Unsympathetic characterization?

Homed_book_cover_v2
WHO IS GUILTY: THE CHILD OR ONE OF THE ADULTS?

Settling in at ‘home’ again? Is a crime imminent, or has one already happened?

In HOMED, the second in my Crime Shorts series, a boy is being ‘helped’ to settle in a civilised manner.

One of the issues I had in mind when I wrote this was the Australian disgust when they built standard homes for aborigines and then found that understanding and use of sanitation and housekeeping did not come automatically with the facilities provided.

We have to be inside the head of our characters when writing fiction. Even more so, perhaps, by ‘the helping professions.’

There are crimes motivated by negative emotions: jealousy, anger, need to control/overpower. There are also crimes perpetrated by ignorance. The crimes we may feel most are those that penetrate our individuality. Blind kindness, adherence to established process, bureaucracy – these can lead to damage also.

Read this story and decide where the crime lies.

Homed. (Crime Shorts Book 2)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/B00VAVQ1DS

Birth of a trilogy: WWII in micro

TRIPLETSThe birth of a singleton is a mammoth event in the life of any parent. As for triplets, there’s now a changed and increased expectation, the anxious anticipation of the event, the prolonged delivery and the certainty of ongoing attention. It isn’t surprising if all this results in the emotion of ‘never again. For an author, fledging a trilogy can feel rather the same. Nicholas Rossis has recently discussed the decisions around producing a series.

A Relative Invasion is a coming-of-age trilogy set in the Home Front of WWII. The concept is that the feelings and tensions in Europe (macro scale) are mirrored in micro by this family, and particularly the two cousins in their emerging rivalry. The protagonist, Billy, a sturdy well-meaning boy is manipulated and bested by the frail, artistic Kenneth who is silently envious. There is a secret symbol of power,the shashka, which insidiously permeates the family’s fortunes.

???????????????????????????????????????           For me, writing in the voice of a young boy, a growing boy who will be a man by the end of the trilogy, was the greatest challenge. I was very aware that if the voice is not right, the reader will not identify with the character. Furthermore, only those scenes that he can directly witness can form the narrative. I had to use devices such as Billy’s reaction to being told information or stories where he had not been present. 3D

BOOK 1. WWII, two boys, a fateful rivalry. In INTRUSION, as the adults worry about the onset of war, Billy’s is already beginning. He so wanted a play-mate but it came in the form of Kenneth. The four parents only see the porcelain looks of Kenneth and not his darker soul. Emotionally neglected or misunderstood by parents and aunt, and bullied by uncle and cousin, Billy imagines owning the precious Cossack sabre of his father’s colleague, a man who champions Billy. This icon sustains him through the invasion of his life by Kenneth, through an evacuation and the shock of war, but can the icon damage as well as protect?

BOOK 2. Two boys, one family, a world at war. INFILTRATION, follows Billy through a second evacuation where he spends the rest of the war while Kenneth is billeted beside Billy’s family.

kindle-2

Kenneth quickly takes the opportunity to invade Billy’s territory further.  On the plus side, Billy has settled very happily with a nurturant couple who have a smallholding. He loves the people, the environment and the animals and he can befriend the poor family who first took him in. Then a tragedy enforces a dramatic change in both the boys’ futures. There will be much to face when they return to South London. Meantime, Billy’s growing attachments develop his confidence and capabilities so that he almost becomes like a hero from his precious book. Kenneth’s artistic talent overlays his weaknesses. By VE Day, the boys’ mutual admiration and deep suspicion must be transported back to Wandsworth.

Book 3 is to be published in December 2015, IMPACT, finds the two boys returning to the ruins of London.impact_2

As they adjust to their new lives, adolescence and the sharing of emotional space brings the rivalry to a crisis. A dreadful incident follows, darkening the boys’ interaction into adulthood. The outcome is devastating for all members of the family. Billy must find an honourable resolution which will enable his survival, while Kenneth ensures he will always have the last word.

INTRUSION and INFILTRATION  are available in ebook and paperback, with IMPACT to follow.

In a much earlier draft, the first three chapters were Highly Commended in the Novel section of the Yeovil Prize 2011, and an extract from Infiltration converted into a short story, was runner up in the Guildford Festival.

Nicholas Rossi has recently blogged about the particular issues around writing a series. It can be found here: http://nicholasrossis.me/2015/07/11/writing-and-promoting-a-series-a-joint-post-with-charles-e-yallowitz/

REVIEWS: Oyster A boy with potential

Recent reviews

oyster_tiniest

A Brilliant Short Story
By Sheila M. Belshaw (South Africa)

An incredibly insightful look at the machinations of a boy so intellectually damaged that he cannot fit into normal society. Only a writer with a deep knowledge of the human psyche could carry off something as profoundly moving as this story is. The voice is amazingly real and I found myself following his twisted thoughts and seeing exactly where he was coming from, and at the same time feeling dreadfully sorry for him.
On top of all that, the story is beautifully written, so that nowhere does it not flow as though from the pen of a superb writer.

 

And from Austria, By C.R.Putsche

Oyster. A boy with potential By Rosalind Minett

This is an outstanding short story that I managed to devour in just one sitting. Rarely does an author so courageously expose truths, realities and day-to-day struggles of a boy who finds it difficult to fit in to society.

Jake tells us his disturbing story from a first person narrative which gives the reader a real insight in to his tangled thoughts and feelings that you can somehow sympathise with him and understand his unbalanced mind, while nervously anticipating what he will do next. Jake has quite the back story, as he comes from a dysfunctional family who put his safety, health and wellbeing at risk which results in him being moved from one adoptive family to another before he ends up in the Home and yet another Home before he commits his greatest atrocity in his short life so far.

Make no mistake this book is a real frightener, albeit a book of fiction and a major credit to Rosalind Minett who knows her stuff when it comes to the workings of an unbalanced mind besides having a literal talent to depicts things of an unnatural nature.

These are two of the 5* reviews on Amazon.

The review is also on this review site, as shown below this post.

http://walkerputsche.wordpress.com

Catherine Rose Putsche Book Blog

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00OQTA1FK/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

Oyster
A boy with potential
By Rosalind Minett
This is an outstanding short story that I managed to devour in just one sitting. Rarely does an author so courageously expose truths, realities and day-to-day struggles of a boy who finds it difficult to fit in to society.
Jake tells us his disturbing story from a first person narrative which gives the reader a real insight in to his tangled thoughts and feelings that you can somehow sympathise with him and understand his unbalanced mind, while nervously anticipating what he will do next. Jake has quite the back story, as he comes from a dysfunctional family who put his safety, health and wellbeing at risk which results in him being moved from one adoptive family to another before he ends up in the Home and yet another Home before he commits his greatest atrocity in his short life so far.

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Short Stories from HULL

Today’s post introduces a writer, Andrew Reid Wildman, who has produced a collection of short stories –

Spicy Green Ginger  –  A tribute to Hull – City of Culture

 I will not comment here, as I will be reviewing them in a week’s time, but I will hint that I enjoyed a bit of Hull’s gentle and darker side.

spicy green cover

Here is the writer’s marketing material.

SHORT STORIES – HULL AND EAST RIDING – ANDREW REID WILDMAN

A voice from a writer who deserves discovery.

These pieces show Andrew at his best; as an interpreter and observer of human nature, always funny, he describes life in this beautiful area of Yorkshire through decades and people characters who sometimes did or didn’t fit the profile of the neighborhood.

The readers will find the collection full of familiar themes and characters.

Spicy Green Ginger – For people who belong to Yorkshire

Spicy Green Ginger is sour and sweet, deliciously, wickedly misanthropic, and at times sad and tender.The characters are of course entirely fictitious, but who has not at times felt like them? For instance poor Betty Bridgenorth, a hard-working, proud baker who is savaged by a nameless internet troll, and sets out to seek revenge? Or Edna Isenthorpe, who just wants to enjoy her train journey in peace. Some of the historical stories are based loosely on murderous events or legends from the county; others seek to recreate the atmosphere of places now lost, for example the famous Kardomah Cafe.

Stolen Childhood – Excerpt from the book

The Stolen Yorkshire Childhood

Beverley, East Yorkshire, the present day

“Can I help you, sir?” asked PC Darren Kendalson, a recent recruit to the force. He was staffing the desk of the Westwood police station in Beverley. Just over an hour left remained of his afternoon shift.

“Yes,” replied the man, an attractive if rather highly strung man of middle age, his cheeks red, his head balding. The tall man’s blue eyes flickered sadly, great depth etched in his resigned expression. “I want to report a stolen childhood,” said he.

“A stolen childhood?” replied the officer, a confused smile on his sweetly innocent face. He was too young to understand the man’s complaint.

“Yes,” replied the man. “My Yorkshire childhood was stolen you see, and I want it back.” The man scratched his scalp as he spoke, making it bleed.

“I am not sure I can help you with that,” replied the young officer. There was the hint of a smirk in his cherubic face, a little scorn, a little cruelty. His lips twitched in secret amusement.

“Let me deal with this, son,” interjected Sergeant Brown, a man approaching retirement, his stomach fighting a territorial war with his tunic and winning. PC Kendalson smiled professionally, and sat back to watch. He was getting used to surprises in police work.

Andy In Hull

Andrew Reid Wildman was born in Beverley, East Yorkshire. He currently lives and works in Essex, and is a lecturer in English at a busy London college.
Andrew loves writing short, acerbic stories, picking up on the foibles of ordinary people, and exploring the complexities of social interaction. His home county often features in his work. Andrew Reid Wildman also enjoys painting in his free time, and has been a best-selling artist with www.artgallery.co.uk for several years. He has a Masters degree in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck University.

Author’s words

”I am a son of Beverley, and I took to short story writing a couple of years ago. Each of my stories is set, with a few exceptions, in my home county.”

Buy links http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spicy-Green-Ginger-Andrew-Wildman-ebook/dp/B00CIHVB5G/ref=tmm_kin_title_0/275-3404329-4643829

http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000632335/Spicy-Green-Ginger.aspx

Website Link https://www.facebook.com/SpicyGreenGingerShortHullAndEastRidingStories

Blog Link http://fancythatofyorkshire.wordpress.com/

Social media Links https://www.facebook.com/SpicyGreenGingerShortHullAndEastRidingStories

Old title, new questions – Darwin’s ultimate belief

darwin

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

This the latest novel of Robin Hawdon.  Different in nature from the very popular plays performed frequently and internationally, this novel tackles a serious question. The concept of Survival of the Fittest is immediately seductive: the idea that a central thesis about our universe exists, but the document has yet to be found and published. All the more compelling if only a select, secret few hold a copy.

Of all theorists, Charles Darwin has shaken our world the most. Suppose he had formed a logical conclusion, based on his lifetime’s research, about the origin of Man and hidden it for posterity? He would have wanted to protect his family, even after his death, from the furore which would follow: strong scientific argument, evidence based, versus centuries of religious belief. Writing it, Darwin would have guessed that a future time might find it easier to consider. Until then, such an addendum had to be hidden. Suppose his wife, Emma, was the only person to know where the writing was hidden? Suppose she herself secretly wrote about Darwin’s beliefs?

This novel has two scenarios intertwined. The deep-thinking, conscientious wife of Charles Darwin confides her anxieties to a secret diary that she does not wish the world to see. Therefore it is hidden by the following generations so well that its existence is only whispered about by the few whose life revolves around priceless antique books.

One of these is antiquarian book-seller, Maurice, a widower whose daily round is made manageable with the bottle of scotch he always carries with him. Unexpectedly, Maurice is contacted by a rich American dealer who sets Maurice off on a quest to find Emma Darwin’s secret diary, and more significantly still, the last section of Charles’ Darwin’s treatise. The two men discuss the financial worth of an addendum which reveals Darwin’s logical conclusion about the existence of God.

Too contentious to publish in his lifetime, and a source of great anxiety to his wife, who feared his chance of Heaven would be compromised by his beliefs, Emma felt she could only confide the existence of these in her secret diary. In life, there was no-one she could trust with such ideas.

The plot consists of Maurice’s adventures in tracking down any scent of either volume. This involves him with various members of the extended Darwin family, both exalted and the reverse. He suffers refusals, embarrassments, upset and downright danger in the process. Ultimately, he faces more than one ethical dilemma before a satisfying conclusion is reached, at least for the reader.

There is a third strain to the novel, when Maurice comes across the writings of another outstanding scientist, Klaus Fuchs, who recorded his beliefs, actions and philosophy during a period of forced inactivity. Fuch’s communism was as dear to him as religion was to Emma. Fuch’s rationale for his actions related to the atomic bomb forms an interesting parallel to Darwin’s ultimate theory. It also raises the question of ownership of discoveries.

I liked the structure of the novel, alternating between the nineteenth and the twenty-first century. This made for an easy read, allowing a switch from the  thoughts of Emma to the increase of tension while Maurice makes his forays into detective work. Both main characters are appealing in their own way, inviting affection. Their niceness is well offset by some less wholesome minor characters.

The voice of Emma is convincing – her sad losses but strength of purpose, upheld by the fervent religious beliefs so important to her. A sweet-natured, loving woman emerges from the diary, one whose main grief is the one difference between herself and her husband, the central tenet of his life’s work.

Maurice is also a character who comes alive on the page. He is modest and unassuming, never expecting to be liked or respected nearly as much as he is. We all have a dark side, and Maurice is no exception. What is revealed of this side is both shocking and understandable, so that the reader forgives him and remains identified with him and his search. This proves to be a search of a professional and personal nature.

Underlying the plot is the theme of discoverability and responsibility. How long does an individual hold the right of private communication? What are the rights of ownership? And how far should the concept of God Moving in Mysterious Ways be upheld? For Emma, and the Victorian world, the Addendum was far too dangerous. For Fuchs, by comparison, restricted ownership of new technology presents too great a threat. His beliefs strongly resonate with current concerns.

The imagined Charles Darwin’s own words form a satisfying end to the novel.

The novel is available in paperback from Amazon

  • Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing (7 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1625166176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1625166173                                           or on Kindle.