Thursday, 2 December 2010

Tolkien and Lewis

Literary anecdote:


There is a pub in Summertown,Oxford called The Eagle and Child (the bird and baby as it's known locally)where a number of writers used to meet and discuss their work as part of a group called the Inklings.


It is said that JRR Tolkien started reading more of his book "Lord of the Rings" to the club,at which CS Lewis said "Not more fucking elves"

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Ushna Sardar- "The Apple's Dark Curves"

My friend Ushna Sardar has just published her latest poetry collection. It is entitled "The Apple's Dark Curves". I highly recommend it. The artwork and poetry are excellent. You can find it here:

Ushna Sardar- "The Apple's Dark Curves"

Monday, 18 October 2010

My books are on sale now!

A reminder that my books are available to buy from here
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SteveMace

The Pirate Princess can be bought for £5.58
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-pirate-princess/12785982?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_71973097_
This an exciting, graphic adventure story for adults and teenagers.

Beyond Twilight can be bought for £7.99
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/beyond-twilight/12307524?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_71973097_
Fourteen short stories of horror, science fiction, fantasy and suspense.

Copper Moon Rising can be bought for £8.02
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/copper-moon-rising/12293913?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_71973097_
A fantasy epic of violence, sorcery, and intrigue

Although paperbacks, all the books are of excellent quality and not too heavy reading so perfect for reading on the train and on holiday!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Vampire fiction- an excerpt/flash fiction

In the Dead of Night

The house was perfectly silent. Nothing stirred. The girl slept peacefully on the bed. Her only movement was the flutter of her eyelids as she dreamed. The covers of the bed slowly rose a centimetre or two and then fell, as she breathed. The white drapes at the window blew gently into the room with the night breeze, like pale spectral ghosts.

At that moment a shadow passed across the interior of the room, momentarily obstructing the white glimmer of the full moon.

The girl moaned softly in her sleep. Her drowsing face creased into a frown, before becoming impassive again. It was as if her subconscious momentarily detected a threat, before it was hidden again.

Scarlet eyes burned like lamps in the face of the dark intruder, as he silently flowed like a spreading pool of black ink into the bedroom. He was like a black storm cloud until his form slowly materialised and became more substantial. As he flowed toward her and looked upon the face of the sleeping girl, his wide predatory jaws began to twist into an unholy grin, revealing his sharp, gleaming white teeth. He licked his ruby-red lips with anticipatory relish.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Photography

My sister is a budding amateur photographer, she has taken some very nice pictures which can be seen here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dee_dee_marie/

Friday, 24 September 2010

The trouble with modern vampire fiction

It's time to lay my cards upon the table. I blame Anne Rice. It was she who inspired a lesser band of pale imitators, all of whom ignored the subtleties of her work and went straight for reproducing the angst-ridden supernatural melodrama. Due to Ms Rice, vampiric southern gothic is back with a vengeance. And all because Brad and Tom simpered with their handsome, pale faces in 'Interview with the Vampire' and Buffy kicked vampiric ass while falling in love with a 'nice' vampire called Angel.

One of the best examples of the modern form of the genre is 'True Blood'. I started watching this series with high expectations. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. 'True Blood' tries too hard. It's too self-consciously cool. It's more about sex, religion and the American South than it is about the vampire genre. The vampiric trope simply acts as a symbol for themes about relationships, alienation, family, persecution and evil. In the right setting this can work but 'True Blood' dwelled too much on the fates of Bill and Sookie, who I didn't even find particularly interesting characters. I also found it too much of a soap opera with supernatural elements, a bit like Twin Peaks with the surreality drained from it or a cross between Knots Landing and Buffy. A big disappointment. Not frightening, not disturbing, not suspenseful and not even atmospheric or interesting. How did it win an Emmy?

I've already mentioned my dissatisfaction with the likes of Twilight (Harry Potter with fangs) on this blog and also the Vampire Diaries. It all appears to be the legacy of Anne Rice/Buffy and I'd like it to stop now please! Let's get back to the portrayal of the vampire being saturnine, dark, powerful, ambitious, morally ambiguous and ultimately tragic. I have been inspired to pick up my pen, and I will write my own vampire novel.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

My second novel is published

I have an announcement to make- I have published my second novel 'The Pirate Princess'.

It is available here to buy
The Pirate Princess

It is a rip-roaring adventure story. When their kingdom is invaded by imperial soldiers, Princess Ayesha and her brother escape to the sea to begin a new life upon the ocean waves. However, when they discover a secret treasure and are kidnapped by smugglers, they get more than they bargained for...particularly as pirates sail the high seas!

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Dark Tower

My attention was drawn to this recently:

Stephen King- Dark Tower: film and tv adaptation

I was stunned to read that TV and film producers are considering filming Stephen King's Dark Tower series in its entirety, by making 3 films and screening the rest as a tv series.

I thoroughly enjoyed the books, although the Dark Tower is a very bloated, ambitious epic tale. Also, unlike many, I thought that King's ending was appropriate although after wading through seven novels I can understand people who felt that it was an anti-climax.

However, I cannot even begin to imagine how they will film it, and how they will separate the different books into 3 films and a TV series and make it work. It's hard to even imagine people who are fans of King and these particular books managing to sustain their interest when the story is so splintered in this way.


Beyond Twilight- my short story collection

I recently published a short story collection, comprising 14 original stories and entitled 'Beyond Twilight'. At the end of the book, I wrote an Afterword detailing how I came to be inspired to write many of the stories. I reproduce it here for those that are interested:

Death Head

I wanted to write an opening story for this collection that was a bit tongue-in-cheek from my point of view but I also created a sense of atmosphere for the stories that would follow. This is the companion piece for the ‘Verity Jamieson’ story’. I just thought of the concept for the story after reading about rock musicians like Marilyn Manson and Norwegian death metal bands that were into Satanism and alternative cultures. I did online research about bands I liked when I was an undergraduate and postgraduate student. I like rock music, but I don’t like Marilyn Manson or death metal.

Epiphany

The idea for Epiphany came from a dream that I had. The dream was simply that of a man and a woman in a car, speeding across a desert and being pursued by unknown forces. From that simple concept, the rest of the story wrote itself. There’s obviously influence from post-apocalypse stories and films, like Mad Max, The Postman, and others.

Garden of Illusion

Like Epiphany, the story came from a dream I had, of a woman alone in an apartment block, while a menagerie of animals was active in the gardens below. The virtual reality concept and the stalking assassin idea wrote themselves after that initial thought.

Hell Hath No Fury

I had an idea about a man who wakes up alone, trapped in a room, with no idea of who he is or how he got there. I didn’t really know where to go with it or what would happen afterward, for a while. Then one day, I sat down and wrote the story pretty much in its entirety. I probably took a lot of bad action movies and an Avengers plot as my general inspiration for this one- which is always good policy, I think!

Red

I took up a writing challenge for updating a classic fairytale in a modern or futuristic setting. ‘Red’ was the result, and it was the quickest to be written of all these stories, in about two days. Yep, it’s ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’


Requiem

This is the oldest story in the collection. I originally started it around 2001. It’s been rewritten several times before you see it in the form it is here. I just wanted to write a classic supernatural short story, and this one is heavily influenced by the likes of James Herbert. Stephen King, James Herbert and Clive Barker were my favourite writers as a teenager. I also wanted to write a story based around a witch and witchcraft theme, and as you have seen, it isn’t the first time I’ve used this typical horror staple.

The Birthday Box

As I mentioned in the Foreword, I absolutely hate spiders. If they were big enough, they would devour the human race and take over the world.

The Book of Witchcraft

They always say ‘write about what you know’. Some might read this and believe there are autobiographical elements to this story. I couldn’t possibly say. It is a story about self-realisation, and wishful thinking, from the author’s point of view. From the reader’s point of view, it is an updated Faust. Again, I returned to the themes of Satanism, demonology and witchcraft.

The Fenland Witches

This is another story heavily influenced by personal experience and also a story involving witches. The inspiration for this probably comes from my grandmother…thanks Nan.

The Legacy of Steeple Hill

I have always been very interested in the history of the paranormal, and the study of it. My knowledge of people like Aleister Crowley and the paranormal investigator Harry Price were the main inspirations for this story, as well as the descriptions of what happened at Borley Rectory, the ‘most haunted house in Britain’ during the early part of the twentieth century. I also wanted to write a classic Victorian/Edwardian-era ghost story with Victorian characters. Along with ‘Requiem’ and, in a sense, ‘City by the Sea’, it’s one of three ‘haunted house’-style horror stories in this collection.

Under Foreign Skies

The opening paragraphs to this story were written in 2002. We were shown a black and white photograph of an old lady pushing a pram outside a decaying shop in a desolate city. This was in a PGCE teacher training session, and the tutor asked us to respond to it by writing a work of fiction. What followed was probably the most enjoyable half hour I ever spent while doing teaching training. I wrote the opening paragraphs but wasn’t sure where to go with it afterward, so it stalled there. In 2008, I came across the opening written on note paper while sorting my things out. I thought that it would make a good opening for a new short story, and so the paranoid spy plot that followed, essentially wrote itself.

Veronica and the Men

Originally called ‘Veronica’s Shadow’, this one is a curiosity. For the author, it is an experiment. Originally, it was going to be a typical paranoid horror story with a woman being stalked by a madman but after a while I found the plot predictable, unsavoury and boring. ‘Garden of Illusion’ is another version of that story anyway. I worked on this one a little and it mutated into something else entirely. It now serves as a piece of comic satire, and forms a little bit of light relief amid the dark stories in this collection. Rather than ending with something horrible happening, it ends with someone getting a date! I have played around with some deeper meanings and some observations upon life and our society. It’s heavily influenced by Will Self, after I discovered his fiction and was thoroughly entertained by it. The title is a twist on the title of the film ‘Dr T and the Women’. Actually, that film and this story have something in common.

The story-within-the-story that Richard Gadman-Hoyte has written and shows Veronica is actually a piece of juvenilia that I wrote when I was eighteen, a comic short story called ‘The Question.’ So in fact, that’s the oldest piece of writing here, rather than ‘Requiem’ (it was written in 1997). That story was kicking around, and I didn’t know what to do with it. In the end, it became part of ‘Veronica and the Men’, simply because I thought it suited the tone of that story.

City by the Sea

The idea for this story came from a dream (or nightmare) I had, about a strange ancient city built upon a faraway coastline. The idea of evil lurking deep within came a little bit afterward. This one has a little bit of Lovecraftian atmosphere about it, I think. I believe that it’s one of the most sinister stories in this collection. I think there’s also a little bit of inspiration from Eric Von Daniken’s theories.

The Last Days of Verity Jamieson

They say that you should write about what you know, and I have never been to Tennessee. So, I broke that rule. Nevertheless, this is my own piece of Southern Gothic. I once remembered reading articles about the FBI investigating devil worship and the sacrifice of cattle in the American Deep South, and these influenced my concept for the story. It is the companion story to ‘Death Head’ and it is appropriate that both bookend the collection.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

My first two books are published

I've published my first two books with Lulu: a fantasy novel entitled 'Copper Moon Rising' and my collection of short stories, 'Beyond Twilight'

'Beyond Twilight' is a collection of stories in the horror, science fiction, fantasy and suspense genres.

'Copper Moon Rising' is the story of three boys: a runaway orphan of royal blood, a sorcerer’s apprentice and a young fisherman in a primitive world. Their lives are endangered by a fragile political situation within their society, and the ambitions of alien masters revered as ‘gods’. When their world’s rulers begin to fight for power and influence in the kingdoms, it leads to tragedy and civil war.

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SteveMace

Friday, 30 July 2010

Writing Challenge Success

The flash fiction piece 'Fox-Curse' which I have posted here, won a writing challenge in the 'Imaginative Skulls' group on the Red Bubble online artists community! It's the first time my creative work has won any kind of award and I'm really flattered and delighted that I won :-)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Hair's Breadth (a nuance)

I am here, in the confines of my well-made suit. I follow the others: all dressed the same, wearing the same uniform that is our second skin. We arrive at the appointed time, we meet at the appointed time, we leave when we are ready. I watch the clock and its hands ever-ticking, I wait like an animal about to pounce on its prey. Now it is time to go.


I pass through the crowds like a ghost. We meet in a collision of souls. Our eyes are blinded by the artificial light, and our lungs are poisoned by the toxic air.

My environment is a superficial reality. The auspicious glass fronts of the buildings gleam like mirrors, but I cannot see beyond. You try to hold me, but ours is a chemical attraction. Why do we repel each other? Now others meet us on their path toward the light.

Fox-Curse (a nuance)

I am sipping the drink. A bitter taste… one last cup of sorrow. I sit before the woman of flame. I see an oval face floating in front of me, surrounded by a halo of hair. Hair that is as red as dry autumn leaves. Her green eyes stare accusingly at me, those terrible eyes that burn with witch-fire. Vengeance will be hers. My sight is blurred and I descend into darkness before I know what is happening.


I awake. I open my eyes, and yet I see nothing. I open my mouth, and I gasp for air. I take a long sharp, drawn-out breath. Instinctively, I push out my hands, and hit something solid. A barrier, that is above me and around me. I am constrained. I try to move my feet, but I cannot. I am pressed into a tight, unyielding space of darkness.

I am trapped. With the comprehension of my state comes demonic panic. I scream for help, but I am running out of oxygen. It does not help. Already I am breathing in sharp, shallow gulps. I desperately thump the solid matter above and scratch until my fingers are raw.

I am lost.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Inspiration in Dreams

The other day I had that wonderful experience that I keep a notebook on my bedside cabinet before - a vivid dream that was remembered immediately upon waking. I awakened with a feeling of jangling nerves and anxiety, a legacy from my slumbers. I reached for my notepad, and scribbled the events and figures of the dream down- eager to record the details before they vanished in a cloud of morning smoke.

I was blessed with a clear narrative and vision of what could be a new short story or novel. It is a moment that all writers hope for, a dream of a dream.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Copper Moon Rising - an update

I am still in the process of chipping away at the uneven edifice which is 'Copper Moon Rising'. After the initial full draft, which was completed in early 2009, I decided upon a complete rewrite and redrafting of the novel (after I'd had a break).

The novel is in three parts, and I finished the first part in March this year. After April was interrupted by illness, I've made some progress with Part Two, which is an extension of the middle part of the novel and is essentially a first draft. I still need to complete the rewrite and redrafting of Part Three too.

If I'm optimistic, hopefully I can finish it in June/July but I suspect I may have to wait until September- wish me luck, anyhow!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tropic of Cancer

I saw two very interesting television programmes recently. The first was 'Tropic of Cancer', a travelogue presented by Simon Reeve. He followed the imaginary geographic line of the Tropic of Cancer around the world, visiting various countries and meeting the people there. He started in Mexico and went from there to the Bahamas, before crossing to the African continent and visiting the Sahara and travelling from there to Libya. He then proceeded to travel through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Taiwan before finishing in Hawaii.

There were so many issues arising from the programme- social problems, poverty, ecological and environmental problems. Most shocking was the moment when, at the end of the programme, Reeve visited a beach in Hawaii which was utterly polluted with litter and rubbish that had been washed up from the Pacific. Most of the litter was plastic, as plastic does not degrade but simply breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces. Instead of sand, the beach was 'made' of plastic. Even underneath the top level surface of plastic, there was more plastic beneath in the sand.

Here is a link to the 'Tropic of Cancer' programmes, I highly recommend: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00n8vtk  (may only work in the UK)

The second interesting programme I saw was 'Teenage Millionaires'. The programme introduced us to various rich teenagers around the world who had inherited their parents' wealth- a daddy's girl in Ohio, a Sheikh's teenage son in Saudi Arabia, an oligarch's daughter in Moscow and a hotel heiress in Bangkok, Thailand. All four of the teenagers were respectful, modest and well spoken in front of the cameras. What was evident was how much pressure there was on them from the parents- to continue the legacy, to be successful, to be an extension of their parents' success too. The oligarch in Moscow had created a fashion business with his daughter as the figurehead. The sheikh monitored his son's spending, to make sure he didn't waste money. The rich businessman in Ohio referred to his daughter as 'a fun project'. He had hired an Olympic athlete to train her in the gym, and a television actor to train her as an actress.

The curious thing was that I didn't feel envious of the rich kids. Ultimately, I felt sorry for them, which was remarkable.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Publication update

I've sent a synopsis and three chapters of 'Copper Moon Rising' to the Darley Anderson Literary Agency- fingers crossed!

I'm also sending some of my short stories to 'Black Static' and 'Interzone' magazines- hope to have positive feedback soon...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Submissions

So it goes like this...

"We do not accept e-mail submissions"

"We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or work from new writers. We currently have a backlog of huge swathes of material, so we probably aren't going to be free for...oh, a few years"

Please submit your work on golden parchment and handwritten with a quill in 1.5 font, and in the blood of a phoenix...

Beyond Twilight complete

My collection of short stories, 'Beyond Twilight' is now finished and I'm investigating the possibility of publication. It comprises thirteen short stories of horror, fantasy, science fiction and even satire.

I'm also now working on the final draft for 'Copper Moon Rising'.

Good news at last!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Period of silence on my part was not appreciated

There has been a silence for almost three weeks, this has been due to the unfortunate occurrence of illness! I had almost forgotten what it was like to be ill, until the beginning of this month. It is probably the most ill I have been since childhood. I developed tonsilitis, complicated by the fact that I did not initially realise that was what it was. I thought it was a spring flu that I would shake off naturally. When my voice went and swallowing was like feeling razor blades at the back of my throat, I realised that I would have to go to the doctor.

The initial medication was not powerful enough, and I still had dehabilitating symptoms. Finally, on Monday I was referred to hospital and put on a cocktail of drugs which would hopefully do the trick. Now I am in the midst of this super-course, and felt well enough to return to work.

This has thrown a spanner in the works in terms of the Copper Moon rewrite and finishing off some short stories, but hopefully I will be able to get back on track over the coming weeks.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Thirteen

http://www.altontowers.com/thirteen/

Thanks Alton Towers!

Time for a title change methinks...

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Skin of My Teeth

My friend Ushna has published two books of her poetry, 'The Skin of my Teeth' and 'Dog's Breakfast'. Her work can be bought here:

http://www.lulu.com/product/lulustudio-photo-book/my-poetry-book/6457875?productTrackingContext=content_view_more_by_author

She's an exceptionally talented poet, script writer and artist, well worth a read!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Creative update

I'm aware this is my first post for almost three weeks, apologies to my limited number of followers! I have been working on several projects since December, and I have finally reached the first stage of fruition.

I've completed first drafts of 13 short stories, and they will make up a collection entitled, appropriately enough 'Thirteen'. In a future blog post I will list the titles, to keep you all tantalised.

Aside from those stories which have made the initial list for the collection, I was also working on three other stories. 'Rosebud', 'Beyond Twilight' and 'Moonlight Bay'. They won't be in. I started work on all three but I dropped them for different reasons. 'Rosebud' and 'Moonlight Bay' I think can be novels. I started writing and I realised that the stories can be extended in length and the story is better if its fully developed in this way. I've added them to my bank of novel concepts. 'Beyond Twilight' was an old plot idea that I started working with, but I realised that the story was weak and I had writers block with it. So I have dropped it.

The plan is to now work on the final drafts and 'polish' of these 13 stories so they are ready for publishing. If I make enough hours free and all goes well, I think I can do this in the next 1-2 weeks.

After that, my plan is to continue rewriting and re-editing my first novel 'Copper Moon Rising'.

Wish me luck!