Monthly Archives: February 2015

Would you like to be a zombie?

Close_Gate_in_Case_of_Zombie_OutbreakBig spoiler for ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’ coming up…there are ‘zombies’ in it. I’ve got ‘zombies’ in inverted commas because I’ve tried to aim along the lines of slightly frightening, irrational people rather than terrifying undead corpses stalking the earth in search of brains. The books are for kids of five and up so, you know, I should probably avoid the brain eating.

So, there are no dead people and there is no brain eating. Other than that I’m running a few standard zombie movie scenarios in the course of the book: the general ‘something’s not quite right’ feeling evoked by the early stages of classic zombie flicks, leading on to irrational people chasing the heroes, and then our heroes are locked in a house with a horde trying to get in. Hopefully I’ve kept the scariness balanced enough for it to be exciting but not nightmare-inducing (don’t worry I’ll test it on my own kids first).

So here’s the fun bit: I was wondering if anyone out there wanted to volunteer to be a ‘zombie’. If I get a big influx I’ll need a way to decide who gets in, so feel free to give me an idea of what kind of behaviour your ‘zombie’ might display.

Here are a couple of examples, a lady with a fixed ‘plastic’ smile, her eyes gazing right through you as she makes paper aeroplanes out of important documents from her briefcase. Then there are two men queuing for coffee who attack each other over a packet of sugar but who forget their fight completely and limp away when someone interrupts them, one limping from being kicked in the butt.

Both of these come from the early ‘zombification’ stage but you could describe your zombie however you like. The basic idea is that people are losing their senses, getting lost in irrational, repetitive, and even dangerous activities (with a slightly comic twist). The best three will make it into the book. I’d particularly like to see ideas for members of the ‘zombie horde’. I look forward to hearing your suggestions/submissions (make sure you pop them in the comments below so I can find them easily), all the best, John

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OK fess up, are you reading children’s fiction?

J._K._Rowling_at_the_White_House_2010-04-05_9Rough number crunching gives us an odd statistic (though with the popularity of Harry Potter, Skulduggery Pleasant, etc. this is perhaps not surprising). Basically children (for argument’s sake let’s say those aged from 0-15) make up a little less than 10% of the UK population but sales of ‘children’s fiction’ (as defined by the publishers) makes up more than half of the fiction sold here.

Let’s assume that kids read twice as much as adults. To be honest I’m not sure I would believe that, you just need to see the average group of commuters to see how many adult fiction readers there are. Anyway let’s assume that children are more avid readers. Even then that would be two kids fiction books for every child and one for every adult. Adults make up 90% of the population, so that’s still a 9:2 ratio.

To even out the ratio children would have to be getting through a whopping nine books for every one book read by an adult. Someone, somewhere, is reading a lot of kids fiction.

I’ll admit that, aside from a very small number of exceptions, I basically exclusively read children’s fiction. A big part of that is exposure; I work in an environment filled with children’s books so when I’m deciding what to read next my attention is already there, but what’s everyone else’s excuse?

Is it the simplicity of the story-lines? Is it the departure from the every-day themes which can arise in typical adult fiction (even the most fantastical)? Many of us read for harmless escape (that’s my main motivation anyway) perhaps it’s just as simple as that: children’s fiction offers a greater escape from the stresses of adult life.

I’d love to hear your opinion, so feel free to add a comment below. It’d be interesting to see the different reading preferences and reasons behind them. All the best, John

(information gathered from 2013 and 2014 statistics)

And as simple as that, here they are…

wpid-imag1318_burst002_1.jpgThe books have arrived! The official book launch for ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ will be in Fun Junction in Perth this Saturday (21st February). I’ll be reading excerpts from the book and talking about stories and writing. There are three sessions scheduled, at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm and they’ll go on for as long as kids look interested.

My last few nights have been spent reading through the book to find the best, most exciting parts to share with those of you who can make it to the launch. I can’t wait to see what kinds of reactions I’ll get on Saturday.

I’ve also been working on book two (while not chasing up book deliveries etc.) and I’m fairly happy with the book’s progress, though I’ll need to knuckle down on Sunday if I want to meet my deadline of the end of the month. Provided I can get it done by then, I’ll have four to six weeks to edit it and neaten it up (and beta test it a little/lot) before sending ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’ off to the printers.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday in Perth (if you can make it along), all the best, John

Reusen Writathon

starling-216086_1280Just in case it looks as though I haven’t been doing anything I thought I’d pop down a wee log of progress for book two (‘…the Spark of Dreams’). Currently I’m sitting near the end of chapter five with 11,846 words.

Today’s words written so far are 1,186, not a huge amount this morning but Jack has just met four new characters: a boy with no arms, a hedgehog girl, a fawn, and a bird-girl with her own special skill.

They all took a bit of work for me to be happy to start writing about them so that was a good portion of this morning’s activity.

Now stopping for a spot of lunch and then it’ll be school-run, feeding the kids, getting homework done and bath night, then hopefully sometime around nine I’ll be back at this keyboard to get to know more about these new characters.

In the mean time I’d love to hear what people think to my using a character with no arms and what kind of things you think might be worth thinking about for him. Pop your responses in the comments section below.

Until tonight, thanks for reading, all the best, John

One week on

wpid-wp-1422646240603.jpegThis time last week ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ went live on kindle, since then I’ve sold a lot more copies than I expected to in Jack’s first week. I’ve also had a few people reserve copies of the print edition which should be on the shelves soon (printers’ schedule permitting).

The response to Jack’s world has really surprised me and I’m really touched that so many people have shown support for my wee book series either by buying a copy, or simply by liking the facebook page and following on twitter.

On top of this I now have two book talks booked for the coming weeks. One of these might be expected (for those of you that know me anyway), as it’s a book reading/talk and signing at Fun Junction in Perth.

The other event came as a real surprise as a teacher that I know who works in a Stirling school asked if I could join in with their World Book Day event which draws in three schools. Needless to say I jumped at the chance.

However, of all the brilliant things that have happened this week I have to say my favourite is the fact that one of my son’s friends at school came up to him and told him that his dad’s book was ‘awesome’. He’s six and he’s been reading it himself after his mum bought a kindle copy this week.

That was the whole point of writing this and I hope he’s still enjoying it. It still feels kind of odd knowing that there are people out there who know Jack, and Fynn, and all the others. Part of me still feels as though the characters just live inside my head, it’s lovely to think that they’re now alive in a bundle of other people’s heads too. That probably sounds a bit weird but you know what I mean.

Anyway thanks as always for reading, if you’ve had a read of ‘…the Fey Flame’ I’d love to hear what you thought of it in the comments below, Cheers, John