Other projects

The Devil’s Playbook was my first novel, though it will not be my last. There are a few ideas knocking around in my mind, so I will use this page to provide updates on any of them that start to unfold. From time to time I will also engage in some smaller writing projects to help mix things up, and will provide details here.

Short Story: You (02/01/18)

I have written and posted a short story here. It is framed as a creative way to look at life and relationships, taking a place in our minds and trying to give it some colour. It is fantastical, but hopefully resonant with the experiences of others. Please feel free to post comments and let me know what you think.

Second novel: working title “Love’s Lost” (updated 13/12/17)

In November 2016, as part of Nanowrimo, I started the above titled second novel. I have to confess that I didn’t get too far into it before I became  little unstuck. The idea is sound, and I really liked some of the character developments that were planned, but the 12,000 or so words I put down at the time felt a bit ugly.

In 2017, I restarted the novel during the next Nanowrimo, and this time was able to find a much better flow. The target word count was hit on 28th November, but the story remained unfinished. As at mid-December, the first draft is close to rudimentary completion. I hope to finish in time for the holidays, allowing me to gift copies of it to family, as was done with The Devil’s Playbook in 2015.

The new story, which I think will keep the name Love’s Lost, follows on from The Devil’s Playbook, in sorts. It is set in the same world that was built for the first novel, but explores different characters, and a different angle. It is set about fifteen months later, and follows two main characters; one human and one an ex-angel, searching for the entity that they assume, correctly, is called Cupid. In The Devil’s Playbook, Luke, The Devil, was trying to get a rise out of God, via means of a human character, Andy. In Love’s Lost, Katie and Steve are searching to find Cupid, who they know is off his game, but don’t know that it’s because he has become an alcoholic. Dating, in London, can even dishearten Cupid.

But they are not the only ones searching for him. Someone else has worked out Cupid must exist, too, and is also closing in on him. And this someone is carrying a knife.

As at mid-December, the main plot notes have mostly been hit, but I need to wrap up the climax and the conclusion. I think I have about five more scenes to write. Then I will need to go back through and flesh it out over the upcoming months. There is a lot of work needed to build up the characters, as neither Katie nor Steve are as likeable as I need them to be, yet. Nor is Cupid.

But it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed writing the story, and I think it has the potential to be something good.

More soon.

Poem – Elite: Dangerous

I play a fair bit of Elite: Dangerous, which is a large, open-ended space flight simulation computer game. It is engagingly complicated, has its own culture and lexicon, and can be played in a number of styles. From frenetic combat or industrious mining, to long-haul trading or deep space exploration, there’s plenty of approaches to playing the game. The culture surrounding the last, exploration, appeals to me particularly. Players, known as commanders, can spend days, weeks, or months (real time) exploring the reaches of the galaxy, seeing in-game wonders that no player, or even the game’s developer, has seen, in complete isolation from the rest of the game’s community. This hermit-like wandering lifestyle eventually comes to an end though, when players return to the space stations of human-colonised space in the ‘bubble’ of stars that surround the ancient cradle of humanity; Earth. They do this to bank their exploration data, change to a new style of play, or simply call and end to one journey before starting another. Feeling creative one afternoon, I wrote the following poem in tribute to these explorers.

A note on some of the terms in the poem: ‘O7’ is a common term used by way of greeting in various space games between online players. In text format, as above, it looks like someone saluting, see?  It can be read either as ‘salute’ or ‘oh-seven’. Also, ‘the black’ is a common, and affectionately used, term for deep space in the sci-fi/gaming community. I first ever saw it used in Firefly, a beautiful but short-lived sci-fi TV series. Anyway… the poem is below.

Ode to the Explorer

To the wild-eye commander, in from the black,
Suit graced by wear, helm adorned by use.
O7, friend, tell me of your time,
Of the stars beheld, and moons on which you trod.
Speak of nebulae, of moments hanging,
Timeless drifting, engines cooled,
Of sights beheld, marvel-filled.
Remove your mask, let loose your unshorn hair,
Murmur softly of the peace in which you dwelt.
Sit with me awhile.
Coffee grasped in hand, a hunger in your stare,
Blow softly on rising steam and re-join our bubble home.
Tell me of your trusty steed, faded paint on a star-bleached hull,
A companion true, a home away, the machine in which you slept.
Vastness spied through a fragile screen,
A thinness framed ‘tween here and there,
Ever present, recalls of a journey’s start.
With rusty voice, tell of when,
Long ago, you felt that here was far enough.
That place from where, with rueful smile, you knew return must come.
Of plotted courses, leaps and bounds, the black reduced with time.
Of startled jolt, of broken spell, when upon the scanner shown,
Was fellow Man, a Commander near, a presence long unfelt.
Explorer’s calm replaced by quiet fervour, suspicion in your eyes,
A jump to hide your trail, swollen data banks’ hushed cry,
The frantic rush, of docking found, of the thruster’s howl into descent,
Exhilaration washed with calm when the final clamp slams shut,
Of safety found, forgotten warmth, of a shelter in the night.
Already, I see, your gaze drifts far.
The star port hum and busy clatter,
Fill your ears with a jarring note,
Outward your mind turns again,
Onwards and away.
Take care my friend, keep safe, fly true,
I will see you again, next time you come.
Or not, perhaps, for adventure bites,
And I feel the sting myself.
Yet our paths may cross again someday,
In some distant reach, as yet unknown,
A moment’s pause in our lengthy search,
For realms withheld from all but us.


Poem: A moment

A few years ago, I wrote a short poem about the moment of becoming love struck. Many don’t really believe in it, I’ve found over the years, instead looking for the slow-growth love of familiarity and comfortable adoration. I don’t think either is bad, and I do like to think that both can exist. In someways, that is a discussion point in the second novel of mine, Love’s Lost. If old tales told us of Cupid, then they tell us of becoming love stuck.  And Cupid, or his cultural equivalents have existed for a long time. Was it always thought that Cupid didn’t really exist? Or if modern society does not believe in Cupid, is that an acknowledgement that people don’t become love struck? Has Cupid, and the real-world risk taking fun of falling in love, been lost to cynicism?

Who knows. But I’d like to believe that love can strike, suddenly and powerfully. Maybe it’s just lust? But why not dream of more?

A moment

The lightning strikes,
The world stands still.
The rivers freeze,
Electric thrill.
In breathless air,
A timeless place,
Our gazes meet,
With Cupid’s grace.
A new world calls,
A place to share,
A different fate,
If we but dare.