Saturday, 23 April 2016

When life comes down to the wire!

Back in the wars between the cousins Red and White, Richard III purportedly cried, ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse,’ as in the middle of battle, his barons deserted him for Henry Tudor and his horse was cut down under him.
You will note in the last sentence the word, horse, is repeated four times. For that is how important the animal was to the past. Its eventual decline from a war horse, that charged the enemy as part of a cavalry regiment, was heralded by the First World War of 1914. Now the noble beast, shorn of accoutrements, either flies over hedges or dances round an arena to music. Nevertheless, will anything else be as wondrous as the horse? As the vehicle on which life revolved it lasted thousands of years.
So why this musing in praise of a horse! Am I now going to extol the virtues of a car or a plane?
No, I am about to focus the remaining words of this blog on the humble existence of a small piece of wire. Not any piece of wire … a long, thin piece with a plug on one end, without which civilization as we know today would fail and come crashing down … the humble charger.
On the train yesterday, a young woman before disposing of her luggage whipped out this mandatory ‘piece of wire’ searching for a socket, and changed her seat three times before she found a functioning unit. (She had mistakenly entered the quiet carriage).
Buses, trains, anything that moves, now feel obliged to offer both charging and YFi points … and I ask, does the success of business now depend on this?
Waiting for the train at wondrously rebuilt Birmingham New Street Station, about which I will blog another time, the platform is awash with stylish fingers skimming over keyboards and loud-voiced conversations in which the intimate details of Aunty Minnie’s sex life are shouted into a mobile to, presumably, some interested party at the other end. Business deals worth millions of dollars are touted on that same platform while I, spoilsport that I am stand in my little bubble of silence … and think longingly of … er … I guess, silence.
And all of this is down to a single piece of wire.
If Shakespeare were alive right now, he would adroitly alter a those words of Richard III to: A charger, a charger, my kingdom for a charger.

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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

An extraordinary week

Last week for me was quite extraordinary. The sun shone, 'The Amazing Brain of O C Longbotham' won Bronze at the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, ages 9 - 12, and I received an overwhelming review for 'Broken'.

Now I don't actively think 'reviews'. Predominantly a children's writer, I prefer to receive emails from fans saying how much they loved this character or that character, so to receive a review of this calibre ... well, to put it mildly, the week left me gob-smacked!

'Broken' is for me a very special book. Different from all my children's books which all have the feel-good factor, it is the only book set in the local area of Streets and Glastonbury, it is a very personal book. Not such much the content but in its emotion. It tugs at the heartstrings.  (I remember a critic described, 'Time Breaking' as leaving her bereft. It is a good word for 'Broken' too.)

While I was writing, it was entitled, Me and Mrs Jone' for the two main characters Jem Love and Katrina Jones. It was only when it reached the publication stage that it was changed ... Quite honestly, I am still in two minds as to whether this was a good move or bad.

Read 'Broken' yourself and decide which title you prefer. And do let me know.

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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Not since Twilight ...

Not since I picked up a copy of Twilight have I  been fastened to my chair for six hours without moving. That happened today. The book: A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker. Translated from the German, each word was chosen with such delicacy that I immediately wanted to destroy my new novel and start afresh. Set in New York and Burma, it is a journey of discovery but not in the usual way. It is a journey of the heart. It's characters - breathtaking, particular U Ba, the half-brother of the New York Lawyer, Julia, who tells the story. He is perfection and I only hope I can create magic on this scale one day

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Saturday, 2 April 2016

A futuristic thriller rapidly coming true

In 2010 I wrote my first YA novel 'Running', part of the Deadly Pursuit series. An instant success in paperback it took me to over a hundred book signing events at Waterstones and secondary schools.
The first person to review it was a 'granddad'. He objected to my spelling the word garage as 'garidge' but loved the story.
Looking back at it now, what surprises me is how much of the book is relevant to our politics today. I read somewhere that a computer virus was secretly used to discover the nuclear programme of Iran. Is the UK about to be reduced to island status? Or are we there already? Is Europe top dog? Yes! In Running laws are draconian, even travelling to mainland Europe is prohibited if you have a criminal record.And what about the US with an election coming up? All the balls are in the air.

The idea came to me as early as 2006 and I kicked it about for a few years before putting pen to paper. In those days the understanding of computers were still very much in its infancy. At work, we called in an expert when they went wrong. (Of course that still happens today. We can operate them but can't mend them).

The Deadly Pursuit series about Styrus, a powerful computer virus, has produced some memorable characters, in particular Sean Terry, a world-weary FBI agent determined to prove the US innocent of all charges. And, surprisingly a red Suzuki 1000cc motor bike. My cousin was given Book 1 - Running by his children for Christmas. Meeting up at a funeral, he asked how I knew about motorbikes? I confessed to riding pillion on a great monster of a bike when I was a kid. The bike is an appropriate metaphor as the story voyages from London to California, Cornwall to Scotland, finishing up in Lisse in Holland.

And Book 2 - In every hunt to the death there has to be a Turning Point. 

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