Author Interview – Jethro Weyman

Here’s another installment of author interviews, and this week is slightly different as today it’s a short story author.

I’ve been meaning to interview Jethro for a while now (sorry for the delay, Jethro!) and I’m glad I finally got around to doing it. Although, I hate to admit I haven’t read his books, after interviewing him and reading the reviews on Amazon – they’re both going straight onto my wish list! Seriously, you guys have to check them out!

About Jethro Weyman

Jethro is a fellow Brit, born in Buckinghamshire and raised in Hertfordshire, not only does he write mind-boggling short stories, he works for the NHS as a physiotherapist in Birmingham. He manages a small team of five (including himself) on a specialist stroke and neurology rehabilitation ward. He also recently snagged some work as a supporting artist working on a film – which he can’t name yet!

As well as writing (and acting, so it seems), he enjoys cycling, bouldering, and as many forms of media he can cram in. He’s a big fan of nature, so tries to surround himself with that as often as possible. He loves animals, although doesn’t currently own any, and in his own words he “also loves not having fur or vomit or the outdoors all over the house!”

Bang to Begin

One of Jethro’s books; Bang to Begin, is a series of short stories, although a mix of genres, they are all linked and, by the end, become one. It’s designed to be a bit of a “head messer”, but also one that grows with a second read through. Read the synopsis below.

(It’s already on my wish-list, Jethro, will be purchasing it as soon as I move into my new apartment!)

Here it is on Amazon

Synopsis:

Reality is Relative.
There is no such thing as universal truth.
But lies are always lies.
From auctions to assassinations, from cosmos to subconscious mind, the roots feeding into these short stories start fine, but thicken and tangle as they grow deeper.
Follow these wayward souls through their darkest moments, each beginning with a bang and each trying desperately to avoid ending with the same.
A metaphysical, visionary exploration of the human psyche and all that it means to be real – discussed via an anthology with a difference.

Interview with Jethro

Now, let’s get into the interview and learn more about the inner workings of Jethro’s mind and these books of his…

What got you into writing?

I actually got into it a little by accident. I had an idea for a scene stuck in my head for a few momths and just felt I needed to get it down on paper for it to stop irritating me. Fortunately, that didn’t work… and I was irrirated all the way to writing a full novel. It definitely wasn’t expertly written, but it was something I could work with. I recently edited that scene out, which was a bit of a blow, but I’ve got it stored on my hard drive for reminiscence purposes.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I’ve got no idea if I have any quirks, let alone unusual ones. I guess I’ll need to set up a camera and keen an eye on myself… although, I probably wouldn’t like what I find!

Do you write every single day?

I wish I had the discipline and the energy, but sometimes I get home from work and jus tneed to sit down and watch something mindless for a while. I do go through periods of daily writing, but it’s rare these days. If Twitter stories count, then I do write most days, but substantial writing probably comes about twice a week right now, at best. There’s a lot of life happening at the moment and that’s not necessarily a good thing!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

That definitely has to be the editing side of things. I can quite easily have the enthusiasm sucked out of me by a long editing stint, especially when I’ve had some brutal feedback calling for a big rewrite. I’ve had to kill a lot of darlings… I’ve had to kill a lot of things I wouldn’t call darlings too, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist as I write too… so having to go back and realising how imperfect it all is after a first draft can be quite dishearening. But such is the life of a writer!

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

For me, as a reader, it’s all about the flow. If a writer can entice me with their premise and make me look forward to reading what sounds like it will be right up my street, only to write in a clunky and fluentless way, that’s really disappointing. It also shows when someone has a handle on their genre or their style as well… it probably shows even more when they don’t. Since starting to write myself, I feel like I’ve become a lot more critical over these aspects as well. I’ll notice and get annoyed by a lot more than I used to, but I think that’s probably true of all of us.

How do you use social media as an author?

I am definitely guilty of a shameless self promo or several, and I think social media is a fantastic marketing tool, at least in the early days of a writer’s career (which is my only experience). I also use it to connect with other writers, to practice my craft with short stories using many word prompt games and also, to a certain extend, to feel part of a wider community, especially in times like these where it’s more difficult to have a social life. I’ve made a lot of friends via social media, primarily Twitter, and if you ignore as much of the toxicity as possible, it can be a very rewarding place to be.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?

Self-publishing is definitely a pain – My least favourite part of it (or most hated) was formatting. Especially in the first book I published, which is made up primarily of Twitter stories. The formatting took forever and it drove me a little insane for a while… in fact, the remnants are probably still rattling around in there somewhere. My favourite part was definitely the satisfaction of being a published author, although I do still feel I need to get traditionally published before I can truly accept that. Anyone can publish a book these days, but not anyone can nab an agent and get a publishing deal.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

I must admit… I’m a bit of a write now, research later kind of chap. If I stop too much to focus on the details, I lost that all important flow and that’s something I really try to avoid. However, there are certain things I had to look up beforeI wrote for example: the geography of where I used to live in Buckinghamshire for my first novel – I needed travel times and names of nearby places and I even did a bit of google map street viewing to make sure it was accurate. For my fantasy novel, I did very little research other than finding names and designs of weapons which could be used or modified for use in the story. And with Bang to Begin, the only thing I can remember fully researching was what happens to someone when they hang themselves for one of the horror elements… so my search history is probably not as bad as Stephen King’s, but there’s a few dodgy key words on there.

What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?

I wish I’d found it!… probably an EMP device which stops all electronic devices apart from my laptop from working… and will only let me use the internet for research purposes. I basically need a parental lock on my writing space.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Of course… there’s nothing particularly interesting on there, but it does come up with the awful photos that are on the profile I have with an Extras casting agency. Twitter and my books come up as well… but I’m yet to get the all important Wikipedia page… maye I should make one myself!

Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?

I used to be unable to write unless I was in total silence, even bird song would put me off. Nowadays, maybe I’ve mellowed a bit, but I put on instrumental music. This could be acoustic guiter or piano music, but my favourite music to write to is Neo-Soul or Chillstep – there are a good few playlists on Spotify which absolutely hit the spot for this, including one called Mellow Beats and another called Lo-Fi Beats. When I don’t need to think too much about how I’m working things, I often put on some Tom Misch or Jordan Rakei or their playlists. Whatever I have on… it has to be calm and rhythmic.

Can you tell me a little bit about your book “Bang to Begin”?

I can! The idea for the book came to me after the 6th chapter; a story called The Death of Fate. Originally I was just writing completely disparate episodes as a series for a reading subscription website called Channillo. After that 6th chapter, I thought it should be more than what I set out to create, especially as this chapter gave me the idea of how to link them all together. The concept of face (and other metaphysical concepts) are the cornerstone of the book. What if these concepts were personified? What if that personification were a construct of an individual’s perception or ego? So, I worked prospectively and retrospectively to fit all of the stories together… the original versions are still available on the website and are even harder to follow than the final.

It’s all quite dark and more than a bit twisted, but writing in this way gave me space to dabble in all of the genres I’ve had an interest in. There are stories primarily based in the thriller/suspense genre, in horror, in fantasy and sci-fi and, to begin with, it can definitely be quite confusing. I’ve written it in a way which, I hope, begs for a second read, because there are little callbacks and subtleties that won’t be noticeable at first. I don’t want to give anything away, but once you realise what this book really is… it should come as a bit of a revelation, if not a relief! Plus, it’s only short… which can only help.

Both of your published books are short stories, have you considered writing a novel?

I definitely have considered it and I’ve done it. I wrote a thriller called Kept in the Dark, which I’m currently querying – this was my first foray into proper writing and I’ve had some good feedback from readers, but I’m yet to land an agent. I’ve done some more revisions recently, and I hope that helps. It explores government and insitutional corruption and how the people who oppose this are viewed. It’s set in what I call a near-future dystopia – a little bit Black Mirror. I’ve also written an SFF novel called Craft (Working Title), which explores social, racial and gender inequality in a way I hope is unique. I try to incorporate more meaningful themes into my work when I can.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

Too many, and I curse myself whenever I add another. I’m currently working on a short story (should end up about 5000 words) which is a YA (ish), supernatural thriller. I’m not too far off finishing the first draft of this, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I’m also editing my first screenplay using the wise words of Syd Field and some beta readers as a basis. I would love to write for the screen, so I’m going to try and make a go of this. It’s a post-apocalyptic comedy. I should be editing my second novel, but it is hard to tear myself away from the new stuff (this is always a problem) and I did start writing the sequel to this as well when I was stuck in a Brazilian airport for about 8 hours. So, I’ll get back to that at some point as well.

If you’d like to contact Jethro, here’s a link to his Twitter page!

~~~

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My Podcast Interview – Breaking the silence and becoming an author & activist – It’s Never Too Late

Hello my little demons!

For those of you who follow me on social media (see the links below if you’d like to follow), you may have noticed that I did a podcast interview recently and was waiting for it to air.

Well, it all started when I was approached by Megha on Twitter, asking me to do a podcast interview and I jumped at the opportunity. Not necessarily because I love supporting fellow authors and creative minds (which I do), and it’ll be good publicity for me, but because I will be getting out of my comfort zone HUGELY.

If you don’t know, I had Selective Mutism as a child, you can read my previous post on ‘Why “The Girl Who Whispered“‘ here, which explains more about it, and as silly as it sounds, talking is something I have always struggled with.

When we scheduled to do it, I was very nervous, I could literally feel my heart beating in my chest. Megha was so lovely though, so understanding and I eventually felt myself calming (okay, a little).

I’ve been waiting for it to go live with baited breath, although the hard part was over, I was still really nervous about it going live. All those years worrying about speaking and I was going public on the internet. But the podcast went live today at 14:30 BST and I couldn’t be happier. It came out great!

If you’re interested in listening, here it is on spotify:

Huge thanks to Megha for the opportunity, it was great to make such a lovely connection too, and thanks everyone who has already listened to it – I was told Megha’s listeners love it (I think it’s my British accent!)

If you’d like to support Megha and her podcast, please check out her links:

website: meghaupadhyaya.com
facebook: facebook.com/itsnevertoolatepodcast
instagram: instagram.com/takeitsleeazy/
twitter: twitter.com/Young_blackbird

If you’d like to support Megha’s podcast, you can do so here!

Here was a little teaser trailer (I sound awful, but here it is for completeness anyway!):

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

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It’s My Mistake – Chapter 2

If you’re new to the story, please read chapter 1 here.

~~~

“Alice!” my startlingly beautiful, long blonde haired friend gasped in shock. Her gorgeous blue eyes twinkled at me, her mouth slightly ajar in surprised after I told her the train-wreck of an interivew I had yesterday. “You did what?”

“I know! After all that, I told the woman outside to fuck off too,” I said, before burying my face in my hands and groaned.

Olivia and I were sat in a café round the corner to where she worked. I decided to meet up with her before her shift started and I had explained what had happened with the interview from start to end in surprising vivid detail. Well, leaving out a few details; like the handsome man that was behind the table. That was something Olivia would have wanted to know more about rather than the interview itself. She had a bit of an obsession with men.

I liked Olivia, she was the closest thing I had to a best friend. She was originally my roommate for a few months after I moved to the city. She had a small spare room for rent, and luckily she had it up for quite cheap too. We hit it off quite quickly, which I was extremely surprised about. She was a beautiful blonde girl, only a year younger than I was, and was extremely outgoing. I was the complete opposite, but she was surprisingly easy to get along with. Our little arrangement only lasted a few months though, I had found out she was actually renting the apartment herself and wasn’t actually allowed to rent out the other bedroom. The landlord had kicked us both out and we had to go our separate ways. But our strange friendship lasted.

“That’s amazing! At least you fucked it up in style!” she giggle hysterically.

“It’s useless! I’m never going to get a job in a hotel! Maybe I am better off going back to care?”

“Don’t be silly, there are still loads of hotels out there, or maybe you’re better off starting somewhere smaller? Like a hostel or something?” she said, touching my hand in sympathy. “Just don’t yell at the interview panel and tell people to fuck off!” she suddenly smiled.

I groaned again. I realised after having a good long think about what I had done—the whole Miss/Mrs mistake—there was still chance to salvage the interview; just laugh it off as an administration error. But no, instead I decided to yell at people and storm out like a spoilt brat.

Plus, to make matters worse; I really wanted that particular job. Yeah, the role was just entry level, probably only filing and paper pushing. But the company was supposed to be a really good company to work for. I heard rumours that people who started at the company would be well looked after and they really helped you progress. I had dreams of going far in the company. I needed to go far in the company. I needed to prove myself. It was also a social enterprise too, so it helps the community, something that had caught my attention in particular. Global Elite, the company was called. That hotel was just one of two in London, and one of, probably lots around the world. I had done a bit of research, hoping my knowledge of the company and its history might have won me some brownie points. Not that I even got that far.

Olivia open her mouth—probably about to comfort me in her usual sarcastic way—but closed it when my mobile phone rang loudly next to me. I stared at the caller ID but I didn’t recognise the number. It wasn’t a saved contact, so I didn’t rush to answer it. Besides, I had a feeling I knew who it was.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Olivia asked, her well-manicured eyebrow rose at my curiously.

“No, it’s probably Simon,” I replied, still staring at the mobile as it danced and sang at me.

“I thought you like Simon?”

Simon was my ex. Well, he was and he wasn’t. We didn’t officially break up. I just walked out on him a while back and stopped talking to him. I guess that consitutes as an ex. We weren’t together for long anyway. Either way I didn’t tell Olivia the whole story. In fact, I didn’t really tell her anything. She didn’t even know I had stopped seeing him. She didn’t exactly ask.

“I did.”

She watched me silently for a few seconds as if trying to digest a hidden meaning in those two words. “Then what’s the problem?”

I sighed. “I’ve stopped seeing him,” I explained, and Olivia’s eyebrows rose together this time. “He came across… desperate,” I continued, when Olivia didn’t say anything.

Olivia burst out laughing. “Maybe he was just horny and wanted to get in your knickers?”

I gave her a look, which was supposed to be a don’t-be-so-gross look, but she clearly read it wrong. I hated the word ‘horny’ and Olivia knew it.

“Wait!” She gasped. “Did you two—”

“No!” I snapped. “I didn’t sleep with him!”

I had told Olivia that I wanted to wait, at least until I knew that he and I would go far in a relationship. Plus, I was a little shy in that department. Unlike Olivia, I wasn’t so confident. But I guess it was a while since I last spoke to Olivia about Simon. Knowing Olivia, she probably thought I did sleep with him and that was why I dumped him.

Olivia just held her hands up in defence. “Can’t blame me for asking, he is fairly attractive. I would. Even if it was just for a quick shag.”

“Olivia!” I gasped in shock at my friend. Although I wasn’t sure why I was still so shocked, she was always like this. But Olivia was a young, beautiful blonde woman, and she always had men after her. I was just lucky that I met Simon on my own and not when I was with her. I had visions of him going off with her instead. “You know I’m not like that!”

She shrugged. “Nothing wrong with it.”

“The guy wanted a serious relationship, not just a quick shag,” I said, lowering my voice slightly so the couple on the table next to us wouldn’t hear me. Which was pointless, they had clearly overheard Oliva. She was so embarrassing sometimes.

“I know, I know!” She nodded. “But you should at least consider it, you never know, you might enjoy it!” She winked.

But I ignored her, my mobile rang again.

“Hey, if it is Simon, wouldn’t it come up on your phone as Simon’s number?” she asked, pointing at the phone.

“No, I deleted it,” I said.

“You deleted his number from your phone?” she asked, her eyebrows rose again.

“I know, it was a mistake. I forgot I did it and he tried ringing me. I accidentally answered it, not realising it was him, until I heard his voice wheezing down the earpiece—”

“Wheezing?” Olivia asked, looking confused.

I shrugged. “Sounded like he was wheezing, maybe he’s asthmatic?”

“Or he was—”

“Don’t!” I said, stopping her saying something crude that I really didn’t want to hear. I knew she was about to say something crude, it was the look on her face that gave it away. She just laughed. “The point is, I ended up having to block his number in the end because he kept rining and kept for—” I stopped. I had Simon’s number blocked. He couldn’t ring me! I looked at the mobile which was still ringing.

“What?” Olivia asked, clearly not getting why I stopped.

“I have Simon’s number blocked!” I said. “He can’t ring me!”

“Then answer it!” she said quickly. “It might be another hunky desperate man wanting a shag!”

I ignored her and picked my phone up from the table, but just before I was about to answer it, it stopped ringing. I groaned.

“Well, I guess he’s got fed up and found someone else!” Olivia chimed, and took a sip of her coffee.

I ignored her and continued to look at my phone. I was quietly trying to decide what to do. Maybe if I sat and waited for a bit, the caller would ring me back, or maybe leave a voicemail. I liked the idea of someone leaving me a voicemail, if they gave me a hint of who they were, I could decide whether I wanted to ring back.

But after a few minutes ticked by on my phone, no one rang back and no voicemail was left. So instead I decided to ring the number back. Olivia’s attention was on something else—or shall I say, someone else.

“Hello, this is Daniel’s phone. Jason speaking,” someone with a rather lovely deep voice said on the other end of the phone. I didn’t recognise any of the names; I didn’t know a Daniel or a Jason, nor did I recognise the voice.

“Err, hi, I just got a miss call on this number?”

“Ah, yes. Dan did look a little flustered while trying to ring you. Let me find him,” the deep male voice said. I said a qiuck thank you but I got interrupted when I heard the same deep male voice yell in the background; “Oi, you cunt, you have one of your bimbos on the phone asking for you!”

My face dropped and I hung up quickly. Clearly not someone I wanted to know anyway. I silently hoped neither of them rang me again. Annoyingly, Olivia hadn’t even noticed what had happened.

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

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Ender’s Love – Chapter 3

Click here to read Chapter 1 if you haven’t read it already

Note: May contain strong language!

~~~

Chapter 3

“Alex!” said a loud voice next to me, making me jump. It was my work colleague, Stella, as she sidled next to me in her office chair. “Drinks after work?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I replied, unable to control the frown that had involuntarily creeped on my face.

Stella and I weren’t really friends, she was just some girl I worked with. I hadn’t been working at the company for long, but I was conscious that I should make a bit of an effort to be a little friendlier with people. I didn’t have many friends in Scotland, it was always something I struggled with. Although, I wasn’t entirely sure about Stella. She seemed nice. Well, nice to me. But she had a habit of being a little bitchy about the other girls and I worried she was like that with me, behind my back.

It was only a day after the incident at Da Vinci’s, and I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help but think constantly about that guy I had met. I realised I didn’t even catch his name nor did I even introduce myself properly. It was terribly rude of me. I was too flustered though. But I was proud of myself for actually approaching him, even though I’d never see him again. There were plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. Maybe I would find someone, one day, who was just as handsome, kind, caring and I could settle down and live happily ever after? A best friend who I loved, and he loved me. I had images of waking up in the morning to him cooking breakfast for me, cuddling up on the sofa while watching a scary film, going on little trips away at the weekends somewhere fun, getting a cat and maybe even one day having kids.

“Oh, please come! Not many people are coming now. It’s just going to be me and that girl with the big nose. What’s her name? Julie or something? We’re going to that cocktail bar. It’s two for one on Thursdays,” she said, fluttering her eyelashes like that was going to flatter ,e. It might work on every guy she met, but she seemed to have a habit of doing it the girls too. I groaned.

“Okay, but I can’t stay out for long, I have university work to do,” I said, trying desperately not to get annoyed with her lack of remorse over the kind girl that had started around the same time as me. I had noticed she had a bit of a big nose, but she was actually a lovely girl and her name was Judith. But I had no energy to correct Stella.

“University work?” she asked, frowning at me like I had just sprouted another head.

“Yes, I go to unveristy.” I sighed in annoyance. I had told her this before, I had told everyone at work. I had to constantly remind them. Especially when I would get my supervisor asking me to gin for extra shifts to help out with a backlog of work and I had to constantly remind her that I couldn’t because I had classes. She would always look at me like I was lying to her to avoid going into work, but the truth was, I actually needed the money. I studied part-time and worked part-time around my classes and although I was working in Administration, which was mostly just boring data entry in a small team, it wasn’t a well-paid job when you lived on your own in Glasgow.

“Which one?” she asked.

“Strathclyde.”

“You go to Strathclyde?”

“Yes,” I said, trying not to groan again. Although, I couldn’t be bothered to muster a fake smile. I was too tired.

“Oh, that’s cool! What do you do? You doing a degree or something?”

“A master’s degree,” I corrected. I could have told her what subject it was, but I doubted she would remember anyway.

“Oh, that’s right!” She nodded as if she had just remembered, but I doubted she did. “So, you coming?”

“Sure.” I shrugged, having a feeling that if I didn’t say yes, she wouldn’t leave me alone. Besides, maybe a drink was what I needed? I had already decided to have a night off doing any university work. I was going to work on my book, but I realised that maybe I needed a night off from that too?

***

Later that day, after my shift at work was done, I found myself sat in a loud pub. It was one of those chain pubs; with the same drink menu, served the same cheap food, and had the same two-for-one deals. Drinks were usually served in cheap, plastic pitches rather than nice fancy glasses. It was a pub popular with those who wanted a cheap night out to get drunk, or a cheap pub meal with the kids.

There was a large TV on a wall at the back, which was playing the highlights of some big game that was on earlier in the day. Huddled around it was a load of loud Scottish men either laughing at their mates in a drunken state or yelling at the TV screen. In the centre of the pub on the left, was a large bar with loads of people milling about trying to grab the attenion of the bar staff and get another round of drinks. The rest of the pub was littered with cheap wooden tables and chairs for those who were finishing up their late dinners of cheap steak and chips or a bland chicken tikka masala.

I wasn’t particularly happy with my predicament; it was too loud, the tables were sticky and I was constantly getting eyed up by guys who looked like they were fresh out of school and barely legal to drink. This also wasn’t the place Stella had promised.

Stella had decided to go to a different place to the one she had first suggested, although I wasn’t sure why. But if I had to guess, it was the guys that were there as she kept looking around at them like a lioness stalking prey.

“So, what’s your bachelor’s degree in?” Stella shouted acorss the table at me, huffing at something that clearly upset her. Either that or I was too boring for her. Judith never showed up, so it was just me and her, and I was starting to feel a little awkward with it being just the two of us. I had even contemplated finding an excuse to leave.

“The one I’ve completed?”

“What?” she asked across the table, clearly not being able to hear me properly above the noise.

“The degree I’m doing at university?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied. “What’s it in? I did a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism,” she whittled on, and I realised she wasn’t really interested in knowing what I was doing or had done at all, she just wanted to find something to talk about herself. Plus, she had already forgotten I was doing a master’s degree, not a bachelor’s. “Passed it last year, but I found it so hard! I actually had to learn Spanish too, which was stupid! I didn’t want to learn another language! I just wanted to go into Tourism. I love going on holiday, figured I’d do it as a career, you know.”

I nodded politely as I drank my glass of white wine. Although, it tasted a little like oak and I wasn’t too keen on it. Regardless, I persevered; the alcohol would help me cope with the girl better.

“All that work too; eassays upon essays!” she continued to moan. “So, don’t feel bad if you have to quit, you know, it’s really hard work!”

“I’ve done a bachelor’s degree already,” I said before I realised what I was doing. Her comment annoyed me and I took it personally.

“What?” she called across the table. Clearly, I didn’t speak loud enough. Truth was, I hated shouting; the idea of shouting across a table just to be heard was frustrating.

I opened my mouth to repeat what I said when I caught sight of someone in the bar. I gasped. Luckily no one could hear me—not that I really cared what Stella thought. But, standing at the bar, I caught a glimpse of that handsome guy from Da Vinchi’s again. My stomach did a summersault when I saw him. He was even more handsome than I remembered. He wasn’t in a suit this time, he was in a black t-shirt, leather jacket and dark blue jeans. He looked dark and mysterious and I think I fell in love with him right there on the spot… I was a sucker for a handsome guy in black, especially leather. I noticed he looked a little annoyed or tired maybe, as a blonde girl was holding onto his arm and trying to speak something in his ear.

I smiled as he bought a glass up to his lips and took a sip. It looked like it was whisky again. I wondered if it was Dalwhinnie.

“He’s gorgeous,” said a voice next to me.

I jumped and looked round to notice Stella had moved to sit next to me, she had obviously noticed I hadn’t replied to her and had instead been watching the guy at the bar. She was staring holes into him as well, which made me feel a little annoyed. I had no idea who the guy was, he might have been as ass for all I knew, but I hated both men and women staring at the opposite sex like they were pieces of meat in a butcher’s shop. Stella might be a lot prettier than I was, with her long blonde hair and her long fluttering eyelashes, but she wasn’t pretty on the inside, as I recently found out.

“Way out of your league, honey,” she said in my ear.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at her, mostly because she was right; he was.

“I wouldn’t drool either, that girl looks like she’s his date for the night, I bet she’d happily scratch your eyes out for him.”

I looked round at Stella, giving her an annoyed yet confused look. What a weird thing to say. But as soon as I did, Stella’s eyes went wide.

“What’s wrong?”

“He just looked round at me and gave me a horrible look,” Stella said, looking away from him and taking a large swig of her alco-pop she had bought.

I looked round at him again to see what she was referring to, although having already missed the look, I was still curious. He was now frowning heavily at the girl next to him and saying something to her which I wished I could hear. Her hand had fallen from his arm and they were instead crossed. I couldn’t see her face, she had her back to me, but I could his and he looked pissed about something.

Suddenly the girl snatched up her purse from the bar table and swung round, looking upset about something as she wandered out of the bar, a hand up to her face as she looked like she was wiping tears away from her eyes. I watched her curiously as she stormed right for the bar door and disappeared out into the street beyond. I felt like running after her and making sure she was okay, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave.

“Fuck,” Stella suddenly muttered next to me and I sensed her straighten up. I looked round at her as she was staring wide-eyed at the bar, at someone. Rather than asking her what was up, I followed her gaze just at the same time a tall figure came into focus beside me.

~~~

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Here are some links to my other works:

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
No one likes you! – A short story.

Travelling Route 66 for Charity – Update

Hello my little demons! 😈

I wrote a previous blog post explaining about my charity tour of America, and why I’m doing it, here.

Since then, I’ve already done a lot of planning (yet, still a lot more to go!). I’ve come up with lots of amazing ideas, bought some maps, found some amazing resources and I’m finally getting there with the intial interary.

We’re doing a road trip down Route 66!

(c) Penny Hooper

Now, Route 66 sounds like an easy thing, just follow the sign posts for Route 66, right? But Route 66, as I have found, has had many alterations over the years, bypasses and re-directs, bridges no longer used, cities and towns built up over it, even the start and end posts have moved.

The original Route was established on the 11th November 1926 (although, from what I can gather, it was being built before this), it was altered in 1930 to follow a completely different line between Springfield and East St. Louis. In the late 1930s, the route was redirected again to cut off Santa Fe. The original route used to connect gold and silver mines such as Oatman, but in the 1950s these were cut off, leaving Oatman abandoned. And a lot of the interstates that were constructed saw the Route 66 abolished, some even cut through the route, meaning it’s no longer possible to drive the whole of the old route anymore. I even saw one section is on private land now – and the owners were selling parts of it to keep it safe from further distruction!

As for the start and end points, these were also moved, both in Chicago and Los Angeles, which you will learn more about both when we come to do the tour but also in blog posts along the way. You can see the map below has the old and new routes, the red is the newer route, the pink/purple bits are the older routes.

Now, we could just stick to the newer route, the one that is mostly mapped on modern maps, but that would be too easy! So, we plan to travel down as much of the old route as possible (unless the road is too dangerous, a dead-end, on private property or no longer exists) to see the areas that those early road trippers would have seen.

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_66#Changes_in_routing

Originally, when I was coming up with ideas on what I wanted to do for this American tour, I was adamant to fit in lots. I wanted to see the Florida Keys, Atlanta, Washington DC, maybe visit New York city again, drive up to San Francisco up the California State Route 1 and visit the Bonnerville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City. When I realised doing the Route 66 will take a minimum of three weeks as it is, I knew we couldn’t do all of it. Well, not unless we can take two months off work and have lots of spare money! So, we stuck to Route 66. There will be other opportunities to see the others another time (maybe, if this one is successful, more road trips?)

Of course, we will be doing a few smaller things, such as going up to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum (already got an invite), a two-day detour to see the Grand Canyon and another one/two-day detour to see Las Vegas (driving over the Hoover Dam of course!). We also plan to fit in a motorbike ride in Los Angeles, not all the way up to San Fransisco, but maybe at least to Pismo Beach.

We have a lot of ideas that we want to do along the way too, as you know, we will be doing this for charity; well, we have picked out at least four charities. One is close to my heart, one is close to Mozz’s, and the other two we both choose. Of course, I haven’t contacted any of them yet, as I’m still finishing off the itenary, and I have to sort out some personal things, but hopefully in the next few weeks, we can share! But we also have a few ideas such as little challenges or charity events on the route itself, one is even quite big, but again, I need to contact a particular charity to pull it off!

Although we have planned a lot of it already, not only researching where the old route goes, marking it on a map, what sites to see, what time of year to go, and so on. We still have a lot to do.

* We need to make sure we get the right visa; this isn’t just a tourist visit, we plan on filming and fundraising, this might not be suitable on a tourist visa,
* We need to work out the best camera equipment; do we spend a bit more to get a decent go-pro or will cheap action cameras be okay,
* What rigs will we need to set up cameras inside a car and on bikes/helmets,
* Maybe even microphones so we get a decent quality sound,
* We need to work out costs involved; visas, flights, fuel, car, insurance, food, side-trips, hotels, even the costs of bags, cameras, internet wifi dongle, subscriptions and software we might need,
* we also need to know which areas are American-Indian territory so we can respect their land (I plan on contacting the AIANTA – American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association for this too),
* And lots more!

I still have yet to set up a YouTube channel, get it establed now and practice filming, editing and the like. I also plan on getting my social media verified, which is very difficult to do. And of course, around all this, I work full time and I’m trying to publish a new book and write a memoir.

So, now I’m going to get back to marking sites on my USA map after spending two days researching the route and marking it out, then hopefully, I can contact the charities and get the ball rolling!

Watch this space!

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

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Author Interview – Noir Hayes

Hello, my little demons! 😈

Here’s the third installment of Author Interviews, and I had the privilege of speaking to Noir Hayes.

This was another one I had good fun with, and upon reading her answers, it’s amazing how much we have in common (minus the ballet bit!)

Razor Blades

Of course, first I wanted to quickly speak about her book “Razor Blades”. It sounds really interesting; dark and gritty gangs set in New York. What’s not to love?

Here’s the synopsis:

Enter into the minds of the most dangerous gangs in the city. Razor, the gang’s leader, is known for his brutal, cut-throat methods, and cold eyes. His arrogance, getting to the better of him, prevents him from noticing some of his member’s evil intentions. Every man in the gang has their role, and it’s up to you to determine who is genuinely Razor’s right-hand man.

You can find it for sale here

Within Cessation (Out October 2020!)

And, of course, can’t leave without talking about her next book which is out next month; Within Cessation.

In case you can’t see the image, for what ever reason, this is what it reads:

“Tatum Hyland is a man obsessed with reinventing himself. Determined to cast off his reputation as a washed up former romance novelist, he challenges himself to write something completely different – an apocalyptic survival story. But as the world arround him spirals into chaos, Tatum must learn to differentiate between reality and fiction, choosing between his own survival and that of his work.”

Interview with Noir

Now let’s get into the interview… I bet you’re all excited to read this, as much as I was!

What got you into writing?

I’ve always been super anxious and quiet, even as a kid. A lot of times, I used writing as an escape. In my mind, I figured, if I couldn’t say certain things or open up about my experiences, I would just write and create character that could do the things I was unable to. I also loved the idea of having no real rules. In math or in science, it’s either wrong or it’s right. In writing, I make the rules and I have always loved the freedom that came with that.

What’s your writing Kryptonite?

I care too much about what people might think. Sometimes I hold myself back and think, “No, I can’t write that. What will they think? Will they think I’m this super violent person? Will they think differently of me?” A lot of it is mental, and I’m always trying to work through it.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s always been the characters for me. I have always found enjoyment out of building a character from the ground up. I let them tell me what they like, don’t like, what their fears are, and what their story will be. I let them create the plot for themselves – I am merely the person that writes it all down for them.

Do you want to be more original or write that the reader’s want?

Original, always. I once stumbled across Billie Eilish’s Vanity Fair interview and in it, she said: “If everyone dropped dead right now and I didn’t, I would be left with what I had created for myself. And what the hell would the point be if I was just creating something that somebody else wanted me to create that I had no say in? And that person died, and everybody else died, and nobody else matters but me? I’m stuck with this stuff I didn’t want in the first place and that’s trash.” And that has always stuck with me. I create what I want. It will reach the people it is meant to reach, and those who are meant to love it will love it.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Don’t create with the intention of being the next Hunger Games or Divergent. Write what you want to write and do it unapologetically. It doesn’t need to be cookie cutter. Those who are your true fans will never judge your writing material – so just write what you want.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

I really, really loved I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson. It is a book about a fourteen-year-old that has cerebral palsy, so she can’t speak or move. Whenever her caretaker’s abusive boyfriend admits he murdered someone and tells the narrator because he knows she literally can’t tell anyone, it creates this amazing and thrilling story. I have hardly seen anyone talk about it and it surprisingly doesn’t have too many reviews on Amazon.

Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, of course! I sometimes hide song lyrics that inspired my writing in character dialogue. In “Razor Blades” one of my characters gives out a series of codes, and some of them are my parents and sibling’s birthdays. There are too many hidden secrets to count!

What was the inspiration for your book, “Razor Blades”?

It’s actually an interesting story, haha. Back in my younger years, I did a ton of online roleplaying. Two of my characters, Razor and Brett, were originally characters I just roleplayed with. Both Brett and Razor were inspired by songs off of this industrial metal band’s (their name is Combichrist, I definitely recommend looking them up) album entitled We Love You. So, Brett and Razor have been with me since the beginning. Things really got rolloing whenever I visited New York last summer with my dad. From there, I said screw it, dropped Razor and Brett in New York, and let them tell the stories themselves.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Razor Blades is really violent and gritty. That being said, I want readers to see that even in the darkest of corners, you can find stories of love and hope. I want them to meet a character like Razor, someone who is bad through and through, and see his development and see the way he changes, the way that he has different sides for those he truly cares for.

How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?

Well, next month my second book entitled Within Cessation comes out, which is exciting! As for unpublished books, though, I’ve been holding onto a Young Adult Dystopian novel that I wrote way back in high school. I plan on taking it, revamping it, and publishing it by next year. Half-finished books and ideas, I have anywhere between five to ten rolling around, even if it’s one paragraph in a google document somehwere, haha.

Who is your favourite author, and why?

Chuck Palhniuk’s Snuff helped me write Razor Blades, as I loved the way he changed multiple POVs (point of views) so well. From there, I just started reading and falling in love with a lot of his work. More on the cliché side, though, I’ve always been inspired by big names like Stephen King. In fourth grade, I was already reading Pet Semetary and The Shining, and it was King that helped me realize that writing was what I wanted to do – that I wanted to big like him.

Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?

Good question and when it comes down to it, I’m not sure if I have a preference! I think there’s something so magical about reading and falling in love with a book and seeing it on the big screen. To have your favorite moments comes to life and to have them pulled together with music, the looks certain actors and actresses can pull of, ugh, it’s so magical! There are also some movies out there that are better than the books… a controversial opinion, I’m sure haha.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

I appreciate audiobooks so much! I commute to school and work three to four jobs (when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic) and last semester, I was driving five-hundred miles per week. I really dove headfirst into having an arsenal of audiobooks to keep me entertained during my long drives. Sometimes holding a physical book just isn’t possible, and I think having an audiobook is a great option if that’s the case. Especially if you spend more time in your car than in your house, like I do.

Was writing your dream job as a child, or was it something else?

Always deep down, yes. I was writing horror stories and giving them to my mom to give to her friends at work as a kid. Every single experience I had I made into a story. As I got older, unfortunately, I somehow convinced myself that I could never make a living out of writing. So, I wound up going to school for something else I’m interested in. I’ve said since the beginning, though, if I could wave a magic wand and have whatever I wanted – to write all day every day as an occupation would be my dream.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a jack of all trades, honestly, haha. I am a full-time student in my senior year of a Criminal Justice program. When I’m not in school, I’m probably in the dance studio teaching ballet (yes, I was a bunhead for the majority of my life). Outside of all that, though, I am a huge nerd – I love to play video games and watch all kinds of movies. I also have a pretty impressive Funko pop collection.

Thanks, Noir Hayes! It was a pleasure.

Please do check out her out, here’s the link to her twitter page.

~~~

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Author Interview – S. D. Reed

Hello, my little demons! 😈

The second instalment of Author Interviews is here, and today I have an interview from “a new author on the block,” S. D. Reed!

I really enjoyed this interview, S. D. was a pleasure to talk to, and after speaking to him, I’m really interested in his new book that is coming out! Today is the day the cover, title and release date was annonced, and I have to admit, it looks really good (I’m a little jealous!). See more about it below.

We also seem to have a few similarities with ideas when it comes to writing too, especially question 6 in the interview, this is certainly something I have been doing in my upcoming book, “Rose Garden Sanatorium” and I really like this approach, like we both agreed; it benefits the long-term readers.

Kerwall Town (Out 18th October 2020!)

Before we get into the interview, I first want to plug his book a little. It’ll be rude not to – besides doesn’t the cover look fab?

The novel is set in the late 70’s and is centred on a fictitious failed goverment experimental town that has long since been forgotten. That is until one day when two strangers arrive in town and claim to be the new owners and mayor.

Here’s the synopsis S. D. gave me:

After two strangers appear in the dilapidated town of Kerwall, the lives of every resident change. Members of the community are forced together as the number of bodies and secrets increase with every passing moment. With knowledge as their only tool against the world’s deadliest predator, the hunt for power commences. Kerwall’s hope rests on the shoulders of its youngest residents, forcing them into the depths of the earth, questioning everything they’ve ever known.

Inverview with S.D.

Right, now let’s get into the interview!

What inspired you to start writing?

I don’t think one singular thing inspired me, but rather a collection of things, and I also think it’s been brewing inside me, like I was born to write… does that make sense, or is it too cliché? Well, that’s it anyway. I would watch films and read books, and I was totally immersed. I wanted to do the same for others, to give them hope and escapism in the form of a book.

Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?

I do, yeah, just because I feel my novels are more interesting than me. I want them to speak for themselves.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Well, without giving too much away about my debut novel, it was a certain death scene. I didn’t want to write it as I grew so attached to the character, but alas, the book needed one final sacrifice.

What does being a successful author look like to you?

Being Happy, and yes, with a capital ‘H’. Isn’t that what life is all about too? It’s not about the race, it’s about the humans, earth and making a difference. Ultimately, I’d like my novels to make a positive difference in someone’s life. That’s the mark of success to me.

Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I did once and Google didn’t know who I was… Nor did Alexa or Siri.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I have two, the first is that I’ll often have a character that enjoys making puns and the second is I work in long term story telling. What this means is, you may not get all the answers in one novel, but you may in another, as all my novels are connected in some way, you just gotta look for them…

Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?

I do indeed! There are so many wonderful writing blogs out there, but it would be remiss of me to not recommend and of course, yours too!! (aww, thanks!)

The ones I can recommend right away:
@PamelaRossAA

@avidbookworm78
@dansbookblog
@FootnotesMgmt
@CanvassartS

What is your favourite word, and why?

So, so many! Right now, it’s a simple one; fantabulous! I just love how positive it sounds. Another favourite is beatific!

Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?

I always try to convey a sense of good and evil, and a strong sense of teamwork too, as that’s how I believe we will all achieve things; together.

Is your book “Kerwall Town” based on a real person?

Nope, all my novels are fictitious. But I do do (hehe) an awful lot of research as I write in a lot of different time periods and countries.

If a film were made of your book, who would you cast in the leading roles?

I would LOVE for Debra Jo Rupp, Catherine O’Hare and Tom Holland to be in the leading roles, but who knows. I’d be happy either way, but they would certainly be very cool. Ideally, I would have loved Robin Williams.

What other projects are in the works?

I’ve just started work on my next novel, based in suburbia and most notably, America, and with Foodnotes Management, it’ll be out next year sometime… as will something else…

Do you prefer writing in silence or to music?

I don’t really mind, as long as the music isn’t club level loud, haha.

What would you advise young writers trying to build a publishing history or an author platform?

Stay connected, stay grounded and most importantly, have fun and just beleive in yourself. Write often too, that is the key. It doesn’t have to be a lot either, just often to keep the practice up.

Thanks, S.D! It’s been a pleasure.

Please do go check him out, here are the links to his website and social media handles:

sd-reed.com
Insta: sdreedauthor
Twitter: S.D.Reed.Author
Facebook: S D Reed

~~~

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Author Interview – Havelah McLat

So, I thought I’d do something different on my blog. I thought I’d interview a few authors and artists! Of course, shock-horror, this isn’t a new thing… lots of people do this… even non-authors! But, it’s new to me and… I will admit, I’m a little scared!

To start this adventure off… I reached out to Twitterverse (here’s my profile) to see if any of my fellow authors wanted to be test subjects… I mean, interviewees, and I got a few replies, which I am very grateful for! So, here is my first Author Interview with Havelah McLat!

If you like this post, please do like, comment and share. And don’t forget to follow my website for updates on future posts!

About Havelah McLat

Havelah is a young author and artist from Ohio, USA. She is a multi-genre author with three collections of young children’s stories already under her belt, along with a published short story and flash fiction. Here is her website: havelahmclat.com.

All three of her young children’s books are free (you can find them on her website), and I had the privilege to read her most recent book ‘The Promise’ (I wrote a small review below), which is Christian children’s book. She also has two other children’s books which are fantasy.

Havelah is also a beautiful artist, which you can see her work on her website. Certainly, my favourite is this:

Shared with the permission of Havelah.

Review of ‘The Promise’

When I first started reading ‘The Promise’, I will admit, I was a little sceptical at first, it is based heavily in Christianity and I am the least religious person ever (I even start blog posts with ‘hello, my little demons’, which you will notice I removed from this one out of respect). However, I do love learning about religious history and hearing other’s interpretations, and I actually enjoyed reading this story!

Without giving too much away, Havelah tells the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of three young kids, but they are Jewish and Roman/Christian. I feel the main take-away from this story is tolerance and love, which you will understand when you read it.

However, the story did have a few grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, making it a little difficult to read, but it certainly has all the makings of a great story and a talented writer!

Interview with Havelah

What got you into writing?

Okay, I started writing about nine and half years ago. I asked my older sister to write a story about us as fairies. Then I was into fairies, which still I am, and she wrote one. At that point, I grew interested in writing my own stories. She inspired me to write. I wrote my first fairy story a year later and from there I continue to grow in writing.

Where do you get your ideas?

During my first year as a newbie writer, I used copying other peoples’ stories. I would use Disney Fairies characters, and Barbie movies, but now I realized they helped me to find my writing style. So, I started not using the characters but using the inspiration. Sometimes I get ideas from movies, musics and books. I learned that using other peoples’ stories like copycating is wrong. But it is not wrong that they inspired you and helped you find writing style.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

To be honest I didn’t see myself as a writer till later in my life. Before then I would draw pictures and fairy characters. When I watched my sister write a story, I wanted to be a writer. I felt writing stories gives me the opportunity to share my creativity and imagination.

Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?

I don’t really have the schedule when it comes to writing. However, I do have a goal when I want to finish it. Other than that, I write when I feel like it.

How long does it take you to write a book?

That depends on the story. Before I started writing longer stories I used to write short stories under 1k or 2k. It will take a day or week. I learned writing a story takes time.

What’s the main theme in your most recent book, “The Promise”?

In this one I want the reader to know that we don’t have to earn our way to heaven, or have to be religious. More about building a relationship with Him and knowing Him because He loves us. God has given us a gift to believe Him. He is not forcing it but it is up to us to accept the gift or not.

Do you prefer writing fantasy or Christian books?

I like writing fantasy because it is really fun to do. I love writing fairy stories and creating their world and their adventures. However I am open to try different genres. Fantasy genre is probably my favorite thing to write.

How do you deal with criticism? 

I have my moments. I just have to remind myself that every story I write isn’t for everyone. One person may not like it because it isn’t for them and the other loves it. Plus I learned taking criticism can be a good thing if they share both sides. Positive and negative. I guess every writer handles this situation differently.

Which one of your works is your favorite?

Haha, I have to say it is Key to a Journey A Retelling of a Classic (Anastasia story) Why? Because I had so much fun writing it because I got to write Anastasia (inspired by the animated movie and the Broadway musical) in a fairy world. 

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I’m working on a crossworlds fantasy novel Transport of Troubles. The inspiration started two and half years ago. I wrote the story last summer but I wasn’t too happy with it. A year later I decided to rewrite it in a longer story. I’m really happy with this story. I am in the second draft. I hope one of these days it will be in the reader’s hands. 

~~~

A big thanks to Havelah for being my first test subject on this new blog post. Please do give her website a look havelahmclat.com. And watch this space for more interviews with other talented authors soon! 🙂

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 7

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 7

Officer Jennifer Finley

The young female agent slid through a dark internal door as quiet as a mouse, keeping every one of her senses alert for sounds, sights, smells, strange touches on her body, or maybe even changes in temperature. She stepped silently and slowly through the Sanatorium, but her mind was running one-hundred miles an hour going through the training sessions; move slow, check corners, especially dark ones, don’t trust anyone or anything. She held her P90 out before her, her grip tight on it, her focus through the infrared scope, the torch illuminating the way, and felt that little bit safer knowing that it had been modified specifically for these sorts of situations.

But she still felt defenceless, even with her specially modified gear and her extensive training. She had been told about the horrors of the enemy she faced; some were able to inhabit your body, take control of it, some were large, strong and ruthless. But there were those who were just so clever, stronger, quicker, able to take most living shapes, able to control fire, make things move with just their minds, knock people unconscious with just a flick of their hands, that Finley doubted her average intelligence and physical fitness along with all her modified equipment was enough to beat them.

She slowly kept her breathing under control in an attempt to steady her heartbeat as she looked around a corner. The only way she was able to keep herself from panicking was to continue with her job, to keep moving. She just hoped no one, or nothing, could hear the panic swelling in her chest. Part of her training was to regulate her heartbeat, to keep it steady; her instructor told her that the panic was a reaction from high levels of cortisol running through her body; the fight or flight syndrome, and it affected concentration, but she always had trouble keeping it down.

Ahead of her, she noticed a wall had fallen, opening up the next room. Slowly she moved, carefully avoiding the rubble on the floor as she did, to investigate the next room.

As she made her way towards the opening, however, she heard a noise. Her skin prickled at the sound; something was shuffling. She stopped dead in her tracks and listened out. Her heartbeat thumped in her ears, and she felt a roll of sweat run down her face. She doubted it had anything to do with the amount of gear she had on, keeping her safe but unavoidably warm. The sound continued as if what ever was making it didn’t know she was there. The shuffling was also complimented with what sounded like heavy breathing and rubble being moved. Suddenly her body felt heavy with fear.

She put her eye through the scope, not picking up any heat signatures yet—not that she could pick up anything through the thick walls of the Sanatorium. She didn’t have a visual. It could be anything. It could be the wind. She willed herself to continue towards the gap in the wall.

But as she moved again, the shuffling sound stopped. She stopped herself. She pursed her lips together to stop her from breathing heavily, not even noticing the grip on her gun had tightened, her knuckles going white. The sound started again only a few seconds later, as if what ever was making it had stopped to listen out but hadn’t noticed her. She moved her hand slowly up to the gun and turn off the torch accessory, then up to her smock and turned off those lights, her sole visual was now through the infrared scope—although she still saw various shades of blue, no oranges or reds to indicate a living being.

She continued to move slowly towards the break in the wall, keeping tight to the remainder of the wall that was still left standing, using it as a guide with the use of her elbow and being careful not to accidentally knock something on the floor, either resulting in her making a noise or tripping over. She shuffled her body towards the hole and stopped for a few seconds to listen out.

There certainly was something just there, only a few feet away. All she had to do was to take one large step to her right and she could swing herself round to see her enemy. Within a split second before changing her mind, she committed to her manoeuvre. She stepped and span her whole body round and saw the classic oranges and reds in her scope.

Something barked and the orange and red blob ran off. She turned on the light attachment on her gun just in time to catch sight of a red bushy tail flapping as it ran out of the door.

Finley sighed, relaxed slightly and let out a small laugh. It was just a fox. Although she was told to be vigilant of all living things, she was sure if it was anything but sinister, it would have just attacked her, and it didn’t.

Rubbing her face with a hand and letting her gun drop a little from her grip, she steadied her breathing to slow her heart and relaxed her tight muscles. She snorted suddenly in amusement at the situation, the fact she got so wound up over a fox.

She turned around to go back out of the room she had just recently deemed now clear, but she turned around to face a grotesque and inhuman face mere millimetres away from her face. She screamed and automatically stepped backwards, her heel hit a loose brick and she fell backwards, smashing her head—which was luckily protected in her helmet—on the debris of broken wall.

~~~

Next chapter coming soon!


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It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

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Book Review – Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews

Image Source: https://www.framerated.co.uk/red-sparrow-2018/

I recently finished both reading and watching the film adaptation of ‘Red Sparrow’, written by Jason Matthews. The main character; Dominika Egorova, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and Nate Nash played by Joel Edgerton.

Like many of the books I own, I had this book on my ‘TBR” (To Be Read) pile for a while. I first heard of it, and I hate admitting this, when it came out at the cinema. And, I refused to watch the film before I read the book… which I now slightly regret!

Warning: Book/Film spoilers!

What’s the synopsis?

The story is about a young Russian woman called Dominika who is sucked into Russian Intelligence by her uncle. She has a devistating injury which stops her dream of being a ballerina and due to her mum’s ill health, she ends up taking a job her uncle organises and gets sucked into the life. She is forced into a special school, and becomes what is called a ‘Sparrow’; trained in sexpionage. She is then put to work to uncover the mole in the Russian Intelligence, this is where she meets Nate Nash; CIA.

What did I think about the book?

My first impression, when I think back to the book, and how I would describe it to someone else; difficult to read. Although I do find the story interesting; a mixture of spy-thriller and romance (to a point), I actually had difficulty going back to finish it.

I would find myself putting it down after reading it, and sometimes I would take a few weeks to get back to it. This happened a few times, so much so that it took me quite a few months to finish it. And yes, okay, I was completing a MSc at the same time, and then moved house, and had other commitments and hobbies around that. But I found myself wanting to do other things rather than reading that book. Although, I found myself conflicted on occasion because when I got back to reading it, I did enjoy it in some ways. I did find myself wanting to know what happened next.

But the writing style seemed a little… off. At first I didn’t know how to put my finger on it. Some sentances didn’t flow right, or I struggled to understand what was going on. I then realised after getting quite a way into the book that there was a lot of ‘and then this happened, and then that happened, and then… and then…’ which really put me off.

I also felt a little nervous about the author’s portrayal of Russia, especially since President Putin was actually mentioned in it. I have a few international friends and I felt guilty reading the book and worrying what any Russian friends (and fans) might think of me for reading such a book. I understand there is a lot of ‘bad blood’ with Russia, and Putin in particular, but I felt like it was deliberately attacking Russia needlessly. Saying that, I did speak to one Russian person while reading it and they were actually interested in reading the book themselves.

As for things I did enjoy, I did like the depth to Dominika’s character, her motivation to do well and support her mother, and her conflicting relationship to her own country. I also enjoyed the relationship she started to have with other characters; including Nate. Their relationship was clearly more than business, yet complex, like most relationships should be, especially in their situation.

I also enjoyed the little chapter endings with recipes. I started to realise that they were based off what was mentioned in the chapter and then I started to look out for the different foods, to see what would next be mentioned at the end of the chapter. Some even sounded interesting enough for me to want to try them. Although, I will admit, they were a little weird at first, and I found them a little pointless, but I grew to like them, figuring it was just the author’s little quirk.

And I enjoyed some of the clever ideas within the story, such as the diversion stories that were used to find the mole in the Russian Intelligence and how that played out further in the book and the way Boucher, the US Chief of Staff/Senator was killed.

What did I think about the film?

Personally, I was actually dissapointed with the film. More so than the book.

‘We are making a film of the book.’

Earlier in my post I said how I slightly regret reading the book before watching the film, and this is because there was so much that was both left out and changed! A friend once said to me that he prefers watching the film first, then reading the book, because then you get to see all the extra bits that you didn’t see in the film. Although, a part of me worries that I wouldn’t be committed to reading the book because I already knew what happens.

Every bookaholic’s nightmare is having things missing from the film, but I personally understand some things need to be left out because it isn’t possible to fit it all in to a 2-3 hour movie. But due to some of the things that had been left out, the plot had not only changed, but the film didn’t seem to flow right.

One of my favourite parts (mostly because I actually understood what was going on, as the book was so difficult to read!), the little diversion stories, wasn’t in the film! Boucher’s death was also completely different, I mean, yes there were American CIA operatives there (in the book they closed in on her too quickly), in the film she was hit by a truck, but in the film she used a specially adapted pen to administer a poison. She took control of her own death in the book, which I feel was an integral part of her character.

I also noticed that Dominika bleaches her hair (I won’t even go into how difficult it is to bleach your hair that blonde without a professional…). In the book, she doesn’t change her hair colour; she is always her natural brown self. I think, in the film, she does it because she realises that Nate likes blonde women, and what better way to get his attention in the beginning but be the woman he is attracted to.

But I personally think that is a little discriminating; suggesting the age-old belief that men only like blonde women. I feel offended on behalf of men. Why change this in the film, when it’s not in the book? I’m going to assume it had something to do with Jennifer Lawrence and the fact she is a natural blonde.

One of the things that I was really looking forward to seeing portrayed in the film was Dominika’s synesthesia (basic way for me to explain it, she was able to see colours like it was another sense). I found it a really interesting twist in the book; she was able to work out when people were lying to her, when they were being honest, etc. It’s one of the reasons why she was such a brilliant spy. But it wasn’t even mentioned in the film. I know it could have been a difficult thing to portray, but I felt like it was a key part to her character.

And lastly, the ending. In the book, the end was when they made a deal to swap Dominika with the mole; MARBLE, but the Russian’s never intended to let MARBLE go and thus killed him, leaving the ending on a cliffhanger, what happens to Dominika? But, in the film, MARBLE wasn’t anywhere to be seen and instead Dominika ratted out her own Uncle as the mole, which lead to him being killed. It was a clever ending, I will agree. It gave Dominika the look that she was in control, she was a powerful and clever woman. You could argue it was better than the book, and I agree, thinking back at it, but at the time I was deeply disturbed at the change… I just hope that the author was quite happy with this change! I also wonder how this change will impact the next book/film (yes, there are other books, but I’m unsure if they’ll make a second film!)

However, I enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal as Dominika, I thought she was a really good fit for the character. Some scenes were also done really well, such as when Matorin found Nate and Dominika, the little double-agent scene even had me fooled for a few minutes. I also warmed up to Joel Edgerton as Nate in the end, although I feel as if other actors probably would have been a better fit as I felt Joel was a little too stern. I know he was a spy and had to be professional, but I felt his character in the book was a tiny bit softer.

How many stars do I give it?

The book, I give 3.5 out of 5. Although it was refreshing to have well developed characters, and an interesting plot, but the style of writing really let it down.

The film, however, I give 3 out of 5. The changes in the story let it down, making it confusing, and I dislike that they thought it a good idea to change the character’s hair colour when the book doesn’t have this.

References:
Food Picture: www.woodenspoonskitchen.com/2013/01/08/food-photography-backgroundnatural-lighting/

Book to Film cartoon: www.cartoonstock.com/directory/f/film_adaptation.asp

Jennifer Lawrence Picture: www.bustle.com/p/in-jennifer-lawrences-red-sparrow-a-woman-must-be-raped-before-she-can-be-strong-8342129

Gold star cartoon: www.vippng.com/preview/oohxJR_star-smiley-face-cartoon-stars-with-faces/

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Please do give this post a like, and feel free to comment. What did you guys think of the film and/or book? Do you have any suggestions of book/film adaptations?

And, don’t forget to check out my other posts.

I did another book review a while ago, please check it out here!

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