Monday, 26 November 2012

Meeting Nocturnal Book Reviews

One of the nicest things about this whole writing business is connecting with people, and in promoting Dark Dates I have interacted with loads of lovely bloggers. But the other week I got a chance to actually meet one, when Karina of Nocturnal Book Reviews was in London and suggested meeting for a coffee. Well, as you can see from the picture (which I have poached from her blog, and was taken by her hubbie), coffee soon turned to wine and we had a right old natter. It really was great to put a face to a name and Karina and her husband are both fascinating people - they've lived all over the world and have lots of stories to tell! - so we had a very pleasant afternoon...

Me and Karina of Nocturnal Book Reviews

Monday, 19 November 2012

Interview at Workaday Reads

I was delighted to be interviewed over at Workaday Reads. Do pop over and check it out!

And remember, my new short story is available for the bargainous price of 77p - A Vampire Walks into a Bar.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Amy Mah - Teenage Vampire

So, today I'm delighted to introduce you to author Amy Mah, whose books look a delight. Why not check them out?


About the Author

The author Amelia Mah is a 20 something snarky, sarcastic and cynical author who has a very popular blog of how she sees the world from the point of view of a modern teenage vampire Following the success of her first book "FANGS RULE A girls guide to being a vampire" she had now expanded the idea of life as a teenage vampire into a full novel.
 
Amelia has given her avatar her own name so you can see the world first hand from a very bored teenage vampire that has been forced to remain a teenager for far too long. She may have very good teeth and the ability to hang from ceilings but life is far from easy. Today's world is difficult for everyone, especially teenagers. They face the stresses of school, deciding whom to date, and the biggie of sex, just to name a few. Imagine all of those things ten times worse, and you might get an idea of what it's like being a living, breathing teenage vampire. At last, the world can read about the life of a girl with good teeth, her problems with strong sunlight that gave her spots, and the sunblock that made her hair go yucky and produced more spots. Yes, sunlight was dangerous, as she could be the first teenager in history to die from terminal acne! In her everyday life, older vampires expected her to walk about at night in the traditional female uniform, a see-through, 18th-century nightdress, without undies! Well, this female vampire knew why the cold winds blowing along the corridors were called, "male winds," so she wore her see-through nightdress over jeans and a very thick jumper. To be sure that people would still know she was a vampire, the jumper had a very large, pink bat on it. And as to guys, well, it was normal for a girl to dream about guys; she just wished the dreams could have involved chocolates and holding hands, not leaping out at someone, ripping off his shirt, and demanding to know what blood type he was (at least not on the first date). 
 

FANGS RULE
A self help guide by Amy Mah (Vampire) for teenage vampire girls, the guide is fully illustrated by manga Artist Heby and is written in an easy to follow A - Z format explaining everything a teenage vampire girl would need to know about living life as a modern Vampire. What is fashionable to wear when eating out? Fang maintenance & how to keep your claws sharp. Should you let a boy bite you on the first date? Easy to understand clear advice is given to every day problems.
 
Example: When you get an urge to bite: We all get those normal urges to bite things, and I must point out it is very normal, Claws are all well and good in a fight but a bite gives the extra advantage of getting a refreshing drink at the same time. Lots of girls worry about showing their Fangs in public believing that to show your fangs is rude, but don't be shy they can be a girls greatest asset (ok second greatest asset) if a boy is being rude to you, don't just snarl at him, just bite him! You are a vampire why do you think you have sharp teeth if not for sinking them into a boy that is being rude to you.

 You can see a trailer for Fangs Rule here. 
 
 

VAMPIRE
Today's world is difficult for everyone, especially teenagers. They face the stresses of school, deciding whom to date, and the biggie of sex, just to name a few. Imagine all of those things ten times worse, and you might get an idea of what it's like being a living, breathing teenage vampire. At last, the world can read about the life of a girl with good teeth, her problems with strong sunlight that gave her spots, and the sunblock that made her hair go yucky and produced more spots. Yes, sunlight was dangerous, as she could be the first teenager in history to die from terminal acne! In her everyday life, older vampires expected her to walk about at night in the traditional female uniform, a see-through, 18th-century nightdress, without undies! Well, this female vampire knew why the cold winds blowing along the corridors were called, "male winds," so she wore her see-through nightdress over jeans and a very thick jumper. To be sure that people would still know she was a vampire, the jumper had a very large, pink bat on it. And as to guys, well, it was normal for a girl to dream about guys; she just wished the dreams could have involved chocolates and holding hands, not leaping out at someone, ripping off his shirt, and demanding to know what blood type he was (at least not on the first date).


Check out the video:
 
 
You can buy Amy's books from Amazon here:
Vampire Night Life

Or check out here Goodreads pages:

 
Or get in touch:


 

Friday, 9 November 2012

New Dark Dates short story

So, been a busy old week on the Dark Dates front - not only did my my friend Linda post this nice (and very unexpected) plug over at Postcard of a Painting - this also features the ace Google Dracula doodle, if you haven't seen it. I also got a lovely 5* review from Lena over at 101ILoveBooksclub (she's also offering a giveaway).

But most exciting for me was the publication of my new short (ish) story, A Vampire Walks Into A Bar. A riotous tale of Cain and Laclos having a night out (of sorts) it was enormous fun to write, and I hope you enjoy it. (Also, big props to Caroline Goldsmith of Red Button for the cover design and help with formatting).  It's available from most Amazon regions including the UK and US, so please do check it out (it's only 77p!) and let me know what you think...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Next Big Thing


Last Wednesday the lovely Caroline Green, author of Dark Ride and Cracks, tagged me in her The Next Big Thing post. The idea is that an author answers ten questions about their next book, and then tags up to five other authors, who will post on their websites the following week.



So here we go…

What is the working title of your book?

At the minute it has no working title, beyond Dark Dates 2, though I am planning to publish a short story in the next few weeks, called A Vampire Walks into a Bar, featuring two characters from the first novel.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I finished my urban fantasy novel Dark Dates, I realized that it not only set itself up perfectly for a sequel, but that I had fallen in love with the characters a little and wanted to see where they went next, so that’s what I’m doing.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Always a tough one! It changes from moment to moment, and is heavily influenced by the idea that I might get to drop in on set and meet them – so Charlie Hunnan from Sons of Anarchy, Timothy Olyphant from Justified – basically a string of hot men! But I do like Kat Dennings from Two Broke Girls, she might make a good Cass.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A sexy, snarky and original look at the vampire myth set in a human/vampire dating agency in London.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

At the moment, not sure, but Dark Dates was self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not really sure in terms of comparisons, but I’m hoping people who like Buffy, Supernatural and Harry Dresden will like it.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always liked urban fantasy but I was getting a bit sick of the way these books seemed to be about swooning teenagers. I wanted to write a female character who was fun and likeable and you could imagine going to the pub with, while having a little fun with the genre.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s snarky, funny and full of pop culture references. Give it a go!

Thanks for listening!

I am now tagging fellow author Chris Chalmers, author of Five to One – go to his website a week from now to see his answers…


Monday, 5 November 2012

It's Good to be Geek t-shirt shop

My lovely friend Kevin has just set up this ace looking t-shirt shop, It's Good to Be Geek. Featuring a whole range of cool designs covering Big Bang Theory, Aliens, Star Trek and gaming - to name but a few - it's well worth taking a look. Below are a couple of my faves...


 You can check them out here.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Guest post: Derek Thomson author of Covenant

I'm delighted to welcome Derek Thomson to the blog to do a guest post...



Tell us a little about the book…
First and foremost, Covenant is a mystical fantasy quest (if it wasn't a genre before, it is one now!), set on a colonised world. The dominant society live in walled City States, and in the Outlands there are isolated settlements. The city folk have relative wealth, science and conformity; the settlers have the natural world and a more impoverished existence.
A third, nomadic religious group, the Thaylin Sarra, wander between them and spread their teachings - a mish-mash of Old Earth beliefs and spiritual traditions. One of those beliefs is that there is a hidden city known as Sarrell, their spiritual homeland, which a Righteous One will one day reveal to them. There is also a tradition that a great spiritual teacher was martyred, and her four disciples will one day return to complete her work.
Five hundred years after her martyrdom, three individuals discover they have connections from this life and beyond, things to atone for and work to be done. One is a priestess, one an outsider and one a heretic. As to the fourth person, you'll have to read the book!

Did you have to do a lot of research before you wrote it?
I would like to say that I approached it the same way I do any other piece of fiction or non-fiction, but that's not entirely true. Covenant developed over a long period of time and the ideas behind it came and went with the seasons. However, I did research some of the more esoteric concepts to give the book a certain structure. For example, there are 22 cards in the major arcana of a standard tarot deck and there are 22 chapters in the book.

The supernatural has always held a fascination for me, since I was a teenager. I 'm also interested in the way that mythic truth and archetypes seem to lurk beneath the surface of our rational minds. We seek to understand our place in the universe and the purpose of existence, and we either discern or create patterns and systems to explain the unanswerable questions. There's an element of that in Covenant as well!
I read some of Joseph Campbell's work on mythology (about the only thing George Lucas and I have in common!), and I also looked at Jungian archetypes. That was as much for me as for the book, but I suppose you could call that research.

The Tarot is a key theme in Covenant. Can you read Tarot cards – or have you ever had a reading?
Short answer: yes and yes. I was given a reading when I was 16, at my first job (clearly, not a busy day). And I remember being dazzled by the symbols and the way that the reader used the symbols as a springboard to - take your pick: intuition, inspiration, guesswork or imagination.
I subsequently learned to use The Rider Waite deck, which is now about 100 years old. Most of the cards depict a story, and it is said that the tarot has its origins as a conventional set of playing cards, in a 14th Century Italian game called tarocchi. 
The tarot has all kinds of correspondences around colours, numbers and certain symbols. If a reader is so disposed, they will find certain correspondences in the book, along with references (some veiled) to other traditions and practices.
Many years ago I used to read the cards for people, but I find the cards more useful now as very occasional tools for reflection. They can also be used for fiction writing, in the same way that a stack of old magazines can provide a rich treasure house of images.

What made you want to write about these kinds of themes?
I've always enjoyed books that do three things:
1. They entertain me.
2. They challenge me, in a certain way, to look at how I view the world - sci-fi and fantasy especially.
3. The ideas live on in my head for a time after I've finished reading. The 'What if?' ripples can spark other insights and creative ideas.

More than that, I wanted to weave together ideas about faith, perception, reality and mysticism into an archetypal quest. The intention was to take all those transpersonal ideas and make them personal to the characters.
Some of the authors whose fiction did that for me were Aldous Huxley, J. R. R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, William Morris, Dion Fortune, and George Orwell's 1984.

How long did it take you to write Covenant?
Another tough one to answer directly! I had some of the ideas when I was 18, and worked on the embryonic novel when I was in the US in 1986/87. It even has a walk-on part in Scars & Stripes, a comedy drama based on that eventful year! In a sense the novel was waiting for me to catch up, until I understood what the story and characters were saying (which wasn't quite what I'd intended for them!).

Who do you think it will appeal to?
Covenant will appeal to anyone who enjoys a fantasy novel that welcomes you to a new world. It's a world of consequences and surprises, where there are no easy answers and everyone has secrets to hide. If you enjoy the idea of a quest, of facng challenges and inner demons (literally, in one case) then you won't be disappointed.
Covenant will also appeal to those with an interest in certain esoteic subjects such as meditation, the tarot, pathworkings and the Tree of Life (another key aspect of the book's structure), but that's simply another layer woven in. 

What made you decide to go the route of self-publishing?
I came via the scenic route. I have been offered four different contracts for Covenant, over the years. Briefly: one died, one went out of business, one wanted just over £1000 and one wanted over £5000. That last one was the clincher for me!

What would your advice be to anyone considering self-publishing?
Not every book is commerically viable for the traditional publishing route. But that doesn't mean there isn't an eager readership for it. Take the time to do your research, plan each step and be bold!

For the ebook version of Covenant (paperback version out soon), I used a self-publishing guide, which told me everything I needed to know.
 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Covenant is currently available as an ebook, but keep an eye on my blog http://www.alongthewritelines.blogspot.com for an announcement about when the paperback version is out.

You can buy Covenant at:


 
And if you do buy Covenant, I'd love to hear what you think!
 
Meantime, here's the back cover 'blurb:

Isca has followed the faith since childhood, taking her from the Settlements and into the City States. Now, as a priestess, a prophecy bears fruit; she receives a stone tablet to liberate her people and reveal their spiritual homeland.

In order to preserve the faith, she must be willing to teach the path of True Will to a heathen, whatever the consequences. When a stranger appears in the city of Tarsis, he uncovers the truth about the tablet and the boy chosen to protect it. But what if the long-awaited Righteous One isn't so righteous after all?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Horror! The Horror! is horribly good fun


I have been looking forward to Theatre of The Damned's new production The Horror! The Horror! for a couple of reasons. One, I know one of the writers, a fellow Exeunt scribe whose work I've been impressed with before, but secondly because it was set in one of my favourite spaces, Wilton's Music Hall. The world's oldest surviving Grand Music Hall, Wilton's is a wonderful venue, wearing its history on its slightly shabby sleeve, and as its main hall is currently being renovated, I was keen to see how the rest of the building would be used. 

Overall, I wasn't disappointed, as the show was enormous fun, and perfect for a pre-Halloween outing. Following a bunch of music hall performers trying to impress 'investors' as their theatre comes under new management, we are led from one act to another through a maze of rooms in the ageing building, but things soon start to go dreadfully wrong...
 
 

 A series of clever and entertaining scenes played out by an engaging and talented cast  (special props to Alicia Bennett and Kate Quinn, whose opening scene is a standout, and features an infuriatingly catchy song that I'm still humming), the show uses Wilton's space beautifully, tapping into both its history and the always slightly illicit feel of being behind the scenes. While there are some genuinely creepy moments, and a few things that'll make you jump, it's more schlocky, gory fun than 'I won't be able to sleep tonight' terror (which is how I like my horror, so no complaints from me), and though it's easy to dismiss horror shows as cheap and easy entertainment, it's actually very clever - one of my favourite bits was an almost throwaway visual scene, so pitch black and perfectly executed (if you'll, ahem, pardon the pun) I'm still chuckling days later. It's also nice and short - as anyone who read my Sleep No More review will remember, my tolerance for being schlepped around in the dark is very, very limited, and at just over an hour this doesn't outstay its welcome. 

Of course it's not without flaws. Although individually each scene works in context, cumulatively the show presents a picture of women I was fairly uncomfortable with (in fairness, I spoke to one of the writers afterwards, and he admitted the real difficulty in referencing historical horror tropes without reinforcing them, and said they may look at tweaking this to fix it). A scene with a splendidly unlikeable comedian (Jonathan Kemp) goes on a hair's breadth too long, and the logistics of fitting a lot of people into small spaces meant occasionally it was hard for everyone to see what was going on (not actually a problem for me, since I am a sharp-elbowed Geordie whose skills at getting to the front of a crowded room were honed in the heavingly busy pubs of Newcastle - my ability to get served and get a table in seconds remains legendary to this day - but I did hear others grumble).

But overall, it's an innovative use of a fabulous space, and I would heartily recommend it (alas, it's sold out now, but keep an eye out in case they return - I know they have some more shows in the pipeline, so maybe worth checking their website to see what's coming up) and I hope Wilton's puts on more of it's ilk.