On Being Unwritten…

Do you ever wake up disorientated?  Wondering where you are?  Who you are?  Even, why you are?  Do you wake up and something just doesn’t feel right, as if someone rewrote your life and forgot to tell you to turn the page?

 

I had that feeling this morning.

 

I dreamt I was a fictional character, plucked from the odd ramblings of some strange man’s musings.  I dreamt I wasn’t real and I only existed because he had breathed life into me through the tapping of the keys on his computer.  They were the defibrillator jolting me from nothing into being.  They were the bolt of lightning in the crazed laboratory of an aberrant mind.

 

I mean, he’s have to be aberrant, wouldn’t he?  Whoever thought me up?  I’m a lunatic, or so I tell people.  I’m responsible for deaths.  I’m responsible for so much despair.

 

Who’d want to create a character like that?

 

But, that was my dream.  I wasn’t real.  I was made up.  I was words on a page.

 

Have you ever felt like that?

 

It’s a weird feeling, and it’s echoed through me as the day has passed.  Every so often, I’ll look at my friends, Bender, Mucous and the others, and wonder if they’re the same.  I wonder if they ever feel like this or if they are like this.

 

Could I reach out from this imaginary world and rewrite myself?  Could I backspace through all that I’ve done and erase it?  I could bring back Joy.  I could bring back everyone.  I’d edit my life to make it less painful.  More ordinary.  More mundane.

 

That’d be fine.  I don’t want or need to be special.  I’ve had enough of special.  I want to wake in the morning and go to work.  I want to walk my dog and kiss my wife and play with my children.  I want to live on a river where swans float and geese occasionally get awkward and wander on to the road, just because they’re feeling a little daredevil that day.

 

I don’t want to feel the pain.  i don’t want to hear the screams.  I don’t want to cause the deaths.

 

But, it’s not like that, is it.  It never is.  I suppose I wish to be fictional, because then, though it all seems so real, it wouldn’t be.  Then, whatever I think has happened, it hasn’t.  None of it has.  If I was a made up character in the mind of a writer, that’d be fine, because, perhaps, he might take pity.

 

Not on me, I don’t deserve anyone’s pity.  No.  Maybe he’d pity those that have died.  Maybe he’d feel sorry for those I’ve killed.  Saying that, if I’ve killed them, so has he.

 

Maybe I’ll wake up in the shower and it will all have been a dream, thanks to him taking a cue from an 80s soap.

 

Still.  I feel… less substantial.

 

Hey, if you’re out there, at least get rid of my grey, won’t you?

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Just Keep Swimming…

So much to do and so little time.
 
I admit, I’ve been a little (a lot) lax in my postings of late.  Sin has been too.  I’m trying to dedicate some time to writing so blog posts get left behind in the wake, bobbing about on the surface of my musings without being able to put their feet down and gain purchase.
 
There’s a number of things I want to blog about.  A fab meal I had at the Spice Hut in Cleethorpes.  My trip to Disneyland Paris last week (great trip apart from a few incidents with the coach).  Watching the excellent Captain Phillips.  More!
 
But, I’m not getting round to it.  I need a PA or something, it seems.  Or a clone.  Maybe I should talk to the producers of Orphan Black (worthy of a blog post in itself – brilliant show) to see if they have a spare.
 
Anywho.  I haven’t forgotten you.  I’m just trying, and I mean trying, to write.  I’m working on the sequel to Sin, but he’s gone and gotten himself arrested.  I wasn’t expecting that, so I’m a bit stumped as to what’s going to happen next.  I’ve got Puddlebrain, my children’s book.  I know exactly what’s going to happen (a first for me, I think), but I have to get to finishing it.  Perhaps it’s because I know it needs a good edit.  I used a few too many ‘big’ words for the age range, for a start.  But I’ll get there.  Puddlebrain is the story I began whilst writing Sin.  I’d written about 40,000 words and forgotten about them.  I do like what I’ve written, I just need to refine it.
 
Then there’s my current story, ‘Home’.  With inspiration coming from the same place as The Lake and Summer Loving, it’s sort of tied me up.  I’m revisiting an alternative version of my youth, and it won’t be pretty.  I expected this to be a short story of, perhaps, a couple of thousand words.  I’m at 3,000 already and still scope for more.
 
Excerpt from ‘Home’
The trip to school seemed to take all day.  I could imagine getting there just in time to turn around and go back home.  Unfortunately, the minutes were just taking their time, spacing out the seconds in between like a trail of sweets, with me as Hansel following politely and hungrily along.  I arrived at the school gates with just enough time to spare for my friends to semi-playfully make fun of my fainting episode.  I took the brunt of the jibes and jokes with a facade of smiles.  I’d do the same if I were them.  Cracking jokes, poking ribs.  It was part of being at school.
 
Of course, when I saw the blood dripping off my desk in English later that morning, not quite coagulating but thick enough to look like crimson snot dangling off the edge of the desk lid, the teasing ceased.  I didn’t scream.  I didn’t faint.  I simply stopped.  My feet no longer worked.  My eyes no longer blinked.  I suppose my lungs alternatively inflated and deflated and my heart continued to pump, though maybe a little faster, but I couldn’t tell.  I couldn’t hear the teacher or the pupils talking to me nor could I feel them pulling at me to make me move.
 
My world had disappeared and all I could see was the blood.
 
Then, I think, I did faint.
 
At least it would give my friends something more to take the Mickey out of me for.
 
So.  I’ll be back.  How many of you just said that in an Arnie-style voice?  I know I did when I wrote it.
 
Bear with me.  Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.  Just keep swimming, as the epic Dory would say, and I will too.
UPDATE:  Home, a ‘short story’ was finished a couple of days ago, to the tune of a smidgen over 9,500 words.  I quite like it.  You’ll, hopefully, see it in Darker Places…
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Shaun Allan – The Signing

Like a wanted man dragged to the gallows, with the haunting tones of the Last Post fading into the background, I prepared myself for my very first book signing.

Well, actually, that’s not true.  There was no hooded man standing at the bottom of my stairs as I counted out my books.  A bugler wasn’t tooting his own horn as I carried them out to my car.

There was just me.  Oh, and my fiancée finding it highly amusing that I was sooo nervous.

Hands shaking?  Check.

Palpitations?  Check

Fingers and thumbs doing what they wanted rather than what I was trying to tell them to?

Oh yes indeedy.

I was, as you might have gathered, a little anxious.  Here was I, tending my wares to all and sundry.  What if only one person turned up?  What if nobody did?

“What if they don’t?” said my fiancée.  I was taken aback for a moment.  But she was right.  What if?  So what?

I’d written my book.  This wasn’t the literary version of Field of Dreams, and I wasn’t Kevin Costner.  “If you write it, they will come.”  I had written it, but that was no guarantee that they’d be queuing up out of the door.  It also didn’t mean that they wouldn’t be…

If no-one turned up, that would be fine.  My book was published and in print.  The library, where the signing was situated, had already bought ten copies.  The eBook sales had made Sin a bestseller, reaching #9 in horror.  On one Goodreads list, it rated at #1 with The Hunger games trailing behind at #2.  The reviews I’d had said that it was ‘an incredible read’ and had compared it to Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Even Hitchcock in a couple of cases.

I couldn’t argue with that, now could I?

So if not one solitary person turned up to buy my book, would I be bothered?  Of course I would.  But not as much as I’d have first thought.  I didn’t write it for glory or celebrity or money.  I wrote it because I had to.  Because it was in me and, if I hadn’t, Sin might well have burst forth and written his own story.

I knew, beforehand, that the location wasn’t exactly ideal.  Yes, it was a library, so the people there wanted books.  But that didn’t mean they wanted mine, nor did it mean that they’d be prepared to buy it when they could get them, including mine, on loan just through the door.

I was trying to sell books in a place where people could get them free.

It wasn’t right in the middle of town where hundreds of people would pass and could be tempted in.  It was just to the side of the shopping mall.  On the edge.  Right, in fact, where the first instance of things not being quite right happens – when the number five bus crashes through the post office.  Standing at the door of the library, that bus would go past.  Looking over to the right, I could see the post office.  But that was ok.  The library had been very supportive of my book from before it had actually gone to print.  It was only right that they had ‘first dibs’ on the signing.

So.  With heart a-flutter I bade farewell to my family.

Once parked up near the library, I heaved the box of books (books can be heavy can’t they!) and bag of bookmarks, cards and flyers and made the short but arduous (books can be HEAVY) walk to the library.

And breathe.  And calm.

And… I’d sold four books before I’d even managed to properly set up my table.  Huh?  How did that happen?  Where did they come from?  And where had my nerves gone?  Had they run and hidden, out of the way of these strangers eager to buy MY book?  Possibly, because, all of a sudden, I wasn’t nervous.  Well, I was a tad, just a touch, just a whisper or worry, but that was all.  Once I was speaking to them, I was fine.  My natural, let’s be honest, cheek, came out.

I could raise a smile from them.  They asked questions about the book – how long had it taken to write?  You say there’s a blog that’s a diary?  How does that fit in with the prologue and the rest of the book?  They wanted to sit and chat.

I’d been in the local newspapers the night and week before, thanks to my fiancée working next door to one and going in without me knowing and telling them about me and my book (and then worrying that she was interfering!?) and to a call I made to the local council offices  to ask about mental health care.  As my main character, Sin, incarcerates himself in a mental asylum, I’m researching the path of mental health from the archaic days to now.  I’d been in touch with the council regarding this, telling them about the book and the signing and they had, unbeknown to me, contacted the local paper.

You really do never know who might talk to whom and how that might benefit you.

A few people did come in thanks to the pieces in the newspaper.  All said that the picture didn’t look like me, which was a good thing, really, as it had sinister uplighting for effect!  It’s like when I tell people that there’s a lot of me in Sin.  People die around him – perhaps it’s not something I should mention?

The library staff themselves were wonderful.  They brought me coffee and biscuits, made sure I was ok.  They’d put up posters for the event too.  Now it was up to me.

The table was set.  My books were stacked and presentable (including the one that I’d accidentally put upside down).  I laid out my flyers, signed my bookmarks and put them in small pencil pots for people to take.  I’d also printed small cards declaring ‘I am a Sinner’ along with my web address and put them out amidst the rest.  By my side I had some sweets for any children looking bored by their parent’s interest in my book.

So, once done, I sat and waited.  Would a pile of people push through the doors, rushing to shove their money in my face and clutch a copy of Sin to their bosom?  I doubted it.  It would have been nice, though.

As it happened, the flow was steady.  There were lulls were nobody came in and I chatted to the woman in the ticket office opposite (whose mum had phoned her insisting she buy one of my books – don’t forget! – after seeing the piece in the newspaper).  I thought about just asking everyone who passed if they’d be interested in my book, but some were chasing children, others had earphones sprouting out of their heads and didn’t even notice I as sitting there and others, still, were grumpy or in the middle of conversations.  I tried to read the people.  Perhaps this was wrong, as I could have missed valuable customers, but I didn’t think the elderly couple on walking sticks would be interested in a paranormal thriller, nor the group of young teenagers with their behinds hanging out of their jeans.

In most cases, I had it right.  The people I… I almost said collared… erm… accosted?  No… approached.  That’s it.  Those that I approached were either very willing to buy, bought after a chat or chatted, decided it wasn’t for them, but would gladly accept the offered signed bookmark and flyer.  Even those who just said no straight away were offered a bookmark.  Each to their own and at least they’d see the cover and have the website.

My ‘I’m a Sinner’ cards went well, too, with a few laughing saying it suited them…  I can’t comment either way.

Part way through my two hour stint, the local paper that carried the story the week before popped by for a photo and follow up interview.  Unfortunately it wasn’t until they were leaving that another customer came.

The two hours had passed before I knew it, and before my nerves had plucked up the courage to come out from hiding and get their claws into me again.  I tidied away, left the library some flyers and bookmarks for people to take (and they said they’d leave the posters up until their next event for me), and carried my not-so-heavy box back to my car.  A smile was on my face.

I’d done it!  And I had enjoyed it too.

Of course I have another coming soon.  It’s at Waterstones, a big bookstore right in the middle of the shopping mall.  I think my nerves are there, in the shadows, waiting for their next chance.  Let’s see if I can be granted a stay of execution once more.

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A Drop of Scarlett…

Occasionally, Sin meets new friends in his asylum.  I’m sure you’re aware of this.  He hijacks this very blog for that purpose.  Today, however, he’s allowed me to chat to someone all on my very ownsome.  Nice of him.  Well, he’s already met her anyway, it seems, in his Moth to a Flame blog post.

 

The lovely Scarlett Flame is joining me.  She’s currently riding around on a book tour to show us her collection of erotic love stories Bound for Passion.  Today’s stop is right outside my place, so I tempted her in for a look-see at her wares!

 

Here’s the lowdown on her latest novel.

 

“When Vivienne sits inconsolable in the hospital chapel, the last encounter she expects is a fervent entanglement with an otherworldly being. As passions increase she learns, for the first time in her life, the true meaning of ‘out of this world’. In the second story, Sarah meets a new lover after telling him all her intimate fantasies in an internet chat room. And the final entry concerns the journey a young woman takes as a Dominant offers to show her the ropes in exchange for her submission via BDSM.”

 

Individually these stories are hot, but together they are sizzling.

Already the book is heating up readers attention with five five star reviews so far.  Scarlett told me:

 

The cover of the book is from a painting by an artist friend of mine that is based in Cork, Ireland. His name is Alan Hurley. I have had only fabulously positive comments about the cover and hope to use Alan again in future. The picture is also available to buy as a print from his gallery. Alan has some absolutely beautiful paintings please visit his page and choose some for yourself.

 

I have two signed prints gracing my living room walls, an original watercolour taken from my avi photograph on Twitter and this hangs in pride of place on my bedroom wall.

 

Alan also has a Blog here so please visit him here and see how his work progresses from an outline drawing to a full blown picture

 

The graphics were supplied by another good friend of mine who is also an author – Jon Fletcher who I did an interview for last year about my next book and a current WIP. Jon writes Science fiction and I believe I own ALL of his books. Check out Jon’s blog and his author page to see more.

 

The debut novel is composed partially of stories that were published initially on my blog over the last six months or so, and a new story created especially for the book.

 

There is a short excerpt from The Stranger which is the first story in the book, read by myself, on audioboo.

 

In celebration and to let the public know about my new book there are a series of blogs being hosted by a number of bloggers across the world.

 

Here they are and the dates they will be hosted.  There may be some additions to the list as time goes on:

 

 

The Book promotion is set to run alongside offers and promotions on Goodreads and Facebook with 4 copies of the book available to win on Goodreads through their giveaway deal.

 

I also have great pleasure in having The Orchard Book Club promoting my book launch, with details to follow.

 

I will be interviewed on air by Casey Ryan of the Cutting Room Floor on the 2nd March.  Please click on the link for details.”

 

You can buy Scarlett’s new book from:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

 

The book is also available on all the Amazon sites including Canada, Australia etc..

 

Thanks for dropping by Scarlett.  It’s always a pleasure meeting one of Sin’s friends.  I hope the book is a raging success.

 

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