Writers Reading | Paul Byers

Although things are changing somewhat, we have one last writers reading before we go and check out the fans shelves. Thanks to Paul Byers for joining us here.



AS a writer, we all have things we should do and things we shouldn’t do. I’m not talking
about the lyrics of the Jim Croce song that says you shouldn’t spit into the wind or tug
on Superman’s cape; I’m talking the serious stuff here and I’m afraid I am guilty of
committing a Cardinal Sin.









Now again, I’m not talking about the classic sins of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust,
envy (okay maybe a little envy of Steven King or Dean Koontz for their success) and
of course the last sin, gluttony. (but it was only a dollar more to supersize it!) No I’m
talking about the Cardinal sin as a writer that I commit by give away the books I just
finished reading for someone else to enjoy instead of telling them how wonderful the
book was and then making them go buy it, thus supporting the author! That’s why my
bookshelf is not as full as some of the past contributors.







Okay, neither of the bookcases is really mine, and the slanted one is not from the
Titanic, I just used them for the illustration. The books I have (those I have left) are
stashed under the stairs at home piled with a bunch of other stuff.

I think most writers will agree that it’s important not only to write, be to read a lot as
well. While my bookshelf may not show it, I do read, though not on the scale as other
here have. (here comes envy again to those who have the time to read) The only time I
get to read is at work during lunch and I average about two books a month.

So what do I read and what has influenced me? For the most part I read what I write,
action thrillers and adventures, but I’m not limited to that. When I was younger, I went
camping with my folks a lot and they were really into Louis L’Amour. I enjoyed the
classic cowboy stuff but it was more than that, I also learned things from him. Did you
know that when you’re walking in the woods, you should turn around every once in a
while and looked where you’ve been so it looks familiar when you are on your way back
so you don’t get lost?

Or when you come in from the cold, never get into a gun fight. Your fingers are stiff
and won’t work the gun as well as when they are warm. You don’t know how many
times that one has saved me!

But L’Amour has written more than just westerns. One of the best books I’ve read is
called the Last of the Breed, about an Air Force officer captured by the Russians and his
escape and trek across the vastness of Siberia.

I’ve also enjoyed crime thrillers from Jeffery Deaver and James Patterson and even
gotten a little of the spooky stuff with Dean Koontz. Deaver has a great way of
educating his reads in areas they may not be familiar with without you even knowing
you’re in school! One of the best books I’ve ever read is Dean’s, (yeah, we’re on a first
name basis, lol) was Odd Thomas. Great, great book! I hated the ending, but it was the
only one that kept the credibility of the book. I would recommend it to anyone.

He is such a good writer that I use one of his passages from his adaptation of
Frankenstein when I talk to high school kids about creative writing. To me, it’s a great
way to use description in your writing. It gives description but also lets the reader fill in
the blanks with their own imagination.

Here it is: Victor’s immense lab was a techno-deco wonder, mostly stainless-steel and white ceramic,

filled with sleek and mysterious equipment that seemed not to be standing along the walls but to be imbedded in them, extruding from them. Other machines swelled out of the ceiling and surged up from the floor, polished and gleaming, yet suggesting organic form.

What action library would be complete without talking about Michael Crichton and
Tom Clancy. I like Clancy’s early stuff and tried to pattern my books like his with short
chapters that leave you hanging at the end of each one as you jump from one part of
the story to another. Michael Crichton is such a good writer, in his book, Prey, in the
first 100 pages nothing blew up, nobody got killed, nobody invaded the world and yet it
still held my interest and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I’m going to throw a dark horse name out here along with the well-known writers that I
like to read, Jeremy Robinson. He is what we would classify as a mid-lister but he writes
some great stuff. He is your sci-fi, monster, action adventure kind of guy. Great fast
paced stuff.

I’ve also had a couple of friends who have written young adult books and though they
would not have been my first choice to read, I did read them and I did enjoy them. A
well written book, no matter the genre is a pleasure to read.

So there you have it, even though my bookshelf may not show it, I do like a variety

of books on different subjects. So hopefully I’ve taken all the good qualities of these
writers and put them into Arctic Fire and Catalyst and the rest of my books yet to come.

Thanks for your time in reading and to Adele for having me here. Click on the links to
learn more about my books or myself and shoot me any questions you might have.




Retrospective | Sean Cregan on Unforgiven

In Retrospective we ask authors to go back and consider what has influenced them in their approach to writing and stories. Kicking off the season we have Sean Cregan author of The Levels and recently released The Razor Gate.
For this retrospective, it was very tempting to go for William Gibson’s seminal NEUROMANCER, but I’ve bored people on the subject before so instead I’m going to talk about the equally seminal movie UNFORGIVEN.
The film’s a great mix of an exceptional cast, wonderfully bleak direction from Eastwood, and a corking script from David Peoples, who it would easy to forget – indeed, I didn’t have a clue until I checked IMDb just now – also wrote BLADE RUNNER. And LADYHAWKE.
There’s a key moment in the film, one of the greatest ‘character’ moments ever for my money, which remains my all-time shining example of how to show changes or internal drama in a character. Allow me to set the scene:
After his long-time friend Ned (Morgan Freeman) decided he couldn’t do it, not like when they were younger, Bill Munny (Eastwood) and the Schofield Kid have killed the two cowhands responsible for attacking a prostitute in town and are waiting to collect their $1,000 reward by a tree on a hill overlooking the place. The Kid, who’s never killed anyone before, shot the last of them while he was taking a shit, and he’s pretty cut up about it, swigging from a bottle of whiskey near tears and swearing he’ll never do anything like it again.
Munny, a former murderer and thief, has maintained throughout that his late wife cured him of wickedness and stopped him drinking (most of his crimes, he says, he was drunk for; even when freezing to death after a rainstorm he won’t touch a drop), and the Kid’s response has basically proved his reluctance to kill right: “It’s a hell of a thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.”
Silky, one of the other prostitutes, rides up to give them their reward; they’re now wanted men, so she’s rushed and a little scared. She then reveals that Ned is dead, that he was found riding back to Kansas, identified as one of the killers and whipped for information by the sheriff, Little Bill. Munny protests that he was innocent, but she explains how Little Bill got angrier when he found out the second cattle hand was dead and that made the beating worse until Ned died, and now they’ve got him on display outside the bar.
Munny doesn’t shout, doesn’t rant and rave. Without the camera making a big deal of it, he takes a swig of the Kid’s whiskey.
That’s it. And it’s all you need to *know* that, in modern parlance, shit just got real. Eastwood makes no play of it, but his character’s just gone against everything he held dear before, dipped back into the old badness that once ruled him. It’s a little act, very low key, but so important and so well set up.
That kind of character moment, if I’ve got the skills (debatable), is the sort I always aim for now.

Guest Spot | Colin F. Barnes on Genre Fans

Colin F. Barnes is a dark fiction writer from the UK specializing in Science Fiction, Horror and Thrillers. He likes to take the gritty edginess from his surroundings and personal experiences and translate them into his stories. He is currently working on an anthology of horror stories in his ‘City of Hell Chronicles’ setting after recently debuting with a crime anthology titled ‘Killing my Boss’ that he co-authored with best selling author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff.

Website: www.colinfbarnes.com
City of Hell Chronicles: http://www.cityofhellchronicles.com
Killing My boss: http://www.colinfbarnes.com/books/killing-my-boss
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Colin_Barnes

Genre fans are clearly the best kind of fans, we know it, they know it, here are ten reasons why.

1. Passionate

Few groups of fans are as passionate about their favorite books or programs than genre fans. They’ll cue up outside bookshops dressed as wizards or elves; they’ll talk endlessly online and with each other about the newest release or what they’ve just read, and they’ll happily spread the word of their latest purchase. Word of mouth is very among genre fans.

2. Loyal

Production companies and publishers know this. Genre fans are exceptionally loyal. They stick with authors and shows through thick and thin. You’ll often hear the genre fan outcry when a program is cancelled. Such uproar can be seen with the recent cancellations of Firefly and Stargate Universe. Savvy producers and authors know all about genre fans loyalty and make the most of it. Long running series such as Wheel of Time and Doctor Who are both examples of where longevity has sprung from loyalty.

3. Zombie Walks

What more needs to be said? You don’t find James Joyce Walks, or Romeo & Juliet walks. Genre fans embrace the weird and fun and aren’t afraid to show it.

4. Inventive

They’ll make almost anything in honor of their passions. They’ll produce their own sequels or fan made interpretations of movies:


Then there are those who make costumes, accessories or jewelry. Steampunk especially is a sub genre that has garnered a reputation of creating some amazing fan produced items. http://steampunkworkshop.com/

5. Friendly

It’s because of the shared passion, and because most genre fans aren’t douches. There’s very little in the way of a class system amongst geeks and nerds and genre fans, they are all in it together for the same thing: fun. If you want an example of this, just pitch up at your next convention and you’ll instantly be made to feel welcome.

6. Early Adopters

Anything from new comics, to new shows, and new authors, the genre fan will gladly and willingly try out new things. It’s a race, each genre fan wants to be one of the first on the train and will often spend a great deal of money and time on searching for new authors and new shows.

7. Forgiving

Some books or shows just tank. There comes a time when someone drops a clanger and makes a huge mistake. The genre fan will scream and bellow their annoyance, and make it clear that something isn’t right, but they’ll give you a second or third or fourth chance. Doctor Who again is a great example of this, during the dark years, it was in often in poor shape, but the audience held their confidence, and lo and behold, DW is now enjoying a renaissance of popularity.

8. Sexy

When not dressing as zombies, many genre fans like to don a variety of costumes, mostly at conventions (and probably in the bedroom), both men and women will squeeze on the tight revealing warrior outfit. The women seemingly enjoying the ‘slave Leia’ and the Xena approach, and the men the rubber clad Batman’s outfit. Of course you get also get the other end of the spectrum such as Chewbacca, Freddy, Swamp Thing etc. But I don’t judge, some people like that kind of thing.

9. A little bit mental

Just look over the previous 8 points and you’ll see that occasionally some genre fans can go a little bit too far – which of course is a good thing.

10. Keep authors on their toes.

Because of their tendency to talk loudly both in real life and on the Internet about their likes and dislikes, authors and writers are kept on their toes. Their Sci-Fi story better be well researched. The fantasy story better do something new and not just rip-off Tolkien. Writing genre isn’t easy to get right, and the fans will keep you honest in your endeavors. They can be your best friends in your career, so listen to them, respect them, and you too can avoid the wrath of the genre fan.


Huge thanks to the lovely (and he is) Colin for a fun and well argues post. I of course conceed the point, Genre fans are clearly the best, well done Col, i’m sold.

If you would like to add your own reasons, I expect we could easily get the list to 25, chip in with your comments. – Hagelrat