Something I'm fascinated by is the concept of the blue plaque - and this may only have a weeny bit to do with the fact that my hero Lord Byron has the very first blue plaque (Holles Street, on a John Lewis building!). London is covered in them, and despite the fact they depressingly add to the price of properties, I get rather excited when I see any. Here's a selection of some I've dug up recently.
Okay, so our first one isn't actually literary, but it is for a wonderful woman: Dame Millicent Fawcett. This can be found at 2 Gower Street, WC1E, where she lived and died.
Can you read that? Mary Shelley's plaque at 24 Chester Square, SW1, is considerably higher up the building that I would have liked it to be, but it's just about legible! She lived here from 1846 to 1851.
Just around the corner at 2 Chester Square is Matthew Arnold.
Having recently found a passion for Vita Sackville-West, this one was quite a treat. She live with her husband at 182 Ebury Street, Belgravia, SW1. And yes, it's a brown plaque!
This last one is undoubtedly my favourite - not least of all because I hadn't expected to find two plaques there! Both George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf lived at 29 Fitzroy Square, Fitzrovia, W1T, albeit almost two decades apart.
Here's a closer look at Virginia Woolf's:
Have you seen any blue plaques recently? Although they're situated all over the country, I find that London is a particular hotspot for them - which goes without saying given the wonderful names that have resided there over the centuries! - and it's always a treat to go a-plaque hunting! It's such a wonderful way to pass an afternoon.
After being asked to do some trailer reaction videos, I thought the release of the upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) film would be a perfect place to start. As a huge fan (worshipper, admirer, etc) of both HBC and Tim Burton alike, it was quite a struggle to refrain from watching any of the clips...
But I managed...
And here's the result...
That was a lot of fun; thanks to everybody who recommended I give it a go! Look out for my next one, which I'm currently editing... Can you guess what it is?
I've had this little beauty for almost two years. However, until recently, the poor thing has remained stuffed inside his packaging. Having taken him down from the shelf, I thought now would be the perfect time to share him with you.
This video at the end of this post contains a more thorough look at the Hot Toys Sweeney Todd collectible figure, but I've included some photos below of him in action. Yes, I am satisfied with just how much he looks like Johnny Depp, and, yes, he is tremendous fun to play with!*
Sweeney Todd is one of my two favourite films, so this really is something a little bit exciting. I only wish there was a Mrs Lovett too; I dare say I'd never be able to stop touching her! If you're a fan of the Tim Burton firm, or the musical in general (or you just want to fondle a 1/6th scale Johnny Depp), then this is definitely something worth investing in. He's poseable, lots of fun, and - I am sure you will agree - absolutely beautiful!
*Being a grown up goes out of the window when it comes to movie merchandise. Especially Burton movie merchandise...
Yes! The time has finally arrived! Hallow Be Thy Name is now published!
You can find out more about the novel in the video below. I'll also leave the blurb and some links at the bottom too. Thank you to everybody who has shown interest in Hallow; I can't wait to write the rest of the series and see where Lucy's story takes us! But for now, I shall leave you with this:
It has been two years since Lucy Hallow first saw the spirit of her deceased nephew, and, having come to terms with her role as Spiritual Messenger, it is time for her to step up to the next level. Assisted by her spirit guide Naiche, the son of a Chiricahua Apache Chief, and clairvoyant Audrey Maurice, she must open up her gift to help others. During the spiritual evenings held at Hallow House, Lucy's coffee shop in Hampstead, she meets Jennifer Healy, a young woman who has recently lost her fiancé in a road accident.
When Lucy is introduced to a Victorian spirit named Serafina DuPont, she realises that there is a strong connection between the two lives. To discover this link, however, she must closely observe the stories that unfold around her, as not everybody is as innocent as they seem.
Tales from 1890 and the present day become one in this journey of mysticism, betrayal, and the dead.
HALLOW BE THY NAME contains knowledge and insight from various historical figures. All spiritual input is provided by an authentic Spiritual Messenger.
To mark Byron's 228th birthday on Friday (22nd January 2016), a sculpture by David Gross was unveiled outside Byron Place in Seaham (more here). Naturally, I had to go and check out this sculpture for myself...
I think the easiest thing for me to say here is this: it's interesting.
Well, at the very least, Iam fascinating by the fact that the artist has chosen to sculpt them facing away from each other. This is such an apt representation of their brief marriage; I applaud it entirely for that.
Check out the pictures below to see what you think of it for yourself!
For anybody who has not yet seen my cover reveal video for my forthcoming novel Hallow Be Thy Name, here she is!
Hallow Be Thy Name will be my third novel, but the first in a new spiritual series set in Hampstead and the NW3 area. I will talk more about the plot in the run up to the publication - look out for it from 1st February 2016! - but for now I shall leave this with you. You can also have a sneak peek at the blurb on the back of the book!
My first and most recent experiences with Ray Garton's writing could not be more different. As a child (and as a young adult - shh!), I read all of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch novellas, some of which were penned by Ray Garton - might I introduce you to All that Glitters? And then there's Scissors, a more adult tale of traumatising medical procedures and sharp, threatening nightmares. Although the two approaches are very different - one full of magic and teenagers, and the other comprising very vivid descriptions of blood droplets from male genitalia - Garton's writing is continuously thrilling, and so I'm delighted to introduce him for the first post in my new Inspiring Writers series. I give you author and my guest blogger Ray Garton!
Most of what passes for “inspirational” these days does not inspire me. It usually makes me throw up in my mouth a little. For example, Deepak Chopra has gotten very rich by dispensing what many embrace as inspirational wisdom, but I think it would be perfectly at home in a fortune cookie or a Hallmark card. Motivational speaker and real-life fairy-tale giant Tony Robbins has had a long and successful career inspiring people by having them walk over hot coals with bare feet. Sorry, I just don’t get it. But, hey, it’s worked for Mr. Robbins, who’s worth $480 million, according to Forbes, and who doesn’t give a happy damn what I think of his methods.
I’m not inspired by prepackaged, mass-produced inspiration, but there are things I do find inspiring. It’s difficult to write about them because more often than not they are surprises that pop up unexpectedly. What I find inspiring may best be defined by paraphrasing the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s description of pornography: I can’t describe it to you but I know it when I see it. In spite of that, I will do my best to make a list, in no particular order, of things that I find inspiring, and another of books that have inspired me.
Things That Inspire Me
1.) I recently met someone who has a ten-year-old son who likes old Universal horror movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Most kids that age won’t sit still for something in black and white with such inferior special effects and sound quality. I grew up mesmerized by those silver-screen images and they helped shape me as a writer, but that was more than forty years ago when those movies were only a few decades old. Now they’re ancient. I found it inspiring to know that there are still kids who see the magic in those movies and the stories they tell.
2.) Good writing is always inspiring. It doesn’t matter what it is — a work of fiction, a news article, a letter — if it’s well written, if it clearly and concisely conveys an idea or describes something or tells a story in such a way as to create a mental picture or evoke an emotional response, I find it inspiring. It’s no accident that an important part of writing is spelling, because when it’s done well, writing can cast a spell over the reader. Reading good writing always makes me want to be a better writer.
3.) A story or book is always the result of a creative spark. It’s difficult to describe this spark, but it’s something that always inspires me to start writing.
The creative spark that resulted in my novel Live Girls happened during a visit to a peepshow in New York’s Times Square in the mid-1980s. I was in my early 20s, the product of a carefully sheltered upbringing in a fundamentalist Christian family, and I found Times Square, as it existed at the time (not anymore), to be fascinating, frightening, and overwhelming. I went into a peepshow, entered a booth, dropped a token in the box, and a panel rose to reveal an emaciated, naked dancer on the other side. The token box had a small sign above it that read “Insert tip through slot.” The slot it referred to was just beneath the window and looked like a mail slot, but it opened up in the center into a crude circle. I looked closer and saw that the rounded edges had ridges on them, almost as if the slot had been chewed open in the center. And the instant that sentence unrolled in my mind — It looks like somebody chewed this thing open — that spark occurred and Live Girls dropped into my head in one piece. I hurried out of the peepshow and rushed to the nearest typewriter to begin writing.
It happened again recently. A friend sent me a documentary about the late Bob Wilkins, who used to host Creature Features on a San Francisco station when I was a boy. Every Saturday night, Bob showed two horror or science fiction movies and I never missed it. Thanks to Bob, who died in 2012 of Alzheimer’s disease, I cut my horror teeth on alien monsters, vampires, psycho killers, werewolves, ghosts, and staggering zombies and mummies in old, low-budget, drive-in movies, some of which were so bad that the host himself told us to watch something else or go to bed. As I watched the documentary, which included interviews and movie clips I hadn’t seen in more than forty years, I was filled with a pleasant sense of nostalgia — until the spark occurred with an almost audible pop! inside my head. I started making some notes immediately. The result was the novel I’m currently writing, Monster Show.
That spark, whatever it is and wherever it comes from, is unquestionably the biggest inspiration behind my writing.
4.) Rain. I love rainy weather. I’m one of those people Gordon Lightfoot sang about.
5.) My wife, Dawn. For more than eight years, I was laid up with a bad hip that required three operations, two of which were replacements on the same hip. During those years, I was in constant pain even though I was full of painkillers, I was grouchy, in a narcotic fog, and my medical bills were so devastating, we still haven’t recovered financially. She didn’t breathe a word of complaint during all those years. The pain was so intense that the idea of taking all of my painkillers and going to bed was appealing at times, but I couldn’t do that to her. She kept me going then and she keeps me going now.
Books That Have Inspired Me
1.) Carrie by Stephen King — This was the first horror novel I ever read that made me feel something other than fear or tension. It actually made me cry. I lived in an oppressive religious environment at the time, which made the book even more vivid to me. It made me realize that horror should be about more than just horror.
2.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller — Laughter is always inspiring, and no book makes me laugh as much or as consistently as this one.
3.) The Cellar by Richard Laymon — Reading this book made me understand that there really are no boundaries to horror, no written-in-stone rules, and it broadened my creative approach to writing in the genre.
4.) Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson — This book inspired me to start changing the way I think and see the world.
5.) Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications by Dr. Peter Breggin, M.D. — This is the scariest book I’ve eve read because it’s nonfiction, and it, in part, inspired me to write my novel Meds.
Okay. I can't keep it in any longer. I was going to wait until tomorrow - which marks two months until its release - to share with you the title of my third novel. But I can't. I'm far too excited.
So the title of my third novel is...
Hallow Be Thy Name
I'm conclude this by saying no more than this: Hallow Be Thy Name's protagonist is a Spiritual Messenger named Lucy Hallow, and it is the first novel in a new series (the Hallow series, appropriately!).
Hallow Be Thy Name will be published on 1st February 2016. I'll say no more until I reveal the cover in a month or so. Until then...
Just a quick update today, but an exciting one because...
I'M ATTENDING FEEL THE FORCE DAY!
Yes, I'm a guest at this year's Feel the Force Day at Peterborough. The convention is aimed primarily at the disabled and visually impaired and opens up film and television in ways that other conventions aren't usually able to. You can find out more about the event on its website here, its Facebook, and its Twitter page. Tickets can be purchased here.
The event takes place at KingsGate conference centre in Peterborough on the 10th October 2015, 11am-6pm.
I'll be there in the guest area signing autographs and copies of Celestial Land and Sea, and conversing with fellow film fans!
I'm personally expecting it to be a very interesting day. And on an unprofessional note, I'm rather excited because Warwick Davies will be there. #WingardiumLeviosa