A Milestone

Today I reached 50 years on this planet.

And boy, what a ride it’s been. I was born in Watford, England. Yes, the hospital overlooked the Vicarage Road Football oval so expectant fathers could smoke in the waiting room and watch a game while mums did their thing. The hospital no longer exists but the Watford Football oval still does.

From there, at the age of seven and with my sister, we moved to Australia.

Then the usual things happened, I went to school, discovered I liked kissing boys, and through high school and a couple of years of collage became quite the willing one for any guy who so much as batted an eyelid in my direction. Those were the heady days of youth, for sure. And yes, I practised safe sex, always have.

I worked in many, many, boring dead end jobs.

Now I run my own business, live in a nice house and do what I enjoy. I know that sounds all peaches and cream, but there were a lot of hard years. Despite my easy youth, as I grew up and started entering the adult world I discovered being gay wasn’t easy. Not at all. I’m not “out” to society or anyone really other than those I love. I don’t see why I should have to be. My sexuality is my own, and really, until straight people have to come out and tell everyone they’re straight, why should gay people have to? Why should straight be the default?

I don’t see coming out as a liberation, but a prison.

I’m waiting for the day when a boy can walk up to their parents, another boy or girl in arm, and no one even raises an eyebrow. The day all sexualities are accepted without question, conditions, or repercussions. Love is love, I truly believe that.

Anyway, tonight I’m going to a hotel with my partner for a few nights to wine, dine, and…well…you get the idea! I’m allowing comments again, but any hate and the post will be reported and deleted.

Talk soon.

Back From My Break

I’m now back into the swing of things after the Christmas/New Year period. In that time, I also got back into swimming, starting up my business again after COVID restrictions, and the writing of the 3rd novel in the “Lord Knight Hereward” series – which is about a 1/4 of the way through now. I hope to finish it within the next month or so, and it looks like (by how the arcing plot is going) that there will be a 4th possibly 5th and 6th books–maybe more. There’s so much world to explore within the Eleven Kingdoms of Landmere. I love it.

Have I set any other goals?

Well, book 1 is in proofreading now. Once I get that back, then I will perhaps look at smaller/independent publishing houses, or an agent. I’m not sure which. I would like these stories out there for others to enjoy, but hey, if not, then I’ve loved writing them, and Hereward and his son Wallace will always live in my head. I’m actually happy with that too, if nothing eventuates.

And it took me a long time to come to that realisation. Being a writer means I write. Once the words are written and I’m happy with them, then the job is done, isn’t it? What happens after that is up to the universe, as they say.

Sure, I’ll send my work off to places, but if no one likes it, or picks it up, then so be it. The journey of writing itself is the important part for me. Being published is a bonus, but not a necessity.

Anyway, I’ll try and post once a week from now on. I’ll also allow commenting on my posts for now too – which I haven’t done before. I’m also reading some great books, ones I can’t believe I haven’t heard of. I’ll give you my thoughts on those soon.

Until then, be well my friends. Love you all.

The Final Empire: Review

The first Mistborn book, “The Final Empire” started slowly, but thankfully I stuck with it and the reward of the story at the end was worth the wait. The writing was clean and pulled me along nicely. I really fell in love with Vin and her becoming the mistborn she was destined to be. I loved the way she thought and felt throughout the story. Well done.

The story was a complex one, justified for the 700 pages, and it is clearly set up for it to continue. As I believe there are 6 mistborn books. I have the first three so let’s see how they go! They are all about the same in length, so quite hefty reads. Something I like.

If you want to read high fantasy with little violence, no swearing, political intrigue/oppressed people, and a more complex plot with interesting characters, then this might be the one for you. So far so good for me!

The Goblin Emperor: Review

Very rarely an utterly special book comes to my attention. A book one thinks about for days, weeks, after the final page is turned. A delight. To become a part of one’s history when read.

This book, “The Goblin Emperor” is such a book.

And that’s not to say it’s an easy read, either. This is not a ‘casual’ Sunday read one does in the garden while sipping lemonade. No. This book needs, nay, demands thought and attention; as though it may seem simple on the outset with plot and court intricacies, it is far from it. There are always deeper thoughts behind what is written. I loved that.

The main character, Maia, a half-goblin (and not how you imagine goblins to be; there are no Tolkien or Harry Potter stereotypes here. I imagined these goblins like cats, their ears turning to reflect their emotions, twitching and lowering. Quite lovely) and sudden heir, is the shining light throughout this whole book. He goes from being a timid eighteen year old, to a man who realises when he pushes back, things happen. And yes, the gradual, slow build up does indeed have things happen.

The book is beautifully written, the language appropriate with its court intrigue and use of pronouns. Stunning really. It’s not like any other modern fantasy I’ve read, and bloody hell, that’s a good thing. It’s filled with light, wonder, and the wanting to be good, do good, for all.

The only minor issue I had, was at one point when Maia discovered a male member of his court loved another man, replying to him about his ‘unnatural love’. I became slightly miffed at that, and was the only stain on an otherwise flawless canvas. The rest of the book champions equality for the poor, women, people of colour, and fairness for all. So yes, to me that sentiment, even if Maia’s thoughts, seemed out of place for this story. Thankfully, it was more said out of innocence not malice, as Maia is by no means malicious in any way.

And yes, you will need the list of characters at the end of the book to keep up sometimes. There are many, many, many characters crammed into the 500 pages. I think more than 30 at a good guess. Some of whom had very similarly spelled names.

To put it plainly, I simply loved this book, and it will definitely go into the re-read pile, to be cherished and loved as Maia cherished and loved his subjects.

Beginning the Third

I’ve completed my latest work, the second instalment of my fantasy trilogy (loosely titled together: “Tales of Lord Knight, Hereward”). The story is named “Mortal Screaming” and as such I’m now onto the third, “Godly Rage” where things are going to get a little funky as the final state of play, the fight for the Lands of the Eleven Kingdoms, comes to a head.

I’m not going to spoil anything, because hey, these books aren’t published, so it’s very hard to talk about what I’ve written, get excited about it, without any others having not read them.

That’s the lonely life of a writer, isn’t it?

How do we know what we’ve created is good? Because, after all, the readers are our judges.

Red Country, A Review…of Sorts

Here’s one of my reviews that aren’t quite reviews. This is the final in the trilogy that started with “Best Served Cold” then followed with “The Heroes” and now, “Red Country.”

Then again, all of these books ‘could’ be read alone, as there isn’t any story arc which binds them, other then them all being in the same universe and time/place. A couple of characters are seen in all three, but again, it won’t make things unreadable if you hadn’t read the others.

Having said that, I absolutely loved this book. I think it was the best of the three. I love Shy and Lamb and why they had to do things. I think their story, getting back their stolen children, was a powerful one, and made them do things they wouldn’t have otherwise dreamed of.

Shy is a beautifully drawn character and she developed the most. Lamb is a mystery, and I won’t spoil it by saying who he is (if you’ve read Abercrombie’s book before, you’ll know). That’s all I’m saying.

I also think this book finished things off nicely, but left the author with more to do if he so wished. Let’s hope he does keep the stories flowing in this universe. I have his new series to read next (well, the first two that have been released) and I can’t wait to get into them after a couple of other reads to complete.

The Heroes

Here I come to “The Heroes” the second book in the second grimdark trilogy of the “First Law” universe, by the consummate master of the genre, Joe Abercrombie! Gosh, I do love his books. They are dark and bloody and sometimes just what’s needed as they reveal truths about humanity. Truths many other authors may not wish to delve into, and especially not in fantasy.

This book is raw bone, biting wind, driving snow kind of stuff. Perfect!

The characters in this book are neither good nor bad. Neither evil or angelic. They are human, innards and blood and attitude and failings, and all. They do thing for their own purpose. They do things for self reward. They do things for love. For hate. And yes, out of all of it, in this book there are no real winners! After all, who really wins a war?

There’s always a cost. A price to pay; even for the so-called victors.

So, in my reviews that aren’t really reviews, as I don’t give scores, or really even talk about plot, just my own nebulous thoughts, yes, I enjoyed this one. I had a sense it was perhaps about 100 pages bloated, but hey, those pages were still soaked in the blood of the vain and and the guilty alike, so who am I to complain?

For grimdark, look no further.

I’m onto the next book, and final in the trilogy “Red Country” right now.

The Time of Innocence

Ah, that time when the words are fresh! When the story, full of wonder has been done, and there’s nothing but excitement for what’s to come. The first draft is complete, all the words planted down over the weeks, months, even years, to hopefully grow into beautiful, lovely flowers of prose that everyone will adore! This is the time when the author is full of innocence about what’s been created. Like a new born. Skin soft. That baby smell. Of gentle ooh and ahhs, and complete and utter love.

Enjoy that moment.

Because once the first draft is done, the innocence revelled in, then that’s when it all comes crashing down. That’s when the author, having basked in the glory of creating, pushing out their baby, falling in love, begins to see the reality of it all.

That’s when the editing process begins…

And if writing the first draft is innocence, the first day of school, full of hope and wonder of new things, then the subsequent drafts/editing that comes next is the gang of bullies you used to hide from behind the sports shed at school. The reality. They are brutal too. Because the words you thought, innocently, were flowers waiting to bloom, were in fact, the manure spread over infertile soil.

But…

From that manure, beautiful things can and do grow. Have the innocence, enjoy the wonder. That’s what writing is about. But also expect the gang of bullies. The ones who will help you kill your darlings, so to speak. Enjoy them too. They are there to help you, after all.

Because writing is such a positive and negative process, it hurts and heals. But from all of the chaos, you must do one thing. Forgive yourself. Forgive your first draft. Forgive your second and third ones too. Forgive all you have done, because yes, from it all you have written a story. And it is your story. One that grew from innocence to become the wonder it will be after everything else has been fought for and against.

And if you don’t succeed, forgive yourself for that too.

There’s always the next story!

Write on…

A Story to Tell

Pictures are worth a thousand words they say. And it’s true. Nothing inspires me more than seeing good photos when it comes to my writing; and I usually create a lot more than a thousand words from pictures, let me tell you. I’m a very visual person.

In my latest book, my fantasy epic (now 3/4 of the way through book 2), I have travelling jongleurs as two characters who come into the story to enhance the plot: jongleurs being travelling musicians who do tricks and other things to entertain the common folk in villages etc.

This photo what what inspired me to write Horan and Joran (brothers), my travelling jongleurs.

This is a 1902 original Hearst wagon, and what a story it could tell.

And it did.

In my story I have it pulled by a mighty piebald Clydesdale stallion! And the two jongleurs, brothers, are mysterious and have a very interesting story to tell, secrets too! What’s more delicious than a good secret in a story, hey?

Gosh I love this stuff! Happy writing Everyone!

Best Served Cold Review

“Mercy is the same as cowardice”

And that, as a theme throughout the book, speaks of what to expect in Joe Abercrombie’s first story in the epic fantasy trilogy beginning with “Best Served Cold” where we have a lady lead character, Monza, seeking revenge for the death of her brother, Benna.

And no, all is not what it seems. This book is rich in character, rich in the grimdark fantasy Abercrombie is famous for, richer for all the blood and fighting scenes. Loved it. I have to say, Joe Abercrombie’s writing is becomming some of my favourite. So darkly vivid and immersive. His works are almost a ‘go to’ if I need something solid to read that I know I’ll enjoy no matter what.

Having said that, I still think the first trilogy (The Blade Itself) in this fantasy world he’d created was slightly better. Logan Nine-fingers will always be one of my favourite all-time characters.

In this book, I much preferred ‘Shivers’ than the lead character; he was darker and had a better depth to him as he was trying to be a better man, whereas Monza was simply seeking revenge against those who wronged her/her brother.

Unfortunately, the one sex scene we did get between Shivers and Monza – well…it was clearly written by a man who was trying to write such a scene from a female perspective and didn’t quite get there in a satisfying way. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But not up to the rest of the standard of the writing, I felt. Yes, folks, contrary to what you may think, sex scenes are very important in (adult) books because they can add to character perfectly. The one Joe wrote did that, as it set up things to follow nicely (no spoilers). Just fell flat a bit for me.

And at least he didn’t write ‘her silk purse held his pork sword nicely within its cavernous depths’ or equally cringe-y things like that. At least the sex he wrote was raw and gritty, just lacked some emotion. After all, after some 600 pages these two finally got it on, you’d have thought there would have at lease been a smile.

I will certainly be reading the next in this trilogy “The Heroes” because we return to the north and more grim-darkness. How delicious!