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Andrew's historical fantasy novel based on an ancient Welsh tale, 'The Fairy Wife' (working title) is accepted for publication!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Writing Review of the Year

With 2013 drawing to a close, this seems a good time to jump on the bandwagon and summarise what’s happened to my writing during the year.

  • The Torridon Witches’ was published by Damnation Books in September.  ‘Witches’ is a novella about a group of backpackers who find themselves in the middle of witch trials in remote modern-day Scotland;
  • ‘Dana’s Children’ was accepted by Wild Child Publishing back in January.  This is a novella about a group of archaeologists who discover something unpleasant when they venture underground.  I’ve had contact with my editor, so Dana’s Children is going through the process at the moment;
  • Stones’ was published by Burial Day Books (and is still there as a free read).  It’s a short about a honeymoon couple who come across a stone circle.  I don’t write many shorts, but I was pleased with this one and I’m delighted it made its way into print (or rather, onto screen).

So, what is there to look forward to in 2014?  Here’s what I’m working on at the moment:

  • A couple of sequels to ‘Art Class’.  Well, not quite sequels, but stories with the same characters and similar erotic themes;
  • ‘Footholder’ is a novel based on a Welsh medieval myth about a king who will die unless his foot is kept in a maiden’s lap.  It’s a wonderful story and no surprise it has stood the test of time.  It’s also set in northern Snowdonia, an area of stunning beauty I know and love.  I’m very fond of this piece, which is just about finished;
  • ‘Trench’ (working title).  This is dark science fiction, which is a bit of a departure for me.  It features an archaeological dig of a World War One bunker, which reveals skeletons from much more recent times.  The first draft is nearly finished.  It still needs a lot of work to bring it up to standard, but I’m beginning to think the finished article will be worth the effort;
  • ‘Tribute’.  This reverts to my Celtic-themed work and settings.  The inspiration is an almost throwaway episode in the life of the Irish hero Cuchulainn.  He comes across a coastal king whose current oldest child is sacrificed to Sea Demons every seven years.  It’s a theme with a lot of possibilities; I’ve taken just one of them.  The writing is a struggle though, and I’m not sure I’ll persevere with it.
  • ‘The Clootie Tree’.  This is a novel I started a long time ago.  I can’t remember why I put it aside, but I want to resurrect it.  In a throwback to pre-Christian Celtic beliefs, a clootie is a length of cloth often tied to a tree near a sacred well.  They’re supposed to give out healing properties.

So, there we are.  That’s what I’ve been up to this year, and what is likely to take up my writing time in 2014.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Review: Deathwatch

As I’m writing a World War One story at the moment, and as I’m a sucker for supernatural horror, the 2002 film ‘Deathwatch’ was always going to be a must-watch DVD.

The film is about British soldiers who attack a German position, only to find it near-deserted.  It soon becomes clear something isn’t right, and the group descends into in-fighting fuelled by the pressures of war and the fear of the supernatural evil lurking in the trench. 

The film shows World War One at its worst, with the unrelenting mixture of mud, blood and terror life in the trenches must have consisted of.

‘Deathwatch’ was given a ‘15’ certificate in the UK, which means it doesn’t have excessive ‘in yer face’ violence or gore.  There was enough unpleasantness for it to justify its place in the horror genre, though, especially as much of the horror is in the setting and soldiers’ psychology.  In some ways I was reminded of the descent into barbarism in ‘Lord of the Flies’.

There was enough tension and conflict throughout to keep me interested.

The characters are a little one-dimensional and stereotypical, but I don’t have a problem with that.  In a film where there is a danger all the characters might look the same (all young males, in uniform and covered in mud), making each an extreme helped me tell them apart.  One who stood out was Lawrence Fox as Bramwell Jennings.  He gave a brilliant performance as an upper class officer who was well out of his depth.

The part of the film that disappointed me was the supernatural.  I didn’t really get to grips with what it was, or what it wanted from the soldiers.  I’ve always thought World War One offers great scope for supernatural horror because the setting is a horrific enough starting point.  There are also some supernatural ‘events’ to hang a plot on, such as the disappearance of the Royal Norfolk Regiment at Gallipoli, or the Angels of Mons.  A couple of reviews suggest the film would have worked without the supernatural, and I think I’d agree.

I was, though, impressed with the ending.  It wasn’t a particularly fresh horror finale, but was enough of a surprise and seemed right for the film.

So, ‘Deathwatch’ was well worth watching, but I think fell down in a couple of places.  I’ll give it three out of five.