Tag Archives: paranormal

Off to the Races

30 Nov

ferret-files-cover-smlWith the final set of tweeks out of the way we’re off to the races. The Ferret Files will be available to purchase from your usual friendly ebook retailers by the end of this week.

A quick check of Amazon and its already there.

Now, how do I sign the first edition of an ebook? All suggestions gratefully received…

 

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Now I’m excited…

26 Apr

Things are now proceeding with pace.

I received the manuscript for Ferret back from the editor’s yesterday, with only two flags raised, neither of which are red. Both potential libel, apparently… There are only so many things one can say about celebrities. I thought I was being insulting, but the editor thinks differently.

Ho, hum. No biggie.

Onward!

We’re aiming for e-publication in June, just waiting on the cover art.

Ferret in Highgate

Artwork Complete

5 Feb

This is the fourth and final illustration for the Ferret Files, as drawn by my good pal Richard Argent, over at Argent Art.

It’s been a long old slog, I thought it might take 9 months to write the novel – we’re now at 3.5 years!  Admittedly, the actual time I’ve been on the project full time is 8 months – about to take 3 weeks off and finally nail the sucker.  Then comes the scary bit…

Balloon Flight

Musical Influences

22 Jun

music is what feelings sound likeI’m a big listener of music, always have been and if I need to escape from the world for a while it’s the headphones that I turn to.  Judging by the number of people I see on a daily basis wandering around the city, on public transport and even down the gym, I’m not alone in this pastime.  With so many people on the planet tuned into their favourite sounds, it will come as no surprise to learn that fictional characters have musical preferences too.  Let me put that another way: if you’re writing a character and they DON’T have a favourite tune or band, you’re missing a trick.

Personally, I’m a fan of singer/songwriters with a story to tell (Neil Young, Bob Dylan), symphonic rock (guitars plus keyboards and an orchestra), and plain old guitar driven rock.  In years gone by I’ve listened to practically everything from high tempo punk to stoner rock with its gyrating, sludgy bass.  Somewhere in-between comes the Seattle sound, led by Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

I find with music that certain songs act as an anchor to certain feelings, and simply playing the right song takes you back to the right head space.   Conversely, if you have a favourite song that you used to listen to with an ex, it can be too painful to listen to that track or album for years on end.

Resistance is Futile

Resistance is Futile

The Ferret Files is a mix of high finance meets secret societies meets government conspiracy; the right band to get me in the Ferret headspace is without a doubt Muse.  Matt Bellamy of Muse is a musical geek who loves a conspiracy theory, which is just perfect.  The other band I listen to a lot is Nightwish, a Finnish female fronted rock act who deserve to bigger internationally than they are.  Fantastic live.

In order to tell the story, I’ve chosen a number of characters who each have POV chapters.  When writing, it can be tricky to flip between them and get in character.  As each of them is a different person, with differing musical tastes, one of the tricks I use is anchor songs.

Ferret’s anchor song is ‘Uprising’ by Muse.  Cyrano, his drug dealing tricky best mate’s anchor song is ‘Somebody Put Something in my Drink’ by the Ramones.  Marcus, the gay government official is anything by Kylie, but specifically ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’.  Juliet, Ferret’s posh girl-gone-bad girlfriend has a thing for bad boy rockers, so it’s Guns N Roses for her, ‘You Could Be Mine’.  Damien, the confused Account Executive who wants to tread the boards, but daddy would disinherit him – he’s fond of Les Miserables.  Flamen Dialis, High Priest of Jupiter – he listens to Pink Floyd.

conflictFor me, my character’s differing musical tastes help me to feel the conflict brewing between them, and ultimately it’s conflict and conflict resolution that drives any good story.  If everyone listened to the same music and wanted the same thing – well, there’s no point in me picking up a pen.

Cyrano, for instance, with his love of fast tempo punk is never going to get along with Marcus, who’s busy secretly prancing about in feather boas.  He’s also going to have a thing or two to say to Ferret about liking safe pop/rock.  Ferret & Marcus on the other hand, they get along just fine.  Whilst Matt Bellamy of Muse isn’t a true bad boy, he is quite bonkers, so Juliet will live with this while dating Ferret, just as Ferret will live with the odd bit of G’N’R in his life.  Cyrano and Juliet: funnily enough, they’re instantly drawn to each other, and such an attraction is never going to sit well with our hero.

Have a great week.  And while you’re at it, have a think – what’s your theme song?  What single song sums up who you are, your wants and desires?  One day you’ll have to make a fabulous entry, and that’s the song that you’ll want playing.  By all means, leave a comment and let the world know what it is.  In the meantime, never underestimate the power of music to evoke powerful, positive emotions in both you and others.

 

 

 

 

 

Ferret goes to Highgate Cemetery

17 Jun

Here’s a sneak peek at the second illustration for the Ferret Files, courtesy of my good pal Richard Argent over at www.argentart.co.uk.

Cemetery scene

We were working on this scene, busily rewatching old Hammer Horror films when the sad news of Sir Christopher Lee’s death was announced.  I suspect that Ferret & Emily may well be making their way into the world of merchandising…

 

In Memory of Christopher Lee

12 Jun

AuroraMany years ago when I was but a lad and there were only three channels on TV, Friday night changed forever.  My dad, being a pioneer of all things media related purchased a color television, with the result that the old black and white set found its way into the bedroom I shared with my brother.  It turned out to be one of those just in time moments.  I’d been constructing and painting model kits for a few years, and had moved onto a range by Aurora, which were based on the monster movies of the day.  Dracula and the Mummy had turned up in my stocking the previous Christmas; my brother got Frankenstein and the Wolf Man.   Having never seen the movies, we made up all sorts of stories about our monsters, imaging what they got up to.  Vampires in particular scared me senseless, I was petrified of them.  I used to watch a lot of Doctor Who, he was my go-to hero of the day.  I tried to imagine how the Doctor might deal with Count Dracula, concluding that even a sonic screwdriver was no match for the might of the pointy teeth!

B&W TVIt was much to my surprise/shock/horror then, when one of the three channels announced they were going to start a season of Hammer Horror films on a Friday night, beginning with the classic Dracula.  My brother couldn’t wait.  For me, it was a terrifying countdown to a showdown with my horror nemesis, the Prince of the neck-suckers himself.  The tension became unbearable.  Even my parents knew that something was up, because if there was one thing they found absolutely impossible it was getting two young lads to go to bed on a Friday night, so they could get up to a bit of ‘parent stuff’.  That Friday night we were well behaved and ready for bed early.  It was unheard of.  In preparation, I borrowed a cross from my gran – I’d learned from a school mate that vampires don’t like Jesus.  My brother being more of a pragmatist borrowed a wooden tent peg from the family tent set.  He too had heard stories about vampires, and was determined to deal with Drac in his own way, should the pesky blighter try anything window related while the film was on.

Dracula - Christopher Lee_12v2From the opening score onwards I was under the sheets, hiding behind a pillow. Within fifteen minutes it had all gone horribly wrong for Jonathan Harker, who been warned to flee, then attacked and imprisoned by the most evil vampire of them all, portrayed horrifically by the magnificent Christopher Lee.  Enter our saviour in the form of Van Helsing, played by Peter Cushing.  Peter had played Doctor Who in a couple of made for TV movies, and this wasn’t lost on me.  Not quite the right Doctor, but the Doctor nonetheless had come to the rescue and with the aid of a curtain and the rising sun, eventually defeated the evil one.  Over the next few weeks, we watched ‘Brides of Dracula’, ‘Dracula Price of Darkness’, ‘Dracula has Risen from the Grave’, to name but a few.  The double act of Lee and Cushing to me as a kid was as perfect as Sooty & Sweep, Spocj & Kirk or Bill and Ben.  The perfect horror duo played tag-team with our hopes and fears, frightening the jim-jams offa me, whilst also instilling a love of the horror genre that persists to this day.

It’s with great sadness that I heard of the passing of the Prince of the neck-suckers.  Part of me wants to believe that given enough virgin’s blood, he’ll be back.  That’s certainly the way it ought to be.  For now though, I’m going to make a point of rewatching ‘Dracula’ this Friday night, and reliving old memories.

On a Ferret related footnote, I’ve been working with my pal Richard Argent on the first illustration for the novel, which is set in Highgate Cemetery West, a location used often by the Hammer Horror film crew.  The whole Hammer Horror genre has been in my thoughts a lot lately, as we’ve complied a list of all the monsters we want to fit in the illustration.   Hence my reasons for penning a tribute to a guy I didn’t get to meet, who was nevertheless influential in converting me to Hammer Horror and a film catalogue we all know and love.

RIP Christopher Lee.

One of my great guiding lights.

 

Hurrah for Consultants

1 Jun

Firstly, in order to remove any confusion, the consultants referred to in the title of this piece are of the Management variety, and not their more respectable surgical cousins.  I’m sure they both share many characteristics – that’s what the comments section is for.

I’ve spent many years working in corporates and the echelons of government, both as a consultant and an employer of consultants, so when I say that the chief characteristic of a great consultant is the ability to charm your pants off, you better believe it.  You know you’ve met a mediocre or poor consultant when at the end of a meeting you still have your pants fastened firmly around your waist.  The great consultant leaves with two pairs of trousers, and you’re so befuddled you don’t even realise until you get home that you rode the tube in socks and underwear.

smileWith great charm comes a great smile.  It’s that smile that acts as an anchor to the feelings you had during the first ever meeting with your new consultant chum, so much so that as soon as you see them, you take your own pants off and hand them over, along with your jacket and wallet.  With a wink, the great consultant hands you back your tube pass.  The mediocre consultant, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out how the hell the really good guy has a different suit for every day of the month.

Great consultants need great hair.  This is more a guideline than a rule, as it’s possible to make it as a baldie, but here’s the inside rip: you have to have a really nice shaped head.  One consultant pal of mine had lost a lot of hair, and if he let it grow even for a couple of days, he became invisible in a crowd.  Shaved right down, he had the IT factor in bunches.  His trick was not so much the collecting of pants, as the collecting of bras and frillies, although truth be told he was so smooth, he undoubtedly had a wardrobe full of client’s pants too.

A great consultant dresses the part.  Not over-the-top $10,000 suits like you find in banking circles, all that does is serve to alienate them from the average client .  A great consultant working in media dresses down, wearing smart casual.  The same great consultant working in advertising wears a nice fashionable suit.  The great consultant working in banking comes home with three of four $10,000 suits on their first day in the job, setting them up for the remainder of the week.

Finally, like all consultants, a great consultant speaks a proprietary language comprised of grandiose, highfaluting technical and business terms that sound utterly believable when they purr them out, but somehow manage to turn into utter twaddle when you try to repeat them in the lunch queue.  The ability to utter choice phrases as though your very pants depend on them is a confidence thing, something the mediocre consultant can’t grasp and mere mortals swoon over.

tubeI can’t claim to be a great consultant myself, on the grounds that I’m still buying my own trousers after twenty years.  But I am good at giving solid advice.  FYI – the type of advice not to give is: ‘your dress will look great on me’, even if it’s the truth.  During one charm offensive I did once swap clothes with a female client in an office with the shutters down, but that led to all sorts of horrible complications when she left to get coffee and didn’t come back for an hour.  She went on to join a top consultancy by the way, and still has my suit to this day.  I call her occasionally and ask for it back.  She tells me to pop over, which I tried the once.  Kindly, she let me keep my tube pass.

Anyway, the point of this article is to say hurrah for consultants.  Love them or hate them, the world would be a much more boring place without them.  So much so, that I’ve taken all the great consultants I’ve ever met and rolled them up into one character called Ferret.  A wayward consultant who’s great at his job but is gagging to become a detective.  Let’s call him a detecting consultant.  He has a wardrobe full of pants and a collection of frillies.  Nothing can possibly go wrong for him.  That is, until the day he loses his charm…

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