Behind the Novelist
Hi, I'm James!
Whether you have arrived at my site by accident or design, welcome to my blog!
Here you will come across reviews, features, and articles filled with my opinions, views, and thoughts, as well as exciting and engaging content to capture your hearts and minds!
As you will see, I don't confine myself to writing one category of books but have created a range of different genres to satiate your tastes and desires.
On my blog, I'll include samples of my books, articles on the process of writing (the do's and don't's as well as some nifty rule-smashing behaviour to capture your interest) as well as reviews on other people's works that happen to stray within my orbit.
Meanwhile, check out my novels, whether they be in the General Fiction genre (Handel, and Handel's Legacy), Urban Comedy (Forget Shakespeare), my latest Epic Fantasy book (The Steward and the Sorcerer) or my Crime novel Immael, which features a new breed of serial killer who can seemingly achieve the impossible and change his normally fixed pattern of disturbing criminal behaviour in order to stay a step ahead of the authorities.
There is a universe of books here that features characters and events ranging from the sublime to the horrific.
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HOW TO WRITE FANTASY
“Hoards of fairies arrive at Capitol Hill one day demonstrating for better media representation. The only snag is that no one can make out what it is they are saying.”
“A genie, tired of being over-sexualised and underpaid for her services in wish requests, throws the magic equivalent of a tantrum and turns everyone in the world into the opposite gender.”
“Recruiting posters are put up all over a city that read ‘Tired of others pushing you around? Do you want to make a difference in society? Become a minotaur today!’”
“A new society is born, made up of two types of people: vampires and blood donors. How will they co-exist?”
Above are some ideas to kick start your foray into the world of fantasy writing. Great, I hear you say. I have an imagination; I’ll start off with a mad idea and let it develop into a sprawling fantasy epic. After all, there ain’t no rules in fantasy writing. Unlike fiction, there doesn’t need to be a logical sequence for how things happen. You can simply use magic as a reasonable excuse for every plot development in the story, right?
The only snafu there is that, like with fiction writing, you are writing to a readership, be they a mass sub-genre of readers (paranormal romance, say) with a particular set of expectations about what they are reading, or your doting old grandmother down the local home who’s half out of her gourd and would sing your praises if you’d stenciled your name on the cover of the phone book and presented it to her as your latest Magnum Opus.
If you elect to cultivate a readership, you need to abide by certain rules. You must pick a setting, a character, a problem, and a magic object, then try to fashion a story out of them. The setting is vitally important as you must build a world that obeys its own rules. Fiction writing is actually easier here as the world has already been designed for you with rules and behaviours that are already familiar to readers. When creating a fantasy world, start small and build it slowly, brick by brick. I often thought that the writer Earnest Hemingway, if he had translated his staccato, momentum building prose style to fantasy world building, could have been a master of this genre (unfortunately, given his ‘magically’ oversized ego, he would have denuded every other character of their ‘powers’ but his own). You might acquaint yourself with your fantasy world bit by bit, for example by writing short stories set in it at first with the same line up of characters. Before he penned The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein wrote several unreleased stories that were set in Middle Earth.
Also, you can’t just let your characters roam this fantasy world of your creation unchecked, using magic as a means to extricate themselves from ordeals thrown up by the story. Magic use has to be consistent and obey its own rules as well. As for your characters, they can be madly eccentric and stripped of ordinary context, yet readers must recognise some depth in their thoughts, manner and behaviour, containing elements of people they know in the real world or your story is going to feel flat and disconnected. You can’t just have a hoard of characters spazzing out on magic use with little or no logical sequence to their behaviour or patterns of thinking identifiable as belonging to people we know in the world of ordinary context.
Don’t forget that you are creating a new and exciting world. Readers may want to spot themselves or others in your stories but they also long for a fantastical setting, a world which inspires awe, one in which they can immerse themselves completely and forget the humdrum of their daily lives, or one which subverts their expectations to make them see the world as an altogether different and unusual place.
Happy world building!
The Hunting, shooting, fishing Anglo-Irish
From The Mind Of Julian (extract from my urban comedy Forget Shakespeare)
My friend Xiong Ying Jia the European resident, Chinese artist (XJ to his friends) rang me the other day with yet another hair-brained scam to upsell his paintings to the moneyed set. The man is obsessed with the Irish Ascendancy, thinking that at the foot of my colourful heritage lies a pot of gold. I gave up long ago trying to explain to the Sino-European that having a lordly title and estate does not necessarily translate to income. Owning packs of hunting dogs is primarily a central heating solution rather than a status symbol (they lie in bed with them at night in their frozen asset castles). A Paris artist sweating inspiration in his top floor garret would have a more convenient life. The Beijing bourgeois would have none of it, however.
XJ wanted me to pen an article in my society magazine about his latest exhibition featuring paintings he has stroked in invisible ink. It is literally a collection of blank canvasses. Visitors to the gallery are issued upon entry with a special UV light stick they’re supposed to wave before the canvass to make the ink fluoresce. Apparently the notion is that the true artist is ignored until you view him through a new dimension of experience. He cites Van Gough, who was committed to an asylum by his neighbours, one of whom had had her portrait done by him, the painting selling at a recent auction for 40 million US dollars. Van Gough was a true prophet that transported people to a new reality, he explains rather stuffily in his halting English, ignoring at my quip about Hosanna in the Hiace. Needless to say, I offered to write the article in invisible ink, for which witticism I received an unprintable reply.
There is, I think, something to be said for illumination as the key to developing consciousness. It is nothing without humour though, as the renegade monk in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose proved to a generation of questers and Sean Connery later revealed in the movie version of the book when his monk discovered a forbidden manuscript full of jokes in that dark abbey, its pages not written in unseen ink but laced instead with poison for fear of its discovery, leading one to think: are we ready for enlightenment?