrote something that was a little weird, a little alternative and it was a mess. Several times since then I’ve gone back, tried to make sense of what I’d done, wondered what the hell I was thinking, and then promptly closed the file, checked no-one had seen me open it and walked of whistling like nothing had happened. Since then I’ve made several failed attempts at writing another novel, most seemed to lose legs around the 30,000+ mark leaving me thinking perhaps 2009 was a one hit wonder.

Since then I have had had success with short stories (two published and one due to be, though the deadline for that contract expires in January so I may have to place it elsewhere) and I was verging on the decision of abandoning any plans at novel writing and focus instead on short stories and novellas. But then this year I decided to have one more try, It’s my 50th, so how best to celebrate. I planned, I plotted and I set it all out beforehand. This time I was ready.

I planned to move away from my usual stomping ground – fantasy, horror, sci-fi – and this time I trod a favoured path of mine outside of my genre staple. Being a son of a Policeman I’ve always enjoyed procedurals, I grew up watching Colombo, Ironside, The Rockford Files et al. These days I still have an interest, Poirot, NCIS, Law & Order, Ripper Street. All of these show I feel have given me insights and foreknowledge of how the procedural works. To this end my novel is set in the word of a murder investigation that leads the team into the murky world of politics and religion.

A tad over 80,000 words in 30 days, quite proud at that total, a major victory and one that has bolstered my ego no ends. Its still as much a mess as my first novel, but I feel it a redeemable mess. I’ve not looked at it since completion, I have no intention of looking at it for at least six months. I want to give it time to ferment, gain body, grow some.

So there you have it, I has a novel, well will do once I’m done with it.

Idea’s, I have plenty. Idea’s for short stories, idea’s for novellas, novels, screenplays, flash fiction. But – as a great writer once said – to have an idea is not enough, no matter how good the idea. The trick is to formulate that idea into something less foglike, turn it into a solid thing, a thing that can be picked up, tinkered with, polished, perfected, made into something other’s would like to get on board with and maybe – someday – look round and say “hey, that’s a great idea.”

Idea’s, what to do with them? Plot and plan, sit and make a spreadsheet, detailing every nuance, every minute details down to what colour thong your protagonist is where today? Or just run with them, see where they take you as they whoop and holler across the fields of your imagination. I’ve never been that much of a planner, I’ve tried, sat and worked out what the characters are like, their stories, their histories. But then part way in I get that feeling that instead of spending time doing this I could actually be writing. Everyone ha their own way of doing it, their own rituals that have to be performed in exactly the right order so as to raise the story from the ooze. My way – like most of my life – is to just wing it.

Life In The Fastlane – my current main WiP – started life as a short story, a military steampunk with ingredients from SF and fantasy. An alternate history of the mid-20th century. But after submitting it to several magazines – and getting rejected but some nice feedback – it started to become more than a self contained story. The characters were crying out for release, their world began breaking the bounds of just over 6,000 words and demanding to procreate. So it was the short story became part one of a bigger story and the idea began to evolve.

It wasn’t a conscious effort, I didn’t find myself sitting for hours working out which direction to go. I made adjustments to the initial short story – which is now out with beta readers – and dived headlong into part two. It was this headlong dive that became a bit of a marathon, resulting in part two surpassing part one in words and character view points. As of the end of March part two is nearly complete – well the first draft is – and is bordering on a novella all on its own. I already know where to go in part three, but I have no map to take me there, I’ll be jumping on that wing again.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere, I’m rambling, making my inner thoughts public. I feel it helps to vent every now and then. But I just wanted to get it out there, feel some sort of release. With parts 1 & 2 almost in the bag part 3 is the biggy, its the one that could make or break the whole project. I’m entering into unknown territory, beyond 25,000 words territory.

But I have an idea I know how this will play out, I just hope it’s an idea people can get on board with.

 

 

A day early but…

So February…

Another month down, ten more to go until I hit the big 50; so what did February do for me?

BOOKS

Quite a mixed bag this month…

space danger

First up there was Space Danger: The Deadly Planet of DEATH by Doug Strider. I had an early look in on this as Doug (who I’ve known on Twitter for about a year) asked me to beta read for him. Great little novella, with funny settings, characters and a story that whips along nicely. If you like Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett you’ll like this.

from man to man by DEM Emrys

Man to Man by D.E.M. Emrys is a tight short story about a grizzled warrior who just wants to get on with his life and forget his past. But the past doesn’t stay away for long.

the alchemist of souls

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle, you can see my review below this post.

 

Still reading…

dreams and shadows

Dreams and Shadows by Robert Cargill is a quirky read, shades of Neil Gaimen so I’ve been told (never read him so will have to take their word for that). If you like stories about creatures that live unseen alongside the “real” world, this is for you.

ack ack macaque

Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell is brilliant so far. Funny and gripping, plus who can’t love a foul mouthed, cigar chomping, booze swilling one-eyed gun totting monkey.

TV & MOVIES

the following

Still keeping up with The Following (Sky Atlantic), though I do fear it’s in danger of over arcing itself. Nearly mid-way through S1 and the tank is being filled with water, the shark is on its way and the bike prepped for the jump. This show is in danger of losing itself in its own backstory, too many flashbacks (memories of LOST) and not enough answers. It needs to either give something back to the viewer in the way of answers, or have the bad guy’s cock-up once in a while. The whole “everything is pre-planned” theme its using is wearing thin and getting to the point of being unbelievable (how can Carroll – who is in prison and has been for years – know Hardy will be somewhere/do something at a set time so he can counteract it).

game of thrones S2

Halfway into the re-watch of S2 of Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic), still by far the best thing on TV by far. S3 is only a few weeks away, there will be blood, and dragons. Ripper Street (BBC1) is still gripping stuff, dark and brutal and my hat goes off to the BBC for not toning it down in any way.

ripper street

Went to the flicks this month and caught A Good Day To Die Hard. Bruce is still king, yes it was corny, yes it was OTT, but hey – Yippe Kiyay Mother Russia.

a good day to die hard

WRITING

Slight downer with the writing this month, all the short stories I had out in the big bad world have now come back with rejection slips. Very disheartening, but it goes with the territory. I’m already looking at other outlets to send them to.

The TV script has been put on hold; hit a few snags that need ironing out so looks like I may miss the BBC Writers Room Spring window.

Prepping is all done on the post apocalyptic novel, and the alternate history one.

Current full on WIP is a short story I wrote a year ago that I’m re-working into a novella or (possible) novel. Part one is out with beta readers, part two is about a third wrote. Not rushing it, still trying to keep to my writing plan of having a finished novel by the end of the year.

So that was January, first month of 2013, eleven months until I hit the big 50. So what did it mean for me?

BOOKS

I finished Great North Road by Peter F Hamilton. This was the first of his books I’d read outside of the Commonwealth Saga. It was enjoyable, though I did find some sections overblown and there seemed (to me) to be a lot of filler.

I also read Redshirts by John Scalzi. I was expecting something more along the lines of Galaxy Quest, if that was what he was heading for then it fell well short of the mark for me. There were some funny moments, but I did not have any of the laugh-out-loud moments some of the reviewers seemed to have enjoyed.

I was back on familiar territory with Bait Dog by Chuck Wendig (a double bill of the novella Shotgun Gravy & the novel Bait Dog). Familiar as in I know what Chuck is about, have  a pretty good idea of how he works. Though I will be honest and say I was surprised by the intensity of this one. Also it was Chuck without any psychic or vampiric powers. A hard hitting story of bullies, racists and sadists. Not for the faint of heart.

Just finished (last night) Apocalypse: Year Zero, a collection of four novellas that center of four women who go through life changing, and shattering events – 911, the Boxing Day tsunami, hurricane Katrina and California’s “big one”. The end result of these experiences is they each find they have power over fire, water, wind and earth. And as they slowly come together over the course of the four novella’s it’s revelaed that the Four Horsemen were not men at all.

 

TV & MOVIES

Well actually only TV, I did intend to go and see The Hobbit for a second time but never got round to it. TV wise I’m now a proud subscriber to Sky TV, and boy am I a happy bunny. Watched Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (available on Alibi) staring the brilliant Forrest Whitaker. Some pretty hard, brutal stuff in there. Also been watching Ripper Street (BBC1) set in Victorian London in the months after the Ripper killings. Dark, gritty and no holds barred, it also stars Gerome Flynn who seems intent on carving out a niche for himself as a hard as nails character actor (he’s also the brilliant Bronn in Game Of Thrones)

This week started watching The Following (Sky Atlantic) staring Kevin Bacon. Ex-FBI agent brought out of retirement to bring down an escaped serial killer. It has echoes of Red Dragon but an interesting twist is the serial killer has amassed a following, he’s been creating serial killers, he has (possibly) an army of them. Its not for the faint of heart (especially episode 1’s Ice Pick lady scene) but looks to have the makings of a gripping drama.

I also received my DVD of Dredd, watched it and still think its a brilliant stab at bringing the iconic character to the screen. Its just a shame it bombed at the cinema and so highly unlikely and sequels will be forthcoming.

 

WRITING

Some sad news last week when I received an email telling me that Pill Hill Press has closed. Pill Hill gave me my first break, published my first short story. On top of that I have another story accepted by them that was due to be in their next anthology. But there was a sliver lining, Miles Boothe – another author and ardent monster hunter – has created Emby Press and intends to honour all submissions made to Pill Hill. So hopefully in a few months the anthology will be released.

I’ve had a short script placed with Twisted Showcase – a web based anthology series (named in the Guardian’s Top 25 web shows in 2012) – for several months now but they have been struggling to fit it into the filming schedule. There was talk of making it as their first animated short, but finding an animator with time on their hands is not easy. Now they are looking into producing it as a comic strip, and if it is successful on the site will be the first of many.

My WIPs are ticking along nicely. I’ve been prepping a post apocalypse novel for a couple of months now which is close to being ready for the start of the first draft. I’ve also finished a treatment for a pilot episode that I will be writing next month. The aim is to have it written, beta read and second drafted by the end of February so I can catch the current BBC Writers Room submissions window. Once that is done I start work on the novel first draft.

I still have four short stories out there in the world waiting on acceptance/declining emails.

 

All in all January was a packed month, February is shaping up to be more of the same.

 

Everyone has to start somewhere, have some moment, some…thing, that put them on the path to where they are now. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, it plants seeds and then lets them grow. Sure sometimes the seed falters, the dreams die, but inspiration is never put off, it has plenty more seeds.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. Its because of my love of words why I’m now a writer. A writer, me, that feels so good to put down, its something I’ve longed to say for such a long time, and something I thought I’d never get to say. But now I can, I’ve been published, by the end of this year three times. And if the gods are good I’ll be published some more in the years to come.

But I’m veering off, reading, I’ve always loved to read. But where did it all start.

My Dad is a big reader, growing up the house was full of books. He favoured Dennis Wheatley, Frederick Forsyth and Louis L’Amour, quite a mix. He also had an interest in science fiction and fantasy, he wasn’t into it in a big way, a passing attraction when the mood took him. It was through that attraction that I picked up The Savage Sword Of Conan. For someone in their early teens it was mind blowing. There was blood and gore, monsters and wizards, and scantily clad women that Conan had to regularly rescue.

It was my first experience of grow-up storytelling. It opened my eyes to a whole new world, a world that was dark and dangerous, full of exotic locations and people. I drank every copy in, read and re-read them. My bedroom became a store room, piles of comics ranked along one wall. From the comic I’d also progressed to the books, albeit the heavily edited and re-written books of L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.

For many years I collected and read the full collection, for all those years I thought I was reading the works of Robert E. Howard, I know different now. The books were the work of de Camp and Carter, based on Howard’s work, characters and ideas.  But despite that I loved them, and in time like the comics, I’d read and re-read them until the books were nearly falling apart. I’m happy to say now that I’m the proud owner of The Complete Chronicles Of Conan: Centenary Edition.

The seed had been well and truly planted, the worlds of wizards, warriors and things from the dark beyond had me by the throat and wasn’t letting go. But then, through a friend, I came upon a book – well three books but they are usually viewed as one – that blew me away on so many levels.

The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers, The Return Of The King, collectively known as The Lord Of The Rings. Nothing I’d read before prepared me for what I found within those pages. I was still in my teens – the downhill stretch – and I was lost in the wilds with Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry and Strider.

Howard’s Conan is a pulp classic, its raw storytelling is simplistic but to the point. JRR Tolkien on the other hand was creating history – a made up history – but history all the same. From these pages I learned depth, character, layered storytelling. All tools that helped me later in life. Alongside that it made me hungry for the epic story, the sort of stories that you’d devote months of your life to reading.

It was only a short leap from the War of The Ring to The Silmarillion. If Rings was epic, then this was megalithic. I know some fans of Tolkien who have never managed this mammoth book, too long winded, too complicated with its Elvish names and pages of songs. I managed it, in fact I’ve read it three times. Not saying I understand it all, but I managed to follow.

 I followed Tolkien with something very similar, so similar in fact I at first thought it was a parody.

I’ll say right now I’m not a fan of Terry Brooks epic tale of elves, dwarves, trolls and a future post apocalyptic world. I’ve only ever read the initial trilogy, by the time further books came along I had moved along from fantasy and was soaring through the stars aboard a starship…more of that another time though.

Shannara takes everything it can from Rings (hence my belief it was a parody) and fails to give anything new. Whilst entertaining in itself, its closeness to what went before overshadows the story, the result was I felt myself comparing one with the other and finding the pretender wanting. Like I’ve said, I’ve only ever read the original trilogy, from what I know of the series the followed I would probably like it as a whole. But its doubtful I’ll ever get to read it, the series is so big now.

So that was me in the beginning. The three building blocks that introduced me to the worlds of swords, sorcery and adventure, three authors with differing styles but all with a skill to spin a yarn. My first stumbling attempts at writing were set in the fantasy genre, I had a towering hero, a damsel who needed rescuing, I had quests, monsters and a wizard or two. Most of it was rubbish, no honestly all of it was rubbish, a good proportion of it was probably plagiarism, but it was fun, I was finding my feet, honing what little craft I had at the time.

 

 

 

In Gypsy’s Kiss, my current WIP, I’ve come to the point where I have to introduce a character I’ve been uneasy writing about. The character has already featured, but so far has been nameless and voiceless. Now he has come into confrontation with my protagonist and it’s his time to step up and be heard so to speak.

The only thing is this character is not a nice guy, he’s a thug, a killer and foremost a racist. From the WIP title I take I can assume that you know Gypsy’s are involved in my story, and this character has no love for them and has some derogatory things to say about them. But the problem I have is I am uncomfortable writing what he has to say.

I’ve always wondered how other writers have approached this subject? It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when the language involved is alien to you. Now I’m no prude, I swear, I cuss, but I’ve never used racially abusive name calling. I know what the names are, I’ve heard others use them, but using them myself – even within the context of a story – does make me feel uneasy. In the back of my head a voice is saying “what if people think that’s what you really think”, that maybe daft but that’s me.

I have considered dropping the character altogether, or watering him down. But to do that means excising a thread within the story, of the prejudice some people in the world I have created have towards certain sections of society. My protagonist is at odds with this prejudice and that is partly why he is in opposition to this new characters view.

Am I being overly sensitive, should I just take it as read that my readers will accept this is just a character, and not me, saying what is said?

All Rights Reserved  © Philip Norris July 2012