Month: January 2016

A little writing music

Music is a perfect pairing for writing. It can provide inspiration, pace and block out annoying noises. But it’s gotta be the right music.

The key pre-requisite for me is NO LYRICS. Words distract me and sometimes randomly appear in my manuscript.

This is what I listen to while writing.

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Reading habits of a beta reader

Today, an interview with a beloved beta reader of mine, Andrew. Andrew’s a voracious reader and so let’s learn a little more about his reading habits.

Tell me a little about yourself?

OK, single. Love city living. Currently binging on the show Jane the Virgin.

What are you currently reading?

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s about what happens when the world’s roatation slows down through the eyes of an 11 year-old girl. Good read.
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How and when did you develop your love of reading?

I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it wasn’t until around 2007 when I started really buying up books by the tonne each year to read.
It kind of got kicked started from a friend I worked with you would mention the books she’d read each morning to and from work on her 1 hr train ride.

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Writing spaces – ideal and real

In an ideal world, my writing space would be in a room overlooking craggy cliffs.

The floor to ceiling windows would open out to the sea, where I’d watch the ever-changing weather roll in and the waves crash against the rocks. I’d be inspired by the power of nature, the wild and moody weather.

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Unfortunately named “Suicide Cliffs” in Okinawa

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Recent Reads – Europe in Autumn

Why did I love Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson so much?

The book is a spy thriller set slightly in the future, in a time when the countries of Europe is dissolving. Every man and his dog is seceding, setting up their own principality. Borders are a bureaucratic nightmare and black marketeers are taking advantage of the chaos.

The hero is Rudi, an Estonian chef turned courier, who gets deeper and deeper into the murky world of espionage.

The book is in four parts following Rudi from his first gig until the point when it all goes wrong. It is almost like four novellas, pieced together eventually. The middle section with Rudi’s family in Estonia seems out of step at first until more details are revealed. I adored the excerpt from the map-making of Whitton-Whyte and the twist delighted this little sci-fi fan.

Why did I enjoy this book so much?

Perhaps it was the mix of vivid characters; the burly Hungarians, the obnoxious mentor Fabio, Rudi’s bizarrely robotic English captors, the grumpy crusty Pawel. The characters were well rounded and real.

Perhaps it was the slight weirdness of the world. Quite similar to our own, yet with minor technological and geo-political differences.It was familiar and yet intriguing. There was little time spent world building, the story jumps right in and explains the world as we go. Yet there are enough odd little details to remind the reader that this is not your ordinary Tom Clancy thriller.

Perhaps it was the wry English humour. The dialogue was sharp and believable. I chuckled out aloud a number of times.

Plus a cracking plot.

Let’s just say, I really liked this book.

But the topic of genre provoked the most thought for me. This is classified as a science fiction novel – which it is. The world is futuristic, but only looking a few years into a possible future. I was so curious about the genre of this novel, I contacted the author. I had a nice conversation with Dave Hutchinson over Twitter regarding the genre classification of this book. Hutchinson describes it as a “near-future espionage thriller”. This is a very apt description.

I struggle with the “science fiction” label because it brings to mind aliens and spaceships. My own writing is in a similar vein to Hutchinson’s – a different world not too dissimilar to our own. Is speculative fiction a better description or “fantastika” as Hutchinson offered? Yet, your average punter doesn’t use the expression ‘speculative fiction’. When I look at the categories for sci-fi in Amazon, the only vaguely applicable are “dystopian” and “post-apocalyptic” but my own writing and a book like Europe in Autumn does not fit with the other zombie invasion novels.

Anyway less about me and more about Europe in Autumn. If you like a well built near-future world with espionage, great characters and good writing, I recommend you take a look at Europe in Autumn.

I’m off to read the sequel…when I’ve finished The Wise Man’s Fear.

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Excerpt – Evangeline & the Alchemist

Today, I thought I’d share the first page of my steampunk novella set in Marvellous Melbourne in 1880s, Evangeline & the Alchemist.

I hope you enjoy….

Chapter 1

It all started with a rat-a-tat-tat on the Professor’s laboratory-workshop door. Evangeline and the Professor looked up from their inventing to see Miss Plockton in the doorway.

“Chief Inspector Pensnett ta see you, sir?” she said.

Evangeline perked up on her stool. A policeman here at 56 Collins Street? Something exciting was surely about to happen.

“Ah, yes. I plum forgot.”

Evangeline’s father stopped adjusting his new, improved auto-chariot and walked over to the wooden bench, placing his trusty brass screwdriver with the ivory handle down beside neat stacks of brass cogs, wheels and pins. Her father, Professor Montague Caldicott, the pre-eminent horological-engineer in all the Colonies, smoothed down his humongous moustache with his real hand.

“Your lesson is over for today, m’dear. Follow Miss Plockton upstairs and continue with your embroidery.”

“But Father…” Evangeline groaned. “I could be of some assistance.”

“Police matters are not for the ears of impressionable young ladies. All those dead bodies and smugglers and swarthy criminals. Far too sordid.”

“I never get to do anything interesting,” Evangeline grumbled as she stowed away her rosewood-handled screwdriver in the pocket of her dress, along with a handful of brass pins. The smaller and more delicate screwdriver was a recent gift from her father, an encouragement to pursue her own inventions.

Evangeline’s plain bottle-green day dress, buttoned to the neck, was not the latest fashion but it was better than she had ever imagined in her previous life on the grey foggy streets of London, when her toes poked through holes in her boots. Cold was something she had yet to worry about since she arrived three months ago on the dirigible from Singapore. She wondered whether Melbourne could be anything less than sweltering.

“Out. Out.”

The Professor shooed Evangeline and Miss Plockton from the laboratory-workshop, before carefully locking the door behind him.

 

There was a time when a visit from the police would have frightened Evangeline. She would have hurried to hide her loot, but not today. Today she was a reformed character, setting aside her urchin ways and learning to be a proper young lady. But being good all the time was a bit dull.

Evangeline and the Alchemist is now available on Amazon.

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