Monday, 13 December 2010

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

At last!

Finally, I have finished the twelve short stories that will pad out the paperback edition of Swan Song.

It's been a long time coming and I must admit, those last three stories damn near killed me!

There's truly no such thing as an easy slam dunk! Especially if your quality meter is as high as mine!

What appeared simple became difficult and what appeared difficult became EPIC!!

They are finished, that's the point, and I am very proud of them!

It will be so cool to have people finish reading Swan Song and then just over the page, have twelve new 'experiences' waiting for them! I think that's pretty cool.

In addition, six of those stories will be available as an exclusive FREE ebook collection entitled Against The Grain.

The other six will remain EXCLUSIVE to the Swan Song paperback and, again, I think that's pretty cool.

The stories range in themes, as I have previously discussed here in other posts, yet I hope I have shown my heart in all of them.

There's violence but redemption, love but loss, humour but deadly serious threat and it's all been tied together with one simple premise; the mythic obsession we have with the creature of the vampire.

I promised my publisher a long time ago I would stay true to what I hope is my unique calling card, the London setting for my tales. I am glad to say that except for one story, London played a welcome and fitting host for my stories. At no time did I feel I really had to change locale. It links me to the town I live in all the more succintly and my debut novella.

(Even my front cover for this collection, taken in Camden Town, is the bridge Lewis Morrison finds himself under during the storm when he finally accepts Katrina for what she is in Swan Song. I like this oh so subtle reference).

So now it's all gone off to my darling publisher, and we play the waiting game.....

What does the immediate future hold?

Well, interestingly enough, as mentioned before, I have THREE potentials vying for my affections to be my next REAL book.

It's going to be fun letting them fight to the death!

To the victor, the spoils!

Monday, 15 November 2010

And the 3rd contestant is...

I now have three up and running contenders for my next book!

This won't be a sequel to Swan Song, I've made that pretty clear, but in the course of my short story collection, so much has inspired me that man, I can't nail it all down!

Three ideas are vying for my affections for my second book, technically; my first feature length novel sized story, even a conversation with my wife about the nature of horror films has helped!

So as it currently stands, I need to finish one story for the collection and then I have three already begun ideas for my next book.


The truth is these ideas are so big in scope, they may take up all my spare time! It's exciting as hell! Ever feel swallowed by your concepts? Daunted by them? Thrilling isn't it?

I'm bad at research. I always have been.

My stories are kept close to my heart, my core, grounded in a reality only I understand. These ideas will test me, push me. I think I need to do that at this point in my writing life. I still adhere to the tried old and tested belief that a story can be small in scope yet epic in moral and message. Usually, those are the most effective (think The Shawshank Redemption, or the incredibly underrated Unbreakable, which I love!) but I do think it's time to push the boat out, as it were.

I just hope I don't come apart at the seams!

Hell, I'll just throw in some hokey jokes and a shocking scene or two to patch up the gaps.

(Joke! That was a joke people!)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Waffling On

Short stories rock.

Short, sharp shocks that require no real commitment to read.

So how come recently every time I start a short story, the bastard grows legs and develops into a fully fledged monster that 6 A4 pages won't do justice?

The problem in the beginning was finding ideas that went somewhere.

Now the problem is every story WANTS to go somewhere and take me along for the ride!

Four times in the last two months, I have started work on what I intended to be the last short story that would complete the 12 story collection that will pad out the paperback edition of Swan Song (yes, that old chestnut again, bite me), and every time, the story mutates into something that 6 to 8 pages of material couldn't possibly contain.

So what do I do?

Chop the legs off a running beauty of a story and prematurely bring about it's demise so I can include in a paperback collection? Or start from scratch with an idea that hopefully won't grow a further head?

I'm actually asking!

In truth, and I wasn't going to admit this, I went back and looked into my older work, stuff that NO ONE has ever seen, and pulled a bit of material from it in order to further my collection.

Problem is each idea that frustrated me then blossoms into an uncontrollable flower the minute I put pen to page, or fingertip to key. I can't keep these bastard stories short anymore.

Is it time to write a follow up to 'War And Peace?'

With vampires?

Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Music To Soothe The Savage Beast

Simple enough intro to this post :

Do you write to music?

I recently bought The Deftones new album, Diamond Eyes, and it's the perfect blend of brutality and beauty, just what I always hope to invoke in my writing.

The music, metal at it's most sensitive, is blistering in it's power yet the layering of leads beneath, coupled with reflective and uncharacteristically positive lyrics, has helplessly enthralled me. The band have always been good but this album is undoubtedly their crowning achievement, so far.

I often write in total silence.

(Hey, if I have music playing, how can I hear the voices in my head, of which there are many?!)

I simply prefer to hear the words flow in my head without the added distraction of music. If a song is playing, my mind naturally latches onto the lyrics.

However, I have to add this, movie scores are truly wonderful in this sense. An orchestral piece, sombre and thought provoking, is often just what the doctor ordered.

Vampire films, typically, have wonderfully suitable scores to write dark material too, Interview With The Vampire, Fright Night and the actual score from, of course, The Lost Boys. Inparticular, I URGE my fellow vampire writers to check out Tangerine Dream's haunting score to the classic vampire 1987 western tinged flick, Near Dark. It's flawless!

I find the right piece of instrumental music really helps to set the tone for my writing.

So how about you?

Is music a suitable writing companion for you?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Juggling Styles

As I near the completion of the twelve short stories that will accompany Swan Song into print, a single goal has been in my head throughout the writing process.

Each story should be different.

I've attempted to change tone, pacing, structure, theme and mood with each new idea that I've penned down, desiring that each new tale starts completely fresh, both in style and intent, from the one previous.

So far, it's worked out, I think, but can you have too much of a good thing, no matter how varied?

What if, whilst attempting to showcase the multitude of styles I have at my disposal, I overwhelm my reader? Might it finally appear in conclusion that in order to appeal to everyone, I've thrown in everything, including the kitchen sink?

This dilemma takes me back to my music days.

I once had a phone conversation with an A and R man at Fire Records who attempted to explain to me that a band that sounded like all their favourite bands was a bad thing.

'You have to find your own unique sound...'

He explained.

' can't sound like Madness one song, Nirvana the next and close the demo sounding like Sting. It won't work. It will sound like you are trying too much to be everyone and you will end up sounding like no one.'

'Isn't that a good thing...?'

I cheekily replied.

'...what band in their right mind would try that? That could be the unique sound!'

To this day, I am not sure if I was being serious or not.

His point was well made.

He meant be true to your own style and try not to juggle too many styles or you will appear directionless.

For the established artists that can re-invent themselves with every new work, well I guess that comes later when you have gained the freedom and power to do so. In the beginning, mark your territory.

(Look at me! I'm only one novella down and I'm already talking about being true to my own style! You see how blogs make you pretentious!)

In literature, I think there is a lot more lee way.

In an author's collection of stories, I expect him or her to mix it up. I expect variety of all sorts, be that moving from a first person narrative to a third, and so on. More than anything, I expect a difference in mood and resolution to the stories. Not everything has to end like The Shining right?

I want to surprise my readers with how different each of these stories will be from one to the other, yet throughout, my writing voice will remain the one constant, promising that although the playing field and focus may shift, my control on the narrative will not.

I'm curious to see how it all turns out.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Mood Writing

My wife recently went on holiday (sort of) back to her home country of Minsk, Belarus, leaving me twiddling my thumbs. I thought, great, space and time to do some serious writing.

Nothing got done.

Nothing at all.

And the reason?

I was too lonely to write.

Which inspired me to write this blog tonight; how important is your mood to what you end up producing, if at all?

Cliche; do you need to be happy to write a happy story? Do you need to be sad to write a sad story? Do you need to be angry to write an angry story? Etc....

I found that with my wife gone, even though I suddenly had all this time at my disposal, I lacked the simple drive to get anything done. I generally write my best work when she's sitting on the sofa not two feet from me, surfing the net. We don't talk, not when I am writing, but I know the minute I am finished, she's dying to read it fresh from my fingertips. I guess I never realised how much of a support I find that, it really helps!

I re worked a few ideas, tinkered with titles and juggled the order of my stories that will soon appear in the paperback edition of Swan Song, but nothing new really got created. I was surprised.

Relax Gaynor, my long suffering publisher, she came back a while ago and work is now full steam ahead once more. It just left me thinking about my fellow writers; have they ever experienced anything like this?

George Lucas publicly apologised for the sheer overwhelming darkness of 'The Temple Of Doom', citing his divorce as a reason. In fact, now I think about it, many writers, both novelists and screenwriters, have admitted traumatic experiences have lent both style and creedence to their ideas at the time. I find this endlessly intriguing.

I will say this, before I hand the floor over to the writers whom I know and want to hear from; falling in love definitely didn't stop me from writing and exploring dark material.

So why the hell couldn't I write brutal evil material when she was gone for only a week and a half?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Working Holiday

Recently, I've been taking my much needed holiday time from work to write.

Write and nothing else.

(Just briefly, I work in accounts, 'nuff said?)

My boss called me over about three weeks ago and said 'You still have about nineteen days holiday left to take, Jev. I know you love it here but you better start taking them.'

So what did I do?

I arranged the most suitable time off between my crazy work load shifts and planned some valuable drinking and writing time (the two go hand in hand for me). It's the only time I can really get some work done. SERIOUS work.

When I get home, it's usually half six or seven o 'clock. If I start writing and fall into 'the zone,' I could still easily be there at half one, quarter to two, with maybe only three good pages to show for it, that and a viciously tired hangover the following morning.

So, with my two days off (starting now), I'll plan a writing schedule, go buy much needed alcohol, turn about two fans in my direction (It's bloody hot in London right now though I don't want to complain about it!) and settle in for the long haul.

Swan Song was completed on a week night.

It was finished at quarter to three in the morning on a Thursday purely because it was 'flowing' and I was scared that if I stopped, I'd never get it back again. (That could explain the breathless nature of the head long rush toward the climax, though I feel the story benefits from it, as if the pendulum finally shifted one way and couldn't be altered as events spiralled towards their inevitable conclusion).

And now, with two free days looming, two potential full length Swan Song follow ups in progress (NOT sequels, I don't DO sequels!) and five stories short of completing my Vamplit Vampire Collection Of Short Stories, I guess I feel pretty good.

I'm focused on my writing.

My X Box 360 does not help.

Neither does my guitar.

I'm ignoring them at the moment.

After the recent posts regarding positive feedback regarding Swan Song and online interviews, I am determined to return this blog to what it was originally intended to be, a thoughtful study on the aspects of story telling that we writers agonise over on a daily basis. I never wanted this to become 'my diary' or a series of random ramblings.....

I found my original Swan Song notes last night. It was fascinating comparing how I felt then to how the story eventually turned out.

I may post the notes here at some point...

Am I rambling?!

What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah, focus......



Monday, 28 June 2010

Horror News.Net praises Swan Song!

At the danger of turning my blog from an insightful writing sketchpad into an egotistical back slapping paradise, my ebook Swan Song just scored an AMAZING review over at Horror News. Net and I am stoked!

Go to, click on Book Reviews, then Swan Song!

Or, you could just read it here.

You know, whichever....


Written by: Jevron McCrory
Release Date: February 2010

Publisher: Vamplit Publishing
Publication Date: 2010
Format: B & W
Price: 2.99

I have a confession to make.

When I started reading Jevron McCrory’s aptly titled novella Swan Song, I wanted to hate his protagonist. That’s not the confession. Nor is it a slam against McCrory’s writing. McCrory brings the character of Lewis Morrison, Swan Song’s male lead, across in vivid detail with a few well-chosen words. It just so happens that Lewis is a jaded, often drug-addled man with a tendency to act the ass. In fact, he’s exactly the sort of fellow readers love to hate. And I would have loved to hate him too.

Here’s my confession: I couldn’t do it. No matter how much I wanted to loathe Lewis, McCrory wouldn’t let me, damn it! Despite his myriad flaws, Lewis is just too human to hate. With subtle brushstrokes that at first are nearly undetectable, McCrory paints layer upon layer of complexity around Lewis until he emerges as a multifaceted figure just this side of tragic. Indeed, by the end, McCrory has given us enough glimpses into Lewis’s humanity for the reader to recognize him as Everyman on a bad day. A very very bad day.

Sent to write a review of mysterious beauty Katrina Collins, whose bewitching melodies are stealing the music scene club by club, Lewis expects to be bored by another warbling wannabe. He does not expect to pass out, swept into unconsciousness on the young woman’s song. Nor does he expect to find himself gripped by an inexplicable obsession with Katrina.

As Lewis, despite his professed anger, is drawn ever more powerfully to Katrina, everything he knows about sex, love, and life is turned upside-down. And for those of us along for the ride, the notion of the warm and fuzzy—er, make that cold and fuzzy—romantic vampire is turned on its head as well. McCrory’s vamp is the undead parallel to a jungle cat: alluring, majestic, and compelling, to be sure, but not a creature with which you’d be advised to cuddle up. Assuming, of course, you like your blood vessels unmolested and your internal organs, well, internal.

This is not to say that the human elements within the beast are left unexplored. McCrory has an excellent grasp of the range of human feelings. In the short space permitted by the novella format, he wrings anger, pain, lust, happiness, sorrow, and more from his characters, taking the reader on an emotional thrill ride. Although there is not time to spell out each character’s motivations for every action and decision, we feel close enough to the characters that such revelation is unnecessary. We sense that this is the way in which the character should behave, and that is enough. The hints and intimations that we receive throughout tell enough to flesh out the back story, but to think our way through the narrative is to miss the point. McCrory’s tale is best simply experienced, on a visceral level, the way Katrina’s spellbound audiences experience her music.

My one complaint, if it can be called such, is that Swan Song is over so quickly. Though its brevity lends it the breathtaking capacity of a swift punch to the gut—or should I say the throat?—I found myself greedy for just one more bite. Those who enjoy a juicy vampire tale will probably feel the same way. There’s something here for fans of the ubiquitous bloodsuckers no matter what incarnation you prefer. I like my vamps to have personality without being above getting gore-streaked and nasty.

Swan Song delivers on all of the above.

Available at:
Available at: Vamplit Publishing


Monday, 21 June 2010

First Online Interview

My first online interview was conducted a short while ago by Paula Phillips at Paula Zone. I figured I would post it here, just for the hell of it!


Interview with Swan Song author, Jevron McCrory

Who remembers the book I reviewed just the other day? Swan Song? You know, that awesome vampire novella with the singer Katrina Collins and the music reporter Lewis Morrison? Well, if you haven't checked it out, then scroll down the page or head over to the right hand side of the screen where you will see a little calendar and click on June 13th!

Today for you all, I have an interview with the author Jevron McCrory of Swan Song for you to read!

Tell us about your book, Swan Song.

Swan Song is essentially about two very damaged individuals.

A cynical somewhat reprehensible male music journalist falls for the latest 'big thing' on the music circuit, a beautiful waif like female songstress who proves to be as elusive as her music. She also happens to be a vampire.

The story explores why people end up the way they do and how far they are willing to go in order to make the necessary changes, whilst raising morality questions on who could be considered the more evil, the creature who, by necessity, commits horrendous acts or the mortal who simply chooses to do so.

I wanted to do a real character piece and limit the amount of 'action' in order to draw the reader in, make what was happening more believable and hopefully more effective. It's a slow burn piece. It was intentionally written as the 'antidote' to Twilight and I wanted it to be everything I thought Twilight wasn't. Fierce, unforgiving and uncompromising. I actually created a template, listed everything about Twilight I disliked, then put the polar opposites into Swan Song.

The result is a gritty modern violent London based vampire story that I hope gives the creatures of the night back some of their bite.

As your novel is based around vampires, what was the first vampire movie you saw and the first vampire book you read?

The first REAL vampire movie I ever saw was The Lost Boys and it absolutely fried my brain. I had never seen anything like it! It was funny, stylish, romantic, violent and so utterly downright cool that I became more than a little obsessed with it. It's easily my favourite movie and there's probably not a week goes by I don't watch it. It's the yardstick by which all vampire movies should be measured.

The first book was Bram Stoker's Dracula as I had heard so much about it. The ending disappointed me as I felt the Count was disposed of far too quickly but the richness of the prose and characters just drew me in. It's truly a classic.

What gives you the inspiration to write in a particular genre?

I think I have tried my hand at every genre, be it a short story or my numerous screenplays. My heart however belongs in the horror genre. It just has the ability to straddle multiple subgenres effortlessly. I've always loved dark material and I find violence in fiction exciting.

Has your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family?

To some degree.

I think it would be impossible not to be influenced by those around you. In some instances, I've been very intentional about a character resembling someone I know, or once knew, at other times, I think it must be a subconscious thing. So much of what an artist creates is laced with meaning only decipherable in hindsight.

Did you experience writers block? If so, what did you do to get rid of it?

I'm very lucky as I don't seem to suffer from writers block. I always have something to say. Anyone who knows me will agree with that! I can just take two characters onto a page and things often just seem to start clicking all by themselves.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a collection of twelve short stories for Vamplit Publishing that will ultimately become my follow up to Swan Song (EDIT -They may now appear in the paperback edition of Swan Song!)

They are all stand alone tales that will each have their own unique themes and characters and will range from drama to horror to romance to black comedy. I've gone pretty far in some cases yet I want them all to share a unique sensibility and style. I want to build on what I began with Swan Song as there's definitely an audience for the savage, bittersweet, gritty, London based vampire.

What is your favourite scene in your book?

Without giving too much away, my favourite scene in Swan Song would have to be when Lewis sees first hand, in shocking fashion, what Katrina is.

I spent a long time agonising over when and how to make the 'reveal' as I knew it would be a pivotal moment in the story. Actually, from that point on, the story rushes headlong to it's conclusion and there's a sort of breathlessness to it that I like. I also remember how shocked and scared I was when Kiefer Sutherland was finally 'revealed' as a vampire in The Lost Boys and I wanted to aim for that kind of impact.

Finally, I blended a bit of sexual heat with a spot of random violence, all brought about by a mere simple accident.

Had you previously written anything?

Many things!

I've been writing since I was about fourteen years old, maybe earlier, so before I wrote Swan Song, I had one novella, about seven short stories and about six screenplays under my belt. My first novella, a black comedy called Little Napoleon, may be making it's published debut with Vamplit later in the year.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Little Napoleon took about seven or eight months as I continually juggled plot strands and characters. I just couldn't stop playing with it! Swan Song, because it was wrote on spec and I knew a publisher was waiting for it, took as little as a couple of months! I just thrashed it out in a frenzy. I wanted a pure and simple intimate character study rather than a head spinning Usual Suspects structure so it just came together really quickly.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?

Both. Often, my characters ARE my plot!

They start to speak to each other and ideas just start forming in my head. Things just start to happen, things I could never have planned without that initial interaction. Character development comes later during the process.

I remember George Lucas saying in an interview :

'You are always aiming to be furthering the plot AND learning something new about the character at the same time.'

That stuck with me.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?

Always, though I figured I was far too lazy to make an actual go of it. I had tons of unfinished stories when I was younger. Finally, I hit upon an idea that just wouldn't let go and I finished it, proving to myself I could do it, IF I wanted to!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three material things you couldn't be without?

Material things? So I can't bring my wife? Seems unfair.

Okay, an acoustic guitar, my samurai sword (for chopping trees to build a shack and stuff like that) and probably my 100% screen accurate full size replica Chucky Good Guy Doll from the Child's Play movies.

Well, I can't bring a computer can I?

What are you reading now?

Michael Jackson's biography Moonwalk. I've read it a dozen times. The man was a legend.

Which author has inspired you the most and why?

Clive Barker.

Barker has taught me more about the art of writing than any other writer I could even begin to think of. You'd think I would have a whole slew of favourite writers vying for this coveted position but no, Clive Barker wins it hands down. He's ferocious, passionate, highly inventive, fearless and his prose is simply to die for. I try to imitate him actually when I write! Maybe I shouldn't say that!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

I don't think I am in any position just yet to give advice. All I will say is above all, above anything else, be passionate, as passionate as you can be. Without passion, you have nothing. I truly believe that.

To finish off, do you have a quote or poem that has stuck with you over the years and what is the story behind it?

Brandon Lee, in his last on camera interview before he tragically died whilst filming The Crow, quoted from Paul Bowles' 1949 novel The Sheltering Sky. This broke my heart when I heard him say it, as he was to die only a handful of weeks later. It also speaks to the enduring appeal of the vampire in it's sentiments of treasured time. It's a beautiful quote.

Because we do not know when we will die, we tend to think of life as an inexhaustible well, yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

To Shock Or Not To Shock

We write for ourselves. First and foremost.

If you started to write for someone else, I'd worry, as you should.

We write to please ourselves, because, and it's true, you can't please everyone.

Bottom line; you try to write the kind of stories that YOU want to read, that you have been looking for, that make you go 'Finally, that's what I want to hear, or read, or whatever...'

When I write, a multitude of people cycle through my head.

My publisher, my friends, my wife, my mother and father. Recently I've realised that although an idea may spring fully formed from MY head, I may end up the last person I consult when I write.

Let me explain.

I get a good idea, on some nights, a GREAT idea.

Now this idea may flourish all by itself or it may need a little gestating. Some stories write themselves, others you have to drag kicking and screaming to the page.

So I start with a great idea, but no less than four paragraphs in, I hit a crossroads. I can go dark, down the safe road I know I am capable of travelling alone. I can flip side and go comedy, a turn post no one saw coming and may be all the more sweet for it. I can go romantic and anxiously try to avoid the pot holes that romantic vampire literature has to side step these dangerous days. I can go 'David Lynch' and twist it into something that has so many levels it would make a lesser readers' head spin.

And on and on and on.....

And I am only four paragraphs in!

So am I writing for me, or my potential audience?

Sometimes, most often, I tend to throw caution to the wind and say fuck it, it was my idea, I'll dance with the devil by the pale moonlight (thank you Jack Nicholson; copyright Batman 1989)

But recently I do question who will be reading this piece? Will I alienate my readers by going too far? And most importantly, will I alienate my readers by not going far enough?

I want to write dark stuff, I always have, but, as I have learned from films like Hostel, which concepts have scared me beyond the realms of my own imagination (not the film itself, that sucks), you CAN go too far.

When I drink and write, I always want to go further. It takes my sober mind to advise caution; is this RIGHT for the story?

I ask myself this question right now as I pen the seventh story in what will become part of a collection of twelve stories that will eventually become my follow up to my debut 'Swan Song' and it's a big question.

Am I going too far?

Or am I not going far enough?

To Shock Or Not To Shock?

It's a tricky one...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Why So Serious?

Dark stories.

The darker the better.

They have always had a special place in my heart. Stories that shroud themselves in misery, stories that are unapologetically harsh, stories that are brutal, uncompromising and sometimes downright shocking.

Recently, I have been asking myself, why? Why am I drawn to such dark material?

Answer? The Lost Boys.

No. Scratch that. Let's journey further back.

Answer? Freddy Krueger.

I'd never seen any character quite like Freddy Krueger.

For a young impressionable male discovering cinema, ol' Freddy was like a shot of adrenaline to the system. Here was a guy who couldn't give a fuck about nothing. He'd giggle himself stupid, straighten his fedora (with that deliciously twisted sense of style) then slash you to pieces and dance in your blood. He was, quite simply, a cinematic slap in the face.

I had, indeed, never seen a character quite like Freddy Krueger.

And I have yet to come across a character quite like him since. (He's still gets my vote for the most devilishly original fictional character in history. Just please don't mention that fucking remake!)

And yet, despite Krueger's brutality, despite his evil nature, there, lurking not too far beneath the surface, was humour. Granted, in the early days, it was a humour only Fred himself found amusing, but the message was clear; to really shock, you had to laugh while you did something shocking (check the rape scene from A Clockwork Orange or the ear slicing scene from Reservoir Dogs for further evidence). The Lost Boys, Fright Night, An American Werewolf In London and a dozen others followed to cement the theory.

So why does often the humour get lost along the way?

I've been thinking (a lot) about my second novel as it worms it's way from my brain to the page (or the computer screen if you prefer). Why couldn't my second book have a slightly comedic tone? Or even out and out comedic?

I'm not talking Monty Python territory here. Just something black, really black, like laughing at someone throwing up till you realise they are suddenly choking to death. Like watching a dog chew it's own leg and laughing, till it's fangs cut through the bone. Like watching a father throw a child up in to the air and catch repeatedly, till inevitably missing.....

Uncomfortable isn't it?

I want to write a comedy vampire story.

A story that retains violence yet makes you laugh, whether you want to or not. My publisher will tell you I've already dabbled a bit with this and I hope the results were fairly successful. Hell, my first novella was a comedy. Should I give it another whirl?

(Note: At this time of writing, Blackstone Publishers are considering my first novella for publication)

It's hard to do horror and comedy. Many have failed. Jesus, HUNDREDS have failed!

Do we gravitate towards seriousness and 'end of the world' tone because it's easier? Have we become lazier as writers, to try and blend tones?

Why don't we want our readers to laugh, just before they scream?

Curious thoughts.

For clarification, I travelled to a galaxy far far away and sought the advice of a 900 year old green midget. (For the sheer hell of it).

LUKE : Is the dark side stronger?
YODA : No, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

So there you have it. We're bloody lazy.

Make 'em laugh people.

Then cut their throats.

(Sorry, Freddy insisted on that last part)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Short and Sweet

I love short stories.

The good ones can intrigue, shock and move, all before running the risk of boring you.

They don't pretend to have award winning premises, sometimes they barely boast at all. Mostly they creep up on you, charm their way into your head, then deliver a sucker punch more sucinct than any novel. Therin lies the beauty of the short story, the underdog that thrives on misjudgement, that hopes you set your expectations low so that it can catch you offguard.

I love short stories.

I write a lot of them.

More often than not, a simple idea may occur to me that I feel may be best suited bashed out in an afternoon. A short sharp savage shock that can be ingested in a lunch break. It may be because to have a book of length, the idea is saying 'Look at me, I'm worth a great deal of your time.' A short story, however, asks nothing of you and will either impress or depress in the time it takes for you to think 'Can I bothered to finish this?'

Short stories are providing me a stop gap at this juncture in my writing career, if I may use the word 'career.'

A way of saying 'So what if the second novella hasn't yet gained a momentum? You are writing! That's all Mr Hank Moody of Californication ever asked for. Be happy you have any ideas at all!'

This is not to say my idea for my second book has 'no legs.' It's just, well, how do I put this -

- I don't want to screw it up.

I have a high bull shit detector, at least I like to think I have. When I start to write, seriously, it's all or nothing.

As with a band, the second piece of art is more important than the first. If the first is a success and the second isn't, were you a fluke? If the first idea is sublime and the second merely average, are you a one hit wonder? Should you explore the themes introduced in your first book further? Or divert from them completely? Are you flakey with no drive? Or a one trick pony?

All good questions.

So what are the answers?

Here's what I know so far of my second novella (compared to my first book) :

It will be darker AND funnier
It will be far more complex
The characterisations will be far more involving and less subtle
The violence will be more intense and shocking
There will again be two MAIN characters
It will utilise (in my opinion) a very original premise
It will take far bloody longer to write!!!!

I will not stop writing short stories. I can promise that.

Like a composer that hears more than one thread of a song in his head, I have ideas at this time that no one story can serve.

I have to get them out.

It would be stupid not to, no?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

What's In A Name?

What's In A Name?

Continuing in my efforts to keep this blog as focused on every aspect of writing as possible, I found myself wondering the other day this most seemingly irrelevant of ponderables? : What’s in a name?

How important to a book’s success is the title to which it is finally ascribed? Is the name of the story really so important? Or is it of any importance at all?

Stephanie Myer’s original title for her saccharine saga was ‘Forks’ before some media darling at her publishers recommended (insisted?) ‘Twilight.’ Would ‘Forks’ have been as great a success?
(Stepping away from literature for a minute, the intriguingly titled ‘The Long Good Friday,’ the brutal British gangster film about troubles with the IRA, was originally to be called ‘The Paddy Factor!’)

I wrestled with the christening of my debut novella ‘Swan Song’ for quite some time, a process that began at the start of writing and was only resolved at the very end. I compiled a list of some eleven titles (some of which I adored but did not suit the story) and simply chose one, taking into account my wife’s enthusiastically given opinion. I like the title I ended up with but I can’t help feeling a little disappointed when I see a book online with the same title. I strive for originality, even in a title.

So now to my new novella, yet to be written, and already I agonise over what to call this yet to born opus.

I really like the title ‘A 187 In May’ (187 is the code cops use to denote a homicide in America I believe) as it recalls the lurid exploitative stylings of ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ or ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ However, as a 187 technically only occurs in America, this would mean moving my story away from beloved English soil and across the ocean, a move I am loathe to make. Well, that and I promised my publisher all my stories would remain stoutly distinctly British! Besides, it seems a trifle dramatic to change a setting based on the love of a title, doesn't it?

I can’t honestly imagine a wonderful book suffering quite so greatly from a lacklustre title. It certainly didn’t seem to hurt Philip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ (the cinematic counterpart later to be brilliantly re-titled as ‘Blade Runner.’) or Stephen King’s ‘The Tommy Knockers’ (seriously, what the hell is that meant to mean anyway?), but I ask you ladies and gentlemen of the jury, can you imagine the following books being titled anything else?

A Clockwork Orange
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Tale Of Two Cities
Interview With The Vampire
The Damnation Game
The Ka Of Clifford Hilary
The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
The Bible (just kidding!)

...and so on and so forth, the list is endless.

The mystery continues...

(Oh and my new baby novella’s name will be announced here shortly...

...I hope.)

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Living With Characters

(Note - I am not schziophrenic - Yes you are! Blah blah blah!)

Ever feel you live with your characters?

I remember back in my early days of writing screenplays, I had a tough scene to crack. A love scene, no, scratch that, a sex scene - and for some bizarre reason, I couldn't write it.

I don't know why but for some reason, whatever I wrote just sounded forced and fake. I found a quick and enjoyable way through it.

I took my characters to the pub and got them drunk.

Now understand that I didn't write a drinking scene into the script. More alarmingly, I gathered up my notebooks, went to the pub by myself during the day, arranged three empty chairs around me and then I got drunk, thus inebriating my characters, and you know what? It seemed to work. My characters got hot and heavy and the next day, I found myself blushing at what they had got up to.

I was proud. Until I realised that having the male lead actually fail to close the deal was more in line with the story and thus I had to delete the entire scene, but an important thought had occurred with this exercise.

Is living with your characters a good idea?

For actors, it's called method, when you simply never break character. For us writers, it's slightly more complicated. We are everyone in the story. Effectively, we are God, without the reluctance to get involved.

So how involved SHOULD we get?

The day had loosened my writing insecurities (if you don't drink, ignore this entire post) and made me feel that not only could my characters surprise me but I could sit with them at the same time, be with them and enjoy their company. Believe me, it felt like a guilty pleasure.

Quentin Tarantino said 'I didn't know Mr Blonde had a razor in his boot until he pulled it.'

This sounds crazy, but to me it made some sort of logistical sense.

I love that, when characters are capable of making you go 'whoa, where did that come from?' It excites and hopefully, it has the capacity to excite your readers. I've finished scripts and missed the characters! Actually missed them!

So, is 'living with your characters' a good idea?

I'd like to think so, then again, if you write disturbingly freaky shit, either get involved or call the police...

Friday, 8 January 2010

Learning to forget the ideas that won't die

Us writers, we talk a lot about how we deal with developing our ideas.

How the idea comes to us, where we went with it, how we tend to feel after the story is completed.

But you know what we never talk about?

The ideas that plague us, the ideas that torment us, the ideas that ultimately may turn out to ruin us.

Why don't we, who deal in self expression, talk openly about the things we DON'T want to write about??!

Since I got serious about my vampires, there have been two ideas that WILL NOT LEAVE ME.

I don't want to write them.

More importantly, I don't think anyone would like to read them.

However, in the interests of 'nailing demons to the page', I think it might be interesting for the first time to pen down the thoughts that I would rather not explore on the page. They may be better off roaming the confines of my brain.

1. A vampire has been captured, tortured, cut within an inch of his immortal life, to reveal a secret that he will not reveal. Every possible disgusting method is utilised and the vamp laughs through most of it, if only to unsettle his captors.

The truth, for us readers who get an intimate glimpse into his mind, is that every torture cuts him to pieces and he, immortal or not, is at the end of his immortal tether, close to breaking, close to revealing a secret that not only threatens the life of a mortal but of all that she holds dear. (yes, I said 'she'.)

Q. Why don't you write it?
A. I hate torture films, stories, etc. It really upsets me. I think the idea that captors are torturing an immortal and unaware of it is unique but I don't think I could pull it off without disgusting my readers.

Q. Where did it come from?
A. No fucking idea, but it upsets me, so lets move on.

2. A vampire who originally wanted to kill an entire family becomes their unwitting saviour as a bunch of other kindred make their aggressive move all too soon.

Q. Why not write this?
A. I can't seem to find a suitable motive for why a vampire would protect humans.

Q. That sounds like a twinkie defence. Why won't you really write it?
A. It would read more like a therapy session for my readers to gain an insight into me than an actual story. It would be fake, false, no matter how genuine I intended it to be. I'm a coward. I don't want to go there.

Q. You may have a whole novella there. Isn't the risk worth it?
A. No.

These two ideas will not leave me. Every time I think about the creature, the useful metaphor of the vampire, these two ideas re-float to the surface. I have avoided them deliberately since the age of fifteen, and with good reason, at least from my standpoint.

I guess the title of this most recent blog is misleading. I don't know how to forget the ideas that won't die....

.....but if someone else knows, please message me.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Is this WRITE for me?

Just got over Christmas and New Year with a sigh. No matter how good a time you have, it always feels somewhat anticlimatic eh?

Oh, and I got married. You know, 'cause I had a spare few minutes. My wife is wonderful, just simply wonderful (I'll find a flaw if it's the last thing I do!) and very supportive of my writing, which really helps, obviously.

A brand new year brings with it many thoughts and feelings. For me, it brings the finished prologue, the beginning, to my second novel for Vamplit Publishing, a second novel with a far more challenging premise than Swan Song.

If I am honest, the concept alone terrifies the living hell out of me.

My idea is one that can fail on so many levels it boggles the mind. If I pull it off, meh, if nothing else, I will have pleased myself. But will anyone really care as much as I do?

And here's the point of this much belated blog post; how do you ever really know writing is for you? And I don't mind writing for enjoyment, that should always be encouraged. I mean how do you ever really know that people really like/love your work? Would they care at all if you just simply stopped? Guess you could ask...

I recently had my confidence knocked regarding Swan Song and it did rattle me. I've always been the sensitive kind (I've haven't met a creative soul who isn't) and I always take a positive from a negative but it did get me thinking, this most recent of reviews. Am I wasting my time?

How do you ever really know that your writing is worthwhile? I try to keep myself grounded, no idea is ever as good as I think it is, no sentence perfect, no premise irresistible, yet when I do allow myself flights of fancy, writing becomes truly enjoyable. This story will rock them! I think. Wait till they see how this turns out!

But what if I'm nowhere near as good or as competent as I think I am? What if the only person who will read my work in the years to come is me? What if I should pay more attention to my 9 to 5 job?

I don't have the answer, not yet, and it's the first blog of mine to end without advice of some kind, or at least a positive closer.

Maybe because I am not sure if I am the right person to give advice at this early stage.

All I will offer as I promise to work harder than ever on my stories is much more frequent blogs, far more positivity than I have even shown in my earlier posts and a genuine desire to get so selfish that even if it's only me that enjoys my writing, that's more than enough for me to carry on.

And with that...

(heads back to the important word doc with a beer in hand)