Why do we read fiction?

I think it’s a good question really. Nonfiction is obvious, because for that we want to learn something new, or something which can be useful to help us solve a problem, or do something we want doing. Fiction, that is a completely different ball game.

A cursory glance at Kindle on Amazon shows us that there are over twenty two thousand categories of books on their market, the vast majority of which are dedicated to fiction. Break down the obvious genres of fiction such as Romance, Science Fiction, Murder Mystery, Horror and others, and you get many more sub categories. Each of these is broken down into yet more categories and each of those into ever smaller categories.

The point of all this is to prove just how varied our tastes are in fiction. We don’t all like one type of book, even if we like the same genres, how a particular book works can be attractive to us, and our imaginations, where for others it might not be. If enough people like this, then more will buy those types of books, and more will write for them, to cater for sales.

The most important element of all this is the reader, because there would be no point in writing if no one read it. However, the reader isn’t entirely passive in this experience, because as I have said, imagination plays a huge part in the experience of reading fiction.

If we entirely relied on what we read, those words and the expressed actions, and ignored any descriptions of characters or settings, the details that flesh out a book, then what would separate a book from a film? With a film we are much more passive with our thoughts, except our emotions come into play. Of course they do in a book, but we feel much more in control of our emotions when reading a book, because we decide how we internally visualize what we read, and we decide how much emotional attachment we accept with the book’s characters and what occurs.

So clearly when reading a book, we invest much more imagination in what we read, and shape in our minds what we see, feel and think about events. We are guided much less by a book than any other medium.

So for the deeply personal experience that reading allows us, books of fiction are surely the most unique experience we can have. Books are renowned for being deeper and more detailed than any television series could be, or any film, which are always constrained by running times and productions costs. Books never suffer this. A prime example of this is Stephen King’s The Stand, of which the unabridged version was over a thousand pages. Miniseries that attempted to recreate the vast book never truly captured the essence of the characters and events.

So why do we read fiction so much? I believe it is because we are transported there, either as a character in the book, or as a fly on the wall, and at our own pace we can explore the world the writer has given us.

It really is a unique concept, and an important one for us all. I’m just proud to be able to sit on both sides of the fence on this, creator and reader.


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What makes a good book?

As I have spent more and more time writing, I began to wonder just what it was that made a good book. One of my very favourite books is A Rebel in Time by Harry Harrison. It deals with a black man going back in time in search of a criminal to the time of the Civil War. It’s well written, and a great adventure. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this in hardback, and even better, it is a signed copy. For me I got into the works of Harry Harrison from reading 2000.A.D comics, when they began to offer a strip of The Stainless Steel Rat. Later on I looked for Harrison’s books, and found Bill The Galactic Hero, which I thought was so silly and funny I read it three times. I read all of the books in the series, and it was obviously at this time I began to realize there were certain writers I would follow, because they wrote things I enjoyed and liked.

I wondered what it was that I enjoyed most about not only his books, but those of others I read. For me to put it simply, there are two main aspects that matter. the first is it has to be a truly great story. It doesn’t have to be unique or particularly different or new, because look at Harry Potter, which is basically The Sorcerer’s Apprentice , although obviously much more to it. Which brings us to the second important element, which is being able to tell a story.

Telling a story isn’t simple, because it needs to take the reader along, and offer elements which excite, interest, educate or enlighten, or all of those things and more. The plot has to do something, the characters have to have some worth. You can create a plot, and work on it, and create graphs and charts and lists of characters and events, but then you have to string it all together, in a way which the reader falls in love with, and becomes a part of.

When a book of fiction does this, it really drives our imagination, and leads us to places we might never have imagined ourselves going.

So for me a book needs to have an interesting story, and the writer needs to tell that story well. Then I can get into it, love it, and want to read it again.

I think doing that well enough that the reader will love it, and you as a writer is the hardest part, because we’re all different, and there’s no telling what might excite on reader, but annoy another.

I guess that’s all part of the fun of being a writer though.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I have a book to read…

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Can you judge a book by its cover?

As I am in the process of launching a new book, it got me to thinking about covers, naturally.

With The Dog Under The Bed I actually used my own dog as the cover model, partly because he was very cheap to work with, as in some biscuits and a pat on the back and he was happy, but also because it saved costs for royalties. Some covers don’t need much more than this to stand out, but some genres are difficult to pin down, and their covers are many and varied.

It reminded me of some recent covers I had seen on Instagram, for paperbacks and hardback books. Not only were there very colourful, but they were embossed, and the nature of them stood out so much I was very much intrigued to find out more about them.

It also made me thing of other books I have read in the past, and what drew me to them. I thought of Clive Barker’s Weaveworld, and how that cover suggested something interesting within. As it turned out, the cover very much matched my expectations for the read ahead, and it left me with an indelible impression that has lasted to this day. Not only of the cover, but of what I read. So it shows how an impressive cover, as long as it somehow depicts what might lie ahead, can really enhance a book, and draw us to something worth reading.

So I would think in some ways, yes you can judge a book by its cover. Perhaps the better quality of the cover and its artwork, then perhaps the better the quality of the book.

If only that were always true.

I intend to put this to the test with my new book, as I have commissioned a very high quality cover, and hopefully I can match expectations with what I have written.

We will see.

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The differences between US and UK spelling and grammar, plus new book

For my new book I decided to employ a professional editor to fully copy edit my book. Some things stood out for me:

Firstly, as much as I edit my books, and am very careful about it, I’m only human, and of course there were things I overlooked, one or two mistakes. They happen, but with my new editor’s aid I believe we have ironed out all spelling errors, continuity errors and such. This should make the reading experience much better.

Secondly, I must admit to being shocked at the amount of words spelt very differently in the US compared to the UK. I made the mistake of thinking it was only a few words, and not so important. How wrong was I?!
Other things such as standing and stood, being said differently, and plurals and singular, the differences are so many. Clearly editing for a different market are important. lesson learned.

One thing about doing things so much more professionally is it adds to the time before publication. Thankfully I am at the end of it all now, and my new book should be launched within the next week or so.

The genre is quite a departure for me, dealing with family and emotional issues, which are complex and subtle. Writing something like this can be emotional for the writer too, but I feel if I am experiencing an emotional connection with the events in the novel, and how they effect the characters, then hopefully that will feed through to the readers. Time will tell.

Of course, the work never stops, and my next project is going to be the final part of The Dog Under The Bed. It will be simply subtitled: What Happened Next, and concludes it all.

I have been very pleasantly shocked and surprised at the reaction to the first book, at the time of writing this it has 148 reviews on amazon, and a huge amount of ratings on Goodreads too. Clearly it is a much loved book, and worthy of a good conclusion.
I can say the final chapter will be very loving, full of fun and humour, and a wonderful way to send Arthur off to his new home, with his new family.

Roll on next week, when I begin writing it, I can’t wait!

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Arthur’s Back!!! Finally, the follow up to the much loved Dog Under The Bed…

The Dog Under The Bed 2

Arthur On The Streets


Arthur’s Back!!

Finally, by popular demand, the follow up to the much loved novel about Arthur, a lonely little dog, running stray on the streets of Warrington.

Arthur is a little dog, in search of love, missing the lady who loved him most, finding out just how hard life can be for a dog alone. Follow his journey as he goes not only in search of love and a home, but how he learns the truths of life, and how hard it can be for the dog that nobody wants.

From the first fateful moment as he strays away from the only place he has ever known, into the unforgiving streets and back alleys, into a life of hunger, cold and fear.

An exploration of just what made him so wily and smart, how one small dog went from being a deeply loved, important member of a family, to a dog alone, wandering in search of shelter, food and safety.

Find out just how daft one dog can be, the laughter as he discovers his first love of chicken and how his love of food gets him into one mess after another.

As Arthur finally learns the importance of family, through cold hard floors at night, to thunderstorms and rain outside, share each step he takes as he comes face to face with the struggles of life when nobody knows your name.

From snarling voices, to children laughing in the fields, from bitter rain to playful horses, join Arthur once again on an adventure of learning, discovery and sheer excitement.

The Dog Under The Bed: Arthur On The Streets is a joyful mixture of ups and down, all leading to one inevitable fate. Find out just what happened to him, and why , and how he ended up, right under a little boy’s bed.

Suitable For All Ages.

Quotes From The Novel:

“Wild seeds and flower elements pervaded the air, like frosty particles that never melted. White speckles floated around, sitting in the backdrop of an increasingly hazy day. It looked as if nature was exploding, all awash with colour and movement, a truly spectacular and memorable day. One that they would both look back on with fondness.”

“The skies were grey, and where before the wind had been warm and so full of light, everything around now seemed dark, as if he had entered a new place where such things no longer existed. He looked around as the rain fell ever harder, soaking his fur, dripping into his eyes. If he had tears to cry, they would have been washed away by the rain.”

“The field seemed to be a source of life, as butterflies flittered around and insects filled the skies darting all over. Dying wild flowers let loose embers of petals and seeds, their last natural attempt to spread and pollinate. The place was like a quilt of life, where one could jump straight into it and wrap oneself in all the beauty of creation.”

On Sale Now Exclusively From Amazon Worldwide


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Two Dogs In Africa


Based on true events, where as a teenager I moved with my parents to live in Nairobi, Kenya, a most beautiful part of Africa.

A lighthearted revisiting of my time there, and most importantly how I came to love these two amazing dogs. A loving exploration of two funny and wonderful dogs, Sammy and Shrink.

From spider bites to snake attacks, from cheeky dogs arguing over whose bed it was, to unwanted baths and days in the never ending sun. This tells the story of how I first came to love dogs so much, and how together we shared some amazing experiences, whether good or bad, they were always by my side.

Two Dogs In Africa is a story of adventure, understanding, discovery and love. Share our experience of life in Africa, and all the fun that we enjoyed – together.

Quotes From The Book:

“As my eyes became accustomed to it all, I could see so many flickers of light, so many fires and flame lights, that it seemed an ocean of stuttering luminescence, with people blurring the reality of it. I wondered if what I saw wasn’t real, that I was sick again, and in the blink of an eye I would wake up to find myself in my bed. That never happened. I could feel the soft air against my bare arms and face, but most of all there were a myriad of smells, all kinds of food cooking, sweetcorn, potatoes, some kind of meats, everything. I knew these people had next to nothing, but through their own hard work and ingenuity they had found a way to live, and survive even in these harsh conditions. A part of me wanted to feel awful for them, but they didn’t deserve my pity, they got my respect, for what they achieved every day in life.”

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Two Dogs In Africa – Real Life Images As Described In The Book

Two Dogs In Africa, Real Photos As Used And Described In The Novel.

Straight from the family album, showing various pictures of myself, mum, dad and the dogs, when we lived in Africa.

Feel free to contact me any time about them. It was a great experience, and a great adventure.


Sammy And Shrink Laying In The Grass Together

Sammy And Shrink Playing in the Back Garden

Continue reading Two Dogs In Africa – Real Life Images As Described In The Book

I Was A Teenage Necromancer: Supernature

 

Necromancer:

Noun.

1) A method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art.

2) Magic in general, especially that practiced by a witch or sorcerer; sorcery; witchcraft; conjuration.

*

Stephen is no different than any other young man, quiet, polite, friendly, able to communicate with the dead. His special gift allows him to achieve peace for those long dead but unable to move on, but others see a darker side to his gifts, the ability to communicate with the deceased, so that they may discover their own futures, for their own nefarious ends.

A magical yet disturbing journey, as one young man discovers the nature of life and death, while seeking to fight the scourge of greed and desires of so many around him.

Supernature is the follow up to I Was A Teenage Necromancer, continuing the path of discovery and illumination. Join the adventure, as once again good is pitted against evil that will bring us face to face with the ultimate path of decision.

Which would you choose?

A startling horror novel, full of intrigue, magic and mystery. Don’t read it alone…

“It felt as if I had wandered into someone’s private place, somewhere they had hidden and only they could go, that I had wandered down the rabbit hole and I was stealing a look at things no mere human should ever see. I felt privileged to even be in the place, and wanted more of it.”

“I could see an endless blanket of stars. If only I could just lift up and float into it, I could leave behind all of my problems, become the dream that I so wanted, the freedom to live without fear, not of what there was around me, but of the future itself.”

“Day to light felt like two different lives, that I were different people, and no experience was shared. When I laid down to sleep at night I would feel such a range of negative emotions, but in the morning I would come alive, like a newborn bird wanting to sing. My skin tingled, my eyes felt so wide awake that I could see colours and light in such a way I never had before. I wondered if my soul wandered in places in my dreams that reinvigorated my essence, that strengthened me in unseen ways for the day ahead, that I might have purpose, for myself and others.”

Available on Amazon and FREE through Kindle Unlimited!

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The Dog Under The Bed


This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for a home, but not just a home, simply someone to show him he matters, that he is loved by someone.

Arthur is a small dog, lost and alone on the streets of Warrington, simply trying to survive. Afraid and hungry, he runs constantly away from trouble, until he finds an unusual escape, into the house of a family, and underneath a young boy’s bed. That is when the fun really begins…

Unknown to Stan, Nancy, Abigail and Billy, this little doggy has hidden himself well, and so begins his adventure to stay hidden, for once warm and safe, snug under the bed.

Read as Arthur sneaks around the house, barely avoiding being caught as he secretly raids the fridge, drinks from the only source of fresh water, and plays with a room full of cuddly toys.

Find out why he was lost and alone, and how he rediscovers himself.

The Dog Under The Bed is a heart-warming tale that touches on all of our love and affection for man’s and woman’s best friend, and how one lucky dog uses all of his wily instincts to find out once and for all what it is to be a part of a loving family.

Funny, surprising and full of love, the Dog Under The Bed will remind us all just why we love them so much.


“Carefully he went, not wishing to be discovered, but also because he didn’t want to spoil the little boy’s dreams, envious of being so happy, able to sit and allow his mind to wander off to something amazing, without a care in the world of it ending. Such was the life of a child.”

“The air blowing up was cool and fresh, a constant reminder of the life he had lived, offering a kind of freedom to do as he pleased, but still it came at a cost. Unable to ignore the call any more he crept down the stairs, constantly on the lookout for trouble. Light filtered through from the lounge door and the kitchen, but everywhere else helpfully was dark. Feeling even bolder he continued, down again, until he stood on the last step, just able to peer out. He could hear Billy running and playing, enjoying himself so much. It was quite dark out, but the snow brought a vibrance to everything, offering an illumination combined with the grace of winter which no other season could quite provide.”

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Hypnofear – Strictly Adults Only

***STRICTLY ADULTS ONLY***

18+


A stunning novel full of mystery and mayhem, as hypnosis leads to the discovery of something that should have stayed buried.
The desire to quit smoking or lose weight is profound for many, for health or quality of life, but imagine if you attempted hypnosis to do this, and discovered something about yourself you wish you never had.
A supremely dark novel, which explores the possibilities within the human mind, delving into our primordial psych and all that could be unleashed. Two men, both looking for something, but finding much more than they ever expected.
Wonder for a moment if you could be hypnotised, and bring back from past lives not just memories or experiences, but abilities, and foresights long forgotten. Imagine further for one moment not what could be possible, not just what you might discover you could do, but who you might find, who you once were.
Then let them escape once more onto an unsuspecting world, and see the spectacle that they could cause.
A formidable tale of darkness, where anything is possible. A heady mixture of murder and mystery, and a startling novel full of savage what ifs…


It was a special moment, one that reverberated within them, sounds mirroring their heartbeat and the nuances of their own life. If it had lasted a lifetime it would have been too short, but the few moments he played, were uplifting and amazing, leaving an indelible impression upon them that come what may, they would never forget.

The easy warmth had dissipated, replaced by a sense of chill, an uneasy air that washed over everything. Her home no longer felt safe, as if she had been surreptitiously moved to an alien place, one that no longer looked or felt as it should.

Susan succumbed to a deep eternal sleep, as pain gave way to restless darkness, and finally a sense of peace. Nothing the attacker could do would have any effect on her, as she separated from the alien place, her mind dissipating into nothingness.

On sale now at Amazon, and all good booksellers! Available in Kindle and paperback.

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