Paranormal Romances – A normal outlet for forbidden desires or a tool for acting them out?

A good friend of mine called Arthur, who writes Tolkien fanfiction under the name of Fiondil, makes a very good point about the recent spate of young adult paranormal romances in his new story Elf Academy 3, which is a tale of the coming of the end of days, the Dagor Dagorath, and the Valar sending certain members of the Elven community who lived through the First, Second, Third and Fourth ages of the world, to interact with mortal men and women and help prepare them for what is to come.

The following passage describes the fall of King Finrod Felagund, as he was captured by Sauron along with Beren, son of Barahir and imprisoned.

“In the pits of Sauron Beren and Felagund lay, and all their companions were now dead; but Sauron purposed to keep Felagund to the last, for he perceived that he was a Noldo of great might and wisdom, and he deemed that in him lay the secret of their errand. But when the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth all his power, and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf, and slew it with his hands and teeth; yet he himself was wounded to the death. Then he spoke to Beren, saying: ‘I go now to my long rest in the timeless halls beyond the seas and the Mountains of Aman. It will be long ere I am seen amoung the Noldor again; and it may be that we shall not meet a second time in death or life, for the fates of our kindreds are apart. Farewell!’ He died in the dark, in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, whose great tower he himself had built. Thus King Finrod Felagund, fairest and most beloved of the house of Finwë, redeemed his oath; but Beren mourned beside him in despair.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion p. 174


In the story, Finrod Felagund, son of the King of the Noldor in Valinor and former King of Nargothrond, an Elven settlement on earth millennia ago, is now back in modern earth and working in a bookshop near the new Elven settlement of Edhellond in Alaska, near a town called Wiseman. He is asked to put some new paranormal romance books on the shelves and asks what they are about.

When the book shop owner tells him they are romances about human girls wanting to have relationships with werewolves and vampires, he turns white and reacts very badly, the point being that when he died, it was by being torn to pieces while still alive by a werewolf and that the vampire of his time, called Thuringwethil, was not a good and handsome creature, but a vicious predator. Nobody in Finrod’s time would even have thought it was possible to have sexual relation with such creatures and the thought would have  horrified them.

And of course this is the point isn’t it? The fact it that in myth, vampires were certainly not romantic creatures.  Far from it. They were vicious and unclean demons or spirits who used human form to lure in mortals in order to feast on their blood, because this was how they sustained themselves in the form of the mortal whose soul they banished.

They weren’t at all like Edward Cullen and his ilk;  charming, debonair, caring and careful around mortals.


 They were more like Victoria and her people.  Ripping people apart was their raison d’etre, not stalking, controlling and then marrying some innocent 17 year old human girl.  

They weren’t like Angel from the Buffy series either, although the tortured human part of Angel was probably what he would have been like had he been handed his soul back, and it’s important to remember that it IS the fact that the soul has been removed from a human that allows a vampire to occupy the body and control it. Give them their souls back andthe memory of every person they ripped apart andcartonato_nomadi whose blood they drank, they would be tortured by that. Angelus was shown by Whedon for that very reason; so that viewers of the show could see the other side of the coin to the romantic figures that have modern maidens sighing and wishing for a fatal hickey on their necks. 


Werewolves are slightly different, because for most days of the month they ARE their human selves, with their human thoughts and souls. It’s only for a few nights a month that they became a vicious predator that gave no quarter and fed off the humans they killed. However, the idea of actually having an intimate relationship with a person who could turn on them in an instant and cause a bloodbath instead of the post coital cigarette, should really turn people off. They are not a romantic figure, they are a tragic figure. Werewolves are figures of tragedy, but that doesn’t make them good boy or girlfriends.

Of course you could say that all women become tragic, vicious creatures seven or so days of the month as well couldn’t you? Perhaps that’s where the origins of the myth came about. You can almost hear the men of days gone by can’t you, while having a drink with their mates in the local tavern:

“Gadzooks, my wife turns into a vicious, bloodthirsty harridan when the moon is full.”

Makes you realise why men were so willing to believe in witches eh?

Finrod, the Elven character in Fiondil’s story,  in reality reacted in the way we should all react to those notions. Just because a writer or their audience have forbidden and dark desires doesn’t really mean we should put them down on paper and publish them for all to see does it? Most people are able to keep their dark thoughts and desires inside in that place that is private to them, but the trouble is that some people can’t do that, and they want to act them out for real. There are many many criminal investigation cases based on the thoughts of the perpetrators like that, where murderers, rapists and serial killers have acted out their innermost desires and that is no joke.

Perhaps we should not be romanticising such things, especially with teenagers and young adults whose minds, moral codes and personalities are still in the development stage.

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With thanks to:

Fiondil (Stories of Arda)


Thoughts on Mandela, the man and the myth of the Rainbow Nation

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Squ...

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, London. Sculptor: Ian Walters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I lived in South Africa as an English ‘alien’, which is how we who weren’t born in that country termed. I was a child during most of Mandela’s pursuits and was present when my parents and their friends, all white people of course, talked about the events and I was curious. I asked questions.

It is true that that black African, Coloureds and Asians were kept down by the white regime. I saw it with my own eyes. As in most countries in Africa, peace among the people no matter what colour was wrought often through threat or deprivation, but the same is true in many countries in the world including the UK and the US.

Black people were not allowed to live in white areas. In fact none of the black Africans in the very south of Africa where I lived actually existed any more. The original tribe, called the Khoikhoi were extinct by that time. Only the Bushmen exist in small numbers and of course the Zulu who were much more numerous in the Transkei. Africans needed for work were transported in from the Transkei and neighbouring African countries. NONE of them were indigenous to the region. They were only indigenous to the continent.

They had to have permits to work for the white people and government, they were kept in certain areas and although many outside South Africa believed they were not offered education, in fact, this isn’t the case. Their children were given education, but only in the most basic sense. Many Africans, who are tribal by nature didn’t trust the white man’s form of education, it meant nothing to them.

As a child I saw immediately the basis for the unrest. Seats in public parks, on buses and trains were segregated, to my childish fascination, and labelled Blankes and Net Nie Blankes, i.e. whites and non whites, as were schools, public entertainment places and many shops. Although people of colour were allowed in most stores, it was frowned upon except in certain stores like OK Bazaars. This was something I did not understand, it wasn’t what I was used to. In England, although there was prejudice in the 60s, people of any colour were allowed anywhere.

My mother used to say, hush, these are the rules of the country we are living in and we must respect them while we are here. She never said whether she agreed or disagreed, even though she knew I was puzzled because I was discouraged to play with the son of one of the workers who was the same age as me. I didn’t grow up blindly accepting as my sister did, I thought a lot of it was unfair even at a very young age. “They’re just people, like us.” were my thoughts on the matter, although I rarely said them out loud, I was a child witnessing events that would reach a cataclysmic culmination.

Was Mandela a terrorist? It’s a word we bandy around very freely these days. If we see the Africans as people held to the yoke of a cruel Master and who fight in secret to be free and allowed no rights, then Mandela was a freedom fighter who did all he could to free his people, but make no mistake, Mandela may have genuinely visualised his Rainbow Nation, but unfortunately, those around him, like Jacob Zuma and the people of the ANC did not share his vision of a multicultural and multiracial society. And what’s more I think he knew that.

It was Francis de Klerk and Mandela who both realised that South Africa was heading into civil war who hammered out the basis of the new South Africa where everyone is equal and accepted and it was a good idea. De Klerk rarely gets any approbation for the courage it must have taken for him to go to Mandela cap in hand to plead for balance and peace in a South Africa heading towards being a killing ground.

The importance of this man is not so much what he did to get this freedom for his people, but what he didn’t do after he came into power. By then he was surrounded by very militant people, of whom the most militant was his ex wife, Winnie, who was a difficult woman with violent tendencies. Mandela knew that his name attached to her was being dragged through the mud, but you must ask yourselves just how many of the people around Mandela when he held office now absolutely hate whites with a passion. I don’t think Mandela did, I think he realised that the country needed people of all colours and education to retain the infrastructure until the black community could do it for themselves and they also needed contact with the white nations of the world, as well as those in Africa.

Unfortunately, the black people of South Africa spite of affirmative action in every walk of life; where in jobs the choice must be in this order: Black (whether they are educated or trained or not), Indian, Coloured and then White at the bottom of the choice pile  – are still in dire straits. There are still many black South Africans who adhere to the old ways of their tribal roots. They were promised many things… a vote which is something that is now strained because of the gangs from the ANC going round who threaten them with ‘vote for us or we know where you live’. They often offer food to poor voters. Food and a tee shirt if you vote for us.

Yes they have a vote and the appearance of democracy, but they are no better off than they were before. Where is the housing that was promised to them? Why are they all still living in shanty towns siphoning their electric from the main power lines, no toilets, no running water? It seems to me that if Mandela and his ANC were going to make lives a little better for their people, it’s been a helluva long time coming and still hasn’t got here. When visitors and tourists arrive in Cape Town International airport, they are treated along the motorway into the city by Crossroads, the tent city, which was there twenty years ago and is still there and still populated by people living in abject poverty. If the lot of the black South African is better now, why are they still there?

Oh it will take time people outside South Africa say, how much time? You can put houses up in six months, possibly less, they have had twenty years. Oh people choose to live there…. no… positively no. Nobody CHOOSES to live in squalor.

Oh it’s the white people’s fault, they’re prone to say, but it’s twenty years further down the line and the white South Africans are no longer in power. Most of them that were in power aren’t even in the country any more, or they are dead. The infrastructure of the country is dying, tourists don’t see that part. They stay in plush hotels and eat in good restaurants not even considering that the person who makes their bed and cleans their room may go back to a corrugated one room shack with a candle for a light. They go to romantic shebeens in townships and think they are experiencing the black South African in his true place. But the townships have no running water and are just ruins, whole big families living in one room, children in danger of being attacked and raped in their own home because many black African men believe that raping a virgin will take away or stop them from getting AIDS.

What kind of life is that for them, twenty years on in this Rainbow Nation? Why are they not better off, living in better conditions? You can only blame the white regime of apartheid for so much. They now have their freedom, the vote and democracy, so why is their lot still so bad?

Mandela at the end of the day was just a man;  a human being who was as flawed as any human being was and he himself freely admitted it in his book. Yes he committed what were termed as terrorist acts in the days before his incarceration on Robben Island, and he was responsible for ordering many deaths, from all areas of the South African population and for that he must pay the price and carry the guilt.

He also had to sit there after retiring from public life and watch, possibly in despair, while the ANC and their lackey in charge slowly destroyed and destroy the country and I can’t help feeling that the man must have wanted his time to end because what South Africa is now, was not his dream. Zuma and the people around him are determined in sending the country to hell and any white people should now plan to leave because the ANC party and government encourage the other black South Africans to believe that everything is the white man’s fault, even though it’s the ANC who are sending South Africa into bankruptcy, something which I think Mandela would have despaired over.

They have stated openly that they want the white people gone. They would never have done anything overtly about getting rid of the whites while Mandela was alive, he was too much of an icon, terrorist or freedom fighter, whichever you choose to believe he was, in the eyes of the world outside South Africa, but now, well let’s wait and see.

The country has become utterly corrupt under ANC rule. Government ministers enrich themselves more or less openly. After all, Zuma’s costly palace at Nkandla (millions of Rands while his people live in shanty towns)  tells us how the President behaves. Civil servants, teachers and the police are all massively corrupt. Community riots against poor service delivery occur once every two days. Mandela may join the ANC up in heaven — but the party down below seems hell-bent on destruction and woe betide any whites, coloured, asians, orientals or anyone not black who get in their way.

Thoughts on control, fear and mortality

Fear is the mind killer.  I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.[2] –  Frank Herbert, Dune.

Everyone is afraid of something, as a species we are afraid of everything, the dark, even the light, the enemy we cannot see, the friend who may be an enemy in disguise, the child that might not fulfil the dreams of the parent, the things that contain threats of violence or warnings which is the method of control used by governments. In the now it’s the threat of becoming a nonentity in our society. We are threatened with the loss of identity, homes, income. The loss of a place in society where we will be respected, not for what we are, but for what we possess. The government controls that through taking away our individuality. We become a number not a person. In doing that they control how we live, how we spend our money, how we interact with others and how that money that we make is taken from us ‘for the greater good of the society’.

In ancient societies we were controlled by the notion of an all seeing, all knowing deity. We were told we must obey or the consequences will be beyond horrific. If we don’t toe the line, we are condemned to the fiery pits of hell where we will be tormented for our audacity in trying to be our own person. If we are good and obedient to the societal strictures placed on us, we will be allowed to go to a mythical place where we will live in a state of grace, no longer troubled by the tribulations of pain, torment or old age. This is obviously a lot more attractive than the alternative.

 In primitive times, they feared the dark, because in the dark lay many things that were concealed. In the blessed light, everything could be seen, enemies detected, food and water found. Sun makes the animals healthy and crops grow. Blessed be the sun, we must give the sun its due otherwise it won’t come out. We must give homage to it otherwise the darkness will fall. So begins the notion of a god, or goddess, a being who can make the light shine and the darkness fall if we displease them. They can cause the crops to die, the disease to come, the children to die in the womb before they are born. They must be worshipped. So begins the notion of religion. The word religion is a word of forced application when used with respect to the worship of God. The root of the word is the Latin verb ligo,  from which comes religo, to tie or bind over again, to make more fast – from religo, comes the substantive religo,which, with the addition of n makes the English substantive religion.

The advent of technology and knowledge has reduced those fears, although they still exist in the collective consciousnesses that make up an individual. We are the sum of those consciousnesses that came before us. We are an organism made up out of myriad of teachings, actions and wisdom or lack thereof from the past. You are your mother, father, grandparents and so forth until the original person whose loins spewed forth your ancestors. Everything is passed down, nothing is unique. The only thing that is unique is how you deal with that information and in this everyone is different, but we are all still bound to some degree by the people who came before. We create the future even as we write or live in the present. Everything I write or say now becomes both the past and a future, not the only future because there could be many outcomes from someone reading these words, but it’s a future in a universe full of futures and full of possibilities for other futures.

We are taught to deny that mass consciousness that makes us who we are. We are taught that we are alone and yet we’re not alone, we carry the seeds of everything that was, and therefore everything that could be, within us. Because of this teaching that denies and the discouragement to search who we were, when we are faced with our greatest fears we have no knowledge base to deal with them and we are afraid, deathly afraid.

If we sit at the bottom of a very big mountain and we are told that we must climb it; that there is no going back, we have no climbing rope, no pegs to hammer in to give us a foothold and no hammer, our senses begin to quicken, our breathing becomes heavier as we contemplate the mountain with growing fear.

“But I don’t know how to climb mountains.” we wail.

We have no knowledge of this art. So we sit at the bottom of the mountain, we cannot go back and we are afraid to go on.

“I can’t do it.” we mutter and we sit and nurse our fears until they threaten to overwhelm us.

“Fear is the mind killer” , as a human author once said in a book.

Finally, “I can’t do it” becomes “I won’t do it”, so instead of moving on, albeit with a tremendous effort of mind and body, we stay where we are and bemoan our fate. We worry until death overtakes us and perhaps at the very end we panic because we know that we have left things unsaid that should have been said and said things that we know we should not have said and cannot un-say. We left things undone that should not have been left undone and it has finally undone us. We fear not leaving behind any footprints that indicated we were ever here and that our death means complete obliteration of who we are, were or would be.

“Fear is the little death that leads to total obliteration.”

Fear leads to control. When we perceive that we cannot move on or control our future, we then exert control over the things, events or people we can control. We won’t climb the mountain because we are afraid, but we see others have done it and we try to teach our own children that they must climb the mountain without even seeing that our own fear of moving on has been imbued in them by our teachings and example; in those teachings we pass on the fears that we possess ourselves and yet having not overcome those fears, we expect those who follow us to do what we cannot do.

English: Words associated with Fear

English: Words associated with Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We seek many ways to control our fears. We drink or take drugs, we immerse ourselves into religions and esoteric beliefs or the supernatural. We create machines that seem to give us the infinite futures and possibilities that we don’t have the courage to seek for ourselves in reality. Or quite simply we pretend they are not there and that by controlling the minutiae around us, we are effecting the demise of fear.

Instead it festers in the back of our minds and is nurtured to immense proportions, like the elephant in the room., and in our weakest moments it threatens to overcome us.

How do we overcome those fears then? I hear you ask. Usually it’s some kind of life altering event. The death of a child perhaps, because nobody should outlive a small child at the beginning of its life.

Not the death of a parent or grandparent, because those deaths are expected and prepared for. Life starts at birth, goes through the middle and ceases at the end. Everyone knows that. Vicious or instant and unlooked for death doesn’t even trigger the ability to overcome it, because having seen an accident or incurable illness and the inevitable death of others, we rarely learn from it. We still drive too fast, or take chances or ignore signs from our bodies that something may be very wrong and we truly believe that it will never happen to us.

 Facing death, the cessation of everything we are or would be is the trigger. We are then faced with the ultimate fear, the fear of not leaving behind anything of who we are, not being able to control anything, not being able to carry on thinking and acting on those thoughts. Death is the one thing we cannot control. Overcoming fear of death is the only control open to us.

You must face your fears, let them flow around you and through you until at the end, there is ONLY you left.

The human race is not made up out of individuals, we are an organism consisting of everyone that came before in our race memory. We are not alone, even in our darkest hour if we search through our minds and the deep memories we can find the necessary tools to move through life and climb our mountains, it’s just that so many people are too afraid to search.

One Fear illustration from Book of Fears

One Fear illustration from Book of Fears (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Serpent and The Peacock – How it all began

I never intended to write a book.

I had tried to write stories previously at a suggestion from my PTSD counsellor who said that I should write a book from the point of view of a female British soldier at war in a country where women are despised and are second class citizens. (I served in the first Gulf War in 1991). I was a Staff Sergeant and therefore a senior rank as a non commissioned officer. My counsellor said “Write about your experiences as a female in the military and a female in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. You’ve left your children behind in order to serve your country, people will love it.”

As it happened, nobody seemed to love it. I wrote a small book and I sent it away to publishers and they told me, with great kindness, but very patronisingly, that I should write more action into it; turn it into a feminine Bravo Two Zero.

Apparently the day to day boring stuff that the support arms of the British Army weren’t exciting enough. They wanted me charging into enemy territory like a one woman ferocious Army, armed to the teeth, fighting off hundreds of Iraqi soldiers intent on capturing me and delivering a fate worse than death, hiding under bushes in the desert from Iraqi troops… maybe even me killing some nasty big enemy soldier with my bare hands.  You know the sort of thing… the things that all men dream they are capable of doing.

“Me strong, me big… me like to smash things…. me smash now?”

Because the trials and tribulations of a woman in the last male bastion of chauvenism obviously weren’t going to cut it, I almost gave up on the writing. I then tried a fantasy story in the children’s genre and it sucked, so I thought that maybe writing wasn’t for me and I stopped doing it.  A few years rolled by and I found myself travelling back from staying with a friend up in Telford in Shropshire for the weekend. As usual, the west side of the country, going north to south was very badly served with trains at that time in the late 1990s.  There was no direct train from Telford to Fleet in Hampshire which is where I live. You had to travel from Telford to Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton to Manchester in order to catch a direct train to Basingstoke and then change for a local train to Fleet. The first two portions of the journey were quite painless, but when I got to Manchester Piccadilly station, I realised that I now faced a four hour wait for the connection to the south.

And even worse… I didn’t have anything to read.

I traipsed along Manchester Piccadilly British Rail station, which is an horrifically designed place, where to get onto any of the platforms you had to go upstairs, stagger along with your suitcase or bag and then stagger downstairs to the relevant platform. If the announcer blared out the information that your train would now go from a different platform you then had to repeat the exercise. It was exhausting and irritating to say the least.

However, I decided that I couldn’t sit on the dreary platform for four hours without reading matter, I dragged myself and my bag up to W H Smith, on the main concourse where I found a book called From the Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins. It was an academic book based on the myths surrounding the Watchers, or the Fallen Angels.

I spent the time waiting for the train completely buried in the book; it was fascinating and by the time I got home I was all fired up to find out more information. I read articles, more books, mostly academic, and ended up with a brain filled with facts and figures about the Grigori, Watchers, Annunaki, and angels.

So one morning I woke up and thought, what on earth am I supposed to do with all of this knowledge on this subject? I didn’t decide to do a book immediately; it wasn’t one of those “Let’s do the show right here!” moments. It was just a slow realisation that somehow I might be able to weave it all into a book.

My first book, or at least the premise, was born.

I could make the angels who fell from grace survive. They were immortal, if some survived their culling and banded together in order to live on through the millennia, they might be a very different group in modern times; an ancient group of beings calling themselves the Grigori and living alongside humankind.

Yet that wasn’t enough for a story. The whole thing had to have a plot, so why not have a rogue member of the Grigori trying to revive the soul of the leader of their group in ancient times… Semjaza… condemned for his crimes of giving knowledge to mankind to hang upside down in the belt of Orion, one eye open and the other shut, his mouth stitched up so that he couldn’t speak the forbidden secret name of God… a name that when he was living, he gave willingly to his human lover Ishtahar in return for her sexual favours.

I created two human characters, two British police officers who get caught up in the crimes of the rogue Grigori as he tortures and sacrifices young girls, leaving dead bodies littered across England and France in an effort to create the situation where one soul, that of Semjaza, could be exchanged with the pure soul of an innocent by the ancient ritual of Sila Ag Bar (Sumerian for Path of the Soul).  Thus Detective Sergeant Eve Hallam, flawed, damaged and sceptical, and Detective Chief Inspector Roger Hamilton, handsome, perfect life, perfect family and former colleague of Eve wandered into my story, squabbling as they came with the intimacy only old friends can achieve with each other.

The Serpent and the Peacock by Anne Selby was born. Finally published in March 2011, just before I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Front cover art

Elisha’s Bones – a Jack Hawthorne novel, by Don Hoesel

I have just spent two days trying to read this book, Elisha’s Bones, by Don Hoesel, which had a promising premise, but I’m halfway through it and all I’ve had so far are his intense feelings about his past, his girlfriend, his dead brother, his getting back with his girlfriend, what restaurant they are going to and what they ate and the feelings between them.

His female character’s name is Esperanza which means hope, blah blah diddy blah (can you see how much the reader would be caring at this point?) and the main character’s name is Jack Hawthorne. A very manly, capable sort of name don’t you think?

You can just tell that these two main characters are rekindling the romance, blah blah blah. Which would be fine if this was a romance, but it isn’t.. it’s actually a suspense, mystery novel involving the bones of the Prophet Elisha which apparently have reviving properties if you’re dead. The main character’s employer, who has the same name as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, needs the bones because and his granddaughter are both dying of cancer, the granddaughter has no name.

However Mr Reese who has paid the main man thousands of his moolah to find these bones begins to flounce as the two main characters get shot up on the road and are then held hostage for money. Mr ‘manly’ Hawthorne and Miss Hope then argue between them about owing people money, a side issue which the reader is supposed to find very amusing, but which is actually irrelevant to the storyline. Mr Hawthorne then calls Mr Reese and asks for the ransom money and Mr Reese says:

“No… because you haven’t found my bones”

… well d’uh.

So Hawthorne then calls Miss Hope’s brother for the money and they are rescued from a fate worse than death and somehow bond with their kidnapper because now he has the money and is all reasonable and ‘hey, here’s a lead for you.’ (Much rolling of the eyes at this point, and I am now half reading the book at the same time as watching an episode of Lewis on ITV3). Please don’t ask me why Miss Hope didn’t call her own brother and ask for money for their ransom, because I actually don’t know. In the book it implies that somehow Hawthorne knows her brother better than she does.

We are three quarters through the book at this stage and Mr Hawthorn has suddenly decided to go it alone… well, perhaps not so alone, Miss Hope is tagging along with him, all flirty one minute and all ‘You left me millions of years ago, I am furious with you’ the next. He feels duty bound to do this because his brother’s death is all wrapped up in the mystery, which apparently we are never going to solve this side of this century.

I would like to tell you the end, I would love to tell you that the bones of the prophet are found and miraculously restore all the sick people to life and as soon as I do I’ll let you know, if you’re all still alive and maybe if I still care.

My hint to the author, the premise was fabulous and the cover art instantly drew me in. I felt cheated once I started to read it, which just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its’ cover or the blurb on the back.

Cover of "Elisha's Bones"

Cover of Elisha’s Bones

Review of the movie The Ghost Writer, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor

I recorded the movie The Ghost Writer on my Tivo a few days ago on the off-chance that it might be a watchable movie, heaven knows there are so few of them these days. I have just viewed it and although I am still ambivalent about Ewan McGregor as an actor. I found myself rather glued to the plot.

McGregor was his usual vaguely cheerful and pragmatic self in the part of The Ghost, although I do tend to see a youthful version of Obi Wan Kenobi whenever I see him in anything, he’s one of those actors who sort of blends into a part after a while, which is probably a good thing.  He plays a writer who is hired to ‘ghost’ the memoirs of a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a man called Adam Lang; the previous ghost-writer having turned up as dead as a doornail and as wet as a drowned rat on the coast of the island off the mainland of the east coast of America where Adam Lang is living. We are left to suppose that he was on the ferry and someone pushed him off. The movie begins with his body being washed up on the beach and the car left on the ferry.

Pierce Brosnan was surprisingly good at being an ex PM and Kim Cattrall was even more surprisingly good as his assistant and, as hinted by various comments by the wife, obviously something a bit more than that as well.

What struck me most of all was the similarity of Lang’s imaginary career to that of Tony Blair, the so called Peacemaker of the Middle East, that’s after he destroyed Iraq of course and dragged us as a nation into a war none of the people of Britain wanted, nor were we asked whether we wanted it.

All in all the movie was extraordinarily good. After visiting Lang at his rather isolated, windswept heavily guarded and very utilitarian home on the island in order to take up where his unfortunate predecessor left off,  poor old McGregor begins to realise that there is more to the situation than meets the eye; a realisation that is confirmed by the announcement that Lang is about to be tried by the International Court for infringements of human rights. Events go downhill rapidly after that and soon the poor ghost-writer is caught up in the same sinister series of happenings that led to the demise of the previous ghost-writer.

Lang is accused of being a war criminal and the situation is complicated by the fact that the British government announce that they will do all they can to support the courts rather than stand up for the former Prime Minister. With nowhere to run to where they won’t immediately arrest him, he ends up looking like nothing more than a satellite of the US administration who appear, on the surface at least, to be the only people who will stand up for him. His marriage is falling apart and the ghost-writer finds some very incriminating evidence on Lang left behind by the dead ghost-writer. He decides to do some investigating for himself  and rapidly comes to the conclusion that his life is very much in danger; there are nasty, ruthless people out there who don’t want these memoirs published and will stop at nothing to prevent it.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that one of the protesters against Lang is the father of a soldier who was killed in the ‘illegal war’ and he is camped out right outside the Lang compound. After that the events roll out to their inevitable ending… the ending you realise at the beginning of the movie is just going to happen, but you just don’t expect it when it does.

I won’t go into any more of the story in case anyone wants to watch the movie, but it was actually very played down as far as publicising is concerned and I can see why. The screenwriters did a good job of making the viewer realise that there are cogs and wheels within wheels in politics and that far from government officials, security services and the actual government not knowing what the left hand is doing, it becomes disturbingly clear that in fact they do all know what the others are doing and are often hand in glove when it comes to making sure the public who pay their salaries know absolutely nothing.

I worked for a little while in intelligence and I got to see first-hand what kind of people choose it as a career and most of them are so twisted that they screw their socks on in the morning.

What a world we have created for ourselves and how the makers of Ghost got away with making the movie is astonishing. The whole thing was a creepily similar version of Tony Blair’s life, except for the fate of the movie version of Blair, but I sat and predicted that right through the movie.

The final scene shows everyone who knew Lang and who hated and feared him applauding the speeches given by his grieving wife about how wonderful he was and you are left with the uncomfortable feeling that everyone who chooses to have anything to do with power and politics is twisted to hell and gone and the biggest hypocrites in the entire universe, which of course, they are. The Ghost is present at it and at the end he is shown leaving the building and trying to get a taxi in a dreary, wet and rainy London street with the file with the memoirs under his arm. I leave it to you to guess what happens next.

All in all a good watch and a very disturbing movie.

The Ghost Writer (film)

The Ghost Writer (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Cover Reveal – Falling to Pieces By L.T. Kelly

A very nice lady and fellow author put out a call for bloggers and authors with blogs to preview her upcoming novel Falling Into Darkness. It is my great pleasure to introduce and host L T Kelly and her upcoming novel here. I’d give a fanfare but I can’t find out how to do audio files on here!

For those authors and writers looking for decent covers I have put some relevant information which appears at the bottom of the page. You can click on the cover art for her book to bring up a larger image. So here she is, explaining the amount of agonising we authors go through when trying to select something that is very important for many reader before she got to the finished result; and very nice it is too!

As with any author, my cover was so important to me. I can be quite fickle, *hee hee*, and I’ve judged many a book by it’s cover. After all, isn’t it appearances that drive us as consumers to pick it up in the first place?

 I stumbled across a FaceBook page called Cover It Designs! The owner, Arijana was running a competition to win a cover design amongst other things. I’m habitually unlucky, but having checked out her designs on the page and on her website I made a snap decision that she was the cover designer for me.

 Alas, I didn’t win the competition. I started to stalk her page and website…ok, that had started straight away. I’d sit there salivating over her covers, pre-designed and already owned.

 I just had to have her…

 And so our task began. We selected three photographs together from stock photos. I sent her several ‘could be Marc’s’ and one ‘could be Teagan’. I was rather merry after a fun session of checking out half naked male models whilst sipping delicious rose wine. Well, maybe not sipping, more like guzzling.

 The next morning Arijana messaged me – ‘I hate this thing I have created.’

I immediately dismissed the message knowing that she has a dislike for ‘busy’ covers.

 When I received it was like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over me.

 I hated it…

 I looked at the woman that I’d selected as Teagan. She was all wrong. She was like a cheap version of her…I must have been more than tipsy to have chosen that woman. It was like I had dressed my beautiful children in cloth sacks whilst gorgeous clothes remained in the wardrobe.

I set to work having realised I was looking for someone very specific. I loved the rest of the cover, so I searched for a girl who would fit with the image in my mind as well the rest of the cover.  Eventually, I found the right image. She was beautiful, no doubt, but she needed work. Poor Arijana spent hours fiddling with the image, responding to each request, faultlessly sculpting the female’s image until it was one that was good enough to be called ‘Teagan’.

 When she sent me the final image I’m unashamed to say I cried. My hands shook for an hour and I stared at it for several hours…ok, seven hours in total.

 I’ll never be able to comment on how other cover designers work because I’ve found the perfect one for me. The one that will work relentlessly to give me what I want and what my characters deserve.

 Without further ado….

L T Kelly

Cover art Falling Into Darkness 2