Genesis Redux is available to buy!

dfw-dsh-3gr-cover-mid

I’m incredibly pleased – and relieved – to tell you that Genesis Redux, book 3 in the Transcendence Trilogy, is now available to buy as both an ebook and paperback.

I’d like to thank all of you who’ve waited patiently to find out what happened following the climax of Absent Souls. I think you’ll find the wait was worth it.

In Genesis Redux you’ll get to spend more time with Indigo, as her scheming skills are tested to the limit; watch O’Driscoll take on the might of Global Governance; see Nico Tandelli torn between protecting his family and bringing those that put them in danger to justice; and follow Stephanie Vaughn as she takes a journey beyond anything anyone has ever experienced before.

It has taken me a lot longer than planned to finish this final book in the trilogy but it has been an absolute blast to write. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

 

Description

One person, two lives, and a challenge to the old world order.

With Tandelli and O’Driscoll on the run, Stephanie imprisoned, and the traditionalist faction of Global Governance vanquished, all Indigo’s goals are realised. Yet in her moment of triumph, victory is snatched from her grasp. Stripped of her patronage and with enemies on all sides, she finds herself in the biggest fight of her life.

In this stunning climax to the Transcendence Trilogy, nobody is safe as the once secret struggle to control humanity’s future breaks out into the open.

Who will win in this battle for ultimate power: the Investigator, torn between duty and protecting his family; the crime lord, wanting revenge on those who took his kingdom away; Global Governance, riven by in-fighting but still a force to be reckoned with; or the person who started it all, even though she’d rather be dead?

 

To buy Genesis Redux, click on the relevant link below:

Amazon.com ebook paperback

Amazon.co.uk ebook paperback

Amazon.ca ebook

Amazon.com.au ebook

Amazon.de ebook

Amazon.fr ebook

Amazon.es ebook

Amazon.it ebook

Amazon.nl ebook

Amazon.co.jp ebook

Amazon.com.br ebook

Amazon.com.mx ebook

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

10 Things I wish I’d known before writing a trilogy

Three Covers

With the publication of Genesis Redux only a handful of days away, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learned over the past four years of writing the Transcendence Trilogy. Here are my top ten:

1 It’s better if each book works as a stand alone story

There is nothing wrong in writing a trilogy which has to be read in order. Some of my favourite books were written that way. If you tried reading The Two Towers before The Fellowship of the Ring, you’d be totally lost. But as an indie author, you need to maximise the opportunity of each book launch.

The one thing I’d change if I started my trilogy over again is to make each book work as a stand alone novel. As the first book, Second Chance works on its own. I’ve been told Absent Souls works as a stand alone novel, although it wasn’t designed that way. However, you really need to have read the first two books in the series to make sense of Genesis Redux.

Why is this a problem? Because, while having this structure works for the story, it means I’ve restricted the audience for Genesis Redux significantly. Having three books that work as both stand alone and in a series allows readers the chance to join the story at any stage, rather than just at the beginning.

2 The longer the series, the harder it is to avoid back story dumping

Are you one of those people who hate the ‘previously’ montage at the beginning of a TV programme? Me too. I’m the same with books. There’s nothing worse than having to read a chapter-sized synopsis of earlier events before you start. Actually, there is. It’s multiple paragraphs of back story – often explained through ‘as you remember’ dialogue – slowing the whole book down.

Yet I can understand the temptation, because when completing a trilogy you often have to bring together elements that happened one or two books previously, which is fine if you’re binge reading the series but not if you read book the previous novels more than a year before.

For me, the best authors solve this problem by drip-feeding small memory joggers throughout the text, usually in earlier chapters, so the reader is informed without realising and but doesn’t have to wade through pages of exposition to get there.

3 Multiple storylines are and blessing and a curse

I love books that entwine multiple character journeys into one narrative whole. It’s why I wrote the Transcendence Trilogy as I have. It’s a great way of introducing different perspectives to a situation, moving the story forward in a non-linear way, and keeping the reader engaged. But the more storylines you add, the more difficult it is to retain focus on the overall story arc. At the same time, there is a danger that readers are more likely to become attached to one character more than others, especially if they aren’t your main protagonist.

The key here is always to look at what’s best for the story. I used to play in a band and our mantra was ‘it’s all about the song.’ It doesn’t matter if you are playing the most simple, repetitive baseline or beat, if it makes the song sound great, don’t over-complicate it. It’s the same with your novel, if a storyline or POV becomes a distraction from the main story, cut it out.

4 The cast list can become uncontrollable

Most trilogies start small and expand as the series goes on, both in location and cast size. Developing such a large cast is great fun to write as you get to play around with many different personalities and perspectives, but when it comes to the third book you need to bring everything back to a satisfactory closure. This isn’t easy when each character has their own ideas of what they should be doing. It’s easy to end up either trying to herd cats, or to end up with cast members being wheeled in for one chapter just to close their storyline, only to be wheeled off again.

While I have many supporting characters, I’ve always focussed on one main storyline shown through the lens of the core cast members. This has meant that I’ve been able to leave whole swathes of my extended cast list to carry on living their lives ‘off camera’ while focussing on the main storyline. Of course, on the odd occasion I’ve also gone all George R R Martin on them – warning, Game of Thrones spoilers.

5 Small points in earlier books can trip you up later

You’re at the climax of book three. Years of effort has got you to this point. You’re protagonist is tied up next to a bomb with the counter close to zero – because you have to have a countdown, right? If the bomb blows up, so does the boarding school, killing the President’s son and possibly starting world war three. But your hero has enough movement to get his teeth next to the handful of green and red wires controlling the device. He has to bite through each green wire with his steel teeth in the next ten seconds to save the day. If he bites through a red one, bye bye Pres junior.

It’s at this point you remember that way back at the beginning of book one you decided to make your character colour blind. It was a quirky choice, made to give this otherwise alpha male a weakness. You loved it at the time as it was far less clichéd than him being an orphan, but now this small detail has ruined months of work. If only you’d given him a club foot.

You’ll be amazed how many times a small, throwaway detail in an earlier book will cause you problems later on. Keeping track of these, especially three books down the line, is incredibly hard. Many authors keep detailed character profiles to help avoid these issues. However, there is another way to help solve these issues …

6 There are advantages to waiting until all books are written before publishing

By waiting until all three novels are written, you can go back and change or add detail in earlier books to help solve later plotting issues. You can also cut characters out or add prominence to others due to their importance – or lack of – in the final book. Then there is the fact that over the period of creating your three novels, your writing skills will have improved, allowing you the chance to go back an improve your earlier books. The other main advantage is that you will concentrate solely on your writing, rather than marketing and promotion.

There are also good commercial reasons for waiting. Many readers won’t buy a book series until all books are published, and launching each book rapidly, one after the other, gives you a great chance to make a noise and to continue to push your series without the message becoming tired.

7 There are advantages to publishing each once written

Despite everything I said above, there are also advantages to publishing each book as they are written. The longer your book is out there, the more chance you have of building an audience for your second and third books. And the shelf life of books is long. Even if you are only selling one or two books a month, the total numbers of readers you’ve built up by the time your third novel comes around will be significant.

The other advantage is that you can gain some great feedback on what works and what doesn’t from your audience, helping to shape and focus your writing. However, this isn’t always a good thing.

8 You can end up liking your characters too much

As a writer I want readers to relate to your characters but this only works if they do that despite a character’s flaws. I really loved the first couple of seasons of Dexter because I found myself rooting for Dexter only to be shocked each time he returned to his true character and murdered somebody. It was a great balancing act. However, as soon as he gained control of his impulses and he lost his edge, I lost interest.

When a writer falls too much in love with a character, especially an antagonist, and starts to change their personality to make them more likeable, they lose the essence of what made the character great in the first place. There is nothing wrong with flipping a story around to empathise with a character’s motivation, but avoid the temptation to smooth out your character’s rough edges, or even worse, change their personality completely to make them more likeable.

9 Tying everything up is incredibly hard

Writing endings can be incredibly difficult. One of my favourite writers, Stephen King, is notoriously bad at it. One of the reasons it has taken nearly 18 months to finish Genesis Redux is that I wanted to get the ending right, and with many characters and multiple threads, ensuring each storyline reached a satisfying conclusion was very difficult.

The key here, for me, is to know where you are heading. Before starting Absent Souls I had a very clear idea of where the main story was heading and why. What I didn’t know was the how, and that’s been the fund part over the past few years. I think this is the main reason I’ll always plot my books out, even if just in a rough outline form. By knowing where I was heading early enough, I was able to nudge things in the right direction without it looking as if the plot was driving the characters. At least, that’s what I hope!

10 In the end, it’s a relief to move on to something else

The great news about finishing the trilogy is that I can finally start work on the many other ideas I’ve had since I began writing the series back in 2012. Don’t get me wrong, I love the characters and will miss them all, but it’s time to let them go and allow others a chance to shine. That said, I could always go back at a later date …

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

It’s been a while …

I last posted in March. Yes, March. I can’t believe it’s been so long but WordPress doesn’t lie. If you’ve been waiting in tenterhooks since my last post then:

  1. You need to find a hobby
  2. You also need to stop telling lies

So what have I been doing? Well, I’ve been spending time with my family (always a good thing), working (sometimes a good thing), and finishing something I should have finished a long time ago.

Yes, I’m very pleased to say that it won’t be long, maybe only a few weeks, before the third and final part of The Transcendence Trilogy is published. It has taken much longer than I thought it would but I’m very proud of the finished article and how it pulls the full trilogy together. When I first set out on this journey I had no idea it would end up with me writing about the same group of characters four years later. There have been many ups and downs, but mostly ups, and I’ve had an awful lot of support from many people, more of which I’ll go into in a later post.

Anyway, to celebrate its forthcoming release I thought I’d share with you something I’ve been keeping under wraps since January.

dfw-dsh-3gr-cover-mid

 

What do you think? I love it and think it works really well with the other two books in the series but I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise you won’t have to wait until November until I answer!

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Recommended Reads: The Bone Wall by D. Wallace Peach

the-bone-wall-ebook

The Bone Wall is a great example of the importance of a book’s cover. I’ve been following D Wallace Peach’s blog for a while and while her books sounded intriguing, there was always another books I’d rather read more. Then she decided to have new covers created for her books (you can read the full story here) and The Bone Wall went from intriguing to must read (yes, I really am that shallow).

The Description

Blue light ripples and crackles as the shield walls fracture. The remnants of a doomed civilization stand vigil outside, intent on plunder and slaves, desirous of untainted blood to strengthen their broken lives. With the poisons, came deformities and powers, enhanced senses and the ability to manipulate waves of energy—lightbenders and fire-wielders.

For those who thrived for generations within the walls, the broken world looms, strange and deadly, slowly dying. While the righteous pray for salvation, Rimma prepares for battle, fueled by rage and blinded by vengeance. Her twin, Angel, bound to her by unbreakable magic, seeks light in the darkness, hope in the future, and love in a broken world.

D. Wallace Peach’s fourth novel combines elements of fantasy and science-fiction into a character-driven adventure. The Bone Wall foretells of a dystopian world where a poisoned planet no longer sustains its inhabitants. Who survives when there isn’t enough for all? Who decides?

The Bone Wall begins three hundred years in a post-apocalyptic future. Precisely controlled communities with forgotten histories thrive beneath protective energy fields…until those fields begin to fail. What happens when the facades crumble and the past’s dark truth is unearthed?

Twins Rimma and Angel share this first person tale of a life unraveling and mending. Both are strong female protagonists who chose opposing paths when thrust in the broken and perilous world. The simplistic lines dividing good and evil blur, and beg the question: Can one survive without the other? What is the secret of their lives that even they can’t comprehend?

If grimdark tales of spiraling destruction and redemption crowd your bookshelf, this fantasy adventure desires a place among them.

The Bone Wall contains scenes which some readers might find triggering.

 

The Review

The Bone Wall is a great book, packed full of ideas played out in a unique fantasy setting. Twin sisters Rimma and Angel live in Heaven, an island of order shielded from the broken world around them by God’s will. Or at least, that’s what they were told. But when the shield fails the twins begin a harsh journey where they discover everything they’ve ever known was a lie, about the world and themselves.

In The Bone Wall, D. Wallace Peach has created a riveting story about fractured people in a fractured world. And what a brutal world it is, with different groups fighting amongst themselves to control what meagre resources remain just to survive. At first the story appears to be a simple case of good versus evil, but it soon morphs into something much more complex as the motivations behind each faction are revealed. This twisting of initial expectations is one of the reasons I loved this book. It is excellent fantasy world-building.

We view this all through the eyes of Angel and Rimma, twin sisters less mirror images of each other and more yin and yang, bound by love but very different in character as they become moulded by the world and their experiences within it. The two both fight against and complement each other as their polar personalities help them both flounder and survive as they are thrown from one set of circumstances to another. And then there is the central enigma of the two, how come to most people only one of them is visible at a time?

It’s safe to say this is not a children’s story. The world Wallace Peach has created is tough, almost Darwinian in nature and the author doesn’t flinch from describing it in vivid, often graphic detail. The Bone Wall is to The Hobbit what Lord of the Flies is to Swiss Family Robinson, but in my view the book is all the better for it. It is also a very cleverly written, with many layers of meaning, especially around the central theme of the bone wall itself.

My only complaint is that there were times when the descriptive language was a little too evocative, bordering on flowery. It didn’t put me off the story but I felt it at odds to the stripped down, brutal world portrayed. This is, however, just a matter of personal taste.

Overall D. Wallace Peach should be applauded for creating a great story in a unique world with compelling characters. If you like your fantasy with grit and are looking for something a little different, I highly recommend The Bone Wall.

 

To buy The Bone Wall from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Bone Wall from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

The Bloggers Bash Awards ARE HERE!

I’m really looking forward to the second bloggers bash, despite having not blogged as much as I’d like this year. If you want to meet a friendly, introverted (with the odd exception) group of like-minded bloggers, I highly recommend you come along.

Sacha Black

Who Nominate?This is it. These are your Bloggers Bash Awards.  BIG thank you to everyone who made suggestions. The committee spent an entire evening discussing all of them. Lots of them were similar or connected to each other, so rather than take each one specifically we have tried to incorporate as many as possible under the awards we have chosen.

We have a number of new awards this year, and some changes to the old ones.

For those new to these awards, they are part of the Annual Bloggers Bash. A physical get together in London, England, every summer. This year’s is on June 11th, if you’re interesting in attending then drop us a line on:

Annualbloggersbash(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)uk

2016-03-09 13.23.08You can find more information here, information about the venue here. If you can’t make it but want to follow electronically, you can join…

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Gatecrash: Liberating creativity in the age of boilerplate fiction

This is the first of a series of posts by Kevin Brennan about indie publishing and the art of writing. I agree with a lot of what Kevin says, not all, but as a thought-provoking look at where literature is heading his series of posts are excellent (with more to come).

WHAT THE HELL

chainlink

Last March I developed a long essay on the state of fiction these days, as I see it — particularly the fiction we associate with the indie market. It’s probably thought of mainly as genre fiction, though there’s a mixed bag of material out there, available predominantly as ebooks from Amazon.com. It struck me — still strikes me, in fact — that the tools offered by online publishing present an enormous opportunity that’s not being taken advantage of by writers, artistic freedom being the biggest elephant in the room.

I had planned on publishing the essay as a standalone ebook, but over the course of the year I realized that hawking my novels is hard enough. I’ve decided instead to post it in eleven parts here on the blog, offering it at the end as a free pdf download. Each part will run about a thousand words so it’s easily…

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Overcoming author envy

Envy

The solitary nature of writing is both a blessing and a curse. Time spent alone is an essential part of creating art. You need the space to dream-up new and exciting ideas, to get to know your characters and to fully explore the best ways to express your story. But as we all know, there are times when we fill that space with thoughts that aren’t creative. Sometimes our thoughts can be downright destructive.

I don’t know a single writer that hasn’t suffered from author envy at one time. For some it’s the envy of authors who have published their book while they’re struggling to finish their own. For others it comes after publishing a book and seeing another author’s book constantly sell better than yours. Then there is the time when you’ve read a successful book and wonder why the frankly average novel is so popular while you’re having to fight for every single sale.

Unless you are one of the lucky publishing lottery winners to have instant success, there will come a time when the little green monster knocks at your door. This is natural. This doesn’t make you a bad person. Some writers use this envious streak as a spur to success. For others, this envy has devastating consequences, knocking their confidence and motivation, becoming their all-consuming focus. It’s at this point the solitary nature of writing becomes a curse.

I can’t claim to have the answer to author envy, but there are a few things I’ve learnt to do whenever the little green monster comes calling.

Don’t look at the outliers, look at the majority

It’s easy to look at author X or author Y and think that should be me. Most authors have dreamt of being as successful as Stephen King, JK Rowling or even EL James. At the same time we know these are exceptional cases, and that the majority of authors have nothing like the success of these outliers. The problems come when we look at authors similar to us, either those that write similar books or authors you’ve got to know personally or through social media. When one of these authors find success it’s natural to think, why not me?

The thing is, when you do this you’re focussing on the outliers. Most authors don’t have that level of success. There are millions of books for sale on Amazon and only a few thousand make it into the Top 100 genre lists each year. The vast majority of authors are in the same situation as you, working hard in the hope of making a living from their writing. Many of those few thousand successful authors were at one time in exactly the same position as you. The only difference between them and you is that they followed my next point.

Focus only on what you can control

There are many factors that influence whether a book is a success or not but you only control a handful. The things you control are:

  • Writing the best, most compelling story you possibly can.
  • Publishing it in the most professional manner possible (whether self-publishing or via a publisher).
  • Raising awareness of the book (although this is only partly in your control).

Everything else is out of your hands. You can’t change how people receive your work. You can’t change the success of others. You can’t change which books go viral or which trends become popular. You can’t change which books are picked up by agents and publishers and which are rejected.

Getting angry about a book you see as poor being successful only hurts you. Getting frustrated that you aren’t receiving good reviews – or even any reviews – only hurts you. Looking at a similar book being promoted through BookBub or ENT when they’ve passed on yours, only hurts you.

Envy is a natural and understandable reaction in each and every one of these situations. Authors put their heart and soul into their books, and it’s hard to understand why your book isn’t as successful as you’d hoped. But being envious of others, or of particular situations, sucks energy away from the things you can influence: writing the best possible book, publishing it in the most professional manner and raising awareness it exists.

You have no divine right to success. Nor does any other author. But by focussing on the things in your control, you give yourself the best chance of being successful. For everything else, it’s best to let them go.

Learn to celebrate the success of others

This is the biggest lesson of all and one that turns what is a negative situation into a positive. Publishing is not a zero sum game. The success of other authors has absolutely no impact on your own success. There are millions, possibly billions of people out there buying books. Even Stephen King or JK Rowling touch just fraction of this global readership. There is room for us all.

Instead of feeling envious of another’s success, celebrate it. Don’t see it as a personal slight, take comfort from the fact that people do find success. Use that fact to motivate you to keep going, to try harder. If you see an author have success, contact them and celebrate their success with them. Let them know how pleased you are because like you, they may have spent years, even decades to get to that point. Then channel that good feeling into your own work. Who knows, it could be the start of great things.

So what about you? Do you, or have you ever suffered from author envy? How do you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Recommended Reads: The Heretic by Lucas Bale

 The Heretic

The Description

Earth is gone.

Centuries have passed since life ended on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home.

At a time when power means everything, the ultimate power, the imperium, rests with the Consulate Magistratus. In return for its protection, citizens must concede their rights absolutely. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology, even procreation. Every citizen is implanted with a device to monitor their location, health and emotions. Freedom, religion and self-determination are anachronisms. Humanity’s true history survives only in whispers of a secret archive.

Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free.

In the cold of a winter’s night, a small village is the subject of a brutal attack. A fourteen-year-old boy, Jordi, sees armed men approaching and manages to wake his family. He and a handful of survivors flee into the frozen, snow-covered forest to wait for the preacher who told them their way of life was based on lies.

Shepherd, a freighter-tramp and smuggler, is commissioned to deliver illicit medical supplies to a hostile border planet near the Wall. He is dragged into a fight he does not believe in and a desperate struggle to protect his ship, his way of life and the lives of the persecuted few who seek only freedom.

A revolution is coming…

The Heretic is the bestselling first book in a longer tale spanning four volumes. The award-winning Beyond the Wall series is gripping, epic space opera, written as hard science-fiction. It is the story of humanity’s future and the discovery of the truth of its past.

The Review

If you’re a fan of Firefly and have been itching to get your hands on something similar, you’d do well to read The Heretic by Lucas Bale.

The story starts with a raid on a small village of exiles on a planet close to The Wall, the boundary between the civilised galaxy and the rest of the universe. It’s not clear why the village was attacked but there are hints it has something to do with them following the teachings of a heretic preacher. When Shepherd, a sometimes smuggler arrives at the planet withe supplies for the village just attacked, he finds himself caught up in something much bigger than it first appears.

This story is tight, well-written, with a group of characters that are relatable without falling into standard tropes or clichés. What works especially well is the feel to the book. It’s a great combination of hard science fiction and the lawlessness of a western, and it’s no surprise that Bale acknowledges Firefly as a major influence.

The story is short for a novel but this length suits the story perfectly, allowing it to barrel along at a good pace. I highly recommend this book.

To buy The Heretic from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Heretic from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

My spoiler free thoughts on Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens

When I’m really looking forward to seeing a film I try my best to avoid any mention of it before going to see it. I don’t want to know If people enjoyed it, didn’t enjoy it, and I certainly don’t want to know any plot details. In this post I won’t mention any plot points or give anything away, however I will mention how it made me feel. If this is too much for you, please stop reading now and come back once you’ve seen the film.

I mean it, this is your very last chance.

Good, then let me begin with some context.

I was six years old when I first saw Star Wars in early 1978. It wasn’t the first film I’d seen at the cinema but it was the one that left the greatest impression. My father, having just worked a long shift in the local paint factory, took me and my older sister to our local cinema. My memories of the occasion are a little vague having been blurred by repeated viewings but the main thing I remember is the sheer fun and adrenaline rush of it all. It was all my childhood adventures thrown up onto the big screen but much cooler than what my imagination could conjure up. It was big, brash and exciting. I really wanted to be Luke Skywalker. He was young, handsome, got to fly X-wing fighters and fought with a lightsaber. What was not to like?

My father, meanwhile, slept through the whole thing.

For months afterwards all I did was play Star Wars, and although I didn’t know it at the time, a life-long love affair with Star Wars was born. Star Wars had a major impact on my life in other ways, too. I first became close to my best friend (who became my best man) because he had an X-wing fighter and Tie-fighter toys.

As I got older my I came to appreciate the whole trilogy. My allegiance changed to Han Solo, wishing I could be as cool as him with his rebellious streak and his witty one-liners, and I found myself preferring the darker, more nuanced, Empire Strike Back over both Star Wars and Return of the Jedi. There were some parts of the later prequels I enjoyed but generally they were a disappointment. They were plodding, poe-faced, and took themselves far too seriously. Story and emotion were replaced by CGI special effects and set piece battles; snappy dialogue replaced by long, dull exposition. The films were interesting from a completist’s perspective, but somewhere along the way George Lucas had mislaid his creation’s heart and soul.

With Star Wars – The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams has delivered a film that is fun, funny and exhilarating, and made this middle-aged man feel like a six-year-old again.

From the moment the classic Star Wars text slowly made its way up the screen until the final credits (the one piece of information I will give away is that you don’t need to stay until the credits finish rolling, there’s no sneak clip at the end), I was enthralled.  I laughed, giggled, even let out the odd squee – something a middle-aged man shouldn’t do when attending a cinema on his own – as this unashamedly nostalgic ride progressed. This was the Star Wars movie I’d been waiting for for over thirty years.

It isn’t a perfect piece of film-making – neither were the original trilogy. It is gloriously bonkers in places, breaks many storytelling rules, and there are some parts that won’t hold up well to too much scrutiny, but it does perfectly capture the essence of what made that original trilogy so successful. Finally the moribund prequels are consigned to history. Star Wars – The Force Awakens brings back everything I loved about the original film. It has heart, it has soul, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a cinema for a long time.

The force is strong with this one.

So what do you think? Have you seen Star Wars – The Force Awakens? Did you enjoy it? Are you looking forward to seeing it or are you really not bothered? I’d love to hear from you.

Please keep things spoiler free and respect those that have yet to see the film. I will be moderating the comments more than usual.

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Second Chance – a review

This is a lovely review of Second Chance by Jane Dougherty as featured on Susan Toy’s Reading Recommendations Reviewed.
This review has a particular place in my heart as it was one of the first reviews I received from another writer whose work I admired. Up until this point I just thought people were being kind. After this review I started believing in myself a little more.

reading recommendations reviewed

Second Chance - High Resolution

Second Chance
by Dylan S. Hearn

Purchase copies here

Second Chance is thrilling and chilling. There is blood and gore, but it is the cold-blooded, or even bloodless aspect of British society that is really at the core of this story of a political system that controls everything even beyond the grave.

There are four distinct threads to the story as well as sub-stories, as murky as the crumbling cityscape. Each chapter adds a little more detail to one of the main threads, and as Dylan Hearn pulls in the threads, we begin to see through the murk to where they are all going. And it’s not a nice place, I can tell you.

The technical parts, the cloning and regeneration, the memories that are replaced in the new brain, or not, depending, seem perfectly feasible to a non-techy person like me. The idea of cheating death on the one…

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