Sunday, 29 July 2018

DailyFlash: ImMEDIAte

The man has a flashback to sitting in the backseat of a car with potential in-laws, the heat of a strange country on everything from the window glass to the material upholstery to the kid's clammy hand. The kid - not his, but yes his in this as-yet unbroken timeline - goes "Mommy says you're my Daddy now." It explodes in the car, an aftermath of silence, and the potential in-laws say something, he doesn't remember what; and he says something, he doesn't remember what. It doesn't matter. There's no rewind.

In the present timeline he sees the kid's face as it is now on the screen, and the face of his own as she plays in the corner of the room. She calls out a legitimate Daddy, and he is struck by his own complacency, and remorse. She wasn't the first to call him Daddy - how could he have taken the clammy hand so lightly? Not seen through the eyes of the kid? A well opens in his heart and he falls into the darkness, staring only at the kid's gaze, hoping they were young enough to forget him easily. His punishment; that they would or already have: unaware of the Daddy roaming the earth who would never forget them.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Promo time!

This weekend, my books are on promo. The Risen, a mid-apocalypse zombie horror is free on Kindle, and Neon Sands and the follow-up, Plains of Ion, are reduced to 0.99.

Join in the fun!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

DailyFlash: Under the city

We shuffle across the steel ramparts that link the canyon caves, in droves and bright orange bodysuits with our nutrition packs tied around our waists. The bright spotlights glare from the high eaves like daylight, casting our shadows down into a lake of darkness in black bars. From loudspeakers at the end of tall poles, we half-listen to the March of Progress - "... bring it home for the sake of your brethren, one-hundred-percent and we'll soon be one..." Ahead, the flames of the forges billow across the faces of rock and we can already feel the sweat burning on our brows.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


Little Greg was eight years old when he developed a plan to save his parents’ lives. And it was so simple too! His heart thumped, imagining the scenario playing out. Would it go as he thought it would? Or would they laugh in his face? Once they knew he was serious they would soon clock on and change their ways. He was sure of it.

He chose a rainy day to emphasize his point, maybe with a pronounced cough or two. Outside the window, grey clouds laboured heavy across the sky, with the gentle pattering of rain striking the glass and windowsill and pouring from the gutter and into the street. The window was open a crack, and his father’s cigarette smoke feigned escape in slow-moving swirls, almost blue against the grey.

Monday, 23 July 2018

DailyFlash: Walls

Every evening at seven it begins with a rat-tat-tat on the walls as though the neighbour's relaying carpet up the stairs after a day of tearing it up. Nails thrust into stair-boards tap-tap-tap. Hammer popping heads pap-pap-pap. Knocking in my forehead knock-knock-knock, with my temple on the wall and my veins exploding. A lumber puncture in the brain, my eyes bulging with weight. The house as empty and dark as midnight, eyes lit. Can't take no more. Then come the nail-points bursting through the plaster, puffs of powder like invisible footprints stepping closer and closer to my temple, crack-crack-crack. Just keep my head here. Just keep my head here and let the nail in. Let the lumber in and release. The knocking ends, as it always does - so close.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag

To say I love Simon's art is an understatement, so this book could have been all pictures and still attained 5 stars. Behind the art however is a story: it is a roadtrip across an alternative version of USA in the 90s, one filled with a mixture of analogue and digital and a curious array of science-fiction artefacts left to rust and decay after an apparent 'event'. Or are they?

The story is told using a mixture of the art and the writing, often using the writing to delve into some character backstory and history of events – the pacing is slow and allows the world to become ingrained before we learn more about the narrator and the kind of events that have lead to this point. Indeed, there is some satisfaction in the scarcity of revelation; little nuggets we are given which we are able to mesh with revelations further on. It’s not a long read so there’s no trouble remembering important little elements, and a second read through might be worth it to pick up on anything you may have missed.

The writing itself was four out of five because of some inconsistencies over style, sometimes verging into stream of consciousness without punctuation, when really the slow, meandering style it had been using, and which was sometimes elegant, would have sufficed. It could have done with another editor too as it should have been tighter, often losing impact because of a passive voice.

Overall though, it leaves you wanting more, which is always a good sign.

Monday, 16 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Rusticles by Rebecca Grandsen

Rusticles was a pleasantly literary read after months and months of genre books, something to wrap my mind around and dig my teeth into. It's a series of short stories interconnected by themes and locations and just a general, overall mood of melancholy, my favourite of which is Dilapidated Flamingo, a story about a boy trying to feed a mysterious flamingo that keeps appearing in his garden. Like the other stories, character is key. There's a mystery or mysterious event occurring, but it's the emotions of the characters that are explored, with the events being catalysts for character development.

"I'm starting to think it knows I'm watching. I was at my window and it appeared from beneath, like it had been hovering around the backdoor waiting for its moment. It opened its wings right there, waving them around a little, putting on a show. Its feathers were all bent and drooping and its neck looked like someone had kicked it sideways. The flamingo proceeded to prance around the decking, its faded pinkness and rotten skinned legs making me feel sorry for it."

I don't want to talk too much about the stories, because each one is like a little gem waiting to be mined and best discovered on a one-to-one basis. What's paramount is the writing, and the confidence to take risks with it (one story has no punctuation but has a wonderful rhythm). Early on there was a vague feeling of the writing riding the cliff-edge of trying too hard, but you soon realise there is a solid understanding of how to develop a sentence or a paragraph. The writing is tight, pleasingly devoid of passive tense, and when you get a long, complicated sentence, it's followed by some shorter ones. The prose rises and falls poetically.

Check it out!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A Darkling Plain (The Hungry City Chronicles, #4) by Philip Reeve

I gave the first three books 4-stars (exciting but with thin characters) and half-way through A Darkling Plain was of a mind to give this 5-stars, to acknowledge the worldbuilding and story aspects that spanned all the books, even though it struggled with the same problems. (See what I did there, Philip? 'Even though it struggled' instead of 'even though it was struggling'.) The final third of the book cemented a begrudging 3-stars, it was just terrible. 

Before I even talk about the story and characters, I have to mention the writing, or perhaps that should be the editing, or its lack of editing. Throughout the series, the writing was solid enough if nothing spectacular, and rarely distracting. For a while I even thought the quality had gone up in A Darkling Plain, but like the story, it seemed to collapse in the final third. Packed with action, yet filled with passive tense - these lines should be URGENT and TAUGHT but instead were weak and lazy.

"The Stalker's robes began to burn. Lightning was crawling across her calm, bronze face..."