Saturday, 19 December 2015

HALLOW BE THY NAME cover reveal!

For anybody who has not yet seen my cover reveal video for my forthcoming novel Hallow Be Thy Name, here she is! 

Hallow Be Thy Name will be my third novel, but the first in a new spiritual series set in Hampstead and the NW3 area. I will talk more about the plot in the run up to the publication - look out for it from 1st February 2016! - but for now I shall leave this with you. You can also have a sneak peek at the blurb on the back of the book!





You can see my cover reveal video here:


Amy x

Inspiring Writers: Guest Blogging with Ray Garton

My first and most recent experiences with Ray Garton's writing could not be more different. As a child (and as a young adult - shh!), I read all of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch novellas, some of which were penned by Ray Garton - might I introduce you to All that Glitters? And then there's Scissors, a more adult tale of traumatising medical procedures and sharp, threatening nightmares. Although the two approaches are very different - one full of magic and teenagers, and the other comprising very vivid descriptions of blood droplets from male genitalia - Garton's writing is continuously thrilling, and so I'm delighted to introduce him for the first post in my new Inspiring Writers series. I give you author and my guest blogger Ray Garton!

***



Most of what passes for “inspirational” these days does not inspire me. It usually makes me throw up in my mouth a little. For example, Deepak Chopra has gotten very rich by dispensing what many embrace as inspirational wisdom, but I think it would be perfectly at home in a fortune cookie or a Hallmark card. Motivational speaker and real-life fairy-tale giant Tony Robbins has had a long and successful career inspiring people by having them walk over hot coals with bare feet. Sorry, I just don’t get it. But, hey, it’s worked for Mr. Robbins, who’s worth $480 million, according to Forbes, and who doesn’t give a happy damn what I think of his methods.

I’m not inspired by prepackaged, mass-produced inspiration, but there are things I do find inspiring. It’s difficult to write about them because more often than not they are surprises that pop up unexpectedly. What I find inspiring may best be defined by paraphrasing the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s description of pornography: I can’t describe it to you but I know it when I see it. In spite of that, I will do my best to make a list, in no particular order, of things that I find inspiring, and another of books that have inspired me.


Things That Inspire Me

1.) I recently met someone who has a ten-year-old son who likes old Universal horror movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Most kids that age won’t sit still for something in black and white with such inferior special effects and sound quality. I grew up mesmerized by those silver-screen images and they helped shape me as a writer, but that was more than forty years ago when those movies were only a few decades old. Now they’re ancient. I found it inspiring to know that there are still kids who see the magic in those movies and the stories they tell.

2.) Good writing is always inspiring. It doesn’t matter what it is — a work of fiction, a news article, a letter — if it’s well written, if it clearly and concisely conveys an idea or describes something or tells a story in such a way as to create a mental picture or evoke an emotional response, I find it inspiring. It’s no accident that an important part of writing is spelling, because when it’s done well, writing can cast a spell over the reader. Reading good writing always makes me want to be a better writer.

3.) A story or book is always the result of a creative spark. It’s difficult to describe this spark, but it’s something that always inspires me to start writing.

The creative spark that resulted in my novel Live Girls happened during a visit to a peepshow in New York’s Times Square in the mid-1980s. I was in my early 20s, the product of a carefully sheltered upbringing in a fundamentalist Christian family, and I found Times Square, as it existed at the time (not anymore), to be fascinating, frightening, and overwhelming. I went into a peepshow, entered a booth, dropped a token in the box, and a panel rose to reveal an emaciated, naked dancer on the other side. The token box had a small sign above it that read “Insert tip through slot.” The slot it referred to was just beneath the window and looked like a mail slot, but it opened up in the center into a crude circle. I looked closer and saw that the rounded edges had ridges on them, almost as if the slot had been chewed open in the center. And the instant that sentence unrolled in my mind — It looks like somebody chewed this thing open — that spark occurred and Live Girls dropped into my head in one piece. I hurried out of the peepshow and rushed to the nearest typewriter to begin writing.

It happened again recently. A friend sent me a documentary about the late Bob Wilkins, who used to host Creature Features on a San Francisco station when I was a boy. Every Saturday night, Bob showed two horror or science fiction movies and I never missed it. Thanks to Bob, who died in 2012 of Alzheimer’s disease, I cut my horror teeth on alien monsters, vampires, psycho killers, werewolves, ghosts, and staggering zombies and mummies in old, low-budget, drive-in movies, some of which were so bad that the host himself told us to watch something else or go to bed. As I watched the documentary, which included interviews and movie clips I hadn’t seen in more than forty years, I was filled with a pleasant sense of nostalgia — until the spark occurred with an almost audible pop! inside my head. I started making some notes immediately. The result was the novel I’m currently writing, Monster Show.

That spark, whatever it is and wherever it comes from, is unquestionably the biggest inspiration behind my writing.

4.) Rain. I love rainy weather. I’m one of those people Gordon Lightfoot sang about.

5.) My wife, Dawn. For more than eight years, I was laid up with a bad hip that required three operations, two of which were replacements on the same hip. During those years, I was in constant pain even though I was full of painkillers, I was grouchy, in a narcotic fog, and my medical bills were so devastating, we still haven’t recovered financially. She didn’t breathe a word of complaint during all those years. The pain was so intense that the idea of taking all of my painkillers and going to bed was appealing at times, but I couldn’t do that to her. She kept me going then and she keeps me going now.


Books That Have Inspired Me

1.) Carrie by Stephen King — This was the first horror novel I ever read that made me feel something other than fear or tension. It actually made me cry. I lived in an oppressive religious environment at the time, which made the book even more vivid to me. It made me realize that horror should be about more than just horror.

2.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller — Laughter is always inspiring, and no book makes me laugh as much or as consistently as this one.

3.) The Cellar by Richard Laymon — Reading this book made me understand that there really are no boundaries to horror, no written-in-stone rules, and it broadened my creative approach to writing in the genre.

4.) Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson — This book inspired me to start changing the way I think and see the world.

5.) Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications by Dr. Peter Breggin, M.D. — This is the scariest book I’ve eve read because it’s nonfiction, and it, in part, inspired me to write my novel Meds.








Monday, 30 November 2015

And My Third Novel Is Called...

Okay. I can't keep it in any longer. I was going to wait until tomorrow - which marks two months until its release - to share with you the title of my third novel. But I can't. I'm far too excited.

So the title of my third novel is...

Hallow Be Thy Name

I know! 

I'm conclude this by saying no more than this: Hallow Be Thy Name's protagonist is a Spiritual Messenger named Lucy Hallow, and it is the first novel in a new series (the Hallow series, appropriately!).

Hallow Be Thy Name will be published on 1st February 2016. I'll say no more until I reveal the cover in a month or so. Until then...

Amy x




Friday, 18 September 2015

Meet me at Feel the Force Day!

Just a quick update today, but an exciting one because...

I'M ATTENDING FEEL THE FORCE DAY!

Yes, I'm a guest at this year's Feel the Force Day at Peterborough. The convention is aimed primarily at the disabled and visually impaired and opens up film and television in ways that other conventions aren't usually able to. You can find out more about the event on its website here, its Facebook, and its Twitter page. Tickets can be purchased here.

The event takes place at KingsGate conference centre in Peterborough on the 10th October 2015, 11am-6pm.

I'll be there in the guest area signing autographs and copies of Celestial Land and Sea, and conversing with fellow film fans!

I'm personally expecting it to be a very interesting day. And on an unprofessional note, I'm rather excited because Warwick Davies will be there. #WingardiumLeviosa

I hope to see some of you there!

Amy x


 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Visiting Paris and Disneyland

Bonjour!

Okay, so that's pretty much the extent of my French (I did learn that 'sortie' means exit though - very helpful to know!) so the rest of this will be written in English to save myself from embarrassment.

I've had a few comments and questions concerning a Paris vlog, but I'm afraid I didn't actually record one. Of course, I had considered it - I wanted to capture as much of my first trip abroad as I could - but in the end I decided to observe Paris for the first time through my own eyes instead of the screen of my camcorder. However, being a prolific snapper of photographs, I did take an awful lot of images. I hope sharing some of these with you makes up somewhat for the lack of video footage!

So we'll start with the iconic landmarks...

Arc de Triomphe

Eiffel Tower (It's definitely larger than I expected!) 

Notre Dame 

And then the Catacombs. We queued for four hours on a very hot day to
get inside, but I do believe it was entirely worth it! 




And then it's time for Disneyland! Finally, after twenty three years of living, I finally made it to a Disney theme park! We went on four rides (well, four and a labyrinth!): Space Mountain Mission 2, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice's Curious Labyrinth, and Phantom Manor. Despite the heat, it was such a wonderful day, and I cannot wait to visit the rest!

Cinderella's castle (it looks just like the toy one I had as a child!)*

The park

Alice's Curious Labyrinth


The top of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride

The parade




I would definitely go back to France at the first opportunity that comes my way. Paris is very beautiful (and they have Starbucks, which is an added bonus). I'd probably use it as a central point though as there are quite a few other French cities I'd love to visit. Maybe one day, but until then...

Amy x

* Here it is!




Saturday, 6 June 2015

KAJAKI Film Premiere and Review

I should thank Way to Blue for making this blogpost possible. If I hadn't been invited to the pre-DVD premiere, I don't think Kajaki (2014) would ever have appeared on my radar. That's nothing to do with the quality of the film, of course, but instead due to my own unfamiliarity with the genre.

As a war film based on a true story, there is quite a wide potential audience for Kajaki. However, one might suggest it is something about which I am ignorant. I know nobody who has fought in Afghanistan. I have never been directly affected by its dangers. The tragedies that war brings seem such a world away to me. And yet, Kajaki had the ability to suck me right into a reality that takes very little effort to shock.

Directed by Paul Katis, the film takes place in 2006 around the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan. The situation the soldiers find themselves in is intensely dangerous, with every footstep threatening to steal life as they fight to manoeuvre around a minefield. 

Due to the intensity of the story, it's easy to forget that it's based on real events. It is a gripping, edge-of-the-seat journey. To then remember that these events were actually experienced arrives as quite a weight. It enhances the emotions, but brings with it a lot of questions about humanity.

There's a great level of comradeship between the soldiers, and with that comes wonderful dialogue, penned by Tom Williams. However, the moments without scripted speech - the moments of silence, the sounds of impossible agony, the painful uncertainty of explosions with every movement - bring out the best of the film. Time seems to take on a new form in Kajaki; it is simultaneously running out and never-ending, the product of a surreal reality. It's packaged together with such harmonious levels of friendship, outrage, and the unexpected to create an unforgettable experience.

Kajaki is an intense and surreal film; it is graphic in some scenes, brutal in others, and always expertly powerful. It isn't afraid of its own rawness. It is blunt, honest, and trustworthy.

Phoebe Katis sings the film's theme, 'All of my Life', which can be listened to here. It's addictive, I'll warn you!

The event itself at the Imperial War Museum was brilliant; such occasions always add a bonus dimension to a film, and I found that the off-screen relationships among the cast were just as enjoyable to watch on the red carpet as it was to observe in Kajaki

Guests at the event included Alan Davies and Lesley Sharp - on a personal note, that was an incredible opportunity for me to be part of and for that I could not be more thankful. At the end of the night, I wanted for nothing!

To find out more about Kajaki, you can visit the official website here or at Kajakimovie.com. You can also find Kajaki on Twitter and Facebook. Cast and crew details can be located on IMDb.

The DVD is released on 8th June 2015, and can be found on Amazon.co.uk here. It's an eye-opening film and you won't forget the tears you shed in a hurry.  

Amy x


Event footage and images, Kajaki stills, and film trailer

You can watch video footage from the event in my vlog below:


Event images:
The venue
Guests Lesley Sharp and Alan Davies






Kajaki stills:




Film trailer:






Saturday, 21 February 2015

My new novel CELESTIAL LAND AND SEA is out now!

Today is a very exciting day because I get to announce that my second novel Celestial Land and Sea is OUT NOW!


It's available for purchase on Amazon and from the Open Books website, and will soon be available from the Barnes and Noble website too. Make sure you check out my Twitter and Facebook pages for updates about its availability in bricks and mortar stores and other online sites too!

Watch the video below for more information about Celestial Land and Sea. Below that you'll find some links to its Amazon and Open Books pages, as well as its Goodreads page.

VIDEO TO BE ADDED SOON

- Celestial Land and Sea at Open Books
- Amazon UK paperback
- Amazon UK eBook
- Amazon US paperback
- Amazon US eBook
- Celestial Land and Sea on Goodreads

About Celestial Land and Sea
Nine years after moving from Belfast to London, Grace Byrne wonders whether or not she made the right decision. She finds little satisfaction in working for the Anchor news team, and the eternal bitterness of her boss doesn't make it any easier. The only positive thing about being stuck in the office every day is Andy, with whom she has been smitten since first joining the Anchor team. After a less than comfortable conversation with her boss’s assistant, Grace returns to her flat in Hampstead contemplating whether she herself might be the real cause of her dissatisfaction.

Her modest flat is her sanctuary; yet when Grace returns home exhausted on a particularly blustery evening, she discovers a door in her home that she's certain she has never seen before. Rife with curiosity, she opens the door, takes one tentative step, and falls into an abyss, leaving behind her home in Hampstead and landing inside a pirate ship on Clare Island, Mayo.

As Grace begins to unravel what has happened to her, she learns that she must now walk in the boots of Gráinne O'Malley, the notorious sixteenth-century female Irish pirate. At first, the reasons for this trans-migration and identity exchange are not clear, but Grace accepts her mission to follow in Gráinne's footsteps.

Cast into the drama of a revolt against Queen Elisabeth I, Grace finds her courage, her inherent sense of purpose, her distant heritage, her present-day raison d’etre, and of course love. Celestial Land and Sea transports readers to the generational source of our shared heritage, and of our recurring challenges and our transcendent triumphs. 


Friday, 6 February 2015

CELESTIAL LAND AND SEA, available 20th February 2015

Hello! I'm excited to confirm that Celestial Land and Sea will be released on 20th February 2015!


Celestial Land and Sea incorporates several of my favourite things and people: spiritualism, Hampstead, Gráinne O'Malley, and Elizabeth I. I'll return with more information once it's published, but in the meantime you can head over to the Open Books website (here) to pre-order a copy and read more about it!

Amy x




Monday, 19 January 2015

Cover reveal for CELESTIAL LAND AND SEA

I'm very excited to reveal the cover for my second novel: Celestial Land and Sea!



Celestial Land and Sea will be published next month (February 2015) by Open Books, when it will be available to purchase from a variety of different places. In the meantime however, it can be pre-ordered directly from Open Books here in either paperback or ebook.


Click here to visit my author page on the Open Books website, and click here to visit the novel's description. You can also click the images below to visit the relevant pages.

I can't wait for you to read Celestial Land and Sea! I had such fun writing it. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have.

Amy x




Celestial Land and Sea description (from the Open Books website):

Nine years after moving from Belfast to London, Grace Byrne wonders whether or not she made the right decision. She finds little satisfaction in working for the Anchor news team, and the eternal bitterness of her boss doesn't make it any easier. The only positive thing about being stuck in the office every day is Andy, with whom she has been smitten since first joining the Anchor team. After a less than comfortable conversation with her boss’s assistant, Grace returns to her flat in Hampstead contemplating whether she herself might be the real cause of her dissatisfaction.

Her modest flat is her sanctuary; yet when Grace returns home exhausted on a particularly blustery evening, she discovers a door in her home that she's certain she has never seen before. Rife with curiosity, she opens the door, takes one tentative step, and falls into an abyss, leaving behind her home in Hampstead and landing inside a pirate ship on Clare Island, Mayo.

As Grace begins to unravel what has happened to her, she learns that she must now walk in the boots of Gráinne O'Malley, the notorious sixteenth-century female Irish pirate. At first, the reasons for this trans-migration and identity exchange are not clear, but Grace accepts her mission to follow in Gráinne's footsteps.

Cast into the drama of a revolt against Queen Elisabeth I, Grace finds her courage, her inherent sense of purpose, her distant heritage, her present-day raison d’etre, and of course love. Celestial Land and Sea transports readers to the generational source of our shared heritage, and of our recurring challenges and our transcendent triumphs.