Tuesday, 26 October 2010

What is bad is good

As you know (or should know) I am not a fan of paranormal romance so, hey what's with a picture with a dreamy blonde girl with angel wings?
Have I fallen to the dark side?
What next, posters of a shirtless Taylor Lautner in the study? Modelling my few hairs into a RPatz quiff?
Ah, that'll be a no.
Firstly, it would take the genius of Vidal Sassoon to do anything with my few follicles beyond the No.1 cut.
Plus there's no room on my wall for semi-naked shots of Taylor. They're covered with semi-naked posters of Christain Bale (yes, despite his many moments of madness I stay true. I'm here, Christian! I'll never desert you!).
Ehem. Sorry, needed to get that fanboy rant off my chest.
Gosh, where was I? Ah, Angel by L.A Weatherly. But I'll call her Lee, because that's her name.
Anyway, Lee's a big hero of mine.
Lee teaches writing and she taught me. Now that may or may not be a good thing, depending on which side of the 'Sarwat should go back to engineering and give up this writing lark' fence you may be resting your tush on, but that's a debate for another day.
I'm only half-way through Angel and my romance nerves a holding firm, so far we've had a few sidelong glances and a few references to the gorgeous cheekbones of Alex and the petite perfection of Willow BUT we've also had CIA conspiracies, assassinations, brain-washing and religious cults.
Hell, yes!
These are the things that make children's literature so great, don't you agree?
But the theme of Angel is the bliss of the bad. Lee's angels are parasites that feed off human auras, but appear as glowing, beautiful beings and leave the victim in a state of euphoria, convinced that the angel has done them good. Instead they are drained, weakened, tainted by the attack. Over time the victim will grow sick and die, never realising it was the angel that started it all. That moment of bliss was the beginning of the end.
Because Lee's a proper writer, what appeals to me far more than Willow's blonde locks and Alex's cheekbones is her theme; how we are addicted to things that do us harm. Government warning signs, medical research, our basic instinct, even a glance in the mirror (where did that gut come from? Well, it was a steady diet of burgers and chips all washed down with jumbo Cokes that did it for me) but we do not stop. We embrace the things that destroy us.
Wow, it makes you wonder how we've made it as a species, doesn't it?
It can't be advertising, half the cigarrette packets are covered with SMOKING KILLS, really, it couldn't be clearer, could it?
Mind you, one look at Don Draper with a fag and I want to like up.
Lee will be at the Foyles Demons v Angels event on Sunday, I'm going to ask her what it's all about (and see if I can blag an advanced copy of Book 2)
Check out her book. Then wonder, what's the angel in your life?

Friday, 22 October 2010

Halloween Week

It all kicks off tomorrow. A week of werewolves, ghouls, witches, zombies, creepy-crawlies and all those things that go bump in the night.
Tomorrow is the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival and I'll be at the library from 2.15pm till 4pm with half the Chainsaw Gang for what will be our FIRST EVER event. If you're in the neighbourhood, it would be great to see you.
Monday 25th is Chester for their GobbledeeBook festival. Th
ere'll be a few silly props so you can act out your Templar dreams as well as discussions about all the fun things we writers do. Which is sit in a cold, dark, damp room and write, day in, day out. Actually, it doesn't sound so much fun after all. Maybe I'll talk about something else instead.
Friday 29th is up to Norwich Forum for another round of arguing, I mean intelligent discussion, with Will Hussey, Sam Enthoven and Alex G Smith and my sweet self. More demons that you could shake a crucifix at.
Sunday 31st, Halloween itself, we'll be at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, for their Demons vs. Angels event. There will be spooky treats for all. Me, Will Hussey, Sam Enthoven, Cliff McNish and L.A Weatherly will be debating who's the ultimate, hard-core bagger and tagger in the supernatural world.
Angels. Demons.
None of that 'I'm just a bit misunderstood' vampire or 'having a bad day on those full moon nights' werewolf issues but the real wrath of God and Revelations hell-fire stuff. In the end, they will be the last word.
It's all on my website.
So, if you're around any of these places, stick your head in and say hello!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Chester next Monday 25th October

Next Monday the Dark Goddess will be at Chester's Children's Book Festival, cleverly titled GobbledeBook!
The events run all week long from 23rd to the 31st October but I'll be there on Monday 25th, so do come along for a chat and two hours of entertainment and wisdom. Well, at least entertainment.
I'm at the St. Mary's Centre from 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
There'll be readings, hints on how to get into publishing, a few pointers on what to watch out for if you're planning to write your own epic and a chance to get intouch with your own inner Knight Templar with a big roleplay session, so bring your sword and shield! If you don't, worry not. I have a few to spare.
There'll be a bundle of books for sale and a signing at the end of it.
What more could you possibly want?
Now, because this is your chance to ask away anything you want, do drop in a comment here and now. This is as much about what you want as it's about me, just chatting.
This is our festival, yours and mine.
What do you want out of it?

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Meet the Chainsaw Gang, Sarah Silverwood

Today I kick off the Chainsaw Gang Blog Tour. Over the next two weeks you'll meet each and every member of the gang, get a flavour of their books and understand why their part of the Chainsaw.
First, meet Sarah Silverwood. I know you've been waiting.
Parallel worlds. Mysterious orders of knights. Black rain. Mirror prisons and SWORDFIGHTS!
Oh yes, Sarah needed to be in the Chainsaw.
The Double Edged Sword is Book 1 of the Nowhere Chronicles and it ROCKS.
If you're a fan of Gaiman, Mieville's Un LunDun and Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights (especially The Subtle Knife) then DES is for you.
Sixteen years ago Finmere Tingewick Smith was abandoned on the steps of the Old Bailey as a baby, in nothing more than a blanket.
Now, his mysterious past is revealed...
It turns out that our, his, London is just one of many, and the Knights of Nowhere are the travllers between the two: The Somewhere and the Nowhere. There are hints of more worlds, but Book 1 deals with just these two.
Sarah's crafted a deviously entertaining world. The Prince Regent and his family's curse, the mysterious banished Magi and the Storyholder. Fin's our hero but his companions, Christopher, Joe and Mona, all have their parts to play. The villain of the piece is the current commander of the Knights, and his obsession with a prophecy. It's all early days but Sarah's laid the groundwork of a highly exciting new series. What's even better is Book 1 does wrap up the adventure, but with very clear signs that's there's more to come. I cannot wait.
Now you know a bit about her book, what about the woman herself? So, I asked her a few critical questions:
1. Favourite book? The Stand by Stephen King.
2. Favourite monster? Vampire. But the old school ones. The ones that want to kill you not kiss you.
3. Favourite bad-ass monster-slayer? St George. He's the granddaddy of all slayers.
4. If you could make a pact with the Devil, what would you want in exchange for your immortal soul? I already made a pact with the devil and I'm not allowed to divulge the details. It's in the contract. I had to sign it in blood. My own. That stung, I can tell you.
5. The Chainsaw Gang are all trapped on a desert island with no food. Who would you eat first and why? I would have to say Bill Hussey. Me and Bill know each other from our previous incarnations as adult horror novelists and we have the same agent. I'd have to eat him first because I know him best. It would probably be rude to eat a stranger. Plus, he's not skinny. he'd sizzle nicely on a BBQ.
Now we don't want this to be hard work. We'll be recommending a lot of books to you, and we know there's a recession on. Hence COMPETITION TIME!
We're offering the Chainsaw Library, a signed book from each of us. But how to win this literary bonanza? Easy.
The more you're involved, the more chances to win. Spread the word! What you need is votes.
Each vote goes into a vast hat at the end of the competition and one name will come out. They will receive signed copies off each member of the Chainsaw Gang. The great thing is you can enter per blog, so that’s nine chances to win! So make sure you visit each and every blog. It’ll be entertaining AND educational.
+1 if you follow this blog
+1 if you link the blog/website to yours
+2 if you stick our Chainsaw banner up somewhere
+1 if you’re a Facebook fan/friend
+1 if you comment on the blog and tell me about your own favourite monster.
+1 if you reTweet this competition.
+1 if you follow me on Twitter
The closing date of the competition is Friday 5th November and the competition is open to UK residents only (really sorry about that!).
Now you've met Sarah, you'll be keen to meet the next member of the Chainsaw. For that you'll need to go to Alexander Gordon Smith's blog tomorrow. I'll see you there.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sinister Masterplan

There comes a time in every young man's life when he's perhaps at some cross-roads in his life, emotionally, careerally, financially, and his thoughts turn towards WORLD DOMINATION.
Have you had those moments, sitting in your black armchair, stroking your white cat with machine-gun-armed minions at your beck and call, reading the Times and wondered, "Well, I could do a better job running the world than these clowns' and decide that maybe living in a volcano would be more environmentally sound (all that free heating from the lava)?
You have? I thought as much.
But before the volcano, before the piranha-filled pond, comes the PLAN.
Start small, that's the key. Gather like-minded individuals, another important step. Establish a clear mission statement before you overthrow the government. It's the difference between a mere gangster and criminal GENIUS.
So, over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting my plan into action. You have been warned. In fact, I'm expecting delivery of my white long-haired persian cat from Amazon any minute now.
Starting Monday the Chainsaw Gang will introduce themselves. For those of you keen to join in the new world order it would be wise to travel across the blog-sphere to visit each and every Chainsaw and acquaint yourselves with your new masters, I mean authors. There'll be prizes galore (hey, it's not all jumping through flame throwers, we evil geniuses want to party just like everyone else) a long list of events where you can meeet us (I see it as a sort of recruitment drive) and who knows, maybe we'll introduce you to your new favourite book. But only if your favourite book has horror, monsters and bloodshed. We have our standards.
Fear. Terror. Tales of torment, of ghouls and evil and of ever-encroaching darkness. These are some of our favourite things.
Starting Monday.
Now, where did I put that gigantic lazer beam device?

Monday, 4 October 2010

How much do you earn?

This is something that I think confuses everyone, are writers rich or not? Is it a career worth pursuing or should you stick with being a window-cleaner, like your mother wanted?
So, I've managed to nick the TOP SECRET publishing document used by agents and publishers to work out how much they should offer you as an advance on your next book. It's only a rough version (all I was able to photocopy from the office before the security guards chased me out) but should give you a ball-park figure of what you can expect to earn.
1. Does your book involve vampires? Lose $10,000.
2. Does your book involve zombies? Add $10,000.
3. What about angels (but you'll have to be quick as their value is dropping daily)? Add $12,000 this week, losing $1,000 per week hereafter.
4. Knights Templar? Lose $50,000 and put that pen down before you destroy the publishing industry!
5. Have you or any of your characters ever been naked on telly? Add $100,000.
6. Does your book contain a character who's first name is Harry? Add £500,000.
7. Is his surname Potter? Add another $5,000,000.
8. Is YOUR surname Meyer? Add $1,000,000.
9. Have you ever been arrested or shot at? Add $20,000 (a certain notoriety goes a long way but PLEASE OH PLEASE don't now head over to Afghanistan/Iraq/South Central based on this document!).
10. Finally, have you had any personal experience with space aliens (aliens are HOT HOT HOT!)? Add $100,000.
So, based on the above table, the best thing to write is a blockbusting paranormal sci-fi adventure featuring a space alien called Harry Potter, fighting a world of zombies with an angel girlfriend which you'll write while in prison after having be arrested for running naked through Prime Minister's question time.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Weathering or when the going gets tough

If I've learnt anything in the last two years (hell, in my entire life) it's that as snow follows summer, the bad times follow the good. There is no escape from this fact.
Life cannot be a series of highs. But as hard as it is to manage the up's it's harder still to manage the downs.
I've spoken to a few other authors about this, rejections generally and some were rejected 100+ times before they got published.
Well done them for having the guts to stick at it.
I'm not sure I would have had such determination. A hundred rejections? How many would it take to make me, you, anyone, give up? How much is self-belief (I know I'm good at this and will keep going) and how much is self-delusion (I wouldn't admit that I'm rubbish and find a better way to spend my time).
I've picked this point up before but my agent takes about 1% of submissions on as clients (it may have been 0.1% actually, but let's be positive). Still, pretty crappy odds. Then I hear the average wage of an author is £7,000/year (about $10,500) which is probably what you'd earn stacking shelves at your local supermarket.
Why bother?
You want to be the next JK Rowlings, rich and famous beyond your wildest imaginings? Nope. Sorry but that wouldn't happen. Better just carry on buying those lottery tickets.
Your name up on the shelves? You'll be surprised how quickly your books come right off those shelves if they don't sell.
The parties? Nice, but not frequent enough and you spend them hanging onto your editor because you know no-one.
No. None of these things can be the reason. There is only one motivating force behind hopeless endeavours and that is LOVE. Hour after hour after hour. During the day, the night, the holidays. You will annoy all and everyone around you as you sneak off to type (like I'm doing now, on Sunday when I PROMISED I wouldn't), sit daydreaming at the dinner table, and feeling quite sick at times as the words just crash over the pages (or worse, the plot crashes) and it's just a mess. But you cannot stop (and there comes a point, quicker than you'd believe, when it's too late to stop).
Bizzarely, the writing is both source of the anxiety and its salvation. It's pure magic-time as you weave worlds out of nothing and bring to life heroes out of dream-smoke. Mere vague ideas become solid, iron-cast realities.
Don't worry, in the end, if it's any good or not. You love it and you wouldn't swap it for anything else in the world.