Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2016

Why can't I write like....

Quite a while ago, I wrote a forum post after reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's sumptuous Marina. It went along the lines of I'd just finished reading it and I wanted to write just as beautifully as he did. Knowing me and my penchant for exaggeration (I call it creativity) I stated I might never write again. And, probably, I didn't for a day or two.

Such moments of - I'm not sure jealousy is the word, nor despair, but somewhere between the two - have happened a few times in my writing life. (I stared at the Time Traveller's Wife for a week and wondered why I hadn't had that idea...)

In this case, I got rightly rounded on by two more sensible heads. Why would I want to write like anyone else? I should write like Jo Zebedee. And I nodded my head and took my medicine and agreed my comment was silly in the extreme. (Especially since my description-light style is light-years from Zafon's). But, still, I would read books and put them down and stare at the wall, just a …

Podcasting across the Universe

Well, okay, the world. But, hey, it's a start.

I spent last Friday reviewing questions to be asked of me by the fab Rob Matheny and Phil Overby for the Grim Tidings Podcast. On top of that daunting occasion, I'd also said yes to recording a different podcast with Stephen Gordon for his Real World Happy the following day.

As ever, I could do with thinking before I leap. I've only done one podcast before and it was short and, perhaps mercifully, never saw the light of day. But thinking before jumping in isn't my way and so, a few months earlier, having been a member of Rob's Grimdark readers facebook group (the nicest facebook group ever, those grim ones really need to up the ante a bit) I asked if he'd consider me for a guest. He said yes, we had a chat over Skype, and there I was, sandwiched between the likes of Michael J Sullivan, Kameron Hurley and Joe Abercrombie.

So, I kicked the kids out (on an icy day, down to get ice creams. But, hey, an on-the-house-ic…

You can't always get what you want...

I had a plan for my writing career. Not a dream - although earning a million and buying a mansion would be nice - but a plan. In every other career choice I've made, I've had some kind of path I hope to follow. By and large, I've found knowing where I'm going, when, why and how - allowing for the odd deviance - has been a good thing.

This, then, back in 2011, was my plan:

I'd write a short story each month, get them published, and bring in some revenue.
I'd get an agent for my trilogy, then a publisher - a big one.
I'd be on every bookshelf in England, Ireland, America and everywhere in between.

Somehow, I've gone from that to being published with a small publisher, being self published, selling only 6 paid for short stories (although I have at least four - count them! four - coming out this year in various places). I got an agent and lost that agent. I'm on bookshelves in Ireland but not so much anywhere else.

Here's the thing: we don't ge…

What happens when I'm published?

I started blogging because there was a dearth of honest answers out there about the writing process. Not the i's and t's and grammar - there are many specialists out there much better at that aspect that me. No, what I wanted to share was the ups and downs of becoming a published author, the frustrations and the successes and, if I found out anything useful, the tips.

I'm 9 months down the line from my first book being published by an indie press. Since then, I've self published a separate title. In the last two months, both my books have drifted around the top 100 of the their categories. (It comes and goes.)

- And, what do you know, as I've been typing this, I've gone and hit number one in two Amazon categories. I'm a double Amazon bestseller for both my titles! -

As ever, this blog is my own experience - another's journey will be different. But this is what I've found out in those nine months, and what I'm carrying forward into 2016, when I&#…

ANKSHARA - a myth of Abendau


In the beginning we were of the stars, not the sand. After the great falling there was only heat and burning eyes, and the bitter cold of night. Our fathers fought to survive, building shelters whipped by the winds, little defence against the predators of the sand: the lizards and snakes, and worse below. 
 Our fathers led us deep into the sands, through storms, so our numbers grew smaller and food was scarce, and water was the dwindling supply brought from the crash-ship. We didn’t know how to read the sand. How to tell when it crusted beneath our feet and became dangerous. We learned as our people fell through the ground, taken, not killed, their screams echoing through the hollowed caves.
We learned what occupied the nests below when the clutterbacks emerged, their great legs bowed, their backs bent and hard, eyes searching prey. We learned to fear the spiders, to know that even the lizards, giant though they were, refused to face them. As we ran, they chased us down and we …

When the aliens did for Carrick...

Josey decided the house wasn’t in one of the new alien-built estates after all, not judging by the cracks in the wall, barely disguised by a coat of paint. She probably wasn’t even in Belfast – few places in the city were this intact. Maybe she was in the country. When the war had started, before the cars ran out of petrol, some families fled Belfast to relatives in rural areas. The rumours of how peaceful it was in the country, how they had food, had made her jealous enough to churn her stomach. She’d comforted herself by insisting the rumours were lies and things were just as bad everywhere but, honestly, she didn’t think anywhere could be as bad as Belfast. She glanced at Liz, sitting on the edge of the next seat, her face even more lined than usual. “What will they do to us?” Josey whispered.             Liz pulled her jacket around her shoulders. "I don’t know. But listen."              Josey did, but there was no sound inside the house. They could have been abandoned.  “…


The thing mentioned a lot about Abendau's Heir is the ending. My editor talked with me about it, reviewers have mentioned it - some favourably, some less so - my beta readers were fed up talking about it.

One reviewer this week picked up what it meant to me - the set up of Abendau feels familiar and generic, and so it should do because it is a trilogy that sets out to ask questions of one of the central tenets of the genre - that of the untouchable, unbeatable hero. But, this reviewer went on, when the epilogue was read the generic became unique.

The ending is the first real hint of what Abendau is about. It was essential that the normal ending, the one the readers wanted and the premise that would be expected to deliver on, wasn't what happened.

Because, frankly, that ending isn't believable. Not once you put real people into books - and that's what my characters should feel like, real people in an extreme world.

People are not unbreakable. When they're in trauma …