Thursday, 31 July 2008

Interviewed by Victoria Blisse

Recently I was interviewed by Victoria Blisse for a workshop she runs. Here's my answers to her questions.

How did you start writing erotica?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. Back in secondary school, I used to love getting story-writing as homework in English lessons. I even started writing a novel when I was 16. I didn’t finish it, but that’s not the point. (It was about six teenagers given super powers by an alien in a last ditch attempt to save the planet from other alien invaders, since you didn’t ask)

I turned my hand to erotica when I was around 23-ish. I’d been reading a lot of “sex stories” (as opposed to erotica) on the Usenet, particularly alt.sex.stories and thought “I can do that”. So I did.

As you can imagine, at that age I had lots of other distractions (I still have lots of other distractions, the chief of which is a three-year-old monster that my wife assures me is my son) so I didn’t really write that many stories. It was only after I joined a writers groups called The Fishtank (http://www.desdmona.com/fishtank.php) in spring 2004 that I started to take this writing business seriously. By the end of the year I’d plucked up the courage to submit a story for publication. I’ve sold 14 short stories since then, a whole bunch of “flash” stories (less than 300 words) and had two novellas published by Phaze. I’m currently working on a novel (70000 words and counting) and I’ve got more shorts and two other novels sitting in the back of my head waiting patiently to be written.

Do you use British Spelling in your writing?

Yes. I can’t be having with all those ‘z’s and I do love a good ‘u’. Besides, my stories are set in the UK. Well, most of them are. There’s on set on a train from Rome to Paris, but the main character was a Brit. The only exception was Lost & Found which is set in America and so it seemed appropriate to use their spellings.

Why do you think Brits are cool?

We just are.

What, you want more? Okay, here’s a list…(deep breath)

James Bond, Aston Martin, E-type Jags, Oasis, Blur, Lilly Allen, Robbie Williams, Dame Judy Dench, Alan Rickman, Harry Potter, Huge Grant… I mean Hugh Grant, David Beckham, Shakespeare, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Jammie Dodgers, Doctor Who, Overpaid footballers, Men Behaving Badly, Wimbledon, Lara Croft… Do I need to go on?

Are Brits more open-minded about Erotica than their American counterparts or not?

I don’t know. And I think it would probably be a huge and stereotypical generalisation to try and say if they were or not, which ever side of the argument you came down on. I think people are people and they are all different, regardless of what their nationality is.

Spanking is the English Vice, do you think the Brits only like spanking stories?

Well they’ve never done anything for me, I must admit. Mind you, I can think of one or two girls in the office I wouldn’t mind putting over my knee – but that wasn’t what you asked, was it.

Share some of your favourite slang words and what they actually mean.

Oh, my fave has to be Bugger. It’s such a great word. And you can say it with such passion or tone it down and have it still carry the same meaning. See Hugh Grant in Four Wedding and a Funeral for the best cinematic usage of this word. Oh course, Bugger, actually means anal sex.

The Dog’s Bollocks is a great slang phrase. Sometimes it gets mutated into The Mutt’s Nuts which is just as good. I’ve no idea why this reference to canine testicles means ‘really, really good’ though. Perhaps it’s something I should Google.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Alpha-male as a Villain?

Following on from yesterdays post, I spent some time thinking about my e-books last night and I realised that, far from painting my Male Leads as alpha-males, actually, it's my antagonists (or villains if you prefer) who are the traditional alpha-males in my work.

I figured I needed to try and actually define an 'alpha-male' before condemning them as my villains, but it's proven quite tricky. Wikipedia (my usual Internet standby) has just come up with a definition in terms of wolves and chimps. The closet I got was this

Alpha Male: a term used to describe a macho male character within a romance.

from fiction forum.

Not the best definition in the world, but look deeper and everyone seems to argue about it. Look here, for example, where it seems that Alphas are both good things and bad, depending on who's answering. Still, it's suits my argument to use the definition above. So let's stick with that.

So, let's focus on my two Phaze releases, Charlotte's Secret and Lost & Found.

There is, unquestionably, an character fitting the description above in Charlotte's Secret. His name is Mike Liggins and he is David's wife's bit on the side. He's not the sharpest tool in the box - in stark contrast to David who is so smart it's scary - but he is built like the proverbial brick-shit-house and has a unfathomable attraction to the ladies. As Charlotte thinks to herself when she's hidden in the bushes watching Susie give Mike a blow-job

...he might be rough and ready, and not that bright, but he did have one thing going for him...

Later in the story, even Charlotte succumbs to Mike's animal magnetism when she finds herself day-dreaming about him.

“You want it, then? After all you’ve said about me? What was it you called me? Moron, wasn’t it? I’ll show you who’s a moron.” He slammed into her hard and kept on slamming as Charlotte’s orgasm built again.

“Oh, yes. Harder! Faster! Give it to me, you bastard!” She screamed as her orgasm hit. How long it lasted, she didn’t know. She didn’t even know if Mike came or not.

He's big, strong and assertive. I imagine him down the pub with his mates bragging about his conquests, going to watch the football, leading the chanting and then getting into some agro with the opposition supporters afterwards. He's a beat-your-chest, almost stereotype of an alpha-male. And he's my villain.

Moving on to Lost & Found, we find a different type of alpha-male. Unlike Charlotte's Secret, which is told mostly from David's point of view but switches to Charlotte's for the few scenes where David isn't around, Lost & Found sticks firmly to my Male Lead's point of view throughout. Chris is an Economics PhD, and although his job is never specified, Beth does refer to him as a 'financial whiz.  But Chris isn't an alpha-male in the traditional sense. Yes, he's a bread winner, and yes, he earns a lot of bread but his most significant relationship in recent years has been with a woman on the other side of a computer screen on different continent.

Whereas Beth's father, Colonel Robert Burnett, is alpha-male all over. Retired Colonel, he's used to being in charge, used to having his orders followed. He's proud his quarterback jock, championship winning, son joined the army. You couldn't get much more 'alpha'. But he's were he differs from Mike in Charlotte's Secret. The most important thing in The Colonel's life, is his daughter. He just doesn't express it very well. He expresses it like an 'alpha'. He tells her what to do, shouts and gets mad and frustrated. But he'll do what he needs to protect her. Look at the scene below. This isn't the first time this scene has appeared on this blog, but I like it and it's my blog, so tough.

Can you see the difference between what I consider my two Male Leads in this piece. Yes, The Colonel is as important to this story as Chris is. This is a story about two men vying for the affections of one woman - her father and her lover. Chris stands up to The Colonel, but it shakes him - he's not used to it. He does it because he loves Beth and wants to protect her. The Colonel wants to protect her too, it's just a shame he's too pig headed to see he and Chris want the same thing.

I like The Colonel. One day, I'd like to give him his own starring role in a story. But not just yet. And if I did, he might have to be just a little less 'alpha' first.

Beth’s father stood in the entrance looking at the floor.

He lifted his head and looked surprised for a second before his expression became harder. He twisted his wedding ring around his finger as he spoke. “Is my daughter home? I have something I need to say.”

“No. I’m sorry. She’s gone to work.”

“Oh. I didn’t think she would be working today.” He tuned to walk away then turned back. “So what are you doing here?”

“Beth insisted I stay to save on hotel bills.”

“And that’s the only reason is it?” He didn’t sound convinced. “I’m not stupid, son. You don’t cross the Atlantic just to comfort someone at a funeral. I think that perhaps you and I should have a conversation. Don’t you? I’ll talk. You listen. Understand?” He strode through the door and into the lounge.

Chris closed the door and followed him. “Look, Mr. Burnett, I don’t know what you think is going on here, but I swear, I was just—”

“Colonel.”

“I’m sorry?”

“It’s Colonel Burnett. I’ve served my country my whole career and risked my life to ensure her security. I’ve damn well earned my title, so I’d appreciate it if you’d show some respect and do me the courtesy of using it.”

“Well, in that case, Colonel, you can address me as Dr. Austins. I studied full time for seven years and had to pay for it myself by working evenings and weekends in a shit-house restaurant. My parents weren’t wealthy. You earned your title, and I’ve earned mine.”

“And what exactly are you a doctor of?”

“I hold a Ph.D. in Economics and Management Studies from the LSE on top of my first class Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Kings College, Cambridge.”

“What the hell is the LSE?”

“The London School of Economics.”

“Well, that all sounds very impressive. But it still doesn’t give you the right to disrupt my son’s funeral.”

“Now, hang on just a sec. I didn’t disrupt anything. All I did was stand next to Beth and support her when she broke down. You didn’t see Beth standing at the graveside in tears, did you? Blaming herself for his death?”

“You, a complete and utter stranger, showed up at my house, with my daughter, and started an argument.”

“Forgive me, Colonel, because all I remember doing was defending Beth when you called her an ungrateful wretch.”

“She is an ungrateful wretch. Fancy talking to me that way, questioning the way we treated Lance. He fought terrorists to keep our country safe!” The Colonel’s arms were as expressive as his words.

“It’s my understanding that there weren’t all that many terrorists in Iraq until we invaded.”

“You’re one of those liberal, anti-war assholes, aren’t you? Don’t you remember nine-eleven?”

“Yes, I do. And I remember seven-seven too.”

“Remember what now?”

“Colonel, America isn’t the only country to suffer at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.”

“You mean that thing on the subway in London?”

Chris nodded. “I was there. I got off the train at King’s Cross just before the third bomb ripped through it.”

“Weren’t those boys home-grown? They were from somewhere in the north of England weren’t they?”

“They were. But the guys who hit the twin towers weren’t from Iraq either. The invasion—”

“It wasn’t an invasion. It was liberation. We freed the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant.”

“The invasion had nothing to do with nine-eleven. And if it wasn’t for the invasion, there probably wouldn’t even have been a seven-seven. It was all about US oil interests. Plain and simple. George Dubbya was finishing the job his Daddy started.” Chris’s heart was racing and adrenaline pumped around his body. He felt hot and knew his face had reddened—it always did when he was angry.

The Colonel stood straight and tall, his hands behind his back. Chris could see the same suspicion in his eyes that had been there during their encounter the day before. His eyes narrowed. “I see. I see.” His voice was so cold and quiet that it chilled Chris’s blood. “So it’s you who’s been putting these crazy ideas into Lizzie’s head. I should have known from the look of you when I first saw you.”

“Actually, Beth and I met in an anti-war chat room two years ago. She’s always been against the invasion.”

“Nonsense. My daughter isn’t a traitor.” The Colonel turned on his heel and walked towards the window. He stared out into the street. “She’s a good girl, my Lizzie. Not a traitor.”

“You’re right, she’s not a traitor. She just doesn’t listen to all the propaganda that comes out of Washington. She has far too much integrity for that. She makes up her own mind. She listens to all sides of an argument and forms her own opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone less influenced by other people’s rhetoric. Forgive me, Colonel, but it seems to me that you don’t know Beth as well as you think you do. Or as well as you should.”

The Colonel rounded on Chris. “Are you questioning my relationship with my daughter, young man?”

“Not at all. I don’t think I could because I’m not sure you even have one.”

“How dare you! What would you know about my relationship with Lizzie?”

“Only what she’s told me—which I’ll admit is a bit one-sided. But I’ll tell you what I do know. I know that for years she tried her hardest to catch your eye, to get your approval. But you only ever had eyes for your perfect son. She was top of her class, she learnt to play the piano and the flute, her achievements were every bit as impressive as her brother’s. But you never saw them. You looked past her to Lance.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Do you have any idea how that made her feel—to do so well and still be second best?”

“She was never second best. She’s my Lizzie. My baby girl. I adore her. This is all rubbish.” He jabbed his finger towards Chris. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Are you sure? Look, Colonel, I have not doubt that you love Beth—what sort of man doesn’t love his daughter. But did you ever show her?”

The Colonel said nothing

“When was the last time you held her? Or kissed her forehead? When was the last time you said ‘I love you, Beth’? Colonel, do you have any idea how Beth felt when you nominated Lance for West Point?”

“She was proud. We all were.”

“It never occurred to you that she might wonder why you didn’t nominate her? Because that’s what she did.”

“I’d have thought it was obvious.”

“It was obvious to Beth. It was because you didn’t think she was good enough.”

The Colonel stared at Chris. “That’s not true. She would have done at least as well as Lance did. Maybe even better. I’m sure of it.”

“Then why didn’t you nominate her?”

The Colonel raised his voice. “Because she’s my special little girl. I couldn’t let her join the Military—Lord knows what might have happened to her. I’m her father. I have to protect her.”

“But have you ever told her that?”

The Colonel turned back to the window.

“I didn’t think so,” said Chris.

There was a long pause. The Colonel ran his fingers though his short grey hair. Chris waited.

“Are you screwing her?” the Colonel said in a calm, quiet voice.

“Sorry?”

The Colonel turned back towards him, his fists tightly clenched. He spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s a simple enough question, son. Are you screwing my daughter?” He exhaled. “I know how it works. A man doesn’t fly halfway around the world to see a girl unless he thinks he’s going to get a little pussy.”

“I don’t think that’s any of your business, Colonel.”

“What did I just tell you? She’s my daughter, it’s my job to protect her. Of course it’s my business when some asshole tries to take advantage of her.”

Chris shook his head. “You’ve got it wrong. You don’t need to protect her from me. I would never take advantage of her. Never hurt her.”

“Really? So what happens when your vacation is over and you go back to England. Don’t you think that will hurt her?”

It was Chris’s turn to raise his voice. “I’m not taking advantage of her.” He calmed. “If anything, she’s taking advantage of me.”

“So you are screwing her. I’m going to make this real simple for you, boy. Get the hell out of River’s Crossing or so help me God, I’ll dig out my service revolver and shoot you dead.”

“I’ll leave if and when Beth asks me to. And if you have to kill me, then maybe Beth will be better off when you’re locked up.”

Colonel Burnett took a step towards Chris. “Don’t play with me, son. I’ve killed for my country, I wouldn’t think twice about killing for my family. She’s all I have left. I won’t let you take her from me.” He marched out of the house and slammed the door behind him.

Charlotte's Secret and Lost & Found are available now from Phaze books and all good e-book sellers such as Fictionwise. Chloe's Education is a work in progress. The current version of Reunion is available via lulu.com.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Male Leads, Heroes and Alpha-Males

You know, it’s difficult to see myself as a Romance writer but I guess that’s what I am now. Erotic Romance, admittedly, but Romance nevertheless. Yes, I still write short ‘stroke’ stories such as the Ladz "Local Lovelies" series , and they go down quite well, but there’s no denying that Lost&Found, Charlotte’s Secret and (when it’s finished) Chloe’s Education are anything but romantic in tone.

When I wrote my first sex story back in ’98—a story about a threesome at a housewarming party—I never envisaged being classed as a romance writer. Back then, for me at least, romance novels were still very much the “Mills&Boon” type. You know, heart & flowers, purple prose etc.

But Romance has changed. Readers now want ‘heat’. They want to know just what the heroines are feeling and what’s being done to them to make them feel it (if you know what I mean). Graphic yet sensual descriptions and thorough exploration of sexual needs and desires are the order of the day.

But Erotic Romance still has its ‘rules’. Rules updated from ‘old style’ Romance. There must be a hero and a heroine. The heroine should be a strong modern woman, but at the same time vulnerable. And the heroes need to be strong alpha-males. That’s what the girls want (or so I’m told) – the alpha-male. And since women are the predominant readers of Erotic Romance – alpha-males is pretty much what they get. And since it’s mostly women who write Erotic Romance, they are happy to serve up them up.

But I think I’m a little different from most of the erotic romance authors out there. For one, I’m a bloke. The majority of Erotic Romance authors are women – and most of the readers are women too – so hopefully I offer something a little different to your average author. A different perspective, if you like. A male perspective.

My male leads aren’t really typical alpha-males, mainly because I’m not what you’d call an alpha-male. I was the nerdy, booky type at school, the one who was bullied for wearing glasses, the one everyone came to so they could copy their homework instead of doing it themselves. And I think that reflects in my male leads.

Sure, they are stronger than that – they not going to be bullied, they will stand up for the woman they love, but they are ‘new men’ (if that term is still used – personally, I hate it). They are sensitive, they get hurt. They have their flaws.

In fact, I don’t really like referring to my male leads as “heroes”. I prefer to call them (like I just did) Male Leads or the Central Male Character. I guess I’m just more comfortable with that.

Let me try and show you what I mean by reference to the Central Male Character in Charlotte’s Secret.

David is, in some respects, the antithesis of an alpha-male. He’s an accountant—intelligent and respected in the local business community and far from what most people would think of as an alpha-male. He’s also trapped in a loveless marriage. Why? Because he did what he thought was right and married a woman he didn’t love just because she was carrying his baby (at least, he thought she was). Now, you know and I know that in modern Britain, marrying someone just because you’ve knocked them up isn’t the done thing anymore – but David is different. He’s from a broken home. He knows what it’s like growing up without a dad – and he’s going to make damn sure he doesn’t inflict that on any child of his.

And it’s David’s relationship with the little boy he believes to be his son that is central to this whole story. It’s that relationship that makes David behave the way he does. Look at this short extract as an example of that relationship and see if you agree.

He arrived at the doorstep, put the key in the lock and turned to look at his old car once more before entering the house. Susie was waiting for him in the hallway with their screaming son in her arms.

“Oh, good, you’re home. Here…” She handed Ben over. “He’s been horrible the past couple of hours, I think it’s his teeth. He’s ready for his next feed. Would you mind? You’re so much better at it than me.”

David took Ben in his arms and the nine-month-old immediately stopped crying. He looked up at his father, smiled, and started to gurgle quietly. David tickled under his chin, making Ben giggle. David was so engaged with the boy that he didn’t notice Susie had left the hallway until she returned carrying a sports bag. “Going somewhere?”

“The gym.”

“What, again? That’s every night this week.”

“I’m working on getting my figure back.”

“But we were supposed to go out tonight. You know I’m at that stupid conference next weekend.”

“I know, but the babysitter cancelled a couple of hours ago.”

“Did you try the others?”

“No point. They’ll all have plans this late on a Saturday.”

“What about your parents.”

“Mother had Ben earlier in the day--it’d be unfair for her to have him again.”

“So what about dinner?”

“I’ve already ordered you a pizza. It should arrive in the next half-an-hour or so. Don’t forget to tip the delivery boy.” With that, Susie strode out the house and climbed into her car. David and Ben were still standing the doorway when she’d backed off the drive and headed down the road.

David went back inside and closed the door. He looked at Ben, who stared up at his father, grinning and chuckling. “I guess it’s just you and me again then, little man. You don’t seem that hungry to me. Let’s see if Mummy wrote down when you last ate, shall we?”

David had kept a record of when Ben had fed and how much he ate, ever since the little boy was born. Susie had flatly refused to breast feed, despite David’s instance that it would be best for the child, so it had been easy to track how much he was eating. David carried Ben into the kitchen and looked at the record book. It was immediately obvious that that he was due a feed. David warmed a bottle of baby milk in the microwave and sat Ben on his knee. He stared into his son’s blue eyes, which were wide open, clean and bright, and felt more love for him than ever thought possible.

“I’ve said it before, Benny, and I’ll keep on saying it. I am never gonna let anyone hurt you. D’you hear me? Never.”

Ben gurgled through his bottle in response.

“I have to tell you, Benny, Daddy did something very naughty today. He went to see your Auntie Charlotte. Yes, he did. And Auntie Charlotte was very nice to Daddy. Yes, she was. Very nice. But then, she always was. Best not tell Mummy though. No, that wouldn’t be a good idea. Mummy doesn’t want Daddy to see Auntie Charlotte.”

Ben pushed the bottle away to indicate he’d had enough. As David put the bottle on the coffee table, the telephone rang. He picked it up.

“Laird residence, David speaking.”

“David, thank God. Can you talk?”

“Charlie? Yes, I can talk, but why are you phoning the land line?”

“Because I don’t have your mobile number. Susie made you change it, remember?”

“I mean, ‘What if Susie had answered?’”

“Then I’d have told her how much I enjoyed lunch and arranged another one.”

“You went for lunch together?”

“Yes.” Charlotte sounded irritated. “Look, is Susie in the house?”

“No, she’s gone to the gym.”

“Good. How long do you think she’ll be? Have I got time to come over?”

“Do you think that’s a good idea? What if we lose track of time?”

“No. That’s not why I want to come. I have to talk to you David.”

“We’re talking now, aren’t we?”

“No. I have to talk to you face to face. I have something I need to show you.”

“Can’t it wait until Monday?”

“Not really.”

“Okay. But come over right away. Susie usually stays at the gym for a drink with her friends, but might decide not to.”

“I’m in my car outside. I’ll be right there.”

David put the phone down and wondered what could be so urgent that Charlotte would take this kind of risk. He daren’t think what would happen if Susie caught them together. His train of thought was distracted when Ben snored gently. So often the little boy fell asleep in David’s arms. He studied him as he slept. His face was subtle mixture of pleasure and contentment. People often said that Ben had David’s eyes or his ears, or mouth, or any other feature they could think of, but David couldn’t see it. He thought that the boy shared his eyes with his mother and aunt, but they were the only features he recognised. He certainly couldn’t see himself in him--but he loved him just the same.

David’s desire to be a ‘good dad’ overrides any thought for himself. In the quest to be a ‘good dad’ he’s sacrificed life with the woman he does love in favour of one who he’s fairly certain will cheat on him. Does this make his a cuckold in the traditional sense of the word? Strictly speaking, yes. Although the modern definition means he’d have to watch and enjoy his wife while she was at it, the traditional definition simply means that his wife is sleeping around. And would an alpha-male allow his wife to cheat on him? No, of course he wouldn’t.

Of course, Charlotte’s Secret is all about how David goes about ‘redressing the balance’ so to speak. About how he can be with the woman he loves and his child. His plan is devious and ruthless – hardly the actions of an alpha-male, now are they?

I don't know, maybe it's because my male leads are all British - and you know how us British men are perceived, we're all a bit more Hugh Grant and Colin Firth than we are James Bond and Robin Hood. Slightly repressed and not particularly expressive or overtly masculine. Although, I think most of us would like to be James bond, but that's a different matter.

I suppose you could say that it’s my female leads that are the more interesting characters in my stories. Notice, again, how I don’t call them heroines. The word for me gives the wrong impression. Yes, it’s a personal thing, but hey, they are my creations, I can refer to them how I like, can’t I? But it runs right through – from Charlotte herself, to her scheming sister, Susie, Beth from Lost&Found and Chloe and Cassie from Chloe’s Education. Even Kelly from Reunion (an older story due for a major re-write). All of them are strong modern women, and in their own ways are doing what they want not what the world expects of them. So to that end, I’ll try and talk about bit more about my female leads tomorrow. But in the meantime, I welcome your opinions on male lead, heroes and alpha-males.

Charlotte's Secret and Lost & Found are available now from Phaze books and all good e-book sellers such as Fictionwise. Chloe's Education is a work in progress. The current version of Reunion is available via lulu.com.

Monday, 28 July 2008

A Day at the Zoo

What a glorious weekend we've had here in the UK. Bright and sunny and hot as... well, about as hot as the UK gets.

Mrs Nobbs and I made the most of it by taking Nobby Jr to the zoo for the first time. He had a lovely day. Below are a few of the pics we took. You can see more on my Flickr stream.

Elephants at Whipsnade Zoo Elephants at Whipsnade Zoo At Whipsnade Zoo At Whipsnade Zoo At Whipsnade Zoo

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

A post about writing - how unusual

Yep, after a few posts about the state of the country/world and my spouting off in general - I'm going to do a post about writing today. Just for a change.

I'm so tantalisingly close to finishing a first draft of Chloe's Education that it's starting to annoy me. Why? Because I can't seem to find the time to actually get the words out of my head and onto the screen. I'm writing a pitiful average of a paragraph a day or less. It's really not satisfactory.

I can't find the time to write when I'm at work (I started this post at nine this morning and it's now after three) because I'm spending a lot of time right now firefighting - you know, solving everyone else's urgent problems. It's been all computers, faxes and photocopiers today. I wonder what it will be tomorrow?

At home I've got the same old problem - a two-year-old who thinks tapping the keyboard randomly when I try to write is amusing. I know he's just after my attention, and I'm not ashamed to say that I generally give in and play with him instead of writing. Then  there's a another issue. Computer games. I've re-discovered Civilisation, which was a relationship killer when I was younger and could be again now. Oh, damn you Sid Miser or what-ever your name is. But I tell you what - I'll wipe those Greeks and Mongols of my continent before the end of the 20th century - you mark my words, World domination awaits.

I've also started work on a new short for Ruthie's Club. I know I shouldn't but I couldn't help myself. It might just become another unfinished piece sitting on my hard drive - but I hope not. I must have around twenty stories I've stared and never finished. A bit annoying really.

What little I have managed to do on Chloe feels superficial. I've changed one character's surname and another characters forename, and I've got Adam from the limo outside Chloe's house, to inside waiting for her to finish getting ready. Why do they need a limo? You'll have to read the book when it's finished to find out.

Anyway, I've got to wrap this up now - lots to do in the office.

See ya.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Seems an odd charge to me

I heard this report on the news this morning. It's about a family injured while sleeping in their beds this morning when a 16 year old drove a car into their cottage.

Yes, you read right, a 16 year old drove a car into their cottage, causing rubble to fall on them while they slept.

The home owner said

"We were sleeping as normal and suddenly there was a big crash, bright lights and the front of the house was coming in.

"The first thing I did was check my partner and our baby. Everybody was fine, with just a few bumps and bruises from flying debris.

"Luckily the baby's cot was on the other side of the room. If it had been next to the window, I dread to think what would have happened.

"Our bedroom wall and window, as well as the front door, have been demolished."

Now, what seemed strange to me when I heard this on the radio was the charge laid at the driver. He's 16, so isn't old enough to a)own a car (so by definition it must have been stolen - or 'taken without permission'), b)hold even a provisional licence, let alone a full one, or c)have insurance.

And yet, do you know what they'd charged him with?

"Failing to stop at the scene of an accident"

How nuts is that?

I liked this quote from the homeowner too -

"When you have a young baby in the house it can be rather hard to get to sleep, but when a car comes through the bedroom wall it does rather wake you up."

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Lot on my mind 2

It seems that my post on Knife Crime the other day touched a bit of a raw nerve with some people. It comes down to the way we in Britain, and I suspect in other 'civilised' countries too, feel that we've lost control of our society. That the people who are running our country are more afraid of upsetting the minorities than listening to the majorities. And it happens in pretty much every sector of our lives.

Take fuel duty - today the government have announced they are going to suspend the 2p per litre rise in duty that was due to come into effect in October. Not Scrap it, you understand - which is what the majority want. Just postpone it. That means that, at some point next year, they'll bring the rise in anyway. And why? Cause they are listening to the environmentalists who say we should use cars less to 'save the planet' (tm). I won't get started on this issue too much - my feelings are well known by those who know me, but for those who don't, I'll just repeat the jist of it. I'm not a 'climate change denier." I fully accept that the climate of our planet is changing - it's been changing constantly for millions of years. What I don't accept is that we as a spices can control it. The climate is changing, it will continue to change - let's stop wasting time trying to stop it, and work out how to deal with it now and in the future. Okay, rant over.

But it's everywhere else too. Back when I was a teacher, I had a parent write to me to ask that her daughter be let off the detention I'd given her that lunchtime for being late to my lessons every day the previous week - because it was inconvenient. Not because she had something else she desperately had to do - but because she's be too hungry to wait 15 minutes into lunchtime before eating while I 'punished' her. BUT THAT WAS THE WHOLE DAMN POINT! I wanted to inconvenience her - it's called punishment. I was doing it in the hope that in future she might actually turn up to lessons on time to avoid being inconvenienced again. But it seems it was okay for her to inconvenience me with the disruption the my lesson caused by her arriving late, but not okay for me to inconvenience her in return.

And so it goes on. One thing after another. In one news article you read about how people are scared of this, that or the other, and in the next people are complaining that their right to do the very same things are being impaired. When I was growing up I was taught that for every right you are granted, you are changed with a responsibility. For example, I have the right to a free education (or I did - I'll get to this) and I have the responsibility to make the most of it. I have the right to drive on the public highways, and I have the responsibility to do so in a safe manner and be courteous to other road users.

But it seems we've forgotten this. We want the rights but not the responsibilities. John Major (former PM) called it "Back to Basics" and was pilloried for it. But he was right, wasn't he? If we take society back to this fundamental ideal, we'd all be so much better off.

Speaking of John Major - I saw an interview with him on Sunday. The man is so articulate and his attitude towards society and government so sensible. I think it's a shame he was Prime Minister when he was - just after Thatcher (a hard act to follow) and when his party was being torn apart by divisions over Europe. I think, had he been in charge at the right point in history, he could have been the greatest leader this country ever had, and we could be a better people because of it. Sadly, it was not to be.

I mentioned free education. I saw on the news on Monday that most students now expect to leave university with debts of over £25000 ($50000). That's appalling. I though my ten grand debt was bad enough when I left ten years ago - but it's more than doubled since then.

It's this government that has done this by the introduction of fees. People now have to pay to go to university. Education is no longer free. It's ironic really that the people that brought in these laws are the very people how benefited not only from free tuition, but also from maintenance grants - thereby leaving university with no debts at all.

And yet the same people that are now charging students for what is (according to those who advocate human rights) a basic human right, still insist that health care should be free at the point of use to everyone, regardless of who they are, what they do or how much they earn.

It is just me, or is it at least as important (if not more so) that education remain free to those who use it. Yes, even university education. Sure, graduates will earn more over their lifetimes than non-graduates, but they will also contribute more to the economy. University education helps us all - even if we don't go.

I guess I'm just annoyed by the state of my country. To be honest, it's been in this state for a while, but it's only now that the economy is starting to fail that most people are waking up to it. I believe that the only way to change the mood in the country is for there to be an election. Even if it fundamentally changes nothing, a change in government will make people feel as if something has changes and that things will get better.

So come on, Brown - Show some balls. Get it over with. Call the election.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Lot on my Mind 1 - Knife Crime

I've got a lot on my mind at the moment. Nothing personal or work related. It's more 'current affairs' type stuff. Things like our current problem with 'knife crime' in the UK. It's out of control and no-one seems to be able to do anything about it.

Last week saw the 20th teenager to be knifed to death on the street of London. And there was a spate of killings in the capital in just 24 hours. And all the talk from politicians at the media is how we need to be tough on the knife carriers. Yet on-one seems to be saying to the kids "Leave the damn knives at home!".

According to a poll in the Sunday times yesterday, 80% of parents are afraid for their children's lives because of knife crime and would welcome some sort of curfew on teenagers.

Yet they reckon it's a lot more than 20% of teenagers who carry knives when they go out. So there MUST be some overlap between the parents who are scared and the children carrying the knives. Am I being simplistic but shouldn't these parents be telling their kids to leave the knives at home? Or better yet, stopping them from going out at all. Or is it that they think it's okay for their children to carry a knife because little Johnny won't use it except in self-defence.

Surely there needs to be some effort made by the people that these kids look up to, to encourage them to abandon the knife culture. And yes, that means Pop Stars, footballers, actors, etc - but parents too. Whatever happened to parental responsibility and control? Or do we now live in a society where is this abdicated to the state?

Sorry - I didn't mean to get carried away, but it winds me up.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The "R" word.

It was quite scary watching the news when I go home last night. Talk of recession on every bulletin, jobs cut left, right and centre, food and fuel prices sky high. And where's our glorious leader Brown? Over in japan tucking in to a lunch of dinner consisting of a whopping 19 courses! And telling us back home not to waste food at the same time.

I don't know, I really don't. This isn't meant to be a political blog - it really isn't - but it's hard not to pass comment of the state this country finds itself in at the moment, and this travesty that GB is making of the top job. I didn't like Tony Blair, anyone who knows me, knows that fact cause I don't exactly hide it, but you have to give the man credit for having style. I don't think we'd be any better off if he were still in charge, but I think we might feel a bit better about it, simply because he'd tell us that we did and he's so damn charming that most people would believe him.

When Brown ducked out of calling an early election last autumn, I was a bit pissed off cause I wanted shot of him - even though it was unlikely as labour were still ahead in the polls at the time. But now I'm glad he didn't, cause he's pretty much guaranteed us a change in government when the next election is called (2010 is the last date, I think - but don't quote me on that). And I genuinely think it will take a change in government - and the change in sentiment that goes with it, to turn things around.

So, all things considered, I'm feeling pretty bad about the state of things right now. I need some cheering up. So here's a piece of flash fiction that appeared at Ruthie's Club a couple of years back. It's not connected to this post in any way - but it might make you laugh, which is what counts in these troubled times.

Mark, Benny and Jim watched Steve and Julie at the bar. “Don’t know why he’s bothering. That girl’s a slapper,” said Mark.

“Easy shag,” said Jim.

Steve and Julie headed for the exit.

“Hey, Steve, you off to Lover’s Lane?” Mark called.

“I’m gonna show Julie my new sound system.”

“Yeah, right. A likely story.” Mark burst out laughing.

Two pints after Steve and Julie had left, the three friends were depressed. “Why does Steve always get the birds?” Jim asked.

“Must be his winning smile,” said Mark.

“Hey, I got an idea,” said Benny. “Let’s go ruin his lovin’.”

Lover’s Lane was a ten minute drunken stagger away. Steve’s Ford Escort was parked there. The lights were off and it rocked gently. They sneaked up to the car and peered inside. Julie’s legs were wrapped around Steve’s waist. His bare arse bounced energetically.

“Knock on the window,” Benny whispered.

“I ain’t. You do it,” said Jim.

“I’ll do it,” said Mark. He raised his fist to strike the window.

“‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello. What do we have ‘ere, then?”

Mark turned around. Touch light shone in his eyes.

“I caught me some doggers. Oh, the sarge is gonna love this.”

“Wait,” said Mark. “He’s our mate. It’s just a practical joke.”

“Course he is, Sonny-Jim.”

“Ask him.”

The copper knocked on the window. Steve looked around. Julie screamed and tried desperately to cover up.

“‘Scuse me, Sir. Miss. These perverts claim you know ‘em.”

Steve looked at his friends. Mark silently pleaded with him. Steve shook his head. “Nah. Never seen ‘em before in my life.”

“Thought as much. Right you three, you’re nicked. Come with me.” He marched them away. Steve turned his attention back to Julie, his arse thrusting even faster than before.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

A scary thought

Did anyone see the show "Life after people" when it was broadcast earlier this year? (It was on C4 in the UK in May and on the History Channel in the States in January) It was, to my mind, a fascinating speculative exploration of what might happen if humans suddenly disappeared from the face of the planet.

It talked about how long it would take buildings to collapse, nature to take over again and what might happen to the wildlife.

But to me, the most interesting thing was in the section "100 Years after people." Here's a quote from the C4 microsite about the show.

Books will absorb moisture from the humid conditions inside fallen-down buildings. Mould spores will thrive and grow on the books. The Dead Sea Scrolls survived for 2000 years in an arid environment without the damaging effects of sunlight, but most books will degrade along will celluloid acetate film and DVDs and CDs. The whole visual record of the human race will be gone, apart from a few special cases.

How scary is that thought?  All the cultural evidence of our modern society could disappear after just one hundred years if we stopped reproducing it. In the past humans scratched art onto cave walls or chiseled it into marble tablets - and it survived for thousands of years. But paper, analogue and digital media would only last a tenth of that.

Shakespeare,, Hollywood, Harry Potter, Eastenders, Marc Nobbs - all gone. In the western world today, there are probably more people being creative and adding to the cultural wealth of our society than at any point in history - but it could all be for nothing. Surely it's about time that our wonderful techno-bods got their heads together and came up with some media that could last forever. Well, maybe not forever, but at least as long as stone tablets and cave paintings.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you need to get hold of copies of Charlotte's Secret and Lost & Found before they disappear.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Who would you cast?

You know those long nights when you just can’t sleep but you’re too tired to get up and write and you don’t want to do it in your head as you’ll forget what you made up by the time I get to a keyboard? I do. And I’ll admit that at those times, when my characters are running around my head (usually naked I should add) and not letting me sleep, I do something a little unusual – I cast the movie version of my books and short stories.

Am I the only one that does that? Am I just nuts? Or do all writers dream that one day they’ll get to see their work on the silver screen?

Take, for example, Charlotte’s Secret (Available now from Phaze Books). I believe I’ve come up with the perfect cast for that. There are four main characters here that need casting. Charlotte, David, Susie and Mike. Here are my picks. (Naturally, they’re all Brits since this is a story set in Britain – it’d be interesting to see how the American version would be cast though)

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  • Charlotte – the heroine. Strong & independent, but vulnerable and still hurting after David married her sister. I guess this part is perfect for Kiera Knightly.
  • David – the hero. Trapped into marriage because he wanted to do the right thing by his unborn son. Quietly intelligent even though his wife thinks he’s naive. At one point I’d have said this part belonged to Robert Carlyle, but now I’d have to go with Daniel Craig (the new Mr Bond)
  • Susie – the bitch. Stole her sister’s boyfriend, but only wants him for his money. Sweet & sexy but devious and selfish. Samantha Janus (from Brit Soap Eastenders) would be great.
  • Mike – Susie’s bit of rough. All brawn and not much brain. Could I possibly cast anyone but Vinnie Jones?

My other Phaze Book release is Lost & Found. Set in the fictional American town of Rivers Crossing it has three main characters to be cast.

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  • Chris – The Brit who crosses the Atlantic to comfort his cyber-lover after her brother’s killing in Iraq. Charming and intelligent, I’d play this part myself, but I’m not an actor. I’ll give it to Orlando Bloom.
  • Beth – the smart, strong, fiesty American girl. Sarah Michelle Gellar anyone?
  • The Colonel – retired military man. Proud, stubborn, willing to kill to protect his daughter. It has to be Jack Nicholson.

I could go on doing this for ever.

In Reunion, I'd have to cast Matt, Kelly, Jerry and Roy.

Reunion cover front100

  • Matt - hot shot young lawyer - Nigel Harman, formally of Eastenders fame
  • Kelly - Rachel Stevens. No explanation needed - I wrote this character with her in mind.
  • Jerry - intelligent but a bit goofy - has to be Kris Marshall.
  • Roy - overweight, over confident, bit of a bastard. Hard one this, but I think Peter Kay would be good.

 

 

 

Lost & Found and Charlotte's Secret are available now from Phaze Book. Reunion is available from Lulu.com

 

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Ladz "Local Lovelies"

The third story in the Ladz "Local Lovelies" series has finished its six-month exclusive period at Ruthie's Club and is now available to download on my website, or if you're a member of StoriesOnline or EroticStories.com you can find it there too.

Ladz is a (fictional) weekly magazine aimed at men in their late teens to early thirties. It features a mixture of pub jokes, sport and lots of pictures of young, attractive women in their underwear. The magazine’s most popular feature is Ladz ‘Local Lovelies’. Ordinary girls from around Britain send in pictures of themselves to the magazine in the hope of becoming the next big thing. Each week one of them is invited to do a professional photo shoot that includes the magazine’s centrefold spread. And each of those women has a story to tell.

Episode #56 was about Laura - a student from Leicester. Episode #58 was all about Emma from Northampton. The latest story, episode #62, is about Rebecca from London. Click on any of the covers below to read the stories. (These are .pdf documents and you'll need Adobe reader or similar to view them)

ladz 56 laura250 ladz58-250 Ladz 62-250

Thursday, 3 July 2008

A.W.G.E.

For the past few weeks I've been A.W.G.E. from many of the online forums of which I am a member. The Britwriters blog, the various Yahoo! groups. I've even been neglecting MySpace and my own blog to some extent. And I certainly haven't done any promoting for Lost & Found.

What is A.W.G.E.? Absent With a Good Excuse.

That excuse, of course, is real life - or should I say my professional life. My job (the one I get a salary for) has been monopolising my time and wearing me out. It's got to the point that on Tuesday night, I home at 7pm and went straight to bed without any tea. I was in bed before Nobbs Jr for pity's sake and he's only two and a half!

It's been one thing after another in the office. And I've still got piles of work scattered around the room waiting 9not particularly patiently either) to be attended to.

This has meant no time to work on any stories - Chloe's Education or the shorts I've got stuck in my head. But the biggest 'crime' has been my inability to adequately promote my last release from Phaze Books - Lost & Found. This is a damn pity, because it's a story I really want to do well. I guess we'll have to see what the sales figures are like - has my absence made the blind bit of difference? If it hasn't, doesn't it make all the online promotion efforts that we writers make something of a waste of time? Or if it has, does that mean if I put a lot more effort into it over the summer, the sales figures will pick up? Guess I'll have to wait and see.

In the mean time, here are two short excerpts. The first is from Chloe's Education. The second from Lost & Found.

Chloe's Education - a work in Progress.

It was half-way through a particularly boring two-hour lecture from the university's foremost authority on the exceeding dull. During his more tedious lectures, Chloe and Adam kept each other entertained while the professor's monotone threatened to induce mass coma. Chloe slipped a piece of paper onto the bench in front of them and scribbled something on it. Adam craned his neck to read it: I’m bored!

He picked up his pen, reached over and wrote his reply: Me too!

Chloe giggled under her breath as she scribbled again: Entertain me!

Adam grinned and winked. He made his “thinking” face—as if genuinely considering how to entertain her. In actuality, he was picturing the body she hid beneath her tight white top and skinny-jeans. It was, in his opinion, just about perfect. Smooth, lightly tanned skin stretched tightly over her generously proportioned curves. He wanted the lecture to end so that he could take her home and pay homage to it. When he realised he was starting to drool, he snapped back to reality and wrote his answer: I’d love to entertain you, babe. But not here!

Chloe raised her eyebrows, as if in anticipation of the entertainment to come. She licked her lips as she wrote: How would you entertain me?

Adam’s brain shot straight to his cock—it did that a lot around Chloe. His pen hovered over the paper. He wanted to write “by stripping you naked, licking your pussy ‘til you come and then fucking you to heaven and back. Twice.” Instead, he wrote: That’s for me to know and you to wonder about.

Chloe grinned and her eyes dipped to the bulge in Adam’s jeans. Then she scribbled again: Would our mothers approve?

Adam quickly wrote: Absolutely not!

Chloe scribbled again: Would it take long?

Adam chuckled as he wrote: Only if you want it to.

Chloe again: Would we need to be alone?

Adam: Yep!

Chloe: Naked?

Adam: Defo.

Chloe smiled her most wicked smile, winked and then turned the paper over. She drew out a noughts and crosses board and slapped a nought in the centre square. Adam looked at his watch. It was ten to one—not long before he could take his sweetheart home and make good on his promise. He put a cross in the top left box.

Chloe won the first game then Adam won three in a row before Chloe pulled it back to three all. Dr. Dullness was winding up the lecture. There was time for just one more game. Chloe leaned over and whispered in Adam’s ear. “Winner gets oral from the loser. Deal?”

Lost & Found - a contemporary erotic novel by Marc Nobbs. Available now from Phaze Books.

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They had a better time at the roulette table. Through some cautious betting, Chris managed to stay just ahead of the house. He split bets, bet on columns and rows. Beth stuck to betting on red or black.

“Looks like The Lady is back with us,” said Chris after collecting on another winning four number split.

“Seems so,” said Beth. She smiled her wicked smile and raised her eyebrows. Chris had discovered that this signaled she was about to do something unexpected. “But it would be more fun if the stakes were higher.”

“What d’you mean?”

“This…” She took a hundred dollar chip from him and planted it in the centre of box thirty-two. “My age,” she said, by way of explanation.

“You know the odds are thirty-eight to one.”

“Like I said, it’s more exciting that way.”

The croupier spun the wheel and released the ball. There was a flurry of betting from the others at the table before he called no more bets. Everyone went silent while they waited for the ball to settle in a slot.

“Red—Thirty-two.”

Beth cheered. “Ha ha. How much did I win?”

“Thirty-five times your stake. Three-and-a-half thousand.”

“In one go! Told you this was more exciting. Think I can do it again?”

“The odds are nearly fifteen-hundred-to-one against.”

Beth took one of the thousand dollar chips and placed it on number twelve. “My birthday.”

Once more the wheel and ball were set in motion and once more the croupier called no more bets. The ball seemed to refuse to slow down. It hurtled around the wheel, bouncing in all directions. Beth gripped Chris’ hand so tightly it hurt. Finally, the ball settled.

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