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

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

In the Footsteps of Heroes

Anyone who knows me even slightly will know how much I love North Wales.  I was fortunate enough to live there for three years, and I still return for holidays whenever I can.

I also set a lot of my historical fiction among the region’s mountains and valleys, and woods and moors.  When I’m walking among rugged hills and deep lakes with a low, brooding sky I find it impossible not to think of the people living here in days gone by.

So what have these rambling thoughts got to do with writing?

Well, I find it really helpful to be able to know the places where my characters live their lives.  In fact, putting scenes in places I know is one of the joys of writing.  It also helps me picture some of the scenes.  For example, here is the River Glaslyn a little upstream from Beddgelert. 


In ‘The Doe and The Dragon’, it was here that Prince Einion first set eyes on Breena, the Irish girl who took his heart.  I walked alongside this stretch of river only a couple of weeks ago, and Breena and Einion are so much a part of the place for me I could almost see their ghosts – particularly as the area is thick with myth and legend.


I set a lot of the story in the magnificent Gwynant Valley (above); it isn’t difficult to imagine warrior princes leading warbands over this rugged country.


And one of the characters is enticed into an ancient copper mine by a spirit.  I based the scene at this (slightly more modern but still pretty old!) mine.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Review: Tim Lebbon: ‘The Everlasting’

I don’t get to read professional horror authors’ completed works as often as I’d like.  That changed – temporarily at least – when I took Tim Lebbon’sThe Everlasting’ with me on holiday last week.

Lebbon is a British author with a growing reputation in the horror genre.  Immediately on starting the book it was clear why – the style is very easy to read.  The main characters – Scott and his grandfather (‘Papa’) are expertly drawn and I felt I knew them from the opening pages.  Of all the other writers I’ve come across, I think only the late Richard Laymon does (did, sadly) characterisation better.  Papa appeared only through Scott’s memories, which made his characterisation particularly skilled.

The plot wasn’t unusual, with Scott finding himself on a quest in ‘The Wide’ (an equivalent of the Celtic Otherworld and the like) – I used something broadly similar myself in ‘The Wood’.  The plot was logical, and flowed well.

So, why didn’t ‘The Everlasting’ quite ‘do it’ for me?

Well, I’ve read a couple of other reviews that seem to agree with my assessment, that the book isn’t really horror.  There are some very unsettling elements, but I thought what made the story what it was was unexpected fantastical elements, not horror.  In fact, some of the darker elements were perhaps too surreal to ever be truly scary, no matter how well Lebbon wrote about them.

So, I won’t give ‘The Everlasting’ a mark out of ten.  It will likely satisfy readers of dark, urban fantasies, but I found the cover and the library’s ‘horror’ tag misleading. 

So, it’s still been too long since I read a professional horror novel!