Writing since I could hold a pencil, I've always been fascinated by words and their power to transform, educate, illuminate, entertain and influence. Stories are so fundamental to human beings that they form an essential part of our psyche, and to be privileged to tell my own versions of tales that have abounded for millennia is an honour.
I was born in Hull, England, in 1948 and had my first writing published in the form of illustrated articles for the British photographic press when I was 19. My fiction started with a radio play, Hitch Hiker, produced and broadcast on national radio by BBC Radio 4 in the 1970s. Several of my short stories have been published and others have been prize winners in competitions.
I am married, for the second time, to a charming and lovely lady who proof-reads my work for me. We have a daughter who, at the time of writing, is attending university to take a photography degree.
Where to find Stuart Aken online
Where to buy in print
Heir To Death's Folly
By Stuart Aken
Published: May 12, 2013.
Julie is controlled by Kasim, a fiancé desperate for her to inherit Aunt Agatha’s great wealth. Hustled into paying the old woman a visit, she learns that the folly, a tower looming over the grounds of the old manor house, holds a treasure chest. She and Kasim, tricked into searching for these riches, enter the folly and soon discover there’s more to Aunt Agatha than they could ever have guessed.
By Stuart Aken
Published: June 6, 2012.
This erotic collection includes some romantic sex, a BDSM story, an adult fairy tale and some humour. Exotic locations, fantasy men and women, and vivid descriptions of heterosexual love will arouse and satisfy those looking for excitement in and out of bed.
But, Baby, It's Cold Outside
(4.00 from 4 reviews)
By Stuart Aken
Published: December 4, 2011.
A seasonal short story to bring some cheer into the cold, grey winter.
The Methuselah Strain
By Stuart Aken
Published: August 20, 2011.
Finding a suitable partner from the remnants of mankind isn’t easy for Lucy, especially when she discovers that automation tempts more than flesh.
Ten Love Tales
(3.00 from 1 review)
By Stuart Aken
Published: April 9, 2011.
Romance for lovers of gentle stories. You'll find no gratuitous sex here, just simple stories about love. I hope you enjoy them and they make you laugh, cry, sigh; but mostly, I hope they make you smile.
Ten Tales for Tomorrow
(4.00 from 1 review)
By Stuart Aken
Published: January 1, 2011.
This collection of speculative fiction, largely science fiction, is a broad selection covering many different themes. The ten stories vary in length, style and content but all are intended for an adult readership. Some have won prizes in international contests and some have been published. But most are new and published for the first time here. Enjoy.
(5.00 from 1 review)
By Stuart Aken
Published: October 24, 2010.
Brought up in isolation and ignorance by a religious fanatic, Faith is forced to take work with local glamour photographer, Leigh. His cruel, misogynist assistant hates her on sight and threatens her with violence. When Faith falls in love with Leigh, will she defeat the dangers she faces or will corruption overcome her innocence and destroy her?
Contains adult language and erotic scenes.
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Smashwords book reviews by Stuart Aken
- Web Secrets
on March 26, 2011
Sometimes a book is compelling in spite of its faults. I found Web Secrets, by Ronnie Dauber, such a book. The story is tremendous and moves well, with cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter. I had to finish the story.
But, I read as a writer, and other readers may have no problems with aspects that I find difficult. I hate to have to say this; but, in my opinion, it needs editing. I found typos, malapropisms, occasional lapses of tense, changes of viewpoint and an some repetition. Certain phrases are used repeatedly to describe the main character's physical response to events that leave this reader wondering how she ever managed to continue with her life, let alone do all the amazing thing she accomplishes. And the use of 'Just then', as an introduction to a paragraph or sentence, grated on me.
Having said this, the twists and turns of the story; it's pace and complexity, had me turning the pages and wanting to discover what was happening and who was guilty of all the wickedness. The main character is drawn very well and I had no difficulty empathising with Maddie as she travelled a journey that would have defeated many less courageous heroines. The author manages, very skilfully, to keep the reader guessing about the identity of the perpetrator of the crimes and I found I was unable to be certain who was a goodie, who a baddie. Each time I thought I'd nailed the murderer, I discovered something else that cast doubt on my conclusions.
The denouement, which pulls all the threads together in a convincing and satisfying way, leaves the reader nodding in agreement and full of admiration at the way the author managed all the false turnings and misdirection to ensure the end comes as something of a surprise.
And I enjoyed the read.
- Beneath The Shining Mountains
on April 26, 2011
In ‘Beneath the Shining Mountains, Linda Acaster brings to life a tribal myth of the Native Americans in a way that thoroughly engages the reader. Always meticulous and comprehensive in her research, Linda has managed to catch the attitudes, beliefs and customs of these proud and ancient peoples, employing a love story to bring alive a tradition now sadly lost. Her heroine is drawn with such empathy that the reader feels every doubt, every triumph, every sorrow and every passion as she strives to understand her world and her place within it.
That this is a book Linda wrote early in her career is evident from minor faults that she would avoid now. But these are both few and almost inconsequential when compared with the quality of most of the writing.
All the stereotypes we learnt as children, crowding round the TV or visiting the cinema to watch the westerns we embraced, are utterly destroyed as she clothes her characters with the flesh of real human beings. With a subtlety that permits her people to worm their way into our affections, she undermines our prejudices and reveals those we were told were savages as civilised, complex and spiritually profound individuals.
Reading this novel, I was transported to a different world, where priorities changed according the seasons and the needs of the tribe. I felt the anxieties of the hero, his great desire to be the man his peers and followers wished him to become, his confusion as he experienced love for the first time and slowly recognised that this was what it was.
The antagonists are drawn with equal understanding; the pressure to succeed and become respected figures, within a society that demands a great deal from its heroes, is tangible. Failure is so absolute in its consequences that those who desert honour for personal gain are rewarded with a fate worse than death.
This tale of love amongst a tribe that once freely roamed the plains and mountain passes of the great American west is vibrant, funny, poignant, occasionally erotic, moving, illuminating and romantic.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to all who love a good story, regardless of gender. A damn good read.
- Reading a Writer's Mind: Exploring Short Fiction - First Thought to Finished Story
on Sep. 16, 2011
Writing manuals come in many guises. Linda Acaster's 'Reading A Writer’s Mind: Exploring Short Fiction – First Thought to Finished Story', if you'll forgive the reference, does what it says on the tin.
If you're a reader, you'll find this book worthwhile and entertaining simply for the stories it presents for examination by writers. The fiction is varied in genre and style but consistent in its good quality. Even the stories specifically written for the 'women's fiction market' are well structured and populated by rounded characters who will be familiar to most readers.
If you're a writer, this is a book that will help develop your short fiction. The sample stories illustrate the author's points perfectly as she explains her reasons for the various selections a writer must make as a piece of short fiction is constructed. Here you'll find advice on character forming and building, plot structure, language choice, viewpoint selection and much more. Linda introduces each story, and then presents it for reading in full. She follows this with an explanation of the processes she used in the construction. Finally, she sets the reader an exercise in order to consolidate and fully bed in the lesson of the section.
Most writers are resistant to exercises: I certainly am. However, as with the excellent suggestions made by Dorothea Brande in her 'Becoming a Writer', Linda's practice pieces are designed to make the reader a better writer and will pay dividends to those who attempt them.
I'm not a lover of writing manuals, but I place this one alongside the excellent Dorothea Brande's book, already mentioned, and Stephen King's 'On Writing', both of which have been formative in my writing.
Linda Acaster's concise but comprehensive work on approaching short fiction now has a permanent place in my library and I shall return to it each time I begin a new short story, in the hope that I can improve on my skills and reach the market I am aiming at.
- Dead Men's Fingers
on March 01, 2012
As a teenager, when our first TV arrived, I loved to watch Westerns. But I've never read one, until Tyler Brentmore's Dead Men's Fingers came my way. I downloaded this book to Kindle for PC, reading from the screen in a way I generally avoid. That's how involving a story it was. Against all the odds, I felt compelled to read it.
The author has a great facility with words and molds language into sentences and paragraphs that drive the story forward at a gallop. But, at the same time, the characters are graphically drawn in a way that brings them alive. The action is superbly presented and grips the reader as each challenge increases the tension. The hero and his female counterpart are fully rounded, both possessing hidden qualities, and pasts, that are only vaguely hinted at until the story demands revelation.
That the writer has researched extensively is evident by the period detail and the way that the reader is not merely talked through the landscape but actually experiences it with all its fierce and wide-open qualities. You taste the dust, feel the burning sun, drown in the swollen river, cower in the darkness of a starless sky in the centre of a continent peopled mostly by enemies, and wonder at the vast spaces to be crossed by the wagon train.
This is more than merely a traditional western tale, though the book can easily be read on that level. Multi-layered, the story examines prejudice, the mind-set of the mob, courage, honesty, evil versus good, and even love.
I would have read this at one sitting, had circumstances allowed. As it was, I had to take a break and read it in two sessions. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and can happily recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories starring real heroes and heroines.
- Cutting Through the Academic Crap
on July 19, 2012
Are you a university student, or the parent, best friend, trusted sibling or confidante of such a student? If so, I strongly advise you to read this little book. It took me 40 minutes, that’s all. So, it’s hardly an imposition, is it?
Written in a friendly, approachable style, it details the methods, pitfalls, techniques and crucial points in the process of writing that all-important dissertation. I learned a good deal I didn’t know about this specialist academic topic and was prompted to read the book because my daughter is currently attending university and will be required to produce a dissertation in her final year.
The book is presented in easily digested bites, each of which deals with a specific aspect of the whole. Breaking it down in this way makes a difficult subject more easily understood. The author has personal experience of the needs, having two degrees herself. She demonstrates empathy with the lot of the student and uses some vernacular with which the student should be familiar. But she provides her advice in an authoritative manner without that off-putting arrogance and superiority that defines so much academic writing.
Students who follow her advice and take account of the various pitfalls and distractions she highlights will stand a very good chance of not only completing the dissertation on time, but also of gaining maximum marks. Such a chance to increase the success of all that hard work and study that exemplifies the lot of the student must surely be worth the short time and attention that this essential little book deserves.
So, if you’re studying for that degree, or supporting someone involved in that demanding task, I unconditionally recommend the reading of this book: BEFORE you start.
on Nov. 18, 2012
This collection of 25 science fiction and fantasy tales represents the cream of the entries for a short story contest run by Fantastic Books. The stories included are the contest winners plus a couple from professional writers, invited by the organisers. 10% of sales receipts will go to cancer charities.
Anthologies are sometimes patchy affairs, but not this one. The quality of the writing is pretty consistent and all the stories are well told (I must add here that I contributed one of the tales). But consistency doesn’t mean similarity. There’s great variety here. Some humour, some darkness and something for younger readers. All speculative fiction, the stories entertain, amuse, inspire and make the reader think.
There are characters of every sort lurking in this selection and plots to suit all tastes. This is a selection you can read at one sitting, as I did, or dip into for those short breaks over coffee, when a longer piece must be interrupted. I enjoyed all the stories but I don’t intend to describe them in this short review. All are different and all demonstrate the imaginative power of their creators, the skill of these writers as storytellers. I thoroughly recommend the book to all who love their fiction with a twist of the unexpected.
- The Unheard I
on Aug. 28, 2013
This short piece of esoteric literature came my way via contacts on Facebook. The book is divided into three sections: A Serious ToF (Twist of Fate); Yogic Poetry: the Indian Heritage; The Translator ‘I’. So, I think you will realise this is not a work of interest to what might be called the ‘common reader’. It is a scholarly piece that will appeal to those with an interest in poetry, particularly spiritual poetry expressed as literature, as well as those who have a leaning toward or a significant interest in Indian myth and religion.
The Twist of Fate referred to above is an anthology of pieces collected together to present to readers as a way of gathering funds to help those left in distress by the tornado that hit Oklahoma in May 2013. And this first chapter of the book is a presentation of the author’s experiences in contributing to that anthology.
Poetry, let alone Yogic Poetry, is a genre of which I have little experience. My admiration of the craft lies within the bounds of the variety of works produced by the two Dylans (Bob and Thomas). And my knowledge of Indian culture is minimal. So, I found this section both illuminating and confusing. The many references to the Yogic culture were lost on me, but the general sense of spirituality came through.
The Translator ‘I’ deals with the author’s work and attitudes regarding translation as a craft. He is an acknowledged translator of work from Bengali to English. I’m no linguist, but I have always admired the skill that allows those who understand more than one language to translate not just words but meaning. The ability to convey the essence of a piece written in one language when converting it into another is almost magical to me.
So, not a general reader’s book, but a piece of work that will undoubtedly find favour with those interested in the subject matter discussed. It is to those readers that I recommend the book.