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

Friday, 28 September 2012

Two for Eternity - Review

With my fist love being history, I’ll jump at the chance to read any novel set in multiple periods.  That’s exactly what Carl Alves offers in his debut novel, ‘Two for Eternity’.

perf5.500x8.500.inddThe premise is an eternal battle between good and evil in the form of two immortal brothers.  The viewpoint character epitomises good, and his brother, evil.

The novel shows us the brotherly conflict over many lifetimes and thousands of years, from prehistoric Africa to the present day, all the time building up to an inevitable yet gripping climax.

For me, the premise works.  Alves treats the conflicts and the characters’ rebirths as if they are nothing unusual – which they aren’t for the characters.  This makes the fantastical plot seem credible.  I particularly liked the way the ‘good’ brother showed the downside to immortality through the impact of his memories, which helped add to the story’s depth.

The characters either are, or are linked to, several well known historical people.  This gives the reader something to identify with, even for the lesser-known historical periods.  However, the plot is so skilfully woven and the brothers such strong characters the settings almost become secondary.

Passing through multiple time periods gives the book a feel of pace.  Alves doesn’t let things get dull anyway, but the moving through history maintains the pacing.  There were things I had to do between reading sessions, but the book kept me hooked to the point I found it difficult to find a convenient place to put it down. 

Novelists are told to steer clear of flashbacks, but Alves skilfully mixes up the chronology to give backstory at just the right time.

If I have a couple of criticisms, it’s firstly that I would have liked more period ‘feel’ for a handful of the settings, and I think the brothers’ immortality could have been expanded upon.  However, these are pretty nit-picking criticisms of a novel that kept me hooked throughout.  They certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the read.

‘Two for Eternity’ is available from, among others, Weaving Dreams Publishing.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Blooded - Review

I didn’t really know what to expect from ‘Blooded’, which Wikipedia describes as a ‘horror/thriller’.

It’s a film about a group of hunters who are kidnapped by animal rights activists after they kill a deer in remote Scotland. The film becomes a game of cat and mouse as the hunters become the hunted across the region’s bogs and mountains.

The film was in the style of a documentary reconstructing events of the kidnapping. Form the storytelling point of view this allowed for interview snippets throughout, which meant that background could be fed in carefully. I was unsure whether this style of storytelling would work. I don’t think it would in a lot of situations, but I think it was right for ‘Blooded’.

Given the half ‘horror’ tag and the ‘15’ rating I expected a little more blood and violence which didn’t fully materialise.  That doesn’t prevent the film being a very worthy and thought provoking thriller though.  The tension is maintained throughout and there were enough twists to keep me hooked.  The characters and the situations were very well thought through, rounding those involved.  There was also a good amount of conflict and backstory within the kidnapped group without this being overdone.

One very well done element was that the story turned around the obvious plot, making the deer hunters rather than the activists the group that gained viewer sympathy.  That is where I think ‘Blooded’ really excelled – I saw the hunting argument from a side that often gets a bad press and I was made to think about the issue well after the film finished.

In summary, a watch that was both gripping and thought-provoking.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Historical Novelist’s Armoury

Although I’m a horror novelist first and foremost, most of what I write is set in the past, or at least has a historical element.

Writing horror doesn’t need much support.  While critiques are invaluable, in general you can either do it or you can’t, and there isn’t much you can refer to to help.  I’ll leave it to my readers to decide which camp I fall in.

But the historical side of my fiction is different.  I’m always needing to research some detail of my Celtic-themed stories.  So, where do I turn for help?

Well, firstly, I have the standard dictionaries and the like that I guess most writers have my their desk.  I have a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a Dictionary of Grammar close to hand.  Because a lot of my settings are Welsh, I also have a Welsh/English dictionary.

What else?

Well, I studied the (post-Roman) British Celts at university so I’ve got all the ‘standard’ textbooks – at least, the ones that were current when I was a student.  Some are probably out of date by now.  They’re on a bookshelf in another room and I refer to them if I need them.  By my desk are three (yes, three) Celtic sourcebooks – a Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, a Dictionary of Arthurian Myth and Legend, and a more historical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain.  I can recommend all three.

I also have to hand any specialist books I need for the novel I’m working on.  For example, I’m currently working on something based around one of the Welsh Mabinogion stories.  I have a paperback translation of The Mabinogion to hand.  I’ve also got web links to a couple of commentaries.

Fortunately in the UK we have wonderful Ordnance Survey maps.  These come in a variety of scales and show everything you could reasonably want in a map.  While for quick reference I use the similar online Streetmap, I make sure I have the Ordnance Survey map for wherever I’m setting a novel.  They show ancient sites and are invaluable for getting an idea of the lie of the land.  I also use the online Google Earth for photographic views.  Having lived in North Wales, I’m familiar with a lot of my Welsh settings as well, which is a great help.

I like to proof read hardcopy rather than electronic.  So, I’ve got a clipboard, copyholder and propelling pencil (more precise than a pen) to hand.

Of course, I’ve also got a lot of writing web sites linked on my computer.  I expect most writers do – other writers, publishers (especially of my works), listings of publishers, publicity sites, critique groups, message boards and the like.

I’ve also got pictures of my covers as both my desktop background and screensaver.  I’ve also got them in frames running up the stairs.  They’re great for moments of self-doubt: they reassure me that I really can write that difficult next scene.

Finally, and most important, I’ve got a coaster (covered in Celtic patterns) for all the coffee I get through.

So, that’s about it for the ‘tools’ I use for my fiction. I suspect if I wrote other genres I’d need different aids. If I wrote more erotica I would certainly buy a whole shelf of genre DVDs – for research, of course.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

‘The Well’ – Another Review

Abyss & Apex Magazine assistant editor Roland de Nedde has written a review of ‘The Well’:

“Andrew Richardson journeys from the more familiar Celtic and British settings of his prior stories to the desert southwest of the United States to deliver a haunting tale of kidnapping, vengeance and tragedy as imperfect people struggle with impossible choices.
When a beautiful heiress to a fast food empire is taken hostage to settle a score between two families, she must dig deep to motivate and inspire the one unlikely person who might rescue her. Trouble is there are more dangerous creatures in this desert than her captors, and they are hungry.

Well SmallAt 26,000 words The Well doesn’t disappoint. It’s got the descriptive elements one would expect in the horror genre, but as usual with Andrew’s work, the writing never gets in the way of the images appearing in the reader’s mind. The plot moves forward building nicely to the end, leaving nothing unsettled.
His characters make believable if painful choices and it’s good to see a change of scenery from Andrew without compromising his usual attention to detail and focus on his story.

Roland de Nedde

Conflict of Interest and Financial Disclaimers: I have received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, for this review. This review has not been submitted, nor will it be, to any established review organizations of which I am a staff member. My opinions stated above are my own and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Abyss & Apex Magazine.”

Thank you Roland!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Review of ‘The Well’

Black Horse Westerns author Philip McCormac has written a short review of ‘The Well’:

“This is a finely crafted tale. The author packs so much into the space it has a claustrophobic effect that is very appropriate for the subject matter. Horror is piled upon horror with the tension almost unbearable at times.
Well Small
Connie Straker is the victim, well no - Miss Straker is only one of the many victims in this story. This novella will screw with your head as humans, animals and nature are presented in their most malevolent mode.”

Thank you Philip!