MELTDOWN – how and why?

Welcome to another blog post, where I give some insight on how I come to write a particular novel, and where I get the inspiration.

There are a number of themes running through my thriller writing.

One is environmentalism – I do fear that we’re sleepwalking into a potential disaster. The rise of vested interests and selfishness – society as a whole being unwilling to take the steps needed to save the planet – means that action is restricted to a very few, who are castigated and ridiculed by the seam of populism running through our lives. Sometimes, the selfishness runs into nationalism – the narrative beingL why should WE do something that adversely affects our lives, when THEY aren’t doing anything at all?

Another theme is corruption – selfishness on the part of those in power (both politically and financially) ensures that their needs are met and enhanced, to the detriment of others without the power.

Having said that, story comes from character. I want my readers to understand and empathise with the characters – be able to put themselves in the mind of my characters, to see and understand what the characters are doing, and why. Ideally, I would like readers to say: “Do you know what? I can see me doing that sort of thing”. At all times, I want the characters to be ordinary people, in ordinary situations, doing extraordinary things.

Thus it is in Meltdown.  I have written several situations, each of which in isolation is innocuous, and wouldn’t necessarily cause a problem. This story is partially inspired by the nuclear disaster at Fukusima – where the problems caused by an earthquake were adequately handled by the existing procedures. Until, that is, a 39-metre tsunami, caused by the earthquake, flooded the buildings the safety equipment was housed in.

I have a character Carl Hayes, who was kicked out of the Navy for trying to help out a friend by ‘taking the rap’ for misbehaviour. Now he’s working at a nuclear power plant as a maintenance manager, where the Operations Manager is cutting back on his team, on their overtime, trying to keep the plant profitable during the final years of its life.

I have a local businessman, Keith Chambers, who runs a caravan park on top of a cliff. He’s worried about coastal erosion cutting into his land as the cliff erodes away. As time goes on, he will need to keep moving his vans back from the receding cliff edge of the park, and eventually removing some of them, which will reduce his income considerably. He’s heard of projects where the cliff edge is protected from the sea, but the local conservation groups insist that the cliff remain ‘natural’, and are uninterested in his business concerns.

And I have a shadowy group of people who are only interested in highlighting the dangers associated with nuclear power, and want to create a protest demonstration where life could be threatened.

All of these could occur in isolation, and I wouldn’t have a story. But putting them together means that disparate actions by different people come together to being about a result that none of them, individually, foresaw.

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Release of MELTDOWN

I have published and released MELTDOWN, an apocalyptic thriller.
“MELTDOWN is an apocalyptic thriller, bringing climate change, corruption and personal anger into a thrilling race against time.”

An ageing nuclear power station, run by a company trying to stretch out its final years.
A maintenance worker, bearing a grudge, with a new and mysterious girlfriend.
A local landowner, prepared to bend the rules in order to protect his investment.
And the heaviest rain for years.
What could possibly go wrong?


The buy links (Amazon) for the UK and USA are:

UK Ebook https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0847T8DR1
UK Print book https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0849T1P5C/

US Ebook https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0847T8DR1
US Print book https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0849T1P5C

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Looking back on 2019

This is what I said a year ago: http://gerald-hornsby.com/blog/2019/01/01/jumping-into-2019/
So let’s see how we’ve done.

My Writing
MELTDOWN (apocalyptic thriller): not out yet, but due out on 1st February. It’s currently re-plotted and rewritten, and awaiting my alpha reader. So almost a win.
DECEIT (political thriller): It’s out, and for sale in both paperback and ebook on Amazon. WIN!
Ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deceit-gripping-thriller-deception-government-ebook/dp/B082WHN26P/
Pbook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deceit-gripping-thriller-deception-government/dp/1677186909/

SHORT FICTION: My collection of 500-word (and shorter) stories is out and for sale on Amazon. WIN!
Ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Dark-Corners-collection-micro-fiction-ebook/dp/B0829D92WR/
Pbook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Dark-Corners-collection-micro-fiction/dp/1671412567/

NON-FICTION: The SaveTheSnowCat is still in progress, although I did complete and publish a Self-Publishing, Pure and Simple guidebook. WIN!
Ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-Publishing-Pure-Simple-Three-Guide-ebook/dp/B07RPP3X1M/
Pbook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-Publishing-Pure-Simple-Three-Guide/dp/1098561392/

My writing businesses
I said last year that we were setting up two writing-related support businesses. They are now both up and running.
http://writer.support
At the Swanwick Summer School, we delivered two one-hour workshops on NaNoWriMo and Self-Publishing, both of which were well-received. Also, and as a result, I was the ’2019 top seller’ in the book room for my writing craft books.

http://thenovelmakers.com
We delivered an introduction to getting your novel published as part of Essex Author Day. We had a full house of 30 delegates, and had lots of interesting conversations afterwards.

Vlogs
I completed an almost vlog-a-day during NaNoWriMo this year, which was part personal update, part sharing of hints and tips from my NaNoWriMo book:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyFWTTA81BpiArggmU0Bupx5QPnkhwQct

I have now started running a vlog on my VisionFor2020 – more of which in the look forward to 2020:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyFWTTA81BpjrELRFcBWjLGi9F40hct2V

And we do need to get on with “Two Writers – One Sofa” in the New Year

Podcasting
The short story podcasting continues, but it’s currently a bit hit-and-miss, as we’re having difficulty getting people together at the same time. Hopefully, in the new year, things will pick up again.
https://www.literaryroadhouse.com

SO, all in all, a busy year. A good year for publishing, and we’re beginning to get our names ‘out there’ for advice on writing and publishing.

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Deceit – how and why?

One of the questions writers get asked a lot is: where do you get your ideas from? I think this is particularly interesting when discussing a novel like Deceit.
The story began as an idea for a idea NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – in 2018. I had been watching news coverage of the civil war in Syria. I was particularly appalled by the indiscriminate killing of civilians, including attacking clearly-marked hospitals in the rubble of cities.
It is a confused picture over there, and no one seems to know who is doing what. The Russians are supporting the Syrian government. There is talk of war crimes, inflicted by the Syrian government on its citizens.
And we, in the UK, tut-tut and shake our heads at this mess of a civil war that seemingly no one can win.
And then I asked the age-old writers’ question: what if?
What if it’s not a Syrian or Russian plane that drops a bomb into a civilian area? What if the real culprit is somewhat closer to home? What are the stakes that someone would need to investigate this?
And slowly, I built up the story. The British doctor, working for Médecins Sans Frontières, in the hospital when it gets bombed. The sister of the doctor, devastated by his death. The friends she would turn to for help when looking into her brother’s death.
The father of the doctor, in government, but coerced into lying to his daughter. Because everyone in government is corrupt, right? Everyone knows the truth, and no one tells the truth.

After NaNoWriMo, the story was a healthy 69,000 words, but it was a mess. It had good bits, but there were plot holes all over the place, there were no character arcs, and there was no redemption scene. And there was no killer twist at the end.
So I took it apart. Like a house that’s been thrown together from a collection of parts. It was a house, but no one would buy it. This was a story, but no one would take time to read it.
So I took all the parts off, kept the good bits, threw the bad bits away, got some new good bits. Then I built a framework, foundations in solid concrete, to build the skeleton of a story. Then I started to hang onto that skeleton the good bits. Most of them fitted okay, some needed a bit of adjustment.
So now I had a story, with a great structure, but it still looked like a collection of parts. So that’s when I set to work. I adjusted them, smoothing out the connections between the parts, reading it through from start to finish, smoothing and painting and adjusting. It was looking pretty good.
Then I gave it to my beta reader – who is someone who reads the novel, sees if the story works, and highlights any inconsistencies as they read.
But they loved the story. They were totally engaged with it, kept turning the pages.
So now it was snagging time. When building a house, there are always bits that aren’t quite perfect. Maybe the paint needs fixing, or the plumbing doesn’t work like it should, or light switches are upside down. So it is with a story. You need fresh eyes, someone who doesn’t have the emotional investment of the author.
I had a professional snagger look at it. Made sure everything was exactly as it should be.
The story is now 67,000 words, but a whole lot better than it was after NaNoWriMo. It’s a different story, with character arcs, tension, backstory, and a sickening realisation for the reader just before the end. And there is redemption.

The first three chapters are uploaded to Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/story/208786264-deceit so you can have a read, and see if the book is for you.

Ebook UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deceit-gripping-thriller-deception-government-ebook/dp/B082WHN26P/
Paperback UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1677186909

Ebook US: https://www.amazon.com/Deceit-gripping-thriller-deception-government-ebook/dp/B082WHN26P/
Paperback US: https://www.amazon.com/Deceit-gripping-thriller-deception-government/dp/1677186909/

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Novel Announcement!

I am pleased to announce that my new novel, written under the pseudonym Jack Warwick, will be released soon (Jan 1st 2020)
Here is the blurb:

Abi Gillespie’s life is turned upside-down when a bomb destroys a clearly-marked hospital in Syria, killing her brother Adrian and the young patient he was working on.
As she is dealing with her grief, a stranger brings evidence that all might not be as it seems. She begins an investigation which will link terrorists in Syria, the British Government, and dark forces who will stop at nothing to get their way.
Abi risks friendships, old and new, and even her own life, to find the answer to the question:
Why was Adrian killed?

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