A General Catch Up

It’s been a busy few weeks in these parts.

  • The first draft of Valkyrie is now complete and off with the editor. There’s still (probably) quite a bit of work to do so no firm news on a release date yet
  • The first draft of Cambiante is coming along very, very nicely – I’m hoping to have a rough draft finished this week, although it will need much more work to be a full first draft. Still, not bad for a book I didn’t know I was writing until about six weeks ago…!
  • I’ve now started looking at my notes for Mistika with a view to getting a detailed synopsis written. I did get a start on this last year, but I’ve had a rethink about my approach, so back to the drawingboard a little bit. (What’s already written will mostly be kept, but some of it will need to be reworked.)
  • I’m also working on the next bit of Friday Fiction, which will go up in about two weeks’ time.
  • If you missed the last Friday Fiction, you can find it, here: Wrong Turn
  • There’ve also been a number of new Music Monday posts. Catch up with the Elsehere soundtrack, here.

And I think that brings you up to date.

Happy reading! 🙂

Music Monday: Kephallonia Island

Music Monday once again, and this week we’re back amongst the scores, this time it’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, composed by The Flight.

This is another piece of music that doesn’t have a lot of bombast to it. It’s a very simple piece with stringed instruments, very minimal percussion and a tiny smidge of woodwind (if you know where to listen!) and it evokes a sense of promise and mystery.

It’s a piece that I listened to a lot when I was writing the middle section of the book. It was a good way to slow my brain back down after an action sequence and it set a good mood for writing difficult conversations.

The Elsehere Soundtrack on Spotify has been updated to add this in.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Music Monday: Big Log

Another Monday, another addition to the Elsehere Soundtrack. Today, Robert Plant’s song, Big Log.

Robert Plant is the some-time lead singer of Led Zepplin and since their heyday he’s had a prolific solo career across all kinds of genres. Big Log comes from early on in that solo career.

This is a piece of music that I often use as writing music because it doesn’t demand anything from me and just allows my brain to breath. It’s a slow, almost meditative piece with no crescendos or any sense of building up to a climax, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring! The harmony shifts from minor to major and back and it has a flow that just rolls on and on.

It has lyrics (as you’d expect) but they’re actually not that important here and if you’re expecting the sort of screamed vocal performance of a Led Zepplin, this is about as far from that as you can get. Instead, the vocal track almost functions like another layer of instrumentation and I adore the song all the more for that.

The Elsehere Soundtrack on Spotify has been updated to add this in.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Monday Music: Just a Girl

For today’s Music Monday, we’re going ska-adjascent with No Doubt’s Just a Girl.

No Doubt are an American rock/punk/ska group who has a big (massive) hit in the middle 1990s with Don’t Speak (which really wasn’t terribly typical of their style!) and are still going today, albeit around Gwen Steffani’s solo career and non-musical ventures. Just a Girl was on the same album (and was the first single released).

This is a song that resonated with me when it came out. It describes the experience of being a young woman in a world that is still inclined to patronise and shelter you “for your own good” and it feels as true now as it ever did. For that reason, it’s very much one of Ayana’s tracks, because at the start of the book she’s making her first, tentative steps into the world after having been sheltered and a little suffocated (granted, her parents had good reasons!). At the same time, this is one of the pieces of music she’s inherited from Joelle. All of us tend to at least get a start in our musical tastes from our parents and if the lyrics of this song are biting commentary on being a girl in the world, the music is so fun and bouncy that you just know the young Ayana danced to it as a child when her mother played it for her.

Speaking of the music, that brings me to the other reason Just a Girl gets onto this soundtrack: it’s another of my walking music tracks. It’s got an energy to it that gets a real bounce in my step and if it doesn’t really contribute much to fixing any plot holes, that’s okay. Sometimes it’s just fun to bop along!

The Elsehere Soundtrack on Spotify has been updated to add this in.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Friday Fiction – Wrong Turn

This month’s Friday Fiction is a short story that I wrote based around my time working as a taxi book-and-dispatch person in North West Bristol. It was a job I had for about eighteen months, as a teenager, and like any job where you’re dealing with the public, it certainly had its moments!

This story is a collection of some of the best ones – albeit with names changed to protect the innocent…and the guilty.

(And just for the record, there were 23 Church Roads in greater Bristol at that time – I sat and counted them after that particular call…)

Read Wrong Turn

Happy reading!

Music Monday: Ghost Town

It’s another Monday and another piece of my Elsehere soundtrack: Ghost Town by The Specials

The Specials were a band from Coventry who were a part of the 2Tone/ska revival movement of the late 70s and early 80s. Their commercial heyday was with their first incarnation but after a few splits and line up changes they’re still going strong. Ghost Town was one of their two UK no.1 hit singles.

The fact that this song’s become attached to the Elsehere is a bit of a reflection of the world events going on around me as I was writing, but it’s also part of the background for one of the characters which is why it gets to sneak in here.

So first, the music. It’s got a reggae beat and the big brass of a lot of the 2Tone music but slowed down and with a melody that uses a minor key, the so-called devil’s chord and a very eery organ part to help build the atmosphere. If there was an instrumental version of this I would absolutely adore it as-is – and it would probably have become a part of the Elsehere soundtrack anyway because it is the perfect bit of music for writing about abandoned places.

But then you get to the lyrics which are an encapsulation of the early 80s in urban Britain. Unrest, unemployment and a government doing nothing to help (or doing things that actively made the problems worse). It’s a very sharply observed piece of writing and got all the plaudits when it was released. The fact that this song once more fits the UK, forty years later is depressing.

And it’s the events the song talks about that make it a character piece. Joelle Haynes was a teenager through the early 80s and this song is very much a snapshot of where she came from and the building blocks of who she is now.

The Elsehere Soundtrack on Spotify has been updated to add this in.

That’s all for now. Happy reading!