Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Drune has a face ...

Okay, one eye - but it's a start.

While writing Terminal Point, it didn't seem to matter that I didn't have a clue what Drune looked like. I knew his character, his likes, dislikes, what turned him on - and off - but apart from his scars, general appearance and one dark eye, I couldn't see his actual features. At the time, the story progressed well enough without these details.
The writing of Retribution, however, proved different. I found it increasingly difficult to write the character without a face to put with the actions. I tried visualising various actors as Drune, but that didn’t work - Jack Nicholson (too scary), Robert de Niro (double scary), Clint Eastwood (too wiry) … All 'old timers', I know; but younger actors, for me, don't seem to have the right  'feel' about them. So I decided to create Drune myself.

And here he is. Well, part of him, anyway. One dark eye and a black lens. That's as far as I've got. Now, all I have to do is draw the rest of him. What do you think? Does it work for you?
I know the dangers of drawing your own characters. Readers form visual pictures very quickly. Stephen King's Dark Tower (one of my favourites) was tainted for me when I was confronted with an illustration of Roland wearing blue denim … The Roland I had imagined up to that point was nothing like the illustration, and would never have worn blue denim. Now, when I choose a book to read I make sure there are no illustrations to put me off.

Rest assured there will be no bad drawings in Retribution. This one is just for me - to help write the character a little better. I thought you might like to see it.  If anyone has ideas as to how Drune should look, I would love to see them … 



Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I'm a quiet person.
    I don't talk much. I'm a 'sit in the corner and take it all in' sort of person, so blogging doesn't come easily to me, unless I'm particularly incensed about something - which doesn't happen often.
   Cruelty − especially toward children, animals and the elderly will usually get me going. Injustice, in any form also makes me mad - especially in the penal system:
   Make the bastards pay, I say.
   Boorish and inconsiderate behaviour might lead to blows … And people who insist on walking half naked in public, showing off bodies even their dogs shouldn't be subjected to.
   Why should I be forced to look at them?
   And teenagers … especially those with their 'I know it all' attitude.
   You don't know it all. Read a book then you might learn something.
   Oh, you can’t read. What a surprise!
   Drunks and their belligerent cousins … Shit. If they didn’t drink so much they wouldn't vomit all over the place and I wouldn't have to pay extra taxes to have it cleaned up.
   And don't get me started on manners …
   Bad Manners.  I hate bad manners. How much does it cost to say please and thank you?
   And Loud music: noisy neighbours with their music systems the size of Wembley stadium blaring out at all hours.
   And barking dogs.
   My dog doesn't bark, not unless I want it to.
   And bonfires.  I hate bonfires - and the people that light them. Smelly, obnoxious things … The bonfires, not the people,
   And intolerance – I hate intolerance - in any form.
   Otherwise I'm fairly easy going.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


     OK. Imagine this. It's a lovely sunny day, the warmest you've had after several weeks of rain, rain, and more rain. You are in the garden, a beer in one hand, your sunglasses perched attractively on your bald pate. The children are playing, your wife is showing your friends the garden; rose scent permeates the air; birds are singing, bunnies are hopping; Snow White is trilling...
     Grind to reality.
     Some bastard lights a bonfire.

So what do you do?
     You put on your 'I'm really pissed' face and confront the culprit.
     'Would you mind not putting fresh grass soaked in horse urine on your bonfire right now,' you ask politely. 'The smoke is ....'
    'Push off,' he says
    'Pardon,' you reply in a slightly shocked tone.
    'You heard.'

     So what do you do?
     You could ram his pitchfork through his throat and watch his beady eyes pop as blood gurgles slowly from his mouth as he attempts a scream, but of course he can’t - he has a pitchfork rammed through his throat. Or you could push him (accidentally) onto the smouldering heap, hold him down and watch him slowly roast till smoke swirls in pretty tendrils from his every orifice. Or you could...
      Walk away.
     You want to kill the guy - Lord knows you want to kill the guy, but your kid's tearful face keeps popping (thankfully) into your head so you don't.

     I mean, come on! This is not the movies or some novel. Apart from a few chosen words what can you do?   unless you want to miss out on your children’s developing years and have your daughter say, ‘No, sorry dad's not here. Mommy says he's holidaying in some correctional facility for the next couple of years -’ if it's just a smack on the nose. Or forever if you happen to give in to your animal instincts --

     Now I'm no coward. I have confronted neighbours on several occasions regarding their bonfires being lit at inappropriate times - usually on the first sunny day we've had and when people are trying to enjoy their gardens. It's not the bonfires so much as the selfishness. They never once consider what they are doing or how their actions will affect others.  - This is the problem with the world. If people were only AWARE, and CARED what their actions were doing to others there would be world peace and prosperity for all…
     Ok. Grind to reality … Again.
     I'm never polite in these confrontations.  Anger is not yet a crime. 'Look what your bonfire is doing,’ I rage. ‘Have you no respect for your neighbours? Why am I surrounded by bloody pyromaniacs? I've never once had a bonfire. There is no need. There are composters and shredders - all good for the environment. Why do you need a bonfire? They’re not good for anyone, especially not asthmatics, which my daughter is.'
     Usually this tirade is enough. 'I’m sorry,’ they say. ‘I didn’t realise. I'll put it out.' And they do.
     And that finishes it.  The good neighbour  - who still feels that he must burn (it’s an obsession with some people, I think) - does it after dark. It still stinks and wafts through the windows, tainting the air for days. But he is at least trying

      But what if, just once, he said, ‘Push off.’
     What if, just once, I didn’t walk away?
     What if, for one brief moment  - that’s all it would take - my hand reached for the pitchfork …

     It’s terrifying to think how your world could be shattered by just two little words …

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Playstation vs Wii

Now, apparantly, I live in the dark ages. Why? Well, I still own a Playstation 2. I sit in a comfortable chair for my gaming pleasure. The worst injury I might suffer while killing zombies or hurtling round Laguna Seca is Playstation Thumb.
   What's wrong with me? Why do I not feel the need to leap around the room, trying not to throw my controller at the tv? Why is the idea of getting tennis elbow in my own living room not appealing to me?
   I think I know the answer - I'm over 14 years old!
   Yes, its an age thang.
   My idea of fun is a 'Joey' chair, with a vodka to my right, the tv remote within easy reach, and a controller grasped firmly in both hands. Its one of those old fashioned controllers with one of those old fashioned long things that attaches it to the console - you know, a cable!
   If I'm really in the mood for excitement I might even turn vibrate mode on, but sometimes even that can be a little too much.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Stretched Science.

I was told that the science in my book is absurd. It's not, it's just stretched a little. But even if it was, would it matter? This is science 'fiction' after all, not actual science. If you want  'real' science then I suggest you read a science journal. Arthur C Clarke had aliens that looked like carrots and rolled-up carpets - but  that's taking things a bit far  (if it wasn't Clarke then I apologise.) I remember reading the book years ago. I can't remember the story, just the carrots and rolled-up carpet. It put me off science fiction for ages. Nowadays, I expect the sci-fi I read to be slightly more believable. Superior alien intelligence that look like fish and live in water-filled spheres is not my thing ... Halfhead by Stuart B Macbride is. There are no aliens,  galactic space battles, or megolomaniacs trying to take over the galaxy, just hard-hitting, gruesome stuff ... A little disturbing but hey, that's what makes this book such compulsive reading.
   Now talking of disturbing (if you don't like spiders, that is)  - though this is not science fiction - The killing Kind by John Connolly.
   If you haven't already, then read it. Mr Pudd is the creepiest character I've read in a long time ...  I'm not too keen on his black widow spiders either.
   By the way, did you know you can now buy a spray to deter spiders? It doesn't kill them just keeps them at bay. After reading The killing Kind I think you'll want to get some ...

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Walking Dead - Zombie Opera?

Finally I got round to watching the end of Season 2 of The Walking Dead.

If way back at the end of Season 1 someone had told me that I'd soon be losing interest in the plight of Rick Grimes I would have thought them insane. The question I must ask is: what happened to the good ol' zombie fest that we all knew and loved? Not often enough were we warned that this program contained scenes of bloody violence. 'Bloody violence' is good - well, in a series about zombies it's good. What is the point of zombies without a healthy measure of gore splattering, spleen munching peril?
   I was saddened to find (while watching Season 2) that on occasion an entire episode would pass without anyone even losing a finger.
   'Oh look, here's a change: they're on the farm again.' This was simply soap opera, with zombies. We're all familiar with Space Opera, well now we have Zombie Opera. Except the latter, so far, has been a great deal less enjoyable.
Season 1 was a work of genius: horrific, often stomach churning, yet moving. A must see. At the end of each episode I would pace and count the days - nay, hours - till the following instalment. I waited those harrowing months between series, biting my fingers to the very bone (mmm tasty) and for what?
   A travesty. A crime against horror. No self-respecting zombie would drag their rotting corpse out of the grave to appear in such self-righteous drivel. The writers of Season 2 should have been staked out and eaten alive. They took a perfect idea and solid characters and turned the whole thing into mush. Bland. How do you make a series about zombies bland I ask?
   And what did they do to Rick? This tormented, desperate guy who, throughout it all, remained moral and the pillar of humanity turned into nothing short of wet. And he wasn't the only one they messed with. Shane and Daryl: totally cool, hardass characters with enough potential to carry a series on their own; wasted. Lori: pain in the arse with an even bigger pain in the arse kid (check out this CollegeHumour article on 10 reasons why The Walking Dead should just kill Carl). Dale: don't get me started on Dale. I awaited his digestion very eagerly.

   So the finale of Season 2 went out with a splat, and not a particularly big splat either - more the splat of a pair of wet underpants hitting the bathroom floor than the satisfying splat of a liver hitting your windscreen! I was expecting a good ol' munch fest. We lost a couple of unimportant characters. Lori, unfortunately, wasn't one of them. Daryl didn't go on the expected psycho spree and Carol didn't even lose bladder control.
   I won't even mention the killing of Shane in the penultimate episode. Dang! I just mentioned it.

   Anyhow, if left to me the whole thing would have been different. Well not the whole thing. Episode one I'd have left alone. So here's The Walking Dead version 2.0 reworked the JJLee way.
   While camped out on the road after the disappearance of Sophia, most of the group are gruesomely eaten in their sleep (by Sophia!). Rick, Lori and Carl run for the hills and spend the rest of the series fighting for their lives and learning to live life the Daryl Dixon way: squirrels, bows and arrows, poison ivy, itchy backsides, the lot.
   Meanwhile Shane and Daryl set off on a blood splattered mission of vengeance, vowing to find every walker on the planet and put them down. On the way they meet up with some hot, shotgun toting, chainsaw wielding babes, a biker gang and a couple of beat up, pissed off army dudes.
   Then they push across the globe, leaving a trail of burning walkers behind them, rescuing nuns and kittens along the way!
   I feel that perhaps the cast list would also benefit from the likes of Michelle Rodriguez, Moon Bloodgood, Lance Henriksen, Bruce Campbell, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Nathan Lane (!).
   We might even run a subplot involving aliens - You can never go wrong with aliens (and I do mean the huge salivating, acid for blood type) - just in case our cast gets a little complacent with the whole 'just another zombie come to eat my face' situation.
   Bloody perfect. A masterpiece if I say so myself. I should write this stuff down ... oh, I just did.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Great Butter Icing Debate

So I nipped out to the shops to pick up a few last minute things for Mother so she could finish her lemon easter cake.
Among many other things on the quickly scrawled shopping list was the word 'butter'.
Now I don't know about you, but to me 'butter' is a general term for the stuff you put on toast. So I came home, laden with Mother's 'just a few items' and she said, 'Dear, (its never a good sign when she calls me Dear) what is this?'
'Butter,' I said cheerfully, and she gave me that look - Yes, Mother has a look that need not be accompanied by words, yet this time I got words too.
'I wrote butter on my list.' She indicated the list.
'Well its all butter isn't it?' I said (a hasty ill-thought response) 'Margarine, veg spread, what's the difference?'
The look again - 'I need to make butter icing. Not margarine icing, or olive spread icing, or nasty-yellow-all-purpose-stuff-for-baking icing, but butter icing!'

So, under the intense look, I left the house and went back for butter. The unspoken was very clear: if I wasn't to return with butter, I wasn't to return at all.
Happy Easter!