Hello me little darlin’s! ‘Tis I, once more. The ‘sinner of all sinners’. I’m delighted, today, to have with me the woman who introduced me to – and got me hooked on – Steampunk. She also edited the book about me. She has a little announcement too, a cover reveal for her latest book. Say hello Allie.
Ten years ago, I wrote a short story.
No, wait. Let’s go back. Way back. Back into time… Something like forty years ago, I wrote a story. It wouldn’t have been very long and was, I would think, not very good. I also drew a picture to go along with it. Again, potentially not very good.
I was five.
I may have been four, I may have been six but, seeing as one of the poems in my children’s book Zits’n’Bits is called ‘I Want to be Five’, that’s how old we’ll say I was. An age of wonder, of Father Christmas, of the Tooth Fairy and of monsters under the bed. And, of course, the age of very short, potentially badly written stories. I’m sure my mum and dad were very proud, though.
I didn’t stop. Since then I have carried on making up stories, creating worlds and inhabiting them with all manner of creatures and people – sometimes the two being one. I suppose that classes me as ‘writer’ then.
I remember being stood in the corridor at school with my friend, Tony. Now Tony has supported my writing from way back then and is a fervent supporter even now – to the effect that he is mentioned in the dedication, acknowledgement and text of Sin. I’d started writing a book. A proper novel. We were on corridor duty, there to make sure other pupils didn’t run or fight and so on. We had badges to proclaim our Prefect status. I was showing him the beginnings of this book, this powerhouse of prose. I don’t recall if he thought it was any good. Thinking back on some of the wording, it wasn’t. A teacher came along and asked what we were looking at so I showed and told him.
I do recall the teacher being impressed. Not, I would think, at what I’d written, but with the fact that I WAS writing. I think the guy was the Geography teacher, but I can’t be sure.
Either way, I didn’t carry on that story. I did, though, write some GOOD stories at that school. The English teacher was excellent and it was he that gave me the buzz to actually produce a proper novel. So much so, in fact, that, after I’d left school and he’d retired, I used to send him my stories and he’d return them with the same sort of marks, corrections and comments he did whilst he was teaching me. Well, I guess he never stopped.
When I left school, my writing diminished. I still produced stories and poetry and, I believe, it got better. Life got in the way, as it tends to, and I was letting it. The bug didn’t leave though. It bided its time then, one day, it firmly bit me on the ankle. I was writing more. I wasn’t keeping a lot of it, but I was writing it. The advent of the internet was a real boon. Thanks to the world wide web, I had my work published in various small magazines in the US and other countries. Some even won competitions.
I then started another book. I’d had an idea and I went with it. Again, I drifted off it. The muse had me, then it jumped onto something different (something that curses me still – luckily, now, it does have a habit of returning). Reading that story back now, there are some very good ideas in it, I think. Some I’ll use again. I may even pick it up again and finish it. Either way, I wrote a good deal and got a fair way into it.
Not long after I’d started this, I was getting into web design and so on. This would be around 16 years ago. I’d been sending my stories off for a while. Some were accepted, some weren’t – such is the life of the writer. I set up a website for poetry and prose of my own and soon was receiving emails from all over the world from hopeful authors who wanted a voice and to share their work with the world. The website soon had the attention of Sky television who asked me to appear to discuss the pros and cons of electronic (which was really just web based then) as opposed to traditional publishing. There was me, effectively doing this ‘in my bedroom’ going against someone from Curtis Brown!
I had the last word, though…
Then, as I may have mentioned, ten years ago I wrote a short story. That short story is now the prologue to a fully fledged, fully completed, novel. Not only that, but it’s been compared to two of my favourite authors, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and has been called ‘an incredible read.’
That and other reviews are quite humbling. From those stories written by my fiver year old self to the first attempt at a book to today has been a long road. Though Sin has been ten years in the making, it feels like it has been forty.
It’s another thing to cross off my ‘bucket list’, along with sky-diving and walking through the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, both of which I’ve done in the past couple of years. I lapsed, but I didn’t give up. I wandered off the path, but my muse took me by the hand and guided me back on.
Nor should you – give up.
Ten years ago, I wrote a short story. Forty years ago I did the same and added a little drawing.
A couple of years ago I shook hands with the Community Development officer at the central library who bought ten copies of my book to put in each of the local libraries. Within ten minutes of that meeting I’d sold another ten to WH Smiths, a well know book store chain here in the UK – the one, through all those years, that I wanted to walk into and see my book on the shelf of.
Never say never.
Hi-de-ho mateys. How’s it hanging? It’s me, you’re friendly, neighbourhood lunatic. Enough people say I’m crazy, so I’ll let them believe it – though we know the truth, don’t we? Anywho. The lovely Lorna Suzuki joins me in the asylum today. Now Lorna has a movie deal going on her books, which I think is very cool. Looking for anyone to play crazy? Let’s find out…
What’s your name?
Hello, Sin! Depending upon whom you ask, I usually go by Lorna Suzuki. You can just call me Ms. Suzuki.
Yes, Ms. Suzuki. Whatever you say Ms. Suzuki. So. Lorna. Where are you from?
I live in the southwest corner of beautiful British Columbia, in the ‘burbs just outside of Vancouver.
Do you like living there? If not, where would your favourite place to live be? Is yes, where would you least like to live?
The west coast of BC is wonderful & the wet, cold winters are conducive for writing. It’s also referred to in the film industry as Hollywood North, beinghome to a lot of big screen movies as well as TV series like Supernatural, Once Upon a Time, Continuum, Fringe and Sanctuary to name a few.
As for the place I’d least like to live? I’d say the slums of Mumbai, India! Between the heat, the crowds, the less than sanitary conditions, etc. I’m very happy here, thank you very much.
Sounds like Lincolnshire, where I’m from. Cold and wet in winter – and summer to be honest. I agree with you on Mumbai, though somedays that’d be preferable to here! As you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
Thanks to the movie deal, I was able to quit my ‘day job’ when my books were optioned about three years ago! So, yes! I do write full-time. I’ve written scripts for a TV travel adventure series that has gone international with about 14 million viewers now, but I’ve yet to work on film for the big screen. Even with the adaptation of my novel for a major motion picture trilogy, I’ve been hired as a creative consultant, but I don’t think this qualifies as filmmaking! When I’m not writing, I teach martial arts to a select few that seem to enjoy being mangled into the ground. 😉
That’s very impressive. Do you get the same sort of say J.K. Rowling had on Harry Potter? Saying that, can you see a line of merchandise coming out? Tell me about your latest project.
I am madly proofreading the 10th and final novel in my movie optioned fantasy series. This is the half-human/half-elf protagonist, Nayla Treeborn’s last kick at the can as the surviving members of the illustrious Order are pitted against a mysterious adversary on a killing spree. Their nemesis comes armed with deadly weapons they’ve never encountered before and have taken prisoners, including Nayla’s young daughter. All become pawns in a deadly game that has the potential to drive the elves from the realm and change the history of the mortals left in this world.
Sounds epic! Especially with it being the tenth book in the series! That’s a hell of a story. But, more importantly, how do you feel about bacon? A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods. OK, I admit that person was myself…
Eating bacon or wearing it like Lady Gaga’s meat dress? I do enjoy eating crispy bacon… Bacon is especially tasty when someone else cooks it up for you. If it was made into a dress, I’d have you fry it up for me and I’d even let you have some of the bits that fall off from the hem.
Oh, definitely eating it. Lady Gaga’s meat dress was… Well, let’s say she deserved her name. As for your hem, you just want me on my knees because I didn’t take up the offer of a mangling. What is your favourite film?
I did enjoy the LoTR trilogy by Peter Jackson, but I failed at trying to read the novels by JRR Tolkien. Mind you, I like films that have great stories about overcoming incredible odds and exceeding the expectations of others, even if they are family-oriented animations. Films like How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda are wonderful and I can so relate to the Viking misfit Hiccup as well as poor, clumsy Po!
I love the LOTR films, and the Hobbit, too. I read the books at school but found them hard going. Po is class. My favourite film character has to be Dory, though I can’t remember why… Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
At one time, I headed up the education and volunteer department at a local zoo. On Feb. 6th, 2002 I had a job, the next day, the entire management staff were let go, myself included! I started writing the first novel in the Imago Chronicles series on Feb. 7th, 2002! So, no… It was something I never considered. If you told me in 2001 I’d be writing fantasy novels and the first three would be made into films for the big screen, I’d probably be rolling about on the floor laughing at you!
You’d have thought I was crazy. Ah… Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
I’ve had milk dribble out of my nose, but never ideas. When I can drag my Muse out from the local pub, the ideas are there, but more often than not, writing for me is almost like transcribing actions and dialogue as a movie plays out in my head. So far, lucky for me, I’ve yet to endure a bout of writer’s block.
That’s good. That Shaun Allan fella-me-lad has stacks of ideas, but never the time to write them down. But, at least you have the pub! If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
I’d probably have delusions of grandeur that I am a great entity that controls the destiny of many lives and can feel mighty smitey, altering lives with mere words when the citizens of this imaginary world decide to revolt against me. Yes, I’d be the ruler of this universe! People will live and die, and I will subject them to all kinds of trials and tribulations just to see how they’d respond to my subtle and not-so-subtle manipulations! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Luckily, being a writer, you only get to control the destiny of many lives and… oh… Erm… What genre(s) do you write?
So far, I’ve written 10 epic adult fantasies (Imago Chronicles) and 3 YA fantasies (The Dream Merchant Saga). I wouldn’t mind trying historical fiction, but I’m getting too old to subject my mind to undertake this creative endeavour!
You’re never too old unless you’re too creaky to hold a pen or press a key. Even then, there’s dictation! What genres(s) do you read?
When I’m writing fantasy, I don’t read it. (Advice I take to heart from one of my favourite writing instructors the fabulous Terry Brooks.) Instead, I’ll read novels by my other writing instructor, Jack Whyte or I’ll dive into classics by Alexandre Dumas.
I love Terry Brooks. He’s your writing instructor? Cool! If these are the same, what attracts you to them. If they’re different, why do you think that is?
With Jack Whyte, tales of Arthurian legends that are grounded in reality intrigues me and I love Dumas’ subtle style and swashbuckling tales of the Musketeers, when men lived by a code of honour. If anything, both are read as a study on character development, writing dialogue, etc. One day, I’ll be able to read fantasy, but first, I must get these movie projects underway!
I always used to read fantasy, particularly Brooks and Eddings. Then I moved into horror and paranormal books. And now I kill people. Perhaps I should have stuck to DIY books? Maybe I could then fix a dripping tap without touching it? Bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Always cooked, never raw! Ewwww! Cooked crispy, but not so crispy it shatters when you bite it. (Or with my old age, not so crispy that it shatters my teeth when I bite into it.)
Tim Stevens said he liked it ‘burnt as a Salem witch’. That’s a bit well done for me, but crispy is good. Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out? Do you have an escape plan?
Oh, yes I do! As a martial artist practitioner/instructor it’d be pretty dumb if I didn’t have an escape plan. Just know that you’re part of the plan I’m hatching, but if I told you what this plan is, I’d have to kill you… slowly!
Have you tasted the food in here? I think Connors is doing that already!
A fan of Alexandre Dumas of The Three Musketeers fame, Lorna Suzuki noticed that it was the men going off on great adventures, enjoying the camaraderie of a brotherhood while the women were portrayed as the damsels-in distress.
In writing the Imago fantasy series, by adding a female protagonist, one that is reluctantly accepted into this brotherhood, the author drew on her own experiences as a woman in a once male-dominated field of law enforcement and martial arts to bring Nayla Treeborn the female warrior to life.
When she is not writing, Suzuki is a martial arts instructor. With 30 years experience in martial arts, Suzuki is a 5th degree black belt practitioner of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, a system incorporating 6 traditional samurai schools and 3 schools of ninjutsu.
Lorna can be found at:
On Saturday, my wife and I were planning an adventure. We were going to find a fox!
Well, we were going to Manchester (a two-and-a-bit hour drive away) to watch Foxes perform. Same thing. Almost.
Either way, it was certainly an adventure, though not entirely how we imagined or intended.
We’d booked the tickets some time ago, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post. We’d seen the new Debenhams advert, Shazamed the song, downloaded all she had and then I went online to see if she was touring. We are completely convinced that the website for the venue – the Roadhouse in Manchester – said the date was Saturday the 5th of October. My wife even booked the day off work. I did the same – though I don’t normally work weekends. I’ve been working ten hour days, seven days a week for the past month and Saturday 5th would be my first day off. I was looking forward to it! I’d be back at work on the Sunday, but Saturday was my day off and this was a great way to spend it.
I said as much on Twitter, including Foxes (@iamfoxes) in the tweet. And I felt a right TWITter when she responded, telling me she didn’t actually have a gig that night…
No gig? Surely not. It was the 5th. The Saturday. That was what the website said when we booked. We know it did……?
We wouldn’t have both got it wrong, would we?
I checked the tickets. When they came, we simply shoved them in a drawer. We knew the date. Why look?
Well. The tickets said the concert was the next night. The Sunday.
Ah. Not only was I meant to be working until 5:30pm and the gig was due to start at 6:00pm – and it was a good couple of hours drive – but we’d arranged a babysitter (my wife’s wonderful grandmother) to come and stay the night.
So. Change of plan.
I tried to ring to cancel Nanna. There was no answer. I returned to my house from town to find them already there. OK, it was fine, Nanna would still come the next day. In the meantime let’s all go out for tea. Yum!
The next morning – Sunday the 6th – I was up at 6:00pm for work. At 3:30pm, my wife came to my place of work and we jumped in my car, leaving hers there, and made our way to Manchester. Google Maps is our friend, and we found the place and a car park easily, and we were there with a half hour or so to spare. There was a small queue outside the venue, a small door, so off we went for a wander.
We walked up aways, just to kill time (though I’m not sure what Time did to deserve such a severe punishment). On the way back, there was a loud BANG. A taxi had mounted the curb at a pedestrian crossing on a bend and hit the railing. He’d been texting on his phone (naughty boy!). It served him right, really, that his wheels no longer wanted to point in the same direction and he had to struggle to move the car away as it couldn’t make its mind up which way it wanted to go.
Back to the queue for the last few minutes before doors opening. The queue was fairly short, but Foxes is fairly new, so it was to be expected. This relative newcomer status was reflected in the £7 ticket price. A couple of lovely ladies came out to hand out flyers and take email addresses for a mailing list. OK, so they were there to promote, but they were very pleasant in doing so, and it helped pass the time.
We hadn’t been to the Roadhouse before. Our previous concert outings in Manchester were limited to the MEN Arena and the Ethiad stadium for the likes of Snow Patrol (twice – amazing!) and Bon Jovi (not bad), amongst others. I’ve said before about the Yardbirds rock club in Grimsby. It’s a great place with some excellent music. The Roadhouse was, I suppose, a similar place – in a way. It was small and dark. And it was, effectively, a basement.
The Yardbirds isn’t very big, and it is fairly dark (it’s run by the Warlocks, so I wouldn’t expect it to be bright and colourful), but it has a fantastic atmosphere. The Roadhouse was ok. Apparently, the toilet light was a faint glimmer surrounded by flies and there were cobwebs on the toilet roll.
Still, we were there for the music.
Fyfe were the support. They weren’t bad, though not entirely my ‘thing’. That was fine, though. We were there for Foxes. We loved her voice and her look and her songs. Warrior, Youth and Echo in particular.
She came on just after 8, and I have to say, she performed her heart out. She danced and jumped and sang and it was a pleasure to hear that her voice didn’t need tweaking or auto-tuning. Foxes can sing, definitely.
My only criticism is that it was so short. I suppose, Foxes doesn’t have too extensive a repertoire currently. She has some great songs, but not a huge back catalogue to choose from. After around 45 minutes, she was gone. One encore and she disappeared with barely a goodbye (though she did come out and do a great meet-n-greet). It was a long way to go for such a short gig, I have to admit.
But, it was good. We, my wife and I, really enjoyed it. As time goes by, Foxes will increase her song list and the time she’s on stage. Next time I see her – and I’m sure I will go see her again, so that’s a good sign – hopefully she’ll be up there for longer.
After the gig, we went for another wander and grabbed a bite to eat. We ate our kebabs (mine being donner and my wife’s chicken) sitting on a wall, watching people come and go. A quick pop to Tesco for a drink, and a pub for the toilet, and we returned to the car park – to find I was 7 minutes over 4 hours p to a cost of an extra £5! Ouch! £13 in total to park! Oh well, we enjoyed ourselves so fair enough.
We arrived home at just after midnight. A long day. A long weekend in fact. But a good one.
So. Foxes. Hopefully the exposure from being the music to the Debenhams advert will bring in a lot of attention. She’s already been played on Radio 1, which is fab and well deserved. I predict good thing for her. I hope I’m right. She has a great voice is a real talent.
If you get chance, check her out.
Here’s a couple of videos I uploaded to Youtube of her performance. Forgive the quality – they’re from my phone and I was enjoying the show so my hand may not have kept up with Foxes movements!
Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, is an odd film. It’s gentle and unassuming. It doesn’t have car chases or explosions and no-one is abducted by aliens. Of course there’s many films that fit this criteria. The thing with Field of Dreams, however, is it also has a bizarre plot.
With a Close Encounters-style determination, Costner throws his all into building his baseball diamond to the exasperation and derision of those around him. Of course, it all magically works out in the end. He built it, and they came.
I’m a huge fan of this film. It’s not tense, nor hugely dramatic, but it does touch and move. And it has James Earl Jones.
But what is the relevance of this? Well. My wife bought me a journal for our wedding anniversary. Normally, I don’t use a notepad. I’d either not have it with me when the lightning bolt of an idea strikes or actually owning one would seal up the vault of inspiration tighter than a duck’s derriere. Having a notepad would almost be trying to force the ideas to come rather than letting them flow. It’s sometimes easier to have an idea and forget it than to not have any because I’m trying to have one.
But this journal is different. I first saw one when we were in Windsor after going to Legoland. There was a small shop by the castle filled with such leather bound, intricately designed notebooks. The covers burst with trees, bindings, figures and more. At the time, I didn’t buy one. They’re not cheap and they can’t be refilled so I talked myself out of the deal.
Every year, Cleethorpes, the seaside town adjoining my own town of Grimsby, has a parade. Floats, majorettes and dancing troupes take the journey through the streets filled with flag waving, smiling people. Near the leisure centre, which sits by the beach a fair way along the route, there’s a small market. Stalls from Europe and closer to home sell everything from food to little trinkets.
This year, I saw one selling these particular books. I couldn’t put them down. They seemed to cry out for me to fill them with my words. Surely, something like this would invite ideas and would lay them lovingly down so they’d rush to adorn the pages?
Still. I walked away.
Then, last month, my first wedding anniversary arrived. Now, I have to admit my wife knows me. Over the ten years or so we’ve known each other, we’ve gone from customer (she was – and still is – my hairdresser) to best friends to lovers to man and wife, and it’s been a (sometimes hellish) rollercoaster. So she knows me. It’s whilst being in a relationship with her that I finished Sin and went on to complete Dark Places, Zits’n’Bits and Rudolph Saves Christmas. She took me to Luxor in Egypt, because I’d wanted to go since being a child, and I wrote 15,000 words of Sin there.
So, I was delighted to open my gift and see one of these books. She knew how much I wanted one, even though I’d kept walking away. She felt that, even though it can’t be refilled, it will still be a magical place full of my thoughts and ideas. And, she spent a great deal of time finding the perfect one.
If you look at the photo of the journal, and if you know the covers to Sin and Dark Places, you’ll see why she hit the mark spot on dead centre.
So. Field of Dreams? Kevin Costner was told ‘If you build it, they will come’, and they did.
With my new journal, I was hoping if I wrote it, they, the ideas, would come. Last night my wife, my ten year old daughter and I were discussing story ideas. My daughter wanted me to write the story of Little Dead Riding Hood, so I was asking her to come up with other variations on fairytales. It was fun, in a weird kind of way (SINderella? Snow White and the HEADLESS Dwarves?).
I opened my journal, pen in hand, and started to write the titles down. I’d come back to the ideas later. Then, a thought struck me. An idea. Quickly I wrote it down on another page, expecting it to be just a single sentence to start me off when I got chance to expand on it.
Then I wrote a bit more. What might happen next. Then next. Then the fight. Then the cave. Then the darkness and voices.
I wrote it, and they came. My journal seems to be my own field of dreams. I can feel it calling out to me from my bedside table.
“Write in me.”
“If you write it, they will come.”
I have a feeling it’s not wrong.