N is for…. Nasty

Following on from my G is for Gender post on the wonderful Cafe Aphra blogsite, I was asked to provide a piece on the letter N – that’s when I decided to get NASTY!  Read on….


G is for Gender



This is a post I wrote for Cafe Aphra’s A-Z of writing. Take a look!


When a property developer visits an abandoned house, advertised as a development opportunity, he encounters two macabre sisters, unwilling to share occupancy.

I’ve spent most of the last year splitting my time between finishing my novel and writing a number of short films.

Occupancy will be the first of my scripts to make it to film. The film will probably only be around 3 minutes in length and its main purpose is so the director can work with the location and some of the actors we intend to use for a zombie film (which I script edited/co-wrote). The film is being produced by Cold Water Canyon pictures by a very inspirational guy called Crash Taylor.

He’s written a bit more about the process of making the film and the people involved here:


Crash Taylor is an award winning photographer turned cinematographer. He has infectious enthusiasm and, being from California originally (now based in Nottingham), a very positive view of life. Crash puts his all into every project. Many of the scripts we’ve worked on have gone back and forward via various film script critics, to ensure they are the best they can be before anyone shouts ACTION!

Also in the pipeline is a ‘store hold-up’ short film and a slightly longer short called Watching Over You. Watching Over You is my favourite of all my scripts so far and is the one I desperately want to see made. The script is being put forward to the BFI to see if we can get funding – if we can then it could really become something special – fingers crossed.

It’s nice to be able to blog some positive news – let me know how things are going with your works-in-progress…?

Long time…..

Anne of York, Sister of Edward IV and Richard ...

Anne of York, Sister of Edward IV and Richard III, Aunt of Queen Elizabeth of York, Great-Aunt of Henry VIII and his siblings, with her 2nd husband, Sir Thomas St. Leger (Photo credit: lisby1)

No see…..

Gosh it has been a very long while since I last gave my blog any attention. Life gets busy doesn’t it? I’ve never been too busy to write but I have been busy enough to realise I have to prioritise what I write and unfortunately the blog had to go on hold.

Some amazing things have been happening over the last few months,

Finding Richard III – OK I can’t claim to have ‘done’ that, but it was a fairly major piece of news in my life. It was only a few years ago that I became so very interested in this enigmatic character and began to attempt to write about him – a fact I mainly kept to myself and those I knew had an interest themselves. It seemed strange to see him suddenly propelled into such a spotlight. Before the discovery of his body I had come to the conclusion I was not a good enough writer to create the kind of work I feel would most aptly, in my own eyes, portray the complexities of his character. I still feel that way, but the ambition is not lost, just set aside to grow quietly in the background, until I’m ready to attend to it again.

More script writing – I never had any ambition to write film scripts and yet that’s what I seem to have spent most of my time doing, certainly in the last six months. One script, ‘Watching over you’ is in production – the casting has taken place I believe and another, shorter film (probably 7mins long) is now in pre-production too. We’re having difficulty finding a convenience store or petrol station shop willing to let us film there – so if you know of anywhere (esp in the Nottingham area) please let us know!

The novel – I just don’t know what to do about this ‘thing’. It is so close to having being finished and yet I’ve stalled. Partly due to my attention being taken by the script writing, but that’s not the full story.  I intend to send some pages off to a competition, but the closing date is drawing near and I haven’t submitted. I’m also going round in circles in my own mind about whether or not to send it for a second full critique – which will cost £100s – but might be the final push I need to get it good enough to send to agents etc. But I don’t want to waste money – Ive already spent a fair amount on it, in writing courses and the first critique – but then I should have faith that its worth it. So what should I do? Stop faffing I imagine!!

When do you know it’s ready to show the world? If you’re a published writer, let me know. If you’re not, let me know if you have a theory!

Keep going writers, never give up, never surrender 🙂

Feeling a bit ‘Alice’

I have an artist friend who has begun to produce some fabulous pictures for her brother’s steampunk event next year, in Oxford. She is a very talented lady, and on the cusp of becoming more recognised; a graphic novel and a TV series both in the pipeline. Am I jealous? Probably, a bit, but I’m old enough to feel inspiration and admiration, especially when it’s success well deserved.

I’ve become quite interested in the whole steampunk thing recently, although I’m aware its probably been going on for a while, it’s fairly new to me. There’s something very alluring about the over-designed steam powered, cogs and pulleys technology and of course the lure of funked-up period clothing – from almost any period pre 1950. Take your pick, adapt, accessorise and make it your own. I haven’t actually gone as far as to dress up and attend anything yet, but you never know. I’m eager to read more steam punk literature – but as my reading list grows I’m not sure there are enough hours in the day!

My friend’s/her brother’s theme is Alice is Wonderland -I’ve glimpsed some wonderful images already of cheshire cats falling from dirigibles and an airship disappearing into a chess-board hole in a rabbit shaped cloud. They really are quite inspired.

Like Alice’s adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass, life takes some strange turns. I couldn’t have predicted at the beginning of this year that my life would take quite the turn it has. And like Alice, the quicker I tried to move towards my writing goals, the further away they seem than ever. Perhaps some strange magical, slightly surreal event will occur, landing me exactly where I want to be. Until then I’ll keep turning myself around and forging ahead, dealing with this peculiar world the best that I can.

When I have details of the steampunk event – I’ll let you know 🙂

A girl interrupted….

It’s been a while, I know. I got interrupted. Life interrupted. Not only that, it made me face reality, which is never nice. That’s why I write fantasy.

The upshot is I had to increase my working hours; my paid for working hours, not the ones I spend bleeding onto the page and scratching letters in the blood. Now it’s all numbers, spreadsheets, policies and politics.

I’ve been sitting in bed at night, because they are the only free moments now available to me, thinking, ‘well I have about an hour, I could write something…’ and nothing comes. Nothing.

I feared my creativity had been sucked into a corporate void, I was being absorbed into the borg.

Then last night, I picked up an old script. It had been commented on by a guy called Erik Bork, who is, I understand, someone in Hollywood. I was supposed to have worked on it a while ago, but knowing the day of fiscal responsibility was looming I decided to use my last remaining days attempting, in vain, to finish my novel. I ignored the script. I re-read the comments and under “overall thoughts” it said:

‘this could definitely get real attention at festivals – and be compelling, emotional, entertaining and memorable’.

I dusted the thing off and began the re-write. Who knows if it’ll ever get made, who knows if it’ll ever get to a festival, but I should at least give it one more go. After all time is always running out.


My heart is still with my novel, but it’s better to write something and delete it later, than to write nothing at all and never know.

Here’s to carrying on no matter what.

Developing strong female characters in fantasy novels

A couple of weeks ago I knocked 80,000 words (yes, eighty thousand) out of my manuscript. Now, at 174,000 words the tome was very, very heavy so it could certainly bear this loss. What I cut, however, was my female lead, Agnes.

I didn’t cut Agnes out because she was a weak character, or because she was female I cut her out because her journey was essentially running in parallel with the main storyline. I was bringing her through childhood to a point where, at the end, she’d be primed for action in book two. I love her and certainly want to revisit her, but when I took a step back I saw there was just no need for her. I felt upset to have lost Agnes, but pleased with myself for having been so brutal.

Now I have a book full of men. I like men. I especially like the men I have created, but I can’t bear to carry on with a book with so skewed a bias. I do have three female characters, one of whom was crying out to be developed, but I want to be careful as to how I do develop them.

Often you find that in films and some books strong female character = ‘bitch’ or ‘plucky but ultimately ineffective’. (I mean Keira Knightly in  Pirates of the Caribbean, did anyone even notice she wasn’t in the last one? Sorry, I’m not keen on Ms Knightly)

I’m not a feminist, or at least I don’t think I am. Come to think of it I’m not sure what one is anymore, so perhaps I am, but I do think it’s important to consider what stereotypes you reinforce or reflect when you write.

Any recommendations for fantasy books (or any genre) with good female characters who aren’t bitches, overly masculine, or just a tragic love interest would be greatly welcomed – I know there are many out there.