move over, Jill, there’s a Lynn in town! (a book review)

BlackthorneBlackthorne by Lynn Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t tend to do genre fiction, except that, in an interview last year – being an author myself – when asked which my favourite genre was, I didn’t reply as you might expect; in fact, my more natural response ran this way: “It isn’t necessarily a question of genre, for me, but whether or not the book is well written; that’s what a good book is: it’s well written.”

Now, it’s all well and good me spouting such platitudes as long as I’m ready to put my money where my mouth is. If I’m prepared to give the odd genre the time of day, that is, though in this case particularly one that, for me, really has to have something else going for it other than the obvious – the word begins with ‘s’.

That’s where Lynn Cooper came in.

I once decided to follow this romance/erotic author on amazon simply because of her backlog of work – she has to be doing something right; so many books. The book covers have always appealed to me, too, whenever I’ve caught them flowing through twitter streams, especially her ‘curvaceous’ series.

Why?

Because they look like they could actually be quite funny. A little tongue-in-cheek at times, perhaps, which I’m very much a fan of.

As far as book covers are concerned, however, I plumped for Blackthorne, a more conventional looking number in the genre – suited and booted, model-type he-man, sending model-type chick into raptures; stubble tickling neck and all. Hot, I think the term is.

But I still entered this book with an open mind. And to my open-minded surprise, I truly enjoyed it.

Why?

Because Lynn Cooper is a master in her genre. You might say she has it nailed. Thanks, Lynn Cooper for reinforcing my reading philosophy.

The book is very well written, in every aspect, like its structure – it never jars – and I have to applaud her for it.

It’s based around four ‘angsty’ characters – all alpha and infallible-free – and narrated from the points of view of two, via alternate chapters, but I won’t say any more than that – if ever you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know I give nothing away. All four characters are very real, striking in their own right; I was able to visualise them – and yes, I have to say, I did find myself becoming rather attracted to Paisley, a sort of young Sarah Michelle Gellar type if ever there were.

Yes, there’s a movie, down the line, I’m sure of it.

I’ll not say much more than to add that I truly appreciate Lynn Cooper’s sense of humour. There’s something very British about it for me, particular in her characters’ exclamatory lines, my favourite being: “Well shit fire and save matches!”

Bravo, Lynn Cooper, and keep up the good work.

View all my reviews

author gets another all-clear – and this time it’s even clearer!

I had an epiphany last week, whereby the next addition to my literary series The Rowlings Years materialised before my eyes seemingly out of nowhere. Not in some finished, concrete form, of course, but in its outer structure; rather like that of a building; a house, me, as author, its designer – said project, by the way, if you’ve since forgotten, being that of three consecutive sequels in novella form; a mini trilogy within the trilogy, you might say.

Well, my journey from last week to this has been equally fascinating – as someone who recently replied to my last post states: “Inspiration comes when and where it wants!” Fascinating this time around in that not only have I already created the book covers for all three books – which you’re not going to see just yet – but, in creating them, they, in turn, have inspired me further; the result so being that I now feel all three books will act as the perfect stepping stones for subsequent books, further down the line.

Phillip Rowlings has a long way to go yet.

I’ve wanted to keep you updated as I feel you’ve been with me from the project’s inception – or in other words, because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut for a mere week, whereby this blog post, or indeed last week’s, would have been unnecessary, but then where would be the fun be in that?

“Inspiration comes when and where it wants!”

Indeed it does.

And you have to admit that my having invited you in at the outset entails you coming along with me, upon this author’s journey, from start to finish – how great is that!

As for concrete details, regarding this week and last, this is how matters now find themselves:

Firstly, creating the book covers inspired changes in the titles, or minor tweaks. And they are as follows:

The All-clear; an anti-romance novella

The Battleaxe of Hastings; an anti-hist fic novella

Broken Strings; an anti-chick lit novella (some of you may even be relieved to see this one; and that last week’s title has since taken a nosedive off Hastings Pier).

Each title is a play on words in some form or other, if never for the sake of it and is very relevant as always.

As with the previous books in the series also, music acts as some form of catalyst, with regard to plot. And as tempted as I am to name each piece of music to do ‘its thing’ in its respective novella, well, I’ll resist for the time being. But yes, again, you can expect music.

I’m not about to say much else, for the while, save that my aforementioned fascination, with regard to the creative process thus far, derives, as mentioned above, from what inspires me. Or rather how one aspect of creativity may help to create another. I can honestly state that in this last week, book covers have inspired changes and tweaks in book titles, and vice versa; songs have been introduced, and others axed, based on said titles and so on… and so it goes.

What inspires a book?

For me? Anything and everything.

See you again very soon.

Chris,

You literary, theatrical, friend

author gets the all-clear! pity he can’t say the same for Phillip Rowlings…

For any fans of my literary invention, The Rowlings Years I know you’re out there; you may not be great in number, but then nor should you be. Blessèd be the few, and all that!

Anyhow, the good news is that I, your author, have had an epiphany, concerning said series, which happened right here, where I’m sitting, just this morning – and it didn’t hurt a bit. Of course, I can’t speak for Phillip Rowlings. In fact, I do think it’s about time I put him back through his paces, in the old interview room – it must be three years since I last did so, around the time of his first outing in Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good… And as you should know, things have moved on quite a bit since then; indeed, a whole decade and a half, with Phillip maybe non-the-wiser – re-the meaning of life and such, that is, which does tend to bog him down at times…

Hey, and here’s another idea: why don’t I get you, dear reader(s), to put him through his paces? I’m sure you’d come up with far more pertinent questions that I could at present.

Do take time to think about it.

And so to the epiphany, whether good news or bad.

Around the time of writing my debut novel, and falling head over heels for a large portion of its characters – not forgetting how it conjured up memories of my own from those heady days – I would often contemplate a prequel; that’s to say, a book in which we might meet all those characters once more, in a younger form. A prepubescent Phillip and Jed, can you imagine? Fumbling their way along amid whirlpools of filched cigarettes and Tamla Motown…

Well, this idea comprises at least part of this morning’s epiphany, in that I’m most definitely going along with the project. I’m far from sure about the details, like narrative voice and co – though I have given thought to Jed being narrator – but I can promise it will be very different from Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good… I love a challenge and will never write the same book twice…

As for the other part, the part to complete the epiphany, I’d just like to inform you that my offerings with regard to sequels, sequels to Nancy Boy; for one year only, book 2 in the series, they’ll arrive via the form of three novellas:

Book 3 will be called The All-clearalong with some half-witty tag or other, no doubt; I’m never one for making things easy on myself. Ironic, going by that title, don’t you think?

Book 4: The Battle of Hastingsthis story, according to Phillip, being the more important version.

And book 5: The Advent of Slags on Fire – a title for which I genuinely and humbly apologise. And will endeavour to make up for it via the content.

Regarding times of publication, book 3 shouldn’t be long now… 

So, there you have it. And I do hope, for you happy – discerning – few, that this is good news. For I once again look forward to, and relish in, being you literary servant. Therefore, look out for future posts in which I’ll both go into more detail and keep you updated regarding progress made.

Thanks for reading.

Chris,

 

Your literary, theatrical friend

‘Should I arrest ‘im, inspector? ‘E ‘as got beady eyes!’ A review of Alan Hardy’s novel The Mystery of The Disappearing Corpses…

The Case Of The Disappearing Corpses: Inspector Cullot Mystery Series Book 3The Case Of The Disappearing Corpses: Inspector Cullot Mystery Series Book 3 by Alan Hardy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks for the exercise in hilarity, a well deserved five stars !

I think it safe to say that I haven’t read any mystery so complicated by Conan-Doyle or Pope. But then I can also safely say that theirs are not so farcical either.

This is the first of a collection I happen to have read by the author, one who, quite clearly, has been influenced by many of the old greats to have marked me down the years too: namely, the Ealing Comedies…

Firstly, we have Inspector Cullot. I love the French touch, especially given he happens to own a fetish for ladies’ underwear, but we’ll allow him that – he is, after all, possibly the world’s greatest detector of crime, and possibly of all time; and if you don’t believe me, ask blundering PC Blunt, and they don’t get much blunter that him! A bit of a throwback is Blunt, to Basil Rathbone’s Watson, played by Nigel Bruce – or do I mean the blundering idiot of said films, Inspector Lestrard? Or maybe ask the somewhat more competent, if impotent, Watkins – I say impotent but only when dealing with Cullot’s young and more reliable Barbara Windsor-esque kick-in-your-face daughter, Stephanie – thank God she’s on this team of fallible four!

But of course things always turn out right in the end…

As I state in each of my reviews, I will never give anything away, but what I would like to say is this: if you’re after an easy, furiously fast and funny read, then this book – no doubt this series – is for you!

I’ve already likened the book to the style of Ealing Comedy – Watkins, a young George Cole, perhaps; Blunt, Trinder? Formby? Sid James? Stephanie is positively St Trinian.

And as for Cullot himself? Will Hay every time for me.

One last thing, were you to extract the book’s witty dialogue – indeed, the dialogue – you’d be left with only a fifth of the book. And for that reason you can’t help but race along with it. All credit, then, to the author, because I myself know how difficult it is to produce flowing dialogue without it at times losing itself, and therefore the reader.

It’s thanks to the amount of dialogue, and the author’s skill and dexterity in applying it, that I not only visualised the book in film, but in the theatre as well, each scene as visual as it is humorous.

What a good old fashion romp – Bravo, Alan Hardy !

Chris,

your literary, theatrical friend

do flies fly, do ducks duck – do muses muse? an authorial guide to an authorial myth…

Hello again, and welcome (back).

I was going to write a piece about smoking for this post, given that cigarettes play something of a prominent role both in my debut novel, Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good, and its sequel, Nancy Boy: for one year only…

… but then I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say about them, about cigarettes, at least this time around, other than the fact they’re bad for you, and you possibly know that already…

And so, this time around, I’d simply like to offer my opinion on that old authors’ bugaboo: ‘writers’ block’ – I can already hear you: ‘’Been done! Boring. The irony: Chris is writing about writers’ block because he’s totally uninspired – Tell us something about cigarettes!’

And you may well be right. For, at the end of the day, all I would like to say about it – well, there’s a clue in the above paragraph, where you’ll notice I placed my first mention of the ‘ailment’ in inverted commas, as I’ve just done again, there, with ‘ailment’. Why? Because there’s no such thing as ‘writers’ block’, but a mere whim amongst authors, an attention seeker – How I suffer for my art! I was a genius, and now I’m a fraud!

Thank God, then, for writers’ block! The ignorant masses – you know, the non-authors out there – those doing real work, they buy it, ’works like a charm.

And so it goes, as somebody once said.

‘What, then, Chris, might we attribute to the state of being uninspired?’

In a word: fatigue. In another: tiredness. In another – okay, I’ll make it two: mental exhaustion.

Prescription: go and do something else – a change is as good as a rest!

‘And for how long?’

As long as required – how long is a piece of string?

Writing is a consequence  the byproduct, you might say – of a head-full of knowledge, which is subconsciously working away, formulating your art, whilst ever you, the author, are engaged in other activities, like taking your kids to school, playing badminton on Thursday, and on, each activity fuelling the mind with creativity… save that, on some days, attempting to force it out , the creative process, before it’s ripe, can have the adverse effect…

No, I won’t go on, but to say that this has been my experience since I’ve been ‘putting pen to paper’, particularly with the above novels.

The sequel to the sequel, incidentally, is making progress: The Battle of Hastings – the third in the Rowlings Years series. And my policy of taking a break when it isn’t there is working a treat.

But here’s what inspired this post, thus confirming my philosophy, you may want to call it: earlier today, again basking in a week away from the ‘pen’, I was lying in the bath whilst my beautiful other half sat on the side of it. We were chatting, about how we arrived where we are today, and via many an adventure, I’m very happy to say – I wouldn’t have had it any other way; did you know that swords actually evolve into pens if you survive? Anyhow, what evolved from this conversation was my mental formulation of the fourth book in the Rowlings Years series: Two Big Bags and a Guitar…

How about that!

It’s just a case of getting it down, that’s all. Which will happen when it so wishes I do so.

In the meantime, if you are an author, I hope this post has given you a better sense of perspective – or you’ll at least give it a thought when it just isn’t happening for you.

Thanks for reading.

Chris,

Your literary, theatrical friend