Category Archives: A Writer’s Life

Ultimum Folium

21st June saw my twelfth and final (for now, at least) paranormal novel undergo publication. Almost three years to the day from when I started writing the first, ‘Maria’s Walk,’ it represents the culmination of a self-imposed summer 2018 goal: to produce 12 well written and edited full-length horror/supernatural suspense novels in paperback and e-book formats over a 36-month period on a negligible budget.

It’s been a manic three years in which my feet have hardly touched the ground, but represents another million published words and the craft boost that milestone brings with it. Truly an expansive learning curve, and one in which it has been my distinct pleasure to find enthusiastic readers for the hard work I’ve put out.

For my ‘Ultimum Folium’ (last leaf), I’ve pulled out all the stops in efforts to provide the key positives so many of you have mentioned in kind reviews: Detailed characters to empathise with, realistic settings that draw you in, creepy scenes to raise hairs on the back of your neck, plus twists, turns and a nice climax.

Underwood’ is set in my namesake county of Devon, at a fictional village near my favourite among the beloved country of the two rivers. The overarching theme of the novel is the power and importance of forgiveness, and the self-harm with which unreleased offences infect the unwary. Taking a leaf out of the Old Testament, it revolves around vengeance enacted by the wronged spirits of a deserted village decimated during The Black Death. Their retribution manifests against the living in the present day based on generational guilt.

Readers of my other works know I often portray modern British life as it stands; observed from different angles and character biases, without personal comment or judgement. Above all, I like to write engaging stories with interesting messages and ideas. I’ve no interest in preaching or putting over a socio-political agenda of any kind. That would betray my audience, looking to enjoy an escapist read. Underwood is a ghost story about past wrongs brought up in the present day – nothing more. That its message applies to topical and newsworthy twenty-first century behaviour humans should have outgrown 6,000 years ago, is a sad indictment upon participants in such activities. Or as variations on the old quotation have it: ‘Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.’

So what happens next? Well, ‘Devon’s Dozen’ – as I refer to the novels – will remain. With twelve titles, eager readers have plenty to choose from. I haven’t ruled out writing another at a later date. But, now this initial goal has been achieved, my onward literary plans involve the long-term development of a series in a different genre. To avoid confusion, those books will be released under a Nom de plume and not linked with my British Horror Fiction.

If you’re new to my work but have enjoyed what you’ve read so far, please check the ‘Titles’ page for a look at what else is available.

Thank you so much, one and all. It’s been a thrilling – if fast paced – journey.

Best wishes and happy reading!

Devon.

Embracing my inner Tom Sawyer

Over the last week I’ve been forcing myself away from the computer. One of those counter-intuitive but necessary moments of space writers sometimes need.

Another first draft in the bag, I decided to replace a few garden fence panels and give the entire span a few coats of paint. Whenever I conduct an activity like this, I can’t help but make a mental connection with Mark Twain’s classic work, ‘Tom Sawyer.’ I imagine most people who grew up with the book will never forget that iconic scene where Aunt Polly forces Tom to whitewash the fence rather than go off to play. In a stroke of pure genius, he manages to not only get all the neighbourhood kids to paint the thing for him, he markets the idea in such a way they offer up their treasured items to pay him for the privilege. Either I need to work on my interpersonal and child exploitation skills, or I’m too much of an introvert. Yes, I painted the thing myself.

With nicer weather now present, I’m dividing the next couple of weeks between early morning gardening and later edits on the upcoming novel. As a true Heinlein disciple, I didn’t stop working during the fence episode of course. Outlining on the next book began once the manual labour was done each day. Robert Heinlein’s six rules are the bread and butter of how I tend to work, and they always serve me well. Technically of course, only the first five are his rules. The sixth is often added by commentators as a logical progression in this blueprint for success as a prolific author. In many ways ‘Start working on something else,’ is simply a way of re-stating rule number one: ‘You must write.’

  1. You must write.
  2. Finish what you start.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put your story on the market.
  5. You must keep it on the market until it has sold.
  6. Start working on something else.

Spring Constitutional

Every season has its fun and excitements. One thing I missed when I lived overseas, was the rhythm and variety of English seasons. Sometimes we underrate our temperate climate.

At this time of year with the blossoms coming through, warmer days and the freshness of new life in the air, it always makes me feel like a child again. There’s a certain thrill and anticipation at this turning point away from the cold, grey, dark winter days.

Here in my beautiful market town on the Swale in Kent, abundant life is shooting forth. Each morning (reasonable weather permitting) I like to take a stroll before settling down to work for the day. I have several variations on a favourite circular route, which inspired those of the lead characters back when I wrote ‘Maria’s Walk.’

This morning I happened upon a glorious Magnolia tree. My ageing phone camera didn’t do it justice, but I still thought it worth sharing the image. I’m having an ‘odds and ends’ day: spring cleaning, tweaking the website and performing basic household maintenance. It marks a pleasant respite from the manic schedule I was on to get the new book ready to fly, over the last month.

By next week I should be into outlining the fourth novel in greater detail, ready for drafting to start in April.

Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a peaceful week. One with an opportunity to enjoy nature at her finest, clothed in the breathtaking garments of spring.

Magnolia Tree