Sunday, 23 November 2014
Hello everyone. Hope you are well. I'm currently feeling sorry for myself with a tooth problem, which I hope will be fixed tomorrow, when I get to the dentist. In the meantime, while I'm working on the edits for Sad's Place - a novel due in 2015 - I thought I'd let you know about a short story I'm about to publish, Africar. It's roughly15,000 words long, but the file is around 20,000, as I've included excerpts from two of my novels, Steam and Luvya Getcha. I'll be making Africar free, so hopefully a few readers will download it and maybe leave a little feedback.
Shirley Oliphant's dream is to take her grandkids on a picnic in a Rolls-Royce. Her husband, the old KO, finds just the car, a 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow once owned by a Mr Van Buren, who brought the car back from Africa. Since his death, seven years ago, the Rolls has been sitting in Mr Van Buren's garage, keeping a secret. A deadly secret. And the old KO is about to discover that secret, and unleash it.
So that's the outline, which is straightforward enough. The problem is, the story has the potential to be a novel. In fact, I've already made substantial notes with a view to writing a Part 2. I don't really want to do it, though. I have enough to be getting on with. Still, I don't think any writer can help how a story ends. The potential for it to be bigger is always there, I'm afraid.
Anyhow, it's a cold, rainy day here in Southsea, England. We had the grandchildren over last night, and took them to see the movie, The Book of Life, which was pretty good, although I think it scared the youngest, Elijah, a little. He slept well, though, and ate a hearty breakfast, which I didn't, due to my tooth problem. Still, after writing Africar, I'm kind of glad I don't have a Rolls-Royce to take the grandkids on a picnic in. Shirley Oliphant is welcome to hers. She can keep it.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Writer Fiona Skye asks me some questions. This interview is also on her website Her website is at fiona-skye.com. It's jam-packed with all things writer-ish, including her novel, Faerie Tales, Revelation Trilogy: Book One.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Valetta, Malta, of English parents. We moved around a lot when I was young. I finally settled in Southsea, Hampshire. It's such a beautiful place, especially in the summer.
2. Give us a five word synopsis about your latest work.
1963. Train station. Dr Who. Murder. Love! ( Is that more than five words? )
3. When you're finished with a piece, do you find that it tends to differ from your original idea, or does the original idea remain more or less intact?
I don't write ideas down. I don't outline, either. I see points in a story, like a dot-to-dot book. The moment I can join all the dots up in my head, then I'm happy to write. So mostly, yes, it turns out the way I imagine it to. For me, there has to be some point that I can't wait to get to. In Marsha's Bag, it was Marsha using an old dictaphone to communicate with an imprisoned girl. In As The Flies Crow, it was a telephone-box scene. In Flowers From A Different Summer, it was when one of the main character's finds his whole life wiped out in the snow. In Luvya Getcha, it was when the protagonist, Richard Beckett, told the ghosts to cheer up and get a life! That turned out better than I could ever have hoped for.
4. If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
Just put Cameron Diaz in it. I'll be happy.
5. What's the best thing about being an author? Worst thing?
The worst thing is that I work in a full-time job. I like my job, but I'd prefer to be writing. A best thing? Not sure there is one. Writing is a very lonely business. Apart from other writers, no one's really interested, are they? Not in my experience they're not, anyway. I don't say that with any bitterness, though. It's just the way things are. I'm sure if someone talked to me about knitting, I'd show some interest, but at some point I'd switch off, the way I've seen people do that on the subject of writing. For me, writing is simply something that I can't imagine not doing. I went to a writers circle once. Never again. ( For a full, foul-mouthed explanation on that, please email me ).
6. What writer's blogs make your Top Three list? Why do they stand out above the other flobbity-jillion out there?
I'm negligent in this area. I will try in 2014 to be more pro-active about blogs. Maybe you'd like to do a piece on my blog.
7. What is your writing-time beverage and snack of choice?
Easy this: beer. I love beer. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I even drink beer in the bath!
8. Do you have any useful marketing tips for other authors?
None. I'm hopeless. When I joined Twitter last July, I twittered my books. I felt a bit embarrassed by it, though. It just didn't feel right, not for me, anyhow. So now I don't do it. I prefer to just have a chat with someone. It doesn't have to be about books, either. In fact, I'd rather it wasn't. After all, if you want writing-information overload, just go on Twitter.
9. What changes do you see taking place in the publishing industry over the next couple of years?
I'm sure indie authors will continue to flourish. I hope so, anyway. There are some excellent indie authors out there. I won't name names. I may miss someone out and be duly mortified. As for changes, I think most of those have taken place. Traditional publishers will continue to favour people who have a high-profile, even if they're not writers, as such, but their name will of course sell a book. But that's no different how it was twenty years ago. You have to go all the way back to the 70's to see new writers who were given a chance, in any numbers, anyhow. I strongly believe, though, that the quality of indie books will continue to improve.
10. What's your next project?
I have a few projects. That way, if I get stuck on one, I always have something else to turn to. I wouldn't want just one book on the go. If it didn't work out, I'd be up the river without a paddle. In the early part of last year, I published As The Flies Crow, then decided to just write for the rest of 2013. It's put me in a good position. I completed two full-length novels, both over a 100.000 words. Hopefully I'll publish those this year, one around May, the other around September. I don't have the titles yet. Titles are difficult, don't you think? I'm sure I'll come up with something. I'm currently updating all the covers to my books to give them a more universal feel. I hope to have this done before I publish the new ones. I'm also going to put out Marsha's Bag & As The Flies Crow in one book. After all, Marsha Dunbar appears in both, so it makes sense to do that.
11. Who would win in a fight—a ninja-pirate robot or a zombie werewolf? Why?
I want the Zombie-Werewolf to win. I suspect the Ninja-Pirate Robot would, though. He sounds like he'd be far better equipped than something that would just stagger about, howling and groaning. You've made this a lopsided contest, I think.
N.B. I played around with 3 titles for my upcoming science-fiction thriller. Green Mist ( hmmm ). Lost Property ( more hmmm ). Finally I went with Steam, which I think suits the story best.
A scene from my novel Steam, coming in May 2014
Monday, 17 March 2014
1963: the death of JFK and the birth of Dr Who. A craft passes over Billy Flowers's head, and he is doused in a strange, green mist. Billy, the Head Porter at Wentworth Train Station, becomes sick...but he also gains the ability to see people's darkest secrets. This would be a blessing for the detectives conducting a murder investigation, but for Billy it becomes a curse. He begins to realise the people he loves can no longer be trusted. Including his own wife. But Billy is suffering enough. His brother Stanley is in a coma. Then a teenage girl goes missing. As murder begins to surround him, and he uncovers those responsible, Billy gets dragged into a train ride across an old, bomb-blasted viaduct that will bring him face-to-face with the craft. In a race against time and sickness, Billy understands that he can only save what he can and let the rest go.
Set against the backdrop of the social, political, and transportation changes of the 60's, Steam is a twisting and turning science-fiction thriller. Can Billy save the missing girl? His dying brother? His marriage?
Billy Flowers is a good man in a bad place.
Let the ride begin...
I first wrote Steam in 1997. I hated it. Not the story, I loved the story, I still do. I hated the way I'd written it; I didn't think I'd done it justice. So I tore it up. It was written on an Amstrad computer and printed out on a dot-matrix printer. The discs I saved the story to got lost somewhere. From memory, in the original, Billy Flowers was Robert "Dusty" Miller, and Mr Wellbelove was Mr Threeshoes. Late in the story, I resurrected the name Mr Threeshoes and used it as the name for the boss up at HQ. All the other names are the same.
Someone asked me if I could write only one story, which one would it be? I said Steam, without even thinking, which made me a little sad. In the 16 years between 1997 and 2013, I was still writing, but frankly I'd lost the impetus. Occasionally I still do. It's not writers' block. I've never had that, and hopefully never will. It's more to do with the fact there are a lot of novels out there, so what's the point? But my wife pointed out there were a lot of novels out there in the early-eighties, when I first started writing. Stop complaining, in other words, and get on with it. She was right. Women usually are.
In April / May of 2013, I wrote the first few chapters of a novel set in World War I. The main character is Samuel Hunningale. Sergeant Samuel Hunningale. Not sure I like that name, I may change it. But I like him. As I got further into the story, I realised that Sam Hunningale was not unlike Billy Flowers. No bad thing. A good thing, in fact. But it made me wonder why I was writing a story with a similar main character to the one in Steam, when the story was still in its complicated infancy, whereas I knew Steam like the back of my own hand.
So that was that, I made my decision. The World War 1 story got shelved and I started Steam. Re-started Steam. The 1st draft was finished on December the 6th 2013. In the afternoon of that same day I wrote this that you are reading now.
Am I glad I wrote Steam again from scratch? To be honest I still don't know. Maybe it should have remained torn up. Maybe I still didn't do it justice.
But it remains the one novel I would write, if I could write no other.
Kind regards, Martin Price.