Plugging my book

Hi all, just a little update for any US Residents out there. My book is on Amazon and I’m doing a little giveaway!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/768adbf8c530c5b1

Two books are up for grabs, and it’s a 1 in 100 chance for you to win, give it a try!

For those outside the US, you may be able to get it shipped to you through a US Proxy-Address company in your country (e.g. for New Zealanders that would be YouShop) although I’m not 100% sure on that.

Giveaway will be expired after September 21,2016 11:59 PM PDT

Thoughts On: Writing a Novel

jul7phn8dibwytkhstc0

Hello strangers. It’s been a while, again… Anyways, I supposed you might think life had whisked me away to such a place as I might never have been able to come to this blog, the truth is that I’ve been the same since my last post, and had plenty of time to write blogs, but I didn’t feel the need to. You see, the reason is because I’ve not done much beyond: university work, games, and a lot of reading. Along with these, I’ve also done some writing.

Writing a book to be exact. You might notice (if you frequent my blog, which I’m certain no one actually does) that the ‘My Creative Writing’ page has disappeared. That’s because I deleted it. I did this because it contained only four entries: one was an old high-school story called The Bus Stop at the End of Millennium, which I’m not happy with, and the other three were drafts of what now constitute chapters in my book. By the time this blog post is published, my novel should be published as well. The name of this novel is: All Besides I.

bookcover1

(Forgive the low quality and artifacting, I had to optimize this for the web)

 

 

It’s a strange story, and there’s not really a genre I can place it in. Others who might come to read it might consider All Besides I a piece of Science-fiction or Fantasy. It’s a view I can see and won’t object to anyone using, but for me it’s a product of spiritual reflection. In the story, you will read the memoir of a being as he ventures the continent of another world; interacting, assimilating, fighting and breathing among its populace. There’s a pivotal aspect in the character that occurs within this chronicle, and I don’t wish to spoil it here so I won’t detail it, but it’s what I believe subverts an expectation  in most ‘discovery narratives’ of the protagonist appearing as an enlightened form on the ‘discovered’. Beyond this, in a greater sense, All Besides I acts as a form of introduction to the narrator of what will become The Tomes & The Reflections, my planned collective of independent narratives told by this same being. The idea of this is to offer a change from the standard in many Fantasy/Sci-fi narratives being but one installment in a grand series of 10+ books. All Besides I is not ‘Book 1 of the Uber Galactic Star Warrior Saga’, it is its own story, as will be any of the other books in The Tomes & The Reflections, you will be able to read each at any point – all independent of each other barring the bare reference or nod.

In regards to  size, it’s a fairly small book, totaling roughly 47k words. Wow! you might be wondering, that’s tiny! Maybe, but I didn’t want to stretch out the story longer than what was needed. I’ve written this much before. As I’ve mentioned somewhere in a previous blog, I’d written a 50k word draft in 2012 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and it was shit. That story is still collecting dust in a vault on Google Drive, which I will one day come to cut down to the short story it is deserving of. With All Besides I however, I was very careful to craft the story as was appropriate to the development of the character in it. Everything that is written is there because it serves a purpose (yes, even the fantasy-esque name-dropping of Houses, Kingdoms and names). It took me a period of roughly three years to write the book, which  – considering the size – is very slow, but I don’t regret the pace, as it allowed me to work at my own pleasure on it. Since publishing this, my ability to write has quickened and improved, and already I have plans for three more books to write: one will be an addition to The Tomes & The Reflections; one will be a compilation of short stories; and the other will be a totally independent book which I am fairly confident will be labelled as Fantasy.

I suppose the main question to ask at the end of it all is: was it worth it?

My answer is: definitely. There’s a great pleasure in being able to transmit your innermost feelings to the written word, and to compile all of them together into a narrative that is (what I hope to be) both enjoyable for the reader and reflective of the maelstrom of experiences, reflections and feelings that constitute my own being. Writing, and creative writing especially, is one of the only ways I’ve found that can clearly present my thoughts. If any of you have talked to me personally, you might find the way I talk isn’t as ‘eloquent’ as  the way I write.

One last thing I’d like to do is share some advice, to anyone reading this, that wants to start their own journey into the novel writing world.

When you’re coming up with the conception of your novel, think first why you want to write it: what will this novel give to the reader, from you as a writer – what are you passing onto them? This doesn’t have to belong the high-school textbook definition, i.e. you don’t need to a have minimum of 3 themes to express. You’re sharing what is a part of you. In the purest of its form, this could merely be an expression of aesthetic, or emotion, that one might find in poetry. It’s not even something you have to explain, it’s just something to guide your writing, otherwise, you may find that your story about the Vampire Princess conquering the Squid People and making love to the dashing Raven Prince might in itself be a pointless exercise of pure pulp or – dare I say it – fantasy. He he, look at me, not even published my first book and I’m already acting the guru. Ignore me if you like, I’m just excited. To those who are in the midst of writing their book, good luck. I can’t help you, but I can cheer you on!

This post was written on the 9th of September, 2016

P.S.
Here are some links you can currently buy the book from:
Amazon
Amazon (eBook)
CreateSpace

Lastly, it’s also on Goodreads, if you happen to use that site. Please, feel free to rate it if you’ve read it!

Thoughts On: Graphic Novels

Long time no see! It seems a bit awkward of me to post after abandoning this little blog to be left in the dark for so long (Wow! I just checked, 8th of December was my last post). But here I am, with some free time again, so I may as well jump back in.

Graphic_Novels_Dan_Cartoon

During my period of Summer work in the holidays, I took an even keener interest in hoarding as much books as possible – partly because I was working at a book shop, but also because I thought it might be worth expanding my personal library and knowledge of fictions to help me out in my University courses. So I’d been buying all manner of books. Mostly it was science fiction and fantasy because I have a soft spot for that stuff when it’s done right. But before Christmas was due to come around I hinted towards family – who were desperate to find a present for me for Christmas – about some specifics I wanted. I ended up looking for graphic novels, because over my years I’ve been getting more interested in the visual aspects of other mediums, like that of film or video games.

So far I’ve read the following of what you could consider graphic novels (I’ll use this as a blanket term because I knew there’s the other nuances for them, like comics or mangas):

  • Fables by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina – An urban fantasy series covering the conflicted lives of the legendary folk figures of myth, as they struggle to settle in the run down inner suburbs of New York City. I’ve read up to Volume Six: Homelands of this series, and while I enjoyed the first four volumes, I felt things were going slightly downhill in regards to its quality. I also became dismayed to find it’s an ongoing series that currently has around twenty or so volumes with no plans to stop. I think this was the first time I came to find I didn’t enjoy reading such huge issues, and prefer a tighter and more compact narrative over a sprawling epic focused on retaining a fan base. However the setting is interesting, and I always enjoyed the character of Bigby Wolf. I recommend Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us video game prequel, if you’re interested in Fables but not sure you want to dive into the comics.
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins – A superhero mystery set in the 1980s, at the height of a Cold War ready to escalate due to tensions between the US and the USSR. The main plot revolves around the death of The Comedian, a member of the superhero group called the Watchmen. I loved this work, mainly because I’d always found the superhero formula seen in comics a bit boring, and – forgive me for sounding like a psuedo-intellectual eighteen year old – despite these people being in awful complex situations, the usual answer of shoot first and ask questions later approach always felt like wasted potential. With Watchmen you see quite a mature approach not otherwise seen in other superhero settings. It shows the dynamics of relationships between most of the story’s characters, how their powers, their duties and their pasts reflect in what they do and how they behave. They conflict in ideologies, beliefs and attitudes. Even the conflict of the plot leaves you feeling almost unfulfilled, as both the reader and the characters acknowledge the gravity of the situations that unfold in the plot. I seriously can not recommend this enough for anyone interested in trying out Graphic Novels as a medium, even if you don’t like superhero comics like me, it’s well worth a read. I would like to mention I’ve also read V for Vendetta and From Hell, both of which are masterpieces that I feel deserve their own posts, so I’ll leave them out of this for now, but if you get the chance, read them.
  • Lady Snowblood by Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura – Set in four parts,  it’s a revenge story focused on the main character Oyuki, “Born to be a child of hell, walking a path of vengeance for crimes committed against the family she never met.” I quite enjoyed this series, although it surprised me how graphic it was. In between stylishly framed backdrops and skillfully drawn martial art scenes, a lot of the book was very sexually charged: constant renditions of girls down on their luck having to prostitute themselves, girls kidnapped by local gangsters being forced into Brothel work, Yuki herself either avoiding rape from every male adversary she meets or seducing vulnerable girls for her own pleasure. As beautiful as she is, the story makes sure to remind you she isn’t some angelic hero of virtue, she does horrific and even despicable acts within the story. Probably the most disturbing being that she forces a servant to rape his Master’s daughter, before killing them both in order to pin the blame on him. While acts like this were quite heavy handed, the book somehow manages to retain a sense of humour in some parts. At first I felt a bit confused because of all the jumping tones – from tragic to comic, yet after the first book I’d come into the swing of things. Altogether it was a well paced, stylish and consistent story with an appropriately melancholy ending. I hope to read more of Kazuo Koike’s work, possibly the classic Lone Wolf and Cub, or a newer title like Colour of Rage.
  • Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks – The story of an entertainment journalist who travels to New Zealand, to the town of Hicksville, to discover the origin story of Dick Burger – a figure dominating the comics industry of the book. While the novel details the journalist Leonard Batts, a lot of the story is from the people of Hicksville itself, I liked this book because it felt quite elusive around most of the branching and interconnecting story lines. The novel has tons of allusions, references and odes to many famous and respected pieces and comic artists, writers and editors. The thing with Hicksville is that I will probably need to come back to it at some point in the future, to appreciate further the references established in the story and the styles. The most interesting aspect of Hicksville is that it’s both a love letter, and a critique of the comics industry – of the amazing talents and creativity that always crops up, and of the business side of things tending to milk such creativity, or leashing it to whatever keeps to more sensible practice. I’d say it’s definitely worth reading even if you’re not an avid comics or graphic novel reader.

So, these are some of the starting materials I’ve had, and I have to say I’m enjoying what I’m reading. I’ve even got a list of titles that I’m keen to dive into at some point:

Whenever I have the free time, I will hopefully find copies of these to read. Graphic Novels are a new medium for me, but I find I enjoy them quite a lot.

Feel free to share and recommendations in the comments!

 

 

Thoughts On: The Man in the High Castle

the-man-in-the-high-castle

Since I’m easing into the method of sporadic posts, that are usually unrelated, I thought I’d jump away from the bigger pictures to focus on some more specific thoughts I’ve been having as of recent. I suppose the first thing that came to mind was this book: The Man in the High Castle, by Phillip K. Dick. For those of you who are a fan of science fiction you’ve most probably heard of him. But for those who haven’t, Dick is one of the most renowned sci-fi authors from the twentieth century. Most – if not all – of his books have had a huge influence on succeeding authors in the genre, as well as figures within other aspects of the artistic medium, such as television and music.

Now the reason I focused more on this particular book more than Dick himself is because I actually haven’t read most of his work, and to make a thought on him as a whole based on the few books from him that I’ve read, seems a tad misguided. But from his work I found The Man in the High Castle resonated the most with me.

The thing that I think interested me in this title was its premise of alternate history. Before this book I had always personally been interested in history and – even more – the concept of alternate historical scenarios. It started off young with computer strategy games: like Creative Assembly’s Total War series, or Bohemia Interactive’s Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis. Apart from them being enjoyable, the premise of history being changed because of the events you partook in through the game really sparked some interesting concepts. Later on I would go on to discover some of the books from Harry Turtledove, specifically Opening Atlantis  and Ruled Britannia, which further developed on the concepts of changed history and how it would affect the lives and narrative of this different world.

However, once I had read The Man in the High Castle, I discovered something profound about the book. And that was Dick’s ability to make his strange world seem so alien, yet at the same time as real as one could get it. This book went beyond the concept of what if? It put you within the mundane lives of its citizens, it put you in a personal circle of characters that you could care about – even though deep down you knew you’re weren’t supposed to sympathise. There’s this immense shifting in tone that occurs both physically and meta-physically within the book, that leaves you torn and lost; the entire premise, the climax of the concept – this alternate universe – it doesn’t actually matter. You read along with multiple narratives from characters of varied backgrounds, and it’s their perspective that is made to feel important, despite the fact that you as the reader are focusing on the ghastly yet infinitely intriguing concept of an Axis ruled world. I feel like the book portrays a message of infinite possibility without meaning, and to accept the placement of one’s self within that structure; this may be the reason for the book heavily featuring the I Ching, a Chinese text on cosmological philosophy that one uses in conjunction with a hexagram to randomly produce a guiding path. The idea of an alternate history in which an unspeakable enemy were the victors, could be the reason it’s used with this concept, as it provides an exemplary setting in which we must come to understand that which we normally wouldn’t. And I think that is a deeply profound way of thinking, and a masterful way of executing this thinking on the author’s part.

So, if you find the time to spare and you’re looking for a more intellectually stimulating novel to burn through, I highly suggest this book. Despite my most probable incoherent rambling, the actual book is relatively easy to read: the prose is simple and the size of the book is relatively short. It’s the overall idea rather than any numerous themes that lend to a powerful concept, and that idea is what makes The Man in the High Castle one of my personal all-time favourite novels.