Showing posts from 2012

My favourite short stories (2)

The Shadow-Cage by Philippa Pearce Philippa Pearce was a children's writer from Cambridgeshire, and she is most famous for her children's novel Tom's Midnight Garden .   'The Shadow-Cage' is a supernatural story about witchcraft and I particularly like the rural setting for the story. It obviously has a Cambridgeshire setting, which is similar to the area where I myself grew up in South Lincolnshire. Ned Challis is a farmer, who finds an ancient glass bottle with a stopper when he is ploughing a field. He allows his daughter Lisa to keep the bottle, before remembering only later that he found it near the site of an old witch's house that burnt down. His daughter Lisa takes it to school, where her cousin Kevin wants the bottle and takes it from her. After a day at school, he forgets it and leaves it in the school playground. In the middle of the night Kevin remembers it, and decides to go and fetch it at the stroke of midnight...only to fall into th

Thoughts on reading (George R R Martin)

Like his hordes of fans, I'm absorbed in George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series of epic fantasy novels (many people may be more aware of the TV dramatisation Game of Thrones , the title of which is taken from the first book in the series) I have just finished reading Dance of Dragons and like many I will be waiting patiently for the final two novels in the series, Winds of Winter and Dream of Spring . There are a lot of people commenting on these books and publishing their thoughts; I thought I would share some of mine. The Song of Ice and Fire  is epic dark fantasy, with obvious inspiration from varied sources such as Shakespearean tragedy; the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's historical fiction, most notably The White Company ; J.R.R Tolkien's work and Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels; not to mention Martin's contemporaries such as Raymond E.Feist and Anne McCaffrey. The pseudo-medieval setting and culture i

Thoughts on reading (Bram Stoker)

Bram Stoker is most famous as the author of Dracula , the Victorian novel which took the vampire myth and centred it within the modern popular consciousness through the medium of literature and cinema. It's a classic obviously- I also own and have read The Jewel of Seven Stars , which is an excellent, spine-tingling supernatural tale by Stoker based around Egyptian mythology. I decided to download and read two lesser known works by Bram Stoker, The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm . I discovered that they were lesser known for a good reason. The Lady of the Shroud is written in the same epistolary form as Dracula , advancing the narrative from different point-of-view perspectives, but this structure doesn't quite work for this novel. The mystery of 'The Lady' herself is solved halfway through the novel, and what had begun as an eerie Gothic tale becomes a predictable and cliched 'Boys Own' Victorian adventure, dipping into piracy and

Writing Update

Apologies for my blog posts and journal entries being so infrequent of late. Over the past year or so I've been exceptionally busy with the process of writing fiction rather than updating social media. I've completed a host of new short stories over the past twelve months. Hopefully all of them will be appearing in some kind of published format in the near future, and beyond into the New Year. I might make a new collection available on Amazon at some point, which is provisionally titled Echoes and Exiles .   I'm holding back on making these stories available for the moment while I wait for publishing outcomes. I've also finished an entire draft of my second full length novel, Staccato House . Regular readers of my blog, and Twitter/Facebook followers, will know that I originally submitted this work in the form of a novella to Contact Publishing's thriller-writing novella competition, and it was shortlisted in the final ten.   The 40,000 words that I wrote then

A Primer on 'Steampunk' Literature/Litro Magazine

Check out my article on steampunk fiction, published in Litro Magazine. The three books I recommended are a mix, the 'Difference Engine' is heavy-going but seminal; 'The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters' is a lurid, dark rollercoaster adventure and 'Retromancer' by Robert Rankin is a light hearted dip into the genre:   A Primer on Steampunk Literature by Steven Mace     (Illustration copyright James Davis)   Litro is an excellent publication with many other intriguing and enlightening articles about world literature. If you have any interest in fiction and writing then it’s worth having a look at.   Litro Magazine      

Priya Sharma- speculative fiction writer

I'd like to draw attention to the very impressive work of an author whose excellent writing I have recently come across. Priya Sharma is a speculative fiction writer, and she's already been recognised with many of her short stories published in esteemed genre publications such as Dark Tales, On Spec, Black Static, Alt Hist and Interzone magazines. Check out her website here: Priya Sharma-Bio You can read several of her amazing short stories online here: Priya Sharma- Read Online

My favourite short stories (1)

I thought that I would start a series of articles discussing my favourite short stories, as the technique of short fiction writing is something that I have been exploring for the past two or three years. The first short story that I would like to draw attention to is "Sredni Vashtar" by the Edwardian British writer Saki -the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro (1870-1916)   "Sredni Vashtar" by Saki (H.H Munro) This story is about a young boy, Conradin, who is the unhappy ward of his older female cousin, Mrs De Ropp. Conradin's immersion in a secret world, focusing on the pet animals of which he knows his guardian would disapprove, draws attention to the conflict between the almost pagan-like religion which Conradin invents and values for its sense of escapism, and the conservative values and conventional views of Mrs De Ropp. I find this story wonderful to read for its psychological insight into the mind and imagination of a child, and particul

The Aspiring Author Online

Another reminder of my 'other' homes on the worldwide web, particularly as I don't always get a chance to update my blog as frequently as my other websites. If you're here and reading this, then obviously you already know about this one. Here, then, are the others which it'd be great if you could find time to look at: This is my Facebook page, please feel free to check it out and 'like' if you are a Facebook member! I try to update this regularly and post news and offers relating to my books. Here is my Amazon Author Page, which offers Kindle versions of my books. These you can then download to your device. (for the United States version, just add .com into the URL instead of!/MaceBookspace I'm on Twitter, which I do update quite frequently as I also tend to post links to interesting articles, websites and

Ushna Sardar

Ushna Sardar is a poet, novelist and script writer from Karachi, Pakistan. Please check out Ushna's wonderfully illustrated poetry books, available at Lulu. They are hidden treasures:

The Author's Craft: Plot Devices

There are numerous plot devices which authors of fiction employ which are known by specific terms, some more light-hearted than others. Here is a discussion of a small selection of these tropes: the Sampo, the Big Dumb Object, the MacGuffin, Alien Space Bats, Chekhov's Gun, the Red Herring, and Deus Ex Machina. The first of these is the Sampo . The Sampo is a term derived from Finnish mythology, specifically the tale 'Sampo the Magic Mill'. To digress, the tale is about two brothers. Vainamoinen is a musician, and Ilmarinen is a blacksmith. They attempt to court the same woman, Aino- the daughter of the powerful and apparently fiendishly evil Queen Louhi of Pohjala. The two brothers are set magical tasks to win Aino's hand in marriage while the Queen attempts to thwart their plans (because she is evil, obviously).   Ilmarinen eventually wins Aino's hand in marriage by discovering the magical three words of a giant, a magical formula which allows him to crea

The King of Towering Spires (children's story)

There was once an artist named Umberto Collins. His mother had named him after her favourite actor, a handsome Italian star of the silver screen named Umberto Gazzini. Gazzini had acted in many of his mother's favourite movies. Although the artist's name was Umberto, his mother and father had the plain and ordinary names of Edna and Terry Collins. When little Umberto was teased at school for his strange, foreign-sounding first name, he told the other kids to just call him plain old Bert. So it was that at school, his mates always called him Bert or Bertie. However, when he grew older, the artist decided that he wanted to be called Umberto again, as he thought it made him sound exotic, glamorous and much more sophisticated. He had decided to become an artist at a very young age, as he realised that he had a talent for drawing. He created pictures with pencil, charcoals and ink, and then later he started to paint with watercolours and oils. He created portraits an