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Andrew's horror novella, 'The Bathtub', is now available.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

The Saw Franchise

I own every DVD in this series of horror films (eight, to date), which follow the traps a man sets to test his victims’ will to live.  Even though I’ve written splatter myself (‘Snuff’ and ‘The Bathtub’ for example), I admit the explicit violence in the Saw films had me fast forwarding in places.

I didn’t buy the DVDs as they came out, or in order, so my understanding of the underlying threads was disjointed.  Having had the house to myself for a few days recently, I decided to binge watch the series in the right sequence.

I agree with most reviewers that the earlier films are generally stronger, although I think all have something to offer.  ‘Subtle’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind when watching Saw, but I liked the themes that run through the series, and particularly how the different characters are used and pop up unexpectedly yet in context time after time.  It does all get complicated though and I would have found it difficult keeping track of everything without having with the franchise’s comprehensive Wikipedia page to hand. 

To summarise, in my opinion the Saw films are worth a watch if it can be done in a binge, because they make better sense when seeing them in order in only a few days.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Keith Publications

Keith Publications, who published two of my novelettes, Art Class and Eton Mess, have sent me a final statement and a release letter.  I knew the publisher was closing and it’s all been done properly and in good order.

I’d like to thank Mary at Keith Publications for publishing the stories and for being great to work with.

Friday, 13 March 2020

The 'Dragon of the Isle'

History is full of colourful individuals, stretching back from ancient times right up to the present day. One figure who has fascinated me for years is Maelgwn, fifth century king of Gwynedd in north Wales. He’s already appeared in my novel, The Faerie Handmaiden of Annwyn, and looks set for a part in a new story I’m planning. Characters inspired by Maelgwn have also turned up in some of my other fiction.

So, why does Maelgwn interest me?

Firstly, through my passion for fifth and sixth century north Wales. He’s one of the best known characters from the time and place who doesn’t come from myth and legend. Secondly, he’s a villain, and nasty people are always more interesting for writers than nice people. Maelgwn was berated by the contemporary writer Gildas (who calls Maelgwn ‘Dragon of the Isle’) for various evils: turning away from God, illegal marriage, and assassination are just a few, with Gildas hinting at more sins which he doesn’t describe. Myths and legends are equally unambiguous in their treatment; Maelgwn is portrayed as a tyrant who is often outthought and given his comeuppance by more intelligent or more pious enemies.

As a novelist, characters like Maelgwn are a godsend. He comes over as a strong character and a powerful bully. Gildas and other early sources give colourful detail, such as his death in a local church when he was driven mad by the Yellow Plague, and giving him the epithet ‘Maelgwn Hir’ (‘Maelgwn the Tall’), although I’ve seen this argued as being mistaken for a different Maelgwn. The stories he attracted could fill several novels and I’ve found myself using him, or characters inspired by him, in several stories without having to repeat anything.

All that is great material for an author. Another bonus is that in a period of few written sources there is very little else recorded about Maelgwn, so apart from his (often unspecified) sins and his dates, there isn’t much to go on (other than his notable height, assuming the right Maelgwn!). That gives writers wonderful scope for filling in the blanks according to the story’s needs.

In summary, Maelgwn is a brilliant subject for historical novelists, and I’m sure I’ll continue to use him in my stories set in ancient north Wales.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Writing Review of 2019

As usual, I’m jumping on the bandwagon alongside nearly every other writer to do a review of my 2019 writing year.

In terms of publications, I’ve had three.  That’s a personal best for numbers, but balanced by all three being shorter stories.  They are:
  • ‘Football Fantasy’, an erotic novelette;
  • ‘Sunshine & Ice Cream’, an erotic short;
  • ‘The Bathtub’, a violent horror novelette which also made it into a horror anthology.

As usual, I’m grateful to my publishers for having me and to my editors for turning my drafts into something readable.

Despite the publications, the year has been dominated by my relocation which has kept writing time to a minimum.  I’ve not managed to update my blog much this year, again due to my move and settling into a new routine.  I hope to be more active in 2020.

I’ve got a few projects planned for next year:
  • A horror novel based around a heavy metal band.  I’m about half way through the first draft;
  • A horror/fantasy novel set during the English Civil War (the 1640s).  It’s a new period for me so I’m having to do research.  My background is in history so looking everything up is fun, not a chore;
  • I’ve got a handful of completed horror novels hanging around which I’m happy with and which I’ll try to place.  These are all centred around Celtic myth;
  • Some more erotic shorts, mostly including Kerry-Jane and Amy, my favourite PhD students.
I’d really like to do a retelling of ‘Peredur Son of Efrawg’ which is a traditional Welsh/Arthurian story partly set in the time and place I’m most interested in (north-west Wales (where I live now) in the fifth and sixth centuries).  The original is a convoluted tale with a lot of unusual elements and I’m struggling to give it a decent structure and historical context.

Finally, a big, big thank you to everyone who has been involved in my writing in 2019, particularly Philip.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Local History and the Next Novel

After a hiatus following my relocation, it’s good to have the time to get back to writing.

One of the several things that drew me to north Wales, many, many years ago and before I’d even visited, was the region’s history.  This is particularly true of the early Dark Ages, which have always fascinated me.  The area is filled with myths and legends that are entwined with the stunning scenery. 

North Wales has lots of places associated with King Arthur and several of the beautiful collection of stories making up the Mabinogion are set here.  There are also a lot of local myths and legends – every hill, valley or lake seems to have its own tale.

There are also colourful characters who definitely lived post-Roman north Wales.  The tyrant Maelgwn, King of Gwynedd; Vortigern, King of the Britons (okay, Vortigern is shadowy historical); and many saints who are credited with bringing Christianity to western Britain all lived around this time.  Maelgwn and Saint Padarn played important roles in one of my north Welsh historical fantasies, ‘The Faerie Handmaiden of Annwyn’.

My own village lies in the middle of region and was (allegedly) founded around this time.  With a degree in history and archaeology specialising in north Wales I hope I know the context and background, and I thought it would be fun to research and then write a novel about our saintly founder and include other local stories for colour.

The reality is that research has been difficult.  I can find nothing early written about the village, and archaeology is sparse – a Roman road and holy well (see photo) are about it.  Stories say we were originally a religious settlement of Saint Gwyddelan who was a follower of the better known Beuno.  Beuno lived in the first half of the seventh century, which gives a tentative date for settlement in our valley.  However, I assume there were already people here to attract an evangelising saint and for the well to have been built up and paved.

I’d hoped to combine Gwyddelan’s story with the tale of Peredur to add some meat.  Peredur was one of King Arthur’s knights who slew a monster (the afanc) in a pool at the end of the valley.  Even if the story’s links with Arthur are ignored and we place the afanc episode after the king’s death, the Welsh Annals say Peredur died in 580 which is too early to combine with Beuno.  I could ignore the ‘facts’ and claim artistic licence, but the historian part of me doesn’t want to.

In my historical fantasies I like to fill in empty spaces by telling a story in the way I want to, which works brilliantly in my chosen period.  In this case, sadly, the canvas is a bit too blank to work with so I’ll have to pass on the idea.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Well Publishing have decided to change their focus, and as a result have reverted rights for ‘The Well’ to me.  The book has already been removed from Amazon’s listings.

I’d like to thank eTP for taking on the story.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Sunshine & Ice Cream

After going through the editing process, my latest erotic short, ‘Sunshine & Ice Cream’ is now published. 

To be honest, it’s been available for a while.  A delay in its upload at Amazon, and then my house move, both wiped out over a month each, and meant I’ve not been able to write this until now.

The story is about my favourite PhD student, Kerry-Jane, who decides to sunbathe in a quiet area of the local park.

A big thank you to Cobblestone Press for taking on the story, to Angela for a comprehensive editing job and for being great fun to work with, and to Rebecca for a gorgeous cover.  Finally, a massive thank you to Carole for looking at my first draft and helping me turn it into something publishable.

This is my third stand-alone short story.

Here’s the buy link.

Here’s the blurb:

On a hot summer’s day Kerry-Jane is walking home through the park, and dares herself to strip to her pretty underwear to sunbathe in a secluded area. She flirts with two hunks working in the quiet place, and teases them by telling them her plans.

When the men call her bluff and tell her they’ll look after her while she relaxes, Kerry-Jane has to ask herself if she has the nerve to undress. If she does go through with it will she decide to encourage the hunks’ interest and take things to the next level?