The Dark Tower’s Gunslinger is Eli?

Is it just me folks? Or?

Well let’s come back to that thought a little later in the article shall we? What a way to start, with a question, how horrendous of me. Assuming that you, the reader, would want to answer my questions. Anyway, on with the show as they say.

I have just started reading the dark tower series by Stephen King. I have never read any King before which shocks a lot of people, since it shook me too, and this is supposed to be his Opus…I thought why the hell not start here.

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying it, I am about half way and it is traveling along at a rip-roaring pace. Lots of blood and guts and shooting. Also a healthy dose of implied sex or at least implied sexiness. Why is this a big thing for me? Well not because I am a blazing pervert but because of a documentary I watched many years ago.

When I was knee high to a grasshopper I used to play a lot of video games, I wasn’t very good, but I used to play them. One of my personal all time favourite horror games was Silent Hill 2, and I happened to have the collectors edition with all the making of and the such, well my brother did…it was his console after all.

So I sat down and watched the making of and they talked about horror and how there are two things every human is always thinking about. Sex and death, if you mix the two together that creates terror, that is where real horror comes from. Stirring you deeply emotionally in the pit of your soul. Some call Stephen King the (wait for it) king of horror, this sexy death mix hints to me that maybe he is.

So what was I talking about at the beginning of this article then anyway? Is it just me folks…or is the gunslinger very reminiscent of Eli from ‘The Book of Eli’. Technically of course it is the other way around as the film I have mentioned was made a long, long time after the first Dark Tower book was released.

Now maybe this is just a coincidence, or maybe it is a sincere form of flattery but I found it interesting enough to put my thoughts down here. So in the book of Eli he uses knives more than guns but the general persona of the character and the back drop of the sort of wild west dessert that it is set in…rings a little similar.

This is in no way an insult to either, I am enjoying the book and I really love that film, but there you go. What do you think? Any similarity or is it just me? Answers on a postcard…or at least a comment at the end of this post.

Ja Ne. You will never catch the man in black

1984…need I say more?

Good afternoon good chaps and chappets,

Today I have come to tell you that I have read, for the first time in my reading life, something that most people would call a classic. Jane Austen it may not be but few if any could argue that George Orwell’s 1984 isn’t a classic.

The general notion of the book and its over arching ideas have been known to me, as I suppose they have to most people not living under rocks, for a very long time. It has been something that I always thought I should want to read…but never went out and actually read, that is, until now.

It took me just over a week to work my way through and by gosh did I enjoy it. It may seem an odd thing to provide a book review to 1984 now. So many years after it has been released and read by millions, but very few books make you want to stand on a rooftop and shout about how good they were, so when I found out that this was one such book, this is the nearest I own to a rooftop to shout from.

1984 (for those of you who do live under rocks) tells the story of Winston, a man deeply disatisfied with his existence. He lives in a dystopian version of the world where Big Brother makes most dictatorships in the real world look like a walk in the park with candy floss.

‘Thoughtcrime’ is the only crime, daring to think that Big Brother isn’t great or isn’t all powerful or really just having any thought which isn’t what Big Brother would want you to think. If you are found guilty of this then you will be taken and ‘vaporised’ which essentially means written out of history, considered never to have existed at all.

I won’t delve deeper into the story here in the event that anyone who hasn’t read it will go and do just that after reading this.

So, why did I like this book so much? First and foremost it must be said that the calibre of writing in this book is nothing short of exceptional. There are many schools of thought about the way novellists used to all be from well-to-do families and have Oxford or Cambridge degrees. I certainly don’t want to go on record and say I think we should go back to this way of picking writers (not least because I am an uneducated man from a working class background) but there is something to be said of it in regards to this book. The writing along with whatever editing was done is nothing short of phenomenal, in my opinion, which makes for a fantastically fluid read.

The story telling is also exemplary. The world is clearly very well thought out and comes across with perfect uniformity in all descriptions given. There is never a lapse in character or an event or description which seems jarring. Once you start reading you are IN Big Brother’s Oceania and you do not leave it until the book is done.

In todays day and age with politics stumbling over itself as awfully as it is the book may well enjoy a resurgence of popularity as against a changing political backdrop it really is just the ticket.

My only complaint, and this is also a warning, and a note of encouragement. Is that towards the end of Part 2 of the book there is a long chapter. When I say long I mean LONG, far longer than any other chapter in the book and it follows Winston reading a book. Thus, you are reading a very long chapter about another person reading a very long chapter. For me that was the only part of the book I struggled with, I didn’t enjoy reading it, I didn’t really feel it was necesary to have been included and for me, without it, I would have probably supported the book even more. Please do read on however as the ending is really some of the most tense writing I have ever read. You would regret not finishing this book.

Still, it remains to be said that 1984 has quite possibly become my new ‘greatest book ever read’ toppling the previous one that sat there.

What else can I say? Go and read this book, well that and, I suppose I should finish with: I loved Big Brother.

Writers who write different genres to you?

Good afternoon fellow internet consumers,

I thought I would write a blog today about something that has been on my mind for a few days. As many of you will know when I am not writing this blog, I am writing books for young people and almost always these books are fantasy, sci-fi or a mixture of the two.

I was recently introduced to two new writers and they both surprised me by saying they didn’t write fantasy at all. It isn’t what they read and it isn’t what the write and/or want to write. They like to write about the ‘real world’ about relationships between people in our reality. Things which would either be considered chic-lit (sorry to anyone that term frustrates…I didn’t make it up) or perhaps literary fiction.

Some of you who are far less judgemental than me may be asking yourselves why the fact they said this has been weighing on my mind? Well I shall embark upon the tail now and hopefully we can all learn something, myself included.

When I read and indeed when I write, I use that time as escapism. I exist in this world, which forgive me if you do not share my opinion, is just a little bit droll really. I do not own an Airship, a pirate ship or a spaceship. I am not a daring adventurer fighting with dragons and saving princesses. I am not nor can I be the great fabled hero of light who inherits a crystal that allows me to vanquish all monsters…I could go on but I think I have driven my point home.

I think what I am trying to say is that if I wanted to escape into a world where I can go to a coffee shop, meet a handsome stranger or have a trouble relationship with a family member. Well, I would just put my book down and experience my real life. So whenever I pick up a pen to write I escape off to a wonderful and far more exciting world than the one I live in and frankly I cannot understand people who don’t.

After I thought about this for a while I decided that this probably said more about me as a person and any chips I have ony my shoulders than it did about people who don’t write fantasy. In short should we judge people who don’t write the same things as us or indeed don’t see the world in the same way that we do? I think we probably shouldn’t, because the world would be a jolly borring place if we were all the same.

P.s. Even after this period of self reflection…I will probably always still find people who don’t like fantasy a little bit strange.
Ja Ne.

Writers are arrogant?

Hello one and all, is it Wednesday already? The keen eyed observers amongst you will notice that it is in fact not. That being said I have a busy day tomorrow and I am not technically minded enough to figure out how to delay the posting of this until tomorrow, so here we are.

Lately I have been trying to read far more than I have in the past, finishing a book a week or thereabouts and as such…I have read quite a lot.

The problem with reading a lot is that sometimes you read something and you think, god that wasn’t very good. You notice large gaping holes in the story, you find prose that you think is horrible and you are left thinking, how did this get published? Aren’t I better than this? Why am I not published!

And in there my friends lies the dark side, you might be right in some instances as there have certainly been books published that were not very good at all, but in other instances you will be very wrong.

Regardless of if you think your writing is  better than this writing or that writing you must  remember this. You are not a publisher, you are not a marketer and you will probably never know as much as those people do about selling books. If you are not published and the author of this book you think isn’t as good as yours is there is one of two possible things going on.

  1. You really are the next best thing, you just haven’t been discovered yet. (This one is unlikely mind you.)
  2. You have not written a publishable book. (much more likely).

Maybe your writing is better than this other author and maybe it isn’t but that isn’t really the point. The point is that for whatever reason a publisher and an agent and bookshops have seen fit to sell this authors book, but they haven’t seen that with yours.

Never let your arrogance turn you to the dark side of believing the publishing world is out to get you and you will never be accepted as an author. Believe in what you write but LEARN from what you read. Let the reading you do inform your craft and in time, with persistence and skill you will reach your goal.

So I shall leave you with this, never look down on another authors work, especially if you are only doing so out of jealously. Learn what you can from it, learn what the publishing world is looking for, apply that where possible and reap the rewards.

Ja Ne.

Going to university

It has come to my attention that I have not posted anything to this blog in far longer than I would have liked. I must confess I had the original intention to post here every single day, as you can see however, that did not happen.

I am now setting myself what I feel is a much more realistic goal that will take into account when things get in the way or life is just a bit busy. So, from now on I will be aiming to post once per week, every Wednesday.

The reason I fell out of posting recently has been in part due to traveling up and down the country visiting universities. As anyone who has read my earlier posts will know I am fast approaching my 30’s and as the keen eyed amongst you will have rightly noted, that is not the usual age to go to university. Well when I was younger I had no interest in the education system and no idea as to what additional opportunities getting an education would afford someone in life, to but it plainly, I was a bit silly.

Now that I am older and wiser I thought I would quite like to get a degree and what better subject that Creative Writing. It will give me three years in which I will get to work with published authors, agents, publishers and all sorts of other knowledgeable people who I have no doubt will assist me in bettering my writing. My current aim is to be published before I am 30 and as such that means I must publish my first book the year before I would graduate, this may be layering the work on thick but I think it can be done.

I must apologise that this is really more of a blog just talking about myself and not giving any useful advice, perhaps it is a bit late for that as if you have read this far… you already knew that. I will give you a little bit of advice here just in case you missed it. If you have the opportunity to get more education then do it. You may not think it is cool or fun or anything like that but in the long run being more educated can never be a hindrance.

With that in mind please accept my apology for a rather droll post and please join me next Wednesday where I will offer more clever writing advice.

Ja Ne.

How to read more, a beginners guide

One of my recent posts talked about the importance of reading as an author, and although I don’t want to give any spoilers to anyone who is yet to read it, I mentioned that usually a bigger reader is a better writer.

With that in mind I think there is no better time to discuss HOW you can go about reading more quickly, so following are my tips and advice to you.

Please note there are more than likely numerous places online with information on how to actually read faster, i.e. more words per minute, this is not that place.

Option 1: Set a page goal. This is what I do, I aim to read 50 pages of fiction everyday. To some people that may not seem a lot but to someone who used to read a chapter or less a day, it is a huge change. Reading 50 pages a day means I will finish an average 400 page book in 8 days. (Note, some books have different font and some books are, due to language used etc easier or harder to read than others. Please use your own judgement, you may easily read 60 pages a day of a young adult book but 40 may be better for a vast and deep adult sci-fi story.)

Option 2: Time yourself. This is great for dealing with the problem of different font sizes. Set yourself a goal to read for ten minutes a day, thirty minutes a day or maybe even an hour or more. If you make this time every day you will soon see the pages consumed increase and even if it is only a little, you will make constant progress until the book is finished. (Note, this need not all be at once, you could spend 10 minutes in the morning, 10 on your lunch break and 10 when you get home in the evening to total your 30 minute goal.)

Option 3: Read multiple books at once. Sometimes you aren’t tired of reading, you are tired of reading THE SAME THING. If you have two books on the go at once you can read a few pages or a chapter of one, when you feel yourself wanting to stop you can read something else and it may peak your interest again. For me I can only do this with one fiction and one non fiction, but for some people keeping track of two stories isn’t difficult.

Finally remember, reading should be fun and not a chore, if reading for more than a few minutes a day takes the fun out of it for you…well then don’t do it! Don’t let other people dictate to you how much you should read, if little and often works for you do that, if a whole book a day works then do that.

Hopefully you found some of these tips helpful, if they help you finish a book leave a comment and let me know!

I will leave you with this; terror made me cruel, but books made me kind.

Ja Ne.

How much do writers read? + is it important?

You probably already know, without reading any further, just what I am going to say. Writer’s are people and just like any other group of people, some will read a lot and some will read less.

I think when people who want to become a writer ask how much other writers read or if it is important to read a lot, the real question they are asking is this: Can I still be a succesful writer/author if I don’t read a lot?

To this I say there is a short and a long answer. The short answer is probably yes but the longer answer is much more interesting so I really would encourage you to read on. Look on the bright side, if you take nothing else away from this then you will at least be able to say that you read a little more today than you otherwise would have. Small mercies am I right?

So on to the long answer. Some writers swear that reading is one of, if not THE most important thing they do outside of writing. Other writers don’t really read all that much and some used to read a lot but now claim they no longer have the time, none are right and none are wrong in my eyes.

When I was a child I read several books a year, probably three to five and that was enough to get me excited about writing. It introduced me to a medium of stories which I enjoyed and wanted to emulate and so I wrote my first bits of prose.

Through my teenage years I read probably one book a year, maybe two at a push but usually just one and I didn’t write all that much. What I did as a teenager however was spend hours a day pacing up and down my bedroom creating stories in my head. I didn’t write many of them down and if I did it was never the complete story, I would just play them out from start to end in my mind. I played a lot of Final Fantasy and went through a period of wanting to write video games, as such I took a lot of my inspiration from video games and made the stories look like video games in my minds eye.

Now I read more than I ever have before and am intending to read a minimum of fifty two books this year, or in other words one book a week.

So you could say I have sampled the view from all of what I consider the three main camps when it comes to reading and writing.So why don’t I think it is the be all and end all whether you read that much or not? Well because if you take away the writing part of being a writer what is it you want to do? It is to be a storyteller and stories are told in many different mediums. There is film and television, there are plays and other stage shows, there are radio and other audio stories along with likely countless other mediums (can you say sitting around the campfire). It doesn’t matter where you learn to craft stories from as long as you do LEARN.

The way in which reading becomes more important is in two parts: first it keeps you up to date on trends in publishing, if you read a lot of current releases you know what publishers are choosing to publish and what they know they can sell, this gives you an obvious edge when picking which of your projects you should turn into a novel. Secondly it teaches you a lot about writing, you can see things you like and don’t like in the way things are written, you can increase your vocabulary and you can learn about how long chapters should be or when it is and isn’t sensible to swap between character view points and so on.

I will leave you with this final thought, reading won’t make a great storyteller but when all other things are equal, he (or she) who reads the most will probably be better.

Ja Ne.