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Monday, 30 November 2015

Stories within stories within stories


Perhaps one of the oldest story forms is the story within a story. It's one that always appeals to both writers and reads for many reasons.  It's a way to set a scene, or build a certain tension. In its simplest form, it is a way to have an introduction and a conclusion surrounding a tale. Adding a layer to the story and allowing the writer to trail his story to a degree.
To use an example from a classic author , in the Time Machine +H.G. Wells  introduces his story with a dinner party hosted by the protagonist who turns up in an odd state. The start and end of the novel are told by one of the guests at the dinner party. While the middle it told as a tale told by the protagonist.
It's a simple form, but one that allows complexity to be built on to it.
In the wind through the keyhole , the last (or latest) dark tower novel to be written by +Stephen King  ( though not chronologically) king tells a story wrapped around a tale told by Roland to his K'tet.  But in Rolands story, there is a third story wrapped inside. A story told to Roland in the middle of the story he is telling. A story within a story , within a story.
King is if course something of a master teller of tales. And like all good stories within stories  each layer is both relevant to the layers above it and influences the greater tale.
My forthcoming novel 'Location relative' : Esqeiths piano bar and grill. Which I have mentioned on occasion, is one which uses the stories within stories as a structure. The structure is closer to the likes of Worlds End by Neil Gaiman, the seventh of the sandman graphic novels. In which travelers swap stories in a magical tavern on the edge of reality.
While the central tale is of the experiences of a man called Richard within a strange shifting reality of the passing place, it is also built around other tales told by those who inhabit the passing place and those who pass through its doors.
As I built the novel, and built is the right word in many ways, as it is composed of tales which form the bricks around which Richards tale is the mortar, I made a point of making the stories all relevant in one way or another to the main tale. Though while some may have obvious connections or lessons for the main protagonist to learn from others are more oblique in nature, telling the reader something about the characters within the passing place and their relationships with one another.
It's taken almost five years in total to string this all together, I started this novel before cider lane which took over from it as a point of focus for a long while.
Authors are story tellers. This is true no matter what the genre, or if the book is a novel or none fiction. Stories remain the stock in trade. Readers take from the stories different things from the writers intention sometimes. Often in fact. The passing place is a novel about stories and full of stories, some only a few paragraphs or less within a larger tale, itself within a greater tale.
Location relative is the first of three planned novels based in the passing place. Together they will form a greater tale of which those are just parts, stories , within stories with stories.

When it's finished I hope may enjoy them all.   

Sunday, 22 November 2015

"So Whats your book about ?"


I keep being asked this question and it’s a fair question to ask. The problem is I still don't really have an answer to it. At least not a short concise answer that sums up the novel. 
I wrote it, published it, sold it, people, who have read it seem on the whole to like it. To paraphrase +Douglas Adams It’s about 300 pages. And Erm… Nope , I still don't have a witty, concise , or considered answer
I think it’s about loss, falling off the edge, coming back from the brink. Love, truth, pain, suffering, emotion, Erm ... stuff..........
See neither witty nor concise 
In part, this is I think because a novel is deeply personal to its creator. I did my own book cover because it’s my book. I did my own typesetting, because it’s my book, wrote the blurb for the back because it’s my book. And then people ask me to sum up what my novel is about. 90000 words I slaved over for three years. Wrote, re-wrote, edited and wrote again.  Six or more drafts worth depending how you count so 90000 words were actually the work of 540000 words all told.   
On top of this every reader of the novel probably has a different view of what’s it’s about reading is a personal experience after all. Just as writing is. I could tell you what some of my favourite books are about but I am almost positive the authors would disagree with my summaries of them. In some cases might not recognise their own books straight away.  
Something I have discovered from reviews.  
So anyway, the thing is it’s like been asked what your child is like, for me it’s a deeply personal book, it is hard to actually put a finger on what it’s about because I am too close to it. 
However every now and again I get a review in that simply leaves me astound. 
From the book of the month review by the Publishers Book Club  which blew me away (as did winning the award but I have mentioned that before.) to this recent review, publish on +Amazon.com  by reviewer Katie Salvo 

Review of "Cider Lane" by Mark Hayes“ 5 stars!
"All these anxieties are in your subconscious only. You must reconcile yourself with the environment around you. Come to comprehend you are under no threat. Aspect your milieu and scrutinise it in immeasurable facet. You will conclude you have naught to endure with apprehensive quintessence.” (Quote from book.)
"You must, you must, you must. You will, you will, you will.” It is the dictate of Society, the so-called “social norm,” which we all find ourselves conforming to. These are the instructions given Susanna by the psychiatrist her parents have hired to render her “normal.” A bullied, anxious teen, Susanna has developed a coping mechanism of withdrawal deep into her own mind and soul, so effective that she is able to block out the horror of seeing her family perish in a burning car. The only survivor of the accident, she internalises feelings of anger and guilt, while simultaneously reinforcing the mental process that separates her from her fears, via a deeply ingrained numb existence. In a state of shock after the car accident, her numbed state-of-mind leads her to an empty cabin on Cider Lane where she will meet Colin, a drifter who, from personal experience, has learned that Society’s dictates of “must” and “will” serve only to define—and confine—the human spirit in a power-hungry world, filled with selfish ambition, where those who refuse to conform find themselves on the fringes of humanity. 
“Cider Lane” by author Mark Hayes is steeped in existential questions of “being.” What is our purpose? How does one define Right and Wrong? And who exactly is it that deems himself/herself worthy of standing in decree of Right and Wrong? And why do we listen when those who pass such judgements are as human as the rest of us? In this book, Mr. Hayes has given us much to think about as Susanna and Colin come to know one another and discover that transcendence of soul and mind can be dangerous in an automated atmosphere of “musts” and “wills.”

I have to admit I had to look up the quote she started with because I could not remember the context of it, but a finer review I could not ask for. 
I would point I out I never ask for reviews, but that would be a lie, I do. I don’t, however, use any pay for a review websites, or solicit reviews from anyone. I did give copies to a couple of people on good reads specifically for reviews but they were not paid for and they are all honest reviews. Katie was not even a review copy. Just a reader who read and loved the book. 

So what’s my book about?. What Katie said … and anyone else who reviews my novel. Readers are far better at knowing what a book is about than authors any day. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

the art of the self publicist



I am not by nature a graphic artist , my medium is words, as your probably aware. However, some of the Microsoft suite tools are useful for making fairly quick promo's for even the list visually artistic of us. the one's below took all of about ten minutes each and are basic power point slides dressed up and turned into jpegs. Not sure if they are particularly visually stunning :) , or attention grabbing but they do seem to be more effective than written adds with lots of text    
There are lots of people offering to do this as a service for which they charge anything from a fiver (on ffiver.com funnily enough)  to lots and indeed many. Being as I am far from wealthy at the moment and thrifty in general I have put together a couple of my own (see below ) 



The second is a clone in many ways with just the background changed and the words slide about a little. The book cover does look more book covery size wise


I am going to experiment further when I have time. Playing with fonts and pictures more to make something more visually stunning if I can . But thought I would share these here for any budding self-publicist to have a glance at and see what can be achieved with a little effort.

It is interested just how many more likes etc you get on Facebook groups for readers / writers  when you publish a picture like the above over a small wall of text. So it seems to be worth the effort of doing so .

Saturday, 7 November 2015

2015 the year of the Renaissance men



Way back in the dim dark distant past. In an age when Mobil phones were for making phone calls but only a few of us had them. When the internet did not seem like something that would catch on as a single picture took twenty seconds to download  down a 56k line. When there were only four TV channels and they mostly closed at midnight. When you could smoke in a pub and MEGA drives were the cutting edge of the console-verse. There used to be a pub called the travellers rest, sat at the top of a hill in a less than fashionable part of Leeds, on the borderland between Armley and Bramley which few chose to cross and next door to the mental hospital.
In that pub, there used to gather a crowd of young 20 somethings which were sometimes closer to their mid-teens than they admitted. Among them were three or more wise men, whom we shall call, the hippy ex-singer, the really tall hippy, and the one who professed not to be a hippy because he loved violence (who was also a hippy).
In between getting drunk, hogging the jukebox, and putting the world to rights this crowd of strangely epileptic individuals played host to the artistic dreams of three young men among them. The writer, the singer and the actor. Of them , I should add, the writer was most certainly the most pretentious, unwittingly arrogant and occasionally irritating.
Such are the dreams of young men in the dark days of the late eighties and early nineties in the Britain Thatcher built on the bones of broken dreams.
They dream dreams of artistic endeavour, the writer wrote, the singer sang and learned guitar, and the actor acted up.... And the world went by and paid them no heed.
Fast forward a small collection of years in the grander scheme of things. To the year 2015 , where the internet holds the world in its grasp and a Mobile phone is a computer which could land the space shuttle and has accesses to the total sum of human knowledge ( okay we use it to play candy crush, and look at pictures of cats but the potential is there all the same.)
And in these strange days of the future that the three young men could barely of dreams back then suddenly something rather wonderful happens. The wrong side of forty they manage their dreams.

The Singer ,(Dave is the one with the beard )  and his new band , get a record deal and their new single from the forthcoming album is out this week

   
The Actor (Rik is the tall one in the foreground) , is staring in the forthcoming Short film The Goodbye Girl


And as for the write, well his is still a tad pretentious if truth be told, but you may have heard of his first novel




And the three wise hippy's, there still wiser than we or so they tell us, and gentlemen to boot.

Anyway, 2015 , year of the Horse, year of Goodbye Girl , Year of Cider lane . and year of the renaissance for the dreams of young men , who may be the other side of 40, but are still young enough to dream.



edit .

More of the actor 'acting up '

https://vimeo.com/136201095



Sunday, 1 November 2015

The knitting circle of the devil

A little tale for all hallows 


“Lust, linger over the word itself. Sound it slowly, feel the weight of it, the torrents barely held awaiting release. Curl your tongue around the L, in a long languid movement. Linger upon it, and then let the U begin deep down in the back of your throat, a primal thing straining to escape. Purse your lips as the S rolls out of your mouth like a breath held for a long moment. Finally, let the S become a T, venomous, angry, a petulant tut at the end of the word.
Lust, it is in us all, it drives us all to one degree or another. Some strive against it; while it eats away at them from within, like a serpent's kiss within them, coiling around their heart, striving for release. They deny themselves, their nature, and the nature of humanity. For want is more human than lust. To want, to need, to feel the urge to possess all that you desire.”
“Others revel within it, welcome it, and feed their lust, never satisfied, always wanting more. Understanding their nature, they seek to indulge it in all things. Till they become driven by nothing but lust. Be it for wealth, for processions, for power, for sex, for everything and anything.”
“Such is its nature; the serpent of lust grows with every feeding. Every satisfaction pales against it, feed one urge and the next awaits you. What was an extreme once becomes bland and tasteless, a gray shade of had been when unattained? Another desire, another lust has replaced the former. A new extreme, a new need to chase, to want, to desire. The serpent coils tighter within you , driving you on.”
“Till the truth of lust, the great secret of it is revealed. It is the serpent that grown upon feeding itself. And nothing is ever enough.”
“So what can you do, what should you do, but indulge the serpent. Feast with it, feed it, give yourself over to it in all its forms. Let the lust become you. Let it define you in everything. Let nothing be called debase, decry nothing as depraved, let all experience be welcome and indulged in its name. Let lust be your deity, let its angels guide you and its demons enthral you. If to lust is human, then let it be your everything, and drive you on to newer heights and greater depravities in its name. Let it be your joy, feed it your suffering and your pain, let it lead you to pleasures those who decry it would deny you. Be as one in this my children, let it consume you and feed yourself to its insatiable appetite. Let it lead you to heaven through the fields of hell.”

The sermon ended. The congregation as one stared at the minister who bestrode the pulpit. Then filed silently into the night. The minister wiped the sweat from his brow. Replaced his hat and descended from the pulpit, to make his way to the vestry.
On the back row, Vera exclaimed quietly,” Buggeration with it,”
Her octogenarian compatriot Edna jumped up at this, “Did you say something dear?” she asked.
“Dropped a stitch,” said Vera, showing her companion her knitting.
“Well that’s no cause for obscenity in church dear” Edna scolded.