Friday, 19 December 2014

ADDICTED TO CHILLS AND THRILLS

I have to admit it. I'm officially addicted to thrillers. Whether they're crime thrillers or twisted psychological tales - American, Scandinavian, British, Australian - I love the plot twists and turns, the nail-biting suspense, the dark atmosphere, the red herrings and the flawed protagonists that keep me spellbound until the final scene where all is revealed.
Since I'm working on my own thriller, LILAH, I'm reading and watching a steady diet of thrillers which all help to keep me in the right mode for creating suspense. Here's the cover blurb for LILAH which is available for pre-order here and will be published on Valentine's Day 2015:


Nick Hendricks, editor, writer and publisher of the Silver Narrows Sentinel, is coasting on auto pilot with his job, his relationships and his life. All that changes one snowy night when the beautiful and mysterious Lilah arrives in town. Caught up in her spell, Nick soon realizes that things aren’t so perfect in this small Minnesota town and there are hidden secrets lurking beneath its cozy exterior. Secrets some of the town’s long-standing citizens want to keep buried. But he can’t help wondering where Lilah came from, why she’s there and what connection she has to some tragic disappearances from the town’s past? Nick struggles to answer these questions and come to terms with disturbing secrets from his own past while falling crazily in love with the elusive Lilah.





Here's a rundown of some of the best thrillers in print available right now:

BOOKS:

Right now I'm reading THE STONECUTTER by the terrific Swedish writer, Camilla Lackberg who also wrote THE ICE PRINCESS. Lackberg's thrillers are multi-layered, complex but so addictive the reader is drawn into the long-standing conflicts and hidden secrets of a small Swedish town.

SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn is a must-read. There's a darkness in Flynn's novels that reminds me of the earlier work of the great JOYCE CAROL OATES. The stories are utterly disturbing yet so compelling they reach out and grab you by the throat, dragging you into the raw underbelly of life in which families are dysfunctional, depression and damaged psyches are the norm and all taboos are lifted.
Camille Preaker is an investigative reporter with a troubled past and present. Just released from psych. hospital, she's sent reluctantly back to her home town to investigate the murders of two young girls and to face her wealthy, neurotic mother who she's hardly spoken to for eight years and a beautiful but troubled half-sister she barely knows. Flynn skilfully unravels the secrets haunting Camille, who digs deeper and deeper into the investigation and soon realizes she has to come to terms with her own demons in order to solve this case. Ultimately the danger becomes so great, Camille has to fight just to survive in this small town with a million secrets.


APPLE TREE YARD by Louise Doughty, is a nail-biting psychological suspense thriller about a woman who trades her successful, secure life and career for the brief excitement of a sexy fling with a mysterious stranger she meets at the Houses of Parliament in London. Needless to say, there's more to the man than she thought, and when the affair spins out of control, she finds herself fighting for her career, her family and her freedom.



BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S.J Watson is one of those books you can't put down once you've started it. Here's the Goodreads blurb: "As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning, thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me. Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story... welcome to Christine's life."




DROOD by Dan Simmons is a sprawling Gothic, Victorian novel which features the real-life characters of Charles Dickens and his close friend and rival, Wilkie Collins (author of classics like The Woman in White). It centres around Dickens' terrifying experience in a train crash which he narrowly escaped without injury. In the terrible aftermath he has a vision of a strange, sinister man sorting among the dead and broken bodies. That vision continues to haunt him in the form of a mysterious man named Drood. Dickens enlists Collins' help to find this man who becomes the inspiration for Dickens' final, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Though this is a challenging novel, Simmons takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through the underground layers of London's seedy underbelly into opium dens, gaming houses and secret criminal hideouts. 
Next blog I'll feature some of the best suspense movies and TV series.
In the meantime Happy Holidays and great reading!!






Thursday, 27 November 2014

CAN YOU JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?

Can you judge a book by its cover? I guess the answer is yes if the cover looks like this:
If you're reaching for something with this kind of cover, you're looking for a good bodice-ripping romance with a husky he-man prancing across the hills on a white horse in search of his lusty, red-haired lass whose shirt always slips off her shoulder at the right time.
Or this:
This on the other hand promises plenty of gore and torture at the hands of a panda-faced maniac who's adding something nasty to the pasta sauce.
Enough of the extremes! Covers are extremely important since they contain the all-important title and  image that either draws us to or drives us away from picking up the book. Some covers have such an impact they've become iconic. Here are a few:


Francis Cugat designed the cover of  The Great Gatsby, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was still writing the novel. Fitzgerald like it so much he claimed to have written it into the story. As all students of the book know, the famous "eyes in the sky" could be the godlike eyes of Dr. T J Eckleburg or Daisy's sad, beautiful, disembodied eyes looking down on the gaudy carnival that represents Gatsby's decadent parties and the excesses of the decaying American dream!
S. Neil Fujita designed this iconic cover for Mario Puzo's brilliant novel, The Godfather, which features a marionette theme, suggesting the power of Don Corleone, the great manipulator and the ongoing conflict between the families to become the "puppet master".
The bold cover for Suzanne Collins' blockbuster, The Hunger Games, features the Mockingjay pin, an important symbol of freedom, signifying that Katniss, like the Mockingjay bird, is a creature with a spirit of her own who cannot be controlled by the Capitol. She becomes the figurehead for the eventual revolution against President Snow's brutal regime.
I must admit I'm partial to covers that feature people. Two of my favourite covers this year have covers that reflect the elegant, simple beauty of the story within:
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty features the exquisite Louise Brooks who is actually a character in this story of a quiet housewife who is hired to accompany the wild, eccentric and brilliant young actress to New York.
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent captures the wide-eyed innocence of a young girl, eventually caught up in the corruption, horror and injustice of the Salem Witch Trials.
When it comes to designing a cover, especially if you're self-publishing, it's always best to go with a professional design service. There are plenty of them on the web and they do a terrific job. Those authors who try to go it alone, might find themselves on a site called Lousy Book Covers, a site dedicated to finding the worst covers on the market. Follow the link and you'll see what I mean!
There are two ways to go with covers:
- Find a suitable Pre-made cover and have the designer customize it with your title and details. These can be inexpensive but very attractive. Check out this new cover for my novel, Chasing a Thrill (formerly Busted Out). I wasn't happy with the previous cover and title, so I gave it a new look with a design from Christa at Paper and Sage. Check it out here:
- Hire a cover designer to create your cover from scratch. This is a more expensive option, but can be the best way to go. Especially if you have a series and you want to create a brand. I've used the amazing Jeanine Henning for both books in my sci-fi series - THE FOREVER ONES and THE PARASITES, as well as for the cover of THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER. It's definitely a thrilling process to see your ideas translated by a talented artist into an eye-catching cover. 
What are your favourite book covers? I'd love to hear from you. Make your nominations in the comments section directly below the blog post. I look forward to hearing from you!


Monday, 17 November 2014

GETTING INTO THE WORLD OF A STORY



As a reader of many books, there's nothing I love more than immersing myself in a new world - the world of the story I'm reading. Whether it's a unique time period, geographical place, season of the year or even some weird fantasy world, I can't continue reading unless the author's creation of that world with all its unique details, its sights, sounds, smells, language, mood and atmosphere - absolutely transports me right there.
The Ancient Martian world

One of the first books that really achieved that for me in my earlier reading days was The Martian Chronicles by the great Ray Bradbury, whose achingly beautiful descriptions of the ancient Martian landscape and its subsequent settlement by the Earth travellers spoke volumes about the destructive effects of colonization.


Hilary Mantel's brilliant Wolf Hall, lures you skilfully into the world of 16th century London by using incredible sensory images that take you into Thomas Cromwell's mind, so that you view the events unfolding around him just as he would.

In The Little Stranger by the amazing Sarah Waters the reader is gradually drawn into the dark, post-war world of a decaying stately home where a family struggles to hold on to their dwindling upper class status. The eerie atmosphere gradually escalates into chilling horror, from which the reader is powerless to escape.



As a writer, creating the world of my story is one of the most important aspects of writing the book. Much of a writer's early pre-writing research involves getting a feel for that world. Sometimes you're fortunate to have lived in and experienced the world of your story, as in The Pitman's Daughter. Childhood memories of the street my grandmother lived in, helped me write about the fictitious Crag Street, and those childhood memories are often charged with powerful emotional associations. I was able to conjure up sharp images from memory of how the place looked, smelled, and felt. It's a very strange sensation when you're writing those kind of stories. You emerge from the experience feeling as if you've been transported away into another time and place.
For Unnatural and A Proper Lady (both out for submission to publishers), the challenge was greater. To recreate the Victorian world of both novels required a great deal of reading: newspapers from the era to get a feel for the mind set of the period; books written about the period, during the period; websites devoted to the era like Lee Jackson's wonderful Dictionary of Victorian London, which contains authentic articles about every aspect of Victorian life.

Watching documentaries can be helpful. For A Proper Lady, I watched a wonderful BBC documentary, The Victorian Farm in which three historians recreate life for an entire year on a farm as lived in the Victorian era. Films like this provide amazing and authentic detail for a writer.

Lilah's cabin
When writing contemporary stories, a familiar world can be enriched by adding very specific details. My work in progress, Lilah, is set in Northern Minnesota - a place very familiar to me - but to add authenticity to the world of my characters, I often collect a series of photographs that portray the homes, workplaces and general milieu of the characters. This allows me to picture them interacting with their setting. It's like going on holiday with out spending anything!!


The woods near Lilah's place 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

WRITERS AS ENTERTAINERS??



In all my years of reading and writing, I've attended my share of book launches and author readings. Some have been moving, memorable, hilarious and left me wanting more. Others have been a study in tedium during which my attention has wandered between checking out whose hair has shed the most dandruff onto their shoulders, to counting the number of heads doing the "chicken droop" as the author drones on in a writerly monotone. Poets tend to be the worst offenders. It seems the moment they start reciting their lines, it's a signal to slip into a one-note dirge. There are, however, some notable exceptions. This week's blog will highlight the best, past and present:


PAST:
Just as in the music industry today, yesterday's novelists and poets could make a killing from public lectures or readings, often mounting huge and ambitious cross-country tours.
CHARLES DICKENS touring schedule was an exhausting but lucrative one. Fascinated with the world of theatre, he found an outlet in public readings and his tours took him across the British Isles and twice to the United States. Eager fans crowded to see him and witness his grand theatrical style as well as his use of colourful backdrops and moody lighting. In the first of his US tours he performed 76 readings in 4 months netting 19,000 pounds ($38,000 approx) - not bad for 1867!

DYLAN THOMAS was the Welsh-born poet whose legendary drinking habits led to extremely unpredictable readings. Though he had a dramatic and flamboyant reading style, he was known to sometimes break down on stage or become violent and obscene or offensive at important literary events. When in top form, however his performances were memorable, and some have claimed his US tour in the early 1950's was the original "British Invasion". You can hear him on YouTube here.

PRESENT:
Nowadays authors use public readings as a way to launch new books or promote books sales. Here are three authors I've seen who are also amazing entertainers.

MARGARET ATWOOD: Her razor-sharp wit, wry sense of humour, incredible imagination and youthful approach to life and technology make her one of the most entertaining writers. After an hour-long question and answer session with a muddling CBC host at a local shopping mall, I found myself wishing he'd just be quiet and let her unleash her true brilliance. He did in the end, just sitting back as she entertained the audience with her ideas about science fiction, technology and life in general. Not to be missed!!
Coupland: Then and now

DOUGLAS COUPLAND: This Canadian author and visual artist is the wackiest, most unusual presenter. If you've read his early, groundbreaking novel Generation X, you'll know what a crazy sense of humour he has. I attended one of his readings and was treated to an hour of wildly creative, randomly free-associated ideas. Vivid images, wild speculation, astute observations and philosophical nuggets careened off the walls, colliding with each other in a dizzying barrage. Throughout the entire performance Coupland walked around like a restless genius. The result was incredible.


K.D. MILLER: Shortlisted for the Rogers Trust Prize for Fiction 2014, KD Miller was undoubtedly the best reader among the finalists I saw at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. This writer's warm, nuanced and confident reading of one of her stories from the nominated collection, All Saints was a delight. A difficult achievement when the story is about a very proper schoolteacher who poisoned her entire grade 2 class by serving them poisoned lemonade. Miller read with perfect emotional control, allowing the listeners a chilling insight into the mind of the killer.

I hope I've inspired you to attend a reading. Authors work in such a solitary setting, it's great to actually connect with readers. Look out for readings at bookstores and libraries in your area!



Monday, 6 October 2014

COMING FULL CIRCLE



My experience with the world of traditional publishing has been an interesting one. I've had a U.S literary agent, moved on to a terrific new agent in Toronto, had my work read at by publishers from the Big Six (or maybe it's the Big Five now) conglomerates and still haven't made a deal. In the meantime - during all the long, long, long (and I mean l-o-n-g) waits for various editors to get back to my agent, I've published five titles on my own and reached the Amazon bestseller lists with two of them.

Here are some truths that I've learned along the way for those of you interested in becoming writers or those of you who just want to know how the industry works :

  • You need to have a complete and polished manuscript before querying agents AND a very polished and catchy query letter.
  • Getting an agent is very difficult, but just because you landed one, doesn't necessarily mean you'll get published! Check out these comments from various editors about my novel UNNATURAL. Despite their enthusiasm for the novel, they passed. Aaaarrggh!!!!:
  • She has a flair for capturing the cadence of the time period and for creating a slow-burning atmosphere of tension and suspense in the opening
    She has a fantastic eye for detail, and her prose is wonderfully propulsive—and on top of that, her voice has such great humor in it!
    The read did intrigue me, as Clara is an excellently written protagonist whose feelings are identifiable and relatable, and the passion behind her quest to discover if a person can be born “unnatural” is commanding. 
  • Most agents are very pleasant and very helpful people who spend a great deal of time reading your work and helping you to get it in the best shape possible. They also can be extremely loyal as I've discovered with my agent Samantha Haywood from Transatlantic Agency who is now patiently waiting for me to submit A PROPER LADY to her.
  • You really do need a PLATFORM. Some publishers actually checked out my blog and the number of followers I have on Twitter and Facebook.
  • You need a thick skin and a ridiculous amount of staying power to stick with it in the face of many rejections.
  • You also need to be prepared to write, rewrite, write again, rewrite again, cut things out, put things back etc. etc. etc. And all this in complete solitude!
  • Whether you land a book deal with a publisher or do your own thing, YOU are responsible for marketing your books. Set aside time each day for that. It really does work.

UNNATURAL TO BE RELEASED SOON!!
So after all this time I've decide to publish UNNATURAL myself. A number of people have been asking me when it's coming out so I'm giving you a heads-up. I've already got a terrific designer, Jeanine Henning, working on an amazing cover. So here goes!! I hope to have the book out before Christmas. Keep checking my page and I'll let you know the PRE-ORDER DATE.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

SOME CALL THEM FREAKS...



The title of my blog today is actually the title of an unusual HBO documentary that I watched as part of my research for A PROPER LADY. It's about about the history of circus freak shows and the very unique people who chose, or in some cases were forced, to exhibit themselves in public to satisfy the curiosity of the rest of us so-called "normal" people.
I soon discovered that when you look beneath the often shocking exterior and learned about the real person, that these were people of extraordinary courage and often amazing talents. There are conflicting opinions in the literature as to whether they were cruelly exploited or whether this was really the only way available for them to make a living and retain some measure of dignity. The jury's still out on that one. I've highlighted a few of them here to recognize their amazing resilience in the face of insensitivity and sometimes cruelty and indignity .



CHANG and ENG
Though not the first set of conjoined twins in recorded history, Chang and Eng were born in Siam in 1811 and are responsible for the origin of the term, Siamese Twins. Joined at the sternum by a piece of cartilage, their livers were also conjoined but functioned independently. Their mother taught them to stretch the tissue so they wouldn't always have to stand face to face. They were "discovered" by a British merchant who paid their family for permission to exhibit them. Initially the boys were excited to travel and did a successful world tour, but when they discovered their "owner" was pocketing most of the profits, they terminated the agreement and took up with the famous P.T Barnum. Eventually they retired with enough money to buy a farm in North Carolina. They met and married two sisters. At first there was talk of an operation to separate them but the sisters protested and they lived many years using a "bed for four" until the sisters began squabbling and two households were set up which the brothers took turns visiting. They produced 21 children between them and lived an independent life. In 1870 Chang began to fail after suffering a stroke and eventually died in his sleep. Though still healthy, Eng woke up, learned what had happened and declared he would go too. He died within three hours!



SARAH BAARTMAN
Born in 1789 in the Gamtoos Valley of South Africa, she was sold in her 20's to an enterprising Scottish doctor named Alexander Dunlop who took her to Britain and exhibited her as "The Hottentot Venus", an exotic "creature" with highly unusual body features. This caused quite a stir since abolition of slavery was so recent. Many organizations took up her cause, claiming she was being enslaved and exhibited unjustly. After a lengthy trial in which she herself testified, the case was thrown out since she'd claimed she was doing this of her own accord, though some feel she was pressured to say that. After Dunlop's death she moved to Paris and was exhibited there for four more years, but her popularity waned and she spent the rest of her years in poverty. After she died, parts of her body including her skeleton, skull and genitalia were exhibited at "The Museum of Man" in Paris until the late 1970's. In 1990 President Nelson Mandela requested that her remains be returned to South Africa. Thankfully she was finally laid to rest in 2002 on a hilltop near her home town. She left a powerful legacy and became a South African icon, a symbol of the Western exploitation and racism.


JULIA PASTRANA
One of the saddest stories has to be this unique woman's. Born in Western Mexico, Julia suffered with hypertrichosis which resulted in her body and face covered in hair, a jutting jaw and swollen gums. She arrived in New York in 1854 and was exhibited cruelly as Bear Woman, The Ugliest Woman in the World or even The Missing Link. Incredibly however, she began to charm audiences with her beautiful singing voice, small, dignified frame and great poise. She became quite a celebrity and was invited to galas and balls where she conversed with great wit and intelligence with many dignitaries. Sadly her latest manager, Mr. Theodore Lent, realized her potential and in an effort to prevent her leaving him, married her and proceeded to treat her with great cruelty, refusing to be seen outdoors with her and becoming increasingly violent. She became pregnant, gave birth to a boy who was also covered in hair. The child died after three hours. Heartbroken, Julia weakened and died within a few days. Refusing to give up his source of income, Lent had her body and the body of their son, mummified, put into a glass case and toured the exhibit until he found and married another woman like Julia whom he exhibited together with his previous wife. He was eventually committed to a mental asylum. The mummified remains turned up in Oslo and were exhibited until the 1970's. many petitions were created to repatriate the bodies to Mexico, which they eventually were in 2013 at a large Catholic mass attended by thousands. The mayor of her home town said "Julia has been reborn among us, let us never see another woman be turned into an object of commerce." Wise words! I hope we'll remember them!

GREAT NEWS!!!
It's been a heady week with THE FOREVER ONES reaching #1 in two Amazon Bestseller lists and at time of writing #72 in the entire Kindle store!!
You can also pre-order SEARCHING FOR ROBERT P, EPISODE 2 right here
BUSTED OUT, THE PARASITES and THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER will all be on Kindle Countdown. Check out the links to see when.

Monday, 15 September 2014

TINSELTOWN TIDBITS

I just got back after a week in Los Angeles and I'm exhausted! Strange thing is, I'm a bit relieved at the cooler weather back home. A week of intensive driving on crazy streets and freeways in 30+ weather is enough to drain you.
I spent the first three days at the Story Expo conference - an event for writers of fiction as well as screenwriters. I attended many amazing workshops all about the nature and structure of STORY, by legendary teachers in the business such as John Truby, Joe Eszterhas, Steve Kaplan, Jen Grisanti and many others.

The colourful Joe Eszterhas

The conference also included a PITCHFEST. This was my first experience pitching project ideas to a variety of top production companies. I was pretty nervous when I saw the lineup. Here's a sampling: Endgame Entertainment (Lords of War, Looper, Hotel Rwanda), The Gotham Group (The Maze Runner), Oddlot Pictures (Ender's Game, The Way, Way Back, Drive), Entertainment One (too many to list, check the link, Anonymous Content (True Detective, Winter's Bone). 
So I was quaking in my boots as I clutched my pitch documents and rehearsed my "slick and convincing" pitch. This is how it goes. 

You have just over 5 minutes to pitch and the remaining 4 minutes to get a response. The roster is called for each time slot and you line up and walk into the pitch room which is set with tables, each labelled with the production company's flag. You madly search for your company and find a kid - barely out of college and heavily into texting or checking messages. It's your job to remove the bored look from their face and blow them away with your incredible idea! Easier said than done! By the tenth pitch I was pretty comfortable with the process. Some people pitched to 25 companies in a day. It was exhausting! I'm happy to report that I did manage to get some enthusiastic responses to my ideas and all but one company requested the pitch documents for further consideration. The next step is WAITING FOR A FURTHER RESPONSE!!!
Whether anything will come of it, I can't say, but it was a great experience. I learned a lot and met some other terrific writers.
After this three day marathon, I managed to escape the hotel and do some fun stuff. If you're planning to visit Los Angeles, here are some recommendations of places to stay and things to do:
HOTELS:
We stayed at The Sportsmen's Lodge http://www.sportsmenslodge.com in Studio City, an incredible remodelled retro hotel with gorgeous pool and comfy rooms.
ACTIVITIES:
I can highly recommend the Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour. You get an energetic tour around a working studio that produces terrific shows like The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little Liars, Ellen, Two and a Half Men, Friends and movies like Batman and Casablanca. CELEBRITY SIGHTING - JOHNNY GALECKI - BIG BANG THEORY.

Also on the recommended list - a concert at The Hollywood Bowl. After a gruelling two hour car ride through rush hour traffic, we took in the LA Philharmonic playing Holst's The Planets Suite. Incredible atmosphere, great music under a full moon shining through the tall trees.

OTHER CELEB SIGHTINGS:
Driving down Ventura Boulevard, we stumbled upon the launch of a new dance studio. After subtly crashing our way in, we found  many of this season's cast of Dancing With the Stars as well as my daughter's favourite actress from Pretty Little Liars. After some complimentary wine and snacks and a bit of schmoozing, we ended the evening at In-N- Out Burger.

We also spotted the wonderful Robert Duvall in blue baseball cap at Century City Shopping centre as he made his way to his car.
RECOMMENDED RESTAURANT:
Take in the ocean breeze and the busy Santa Monica seafront at Seasons52 Bar and Grill or check out the pretty Bar Verde on the second floor of Nordstrom's at The Grove shopping centre.
All in all - a great break, but now it's time to get back to work and finishing the first draft of A Proper Lady.
Until the next time!!




Wednesday, 20 August 2014

BOOK OR FILM?



I can't count how many times readers have told me they'd love to see my books as movies. I would too! Show me a writer who wouldn't - except maybe P.L Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, recently portrayed in the wonderful Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
In that spirit I've been adapting THE FOREVER ONES into a feature length screenplay and the experience has been an interesting one to say the least.


Novels and screenplays share some characteristics in common, but are actually very different forms. In the screenplay everything  is shown visually and there's little room for capturing the character's inner thoughts, except for the occasional voiceover, but you can't overdo that. Instead you have to rely on making your characters move, live, act and react to other characters and circumstances. That means cutting a lot of "interior" stuff and trying to show it through action and dialogue.
In a book you can fill the reader in with background and "back story", whereas in a movie you have to show background as something the character interacts with, and "back story" can't just be dumped on the viewer, it has to be integrated into scenes, with maybe a flashback, but again, you can't rely too much on those. Sometimes you have to start your movie at a different place than your novel to take care of back story.


In a book, you're concentrating on language and imagery. In a movie you have to capture vivid scenes full of arresting and thrilling images, dialogue and action. Also dialogue in a movie tends to be more brief and there are many more scenes with action rather than talking and long discussions.
That being said, experience writing screenplays really helps a novelist structure stories. I know that worked for me.

The screenplay forces you to adhere to a solid story structure and prevents you from wandering off on a tangent. It also forces you to write more visually, having that little TV monitor in your imagination, its screen filled with the ongoing action of your story.
When I think of all my stories I can see them all. The characters, the setting, every intricate detail. And they stay in my head permanently, so that I can retrieve them at any time.



I'll be taking my scripts down to Los Angeles in September for Story Expo, where you get to attend great class sessions on all aspects of story, and also get time to pitch your ideas to major studios. Your pitch has to be honed down into something so brief and catchy, you could present it in an elevator ride. So, fingers crossed, there may be some interest in a new YA science fiction series!
All of this got me to thinking about books that have been successfully adapted into movies. Here's my TOP 6 list:

  • The English Patient (Anthony Minghella), from Michael Ondaatje's Booker prizewinning masterpiece of the same name. Intelligent but steamy romance in the desert with the gorgeous Ralph Fiennes and the beautiful Kristin Scott-Thomas! 

  • The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont), from Stephen King's novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in masterful performances.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman), from Ken Kesey's iconic novel. A wickedly mischievous Jack Nicholson.

  • Empire of the Sun (Stephen Spielberg), from J.G Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Heart-rending, incredible performance from the young, Christian Bale and a terrific John Malkovich.

  • Blade Runner (Ridley Scott), from Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Atmospheric futuristic setting. Classic Harrison Ford and breathtakingly luminous performance from Sean Young. Also the great Rutger Hauer and Darryl Hannah as scary but handsome Androids.

  • Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock), from Daphne du Maurier's novel of the same name. Elegant but chilling black and white movie starring the suave young Laurence Olivier as the handsome Max de Winter and Joan Fontaine as his vulnerable second wife. A stern and scary Judith Anderson as "housekeeper noire", Mrs Danvers.
And a few more honourable mentions:
Silence of the Lambs, Carrie, Schindler's List, We Need to talk About Kevin, Atonement, Rebecca, The Godfather.

BOOK NEWS!!
Check out the latest 5 star reviews for THE FOREVER ONES and THE PARASITES!

Also 5 STARS for SEARCHING FOR ROBERT P!!

SEARCHING FOR ROBERT P, EPISODE 2 is available for PRE-ORDER HERE
CHECK OUT THE NEW BOOK TRAILER HERE

Oh and keep the reviews coming! It really helps to have a whole lot of good, solid reviews behind each book!!