Sunday 8 December 2019

Aunty Debbie Returns ...

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? So you all thought Aunty Debbie’s helpful problem page had ceased trading since the last post? Well, no such luck – I’m still here and still dispensing wisdom like oil of cloves on a rotting tooth. And probably about as useful …

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Friday 6 September 2019

Of Sons, Psychopaths & Series

Andy and I are currently binge-watching Netflix. That’s a strange 21st century expression – binge-watching. Watching a series to excess, gorging ourselves, although to be fair, sometimes it’s only an episode a night and we might even a skip a few nights if we are out and about. We’re season 5 now, of apparently 7 seasons and I have no idea where we are going or what might happen.

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Saturday 4 May 2019

I’m reading a book about a boy. It’s a new paperback – I picked it up in Waterstones as part of a buy-one-get-one-half-price deal. I got up to page 6 and was tempted to throw the book across the room.

Why? Because the title says boy, the blurb says little boy and the cover shows a picture of a young (white Caucasian) boy. With all the references, I think it’s safe to assume that the cover is meant to depict the boy in question. But page 6, and the protagonist is pondering the ethnicity of the boy in question as he is so dark-skinned.

So why is our cover model white? Dark haired yes, and not white white. But clearly of Caucasian origin. Do the publishers think the book will sell more copies if the cover shows a white person? Does it matter? I think it does, yes. I read a lot of articles campaigning for more culturally-diverse fiction and I think it’s important – especially for children – to be able to read about characters ‘like’ themselves, to identify with them and maybe aspire to be like them. I’m not far enough into this book yet to know whether said boy’s ethnic origins are important to the story, but since it’s important enough to mention and important enough to wonder about, it ought to be important enough to find a child for the cover that at least looks the part.

I’m not saying that all book covers should replicate the story in minute detail. God knows I’ve seen enough bad covers where the author has insisted on having a dragon, a sword, a red-headed female warrior, a magical artefact and a wizard with stars on his cape (because that’s what the story is about, don’t you know?) – and the result is cluttered, amateur and frankly silly. A cover is meant to convey genre, give you a hint of the style of the book and entice you to read the blurb and then the opening paragraph. But since the cover of my book is just a boy, why on earth couldn’t it be a dark-skinned boy?

And now I've just looked on Amazon and it's a title-stuffer: A gripping psychological thriller full of twists you won't see coming ... No really, I will. Trust me on that one.


Wednesday 3 April 2019

I'm leading a workshop on writing science fiction at the end of this month. Check out this link for more information and details of how to book a place.  I don't think the photograph is very flattering though!

For anybody who's come here via the link from Oldham Library - hello. While I mostly write crime and thriller fiction these days, I started out my writing career in the sf and fantasy genre and I've published a lot of short fiction, and a fantasy novel. If you want to check some of it out, have a look at my short story collection Maniac & Other Stories. You can probably even read a couple for free as part of the 10% sample online or on your ereader, so it won't even cost you anything ... If you've signed up for the workshop, feel free to email me at the address in the panel on the right and I'll send you an advance link to a page of resources that I plan to make available after the workshop.