The Dreyfuss Trilogy

Changeling * Lucifer's Stepdaughter * Moonchild


Contact Morgan

Monday, 12 December 2011

How I Write - Names & Meanings

Having discussed the importance on naming my characters, earlier in this blog, I thought I'd share some research I've been doing this week.


It's been on Bedlam Maternity, which I'm now hoping to get finished in the next couple of months.  It's a horror based in a maternity unit in the East End of London.  Present day, although there is a connection back a few centuries.


I have five present day mothers-to-be to name.  As well as a main character.  All are involved in the mystery of deaths in the maternity unit.  All have special characteristics, that are important to the narrative unfolding.  All have a history - a specific age, and a specific class and family background. I could have stuck a pin in a phone book, but I'm not like that.  I love names, their meaning, and their power.  So, after some serious research, I offer you the following characters: all of whom could be found in the East End of London, on any street.


Rose Templar is our main protagonist.  Rose is a midwife, in her mid-fifties.  A Catholic woman who has lived and worked in the East End for over 30 years.  Part of her local parish community.  'Rose' as she is of an age where it was slightly old-fashioned when she was born, but fits entirely with her background.  Roses are strong, and fragrant, and can be wild and thorny, and not over cultured.  Our Rose is like that.  But there is a softness, in heart and complexion, and intent.  Templar.  This is our holy warrior, fighting for what is right and to keep the poor safe on their travels.  A lone warrior, dedicated in service to others, through religious belief as well as innate personality.  Rose is country old fashioned British, but I never make it clear which area of Britain.


Eliza Jennings -  Poor Eliza.  A name that evokes age old London, and street urchins.  A diminutive of 'Elizabth' which means 'God's Oath' or "God is my Oath'.  Jennings as we used to have a butcher named Mr Jennings, where I used to live.  A solid, working class British name. Eliza existed - see the later narrative.  But she was nameless.  I decided to give her a name, and hopes she forgives me my impertinence in fleshing her out as a person, with a name and background.


Shafiah Begum - my first dead mother.  (I didn't kill Eliza and her twins, someone else did.)  Shafiah means 'intercessor'.  And Shafiah is, indeed, an intercessor in the story.  Begum means an unmarried woman.


Mercy Nakalinzi - Mercy is from Uganda where many of the women are named for human emotions of care and concern.  Mercy does not receive much Mercy in her life.  The internet provides lovely lists of surnames that are popular and appropriate to different countries.  Therefore I chose 'Nakalinzi' as it is easy to read and in tune with her origins.


Omega - a lost soul.  Omega is 15, scrawny and homeless and desperate.  Omega is the name she chose for herself, for her street persona.  She thinks it means ''last" or 'the end', and she feels she was last in everything, so it is a good name.  But it actually means "great".  I'm aware of the irony, she isn't.  Her real name is Alice Smith, but no one ever finds that out.  Omega is so much more cool, honest!


Kaja Sobczak -  is a Polish immigrant, recently arrived.  Kaja mean 'pure', and Kaja is a pure and gentle maid.  Sobczak, her husband's name, means son of Sob.  It's a common Polish name and I chose it as it is identifiable and matches Kaja.


Cerys Roberts - is Welsh, as is her name.  Cerys means 'love' and 'Roberts' means 'bright fame'.  I wanted my final mother that Rose fights for, to shine with love.


There are several other females in the books (it is set in a maternity ward!) and it's quite hard naming a lot of women for their own time and geography.  One, Maggie Saro-Wiwa, is an incidental character who is Rose Templar's boss.  She is named after Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer who was executed by the Nigerian Government, for speaking out against human rights abuses undertaken to extract oil for Shell in his homeland. Maggie is Nigerian and fights for human rights.  The human rights of mothers and babies.  She has seen the worst atrocities of war, in refugee camps in Africa, before settling in the East End of London to help mother's birth.  I hope she is a small, but fitting tribute, to Ken.


We live in a world, where we still kill writers for speaking out, and I have never forgotten Ken Saro-Wiwa.  To this day, I'll let the car run out of petrol, before I'll buy from Shell... 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Drink For Me... First Vampire Feed...? Sample Sunday September 11th.

An excerpt that reveals the creative and self-editing processes this week: under the blue pencil.  Two earlier versions of a pivotal scene in the final book.  Neither made it through... the blue pencil scored through them.

The two excerpts below, are Very Old, and Quite Old.  Raw writing, no editing.  I did correct the spelling and grammar, but they have not seen the eyes of an editor.

Both concern the moment my erstwhile main protagonist, is offered human blood to finish her transformation to vampire.  Both contain a lot of ‘tell’ as opposed to ‘show’.  First draft.  But you may find the similarities, and the differences, between these earlier versions and the final version, interesting.  What happens, how it happens, is roughly the same.  Who she is offered, and how she reacts: different.  Most writers have scenes that disappear, or change substantially.  You might enjoy seeing the process...  

            It started as a dull ache in her jaw. Once, after she had had a wisdom tooth removed, she had developed a jaw infection. The pain was similar, like a throb that became so deep as to be painful. After a few hours, it spread round her whole mouth, the pain in her front teeth the worse, like the gums were being slashed with a razor. Another few hours and she was feverish, hot, sweaty and her spine ached. By the end of the second day, she was in a confusion of pain and fever. She had not slept. She could not eat. She could not drink. Water, when she sipped it, became like liquid glass in her throat, and she soon retched it up.

            The pain in her mouth faded, to be replaced by a dryness, a parched agony that took over all her other senses. All she was became thirst, hunger. She watched television avidly, watching as the phosphor dot images of people, walking, living, breathing people tormented her. She held her face next to the screen, and threw herself away from it in disgust. As the third day dawned, she found herself flinching from the sun as it rose. She knew this aversion was psychological, but as she watched the golden rays warm the garden, her heart shrank, and she ran from the light. Stronger even than the pain, was the need in her for him.

            When was he coming? Where was he? What was he doing?

            Each noise she heard around her, each rustle and sigh from the old house, from the garden, from the birds and animals around her.

            Was it him?  Was that the door?  Where was he?  How could he leave her, to suffer like this?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Revelations: pain, blood and a vampire? Sample Sunday September 4

This excerpt will be deleted out by the end of the week.  The first four chapters area available online, free, just follow the links.
Chapter One          Chapter Two        Chapter Three   Chapter Four.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Beauty and the Beast... Sample Sunday August 28th

There have been some excellent reviews of Changeling going up on Goodreads.  You might want to drop by and read them, before you read the following excerpt.  Mostly, because they do show that when I warn a reader of horrific, mind disturbing content.... I do not exaggerate, or give the warning as a tease.  Just a warning.

So be warned.  The following is strong stuff, and not for the faint-hearted.  As usual, this excerpt will be deleted out, during the week sometime.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Arden Coombe

Whilst we are discussing how things from the book look, one reader was wondering about Arden Coombe...

Almost Arden Coombe
Which is actually Poulton House, in Wiltshire.  No grass in the front of Arden Coombe, just the circular drive way.  At this angle, you cannot see the new extension to the back, of course.  Nor the garages, just off to the left hand of the picture.  Although Arden Coomb has no basement level visible at the front and the conservatory window/doors off from the back, not the side as in Poulton.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Dreyfuss In Your Mind

I have to thank Angela on Goodreads, for what I consider to an excellent review of Changeling.  But more than that, for her stating that she sees Gavin Rossdale as Dreyfuss.  She posts this picture here:


and I thought "Hmm.. yes, I could see that as Dreyfuss..."  Then I did a web search, and found...


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bedlam Maternity - Sample Sunday August 21st

This is a raw, first chapter, first draft and unedited.  When it's polished up for publication, I'll post the two side by side.  :-)


Chapter One

London 1754
            The rain had cleared some of the thick soot from the air of Seven Dials, but it had done nothing to reduce the stench from the streets.  The man scraped mud, rancid pig intestines and human shit off his boots, before slipping into the back door of the tavern.  He didn’t want to be seen, and not being seen often meant walking through the worst of the back alleys, ignoring the smell and the slime.  He was momentarily blinded by the thick layers of tobacco smoke that hung in the stagnant air.  It was of no matter, for his ears soon located his prey, the thick Scottish accents leading him to their table, tucked as far back as possible from any door way.  He seated himself without invite.
            The two men nodded greeting but the newcomer said nothing in return.  For a moment, silence fell between them.  The older Scot nudged the younger one, who rose and went to find service.  The silence remained until he returned and placed a pint pot of gin down on the rough wood of the bench that served as table.
            The newcomer lifted the pot up, and drank deeply, before saying ‘Thankin’ ye both kindly.’
            They both nodded their own reply, and waited out the other’s pleasure.  He drank half way down the pot, and then fumbled in his pockets, drawing out a pipe.  A few moments of searching revealed no tobacco.  Once again, the older man prompted the younger.
            ‘John, offer our friend here some o’yer baccy.’
            The younger man sighed, and fished out his leather pouch.  Faced with handing over the contents in a lump, or just handing over the pouch, he chose the latter, resigned to never seeing it again.  As he suspected, the man filled his pipe, tapped it, and pocketed the pouch.  John attended to taking a long draught of ale in order to cool his temper.
            The visitor filled the air up between them with thick streams of smoke.  It helped make them even more invisible, not that anyone else in the tavern was paying them the slightest attention.  You didn’t come in here if you required anyone to notice you.  The silence held until the newcomer leaned forward, encouraging the other two to lean in to attend to his words.
            ‘She be near her time, like I said.  Ahv spoked to the Mother, right, and she’s in agreement, for the right amount.’ He rubbed his fingers together for emphasis. ‘And she is happy to go somewhere special, since there’s two o’them.’
            The older man leaned in closer. ‘Yer sure, o’ the two?’
            ‘Aye.  No bother aboot it.  Ahv no seen her m’sel, mind, but the Mother says she’s seen twins afore, and it’s for sure.’  He sat back, content to have unloaded his information.
            The two Scots also sat back, in unison.  The younger attempting to swallow down a smug grin.  The older and more business hardened needed no effort to maintain his stone face, or the silence.  After several moments of drinking, and contemplating the streams of smoke, the elder spoke.
        

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Escape can be a game too... Sample Sunday - August 14

Not the Sample Sunday excerpts I'd been hoping to put up, but when your other half spends several days in emergency cardiac care, having keyhole surgery, it's often hard to get to the 'to do' list.  (Thank you for all the kind words and wishes).

Again, this will be deleted by the end of the week.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Sample Sunday - July 3rd

An except from Changeling.  As all the excerpts do, this will be deleted before the week's out.  Please note that there is a special offer to be able to buy a first print, numbered and Provenanced copy of the trade paperback, running now.  Details HERE.

Buy This EBook     Amazon UK      Amazon USA      Smashwords  
Chapter One          Chapter Two        Chapter Three   Chapter Four

A Slice of History

I have a very special offer, for 20 people.

20 people only.  20  19  18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


Only 02 copies left.

This week, the first batch of Changeling comes off the printing press.  One carton, 22 books.  The very first imprint/run of the trade paperback.

The book itself will not be available in the system - Amazon, bookshops, library orders - until the end of August 2011.  However the first batch will be with me, probably this Wednesday.


Would you like to own one of this batch?

Have it in your hand by Friday?

The very first copies.  Signed.  Numbered.  Provenance included.  Your name added to the master list to the provenance document for the proof copy, which I'm keeping?  For now, anyhow.  :-)

The provenance will include photos of the unopened box, with date stamp showing, etc.  It will make the book a collector's item.

Who knows?

Even if it doesn't turn out to be a huge investment in 20 years time, it does mean you get to hold the book, your own copy, in front of all but 19 other people on the face of the planet!

In fact, if you reply to this post first, saying yes and then pay first, you get Number 1.  1 of 20.

Here's how it will go.  The book will retail on Amazon for £12.99.  But not until August.  You can purchase one of the first 20, for £17.99, plus postage and packaging.  You get to decide how much postage you pay.

If you want next day delivery in the UK, it will be up to £9.50  If you want Germany or Europe, it will be up to £11.50.  USA and Canada etc, up to £19.50.  But all the postage and packaging rates start at approx £6.00.

I will, of course, sign a personal message on the book, or on a card, with only the signature and date on the book, as you wish.

You can have this in your hands, by Friday July 8th.  The first ever copy of Changeling.  Signed to you, with a provenance.

Interested?

Comments are sealed.  Reply here with your eddress, and I will send you an email, with my paypal account.  I will give them out in order of payment received.  The email will have all the postage details.  No one else can have the book until end of August.

First Come, First Served.

There are 22 books.  21 and 22 are going to reviewers, in the USA.  1-20, goes to the first people to respond, and pay.  :-)

Reply and give me your email address and what country you are in.  I will send you the postage details and payment instructions.  No one else will see your post.

GO!!!!!


Sunday, 12 June 2011

#SampleSunday - June 12th

Major Arcana XII:  The Hanged Man

Continuing the Back Work theme, this week is the first 25% of a short story I wrote in the mid 1980s.  It is the sort of stuff I wanted to write: fantasy.  Quite dark fantasy (It is me, after all!), but fantasy none the less.

It's not 'me', 'though.  It was who I was trying to be,  It was who I wanted to be.  In the absence of true connection, it is, in large part, story-less.  Sorta.  It is lyrical.  It is logical.  It does have a sequence of events.  If my hubby can get the rest typed up by next week, and we can find the last three pages, you may even see the end.  :-)  But it is what much of my early writing was: vignette.  Not complete.  A sketch.

I rewrote the original short short version, and added the title it has now, to signal it would be on story in a sequence of 22 short stories, for a Creative Writing element of my degree at the University of East Anglia.  The 22 short stories would range through the Major Arcana on the Tarot deck - from 0, The Fool, to 21, The World.  Each would illustrate the theme of the card, and in the entire sequence, would be the development of awareness through the journeys of life.  It's one of the things I keep remembering to think about finishing.  :-)

The Hanged Man, for those not in the Tarot know, is a card of isolation and self-sacrifice: from which comes mystical understanding and knowledge.  But a price must be paid.

I have resisted the urge to polish it up.  A great deal of effort required to do nothing, actually, especially in respect to the adverbs... *shudder*  I can only apologise for the first sentence.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

#SampleSunday - June 5th

The next few weeks on sample sunday, I'll be showing samples from old writing folders.  I explain it all out HERE.

This week, two poems: both from the 1980s.  Typewriter early decade, Co-respondent middle decade.

TYPEWRITER ages me.  :-)  I'm not sure if you can replace the rhythm of tiptap, with clickclack.  Because you are missing the essential sound break of a carriage return of the zip.  Only someone who has written on a manual typewriter, may understand what I'm whittling on about.  Or not.

The photo is of my actual typewriter.  Or the model.  My own one, was thrown out some years ago, something I regret.  I was getting rid of a lot of old clutter in my life, and it was important to throw stuff out.  The typewriter you see pictured, is the one thing I disposed of in an entire skip of stuff, that I should have kept.  I rue the day.  Both poems were typed on it.   Changeling was started on it: I still have the first typed sheet.

CO-RESPONDENT  It was quite surprising to me, to re-read this one, and find the image of the new mouth being carved open on skin.  My readers will recognise that imagery from the last few chapters of Changeling.  And there, I'd used it, all those years ago, and that chapter was written in the past 9 months or so.  All that time, the imagery had been there in my mind, awaiting release. Wow.


Back Work

#SampleSunday is an interesting thing.  For those of you who do not know what it is, it's a Twitter event, whereby writers who are working on their own a lot of the time, share snippets of their writing with other writers.    Readers too, and it is an excellent way to get word out about your writing.  I heard about it before I published Changeling, and used it to preview the opening chapters before launch.  I've also used it to show character studies and some such elements of How I Write.

But I don't have a huge folder of back work to use for fodder, for #SampleSunday.  I don't have massive amounts of written work hanging around!  And I'm writing the new stuff,and that can't go out every week.

However, I find #SampleSunday a useful discipline.  It concentrates me on my readers, once a week.  It makes me think of you, and wonder what snippet I can offer you?

And that's very useful.  And nice.  Thinking of readers reading my work, makes me happy.  Not quite as happy as actually writing does, but it's a nice side dish.

So, in the spirit of finding snippets, and odds and bobs, and knowing how popular my How I Write posts are... I have dug out the massive folders from the very back of the cupboard.  Typed.  Typed on a manual typewriter.  Filled with bits, bobs, half started, half finished, almost begun, never quite got there, bits of words.

Very little of it is horror.  Much of it is fantasy, with a little bit of science fiction.  Some of it is poetry.  There are three very fine short stories.  Complete.  Almost.  Looks like the odd page is missing in the folder.  Oops. Type written.  No back up disc.  We'll see.

I will offer this folder to you, over the next few weeks.  Some of it is dire.  Some of it is mediocre.  Some of it is okay.  A couple of bits are great.  There are hints of greatness, just every now and then, gleaming under the leaves.

Quite a lot of it is self-indulgent.  It's the stuff I wrote on my way to making myself a writer.  The raw ideas that were JUST WONDERFUL the night I had them, and total dross two weeks later when I read them back.  It was before I'd learned to sweat.  To toil.  To murder my innocents.  Before the voice of the editor became strong enough to force me to make the idea work better.  Before the word smith had learned to take out here, put in there.  Jump time frames, move about perspective, change the viewpoint.

They are also, mostly, before I found my voice.  I didn't want to be a horror writer.  Science Fiction is my great love.  Was my great love.  Will always be my great love.  Fantasy too.  Pure fantasy, less so, but Science Fantasy, Fantasy Lite, I have always adored.  I wanted to write the stuff I loved reading best.

But I can't write Science Fiction.  I'm bereft of a single idea that would come under science fiction.   If I try and write sf, I'm crap of such epic proportions, I knew it was crap the day I wrote it.

I was slightly better at fantasy.  Indeed, my fist published writing, on winning competitions, was fantasy.  They won as the writing itself was sound.  Unfortunately, the stories were generic.  In fact, when I won my first short story competition, and it was published in a fantasy gaming magazine wiht the runner up.  The editor of the magazine told me that the runner up story was a better story, but mine was better writing.  I'd won because I was a better word smith.

I was extremely annoyed by this at the time.  I WAS THE BEST WRITER THE WORLD HAD EVER SEEN.   Well, nearly.  I knew I still had stuff to learn, but really, if you didn't think you were good, you'd never keep going.

Double edged sword.

Now, looking back at the folders, I not only agree with the editor, I understand it in a profound way.  My fantasy writing was generic as it was not my voice.  It was what I wanted to write, not what was truly in me. I liked reading horror, don't get me wrong.  But I guess I wanted to live in a nicer world.  I wanted space ships and dragons and harpers and sidhe and magical islands and fairy stories that were soft around the edges.   But it was not to be.

My fairy stories have hard edges.  My fairy stories are the ones were blood and death are up front.  Where Snow White's stepmother was invited to the wedding and had red hot iron boots soldered to her feet and she danced in agony until she died in front of the wedding guests, for her wickedness.  My fairy stories are ones were the heroine suffers the beating with real blood and cuts, not a gentle tongue lashing as she clean out the cinders.

It wasn't until I went with my true voice, that I found my power.  And most of that power is in Changeling.  Not much else was written, apart from the Trilogy, for the past 15 years or so.

So there is not much back work to show you, that makes sense of who I am as a writer now.  But what is interesting, is that the kernel is there, in everything I wrote.  Sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden.  The themes and sub tests of isolation and pain and being changed... all there.  So I'm going to present it to you over the next few weeks, in #SampleSunday.

Even the really bad stuff.  :-)  After all, it's about the journey.  My journey as a writer.  Some of you will enjoy seeing the foot steps.

Just Remember!  I really did get better.  Much better.  Honest.  :-)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sample Sunday - May 22

Nothing from Bedlam Maternity this week folks, sorry.  :-)  Have a tiny excerpt from later on in Changeling instead.  It will be deleted mid-week.  Can't keep giving you new stuff - I'm too busy writing it!  :-)

DELETED

Buy This Book     Amazon UK      Amazon USA      Smashwords  
Chapter One          Chapter Two        Chapter Three   Chapter Four

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Goodreads

If you are on Goodreads, drop by the Changeling page and leave a rating, or a review.  :-)


Also, there is a poll for New Authors, and Changeling is currently at number 74.  You can vote!  :-)


Thanks!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bedlam Maternity - Sample Sunday May 15th

As last week, this is a first draft.  The first half of the chapter has had some work, the last third was written today, and finished just a few moments ago.  So as with last week, it will be interesting to see how this chapter looks in the published manuscript.

You probably won't get more, until launch.  Probably.

----

Chapter Two

Rose Templar walked the frosty streets in the dark before the dawn.  Later on that day, a minor royal personage would be officially opening the maternity unit now under her tender care.  Not that she was in charge of all of it, in fact, she was just one of the tiny cogs in a massive machine named the National Health Service.   She had been given the duty shift that would see her ensuring that no ‘bother’ interrupted the press call and she’d found herself awake, and fretting, a couple of hours before the alarm clock.  So she’d decided she may as well just get on with it, and get to work early.
She usually enjoyed the long walk to and from work.  When her wreck of a Victorian hospital had been demolished and the new spanking bright and very expensive one they’d all dreamed of for years had finally been started, she’d been faced with a choice.  She could have moved out of her old flat, its mortgage paid off in the divorce settlement, and bought something snazzier near the new unit.  However, no matter how much house prices had risen in her old area, the new unit was in a now quite expensive and trendy part of the East End.  Her salary gave her a reasonable standard of living with no mortgage to pay and moving would cut into to that.  Equally, she’d spend a lot of money on transport if she’d stayed where she was.  When trying to make the ends meet in her mind, she’d determined that two birds could be killed with one stone.  She’d started to spread out around her waist, hips and butt, in a most annoying and middle aged fashion; which was appropriate in her mid-50s, but she detested it.  Exercise was something she knew she should be doing, but when to find the time?  And the average day in the wards saw her standing and walking for hours, wasn’t that enough?  Observing her clothes tighten as her breath quickened on stairs, she decided it wasn’t.  Faced with financial problems no matter what route she took to the new unit, she’d decided to take to the streets and walk the 4 miles every day, there and back. 
Everyone had scoffed at the idea, and declared she’d be shelling out bus or Tube fare quickly.  And, as she’d struggled through the first two weeks, done thankfully when she was on leave, she’d thought they were right.  It was madness.  But Rose very rarely left off on anything that she’d set her mind to, and by the time the new unit had opened up enough for her to start work there, she could do the 4 miles in 45 minutes if she had to, and in an hour and 15 minutes on most days.  The walk home took longer, as it would, after a 12 hour shift.  She’d slowly dropped a dress size and found a lot of her clothes more comfortable to wear as a result.  She hadn’t faced winter yet, ‘tho, and had ordered a pair of ice grips well ahead of time.  The weather proof clothing she’d bought had been more than a match for London so far.  She’d always enjoyed walking in the rain anyway.
The walk had become her down time, a soothing space to settle herself into.  Time to relax into the day on the way there, and unwind from it on the way back.  It was particularly useful in coping with shift work and she’d wished she’d found this balm long before economics had pushed it on her.  But there was no peace to be found this morning: she was just winding herself up with all the thoughts that could go wrong.  Some of those thoughts were about what could go wrong with the opening ceremony, the security, the minor royal who was famed for rubbing the patients up the wrong way when chatting to them, and the general behaviour of her team.  Most of the worries were for her women ‘tho, which is how she thought of her patients.  Labour and birth had their own rhythms.  Unlike most areas of a hospital, it couldn’t be controlled, scheduled and made to conform to routine.  At least, not here, not yet.  She’d spent two months in New England, working on an exchange of medical knowledge programme, and had been horrified by how American business has taken over birth.  She’d certainly learned a lot when there, and used that knowledge to bolster her in fighting encroachment here.   Echoes of that worry were pinging through her thoughts.  The new Chief Executive of the Trust had a very presidential attitude to both the patients, and the staff.  Fresh from working on a team that had lost millions of pounds of tax payer’s money on the railway system, he’d taken over his new fiefdom with a massive grin for the cameras and an iron grip on resources.  He’d already made it clear he wanted no cries, screams, sweaty labouring women or bloody babies being spotted when the press were in the building.  Particularly the bloody baby.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Vote for Dreyfuss

This vampire blog is running a poll on your favourite vampire, past and present.

Go Vote For Dreyfuss!

Tell 'em how much you love to hate, Dreyfuss.  :-)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Bedlam Maternity - Sample Sunday May 8th

Hogarth Cruelty in Perfection
Well, isn't it interesting what happens, when you launch a major novel you've been working on for years?  You find more room in your mind.  This may seem obvious to some of you, it wasn't obvious to me.  But launching Changeling, and getting reader feedback (thank you everyone who has commented, either in Amazon or Goodreads reviews, or in email or on other forums) has been amazing.  I was prepared for a barrage of criticism, I wasn't prepared for just how positive the comments have been.  It's lovely to know my writing is touching others, in the way I hoped it would.  I am at the mercy of my readers and it's inspiring to see you all reach out and tell someone else about the book.  Keep it up!  :-)

Anyways... back to this chapter here.  Whilst I am working on Lucifer's Stepdaughter, the space from launching has allowed a new story to grow in my brain.  A short, sharp and savage little novel, I'm introducing you to here: Bedlam Maternity.

The following chapter notwithstanding, it's set in modern day London, in the East End.  It should be out in a few months if this rate of work continues.  As soon as I've saved up enough money to get it edited, and found a cover, really.  Something to attract a more mainstream horror audience to my work, as I work off and out, the rest of the trilogy.  I may, in fact, aim, to do two short novels in-between books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, we'll see.  :-)

The following is also something of a How I Write entry.  It is a first draft, with the ink still drying.  If you spot any typos, comment me.  I won't change them here, but I'll change them on the main manuscript.  At some point in the future, you'll be able to compare what's here, with the final product.  That should be interesting.  I'll let you have Chapter 2 in a couple of weeks.  It needs more work, and was written before this one.  This one was written in two days.  And I typed the last word about 15 minutes before posting this.

I won't say enjoy.  You won't.  But bet'ya you shiver.

----

Bedlam Maternity


Chapter One


London, 1754


      The rain had cleared some of the thick soot from the air of Seven Dials, but it had done nothing to reduce the stench from the streets.  The man scraped mud, rancid pig intestines and human shit off his boots, before slipping into the back door of the tavern.  He didn’t want to be seen, and not being seen often meant walking through the worst of the back alleys, ignoring the smell and the slime.  He was momentarily blinded by the thick layers of tobacco smoke that hung in the stagnant air.  It was of no matter, for his ears soon located his prey, the thick Scottish accents leading him to their table, tucked as far back as possible from any door way.  He seated himself without invite.
            The two men nodded greeting, but the newcomer said nothing in return.  For a moment, silence fell between them.  The older Scot nudged the younger one, who rose and went to find service.  The silence remained until he returned and placed a pint pot of gin down on the rough wood of the bench that served as table.
            The newcomer lifted the pot up, and drank deeply, before saying ‘Thankin’ ye both kindly.’
            They both nodded their own reply, and waited out the other’s pleasure.  He drank half way down the pot, and then fumbled in his pockets, drawing out a pipe.  A few moments of searching revealed no tobacco.  Once again, the older man prompted the younger.
            ‘John, offer our friend here some o’yer baccy.’
            The younger man sighed, and fished out his leather pouch.  Faced with handing over the contents in a lump, or just handing over the pouch, he chose the later, resigned to never seeing it again.  As he suspected, the man filled his pipe, tapped it, and pocketed the pouch.  John attended to taking a long draught of his ale, in order to cool his temper.
            The visitor filled the air up between them with thick streams of smoke.  It helped make them even more invisible, not that anyone else in the tavern was paying them the slightest attention.  You didn’t come in here, if you required anyone to notice you.  The silence held until the newcomer leaned forward, encouraging the other two to lean in to attend to his words.
            ‘She be near her time, like I said.  Ahv spoked to the Mother, right, and she’s in agreement, for the right amount.’ He rubbed his fingers together for emphasis. ‘And she is happy to go somewhere special, since there’s two o’them.’
            The older man leaned in closer. ‘Yer sure, o’ the two?’
            ‘Aye.  No bother aboot it.  Ahv no seen her m’sel, mind, but the Mother says she’s seen twins afore, and it’s for sure.’  He sat back, content to have unloaded his information.
            The two Scots also sat back, in unison.  The younger attempting to swallow down a smug grin.  The older and more business hardened needed no effort to maintain his stone face, or the silence.  After several moments of drinking, and contemplating the streams of smoke, the elder spoke.
            ‘Three.’
            ‘Six’
            The silence returned again.  The newcomer had slowed down his drinking, to make sure there was still some left to finish upon.  There would be no more free drinks, he was sure.
            ‘Four.’
            It was more than he’d expected, and it caught him on the hop.  ‘There’s the Mother, she’ll need her share.’
            ‘Four.  And we pay the carriage to and fro, and hire the man.’
            He was caught and he knew it.  He nodded, and drained his pot, then slammed it down.   ‘Right, four it is.’  He rose and shambled out of the tavern, the way he’d come, taking a second to adjust to the street’s light, before moving off to disappear in a growing fog.
            A fog that helped the two Scots mightily in their unseen and un-noted journey back to more affluent streets, the older man refusing to allow the younger to speak his excitement, whilst they were in public.

            Eliza Jennings shifted her bulk on the thin straw mattress, feeling the strain as she heaved her hips round to the other side, trying to gain some relief from the pain.  The straw did little but hold the dirt to the wooden boards she rested on.  Her thin bones were not grateful for the wood’s embrace.  No matter how she turned, no matter how many times she turned, all she gained was a few moments’ relief before the bones started up their ache once more.  This time, in response to her efforts, her swollen stomach started up a drum beat of protest.  

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Interview With Me

And another one.  Quite personal questions.  I talk about why I work with Mums & Babies, on Human Rights issues.

http://christopherbunn.com/?page_id=620

The connection Christopher is talking about, is very weird.  I had a Viking wedding, in the early '80s, that Magnus Magnusson was a guest at, as it was the very first Largs Viking Festival.  He worked for Magnus's daughter's husband, some years later.  Magnus lived in Glasgow and was the star guest of honour at the weekend event.

I was also whipped quite dramatically, on the beach, at one point, IIRC.  In a set piece of drama.  Funniest part of that, was that 'the women' were sent on to the battlefield, to collect the swords and valuables from the dead.  As I, in costume and character, bent down to pick up a sword from a fallen warrior, a loud stage whisper of "Touch that sword and you're dead meat." emanated from the dead body.  I left it, and pillaged on...

Although my favourite memory, is that off two off-duty fireman, from different Viking groups, claiming they knew the best, and safest, way to set fire to the boat for the flaming funeral bit (which I don't think they've ever allowed again).  Both of them arguing the other was dangerous, and they knew how best to safely douse a boat in petrol and set it alight on the beach whilst pointing out the other 'eejit' was a moron.  :-)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Radio Blog Interview

On launch day, I did this radio blog interview.  We did it on Skype, over two sessions, as internetz is unreliable at my end.

Enjoy.  :-)

http://unbridlededitor.com/interview-with-morgan-gallagher.html

Friday, 15 April 2011

Interview With Me

http://traceyalley.weebly.com/author-of-the-week.html

Tracey has a lovely site, that's very well laid out and gives a really good showcase to her work.  It's worth a good look round, especially if you have your own website and are looking for ideas on how well to do things.  I'll have to work up to something that good.  :-)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Lucifer's Stepdaughter & Moonchild - update

As Changeling is now live, and I can reveal more of the other two, these are the proposed new blurbs I'll be putting up.  Please feel free to comment on the language etc.  Lucifer's Stepdaughter is a very interwoven narrative, and I've tried to cut to the core, in order to give the right tone.  And blurb writing is such a new skill to me, I'm happy to have feedback and try to make it better.  :-)


Lucifer’s Stepdaughter


Cadiz, February 1991   Having spent months searching for Kin, Helene has found nothing and no one.  One afternoon she glances out of a cafe window and finds a young vampire gazing back at her.  Marron is everything Dreyfuss was not: weak, destitute, female.  They travel together until ghosts rise up and split them apart.  Helene carries on through Europe, using Marron’s introduction to meet others but it is clear that none trust Dreyfuss’s Changeling.  In Paris, Lucifer’s Stepdaughter welcomes her into the Vampire Caverns with open arms, but intrigue and artifice are everywhere.  Sensing danger Helene travels on, seeking out the Lord of the Rivers.  He supplies her with answers, but none are to her liking: she must make her own future, as do they all.  Despite everyone’s best attempts, the ghosts rise again, and once more she moves on, alone.  The call goes out, the vampire world put on alert: Dreyfuss is in Paris and he wants his Changeling back.  Under the rules of the Kin, she must return, but to what?  And why Paris?  

And who will help her resist, when to do so is to invite death?

Moonchild

Turin, July 1994  In the aftermath of the Moonchild ceremony, Helene is disappeared and the vampire world in flux.  No one knows quite what happened, and exactly what the cost was.   The dead have been buried and rumour and panic constantly sweep through the communities.  Everyone is confused and uneasy and the shadows whisper that she is gone and that nothing will stop the rise of the raging covens in the New World.  Paul Jordan holds Vincenze to him closely.  He has lost too many, too often, and he fears the darkness may finally swallow them all.   They live their lives in hope that she is alive, that all is not lost.  One summer’s evening, as they return to their parked car, they find a note.  They have only a few hours to get to Geneva to meet the one who wrote it.  They drive like the wind... 


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Interview With Me

Oh, thanks for that everyone, that was great fun!  Almost as much fun as launch day.  One wonders how we'll all develop using the online communities and spaces in order to connect over writing and writers.  I know Alan enjoyed it too and I do think it was a clever idea of his.  He just did it you know, without telling me, and I take that as a compliment.

His actual interview of me, is on his blog today.  Do check it out if you are interested in the process and techniques of writing. Very intelligent questions that caused me brain strain at points.  He gives a nice little round up review of Changeling at the end.

"This is a very smart, well-written novel. It delves deep into the psychology of both the abuser and the abused. It contains graphic scenes of physical, psychological and sexual abuse that will upset those made queasy by portrayals of torture. But as Morgan explains above, this isn't splatterpunk. It's purposeful. So if you can handle that, you won't find a much better vampire tale than Changeling. My tastes lean a bit more towards minimalism than maximalism, but here's the main thing: I think that fiction should both entertain and make you think. It's surprisingly difficult to find novels that do both.Changeling does."

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cheeky Sod!

Ya know, you can bring the cow to the barn, but it can't milk itself!  And I know how many of my lactation readership, are pissing themselves at that one!

A certain Cowboy Jim, by the name of Alan Ryker, has just called me out!  All because he was too darn macho, to work out that a milking cow is going to be in a might of a predicament, if they ain't milked!  (Yes, I hear you spluttering.)

You can't help some people, ya' know.  Instead  of taking it on the chin, he's declared war.  I can only wonder how my words will be mangled by him, tomorrow, when he posts an interview with me.

Needless to say, he didn't declare war until AFTER he had the copy.  Perfidious yank.  And he thinks I'm insulted that he's upset that I knew more about lactation than he did!  Oh, I can hear half of you choke on your coffee.

Well, as I said to Mister Ryker, on his blog, BRING IT ON.  As well as that comma, btw.




Midnight Cowboy Versus the BM Godmother

I know who's gonna win.... 

A Review... of my launch party!

Isn't this lovely.  Someone who came to online launch party, blogged about it.  :-)

It will only take a minute of your time.  But it's so nice...

http://elenaransley.net/2011/04/10/a-fab-example-of-a-self-publishing-book-launch/

Thank you for stopping by Ellie, and being so polite about posting your survey.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Launch Interviews & Somesuch Things

I'll add to this entry as we go on through the day.....  :-)

Kipp Poe interviews on the Art of Writing

Fangopedia Interviews on Changeling and Vampires Influences

Kathleen Valentine Parlez's Moi!

R.A. Evans asks me 7 Deadly Questions

Changeling Is Now Live

Buy The Book:   Amazon UK      Amazon USA      Smashwords  

Thank You For All Your Support


"The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. [...] There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the 'normal', the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally." 

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Chapter 4, Changeling

This is the final sample from Changeling.  The entire first four chapters are now here, for everyone to read.  They are also available to download as a PDF, free, in exchange for a tweet, here.

Chapter Four

Her back was once more against the door, her legs, aching and cramped, brought round in front of her.  How could she have let herself go all floppy, all silly and stupid, to lie down and cry, hoping she would die from the pain of it…?  How could she?  The anger burned in her mouth.  She was a stupid cow.  She was a complete fool and no matter what she was going to get out of this.  The voice approved, told her that was a good thought, she should hold on to it.  It wasn’t all she needed to hold on to.  Sitting up had released another sensation in her body.  Her bladder was bursting.  The dark was once more around her, her body once more wedged against the door, and the need to go was suddenly with her.  Strong, insistent, as if she had been ignoring it for some time.   Now what was she going to do?

His finger lightly stroked the switch, pulsing, sensing, judging.  Stand up little bird, stand up for Daddy...

The more she thought on it, the worse it became.  It soon blotted out all but the pain in her back, even her throat became less demanding than the pressure, the actual physical pain that was starting to build in her groin.  It was absurd to her, totally surreal, that of all things to concern her, pinned as she was on the side of that door, she was being driven wild by the need to pee.  Even the voice agreed that this was silly, stupid, ridiculous.  What could they do?  She and the voice thought it over.  They both came to the same conclusion, the only sensible conclusion there was: she should pee.  Let it out, get rid of the pain and concentrate on the door.  Sitting up there, in her brain, full frontal: an idea.   It wasn’t an appealing idea.  Sensible yes, appealing, no.  She changed her mind, arguing with the voice: it was a terrible idea?  The voice, she discovered, was somewhat of a fair weather friend: it didn’t answer her back.  It had gone away, gone in the now grinding pressure of holding herself in.  It was no good, she was going to have to move, sitting here on the hard floor wasn’t helping.  She was going to have to stand up, leave the door alone, and try and work out where she was.  She dimly realised that not wetting herself, crumpled on the floor, in the dark, was more important to her than holding onto the door.  She didn’t understand it, but there it was.  She took a deep breath and scrambled awkwardly to her feet.

Flick.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Burden Kansas, A Review


Burden Kansas, by Alan Ryker

Burden Kansas is a novella, not a novel.  For those who don’t know the difference, this is important.  Some would say the defining feature of a novella is the amount of words it contains – usually between 15 and 40 thousand words.  Which makes it a short novel or a long short story, if you reckon by word count.  However, the defining element in a novella is that it is a concise work, that is punchy and to the point.  It is a style of story writing that is both condensed and sleek.  Like quicklime.

Burden Kansas fits this description very well.  The story of a Kansas cattle rancher who is dealing with some heavy life burdens as his cattle are being mysteriously slaughtered by some wild animal that feeds and bleeds, yet appears to have opposable thumbs.  The vampiric nature of the predator is dealt with quickly and cleanly, but the narrative really opens up in the characters and back stories of the small town that’s being hunted.  Keith, the main protagonist, is a rancher who’s had a hard life, and has complications that are haunting him far more ruthlessly than what is feeding off the cattle.  His story, and the vampire story, run head into each other, and he has to battle one out against the other.  The vampires are revenants, happy to feed off cattle in the dark and hide under the soil when the sun is out.  Into this animalistic lifestyle, an accident creates a vampire with intelligence.  Keith’s life gets even more complicated.

It’s a bloody rip roaring tale that gallops past quickly.  An easy accessible read, with enough characterisation to keep it interesting and realistic, and enough intelligence to lift it out of the stereotypes.  The writing is as clean and smooth as the copy, and the storytelling cinematic in its structure.  This could be a film or a two-part television drama with ease.  For my tastes, it was slightly too clean, and I’ve have liked a little more detail, but that is entirely personal: there is nothing missing in terms of the structure or the style.  At just over 30 000 words, it sketches out a whole community and deals with the narrative effectively, entirely as a novella should.  I did like the transition elements of the vampire storyline, between animalistic and then onto intelligence, and the shorthand helps it all out here: you just go with the flow. 

My only beef is a tiny one, in that you can’t have a huge herd of dairy cattle going without milking, and not have the entire county know about it within hours.  For a narrative set in cow country, there were precious few cows.  And if that’s the only quibble you have, then you know you are in for a good read.  Highly recommended if you are looking for a light bite of horror, with a side dish of vampire.   Excellent value at 71 pence! I look forward to more from the author.

Buy This Book         Read Alan Ryker's Blog          Twitter            Facebook
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Monday, 4 April 2011

The Second Review!

I read Changeling with two simultaneous brains. My right brain, emotional, reactive, horrified and full of dread. I identified with Joanne as a woman -- I felt the fear every woman feels on a cellular level of being taken, raped, dominated, and abused. I sympathized with her reactions to physical and psychological torture. I agonized with Joanne, I understood her struggle to survive; her decision whether or not to want to stay alive. When she finally escapes from Dreyfuss’ clutches I found myself shouting RUN TO THE HOSPITAL YOU DUMB BITCH! She doesn’t but....well, I won’t give it away.

But I am also a mental health professional, so I couldn’t help but also view the characters and the story with my left brain: clinical, rational, logical. It is also for this reason -- my profession -- that I don’t generally read horror fiction. I see enough true-life horror in my work that I am not entertained by it anymore. That being said, Changeling was like a scary roller-coaster ride, and I did enjoy it. Dreyfuss is a vampire, a mythical beast, far enough removed from reality that I was able to be carried along by the story and by Joanne’s transformation.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Interview With Me

I'd just like to say thank you to David H Burton for doing a really good interview with me - great questions - this past week.

If you have the time, please click the link to thank him for his time:  http://davidhburton.com/?p=5525

David writes a wide range of dark fantasy/horror books, and many of you might like to peruse his lists.  I'll try and set up an interview with him, soon.  Seems obvious to share out information on on horror writers out there, now I think on!  :-)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Paperback Cover

After a lot of tweaking, this is the final final version.  Honest.  :-)  Thank you for all your help.

Click to enlarge.

Chapter 3, Changeling

Next week, on Sunday April 10th, I'll both put up Chapter 4 as the last full chapter sample.. and launch.  Eeek!

*shaking quivering terror*

Chapter Three

The first thing she was truly aware of was a cramp, low in her back.  She wasn’t sure exactly when she became aware of it, how long she’d been listening to her body groan, but slowly, carefully, the awareness that this was real, her back was hurting, she was asleep, or had been, settled in her mind.  It was dark, too dark; that wasn’t helping.  Where was it, that it was this dark?  Not her own bedroom for sure.  Not her lumpy bed and rickety windowsill, traffic noises seeping through with the streetlights.  The bed beneath her was straight, even with her weight on it.  The dark around her, absolute.  She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on waking up.  Her mouth was dry and filthy, caked with gunge.  As she struggled to push her body awake, to sit up, make sense of the confusion, she flitted her tongue round and round, desperately seeking moisture.  The pain from her back was sharp and fresh as she pulled forward, making her wince.  What on earth had happened that her back hurt so?  The question sat in her mind, trying to make some sense to her.  She fumbled around, feeling the soft bed that surrounded her.  How big could a bed be?  She leaned to the side, reaching for an unseen edge, trying to find an end to this smothering softness.  Her head spun, dizziness almost overwhelming her.  A nausea rose within her, she gagged.  She wasn’t going to throw up, she wasn’t going to throw up.  She certainly wasn’t going to throw up until she had worked out where she was.  She dropped back on the bed, closing her eyes.  She’d moved too fast, the dizziness got worse not better.  She groaned, which turned out to be a worse move than flopping back on the bed.  Her throat felt awful, like she’d swallowed crushed glass.  Hot and dry and raw all at the same time.  As she lay there, trying to control her panic, her breathing, her dry mouth, her head began a wicked beating.  Thrum, thrum, thrum.  If this was a hangover, she didn’t want to think about what she’d been drinking.  Her back had eased slightly on lying back, but when she tried to move upwards, it screamed protest once more.  Fear started to edge out panic: what had she been doing that had hurt her back?  Whatever the answer was, she wasn’t sure she wanted to know about it, not yet. 
Gritting her teeth she forced herself to sit up, sitting straight up on the bed.  The wave of nausea hit again, as did the dizziness.  She rode it out, clutching a sheet to her face, concentrating on not throwing up, not passing out and not going back down into the bed.  The thrumming threatened to split her head open, but she kept on in there.  The feeling of sickness passed, as did the dizziness.  Her back stayed raw and sharp, but got no worse.  As the thrumming finally started to ease off, she became aware of a harsh rasping breath in the room beside her: laboured, dangerous.  She almost screamed, clamping her hand over her own mouth, the noise stopped.  Fear froze down her spine, blocking out all thoughts of her back, her pain, her headache.  She clutched herself tightly, knees automatically raised to tuck under her chin.  The rasping breath started again.  She scrunched her eyes tight shut, tears squeezing out of the edges, and once more clamped her hand over her mouth, anything to make herself disappear.  The noise stopped again.  She held her breath, better to hear the darkness: nothing.  The moment stretched and broke.  She let the trapped air in her lungs out, the movement forcing more pain from her throat, her back, her head.  The rasping started again.  A whimper fled from her throat and was out into the darkness before she could help it.  She again held her breath, this time her hands flying up to cover her head, her chin tucking down, seeking protection from her knees.  The rasping stopped.  As she lay there, tight and curled, awaiting whatever monster was in the room with her, she thought this through.  An idea occurred to her.  Lifting her head, she gasped in some air, once more releasing the bottled up feeling in her lungs.  The rasping started once more.  She held her breath.  The rasping stopped.  She breathed out.  The rasping started up again.  Relief flooded through her, limbs turning liquid; she crumpled once more back onto the bed.  It was her!  The noise she’d heard, that awful rasping breath, it was her own.  The darkness, the silence in the room, it had fooled her.