An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

writers

A shift in perspective

Hi everyone,

So, I think I’ve had a bit of a realisation moment regards the novel I’m working on. I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, as such, but it’s certainly kicked me in the backside.

Basically, I realised that I was writing my Cyberpunk novel from the wrong perspective. I think that 3rd person is the crutch I always lean on. At least, it’s the reflex direction that I tend to take. But, as I was reading through the last part of my current WIP, (the cyberpunk novel, that is, not one of the other thousand books I need to get finished) I realised that the perspective should be first person. What better way to describe life in Shika-One City than fro behind the eyes of my protagonist? Especially since I’m trying to get across a very particular speech pattern, colloquialisms and, as I’ve mentioned before, a completely gender-neutral society. Do it through Xev’s eyes! (Xev’s name will probably change, but it was what popped into my head from the first, so I’ll deal with it for now.)

The bad thing, of course, is that I now have to rewrite the first 25k of the book that I’ve already written. The great thing is that I haven’t written anything in 1st person in ages and it’ll be fun to do so. I have to admit that I love a challenge and this is a perfect one.

My other fore-brain project, Emi, is also going pretty well. I’ve just re-read the whole thing from the beginning and I think that it reads alright. It’s another of those challenging things to write so I guess the real proof will only come out when someone reads it. I don’t think that IQ will publish a novella, so I’ll have to publish it myself. But that’s ok. It’ll be a nice little thing to add to my signing table.

And Down Days continues to do very well. We’ve had over 2000 hits over there, from all over the world. Every post has some kind of interaction or comments and the followers are mounting swifter than I could have ever imagined. The posts are proving nice and easy to come up with, too. That’s probably because my depression rears its head in some way almost every day, but I’m trying to see silver linings. With plenty of experiences to share, there’s plenty to write about.

I hope all of your writing projects are coming to fruition, too.

Thanks for reading.


Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I’m going to warn you, this review is seriously biased. I already love Neil Gaiman’s work. Neverwhere is one of my personal favs and I think I’ve read his short story collections Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things have been read and re-read until the ink’s worn off the page by the passage of my gaze. BUT I’m not a fan of American Gods, don’t judge. And so, The Graveyard Book could still go either way.

To start iff with, the book is about a kid growing up in a graveyard, the first few pages are about a seriously creepy murderer called Jack, and by the ned of the first chapter, a small child has escaped on wobbly feet and been taken in by ghosts. I don’t think there are any real spoilers there, but I just wanted to highlight how much great work is crammed into each and every chapter of The Graveyard book. Gaiman’s signature villains are in there with their odd names and overly-polite dialogue (a la Mr croup and Mr Vandemar from Neverwhere) which always give me a case of the willies. And the individual adventures of Bod (short for Nobody) and his undead friends are never formulaic or boring. In fact, they’re downright quirky. Good old Gaiman, you can always count on him for a bit of quirk.

What I really liked (and again this is bias on my part) is how the novel is split up into seperate stories, often a year or two appart, so that you get to see Bod grow up and learn his lessons. In that way, you really get a feel for the character and I seriously hope that there’ll be a sequel from his latter years. But more than that (here comes the bias) it let me know that it’s ok to write a book with this format. Which is good, because my WIP, The Adventures of Alan Shaw uses the same approach to show the protagonist growing up and having his adventures. And, to be honest, I’ve been worrying that it was a bad idea.

But back to the book. It was another one that I inhaled in the course of a day or so. It’s so easy to read, since it’s aimed at a younger audience, but it’s in no way patronising or dumbed down for the kids. The perfect mixture! Kids thrive on mystery and wierdness and they’re sharp enough to figure out what’s going on without a great big neon sign. YA authors, take note! Do it like Neil does (in my head, we’re on first name terms). Basically, an all-round good book, a satisfying read and intriguing hope-for-a-sequel premise. Good times.

And so, Mister Gaiman, not only thank you for a great read, but thank you for saving my literary ass at the same time. Seriously folks, how good is this guy?

Thanks for reading.


Not Before Bed update!

Thanks to the very kind H. Conrad Miller, Not Before Bed has had another great review! Take a look:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great collection of horror short stories ranging from Lovecraftian to werewolves to that thing that goes bump under your bed. Each story is finely crafted by Craig Hallam in an enjoyable and easy to read way while still having each story have it’s own voice and feel. I think that is one of the most remarkable things about this collection. While it is easy to see how all of the stories came from one author, each story was told with a voice all it’s own that was perfect for that specific sub-genre of horror.

Craig out did himself with his variety of stories. The dark sci-fi in Mandy in the Jar-O have an alien abductee’s horrific realization that her wildest dreams of being wanted are not so wonderful. The Lovercraftian tale of Albert that has little dialogue but such gripping description that every pool of water larger than the size of a drop suspect from harboring tentacled elder gods. These stories have the ability to catch and hold a reader’s attention. After every story I was left asking “When can I read a full story about this?”

I highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror. But I especially recommend it to anyone who wants to look into horror for the first time. It will give you a great primer for the genre and help you find a niche inside of it you will like.

 

Good job Craig
Cheers!

Well, I could hardly have asked for a better review than that! Let’s hope that it hitting Goodreads and the web in general gives Not Before Bed another little jolt of downloads. I think this is probably the appropriate time for me to give you some updates on the collection itself, too.

Since moving the collection from Smashwords to Kindle Direct Publishing, I’ve forced myself to NOT constantly check how many downloads I’ve been getting every month. And, because of that, I actually forgot to check altogether. Until today. And so, I can now inform you all that in the last year Not Before Bed, Amazon and Smashwords combined, has had a staggering…

13,426 downloads!

I have no idea how this happened, but July last year showed a massive surge which then frittered out to just a few a month. And since I’ve only been looking at the last few months, I almost missed the huge 12,000ish downloads from middle of last year.

While it may be like this...

 

...it feels more like this.

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think this causes for a huge thank you to everyone, whether they’re reading this or not, who has taken the time to download Not Before Bed. I never thought my shoddy little short story collection would be such a (relative) hit. I have no idea WHY this happened, but I’m not going to argue. If I can get but a portion of those downloads for Greaveburn, I’ll be a very happy camper. Special thanks, of course, go to those who went the extra mile to review it, too; you’ve all been extremely supportive and helpful in your feedback.

And with that, I think it’s time to put Not Before Bed to….well, to bed. It’ll still be out there to download for all those people who still manage to stumble onto it. But for me, it’s been a great experience that’s over now. I’m going home to concentrate on the next project. From here on in, it’s all about Greaveburn’s release later this year. And so, I’d like to bid a final thank you to everyone who made Not Before Bed a huge personal success. Stick around, there’s more writing to come!

Thanks for reading.