Saturday, 31 October 2009

First love and other tales of horror

The horror. The horror. It was at a Halloween party many many years ago that I had my first 'Bella meets Edward' crush. The sort where you obsess about the target of your affection, you can't sleep, you feel sick and flustered and frankly can't do anything but act a total monkey on acid whenever they're near. You wonder how on earth they, who are Aphrodite/Apollo in the flesh will ever notice you, who feel like a Caliban, club-footed and whose face is hosting an acne convention of global proportions.
I know what you're saying to yourselves. You're saying, 'Hey, how can Sarwat, that most god-like of men, have even felt anything less than totally divine at all times and under all circumstances?"
(Okay, you may not have actually said it, but I'm sure you were thinking it very, very hard).
Nope, it's true. I too have suffered in the arena of luurve.
There's the old chestnut which is 'Just be yourself' which is fine if you're Robert Pattinson, not so fine if you're like, anyone else on the planet. But not being yourself means you end up acting like a pillock, which isn't very helpful either.
Be honest? Hmm. I'm not so sure how "I love you and want to have your babies," would have worked as a chat up line.
So, love and horror. It's kind of the same in my book. The same gut-churning, the same sweaty, broken nights, the same waking at 4am screaming in terror and shouting "Why, dear God, why?".
Well, it came to pass, or it didn't actually. She went out with someone else, who though much more handsome, and richer, and with better teeth and smoother skin and a nickname that threw up all sorts of very complimentary imagery (unless you were a bloke) I at least liked to believe was shallow and superficial, so I won on personality (yes, I know. Great. Like that made me feel so much better). Alas, I reacted the only way I knew how. By being petty and not a little bitter.
Something very similar happened when I met the person who eventually became my wife. The same anxieties, fears and doubts. I had matured (very slightly, maturity isn't one of my strong points) and I did use the 'I love you and want to have your babies' line if not immediately, still rather too early on in our relationship.
So, as you dress up as ghosts and ghouls tonight and head out, wherever you are, for a spot of trick or treating, remember real horror comes from the heart. And hormones.

Friday, 23 October 2009

My passport photo

Ho hum. Yes, you may wonder "what the **** is he doing?" or "Gosh, he doesn't have that much hair on his head anymore," but I'm starting to get a little concerned what with all the jet-setting I've been doing why oh why do I always get stopped at airports and have delays getting visas.
Obviously launching photos like this onto the Internet may not be the wisest move, but what the hell, I have nothing to hide, except the hairy-ness of my chest.
This was during my holiday in Yemen, some time ago. For those of you who read my blog (hiya, Mum, Dad!) you may recall it was visits to countries such as these that got me in minor trouble with US Immigration back in April.
Now, everyone in Yemen has an AK-47. It's like taking your briefcase to work. Or your i-Pod. Okay, not exactly like taking your i-Pod. Still, it means your much more likely to get a seat on the bus, right? And if you are wearing an i-Pod, no-one but no-one is going to ask you to turn it down. Ever.
Unless they have an AK-47. Which they do.
What is my point? Well, I don't have one except it's been a while since I blogged and we were looking through some old holiday snaps and this one kinda leapt out at me. I decided not to go with the one with the stinger missile launcher since the lighting wasn't great.
So, where was I? Oh yes, jet-setting. Or not.
I was meant to go to India tomorrow, but alas my visa is still being floundering at the embassy somewhere.
I'm making my way through a great non-fiction book called 'India' by John Keay as part of my research into my next project. I don't know about you but I thought is was very cool when the Thuggee priest in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom pulled the beating heart out of that bloke then through him into a volcano. I remember thinking "Wow, I wish I could do that!" and how much cooler Thuggee were than Ninjas.
I love the old Indian myths and have an amazing pantheon of gods. Many with six arms and all armed to the teeth. Kali is (for reasons that you will discover) features heavily in the Thuggee mythos, and it's that which I am going to explore, should I ever get out to India.
I would reallly recommend getting your hands on some Indian tales. The Ramayana of course, but more so the Mahabharata. It is awesome and I would put it easily alongside the Iliad, maybe even edging it ahead as one of the greatest stories in the world.
I've always looked East and West, because of where I was born and where I felt I belonged. The world's too crowded and crowds make people ill-tempered. Try and check out how the other guy lives, and that's best done by looking at the stories that made them. If you've ridden the chariots alongside Achilles and Hector, now ride with Arjuna and Karna. See the battle field lit by flaming astras and the hear the thunder of the gods.
Read those stories. You'll be a different person by the time you finish.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Googling yourself and Devil's Kiss soundtrack

The two things are related, sort of. Before we get all excited that Sarwat has some interesting news, well I don't. Beyond that it's very nice being back home and I'm slowly getting my thoughts on the recent tour in some order.
Okay, I have googled myself. It's a bit of a dirty secret amongst writers (I suspect, don't know for sure, that's because it's a secret) but I will put my hand up and admit I used to do it.
I've lost count of the hours/days/weeks I've lost checking FB/Twitter/Youtube/whatever (but especially Youtube) when I should have been writing.
Fortunately my local cafe is one of the few places left on Earth which doesn't have Wi-Fi so that's where I base myself Monday to Friday. It's my office. No internet, no distractions. Hence there'll be a slight lag in Blogs (unless there is something earth-shattering to report).
Ha, of course I get the irony that here I am, on the Internet, but hey, logic is a problem for other people, I embrace my contradictory nature! I'm just trying to spend less time floating aimlessly in the ether. Writing's particulary bad, being dropped in front of the computer day in day out and before you know it it's winter and you've missed all the sunshine.
Lift your head up, once in a while.
Writing, writing, writing. What? Thanks for asking.
Next up is a short story called 'Billi's Date'. I've always wanted to try my hand at romantic comedy, and this isn't it. It'll come as no surprise to anyone the short story will be violent and troublesome and not resolve itself particularly happily. But it's Billi's attempt to have a 'normal' life, just for one night. Stay tuned but you should have it next month.
Okay, the soundtrack. The pupils at JFK Middle School, Plainfield, clearly have way too much time on their hands but have very generously put together a soundtrack for Devil's Kiss. I'm listening to it right now and while it would be highly illegal to attach it here, let me at least give you the play list:
1. So Cold (Breaking Benjamin)
2. Halo Theme (Marty O'Donnell & Michael Salva).
3. One Girl Revultion (Superchick). If ever a song summed up Billi SanGreal, this is it. Whoever picked this, my eternal thanks and I'll name my next child after you.
4. Panic Attack (Dream Theatre)
5. Decode (Paramore). Apparently it's also in the Twilight soundtrack but I'll forgive you.
6. Angel (Sarah McLachlan)
7. Master of Puppets (Metallica). I'm more of a Motorhead fan, but this works.
8. It's My Life (Bon Jovi).
9. Bring Me to Life (Evanescence). Wasn't this in Daredevil, with Electra being all bad-ass? I like to think Electra as a kind of 'big-sister' to Billi. I loved the old Frank Miller Daredevils!
10. Numb (Linkin Park). Awesome. Really excellent choice.
11. Mad World (Gary Jules with Michael Andrews). Great change of pace.
12. Duel of Fates. It's Stars Wars! The best fight scene of any movie, EVAH (though the battle in the school hallway in Grosse Point Blank is pretty amazing and a very close second. But it didn't have lightsabres. I don't know about you but I cannot wait until they invent lightsabres).
13. New Divide (Linkin Park). What a way to end.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The winners are...

Cast your minds back to last month when I ran the competition with Devil's Kiss goodies and such. So, without further ado, the winners are:
1. Lexie. Okay, she didn't really win but no-one seemed to understand the scoring system until she explained it. So that's a critique for you.
2. Jessica (Booklover). Hey, you only scored 4 points but your name came out of the hat! I think that's a copy of the book, yes?
3. Word Vore Prod. Copy of the book will be on its way shortly.
4. Bookologist. You can have the book or a critique. Choice is yours.
Can you lot email me your addresses so I can send you the books? For those who just want critiques email the first 3 chapters and synopsis. Contact me on:

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Okay, the vampire thing

So, as I've toured around the US I've been asking 'who wants to be a writer?' and there's been a fair response. And most of you seem to be writing vampire stories.
Hasn't this bandwagon rolled? Does the world need more vampire books?
First, let me state I was reading vampire fiction before most of you were born (okay, not before Jon Mayhew was born). I love vampires. Like most of you, I went through a period (brief, but distinct) when I wanted to be one. Or maybe it was just me? Alas I'd have resembled the Count Orloks of the vampire kingdom rather than the Lestats. Anne Rice is a writer I've mentioned at various points and she was the one who brought vampires into the spotlight. Not as the villains, but as the tragic centre-stage dark heroes that they've now become. If there had been no Louis, the melancholy vamp in Interview with a Vampire, there would be no Edward Cullen.
So, you want to write a vampire story. I will not stop you. No-one will. But...
What makes yours so very different from the others? What are you saying about vampires than no-one else has said? For Anne Rice is was the struggle between knowing good v. instinctive evil. For Meyers it is the tension between the longing of desire and the consumation of that desire. Simply put, with vampires it is always sex and death. These are, arguably, the driving forces behind us all. Our desire for immortality (the survival of our genes) is acheived by the one to 'defeat' the other. We cheat death through procreation. We cheat death with life. Vampires cheat death with death.
Please, believe in you vampires. Make them live in all their undead glory, but say something new. Vampires appeal endless because they answer the ultimate riddle: life/death. This will always fascinate us and aren't all religions, to some degree, based on trying to answer this riddle? What does it mean to you? What does it mean in your writing?
In most religions, and certainly the subject of Devil's Kiss, we have an immortal component. Our souls are eternal. The flesh dies but that is not to end. For those of you who have read DK you know the price that's paid in giving up your soul. You gain phyisical/vampiric immortality at the cost of your divine immortality. You are damned.
Make your vampires dark, tragic heroes. Make them blood-lusting fiends. Make them anything you want. Just make them special.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Allow me to introduce myself...

I'm in Memphis, hence the photo. Well, where to begin..?
The tour's coming to an end, but I've still New York to look forward to. However, I've met a lot of people over the last ten days or so and there's a lot to sort out.
1. HUGE thanks to all the awesome schools I've visited. There's St. John's, Kingwood, JFK and Timber Ridge. I can't thank you guys enough for the displays, the welcome, the cake, the gifts (I'm listening to the CD right now) and all the enthusiasm and bright and scary ideas you've given me. The appearances of Kanye West and the demon ducks are memories that will linger far longer than are healthy. I'm also incredibly touched (and humbled even) that you've found things worth discussing out of Devil's Kiss. I'm glad there's more to it than just the sword fights. Though there's nothing wrong with swordfights.
2. The bookstores have been great and giving me a very fresh view to the front end of bookselling. The enthusiasm and passion everyone's shown has been a great reminder why I love all this. Books are just cool. They're little presents to youself. Murder by the Book, Watermark, B&N at Oak Brook, Anderson's and tonight's trip to Davis-Kidd, a big thanks to everyone there and those that came along to help a debut author not feel too alone.
3. Hiya to Dina, with whom I shared a long road trip and in doing so found a musical soul-mate. If you do throw the 80's party, make sure I get an invite! Also next time I really do want to stop off at the Guns and Ammo store and shoot off a few rounds. Purely for research purposes.
4. John Mason, Jim, Linda and all the great people at the USBBY conference. It's opened my eyes to a wider world than the one I previously inhabited.
Fingers-crossed and hope to see you all same time next year!
Right, a few practicalities:
1. The Short Stories. For those of you who are interested I'm releasing stories to fill the gaps between Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess. The first, Bodmin Moor, is already out BUT I'm going to reissue it to everyone on the newsletter in it's entiriety, next week. So if you want it, join the newsletter via my main website. There are more to follow, I'm just sorting the release schedule with the publishers. I wrote them because it allowed me to focus on the other Templars, since most of them only appear briefly in the books, and to expand on Billi's world, and to give a few hints and clues to what's coming up in Dark Goddess. They are packed full of story vitamins!
2. To all of you who've sent messages, thanks and I will be replying. My laptop's a bit rubbish so I'm going to do all of the correspondence when I'm home, which will be next week.
3. The competition. I have not forgotten. The comp is now closed and I'll be picking the names out of the hat also next week. I'll be intouch then.
4. I'm going to report on the trip in much more detail when it's over, so I can sort my head out.
Finally, the biggest shout goes to my wife and daughters. I cannot wait to see you.