[Guest post] Milford SF Writers’ Conference and Bursaries for SF Writers of Colour by Jacey Bedford

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My fellow panellist from Eastercon, Jacey Bedford, is not only a skilled and popular writer but also secretary of Milford… she is here today to explain what that is and how a writer of colour could end up attending it on a paid for bursary.

Milford SF Writers’ Conference and Bursaries for SF Writers of Colour

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I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Milford I wouldn’t have my book deal. When I attended my first Milford back in 1998 I’d only sold one story professionally (the minimum qualification for attending.) . I was totally wet-behind-the-ears yet all of the ‘proper’ writers there didn’t make me feel inadequate in the slightest.

What’s Milford? I hear you say…

It’s a peer-to-peer week in which fifteen published writers of science fiction and fantasy (and all subgenres) get together to workshop and critique works in progress. Established in the USA in 1956 and brought to the UK by James Blish in 1972, many famous names have passed through from Anne McCaffrey, George R.R. Martin, and Samuel Delaney to Alastair Reynolds, Neil Gaiman, and Charles Stross. Held annually, it now takes place in rural North Wales in mid-September.

It’s exhilarating to be in writerly company in such a gorgeous location. We have the run of Trigonos, an ethically run community business which provides accommodation, meeting rooms, and home cooked food. (You will never starve at Trigonos. Did I mention that 4.00 p.m. was cake o’clock?) Set in its own grounds looking up the valley to Snowdon, Trigonos even has its own lake, though you sacrifice mobile phone signal for the rural beauty.

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Critiques are professional level, strict but fair, and everyone gets a chance to be heard. To be honest you learn as much from critiquing as being critiqued. Post-crit discussions often happen after dinner or through coffee-and-cake breaks. It’s not unusual to plot-noodle or to work out the details of how to wipe out the population of a small planet over breakfast.

An exciting new development is happening in 2017. We have bursaries for two self-identifying SF writers of colour to attend Milford. Funding has been donated by the 8Squared Eastercon, held a few years ago in Bradford, and by a writer who wishes to remain anonymous. The bursary (value £610) covers all conference and accommodation costs for the week at Trigonos, but doesn’t include the cost of transport to and from the event.

Details of how to apply for the bursaries are on the Milford website (see below). Application is by letter to a maximum of 2,000 words, posted or emailed along with an application form (downloadable from the website). Applications are open from 1st October 2016 to 28th February 2017. Up to two successful applicants will be notified by the end of March. If potential applicants have any questions before making an application please email me for guidance.

The bursary opportunity is intended to be an encouragement and not a quota. We only have two bursaries available, and only for 2017, however we operate an equal opportunities policy so all SF/F writers who are ‘Milford qualified’ are welcome to apply for the full-price Milford SF Writers’ Conference places in any year, subject to availability.

Here are our upcoming dates:

  • 10th – 17th September 2016, (now fully booked with a short waiting list).
  • 9th – 16th September 2017 (booking open now).
  • 15th – 22nd September 2018 (booking opens16th September 2016. )

 

You can find out more on our website: www.milfordSF.co.uk. Anyone who needs additional information about Milford or the bursaries can contact me, Jacey Bedford, Milford secretary, at <jacey@jaceybedford.co.uk>

 

@mancunicon: a weekend in the life of Eastercon Part 2: Saturday

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In our last instalment of ‘Eastercon’, we went through Friday, including the True Love and Trophies panel starring Yours Truly. Today I intend to work through the events of Saturday…

 

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The ‘Balancing the Creative Life’ panel.

 

 

I had a late start on Saturday and a relatively easy day. I turned up at 1pm in time for a panel which I felt was very relevant to me – Balancing the Creative life. This starred Tony Ballantyne as moderator and had Jackie Burns, David L Clements. Peter Ellis and Juliet Kemp discussing the issues of maintaining a 9 – 5 day job while also writing or producing art to a high enough standard. Several of the panellists claimed to cheat. Peter Ellis stated that he had not really started to write properly until he was retired from his full time teaching job and David L Clements was quick to point out that his job as an Astrophysicist did actually provide a lot of useful research material for SF novels. This panel also covered issues like being a carer for a family member and how to cope with raising a family. From that discussion I came away with a sense that I was doing a lot of the things needed to be both a full time worker and a writer – things like considering plotlines and character development in the otherwise dead time spent travelling to and from work, making good use of holidays and so on. I was also made aware of the wonders of noise cancelling headphones when it comes to shutting out distractions…

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General bustle of the Con

 

Later in the afternoon, I tried to attend the Female gaze panel, mainly because it was mentioned as part of the True Love and Trophies panel and was something I was interested in. However, it seems as though our ringing endorsement of this panel during our slot was enough to get them full long before the panel was due to start. So unfortunately I missed it, as did Ruth F Long who I caught up with later in an attempt to find out if she had learnt anything from it.

So, instead I decided to wander into a talk that was taking place in a larger room next door which was entitled ‘the Ecology of Doctor Who’ by Eira and Smuzz. This wasn’t (as you might expect) a discussion of fictional alien ecology but rather an interesting overview of the relationship between Doctor Who as a BBC TV programme and the ecological issues that were prevalent at different points in its history. Covering such things as the nuclear fears of the 50s, fuel crisis, deforestation and how these were represented in the show. The narrative was accompanied by a series of clips illustrating the points made and though these were plagued by technical hitches which delayed the start of the talk, they did help to make the points clear. The upshot of the talk was that Doctor Who has lost its way recently with regards to stories about the environment, though it is not clear if this is a deliberate policy decision or merely an accident of story selection, and that more should be done to use the show as a tool for educating the viewers about the issues relevant today. It was a talk delivered passionately with a lot of excellent arguments by a speaker who really knew his Who history and made a lot of points I agreed with, though I did disagree that New Who had wholly abandoned its liberal enviro friendly roots as there have been stories covering those issues. However, I am fully in support of there being more of that sort of thing – not just the ecological issues but also social and political ones. Doing the job that SF does so well – warning us about the dangers of the future based on the trends evident in the present.

After the Who talk ended (late due to aforementioned technical issues) I was rescued from the con by a crack team of special forces who dragged me to a restaurant for dinner… after which it was time to return to the convention for drinks and the disco… the disco that I missed due to getting involved in some fascinating discussions with various random people…

Next instalment: Sunday and a date with radio…

@mancunicon: a weekend in the life of Eastercon Part 1: Friday

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NB: There are a lot of links in here as I have tried to link to something from every person I saw over the weekend. However, I could not link to everyone mainly because I could not find a link I was 100% certain people would want shared (personal twitters etc.) If I linked you and you want it removed or (horrors of horrors) I didn’t link you and you are offended by this contact me. It can be fixed.

So, the weekend of Easter is always Eastercon time for those of a SF and Fantasy bent. An event where writers, artists and fans get together to talk, panel, display, sell and generally network amongst themselves. This year’s event was set in the sunny northern climes* of Manchester and was therefore aptly named Mancunicon and given a SF remodelling of that location’s famous Bee symbol** as a logo.IMG_8232

I’d decided to check out Mancunicon and see what all the fuss was about. After all, it was in the same  city and I am nothing if not lazy about how far I travel. So I booked as a member of the convention with no idea of what to expect. Not only that, I decided to offer myself up as tribute and volunteer to go on panels. May have been an insane thing to do but I soon discovered that insanity was all good here…

In the weeks leading up to the event I was informed which panel I was to be sacrificed on and given contact with the other members of it. A few emails and we all seemed to be up to speed on what we were doing. I therefore turned up well prepared for what I had to do on the panel and a lot of excitement for what was to come, though still not really sure about a lot of it…

Before my panel, however, there was a whole afternoon to get through. I wandered into the Deansgate Hilton in time to register and to attend the first panel that had caught my eye – Twisting the Story with Editor Gillian Redfearn, Susan Bartholomew, David Tallerman, Chris Wooding, Sebastien De Castell and Charles Stross. A fascinating discussion ensued about a topic that I have blogged about in the past and which gave some interesting insights. Ideas such as how to make a villain sympathetic were discussed (love seems to conquer all here, I used that one myself later). Unfortunately for me, Charles Stross was employing some hi tech gadgetry to jinx camera electronics, possibly involving the binding of demons into computer circuits, which meant that every time I tried to take a photo in that room it would not expose properly. Well that or I’d stupidly set the camera wrong… My ego says it was option one because that involves being defeated by a foe with superior resources. Chances are it was option two. Regardless, I could barely get any decent photos of that panel, which is a shame. The camera was mysteriously behaving for the next panel (which to be fair was a better lit room and I had noticed the settings were messed up and was able to fix them).

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The Biology in SF Panel. Not shown – Alex Lamb who is hiding offscreen

This was followed by a panel on Biology in SF. This one was lead by a group of writers who had between them more science PhDs than the average person could accumulate in a lifetime and two of them were not academics at all. When I had originally seen this in the schedule I had felt a little put out that I had not been considered for it given my background, but I judged the panel worthy and they played well to a packed house with standing room only. There was discussion of modern genetic techniques (in particular the technology that has recently been used to remove HIV virus DNA from T cells) and how Biology is now at the point where it is useful to SF, being at a point where it is still accessible to the layman while being weird and abstract enough for the wow factor without getting quite so weird or abstract as physics sometimes strays into and which only Stephen Hawkings can understand (which does somewhat limit your audience share…). The double bonus was that I could count this as continual professional development for my RL job…

Following this I went get some food and to sit in the bar and soak up the atmosphere of the event with a friend while waiting for my panel to start. It was during this time that Storm Constantine and Freda Warrington wandered in and casually claimed some seats right next to us.

You know, as if they were ordinary people and not authors who are like well known and stuff.

And that, as I was beginning to learn, was the spirit of Eastercon. There were some well known names here. I already mentioned Charles Stross, Chris Wooding and a few others above and there was also Ian McDonald (present as a Guest of Honour) and some other names who I was at that point unaware of. Award winners, best sellers, known names in SF and Fantasy literature. But there was no ‘us and them’ feeling. We were all ‘Us’ and that led to a nice relaxed atmosphere in which it was possible to have a conversation with someone about Donald Trump and forget that they have sold more books than you probably ever could.

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The ‘True Love and Trophies’ Panel as taken by R.A Smith (who was standing at the back due to lack of seats)

My panel started at 7 but the usual procedure was to report to the Green room for a chat with the rest of the panellists so we can go over our plans. It was called the Green room but in reality it was more the ‘Green Landing’ – a partitioned space on the third floor of the hotel near some of the panel rooms where those taking part in events could wait before going in. The room was run by the hard working and efficient Green Room Gophers who were there to check everything was in order and all panellists had everything they needed – including the drink that was on offer for anyone doing an event at the Con.

 

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All I can say here is I was probably making some deeply relevant and emphatic point, hence the hand blurring. Kate is clearly not impressed:)

I met up with the rest of the panel – the moderator Ruth Frances Long, Jacey Bedford, Kate Soley Barton and Justina Robson – and we had a short discussion about what we were going to talk about and, mainly, if we all agreed on what the brief for the panel actually meant. Then we did the panel…

And it was amazing! I was expecting a handful of people and all of those people we knew personally (R.A Smith was in the audience at my request taking photos and there were a few others I knew). However, like the biology panel, it was standing room only. OK, to be fair, the rooms were a little too small and so filled up quickly, but that was still a lot of people interested enough in ‘True Love and Trophies’ to stand at the back and to hang around outside trying to get in even though we were clearly full.

Discussions revolved around romance clichés. We touched on the ‘female gaze’ as that was the topic of a panel planned for later in the weekend the concept of using imagery designed specifically to attract female readers or viewers such as when male superheroes flex flawless musculature. Ruth posed the question about how this has affected romance literature. The inevitable and ubiquitous ‘half naked male six pack’ was put on the table (um, not literally I should add here…) and each of the female romance writers on the panel (Ruth, Justine and Jacey) seemed to have a story about how their publishers keep putting such things on there despite all requests not to. On other topics, Kate, as the reader in the group, made references to fan fiction and how romance works there. I made comments about the prevalence of ‘Happy Ever After’ and how it is ironic that the story considered the greatest romance ever by some, Romeo and Juliet, does not end happily at all.  The overall theme was what fantasy and SF could learn from more traditional romance stories and I think we covered a lot of it very well in the time we had. We could have gone on longer but we were out of time. I guess we left the audience wanting more which is always good.

The evening ended with drinks and discussion in the hotel bar… Overall a good time was had by all and there will be more on this in our next instalment (stay tuned!)

 

 

 

*Remember, as Obi Wan Kenobi was wont to say, we mean sunny ‘from a certain point of view’ i.e. not at all sunny. I’ve discussed Manchester weather before.

**You know about the Bees yes? They are on every bin and bollard in the city. No one could miss them (well I did…). The mystery of the bees was referred to a few times this weekend. TLDR version is they refer to the industry of the city.

[Vampire Month] A nail in the coffin

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Well, that is all for Vampire month for this year. Join us again next year for more excitement, adventure and creatures with big fangs and strange accents.

this is what they do look like

This is what they do look like

It has been an excellent collection of writers this month so please take the time to check out their posts and visit their blogs and so on. They have worked hard this month to entertain you (as have I, March is always more stressful for me) and so deserve some love in return. Give them all a huge round of applause.

This year our celebrations were only interrupted by Eastercon and there will be more on that very soon (once I finish processing the photos from the weekend…).

If you want to contribute to Vampire month (or indeed any aspects of this blog) feel free to get in touch – leave a comment, send an email or visit me on Facebook or twitter (links to the side of this blog post).

[Vampire Month] Are Writers Solitary or Social Creatures? by Rose Jones

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So, here we have Rose Jones with her guest post… take it away Rose!M18146_Senior_MA-31sm

Any topic he said, well I mused for a while and came up with this.

Are Writers Solitary or Social Creatures?

No wonder the astrologers say that Geminis should be writers. It’s not just that Mercury, the messenger of the gods is our ruler, it’s the fact that there are two sides to us – twin aspects to our nature – and that is very true of writers.

We need to be sociable, or at least out there in the world observing how things are, how people relate to each other and how they deal with the milestones (or millstones) of their lives. We also have to lock ourselves away from all that and look inwards, sitting alone with our note books or computers in order to create a fictional version of the experience alphabet soup we have ingested from the world outside.

White Thorn cover 1eAll writers have their own way of getting their ideas down on paper. Some plan their story structure in minute detail, while others myself included, prefer to paint with broad brush strokes and see where the ideas take us. But why do we feel the need to regurgitate reality into something that is fiction? I believe it is an integral part of what makes us human beings. Storytelling is a way of passing on knowledge and information. That information can come from a real experience or by the example of a creation, a parable to explain something in the world, or an example to follow. It is both a sociable and a solitary pursuit. It doesn’t have to be real, but it is very real to us, the writer.

To me, all the world’s a stage. I pick up snippets here and there. Sometimes I note them down or write snatches of dialogue that come to me as I’m driving to work. Maybe a character name will pop up when I’m writing an email, or something happens that gets a cathartic release in my writing. Sometimes I wake up in the night with a solution to a plot hole. It’s going on in my subconscious all the time, building and growing until I have enough to work with.

Sometimes these babies are easily born. I have been known to write a 5,000 word short story straight off, but more likely they are dragged kicking and screaming into the world. Sometimes they’re stillborn. There’s usually a reason for that. Some ideas never reach maturity and some never should.

When we are birthing a story we need to be alone, to enter our fictitious world and be embraced 51cc7ly30ol-_sx331_bo1204203200_by it; to get into the minds of our characters and to become them as they follow through with their lives. Once we’ve finished we need to get out there again, because no man (or woman) is an island. We need to polish, to hone and to share. This is where the writers group comes in. This can be a group of like minded people meeting in a pub and discussing each others’ work, but it can also be a group of people meeting in cyberspace, like the Dragon’s Rocketship, of whom I am proud to be a member. The best of these groups help each other out, the worst bitch and criticise because some egos believe they are writing profound literary fiction. Me, I just like telling a story. If your audience doesn’t understand it, you not they are missing the point.

However precious your babies are, you have to eventually let them fly the nest, otherwise why bother to make them in the first place? A story is for sharing, not just for keeping in a drawer. Like real children they’re a representation of you and don’t you want the best for them? This means making sure that what you release on the world is the best it possibly can be. This means getting your work checked over and edited, fixing the problems and presenting it in its best possible clothing. Most of all, you need to know when to say it’s ready and let it go. Then all you have to do is sit back and worry about all the marketing you need to organise to get it noticed. Oh, and hopefully you might eventually get paid something for all those late and sleepless nights!

Bio:

Rose has been putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard all her adult life. She lives near Bath, UK with her ‘rocket scientist’ husband and a house full of books and quirky stuff. She considers herself to be a recorder of moments in time and is a keen photographer as well as a writer. The picture for the covers of her books were taken by her. She has a Masters in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and a love of all things mythological, paranormal, really ancient and really futuristic. She loves to travel, both in body and mind. She doesn’t really mind where, so long as it’s interesting and there’s something to learn.

Amazon links: Shades http://tinyurl.com/qylkmgu

House of Lilith http://tinyurl.com/lamo3vp

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rose-Jones/e/B00ENITHNQ

 

 

[Vampire Month] Rose Jones interview

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Our next victim is Rose Jones, author of the Shades series among other things. Rose is currently the fourth and therefore last victim our vampiric interviewer has lined up this year, though there were rumblings of a fifth person who had caught our attention… whether our interviewer manages to catch that person before the end of the month remains to be seen… if not we can leave them hanging in the pantry for next year.

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  • What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

 

I still have notebooks from my Primary School days where I wrote stories about time travel at about age seven. My first published piece was a poem in a school magazine when I was eleven, about rainbows and thunderstorms.

  • When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

 

I’ve spent too much time keeping my writing to myself. I think at some point to have to publish somewhere, just to stop tweaking and re-tweaking a project. Like a painter, if you spend too much time messing with the composition you can ruin it. Besides, I like to share. Story telling is all about sharing isn’t it? Making some money out of it would be nice too, but that’s not why I write.

  • What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

 

As a teenager around 13, I wrote two scripts for my then favourite TV show (Randall & Hopkirk Deceased) – I thought I could do as well, if not better than one particular scriptwriter on the show. I think that ever since then my main strength has been in dialogue. I hate writing long exposition and tedious descriptions and I prefer not to dump long words that make you reach for the dictionary! I like to keep things simple and put in just enough to let the reader form their own world from my words.

I think my greatest weakness is dwelling on criticisms and procrastinating too much. Writing is a very personal thing; well it is for me; but I have learned to harden myself to at least constructive criticism. We need to understand how others see our work and it’s an important part of the writer’s journey. We can’t grow unless we learn and we can’t learn unless we can accept criticism. Procrastination is something I’m still working on!

  • Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

 

I live in a small town between Bristol and Bath in the UK. I haven’t really used my home environment as inspiration, but I have used past experiences and places where I have been on holiday. Sometimes I pick a location just because I want to get some spatial awareness of it for a project – such as Prague for my current project, White Thorn. I’m looking forward to seeing if it got it right in Savannah, for my Shades plotline. As a geographer and a historian I think it’s important to maintain spatial continuity and research your material well enough to avoid the major faux pas. Quite often I find that researching a place or a time gives me ideas to advance the story I’m working on. It’s one of the good reasons to side track and procrastinate!

  • Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

 

51cc7ly30ol-_sx331_bo1204203200_Difficult question as there isn’t just one. As a child I absorbed the Greek myths and Arabian Nights and the various fairy stories. I also loved the Trigan Empire strips, which probably spurred on my interest in Science Fiction – along with Thunderbirds and Star Trek. My favourite book is probably Paul Gallico’s The Snow Goose and my favourite Science Fiction book is HG Wells’ The Invisible Man. When I write SF, it tends not to be hard science, but soft, psychological issues. I like using mythology and SF to play with ideas that plague us in the modern world. It gives you a different perspective.

  • What drove you to write about Vampires?

 

I’ve always been interested in mythology and the supernatural and I went through a phase in my youth where I read everything I could about ghosts and spirits. Liminal spaces and metaphysics fascinate me. Playing with ideas in fiction is a way to try and get a handle on these slippery issues.

As for vampires, I woke up one morning with a cracker of an idea involving a character who might be seen as one. I wrote it down real quick as the detail of dreams tend to vanish like a will o’the wisp and it’s still in my box of futures. It’ll be a cracker when I finally get round to it, but it still needs a lot more work.

I was never really interested in vampires in fiction though until the short-lived TV series Moonlight. I enjoyed the different take on the genre as I was never into horror and gratuitous bloodletting. This is still the case. In my opinion, there always has to be a reason for someone to behave the way they do. When the show was cancelled, I decided to try my hand at writing in the genre with a similar sympathetic vein (!) and in the process of research, got stuck in to all the vampire fiction out there to see where mine might fit and to try and provide something different. I read the good, the bad and the atrocious, the classical and the modern, but in the absence of much ‘factual’ evidence, I found out how writers had manipulated the mythology for their own purposes. I have now followed suit and done the same myself.

  • What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

 

It’s the lure of immortality and how we might cope with it. It’s how we deal with otherness and the scope of time. In some areas, like the JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood, and its knock offs, it’s definitely the sex. For me it’s how you cope with desire and how you learn to fit in with a world that is different from you. The genre appeals to young adults because for teenagers, it’s a time of change in their lives, of feeling alienated, of having feelings and emotions they might have difficulty controlling or expressing. They also feel as if they’re immortal.

I personally like the vampire novels that have a historical flashback element. You can see the past through their eyes, as well as their present. A previous favourite show/film was Highlander, which did this really well. The immortals in that are similar to vampires, but they’re not bloodsuckers. Another current favourite is the Outlander series (books and TV – no vampires, but the person out of time trope and the history hopping is similar)

  • In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

 

In the literary realm, I still don’t think you can beat Dracula, but Marcus in Ann Rice’s books, rates up there, as does Yarbro’s Count St Germain. I also like Matthew in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, Henry in Blood Ties and the Charlaine Harris books (but not the TV series). TV it has to be Mick St John and Eric Northman (So sue me, I made an exception to the True Blood, but then he was my favourite in the books too).

  • What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

 

Are we talking vampires or me here? As Mick St John said in Moonlight ‘perpetual coolness is the vampires’ curse’. I just dress for comfort, but try to be quirky where I can. Sexiness – that’s none of your business! As for sexy vampires, it’s Mick and Eric for me.

  • How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?

 

They’d definitely kick ass whoever they were up against. After all, some of them have managed to survive for thousands of years. My male protagonist is a newbie, but he’s learning and being taught by the best. He has a conscience, but that’s not going to stop him surviving and protecting the people he loves.

  • Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel. 51linlhvlal-_sx258_bo1204203200_

 

White Thorn is the third novel in the Shades series, the first two being Shades and House of Lilith. The first two books interweave the story of the main protagonist and his associates with the story of the characters they play on the TV show they are making. This means that you get two completely different novels between one set of covers, linked by the actors. This gave me an opportunity to write two different versions of the vampire genre. Flashbacks with a difference! In the third book, my protagonist is still acting, but the Shades TV series is over, so the storyline is concentrated just on the problems he has to face in real life. I am hoping to eventually write the story of the film he is making, but it will be a standalone Noir novella.

At the beginning of this third novel, my protagonist, Alex Keating, is still coming to terms with the fallout from events in House of Lilith, as well as with his new life as a vampire. The story picks up from the end of the last book which ended with him and his ancient vampire wife, Lilith going to visit the others of her kind. He then comes back to a new filming project and has to get back to pretending he’s a normal human. He and his assistant, Annabel, go off to Prague to film a cold war drama.

Alex hopes that his life will settle down after the excitement of his first year as a vampire, but it seems trouble can be found in Eastern Europe, not least from his mortal co star, who seems determined to get him in her bed. The filming does not run smoothly and he is running out of blood supplies, due to delays on the production and a rogue vampire who seems to have an agenda of his own. This results in Alex being staked by a vampire-killing priest and rescued by another of his kind who is known for writing historical fiction. Together they hunt for a vampire serial killer who is murdering women in the city. Alex finds that real life seems determined to overshadow his acting yet again. The denouement of the story happens with a fight to the death on a rain soaked night on the roof of St Vitus Cathedral. There are flashbacks in this novel, but this time they give the reader the back story of the serial killer.

 

Bio:

Rose has been putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard all her adult life. She lives near Bath, UK with her ‘rocket scientist’ husband and a house full of books and quirky stuff. She considers herself to be a recorder of moments in time and is a keen photographer as well as a writer. The picture for the covers of her books were taken by her. She has a Masters in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and a love of all things mythological, paranormal, really ancient and really futuristic. She loves to travel, both in body and mind. She doesn’t really mind where, so long as it’s interesting and there’s something to learn.

Listen to two of Rose’s short stories as performed by actors from Word in Your Ear  in Bath at these links:

http://www.awordinyourear.org.uk/storyfridayarchive/story-fridays-harvest/

http://www.awordinyourear.org.uk/storyfridayarchive/black-sheep-2/

 

[EasterCon] Panel discussion

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 Taking a brief break from Vampire Month while I talk to you about what I am doing over EasterCon…

The programme for the weekend is now live and can be seen and downloaded here:

https://www.mancunicon.org.uk/whats-on/programme/

On there you will see the following:cuv8kshxiaakb4a

True Love and Trophies (Panel) 19:00 (1 hour) in Room 6

Ruth Frances Long (m), Jacey Bedford, D.A. Lascelles, Justina Robson and Kate Soley Barton

The link between SF&F and Romance. Romance may be the ultimate crossover genre, found in everything from horror to hard SF, urban fantasy to space opera. But it can be a two-edged sword — nothing makes the audience happier than True Love Winning Against All Odds, but few things can make a reader wince as much as the Shoehorned In Love Story, The Girl As Reward, or the Completely Inappropriate Time To Declare One’s Feelings. Join our panel for a discussion about what SF and fantasy can learn from the romance genre, how speculative narratives are changed by the female gaze, and how to craft a believable love story in the most extraordinary settings.

So, yes… this is where you can definitely find me over the weekend, in room 6 at 7pm talking about romance. With some pretty awesome folks by the looks of it. The rest of the weekend I will be in and out, checking out other panels and generally meeting people. It is looking like it might be a  very interesting weekend.

If you are already a member of the conference then make sure you pop along to see me in my panel (and please take photos!¬ No one ever seems to get photos of me on panels and stuff).. If you are not a member of the conference already then you may be out of luck as the places are now all filled. Though you may get lucky…

If you see me around the conference make sure you say hi. I may be carrying a stock of Tea Society and Lurker badges…

I also plan to do a blog post of the weekend here, with my own photos. So check back here to see what I did and where I went and who I talked to…

Now, we can return to our scheduled programming… with our next Vampire Month victim lined up ready for Tuesday…

 

 

 

 

[Vampire Month] Mixing fact with fiction: with The Beatles, Religious Cults and is the truth out there? by Martin Tracey

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ringo65When John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared in the films A Hard Day’s Night and Help! they basically played themselves – the four cheeky lads from Liverpool – quick witted, dressed in collarless suits performing the best music of the day (and beyond actually) crafted by their own fair hands. But of course the plots that entwined the Beatles in those movies were fictitious: Paul’s fictional grandad in the form of Wilfred Brambell accompanying the boys on the train journey in A Hard Day’s Night and Ringo’s ring being sought after by an exotic cult in Help! Because they maintained their characters in fiction as in real life it opened up a door for their fans to somehow get an authentic insight of their idols, and no matter how absurd the storyline may be, it became a believable journey for the viewer (except perhaps the pursuit of Ringo’s ring!).

103_0397The first time I personally took note of a firm intention to mix fact with fiction in the literary world was through Dan Brown’s novels featuring the fictional character Professor Robert Langdon, a Harvard University professor of religious iconology and symbology. Brown’s novels Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol introduces us to mind opening themes such as a bloodline of Jesus Christ, secret societies, the Masons, Opus Dei, the Illuminati and the Knights Templar. Some of these exist or existed. Fact. But as one reads Brown’s undoubted page turners it is often difficult to fathom exactly which is fiction and which is fact. And there you have it – suddenly the story is believable no matter how extreme the journey may take us. The reader can connect on an emotional level yet still be wildly entertained.

I write novels in the hope that they too are page turners. I like to stretch the boundaries ofmind guerilla-revised reality and I weave in facts with fiction to assist with that journey remaining believable. In Beneath the Floodlights I introduce the concept of vampires merging with a football team. Pretty random huh? One injection of fact I use in that particular novel is setting much of the book in Sutton Park, 2000 acres including ancient woodlands. Sutton Park is the seventh largest urban park in Europe and it is soaked in history. By the 10th century Sutton Park was established as a Royal Forest by the Anglo Saxon kings of Mercia and by the early 12th century, the Normans used it as a deer park. The land was then given to the people of Sutton Coldfield by King Henry VIII in 1528 and it had been used by that very same king for hunting. A bonafide roman road also cuts through a section of the park. So by using these facts, straight away I had a solid foundation to create a gripping tale.

In my latest book Mind Guerrilla, I perhaps put a toe in Brown’s water by introducing the perfectly legitimate Institute of Noetic Science, but also the ‘secret’ activities of mind control programmes, groomed assassins and murders of famous people. Much already speculated in the public domain, often coupled with compelling evidence – yet often unproven in a court of law – dismissed as far-fetched conspiracy theories. Or, perhaps there really does exist a hidden force or hierarchy that are simply untouchable controlling such matters. Do societies and protocols really exist that never see the light of day for the unassuming Joe Public? There’s a lot of thought provoking stuff out there, take a look via google and You Tube, but I’ll let you be the judge. But again what a great basis for my story. My hero Detective suffers from a very real illness in Multiple Sclerosis yet he can perform acts of mind over matter – again not something we come across everyday yet acts of telekinesis are documented as long ago as 1890 by Russian psychical researcher Alexander N. Aksakof. My serial killer, ‘The Crucifier’, is likened to a number of well-known serial killers. Charles Manson and his Family is likened to my Religious Cult, the Adonijah Truthsters, and Manson’s fictional offspring in the form of two evil twins continue his vision of interpreting Beatles songs as a green light to perform acts of evil.

So when mixing facts with fiction it provides a conundrum for the reader. The crossover of the two worlds doesn’t altogether provide clarity of what is fiction and what is truth, which means that the page turning and engaging story could… just could…happen.

And when an author can connect with the reader his/her work is done.

Both Beneath the Floodlights and Mind Guerrilla can be found at my Amazon author page:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Martin-Tracey/e/B009ANTBWG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1456774555&sr=8-1

Martin’s Blog: https://martintracey.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @MartinTracey1

Email: martinpaperbackwriter@yahoo.co.uk

www.martintracey.co.uk

 

[Vampire Month] Martin Tracey interview

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The third victim for Vampire month this year is Martin Tracey, author of Beneath the Floodlights, a book combining Vampires with Football (that’s Soccer for our American readers). Here he answers the questions and Wednesday he entertains us with a blog post.

1) What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

As a young schoolboy I won 2 back to back national story writing competitions, one was about the dangers of playing on building sites and the other was keeping safe when crossing the road. The latter saw me creating a magic ice cream van which appeared like a superhero offering safety advice, so from an early age I was destined to write about supernatural elements.103_0397
2) When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

My debut novel Beneath the Floodlights was released in 2011 and it was vampire themed. Building on my answer to question 1, my writing creativity evolved into song writing and becoming a pop star was more on my agenda than becoming an author. I had some musical success via supporting the Fine Young Cannibals & securing my song Raging Bull on the album Old Gold Anthems – The Songs of Wolves, but then as ‘stardom’ seemed to be passing me by as I reached the ripe old age of 30 plus, I remembered the story writing success of my younger years and that famous cliché ‘everyone has a book inside them’. However, I haven’t stopped at one book because I simply love the novel writing process.

3) What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

My greatest strengths are: working within a framework rather than a rigid plan which enables me to explore many twists and turns and subplots in order to keep the reader engaged; writing in a style that comes over as honest and therefore believable even when writing about the paranormal – I have a knack of telling great stories as opposed to being a literary genius like the ‘classic’ writers of yesteryear. My weakness is definitely trying to devote enough time to my craft. Other writers are far more prolific with their output than I am, and I find juggling life with writing extremely challenging. I am trying to discipline myself to find more time.

41grui6y21l-_sx311_bo1204203200_4) Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

I live in Birmingham and Birmingham and the surrounding areas feature heavily in my books. In Beneath the Floodlights I use Sutton Park as the training base for the footballers and I have the world’s first vampire buried there. Sutton Park is centuries old and soaked in history. It is amazing to think that this piece of unspoilt land is in Birmingham, but such historical points to note are King Henry VIII using the land to hunt deer and a Roman road still exists within the park. Both references are utilised in Beneath the Floodlights.

5) Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

That’s a tough one. Not the book itself but more the concept around the book and its character has inspired me which is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Sorry to be a bit obvious there but if writing about vampires its influence can’t be ignored, much like the influence of The Beatles can’t be ignored in the music world. A vampire book that I also found inspiring is The Travelling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon. In terms of inspiring authors, I like Peter James as he manages to weave supernatural elements into very believable and entertaining stories, Martina Cole for her straight-talking style and Dan Brown for leading the way for mixing fact with fiction. All of these authors can be seen as inspiring my work.
6) What drove you to write about Vampires?

Since an early age I’ve always been fascinated by werewolves, ghosts and of course vampires. My original idea for Beneath the Floodlights was to use werewolves but then I felt that vampires had more scope with the plot and the two films of The Lost Boys and From Dusk till Dawn were a huge inspiration

7) What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

That’s a great question and perhaps a very subjective debate could be had. However, for 000_0003 (2)me I think it opens up temptation in the mind. ‘Lust’ and even ‘Love’ seem to always be connected to the ‘sexy’ vampires and the reader falls into that world of, ‘well I shouldn’t but I probably would!’ There is a magnetic quality about vampires -they have the X Factor.

8) In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

Count Dracula. Bram Stoker’s creation set it all in motion so respect is due.

9) What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

I think Anne Rice created something a bit different with her vampires so her vampires win in that department for me. After all Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt played her vampires in Interview with The Vampire. Le Stat is a cool creation. Enough said!

10) How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?

Professor Cezar Prodanescu would give the Count a run for his money. Cezar is from the bloodline of original master vampires. He is wise, cruel, manipulative, magnetic and good at what he does – killing for blood and recruiting for his vampire nest.

11) Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.

I’m giving vampires a rest for now. The project I’m currently working on is a haunted house novel. A failing rock star buys a haunted house in the Peak District. Mind you I may yet weave a vampire into the mix!

Biography:

Martin Tracey is an author who likes to push the boundaries of reality. Weaving fact with fiction he likes to explore elements of the supernatural but aims to keep his novels relatable, ensuring that he is able to connect with the reader in a gripping fashion. Martin has had several interviews to showcase his work on BBC radio and attended several book signing events. A short story, Divine Inspiration was published in Words magazine. Martin’s first novel Beneath The Floodlights remarkably brought together the worlds of vampires and soccer. Martin Tracey lives in Birmingham and is married with 2 daughters.

Website:

www.martintracey.co.uk

Blog:

https://martintracey.wordpress.com/

twitter:

https://twitter.com/martintracey1

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Martin-Tracey-Author-162311767171904/

Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Martin-Tracey/e/B009ANTBWG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1456595773&sr=1-1

Beneath the Floodlights on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/BENEATH-THE-FLOODLIGHTS-MARTIN-TRACEY-ebook/dp/B005FQK84M/ref=pd_sim_sbs_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=413Swz0eCuL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR100%2C160_&refRID=03AJDW4AZYEPXYMXEEHR

 

 

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