The Landlady – Now ready to read!

Landlady_Cover_MockUp

I’m thrilled to be able to say that I have decided to release a brand new short story here on On Holliday entitled The Landlady – and it’ll be appearing in five segments over the next few days!

The Landlady formed part of my Dissertation project at Kingston University – I based the book on the work of one of my favourite authors, British horror writer and king of popular fiction, James Herbert, and serves as a homage to his work.

I also recently had the story (self)published in paperback form through print-on-demand service CreateSpace to present to a friend; however the demand and reaction on my Facebook page are enough that I’m happy to say that if you want your own copy of the story in paperback form – in a presentation style as close to a “real” James Herbert novel as I could manage – then you can purchase it for £3 from AmazonAnd if you happen to see me in real-life then I will gladly sign the book and add a personal message!

The story is only short (~10,000 words) so if you’d rather read it online you can start reading it on my site. I’ve split the story into five chunks for your reading pleasure!

I’m immensely proud of The Landlady – it’s my first foray into horror fiction, which was a  and while I was apeing a favourite writer (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?) I’m actually quite excited to explore this as a potential genre.

If you have any comments on The Landlady please don’t hesitate to leave them below this post or contact me on my various social media pages; I’d be happy to hear from you! Enjoy!

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Review: Earth Alone (Kindle Edition)

Earth_AloneI recently picked this book up on the Amazon Kindle Lender’s Library and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Earth Alone builds the picture of a war-torn Earth shattered some years prior to to the start of the book by a surprise attack by alien “scum” from another planet and, I felt quite convincingly, builds a backstory around a war of attrition fought by the scum menace after a successful nuclear attack by humanity on the scum home planet. Earth Alone follows the story of Marco Emery, a young recruit in the Human Defence Force, the global military that aims to defend the planet from the scum attacks.

Firstly, I liked the rationale behind the change of alien tack – realising that wholesale levelling of cities results in nuclear Armageddon on their own turf, the aliens turn to the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ method of wearing humanity down. The alien threat is certainly portrayed as menacing and, while Marco and his cadet friends begin training, it’s always hanging like a black cloud above them. The effects of the scum attacks keep the characters focused – there’s reflections, too, on the personal impact of the alien attacks on Marco, the main character that he reflects on frequently.

So far, so Ender’s Game, which is by no means a bad comparison to make. Earth Alone does well, I feel, to make the cadets in this book significantly older than the small children who are drummed into battle in Ender’s Game. Taking adolescents into the military also brings its own (mostly hormone-fuelled) unique considerations, too, that the characters must contend with.

Marco, the protagonist, is portrayed as a bookish, quiet and mature-for-his age young man who clearly has a heart of gold, but too has limits and his own weaknesses. The rest of the platoon we’re introduced to each have their own characters – some appear trigger-happy and some thoughtful, while other boastful but underneath we see glimpses that they all share one characteristic – they’re all scared kids about to fight in a war that predates them, and their fear is rightfully placed. I feel Marco’s bookishness is a bit meta-aware (a character who wants to be a writer and works in a library, in a book can sound a few alarm bells) but it’s not too much that it impedes on the story; rather it does build up his character. However, maybe more graceful means of imbuing Marco with a sense of learnedness and culture could’ve been explored.

Daniel Arenson does a good job in writing a book that is a breezy and unchallenging read while bringing across the aspects of the character and action that’s needed. It’s certainly a competent effort, even if this book certainly resides in the shadow of Ender’s Game. The real hardship faced by the recruits and the journey of them – and of their commanding officers – is portrayed well enough, and the world the alien scum left behind is well-imaged. There’s a certain sense of humanity on the ropes, and on the defensive.

It’s quite clear early on that Earth Alone is designed as an introduction to a series, and I’m fine with that. The action is kept throughout, without too much introspection and it’s not a bad read, so I’d happily read on!

Buy Earth Alone on Amazon Kindle UK!

Website Update

As ever, it’s been ages since my last website update but it’s a pertinent time to post an update on where my current projects are heading!

I’ve recently completed the FutureLearn Start Writing Fiction course which proved quite fascinating for furthering my skills. I definitely felt it was advantageous; proved to me that my sci-fi is a bit of a “comfort zone” that I default to to avoid the tricky business of characterisation, but the course had some great insight into how to craft better, more wholesome, round characters and base stories around them. It’s also been interesting from the point of giving me some better critical skills when it comes to writing and reading I feel will be beneficial when I go into full-time study of Creative Writing in September. I’m also going to, after a final wave of editing, post my final story from the course as well as the two prior pieces of work I wrote during the course.

I’ve also finally finished the second draft of my first proper short film, Doors, which I will absolutely be telling all about in a very future blogpost! The writing and feedback process has been another instance in which my workflow adapts to new ideas and a new format, and I look forward to working on the script more over the latter course of the year with the hope to put this into production in 2016 with the help of my good friends, filmmakers Gary Thomas and Mark Lever.

I’m currently getting my teeth into two “big” projects for the rest of the year:

  • I’m about to begin serious work on the next stage of rewriting Mars Zero (formerly Colonisation); integrating a lot of the structural and creative changes I want into my current draft. I’m hoping to steam through the next “paper edit” before September so I can, in my spare time, work on integrating those eventual changes into my draft. It’s going to be a lot of work but I reckon my evolved narrative is worth it.
  • I’m also beginning the groundwork for developing my post-apocalyptic novel idea, The Thaw (formerly After the Winter),  into a fully outlined and ready-to-draft project. I’ve had a lot of disparate ideas for backstory and character that I am tying into a cohesive world to hang my main story on. Looking over my initial notes from a while ago, the idea remains structurally sound, but it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves from the transition to fleshed-out project outline.

I’m feeling quite steely about these projects. It’s not too much on my plate that I can’t work on without feeling bogged down. I may try to get a short story or two out but my efforts are concentrated on my “big” projects at the moment, as I feel that I have been somewhat neglectful, and they’re worthy of the attention right now!

Over the course of July I will absolutely be introducing both Doors and The Thaw to you in dedicated posts! It’ll be great to share some of my ideas!