Monthly Archives: December 2014

Remain Vigilant (boredom is death)

charlie-chaplin-392926_640I’ve been reading my first full draft of Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame with my eldest son Logan (he’s six) and generally I’ve been able to relax, safe in the knowledge that what I’ve written seems to keep him interested, entertained, and amused. However there is one chapter where the story moves to look at Jack’s parents’ lives before he was born. For some reason it seems unable to hold Logan’s attention (I’ve a feeling it’s because its all about the grown ups).

So do I just leave it as it is? It is only a small portion of a book that overall has kept him asking for more. I could try and excuse it as a necessary evil; that some characters may need a back story that a child might not be interested in, but I’d be kidding myself. It’s a children’s book, if it doesn’t entertain children I’ve done it wrong.

So I’m reworking a full chapter and it’s having a ripple effect on the rest of the book. It’s disheartening, it’s time consuming, but I’d rather hear from my son that a small portion of my book needs work (when I still have time to fix it), than wait and wonder why I’m not selling more copies once it hits the shelves.

This book is supposed to be exciting and it’s supposed to be able to engage with an age group which isn’t always targeted by fantasy writers. Occasionally this has been a challenge for me; I really love the world-building aspect of fantasy novels but there just isn’t much room to do that in a book aimed at early-school-years children.

I have to keep a fairly fast pace, maintain the action and adventure, but at the same time I like to include aspects that feel comfortable and familiar (it should be fine to read a chapter before bed without inducing nightmares). The domestic and the fantastical aspects were sometimes at odds during early planning stages but I’d ironed most of them out.

Unfortunately this chapter is my last remaining vestige of full-on world-building but like the rest of the book I’m going to have to just allow Jack’s world to be revealed through the action. This shouldn’t be hard to change actually, and with a few careful tweaks of a very small portion of the book I think I’ll have it. Then I can finally drum up print and kindle editions and release them out into the world for you lovely people to enjoy and (hopefully) talk to me about.

It did make me wonder though, who out there enjoys overt world-building? Would you rather learn about a fantasy world on the fly, as the action progresses, or do you like to have some aspects of the world explained to you so that the action can just move along on its own unabated? Let me know in the comments below, all the best, John

What do you think the world would be like with no technology?

wpid-imag1141_1.jpgI’ve just had an idea for a possible theme/event in book three and I’d love to get some feedback. Right here’s the basic concept, something happens that knocks out all technology in the matter-world (our world) and in Fey (the magic world) for about half a day. This would be like a power-cut on steroids, basically any mechanism crafted by human hands would cease to work, even locks would fail.

Keeping in mind that this is a book for fairly young kids I’ll be avoiding talking about death as much as possible. I’m not saying that death shouldn’t be explained to and discussed with young children, I just personally think there are a sufficient number of authors who have already tackled the subject adequately.

I just want my characters to have an adventure so I won’t be pointing out the fact that life support machines, pacemakers etc. would all be disabled too, causing potentially instant fatalities.

I will however be touching on some of the other potential dangers e.g.  looting, prison breaks, and other potential hazards of losing technology (what people might do with no phones, no cars etc.). I’ll contrast this with how the loss would be felt in Fey (where their technology is a little antiquated). For example, in Fey ploughs might break, locks won’t work (so prisoners can escape there too), and some other bits and pieces may stop working but overall life will be fairly normal.

I’m fairly certain it’s going to be easy for me to forget about some things, for example, right this second I realised that there’s a risk of food shortage in our world caused by failing technology like freezers and refrigerators. With the high potential of me being absent-minded and missing some important detail, I’d love to hear some feedback from you.

It may be the case that I’ll need to scale the event down so as to allow less time to be spent on explaining it and more time to be spent on the adventure itself. If I go this way I’ll either make the duration less, or (the option that I’m more likely to go for) I’ll only let the event happen in Jack’s immediate vicinity (maybe a forty or fifty mile radius).

Any opinions are very welcome though, thanks for reading, Cheers, John

DON’T FORGET: ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ is available in both paperback and in digital format, please click this link to pop over to the ‘books’ page where you can find out more about the book and get details on how to get hold of your copy. I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed writing it 🙂

Getting to know my characters

Jack and FynnTonight I took a short break from editing to draw up some really basic ideas of what my characters look like, it was a weird experience. In my head I’ve got pictures of what they all look and sound like but it was a whole other thing to get them down on paper.

Jack and FynnThe only character who has any resemblance to someone from ‘real life’ (in my own mind at least) is Fynn the Eldar: the first Fey person Jack meets on his entry to Fey. All the way through writing I pictured Qui Gon Jinn (or basically Liam Neeson). I could even hear him speaking the dialogue I wrote for him as I wrote it, which was actually pretty distracting.

Other than that my characters seem to have come from nowhere. I know they’re probably subconscious amalgamations of loads of people I know but consciously I just don’t see a resemblance.

I’ll do some more character profiles soon, once I’ve got a better idea about how to draw these people who’ve been following me around inside my head since the start of November. For tonight that’s me but I hope anyone dropping by has enjoyed meeting Jack and Fynn.

Let me know what you think to the character page (and to the official Jack Reusen web site itself), I’d love to hear some feedback, thanks for dropping by, Cheers, John

UPDATE: ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ is now available in both paperback and in digital format, click this link to pop over to the ‘books’ page where you can find out more about the book and get details on how to get hold of your copy. Hope you like it 🙂

Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame, beta testers

wpid-imag1103.jpgI’ve got myself three wee ‘beta testers’ for the first book in the Jack Reusen series, my sons Logan and Alexander (who can be painfully honest at times) and their cousin Sophie. Over the next few days they’ll be letting me know if the Fey Flame does the trick, so until then I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed.

In the mean time my attention has turned to artwork for both the digital and print editions. I’ve decided to keep things simple and try and capture as much of the feel of the book as I can. I’ll be putting together preliminary covers over the next few days and will get them posted on here.

Once the ‘beta test’ is complete the book will be sent to the printers and hopefully I’ll have a pile of signed copies available at Fun Junction (in Crieff and Perth, Scotland) sometime before Christmas (I’ll happily do a personally signed copy for you if I’m in when you’re there).

The digital (kindle) edition is basically ready and set to go off to Amazon, though it’ll need artwork attached too (we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m guessing having no cover won’t be a good move).

For anyone who has stumbled on this site at this early stage I’ll be uploading some sample text from the books, along with artwork etc. as I go, so if you’d like to find out more about Jack and his friends then please follow this blog or track me down over on twitter to keep track of new posts (or even just to have a blether).

UPDATE: ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ is now available in both paperback and in digital format, click this link to find out more about the book and for links on where to get hold of your copy. Hope you like it 🙂