I write reactively, responding to events and situations. Often it's the combination of two or more lines of thought that coalesce into the idea for a story.
For instance, I wrote The Stones of Liverpool to celebrate that city's year as European Capital of Culture. After visiting the International Slavery Museum, I wanted to write about the debt that Liverpool owes to Africa. The Stones of Liverpool is a sci-fi story that asks the question: 'What would happen if you had a time-machine and you set it to journey to the eleven day gap between the Julian and Gregorian calendars?'
The Immortal Game combines chess and the English Lake District. An iconic game of chess was played by Anderssen and Kiesertisky in 1851. The story re-enacts that game as a battle between two armies in the Lakeland fells, from the point of view of an embedded reporter.
Mus musicus was inspired by my daughter's piano teaching. A family of mice builds a nest in an old piano and their musical journey begins when the piano tuner arrives.
In August, 2010, I won third prize in the Mail on Sunday novel competition. The brief was to submit the opening 150 words of a novel. Those words now extend to 85,000 and I have entered them as 'Fusion' in The Terry Pratchett Prize competition.
In 2011 I came second in the University of Central Lancashire's sci-fi/fantasy writing competition for my short story 'Something In The Bush'. The editorial board included the following appraisal in their comments:
"First, let me emphasise what we really like about it: the editorial board were really impressed by the inventive and engaging plot (or anti-plot?) of 'Something In The Bush' which manages to achieve great moments of dramatic tension and intrigue, while simultaneously undermining traditional narrative tropes. It's a really ambitious idea, and one that's carried along admirably by your confident and inventive prose."
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Something in the Bush
It might be magical realism or it might be real magic, but something very strange is happening at CERN after an explosion shakes the planet and the Large Hadron Collider runs out of control; the boundary between fact and fiction becomes increasingly blurred as Astrid Nielsen, the only physicist left alive who knows how the LHC works, must return to Geneva in a desperate attempt to save the world.
The northern hemisphere is destroyed, wiped out by natural disaster and war. The last refuge of civilisation is New Manhattan, Antarctica, where Roman Dragic is a detective with the NMPD. Drugs, homicide, and problematic fusion power form the backdrop. When Dragic meets Giulia Contiello, his promise to look after her takes him further than he could have expected.
A family of mice builds a nest inside a piano, not knowing what it is. Their musical journey begins the day the piano tuner arrives.
A talent spotter on the Authonomy website said of Mus musicus:
'It's a real treasure in a special category of fine writing for children.'
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