New Release – Fraudulent

Fradulent Cover2alternate

I spent yesterday making some final tweaks and today Fraudulent is available to buy. I wrote this story at the start of the year, it flowed quite easily and I wrote it in about eight weeks. I found myself in a very morbid place and the summer sun seemed a long way off and this novel is the result of a lot of soul searching. Before this I never would have thought that I’d write something in this period, but I wanted to deal with the themes of duty and responsibility and I think the setting was ideal. I’m very proud of it and it’s one of my favourite things I’ve written. It can be purchased from Amazon here and here’s the blurb:

It’s the late 19th Century. William Traven is returning home to England after four years of travelling. Along the way he feels as though he’s lost himself, so he comes home hoping to recapture his lost spirit. However, he’s worried that a sense of belonging will still elude him and if he can’t find it at home he fears that he’ll lose all hope. There’s also Eleanor, the girl who promised to wait for him while he went away. He feels an obligation to marry her but he doesn’t know whether he can carry out his duty if he doesn’t truly love her, or whether he can be the man his parents expect. He’s torn between honour, duty and love, and death hangs like a shadow over him as he struggles to find a place in the world.

– Man of Yesterday

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Felicio Chapter 18 – A Hero Stands

“There’s their hero,” Alan said bitterly, his eyes grim and dark. Recently there had been a few articles published proclaiming that Felicio was a hero, but Alan saw him standing alone, the victorious champion over the slain loser, and he was saddened. Alan’s once youthful, optimistic heart had hardened to icy stone long ago due to the horrors he’d seen in his time as a police officer, yet part of him had almost hoped that this…Felicio was a force for good. It was hard to admit to himself, but anyone who saved those children from that burning building deserved some praise at least. Now he had killed, and it was Alan’s job to arrest him. Lauren remained silent beside her partner, her lover, her friend, squeezing his arm.

Felicio stood in the middle of the circle in shock. Behind him was the cool, still sea, in front of him the raging fire still burned. His heart was beating while Ash’s was silent. He hadn’t had time to think, only to act, driven by pure instinct. The moment flashed through his mind, those few seconds replaying again and again. He remembered shooting out his arm, and how the soft flesh collapsed as his fist closed around Ash’s throat, and then the sickly sound of skin being torn as Felicio tensed his throbbing muscles and brought his arm back, leaving a gaping hole where the windpipe used to be. The foul stench nauseated him, he could see the muscles moving desperately, trying in vain to swallow air. Ash’s eyes were wide with terror, small rivers of red covered the white balls, they were helpless and hopeless, and then they were hollow.

Felicio stood there, the windpipe still in his hand, staining his glove with a deep crimson. Stringy flesh clung to his palm, and blood dripped from his claws, splashing on the ground without making a sound. He tilted his hand and let the windpipe fall, it seemed to move in slow motion and rested beside Ash. Felicio was troubled because he didn’t feel any great remorse, he felt bad for having taken a life, but the life was there to be taken and Ash had made his intentions clear. There was one less bad man in the world, Felicio thought, although it didn’t comfort him. He didn’t have too much time to dwell on that though, for he was suddenly jolted back to reality by the wailing of police sirens.

The crowd that had surrounded him had scattered. They hushed when Ash fell, and were unsure of what to do. They drew their strength from their champion and not one of them wanted to suffer the same fate, but a slight against one was a slight against all. But as soon as the area was bathed in a red and blue glow they all disappeared, fearing the hand of law just as much as they feared the hand of Felicio.

Alan stepped out of the car, pointing his gun at Felicio and moving forward slowly until he was in earshot. Felicio remained motionless, unsure of what to do.

“Remain still. You are under arrest,” Detective Lang shouted. The raging fire still seared the air with heat so beads of sweat formed on his forehead and trickled down, yet his glance didn’t waver even though they were stung by the salty drops. Finally he was face to face with the masked man, the black costume didn’t betray any emotion and the metallic blue stripes glistened in the moonlight. Behind that mask was a man, Alan reminded himself, just a man.

Felicio turned his head, wondering whether he should run, but he recognised the detective from an earlier crime scene and thought he should plead his case, surely the detective would listen to reason, ‘I’m a hero,’ Felicio thought, repeating it in his mind.

“He’s responsible for all of that,” he said, gesturing to the inferno but Alan didn’t turn his head.

“You’re responsible for this,” Alan replied curtly, nodding his head towards the lifeless body.

“I…I didn’t mean to but h-he wasn’t going to stop.”

“You’re under arrest, get down on the ground and put your hands above your head.”

Felicio didn’t move. Although his previous words were small and halting his next were strong and clear.

“He did all that. I took care of it. I did you a favour.”

“You broke the law.”

“I punished him.”

“You don’t have the right. We have laws for a reason, and I will not stop until you’re behind bars because your recklessness puts everyone in danger. You don’t get to play outside the law just because you wear a mask. I don’t know who you are but you can’t just go around and play hero.”

 His words stung, and Felicio felt his gut twist with anger.

“I’m Felicio,” he growled, and spun away, slipping into the darkness. Detective Lang instinctively fired off a few shots but they flew harmlessly through the air. He turned to Lauren, glowering, and said, “I will get him,” and Lauren didn’t doubt that he would.

Felicio ran into the night, finding a quiet path where he could be alone with his thoughts. The words of the detective troubled him, he had wanted to be a hero but he was cast as the villain. All his childhood lessons had told him killing was wrong, yet Ash had been a brute and too many people had suffered already because of him. Felicio wondered how many victims of the fire had sworn death on the one responsible, and how quick they would be to condemn Felicio the killer. And then there was Stacy…could she understand? She had too…surely…although his mind was reeling with the possibility that he had become a monster. Perhaps he wasn’t the hero in this story after all. Suddenly he found himself questioning his place in the world, ever since he had been granted these powers he thought it had been for some purpose, to answer some great calling but if he was going to be shunned and treated like an outcast, hunted like a criminal, what good would that do?

He’d thought that he would be a inspiration to others, a beacon of hope to guide them along the righteous path and show them what they could be. He would be an ideal, a symbol, a myth that would kindle the flames of justice and cause other kindred souls to follow him and take up the mantle. But perhaps he had been mistaken. Maybe his impact on the world wouldn’t be as grand as he hoped, maybe the role he had to play was in the shadows of life, not to stand in the spotlight inspiring others but to prowl in the darkness protecting them.

Then it all started to become clear. He began to think that his definition of what a hero should be was completely wrong. Maybe the role of a hero was to do things that others couldn’t, to do things that others wouldn’t, to take the drastic measures that others were unable to. Maybe a hero was supposed to bear the burden of all of humanity’s sins, and take each scar with a grim resolve. To strive and struggle against impossible odds and go beyond the limits of the law to do what was right no matter what the cost all so other people wouldn’t have to tear down their conscience. He would fill his soul with all the darkness the world had to offer and remain standing. He would ache and hurt and bleed for the world, and surrender his soul for humanity, because he was a hero, and that’s what heroes do. 

A New Interview and Other News

Hello all! 

Just a quick update today – The Love Hate Poetry blog has posted an interview I did, and that can be found here.

I’m also getting ready to publish a new novel. It’s called Fraudulent and it’s set in the late 19th century. I wrote it earlier this year and I’m very proud of it, I’ve pretty much finalised the cover design so I just need to finish off the formatting so it should be available around the end of the week. Here’s a little look at the cover, any feedback would be appreciated!

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I’m also about a week away from finishing the novel I’m currently working on, which is called Hit Hard. 

I know I don’t post much about my reading habits but I just started reading A Game of Thrones. I’m a big fan of the tv shows and I couldn’t wait 10 months to find out what happens (I realise I’m going to have an even longer wait when I catch up with the books) but I’m enjoying it a lot so far. 

The latest chapter of Felicio will be coming tomorrow as usual, and later in the week I’ll be giving a shoutout to one of my favourite Youtube shows, Tabletop. 

– Man of Yesterday

World War Z Review

The much-troubled adaptation of Max Brooks’ book has finally hit the screen. Given the problems it’s suffered I didn’t go in with high hopes, I was mainly expecting a film with good action, a broad scope and to be entertained. Unfortunately it failed to deliver on its promise and was ultimately underwhelming and empty. Spoilers follow.

It’s been a few years since I’ve read the novel so I’m not going to judge the film in comparison to the book, it’s really not the same creature and anyone going in expecting a literal translation is going to be severely disappointed. The main reason why I went to see this film was because I was excited to see a zombie film that wasn’t confined to one city or a mall, and to actually see the ramifications of a zombie outbreak around the world. I was hoping to see a few interesting locales and at first the film seemed to be heading in that direction.

It starts off in America with Gerry (Brad Pitt) trying to save his family, and there are some good sequences. After that we jump to South Korea, although we only see a small base in the darkness, so it wasn’t exactly impressive but I figured they’d start small and build up. We then followed him to Jerusalem and that was probably the high point of the movie. We saw the zombies swarm over a wall in a very impressive sequence and then Gerry was off again.

The person he talked to in Jerusalem said they heard a memo from India that mentioned zombies, but the origin of the virus could have come from anywhere. This led me to believe that we’d see Gerry visit a few different environments as he tracked down the origin, and I was excited to see zombies in the jungle, in the desert, in other cities, maybe see them not function in a frozen wasteland. To me that was the main draw of the film, it’s called World War Z, I wanted to see the world and other glamorous locations, and given the budget I didn’t think it was too much to ask, so given all the possibilities to do something original in an exotic place where does the climax happen? In a small, almost deserted lab in Wales. Right.

It doesn’t help that the climax is incredibly anti-climactic. It involves Gerry and a few other characters running around a confined space trying (and failing) to keep quiet, something we’ve seen in a hundred other films. Then, Gerry injects himself with a virus (something which is actually interesting and was one of the few things the film did right, which I’ll get to in a second) at which point a character says something along the lines of, “If he injects himself with (that) he’ll be dead anyway,” but that’s never addressed and he’s fine by the end of it. At this point I was still hoping he’d go and spread the word about his discovery but then the film ended and I was singularly unimpressed.

One of the things that I love about zombie films is to see the inventive way people kill zombies, and that was another thing lacking. It just doesn’t compare to its lower-budget counterparts.

As for the zombies themselves, they’re quite frightening. They’re not a shuffling, relentless hoard but more of a frenetic swarm, eager to devour. They have a few tics which elicited laughs from a few people around me, but the ghoulish, bird-like cries were a good touch and the chattering teeth were creepy. The transformation was a good effect as well and it was unsettling to see people twist and writhe into the undead.

There wasn’t much in the way of emotional investment. Gerry had a family, but there were there to try and manipulate the audience into caring and it didn’t really work for me. They were present at the start of the film but once Gerry left on his mission they were largely forgotten, and at one point were literally shunted out of the story.

So, the few things the film did get right. Firstly, like I said, the zombies were decent. We did get a few action sequences and they were quite impressive. I liked most of the characters that Gerry encountered along the way, the most memorable were probably the soldiers stationed at the base in South Korea. I also liked ‘The Tenth Man’ concept described in Jerusalem.

The one thing that did actually impress me was the way they handled the virus. Instead of searching for a cure, they decided to look for a way to protect themselves and in the end figured out that the zombies don’t attack those who are terminally ill. I found it quite novel, but for all I know it could have been taken from the book since I can’t remember it that well, but at the moment I’ll give the film credit for it.

Apart from that it was very disappointing. I think there was the potential for a good, original, exciting movie but in the end it was lackluster. My main annoyance is the climax, it just reverted to a typical zombie film when it could have done something so much different. I still hope that eventually a tv company will produce a mini-series that is more faithful to the books.

Also, they probably called the wrong man, they didn’t need this Gerry guy, they needed Daryl Dixon ;).

– Man of Yesterday

Interview with Upcoming Author Evelyn Knightley

Today it’s my pleasure to present an interview with Evelyn Knightley. Her debut book, ‘I Haven’t Lived at All’ is scheduled for release on August 14th and I talk to her about her book, her background and utilising Kickstarter as a way to get her book published. Enjoy!

1. Hello Evelyn, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Could you start off by telling me a little bit about your background?
 
Thank you! Where to begin, well I was born in Oxford in 1992 and grew up in a small village a few miles down the road. I had quite a hectic childhood, made tolerable by my siblings, close family and books. I was raised by my mum and I have an older brother and sister; the latter of which fuelled my imagination with stories of witches and wizards, causing both excitement and horrible nightmares! I spent a lot of time at my Grandparent’s house, playing card games and helping my Grampy with the peeling of the broad beans (which I took great pride in!) A great past time would include going for days out with the family and running away with my Aunt, leaving everyone else wondering where we had got to. This was quite an expensive hobby, as I always felt guilty afterwards (particularly that time I left my Nan stranded in a shop) and she would have to buy presents for everyone else to ease my guilt.
 
I was quite a quiet child with a few OCD tendencies and a huge lover of reading, predominantly anything by Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and Enid Blyton. I attended a primary school in the village I grew up in, moved to a town just down the road from where I grew up just in time to move on to secondary school. After finishing school, I moved on to college to study my A-levels in English Lit, Psychology and Sociology. The original plan was to go straight to university to study Psychology and English but I threw a spanner in the works at the very last minute and decided to take a gap year; I had the intention of going travelling but I spent the majority of it working, with a week in New York (and my first time on a plane) to make the entire year worth the hours spent in retail. I began university in 2011, studying Psychology and English in my first year and Psychology in my second year, and now I’m here; an official drop-out with a book on the way!
 
2. Was writing something you always wanted to do or has it been a recent development?
 
It’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to do, it’s something I took great pleasure in it as a child but it was only in my early teenage years that I fully comprehended it was something people can do for a living. It’s always been something I’ve done, but it’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve accepeted it’s something I actually want to do and that there really isn’t anything else that could feel as natural to me. For a long, long time I never really knew what I wanted to do but the phrase “in an ideal world…” would come up a lot. It’s a recent development for me to try and make this ideal scenario more of a reality. 
 
3. ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’ is coming out soon, how would you sum it up? How are you feeling – excited, nervous?
 
It’s quite a difficult one to sum up, and you’d think I would be good at it by now! It’s a collection of poetry and short stories that in some ways mark the end of one very long chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one. I’ve had a few people say that it seems quite dark and sad, which I suppose I would agree with. I think that works in it favour though, the overall theme is the idea that many bad things can happen, and it’s easy to lose faith in life but there’s so much out there waiting to be lived and experienced; it’s just a matter of patience and determination to seek it out. That’s where the title, ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’ comes from, for a long time I’ve given myself the pretence that I’ve seen all there is to see and it all sucks, but that’s so far from the truth; there’s so much I haven’t seen and done and it’s about time I started to. The poetry is quite personal in nature, but I think there’s aspects of it that anybody and everybody could relate to, nobody has it easy and everybody experiences dark periods in life; but as the saying goes- there’s light at the end of tunnel…even if it’s a very long tunnel! 
 
I keep pulling a 360 in regards to emotions, I think nerves are beginning to decrease now that a few copies are in hands that aren’t my own. At the moment, I’m feeling excited and impatient, I want the book to be officially released and I want to know what the future holds. As far as nerves are concerned, I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s impossible to please everyone and I have to remind myself that it’s my first book; a stepping stone and a learning curve. Then I watch QI to take my mind off it, before I make myself ill and resign myself to never leaving my bed. 
 
4. You chose to go through Kickstarter, what prompted that decision?
 
It was a multitude of things really. Firstly, there’s the financial aspect. It’s not a cheap process to get a book out there, and whilst I’ve pumped in a lot of money myself, I work in retail and my own funds are limited so it was a necessity for me to try and raise some money; primarily for the more business orientated side of things. There’s also the side of Kickstarter that leaves you entirely responsible for completing the project and delivering it to pledgers, meaning that if nerves got the better of me and I decided that actually…I’m really not ready to put my writing out there, I have no choice. That’s something that’s been very important to me, I am prone to letting nerves get the better of me and this has forced me so far out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, it’s allowed me to spread the word of the book before it’s even released and to gain a bit of interest in it, people have put money into this so it’s natural that they’re going to follow, and hopefully support, the full process. That’s been something that’s been very overwhelming; seeing how people get behind you and show their support. 
 
5. What was the process like – did it meet your expectations? Was it fun interacting with the people who were pledging money along the way?
I honestly had no expectations, but it was a really exciting process. I loved interacting with everybody and it was so nice to finally have this idea out in the open. For a lot of people, it seems like this book has kind of come out of nowhere, but some of the poems are refreshed versions from years ago so for me it feels like it’s been a long time coming.  
 
6. Who are your main influences?
I don’t know if there are any influences of this book, in the sense that I couldn’t compare it to the greatness of the following people; but these are people who I look at and think “yep, I want to do this!” 
J K Rowling, Amy Lee, Tori Amos, Chuck Palahniuk, Carol Ann Duffy, Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, Angela Carter, Augusten Burroughs, Stephen Chbosky, John Green, Caitlin Moran, Marya Hornbacher, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, Steig Larsson…I could go on. 
 
7. What do you think your biggest challenge has been so far?
A combination of dealing with my own nerves and fears, and doing everything single handedly and having to learn about the entire process from scratch; juggling this alongside working full time isn’t easy!
 
8. Do you have any other projects at the moment or are you focusing on the release of ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’?
I had started work on a novel before I started compiling IHLAA, and an excerpt of it is at the end of the book so it’s definitely something I want to get back to and finish; i’ve been with the idea of the story for a long time and I still love it just as much so as soon as I’m in the place where I have time and I’m able to focus, I’ll be back to working on that! (I’m very excited about this, I miss the world I was creating!) 
 
9. Have your family and friends been supportive, what were their reactions when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
 
They absolutely have, surprisingly so. This whole thing has been something I’ve sprung on them (sorry guys!) but they’ve been incredibly accepting of it. It’s absolutely made this whole process so much easier, I feel like I’m doing something that they’re proud of which is amazing. 
 
I honestly couldn’t tell you what their reactions have been, I think it’s always just been a given that it’s what I want to do but perhaps a shock that it’s something I’m actually going to do. It probably offers an explanation for my anti-social tendencies and the many hours I’ve spent alone. 
 
10. What is your target audience for ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’, who do you think think it will appeal to the most?
I honestly think this could be a book for anybody, regardless of age and gender. I think there’s something in there for everybody, but I think it might especially appeal to the young adult audience. 

Website: www.evelynknightley.co.uk

 
Thanks again to Evelyn! Remember, ‘I Haven’t Lived at All’ is out August 14th. If you would like to be interviewed or have any other comments please get in touch with me. Look out tomorrow for my review of World War Z!
 
– Man of Yesterday

Felicio Chapter 17 – Ash to Ashes

Fires raged in the distance. The landscape behind Felicio had a dark orange glow and the smoke rose up, shielding the stars from view. Behind Ash the horizon was black and cold, the quiet sea was naked and vulnerable, holding its secrets with a tranquil calm. The two of them stood metres apart, Felicio’s arms outstretched with his sharp claws ready to strike. Ash stood calmly with his arms by his side, tensing his muscles and enjoying the carnage he had wrought.

“You did all this?” Felicio asked, almost disbelieving that one man could be responsible for so much chaos.

“I had to get your attention somehow,” Ash replied, his haggard eyes and malicious grin evidenced the evil soul within. Felicio was shocked that all this was for his benefit, and a dark thought flashed through his mind – was this all a result of his activities? Would the city be better off without him? However, he caught sight of the severed arm and realised that Ash was a monster, and ultimately he was responsible for whatever actions he took and it was up to Felicio to stop him. Felicio regained his focus and stepped forward, Ash mirrored his movements.

                Felicio thought back to their previous encounter. Although he was imbued with enhanced strength in some ways he was still a boy, while Ash was a man with a lifetime of anger and bitterness fuelling his thick muscles, which had been built up over years of hard work. Those broad shoulders had burdened much hardship and he wasn’t about to show his opponent any respect or give him any quarter for retreat. Ash was determined to extinguish Felicio’s flame, and the young superhero would have to have a similar resolve if he was to survive the encounter.

                Ash’s black hair was slicked back and his tight white shirt and blue jeans were stained with crimson. His muscles glistened with sweat and could have easily been a warrior in some ancient army, weaving a path of bloodshed through a kingdom and being decorated for his efforts but instead he was using his strength for evil purposes. Felicio was unsettled at how much joy Ash seemed to take from the destruction in the background, and as the shadows of the fire flickered in Ash’s eyes Felicio sprung forward.

                As he flew through the air he swung his arm and dug his claws in Ash’s shoulder. The beast yelled out in pain but he was quicker than Felicio anticipated and managed to strike a blow but left Felicio unbalanced, and he fell to the floor. He scrambled up but Ash was swiftly upon him. Heavy blows rained down on the costumed hero, Ash was breathing heavily and laughing maniacally as his strong arms hammered down. Felicio raised his arms, attempting to deflect the attacks and eventually he managed to work an opening where he was able to release a few jabs into Ash’s mid-section, causing the brute to stagger back. Felicio continued his attack, regaining his footing as he did so. Adrenalin coursed through his body and his arms moved with an unparalleled speed, striking with a precision that only served to enrage Ash.

                The blows bruised Ash’s skin but the pain spurred him on, and with a mighty roar he summoned his strength, clubbed his fists together and dealt a hefty blow which dazed Felicio. Seizing the opportunity, Ash moved forward and brought a sharp knee to Felicio’s stomach, causing the air to rush out of Felicio’s body. Ash brought the knee up again and again and then he smashed his elbow onto the back of Felicio’s head, and once again the hero was on the floor amongst the broken bits of metal. Pain rang around his head and before he could collect himself he felt himself being hoisted up into the air. Ash had gotten a hold of his costume and brought Felicio up only to send him crashing to the ground again. Bits of shrapnel dug into his body and he could feel the swell of blood against his costume. He was used to being superior in every fight and he had been dealt a painful reminder that Ash was a special case. He was more than a man, and Felicio wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the devil had infused his heart with demon blood.

                On the next descent Felicio grabbed whatever he could wrap his fingers around and flung it at Ash, the heavy metal struck him at the waist and Ash felt a sharp pang of pain as it clattered against his hip bone. Felicio dropped to the ground once again, but this time he was up quickly and used his agility to deliver a couple of roundhouse kicks that connected emphatically with Ash’s jaw. His neck twisted sharply as a result of the impact and he sunk to his knees, spitting out blood. The thick coppery fluid flooded his mouth and when he parted his lips Felicio was disgusted to see his teeth stained red.

                Without giving him a chance to recover, Felicio pounded him relentlessly, Ash was on his knees and with every hit he swayed but he never went down. Felicio kicked him in the ribs and felt bones crack, and then he drew back his claws and carved scars into Ash’s face, now he too bore the mark of Felicio. Finally his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the floor, his heavy chest rising with deep breaths. Felicio breathed a sigh of relief, and set to work at finding something with which to shackle Ash.

                As he was searching he looked sorrowfully at the blaze in the distance, it wasn’t fair that all those people suffered because of him, and he hated the world because there were so many people who took advantage of the opportunity to cast off civility and descend into anarchy. He set to his task because he was needed elsewhere, and it wasn’t long before he found a thick chain. The uneven ground shifted under his steps as he tracked back to where Ash lay. As he bent down to wrap the chain around Ash’s wrist the indomitable fighter moved in a flash and struck Felicio with the severed arm. Felicio was glad he was wearing his mask, for he was hit by the meaty end and he caught a good glimpse of the jagged bone and gristle as it passed near his eyes. Now the cartilage and blood had been smeared on his mask and he felt nauseous from the rancid stench that proved more powerful than the blow itself as it gave Ash time to stagger to his knees and launch himself forward, tackling Felicio to the ground.

                There they writhed, two gladiators straining in the heat of battle.

 

While this had been occurring, Detective Lang and his partner had been racing through the city, trying to restore order to the panic that was tearing the city apart.

“It’s like a warzone,” Lauren said, trying to temper the terror in her voice. The car slowly rolled on as screaming people sprinted by. Other policemen in riot gear were trying to control the crowd, subduing as many criminals as possible although it was hard to maintain a hold on the sprawling wave of crime.

“I always said this city was going to hell,” Alan said darkly, his face even more drawn than usual. Lauren looked at him with sympathy, he tried so hard to hold together the fragile bonds of the city, and she knew it affected him deeply that everything he strived for could collapse so easily. He burdened himself with the duty to right the wrongs, but he often forgot that he wasn’t without allies.

                They followed the path of destruction around, and were surprised that it seemed to lead away from the heart of the city to the docks. Alan stared forward intensely, his knuckles white as he gripped the steering wheel so hard. Lauren breathed deeply, not knowing what kind of inferno they were driving into.

 

                By now some of Ash’s followers had gathered at the edge of the shallow pit in which Felicio and Ash were doing battle. He made a signal for them to hold back so they watched with bated bath, cheering on their champion while Felicio had to deal with the shrieks of abuse, although he was fighting so fiercely they barely registered. Ash had found a new source of strength and it seemed that any pain he felt was channelled into pleasure, giving him a greater endurance and the fight soon turned from a battle of strength to a battle of wills. Ash was using his height to his advantage, and while Felicio was strong and quick he didn’t quite have the technique to make full use of his abilities. However, he still dealt a great deal of damage and it was a testament to the stamina of Ash that he was able to withstand such a brutal assault.

                “When I break you I will tear off that mask and find out who you are and I will make everyone who loves you suffer,” Ash said, so enraged that anyone could torment him this much that he was willing to create a blood feud, the anger that flowed through this man’s body flowed through his brain too and coloured all his actions, but it proved to be his fatal mistake.

                Suddenly Felicio had an image flash in his mind of his beloved Stacy being tortured at the hands of this beast, and then he thought of Stephanie, and Emma, and his parents and suddenly his muscles were revitalised, and every fiber of him was flooded with a renewed vigour. It was as if his mind went to a different plane, time slowed and his body moved with a fury he had never known. He let fly a flurry of punches which had a far greater strength than any he had thrown before, but his mind was clouded by rage and he knew it wouldn’t be enough to send this man to prison again. It was leading to one inexorable conclusion. The yells of the crowd rang loudly as they tried to rouse their champion but it did no good, and nobody noticed the quite hum of a car as it pulled up.

                Their fight reached a crescendo. Ash was pummelled into submission and he was hit with a lethargy that slowed him and rendered him impotent to parry Feicio’s blows. The costumed hero struck blow after blow as blood and enamel flew from Ash’s mouth, and great welts appeared on his face, but then, after steadying himself, Felicio performed an act that stunned the crowd into silence, and shook Alan Lang to his core.

                For Felicio time stood still as he drew his hand back. He looked into Ash’s defeated eyes and saw his inky reflection, then he shot out his arm, dug his claws into Ash’s throat and with a might tug he pulled out Ash’s windpipe, and tossed it to the ground as Ash slumped to the floor, blood flowing freely from the gaping hole in his neck. Felicio would never forget the squelch and the gurgle that accompanied his action, and the last look of utter helplessness in those dark eyes as Ash collapsed to the ground. It was over. Felicio looked to the calm sea and wondered if his life would ever be as peaceful as the rippling sea. 

Man of Steel Review

Okay, here we go, let me start by saying that Superman is my second favourite superhero behind Spider-Man. I haven’t really loved any of the Superman movies so far, I liked Christopher Reeve as Superman but I’m not a huge fan of the films he was in, and although I think Superman Returns was unfairly maligned I wouldn’t say it’s amazing. I did love Smallville, even though that had its problems too so I was very excited for Man of Steel as the reviews were really positive and it seemed like people were saying this was the Superman movie we were waiting for. As such it pains me to say that I was actually a little disappointed. As always with my movie reviews I’ll write a spoiler-free reaction and then I’ll discuss particular aspects of the movie. 

Basically I was left feeling a little bit flat when the movie ended. I certainly wasn’t as buoyed as when the credits started rolling for Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness. I thought there was a lot to like about Man of Steel – the casting was great, the action scenes were awesome, if a little too much at times, and the visual effects were good (I really liked the depiction of Krypton) but I’m not sure the actual story holds up that well. I also think the film took itself too seriously and some of the dialogue fell flat. Overall I think it’s a decent film and it’s worth a watch, but I wouldn’t go in expecting it to be perfect by any means. 

 

Spoilers follow…

 

 

 

I thought the film was a little disjointed. I think I would have preferred it had his story been told chronologically. I liked seeing him in various parts of America doing odd jobs and moving on when he did some obvious act of heroism. I liked the actors who played young Clark Kent, and I enjoyed Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathon and Martha. But where the flashbacks are placed throughout the movie they lose some of their impact, for example towards the end of the film we see Jonathon watching his son play in the garden wearing a cape. To me it would have felt more natural to have that towards the beginning to give us a taste of him becoming Superman. As an aside, I think the moment where he put on the costume wasn’t given the gravitas it should have been. 

It was interesting to see young Clark struggle with his powers and how to restrain himself. I can understand why they didn’t explore that too much because we largely had 10 years of it in Smallville, but it does almost feel like they mashed two movies together. I think they could have had a whole movie of him roaming the world learning about the different facets of humanity and I thought they rushed through that. 

I also felt the film was quite detached at times and it was quite hard to get inside the heads of the characters. When Henry Cavill got a chance to emote he was really good, and there were a couple of times when he smirked whilst using his powers and that was a nice touch, because I like it when heroes actually enjoy using their powers but if I had to sum it up it was quite a cold film, even in the colour palette they used there didn’t seem to be much warmth. 

Zod was a good villain but I thought he was more tragic than they had intended. Superman called him a monster, but seeing as he only did what he did because he was programmed too he’s almost a victim. I’m not excusing his actions in any way, but it seemed that the film sided with the idea that Kryptonians didn’t really have a choice about how they lived, and it seemed a bit murky to me whether he was supposed to be a sympathetic villain or just a villain outright. I liked how Superman defeated Zod at first, by subjecting him to the sheer deluge of sensory information, and I liked the final fight. It was a powerful moment when Superman had to kill Zod, but in the film it hadn’t really been established that Superman had a strict ‘no killing rule’, one could infer it from his attitudes but I think the moment was a bigger deal if you were a fan and knew how much it went against his strict moral code. 

The main thing which troubled me the most was the collateral damage. I don’t mind the fact that he didn’t save everyone, because part of the tragedy of the character is that he can’t no matter how hard he tries. But saying that I think it was a mistake to have him jet off to the Indian Sea to fight the big machine, I would have preferred it had they shown him flying around Metropolis trying to save people. I also think it was strange that nobody seemed to care that all these people were dying, it was just buildings collapsing without any sense of the deaths. In a way I hope they address this in a sequel, perhaps if they have Lex try and sever the bond that Superman has forged with humanity by pointing to the destruction and saying, ‘hey, all this stuff happened because of him, do we really need him?’ which I think would be quite interesting. To add to this point there were a couple of moments when Superman seemed to be a bit reckless, particularly in the battle in Smallville. At one point he made a petrol station blow up, and I was hoping that he’d then use his freeze breath to put out the fire but he just let it burn, and it seemed he wasn’t too concerned about the surrounding damage, I thought he may have tried to move the fight away to an unpopulated area.

They left it a bit late to explain what exactly the codex was and why it was so important, and to be honest that aspect seemed a bit tacked on. I also would have liked an explanation as to why Krypton decided to abandon space travel and initiate their genetic coding program. Now I feel a bit bad because I feel like I’m being really critical. I think it’s the case that because Superman means so much to me I’m more predisposed to look at the faults but in truth the film did a lot right. 

Like I said the casting was superb. Henry Cavill was an excellent Superman and when he got a chance to emote he really sold it. There were two powerful moments where we got to feel his frustration and his helplessness that he had to do things he didn’t want to do but that he had to do. Faora was a good character and I’d say she was almost equal to Zod, but I thought the rest of Zod’s minions were under-used. The fight scenes were dynamic and intense, I particularly liked the shot of Superman and Zod fighting while flying. The other visual effects were great, especially the heat vision which looked awesome and powerful. I liked the Superman/Lois romance too, and I think it’s becoming a trend now that the love interests in superhero films are more involved in their partner’s superhero lives so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops into a sequel.

Speaking of a sequel it’s hard to see where they go from here, because the destruction was so big it’s hard to go bigger. I think they should take a cue from one of the lines in the film and make the world small. Lex is the obvious choice and the filmmakers seem to be wanting to do a version of Superman where the explore what impact he has on the world, so I’d like to really see that developed in the next film. I hope they go a bit deeper into his character and how he deals with being Superman now that he’s not just a drifter. 

There have also been a lot of rumours that this film is going to be a springboard for a JLA movie, but I really don’t see that happening. It seems that this film was really made just to show what impact Superman would have. I suppose the only way that would make sense is that other people become superheroes because Superman inspired them, but it doesn’t really seem like they were seeding a bigger world outside of the Superman story. 

So, yeah, I apologise if this review seems a little too critical because there were a few points where I geeked out and like I said there was a lot to like, but it just fell short of being great. That said, it certainly has promise and I think it was only a few missteps in the script that let it down, so hopefully they’ll have a clearer idea for a sequel and it will be a bit tighter. 

World War Z comes out next week so that will probably be my next film review.

– Man of Yesterday

Interview with Indie Author Sara Boyd

Today I’m joined by Sara Boyd. She’s the author of ‘Nothing Else Matters’, a romantic novel about two lovers fighting the forces that threaten to tear them apart, and ‘Deceptive Comfort’, a short story exploring the devastating impact of superstition. Purchase links can be found at the bottom of the interview.

1. Could you tell us a little bit of your background and how you discovered your love of writing?

My background is not exactly in writing since I studied Farming Business in Argentina. I also have an MA in translation. But I always loved writing. I started at school, writing stories when I was bored.

2. You released your first novel last year, was it a long process? 
It was. Nothing Else Matters was written a few years ago. Since then it went through a few changes and I started the process of publishing on Amazon. The technical bit took me a while to get used to but I think I’m still learning something new every day. 

3. What inspired you to write that story?

 ‘NEM’ just popped into my head one day walking through a maize field. It’s a love story between foster siblings and I guess what I thought at the time was, ‘what if you were stuck in the same house night and day with someone you have romantic feelings for?’

4. You also have a short story available, what prompted you to try that format of storytelling? 

I go to a writing group and we write 750 word pieces every week. Deceptive Comfort started as a 750 word exercise and the group liked it, so I thought I would try the short story format, something I have never tried before because I like to write longer pieces. It was like a self-challenge and I think it worked well.

5. Your short story, Deceptive Comfort, deals with superstition. Why did you find it important to tackle that subject? 

I was always fascinated with superstition and how people relate to it. I think most people have an irrational approach to superstition. An example would be someone that says ‘Oh no, I’m not superstitious AT ALL, but I never, ever, walk under a ladder. Just in case, you know…’

6. Who are your main influences?

Oh dear… As a writer I feel like I have to say ‘So and so influenced me,’ but the boring truth is that no one really ‘influenced’ me as such. I do have authors that I like for specific reasons. For example, I think Martin Amis’ style is superb, although I wouldn’t say his plots are as good. I also like Margaret Atwood’s dystopian worlds. There are also books such as ‘Catch 22’ that show you that a non-linear story can still be really catching if it’s well written.

7. Were these books inspired by real-life experiences? 

So far, Nothing Else Matters and Deceptive Comfort were not inspired by real-life experiences. Maybe a scene is based on something that happened, loosely based, but not the whole story. 

8. What is your writing process?

My writing process is very messy indeed. I write straight on the word processor because I touch type. When I sit down to write I can write anything from 2000 words to up to 8000 a day, if the scene is clear in my mind. However, I can’t write every day. I write until I finish the whole story and only then do I go back to improve the scenes, add or delete, etc. But the characters, situations and dialogues of what I’m writing follow me around all day, and sometimes in my dreams. Yes, it’s a bit weird to dream about what you’re writing and, in my experience useless, because when you wake up you realise that the dream was utter nonsense. I especially play dialogues or scenes in my mind when I’m driving, at the supermarket or on public transport.

9. What are your current projects?

I’m struggling with a novel that was loosely based on a screenplay I wrote and… lost. Yes, lost it completely, the printed version and the word doc I had somewhere but could never find it. The original story changed and evolved and I wanted to set it in the UK. But when I did some research, the results complicated matters a bit. So now I’m trying to find a way around it.

After this, I want to write a historical novel, which I know will be another struggle because it might not be believable. However, since I had the idea for this novel genres have changed a lot. Historical sometimes is not 100% accurate and I read many stories that had what would have been considered unbelievable scenes, so I’ll give it a go.

10. Is there anything you’d like to say to your potential readers? 

Hello potential reader! Nice to meet you. I’m Sara Boyd and I write light, feel good romance. My style is simple and to the point. My settings are shortly described and only when something is essential for the plot. I guess I do this because I tend to skip lengthy descriptions when I am reading novels. If this is not your cup of tea feel free to read any of the other thousand really good authors out there. 
This said, Deceptive Comfort is not as light or feel good romance, and I did make an effort to ‘describe’ the setting a bit more.

I just got rid of my blog, but you can find me on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/saraboydauthor and on Twitter @saraboydauthor 
I also have an author page on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/saraboydauthor 

Nothing Else Matters on Amazon

Deceptive Comfort on Amazon

Thanks to Sara for joining me, if you’d like to be interviewed or have any feedback send me a message to the address found on the contact page! I’m off to see Man of Steel tonight, so watch out for a review tomorrow!

– Man of Yesterday

Felicio Chapter 16 – Forging a Path to Hell

Peter was sitting in the cloisters of the college. He was leaning back with his chair propped against the wall and his legs resting on the table, appearing completely at ease. He casually glanced around the immediate area and thought to himself how different everybody seemed now, as those that surrounded him had also attended the party. They were all either working studiously or huddled together in their separate cliques, but Peter knew they were all secretly united under the banner of Star Children. He found it strange that none of them seemed to acknowledge their common bond and he wondered what dark impulses were swimming around their tortured, fragile minds.  

                However, he was in good spirits and his thoughts didn’t linger on that subject for too long because they inevitably drifted towards the angelic presence of Stacy, who had already enriched his life even though they had only known each other a few days. They had met for their first proper date and a few moments with her quelled his fears that their attraction was only a product of the magic of the midnight air. Since then he hadn’t been able to stop grinning and the world didn’t seem like such a dreary place.

“What’s up with you?” Stephanie asked as she sat down beside him. So far Peter had kept the recent developments from her, and had only hinted that something big had happened, but he was bursting with excitement and as soon as she sat down he let fly a flurry of words.

                “You’ll never believe this but I just met an amazing girl, literally amazing. I mean me, meeting a girl completely at random? Can you believe it? Well, I mean I was Felicio at the time but then she learned who I really am. I actually had a date! And it was so fun, at first I was freaking out, you know what I’m like, but we just started talking and we just…we just click, you know? It feels so natural being with her. It’s like she brings out this whole other side of me…and she’s so pretty, so, so pretty, I mean beautiful, her hair and her voice and her laugh she’s just…oh she’s so amazing. I don’t know what she’s doing with me because she’s way out of my league but I’m just going to try and enjoy it. I’m also pretty glad that she took off my mask I mean, at first I freaked out but now that I think about it, it saved me a whole lot of angst.”

                Stephanie smiled as he rambled on, amused at her friend’s reaction. She was happy for him, she often worried about him because he seemed to be too lonely sometimes but it was good that he was touched by romance. However, she felt she needed to know more about this girl because she was very protective of him.

“Okay Pete I get the picture, slow down,” she calmly urged.”

“Sorry, I’m just so excited!”

“So what’s the deal with this girl, what’s she like?”

“Well her name’s Stacy, she’s an aspiring model. She loves history, the Victorian period in particular, lilacs are her favourite flowers, she’s a dog person-”

“How ironic.”

“I know right, but hey, um, yeah, she loves musicals, hates tomatoes, doesn’t really understand why so many girls seem to love horses, she’d love to see the world but not the random countries because she’s really scared of getting a rare disease. She’s also never been on a rollercoaster and she doesn’t plan to.”

“Interesting,” Stephanie said, nodding slightly and then, with a genuine smile she added, “I’m really glad for your Pete, it’s about time something like this happened. You’re a great guy.”

“Thanks,” he said appreciatively and then, realising that he was monopolising the conversation, he tried to take an interest in her.

“And how’s your love life, what’s happening with that guitarist?”

“Bassist.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah it’s uh…I think I’m going to wait ‘til uni before I start anything serious.” At her mention of uni Peter looked away into the distance. “Have you thought about it anymore?” she asked, unsure of whether to broach the subject given the results the last couple of times she had tried. However, this time he didn’t explode with anger but he answered the question with a detached sigh. At the more thought of the future a bundle of fears spooled out in his mind and filled up every crevice of his soul with a dark sense of foreboding, as if the whole course of his life hinged on one decision, one moment and he was utterly unprepared. Instead of facing the problem he tried to force it away, but no man could stem the flow of time and it would linger. He knew the futility and the irrationality of his actions yet he felt completely unable to make any firm decision, it was as if all the possibilities of his life were finely balanced, and if he were to outstretch his hand and clutch one the others, and all the potentialities within them, would fall away, leaving him with only one path to follow.

“I honestly don’t know, I have started looking at brochures though,” he lied. He didn’t know why he lied, it just seemed easier than telling the truth sometimes. She knew him well enough to know that he was lying, yet she decided not to confront him about it because he’d only storm off. Besides, it was time for her to be getting to class so she repeated her congratulations and left him to bask in the glory of his triumph.

                As she rounded the corner she was surprised to bump into Emma. She smiled at her and said hello, but Emma had a look of shock and the colour was drained from her face. Her mouth was agape with fear and she was looking around wildly. Stephanie offered help but Emma backed away and ran, trying to stop the tears streaming down her face. People stared at her as her long legs gracefully strode through the college until she was out in the cold again, alone, the only time when the world was quiet. However, the only downside of being alone was that instead of her head being filled with the thoughts of others, it was filled with her own thoughts and sometimes those plagued her more than anything else.

                She wasn’t sure whether she loved Peter, but in her young, inexperienced mind the feeling was similar enough to elicit strong reactions and when she sensed his thoughts it sent her into a spiral of confusion. Peter was the only boy she’d met that seemed to understand what she was going through, he was the only one she felt comfortable revealing her secret and he made her feel like it wasn’t something to be ashamed of, and that she could actually put it to good use. But oh, how foolish she had been to think that he could have seen anything more in here than a frightened, troubled little girl. When she peered into his mind she saw the same doubts and fears she held about herself reflected, and it would have been so natural and so easy for them to fall for each other. But it was clear now that he had never even considered that possibility, after all, she grimly thought, who would want to go out with someone who knew everything about you without asking. Every secret, every lie, every stray thought was hers to witness and she hated it.

                Often she had bemoaned her lot in life but in this moment she truly despised it, why couldn’t she just be normal? she asked herself repeatedly but no answer came. ‘You’re special,’ Katrina always told her, but special didn’t mean a damned thing. Who’d want to be special when it meant you were alone and unloved? She walked on, wishing there was a way to silence the voices in her head but she feared they would torment her until her dying day. And in that moment, when she took her last breath, she knew that her last thought wouldn’t be her own, but an echo of somebody else’s.

                She walked away, shrouded in the wintry mist and looked back at the college. It was a house of normal people living normal lives, and as much as she thought Peter was different she knew now that he was the same as them. They would all get to fall in love and be happy, and she would be able to feel what it was like through them but it would only be a phantom and she would never know it for herself.

 

***

 

Ash cackled with glee as he felt another body go limp. He released it and watched the dented skull fall helplessly to the floor. The madman’s mission was to catch Felicio’s attention and draw him out, and Ash threw himself into his duty with a passionate frenzy. He moved through the edges of the town, leaving a wake of bloodied meat sacks behind him. Scarlet spots peppered his body and he walked around menacingly with a crazed stare. His gang followed close behind but he didn’t pay any attention to them. He walked with inexorable purpose, his packed muscular body bristling with intense fury. He didn’t care who he maimed, they were all but means to an end. People tried to run away but the whirlwind of hell subdued them and left them for Ash and his gang to pick at the carcasses. A demon had been let loose and there was only one who could stop him.

 

Felicio ran along the rooftops, surveying the scene below. The wail of police sirens couldn’t drown out the mad screams and the flashing blue and red lights were too few in number to make a difference. Buildings crackled with fire, as if the devil was taking hold of the earth. Felicio had a vantage point the police did not, and he saw that there was a clear trail, leading back to the edge of the docks. He sprinted forward, a black spectre of the night. He wished he could help the people below but he feared there was something much more dangerous up ahead, whoever was causing this maelstrom of chaos needed to be stopped.

                He followed the trail through the burning houses and past shattered windows. Screaming people ran in terror while others took delight in the opportunity to abandon the veil of civility and reclaim their savage, bestial nature. Soon enough the smoke cleared and Felicio found himself at one of the abandoned areas of the docks. The salty smell of seawater mingled with the pungent aroma of mould and grime which nauseated him. The ground was rocky and uneven, bits of sharp metal protruded in a jagged manner and as he walked on he realised that he was walking into a death trap of an arena, because the sight before him shook him to the core. Ash was standing proudly, muscles rippling, baring his primal might to the world. In one hand he held a severed arm, for once Felicio wished his sight wasn’t enhanced because he had to look at the sharp points of snapped bone hang loosely out of the arm, and the ligaments and muscles hung like tassels and swung in the air as Ash waved the arm about. In the other hand he held an axe. The metal glistened in the moonlight but the razor sharp edge was stained with crimson.

                Felicio carefully strode forward and Ash waited with a disgusting grimace on his face, by now blood had encrusted on his skin and he wore it like a mask. He was more monster than man.

“I’m here to end you,” he savagely growled, tossing the arm away and wielding the axe. Felicio unsheathed his claws and readied himself for the onslaught. 

Blog Runners – Authors Connecting to Authors

In the dark coldness of night the chosen ones lie in bed. Dreams swirl around their unconscious minds, random images are seared into their minds, ready to be forged into a coherent structure interwoven with pieces of their souls. Then, suddenly, a vivid light bursts through their imagination, a spark of an idea that grows and undulates and fills them with a gnawing hunger, a need, an obsession. They awake, bolt upright, eyes flashing wildly in the darkness, heavy breaths straining their lungs and cold beads of sweat peppering their brow. They cry out, eager to share their passion with the world but they retreat forlornly under the covers as it is only met with silence…but then their ears prick as they hear a faint echo…no, not an echo, a response! In that moment they realise they’re not lost in solitude but they’re connected to other kindred souls and all they have to do to ease the yearning ache in their hearts is to reach out and make themselves visible. 

 

The Challenge Issued

Here is the idea, expressed in the little tale above:  Each author who reads this is asked to choose the blogs of five others, one being the one who brought them to the network plus four new ones.  Link to these five on your own blog.  Notify the named and ask them, politely, to participate.  There is no ‘badge’, no answering of questions, and no heavy burden of selecting more than four new authors’ blogs.  It would be dramatic, of course, if each attached some piece of prose or poetry as an introduction, but it isn’t a requirement!  And most of all, this is not a ‘Follow me!’ scheme!

Idea taken from the first posting from here – 

http://imagineerebooks.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/authors-connecting-to-authors/

http://www.carla-acheson.com/

http://cristianmihai.net/category/blog/

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

http://evelynknightley.wordpress.com/