Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Deeds of Mankind...

"Everyone makes a conscious choice" - drummed into me at an early age by my Catholic upbringing. But, does evil truly exist or is it just people and what they do and say? Nowadays, I am more of a spiritual person than religious.

My characters are a mixture of all the good and bad aspects of everyday humanity; no demons or ghosts, just troubled people and yet - is there more at play than that?

We all know people who seem go out of their way to be deliberately obtuse or antagonistic. Some behave appallingly because they crave attention and will either be direct or sly about it; others feel justified when they jump to negative conclusions. What exactly constitutes justification? The villains in stories are often the result of small hearts but large egos. I was told as a child it was because: "it was in their nature" and I struggled with what this meant exactly.

Imagine you could tell the obtuse people in your life exactly what you thought of them without any personal consequence. Then, imagine meeting the people you admire and look up to, the people who are a joy to be with; what would you say? What is it about them that attracts you so much?

Now, turn this on its head - become the person you detest, the one you admire and allow them to interact. By doing this, does your perspective of them alter? There are no end to possibilities when creating characters and stories.

The picture below is an example of how things may not always be what they appear to be. It is one of the stills from my book trailer and I took it with my iPhone one Sunday afternoon. I took an old wooden African mask into a room with red curtains, closed the curtains to shut out the light and then used two small torches behind the curtain so that they glowed through the eyes. Quite effective, don't you think?

Friday, 19 April 2013


I call upon my memories to colour my characters so that they emote and take a course of action that I would never consider. There are 2 definitions of "memories" and I stand in between; the first for the psychoanalyst: "conscious representation of the past suspected of being, at least in part, illusory." The second is: "mental capacity of retaining and recalling facts." As a writer, I can dip into both and pull out what I need for my books.

Memories can alter over time. What was once a hurtful experience can be viewed as a life lesson whereas some can fester so that we become entrenched and to then be able to release them across a page, sets them free; a form of making peace, if you will.

While writing, memories can be so thick that when using them to influence a story is reliving the experience on a different level of intensity. I used to love watching Denny Crane battle with his demon dementia; he was waiting for his memories to override his daily life or at other times to go completely. The reality is that it's no laughing matter despite the ludicrous situation of eventually returning to the state of an infant.

I read with wonder how brain surgeons discovered that patients often recalled lost memories whilst being operated on. They experienced them in a linear pattern but condensed into seconds. It is said that one sees their whole life before them during their final moments.

A writer's words can be remembered by complete strangers and words can touch them, evoke opinions and evey influence them in their daily lives. But, the writer's words are also a testament to the influences that shaped them and so, to me, loss of memory would be agony as I would no longer be able to write and then have new memories to feed upon.

Before I was a writer, I had a healthy respect for my more hurtful memories but very seldom liked to "go there." Now, they are a source of strength and I find that while I considered my more tender moments as a no go area I'd also inadvertantly pushed happier memories to one side. If multiverses exist, as opposed to one universe, then I often think what kind of stuff are my counterparts writing in any of them?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Interview with Reena of Starlight Book Reviews

I thought that an interview with a book reviewer would be interesting and helpful to writers and budding authors. Reena from Starlight Book Reviews kindly provided some insight: -
Starlight Book Reviews is a book blog created by me, Reena. I was born in Malaysia, but spent most of my childhood in Arizona. I'm currently studying for my IGCSEs but that's about all I've got planned out. I enjoy reading in my free time and if I ever enter a bookstore, you won't see me for ages. I absolutely love chatting about books so drop by my blog, I would love to talk!
Q - How long have you been a book reviewer?
I actually just started around the end of last year. That’s when I really got into reading books and found out about other blogs reviewing books!
Q - What pivotal moment made you think "I want to review books"?
Well, I can’t decide the exact moment but once I started reading and reading more, I felt like I wanted to express my feelings and thoughts towards the book. This also allows me to help other readers to choose what they want to read based on my reviews and to thank the authors for all their hard work!
Q - What is the title of your Blog and could you tell readers if you have a goal?
My blog’s name is Starlight Book Reviews and basically, the goal is to provide readers with knowledge and updates about books. I also blog about movies based on books, upcoming release dates for books, cover reveals and even read-alongs. I try to make the posts fun and interesting by occasionally adding giveaways and interviews!
Q - What are your favourite genres and why?
I typically read almost any genre but I prefer young adult as the characters are usually around my age and they are much easier to relate to. And like most people, I love a great book with a happy ending!
Q - What is your favourite book and why?
This is a tough one….but if I had to choose, it would be Divergent by Veronica Roth. This was actually the first YA book I have ever read and was the book which got me into reading. Why do I like the book? There are so many reasons but I think it has to do with the writing style and the tension. Divergent managed to keep me on edge the whole time I was reading it and the romance between the characters helped keep the book in balance. I just can’t get enough of Four and Tris!
Q - What interests you most - story or characters?
I personally feel characters are much more interesting because if you’ve got a wonderful story plot but really annoying characters, what’s the point? All you’re doing is making us annoyed. However, you do need a balance, if you have great and easy to relate to characters but a really boring story, readers will lose their attention.
Q - Who has been your greatest supporter(s) in what you are doing?
I initially started this blog without the knowledge of anyone but as time passed, I couldn’t really keep it that much of a secret anymore. I think my greatest supporters though, are my friends. They’ve helped encourage me and praised me and I think that just gave me the little push I needed to continue on.
Q - Has your life changed in any way since becoming a reviewer?
Definitely! I have a lot more work to do but it’s worth it, the end result is always a great feeling and you get to socialize more with others. You’ll find there are tons of people out there who will actually read what you post and enjoy what you’re doing! The daily routines are the same but there’s always something to look forward to blog about and it’s usually different. It’s also a great way to find the next book to read.
Q - Do you have one piece of advice to share with any budding authors?
Just keep writing, there’s bound to be some ups and downs but there will be people out there who will enjoy your books, you just have to keep trying. Also, try posting information about your books on websites such as Goodreads, we readers won’t know your book exists unless you tell us! You can even throw in a giveaway or blog tour once in a while to get more people interested!
You can find Reena at: -

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Special Places

When I write, I put myself into the places I write about. I visualise, feel the weather on my face, look up and see my surroundings and immerse myself entirely within them. It is probably the greatest form of virtual reality there is; the physical distance between my fingers touching the laptop keys and the brightly lit screen above doesn't exist for me - I see and hear only the scene I am writing. This kind of virtual reality transcends that of a cinema experience and if a book is crafted expertly enough, the reader can experience it too.

Sometimes, I'll be somewhere and almost experience the same sensations - see a scene of literary fiction, a conversation unfold before me. One example is when we went to Skipton Castle in 2011. It was a beautiful sunny day but very breezy around the castle exterior and the "magic" happened as soon as I stepped into its inner courtyard, which was once the heart of the castle's community.

There was a stillness about it and yet the atmosphere seemed charged, like a live wire awaiting contact in order to spark and spit. I roamed throughout the castle's many winding steps, unexpected rooms and all led me back to the courtyard. A year later, I used the courtyard in my 2nd book "Star Keeper" - it was to be the scene of a tragic accident, mystery and intrigue.

Skipton Castle courtyard - I sat under the tree and soaked up the atmosphere. There's a link to Skipton Castle's website on my blog page "inspiration."