Dec 09

Reflections on 2018

I had a conversation with my friends the other day about what the best and worst year of our lives were. My worst year was 2011. I was in sixth form, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I had little plans for the future and the present consisted of me stuck in classes, many of which I had little or no interest in. Maybe a question on Mussolini’s rise to power might appear in a pub quiz one day… One benefit of this experience was that I used my memories of school misery in Empty Nights. My best year was 2012 which was also a great year for the UK overall. London hosted the 2012 Olympics. The Queen had her Diamond Jubilee and I left sixth form and started university.  2012 was the best of my life… until now.

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Dec 04

Brixton Book Jam 2018

Hello everyone,

Last night I read the opening chapter of Empty Nights at the Brixton BookJam.

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It was a fantastic evening. The organisers were brilliant, the crowd was fantastic and a great night was had by all. The Brixton BookJam is held on the first Monday of March, June, October and December. I recommend that you all come along to these nights as you’ll be supporting local writers. All of the speakers that spoke last night are listed below along with their websites. Be sure to check them out:

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Dec 02

Spitfire Review: Shakespeare’s Star Wars

The first Star Wars film that I watched was Episode Two: Attack of the Clones. It’s generally accepted that this is one of the weakest films in the franchise but I loved it! I was blown away in the cinema by the car chase on the city planet, I cheered when the Jesus looking Jedi performed a flying kick on some guy with a flamethrower and jet pack and I was literally opened mouthed when the little green crazy frog man started flipping and spinning against the evil posh person at the end of the film. Forgive me, I was only nine! By the time Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005 I considered myself a Jedi Master on my knowledge of the Star Wars universe.

My knowledge of Shakespeare, in comparison, is lacking. I have great respect for the Bard and I have enjoyed many of his plays (see my Shakespeare reviews here, here and here) but I couldn’t tell you the name of Juliet’s nurse where as I could tell what every button does on Darth Vader’s chest. I had just finished watching a gender reversed performance of Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe when I spotted this in the gift shop.

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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doischer Verily, A New Hope

I bought the book on a whim and didn’t consider reviewing it on my website. It was just a silly novelty, something you might receive as a Christmas present. The following morning, as I read the book on my commute to work I was pleasently suprised at how masterfully well written it was. I was so impressed that I ordered Book Five: The Empire Striketh Back and Book Six: The Jedi Doth Return and afterwards Book One: The Panthom of Mence, Book Two: The Clone Army Attacketh and Book Three: Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge. Book Seven: The Force Doth Awaken and Book Eight: Jedi the Last have also been ordered.

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Dec 01

Winner of NaNoWriMo 2018

Hello everyone,

The date today is December the first which means that NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month has just finished. I am pleased to report that I met my target of writing 50,000 words within thirty days.

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50023 words written!

I now have a file called Ghost Train v0 (version zero or draft zero) saved on my laptop which contains the first 50,000 words of my manuscript. The plan is to complete Camp NaNoWriMo (depending on my commitments next year) and NaNoWriMo in 2019 so that I will have either 100,00 or 150,000 words to work from and form a first draft of Ghost Train in 2020.

This year’s NaNoWriMo was a fantastic experience and I also want to give a shout out to everyone I met in the Write In sessions in London after work. The sessions were incredibly productive and it was great to meet and work with other writers.

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Don’t forget that on Monday night I’ll be reading the opening chapter of Empty Nights at the Brixton BookJam! I should be on stage at 21:45 and it’ll be lovely to see you there. You can find more details on the event by clicking here.

Thank you and take care.

Nov 13

Stan Lee tribute

Hello everyone,

I was sitting on a delayed and diverted train from London Charing Cross when I heard the news. Aptly enough I was watching a fight scene between Wolverine and The Hulk on Youtube when the story broke. As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now the legendary comic book writer Stan Lee has passed away. His death wasn’t unexpected but it is still heart wrenching. His impact on the comic book world and our world as a whole, is undeniable and he has shaped the lives of thousands of children around the globe, including myself.

Here is a quick run through of Lee career in the writing industry.

Lee started working in Timely comics, later renamed Marvel comics, in 1933 doing grunt work in an office. Lee would proofread issues, refill ink pots and complete other small menial tasks. He was finally given the chance of write his own comic in 1941, his first comic was called Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge and was met with positive reviews. Shortly after this publication World War Two broke out and many of Lee’s characters fought in the Second World War against the Nazi’s and the Axis powers. The American troops on the front line would receive care packages which would contain comics books as proper-gander, some of these comics were penned by Stan Lee.

After the Second World War ended, sales in comic books dropped. The situation was made worse by Doctor Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent which accused comics of corrupting America’s youth. Due to this, every comic had to be approved by the Comics Code Authority, some of their rules can be found below:

  • Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  • Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  • No comic magazine shall use the words “horror” or “terror” in its title.
  • All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  • Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
  • Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.

Lee was an avid campaigner against the Comics Code Authority and due to this campaigning, and his earlier works in the industry, he became known as the “Father of Comics”. Lee argued that comics books were an effective medium for teaching the readers about real world issues such as drug use, racism war and he defied the code on many notable occasions.

In 1961, Lee was about to give in his registration letter and retire from the world of comic books when he received a phone call from his boss. DC Comics had published their first issue of Justice League of America and Marvel wanted to compete with a superhero team of their own. Lee’s wife told him he should accept the commission and write the comic the way he wanted to, not the way that the bosses at Marvel wanted. Lee followed her advice and soon afterwards the Fantastic Four were created, the first superhero family. Following this success, Stan created The Incredible Hulk, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, The X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and The Spectacular Spiderman to name a few.

Although Marvel almost went bankrupt in the 1990’s and had to sell the movie rights to many of their characters to stay afloat, Lee continued to work in the company, tirelessly producing comics. Today Stan is most well known for his cameo appearances in Marvel films, most notably films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Stan Lee is an inspiration for thousand of writers around the globe, he went from paper pusher to the head of a comic book empire.

Thank you for your work, sir. May you rest in peace.

Excelsior.

Stan Lee

Nov 11

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review

In August of 2016 I reviewed the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script, back when it was first published. You can read my review here but, to summarize, I gave the script a mediocre review. In June of this year I was lucky enough to be offered tickets to the play and after two years of walking passed the theatre doors I was finally able to go inside and watch the performance.

Here is my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

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Nov 01

Start of NaNoWriMo

Hello everyone,

Today is November the first and it is the beginning of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and the aim of the project is for writers to write up to 50,000 words in thirty days. To many non writers that sounds impossible but when you break it down it’s 1666 words a day. If that still sounds intimidating you can break it down again to 555 words three times a day.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a whole novel. It isn’t even to write a good opening to a novel. The aim is to write as much as you can, as fast as you can. In this case it is quantity over quality.

Yes, I have just finished publishing a novel and no this isn’t sequel to Empty Nights. Empty Nights is a stand alone novel as it my next novel, working title Ghost Train.

The plan is to write the first 50,000 words this November and maybe another 50,000 in July next year as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ll also be taking part in NaNoWriMo 2019  so when I officially start the novel in 2020 I’ll have either 100,000 or 150,000 words to work from.

I’ll be posting an update at the end of the month to report on how I’ve done. I’ll also be posting updates on my Twitter feed. You can find me on Twitter by clicking here.

Best wishes to anyone else participating.

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Oct 28

Spitfire Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

In 2014 I was introduced to the novel Looking for Alaska by John Green. The novel was actually published in 2005 so I was rather late to the party but I read it, loved it and soon read John Green’s other works including Turtles All The Way Down which I reviewed last year. John Green is also a famous vlogger and runs a Youtube Channel  that he shares with his brother, Hank Green. Fans of the brothers call themselves Nerdfighters. Hank was perhaps most famous for his Crash Course series on YouTube but recently has delved into the world on literature. Around the same time I was publishing and advertising my book, Hank was going through the same process for his novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It was interesting to compare our journeys and because I have been a fan of Hank for many years I feel as though his book deserved a review.

WARNING: mild spoilers from this point onwards.

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Oct 14

Camden Fringe review – 2018

Hello everyone,

Throughout the month of August, the area of Camden and several locations beyond it, play host to a variety of shows that form the Camden Fringe Festival. I’ll admit that the timing of  Camden Fringe this year couldn’t be worse for me. August was my promotional month for Empty Nights and as a result there were some performances that I bought tickets for but never attended. It’s also the reason I’m reviewing the shows so long after their performance date.

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Oct 01

Returning from a writing break

Hello everyone,

I’ve spent all of September on a writing break, to recharge after my book was launched on 1st September. Although I did end up writing, so it wasn’t much of a break to be honest, I enjoyed not working to a deadline. The pressure is off. It also gave me time to plan out the rest of my projects up till December.

This website will continue to be updated and will enter early hibernation on 9th December. The content I’ll be posting until then will include reviews of shows or plays I watched earlier in the year but didn’t have time to write about (for example Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)

I’ve returned to the Write Up Our Alley YouTube channel and my videos will continue up to December. This means I’ll have completed one whole year on the channel (minus the two months break I took to publish Empty Nights).

I’ll continue uploading to the Starting as Strangers Youtube channel with my final video of the year being published on 13th December. I’ll return to the channel in 2019 in early January with New Year’s resolutions video.

If you haven’t brought Empty Nights yet (and why not?) you can find the Amazon link under the Empty Night tab at the top of your page. Once you’ve read the book please leave a review. If you would prefer to buy the book from me in person and have it signed, let me know.

Once again, thank you for your support during the launch. It means the world to me.

Take care and I’ll see you all soon.

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