Lend me your ears…

There’s a very interesting development coming up soon. One of my Sherlock Holmes stories for the MX Collections, “The Holloway Ghosts” was written not in my usual first-person Watson narrative style, but as an audio play.

Steve Emecz, the publisher behind MX, had been quietly asking for some time for me to make my works available as audiobooks, a field in which MX Publishing has quietly been making significant progress.

Accordingly, the Holloway Ghosts made their way over to MX, where they have been recorded and produced by another Steve (White), and Steve W and I worked out some of the production issues (including some of my stupid errors in the script) by email until we were both happy with it.

Audio is more than just the words

As we processed the script, I discovered that there is much more to making a successful audio drama than merely the right words. It helps to have a little atmosphere in there – a ticking clock and a crackling fire summon up the atmosphere of the rooms in 221B Baker Street. The clip-clop of horses’ hoofs brings us outside into a Victorian street, and a little reverberation added to the effects and dialogue places us with Holmes and Watson in a deserted empty room.

And then there’s the voice in which the accents are spoken. Steve, without going into a ludicrous falsetto, can portray the female characters in my story. However, I had envisaged one of my characters as being much more strident, and probably not a Londoner, than Steve made her. So we changed her to be a Midlander with an attitude, and I think we’re much happier with her now.

Steve surprised me with his Lestrade, who seemed to be from Norfolk. However, once I had got over the surprise, it worked, and made a great foil to the stolid Cockney PCs who play a role in the story.

And we also had fun with Otto Sussbinder – a German character who is not all that he appears.

And next…

This is one of the problems I encountered with regard to a voice play – transitions. I could have taken the easy way out, and had Watson do a voice-over.

We left Baker Street and made our way to Holloway by cab. During the journey, Holmes informed Lestrade of his conclusions regarding the recent theft from Westmereland House.

But I felt that was cheating. Accordingly, I wrote these scenes either as dialogue, or as a spoken cue by one of the characters:

Come, let us take a cab to Holloway, and we may usefully pass the time by my informing you, Lestrade, of the conclusions I have reached regarding the Westmereland rubies.

I also found, in scenes where more than one character is present, that I needed to throw in names in order to indicate who is being addressed:

Lestrade, if you would be good enough to call one of your constables, and Watson, follow me to the rear of the house.

All very technical, but necessary to the ultimate success of the production.

So… Keep a lookout for the Holloway Ghosts – appearing soon in a little over 30 minutes of glorious  audio. And at least two more of my longer stories are on the stocks, being adapted in the same way – no descriptions – simply dialogue. It’s an exciting venture.

I’ll be writing more later, when these hit the “shelves”.

 

Halloween is coming

Unknown Quantities is now available for pre-order and will be on sale from Halloween (the paperback will also be available on that date ). However, I will be happy to send a free ebook copy (EPUB or MOBI) to the first ten people to contact me, in exchange for a review somewhere.Unknownback@1.5x

  • Bee-bee – a rag doll who helps her owner cope with life’s ups and downs
  • What you find in a skip – it can be surprising
  • Babysitter – something nasty in the Coopers’ woodshed
  • Time thieves – they steal time and dreams and energy
  • Ships in the night – “as night turned to day, he started to understand the truth”
  • Carnacki at Bunscombe Abbey – a sincere tribute to William Hope Hodgson’s classic ghost-finder
  • The story that wrote itself – sometimes an author gets help from an unexpected source
  • Gianni Two-Pricks – be careful what you take from others – even when they’re dead
  • Lady of the Dance – movement as message
  • Me and my Shadow – or is it really my shadow?
  • What Happens Afterwards? – when you die on the operating table, what’s next?

Another day, another genre…

I’ve written books in a variety of genres, but one I’ve shied away from, for no good reason, is the horror/weird genre.

However, in the Lichfield Writers, I found that quite a few of my pieces actually were at least moving in the direction of that genre, and could be put together to make a small collection. I was encouraged in this by John Linwood Grant, who has much more experience in this field, and am going ahead with the project.

UnknownbackI’ve picked out ten stories, and the 96-page book will be on sale soon. I’ve produced it as the same pocket size (4″ x 6″ or 101mm x 152mm) as the Untime paperback. It’s cute and it’s rather friendly.

The cover is still a little provisional, but I’m pretty certain that Unknown Quantities will end up looking a little like this.

The price it will go for on Amazon is £5.99 (US $6.99). I should be able to do it for much less (including p&p). If you are interested in a signed copy, please let me know, and I’ll be able to order copies for resale.

You win, Mr Bezos

Despite my books selling tolerably well on Amazon, Kobo, and Apple, it seems that very few people were interested in saving money by buying my titles directly from this site.

I have therefore taken away the ability to buy my books directly from here. You’ll have to look elsewhere.

However, you can still download the free books (Balance of Powers and First Contact) from here, as well as the (payable by PayPal or CC) recording of Sherlock Ferret and the Phantom Photographer.

Making a steampunk book…

This is one of my favourite books from the point of view of the physical design of the book. Originally, it was two separate paperback volumes, The Untime and The Untime Revisited (both of which are still available as ebooks – check them out here), but I decided to combine them into one print volume, since one is a very clear sequel to the other.

I had some designs which I’d used for the cover of the original, but I preferred to take a completely different tack on this, and to try to recreate the feeling of a 19th-century book using 21st century technology. Steampunk publishing, if you will. Continue reading “Making a steampunk book…”

One year on

It was just over a year ago (in fact, it was about 1:30am on Christmas morning 2017) that I read an email from a friend informing me that my publisher, editor, and friend, Jo Lowe of Inknbeans Press, had died.

The news was not totally unexpected, but it hit me hard, and Christmas last year was very much a matter of smiling on the outside and grieving on the inside. Since then, I have had to pick up the pieces, not only of my emotional life (for I, like all who knew her, I think, was more than a little in love with this lady whom most of us had never met in person), but of my life as a writer.

Continue reading “One year on”

A talking ferret for Christmas!

LestradeThrowsHatIf you know children aged between 7 and 11 (or thereabouts) who would enjoy having a detective story read to them, why not give Sherlock Ferret and the Phantom Photographer a try? The world’s cutest detective takes on a case at the request of his client, Mr. Montague Mole, helped by his friend Watson Mouse M.D., and their friend Lestrade, who is a rhinoceros (though not a very big one).

Here’s a little extract:

Sherlock Ferret’s well-whiskered friend Watson Mouse M.D. tells the story of how Mr. Montague Mole shows photographs of his family, but he has no idea who has taken them! Could it be a phantom photographer?

As so often, the nefarious Moriarty Magpie appears to be involved, along with the mysterious Sir Basil Badger, who vanished several years before, after eating twenty-seven jam tarts (and lots of other delicious things!). But thanks to Sherlock Ferret’s knowledge, his Big Books, and the Bakery Irregulars, all is put right in the end, and the Mole family can sleep safely all day (for the night is their busy time).

To buy the whole book (a little over an hour long, 92MB – uses PayPal for the £8 payment):

If you want to read the book, you can buy it (and the other Sherlock Ferret titles) from Amazon, etc.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffere & Annie Barrows – REVIEW

We recently visited Guernsey, and most of the touristy shops made a big thing out of selling the book (often marketed as “the book of the film”) or the DVD. Of course the book came out first, and on our return when a friend offered to lend me either the book or the DVD or both, I chose the book.

Continue reading “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffere & Annie Barrows – REVIEW”

Here we go again (and what the last time did for my writing?)…

In 2008, I was living in Japan, and making my living as a freelance writer. One of the assignments that came my way was the editing of an investment bank’s English-language marketing materials, prior to their translation into Japanese. However, something got in the way… Continue reading “Here we go again (and what the last time did for my writing?)…”