You’re Chosen Genre

Unless, or until, you are an established name in the world of writing like J.K Rowling, or Lynda La Plant with book sales in the millions, is it wise to stick to just one genre?
Many new writers, and I include myself in this, want to write the next best seller in the genre they fell in love with as avid readers and therefore feel comfortable with. In my own case, it is science fiction. While I wait for my next sci-fi novel to be edited, I’m happily exploring other genres.
I believe this is not only healthy, but is also an excellent tool to improve or hone my own writing skills. Forcing myself to think a story through outside my own comfort zone, challenges me to explore not only different genres, but also to write in different styles.
My publisher set up an in-house site for all of its authors and a few outside who had caught our chief editor’s eye, where we can post short stories, flash fiction, vignettes, excerpts from a forthcoming novel etc for discussion and constructive criticism. Each month, one of us will place a challenge to write a story in whatever genre the challenger decrees.
Within this friendly group of writers, many genres are represented. We have writers whose favourites include Sci-Fi, YA, Horror, Children’s stories, Fantasy – Light and Dark, Steam Punk, Dystopian, Historical – you name, we have it covered.
Writing in other genres is a necessary exercise. How else will you improve unless you experiment? Try it. You never know, you may find you have a talent for writing in a totally different style and genre beyond your favourite.
Above all, until the product of all your hard work ‘makes it’, keep on challenging yourself, keep on exploring and experimenting. That’s the only way you will one day write that best seller. If as a writer you’re completely honest with yourself no one merely writes for personal enjoyment.
In the end we all want to be read by others.

What Constitutes Humour These Days?

In the United Kingdom back in the previous mid century, humour was a mix of slapstick and double entendre, raw humour unfettered by politically correct constraints, unlike today.
In my childhood I looked forward to the weekly Goon Show on radio, starring the brilliantly surreal Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and the absolute master and my personal favourite – Peter Sellars.
Then when television took over, we all laughed out loud at shows by British comedians like Dick Emery, Franky Howard and Spike Milligan once more with his ‘Q’ series, Benny Hill, Eric Sykes and the Monty Python team, Les Dawson and Morecombe and Wise.
Who can ever forget Warren Mitchell’s character Alf Garnett? What about Rowan Atkinson’s brilliant Black Adder series?
Then things changed as British humour went through a metamorphosis at the direction of po-faced individuals with absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever, shifting its direction towards cringe worthy television programmes like “The Office”, pathetically attempting to ape American humour, which is where British humour is still today.
On the 19th of September 1975, the last example of a truly hilarious comedy series to come out of this country first aired on BBC2.
I give you “Fawlty Towers.”
Co-written by John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth, Basil Fawlty leapt onto our television screens alongside his wife Sybil, played by Prunella Scales, the only person Basil is truly terrified of.
Remember poor Manuel, Basil’s waiter, played by Andrew Sachs?
In each episode Manuel was the target of Fawlty’s insanity and rage.
Who can ever forget the episode when Manuel kept a rat as a pet, only for it to escape and turn up inside a fresh tin of biscuits on offer to Basil’s guests at dinner – pure comedy genius?
There were only ever twelve episodes made, each one a priceless gem. If only it were possible to return to real humour like that again. These days I watch the various comedy shows in the vain hope that it may raise a titter.
Sadly it doesn’t…

The Prologue for Onet’s Tale

Here is the prologue for my science fiction space opera Onet’s Tale.
My name is Onet, my kind are the Khaz. We are the oldest species across the cosmos and because of our greed and ambition, we are nearly all wiped out. Unlike you and all other sentient species, we do not live short lives or need to breed with one another, we are self replicating; a painful process that takes months for each of us to endure. We were the stuff of legend here on Earth in the twentieth century. Back then your ancestors always depicted us as tiny benevolent invaders in your pictorial entertainments; the truth is most of my brothers are evil. This is the story of how evil grows and spreads its tentacles corrupting the most innocent among us. I know for it was I who unwittingly unleashed it aeons ago.
I have lived for more millennia than I care to remember. Since I came here to these caves after the great holocaust nearly eight hundred years ago, when this small blue planet was turned on its head, and all life across the cosmos changed forever, I have remained hidden from the violence of the world beyond these mountains waiting to go home. But until the being I seek finds me, I cannot return, so I content myself by writing this tale. While he will not be born for years to come, I already know who he is. When he finally arrives, the celestial event I also await will occur and we shall return together to my home in the stars. 
Unlike the rest of my kind who are cruel and have turned to evil thoughts and deeds for their own ends, I do not now deliberately interfere with the lives of others. But in his case, it is necessary for me to protect the cosmos from the meddling of my cousins, when they will indirectly contribute to his creation. Above all, it is my duty to bring peace once more. There is a valuable lesson to be learned from this tale; no thought deed or action is ever random. One of your scientists summed it up best when he said, ‘for every action there is a reaction’. The truth of that statement is contained within these pages.
While I continue to wait, and for you to understand the tale you are about to read, you need to know something of the background leading up to the events I have witnessed over the many years of my exile here on Earth, which I will now lay before you. It is not a story you would wish to tell your children at night in the comfort of your home, but in a way, you are all my children, so dear reader we shall begin. 
It is not necessary for you to know a great deal about the many characters who were involved in the tale about to unfold. The six men from different nations throughout the cosmos, who became a band of brothers, are a different matter. They are the ones I am really concerned with, as should you be. They are Akhen, Khan, Besal, Seti, Max, and Akkad, who you will meet as the story unfolds before, during, and after they were irreversibly transformed into berserker warriors. With the exception of Khan, Akkad, and Akhen who never actually met him, they all indirectly contributed to his creation by their deeds. My evil Khaz cousins, over the years, did the rest…

Onet’s Tale – published in 2010 by IFWG Publishing in Kindle and paperback. Available at IFWG’s website or Amazon worldwide. Also available from Barnes & Noble and all major internet book outlets.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

Why oh why does Hollywood insist on endless remakes of movies better left alone. Last night I watched the 2008 remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” on television, starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates and Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith.

Reeves acting was wooden and the whole movie juddered along rather than flowing. I can only think that either the editing was done by someone who was suffering from a hangover, or a studio intern was left in charge.

The film’s only saving grace was the CGI.

If those responsible for the original starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlow, Lock Martin and Sam Jaffe were still around, I believe they would be appalled, not only by the quality of this latest version, but also by Hollywood’s lack of courage regarding new stories.