Friday, 30 December 2011

Farewell 2011! It's been fun!

And it has been!

I am one of those people who, when the New Year turns, does tend to get a little melancholy about the previous year passing, even if I have had a great year! Sue me, but 2011 has been a great year for me for many reasons. I won't list them but ultimately, when I look back, I have nothing but fond memories.

So what does 2012 hold?

I have to get more serious about my writing. That much is clear. I plan to finish two novels this coming year. (I actually have five ideas vying to be my second published title with Vamplit Publishing).

I recently sent my Final Edit (why do I have to put that in capital letters every time?!) of the Swan Song Paperback 12 Story Collection to my publisher so, at this juncture in the year and my life, it really feels like a chapter closed. I need to explore more epic storytelling. More characters, more scope, more emotion.

More than ever, I feel I will gain my much needed sustenance from the written word than cinema. Hollywood has become so fucking lazy recently I can hardly believe it! Everything is a remake, a prequel, a 're-imagining,' a 'whatever-you-want-to-call-it.' Like music, I now live in the past when it comes to films. Modern movies just dissapoint me. So much so, it actually hurts.

So in 2012, I need to delve deep and pull out the kind of material that would turn me on as a reader.

Of course, if David Fincher is reading this and wants to commission Swan Song, I'm all ears!

Roll on 2012!

To all my blog followers, to my readers, to my family of Vamplit fellow authors, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

'And on it goes.....'

' a gent, 'cause all we need is candlelight!'

Ahem, sorry, been listening to Eagle Eye Cherry!

And on it goes!

Final proofreading is underway for the Swan Song Paperback with twelve exclusive brand new short stories! Yay!

And work is fully underway on the second book! I promise!

No, really!

So as I argued with a friend the other day about a band's difficult second album, my thoughts naturally turned to my writing.

Should your second book, if it's not a sequel, be all that different from your debut?

I'm talking in terms of tone.

I've had to make some tough decisions as I pen my second.

As you know, loyal followers of my blog, I don't do sequels. My second book is NOT a sequel to Swan Song. However, I have found myself re-reading Swan Song in order to regain my voice, per se, so the second does still feel like a continuation of my career (I use the word loosely).

I penned an original first paragraph that was so heavy, I drowned in its metaphors before I reached the break.

So I edited.

I tried a light, comedic approach that became bitter and twisted, then felt readers may not appreciate being toyed with so early.

So I edited.

Then, finally, I threw out all the bullshit, realised where the REAL starting point of the story should occur and wrote, and was TRUE to the spirit and intention of said story. I've finished the opening, done and dusted, and, well, I think it may surprise a few people. Most importantly, I'm happy. Already. Yep. I'm easily pleased!

The longest journey starts with a single step. I've been dancing on the start line now for two fucking years. So this BETTER be good!

It retains Swan Song's flowing prose (naturally, I'm still trying to emulate Clive Barker's writing style) and serious tone but I think it's more true to itself. Less concerned with impressing and more about telling a story. It feels already like a natural successor to my debut. Bigger in scope and drama, richer in character and depth.

So I throw this out. How concerned SHOULD you be that your voice MAY change from book to book?

See? I'm a deep thinker!

(Why the hell has that girl outside only got one shoe on? What the hell happened to the other one?!)

Friday, 5 August 2011


A week off work!


Sheer bliss!

Though before I left my colleagues to a work place without me for a week, (they hid their sadness behind backflipping, high fives and triumphant cheers! Bless their brave fronts!), I was publicly recognised!

My operations manager educated the team about Mr McCrory during a Q and A session and posed the question :

'Jev is not only an excellent guitar player but an accomplished and published writer (his words, not mine!). Three points to anyone who can name the book he wrote?'

I've been working there a while, The Force bless them, but blank faces responded to the question. A friend of mine answered correctly.

Swan Song.

Thanks, Chris Belshaw!

What followed?

'He wrote a book?'

'He's published?'

'He can spell?'

And so on and so forth.

Which leads me beautifully, confidently, to the week I have taken off to edit my SS manuscript (which I think has been more talked up here than The Bible on Jesus' blog!) and make a real confident start on my second book!

Let me tell you people, NOTHING is more liberating than a free week, an empty Word doc and a fridge full of beer!

I fear that my imagination may run rampant so much to the point that my publisher may question my sanity.

I fear that my characters may get themselves involved in such dire straits that my eighty thousand word planned novel may blossom, just so I have the time and space to get them out of said dire straits.

I fear that if my characters decide to labour under the illusion that with every word, they are illuminating the world (like me when I am drunk), this story may read like 'The Alcoholic's Guide To Life And, you know, Stuff.'

I recently re-read my first two chapters for my second book.

It reads like a teenager's fantasy of birds, London, beer, violence and sex.

As I read it back, I'm struggling to see where the downside is!

Kidding! (Sort of)

In all seriousness, I always thought Swan Song was a bitter, brutal, gritty glimpse of life for a London vampire.

I'm thinking now maybe it showed too much heart and that I could have gone further.

Believe me, THIS book.




Thursday, 21 July 2011


I dreamed the start to my second novel!

Woke up and wrote it down and by Jove, it's good! Even if I do say so myself!

Don't you just love it when good ideas are simply given to you?

I had already started my second book.

Well, technically, I had already started my next three books. I have eight pages written of three separate entities, of which either one could be my follow up to Swan Song. This dream bestowed beginning has sealed the deal for me. I now know which one to work on.

I immediately wrote my publisher and told her I would have a full length, fully completed manuscript ready by the end of the year. If that doesn't sound to you like a short deadline, believe me, it is. I am sure anyone who has ever wrote a novel would agree with me.

So now, I must commit to it.

Like a man finally choosing the right woman, there is a clarity in my thoughts now in regards to the journey ahead. The commitment and passion I must bestow to this new love child fills me with dread, anxiety, excitement and faith.

So my notes fill up day by day as I tentatively progress past the eight page mark, my protagonist growing more interesting with every day and, most importantly, the antagonist, more so.

We aim for bigger, better, brighter, bolder. If not, why not?

I have already outlined my wishes for my second book in this blog numerous times, so I shan't go over them again. I have a feeling this blog may become VERY useful in the months to come.

Hold my hand as I go, won't you, dear followers?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Too many ideas?

The second book.

Always a tricky one and in a lot of ways, more important than the first.

Five months ago, I had no idea what to write, although I knew I didn't want a sequel to Swan Song. I was, and am, definite about that.

Now, I have three ideas jostling for position.

The curious thing is all three started as short stories and flourished. Bizarrely enough, I am eleven pages into all three ideas and at least eight pages of notes into developing each.

So could an author, simultaneously write his next THREE books at the same time?

Has this ever been attempted before?

I'll rephrase.

Has anyone ever been stupid enough to attempt this?

The thing is while I have tried working on one, ideas for the other two keep popping in my head, and vice versa when I am not currently on said project. I can't read two novels at once. I get totally confused with what is going on where, but writing seems to almost demand my head think of other things. This may have something to do with my attention span (Ooh, a penny!) but that's why The Shining is the best horror movie of all time!

Wait, that's not what I was talking about, was it?

Hmmm, okay, chapter three.....

The girl sat.....

Only kidding!

So I tink away simultaneously on all three ideas whilst continually annoying my publisher to finish editing my paperback collection for Swan Song. The more I read over my submitted manuscript, the more work I think it needs!

Three books at once?

Not even I'm that silly.

I'll develop the shit outta all three of them and the one with the most girth, wins.

Okay, that sounded bad....

Where was I? Oh yeah...


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Way To Turn Off Readers, man!

Okay, so I just tried to read Anne Rice's Angel Time and wow, I got as far as 118 pages before I simply had to stop.

Never before have I ever felt so much that a book was preaching to me. It was a heavy, ham fisted, 'correct-your-life-before-it's-too-late' morality tale that genuinely almost borderline offended me.

Apologies to Wendy Howard and Nicole Hadaway whom I know liked the book but, man, if I had known that Anne Rice had changed her style so dramatically, I'd have steered clear.

(Yep, this is one unique post in this blog, I know).

The thing is I was a Catholic but chose to become an athiest.

Too much didn't add up and you don't need to be a Christian to follow the ONLY rule worth following from The Bible :

'Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated.'

That's it! It's that simple! The rest is circumstantial.

So Anne Rice wrote The Vampire Chronicles, a series that (deservedly so) brought her world wide acclaim, fame and fortune, a group of dark yet beautiful vampiric tales that took you somewhere and allowed you to experience a real yearning, deep, soulful, immortal fictional landscape.

Then there was Memnoch The Devil. A novel basically about a conversation. Lestat and the Devil have a chat....

.....and that's about it.

That's the whole novel.

I gave up on that one too.

It, unfortunately now, seems like a strange and befuddled 'prequel' to the sanctimonous, holier-than-thou Angel Time.

The book starts well.

Asks big questions, sets up an intriguing protagonist. We get to learn about a sweet, healthy, determined past shrouded in brutal tragedy and are drawn in. We are on the same page and we like it.....

.....then there's time travel, monks, 13th century Norwich, battling Jews and devout Catholics, prayer upon prayer upon prayer and.....

....I didn't get much further.

So, my question (no, the whole post is not to slag off the book) is; writers should write for themselves, but should you hold anything back? Show some reserve?

Things that turn YOU on as a writer will hopefully turn on others......

......however, how far do you go to present a fictional story WITHOUT seemingly thrusting your religious, metaphorical, anaylitical, whatever, thoughts and beliefs upon the reader, almost without warning? And forcefully?! Not offering them for debate.....

I got no warning with Rice.

Though her prose is infamously heavy and often without capable editing (how often should you explain how a candle's flame flickers in the wind??), I have always loved her work. This book not only bored me but I honestly wanted a refund.

So I asked myself; have I ever pushed my own beliefs upon my audience in one of my stories? Was I too obvious in displaying my lack of belief in a God? Were any of my subjects palatable but my treatment of them distasteful?

I throw the question out; should you, as a writer, preach wholeheartedly as a storyteller?

(PS : No disrespect meant to any faiths and beliefs. I may not believe but I always respect.)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Editing is fun!

My publisher's ethos is true!

Editing is fun!

Not only have I recently re-edited my manuscript for Swan's Song's short story collection (don't worry Gaynor, this was before I sent you the copy!) but I am also currently re-formatting my fourth screenplay, tightening dialogue and re-shaping scenes.

It's far more fun than actually writing!

With writing, there's all sorts of worries. Am I going too far? Am I not going too far enough? How am I going to give this a satisfactory resolution? Have I wandered too far from the beaten path? Do the character's motivations ring true? Have I lost sight of the original premise?

And so on and so forth......

With editing, with the story already in place, you have the blessed gift of hindsight. The writing is behind you, you know the story, all you have to do is take a craft knife and shape that puppy into a lean, mean emotion machine! That's not to say big changes aren't options (I once changed an entire third act and added a character purely on impulse) but there's no pressure to be creative. All you have to do is shape, tighten, sweeten, make better, make good, monkey see, monkey do...

Love it!

Scriptwriting is boring.

That's never been disputed. You have to rein yourself in, control your inner 'writer' from expounding on all sorts of shite! It's basic and simple, technical and methodical, but also very liberating. It's all very straightforward. A prose in a novel can get very convoluted, very easily, anyone who's ever wrote a book could agree with the sense of that. Am I flogging the dead pony? How many times do you have to question yourself; have I made this point succinctly enough?

And on that rather relevant note, have I made my point?

Editing is fun because there's no pressure.

Is there pressure when you're actually writing?

You better believe it sister!

Friday, 4 March 2011


This year, I find myself an agent.

It's a promise I made to myself.

At present, I've penned five screenplays to date, four complete originals and one 'on spec' tribute.

A thriller/family bonded drama, a vampire east end tale (naturally!), a David Lynchian mind trip of a slasher, a black magic Buffy style college flick and one Star Wars fan fiction script. (The last one was actually commissioned by the producer of late night boxing on ITV but funding fell through before filming could begin).

There's two more in the works. A heartwarming, nostalgic story of small town regrets (where no one will die this time!) and (finally!) a gangster picture that delves deep into the heart of the Mafia. (Yes, another gangster film! I love them!)

I haven't looked at my scripts in a very long time. I've been so inspired to focus on my story/novel writing that I had almost forgotten them entirely.

There's a purity to writing screenplays. They dispense with the bullshit. Ultimately, they are blueprints, nothing more, for the finished product that will end up on the screen, alive in colour and motion. You don't really need to be a brilliant writer in order to write a cohesive screenplay. In fact, I've read a few commissioned scripts that were downright dreadful, both in terms of spelling and language. (John Hughes' masterpiece The Breakfast Club being a direct case in point!)

Even Quentin Tarantino was quoted as saying :

'No offense to screenwriters, but if I was a REAL writer, I'd write books!'

Harsh words. True?

It depends.

Do you want to be a WRITER or a STORYTELLER?

Is there a difference?

The answer is a resounding YES! At least from where I am sitting.

Should we not listen or read a man's colourful, emotion invoking work if it is poorly presented or inaccurately laid out?

(The director that was to take the reins of the SW fan work said I was a brilliant writer but a bad storyteller! I wasn't sure how to take that or if I wanted it the other way round. 'Hey, you tell great stories but you're pretty fucking stupid!' Yeah, cheers for that....)

Does it really matter all that much? I bet Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo spellchecked EVERY SINGLE WORD of their first draft of The Godfather script. I doubt Puzo even spelt Clark Kent correctly on his fifth draft of Superman 2. By that point, he could write his own frigging ticket and spell it anyway he wanted.

I think my scripts need seeing.

It's strange. My third and least liked script was the one my wife preferred. That's ultimately my favourite too.

So I think an agent may be able to steer my course a little better than me at the helm.

It's worth finding out if I have a cinematic future as well as a literary one, right?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Am I Making Sense?

I haven't blogged in a while so I figured it was time once again to put thoughts to paper, or words to screen, whatever.

I recently managed to catch the breathtaking Black Swan and a whole slew of emotions and new ideas swam through my addled mind as I tried to make sense of the piece. It genuinely will reward in greater measure if you forsake your devotion to 'what REALLY happened' and just allow yourself to be taken along for the ride, allow yourself to be seduced by it. Think David Cronenberg, where things happen that are so bizarre, you're never really quite sure if events unfolded as seen, or anything by David Lynch (Lost Highway being a particular doozy).

Are films genuinely more entertaining if you can make sense of the flick or doesn't it matter?

Directors stress all the time that although audiences are very smart, you can lose them very easily and then it's a real struggle to get them back. A few of my friends found Black Swan's ambiguity too much to take, leading them from anxiety to eventual frustration. I can totally understand this. Some stories are so convoluted and warped in style and structure you almost get the sense the creator literally made it up as they went along with no clear objective in mind.

And here, to the point of this post; how much sense is required for a story to be enjoyable?

My third screenplay plays fast and loose with structure and design, involving complicated dream like sequences and operatic mood pieces, basically you are never really sure if things are happening as they seem. Most that read it detested it for it's non linear approach. I kept stressing that a script is merely a blueprint for a movie and not the finished article, but I had lost them. It was too late.

My stories/novella thus far have been fairly restrained but I do often wonder, how much must a story make sense in order to entertain?

After watching Black Swan, I am ever so slightly tempted to lessen reality's reins on my upcoming tales, although I realise that if I follow through on this, I'm on my own, I won't have the adorable Natalie Portman in my corner to save me from the detractors.

It's a pickle.