Hello and welcome to my blog.
I'll be voicing my thoughts and opinions on the creative process as well as other random topics that enter my mind. I can't promise to be entertaining or informative, but if you like genre fiction, movies, TV or comics then there should be something to interest you.
Any errors and foul language are my own.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

May's Days

May's a hectic month. There's lots going on with the day job and the wedding plans are continuing apace (less than two weeks to go and there's still a few things to sort out, but that's ok, right? I'm sure it'll all fall into place eventually.), so there's little free time.

I've managed to squeeze some time to write every day, but in some cases it's been as little as a few words, sprinkled with some punctuation here and there to form a coherent sentence. I'm ok with that, given what's happening at the moment, but there's something thats got me frustrated.

I'm starting fresh. Creating new characters and new worlds. New worlds? Should I just set it in a near-mythical England, something where it's all forest and always raining, sort of a pre-Arthurian genre? Or do I populate a planet of my own creation with strange races, create a landscape that is purely my own, throwing a dragon in for good measure? That's my trouble - I'm happy with my main character's journey, but I don't know where he lives. There are pros and cons for both ideas, too many to put down here (trust me, I wrote a list) but my usual themes of self-sacrifice, redemption and the true meaning of courage are still there; they're universal, so can be applied anywhere.

Years ago, when I was more ill-disciplined than I am now, I'd find myself influenced by everything I watched and read. It's starting to get that way again, and it's annoying. Not just to me, I'd imagine; When I get this way become a surly, grumpy creature, head down and dragging my feet, like some miserable hulk. I don't want to be the next [insert favourite author name here] or write a story thats simply a rehash of something from a different genre (although I hear "Wagon Train in space" proved popular a few years ago...) or a combination of other successful things. I want to be original, write a story that appeals to me as a reader. I'd want it to be published, or course, but I'm a firm believer that you can't write for what you think that market wants to read. Write from the heart, the passion will shine through, and it will be good enough. All so very simple.

At the moment, my favourite TV series currently showing is Vegas. No sci-fi elements at all, so it should normally be something that falls into the 'worth a watch' category. Yet, it has great characters, whose actions are driving a superb plot. The actors are brilliant too (it's good to see Dennis Quaid back, seeing him always reminds me of Willis Davidge from Enemy Mine), working with excellent writing to create something very special. There isn't a character you can't identify with - or, dare I say, even sympathise with - which is what makes Vegas appeal to me. Yet, as good as those characters are, the world they inhabit influences them, for good or for ill. That's why it's so important I get my world right. Writing's hard, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and I'm not going to give up.

Monday, 6 May 2013


I was going to talk about this year's Free Comic Book Day, but...

When I first moved house eleven years ago, I was given a couple of small sofas for the conservatory from a work colleague. All I had to do was pick them up and get them home. Simple; I hired a van, got them on board, and drove home. I'd had help getting them on, but trying to get them off by myself? It wasn't happening.

I heard a voice ask if I wanted a hand, which I did, so I accepted. I was surprised to see it was the old man from two doors down, and was tempted not to bother him. Turns out he was stronger than I (not hard) despite touching his 70's. Anyway, between us we got the sofas out and put where they were meant to be. We shook hands, and he told me his name was Harry. I told him I was Alister, although he'd call me Alex ever since. For some reason, that never mattered.

Over the years, Harry did much for me. He'd keep an eye on things while I was working away, take in my parcels of books when I wasn't around, gave us some of his home-grown veg, even let the cat lounge in the warmth of his greenhouse and - I suspect - put a saucer of milk down for her. When my good lady came to live here, he'd talk to her across the fences and she found out more about him in a few short months than I did in the years before. He'd been a shepherd in his younger years, used to the outdoors; this, for me, explained his resilience. Harry, I  thought, would live forever.

Sadly, he died on Thursday. His health had its ups and downs over the last couple of years - more downs, unfortunately - and in the early stages of last week he was being kept alive by drugs and machines. We knew something was wrong the weekend before, when his family were dismantling the greenhouse in his garden.

Harry's dead now, and while we'll all miss him, he will live forever in our hearts, minds and memories. Whatever beliefs you have, I hope you'll join me in hoping he's gone to a better place, reunited with his loved ones. Maybe he's even looking down, reading this as I type, wondering why I never corrected him when he called me Alex.