Category Archives: What inspired me?

What themes do I love the most in fiction and what do I write? How has certain books, movies, TV shows, music videos and lyrics influenced what I wrote? You’ll discover that here, with sneak peaks on themes and tropes I am likely to write in my books!

Femininity in the family

My feminine influences growing up!

I was raised by an unglamorous tom boy, who was never without her pair of jeans, white t-shirts or turtle necks under thick jumpers or oversized blouses, she preferred sandals to heels or trainers and she never wore make up and her hair was always cropped short and her nails were always bitten back and sore looking.

That thankfully, was not my only feminine reference growing up and I yearned for my mother to be more like her sisters or cousins, because the majority of my family oozed femininity – even my mum would say she was the black sheep of her family and to see her amongst her sisters and cousins in photo shoots you’d believe it!

I spent a lot of my childhood being shunted around – again, thankfully!  Because I grew to be influenced by other people about what it means to be a woman rather than taking guidance from my mother, which was practically non-existent!

What did my mother teach me about being a woman?  That women are always burdened upon and are doomed of having a life of sexual harassment and fighting for their rights on a constant basis.  That when you get married you have to train your husband  and she was being serious too!  She really believed these things!

She never wanted me to grow up and have a relationship or have children, but she did tell me if I were inclined to do so that I’d need to get a professional man who doesn’t want children and who is smaller than me and submissive!

Not on your Nellie, that’s not my type at all mum, sorry!

My influences were from women who insisted that just because you are married to a man it doesn’t mean you let yourself go, you know?  You have to keep a certain standard, you have to make an effort or then whose fault is it if they strayed?

Don’t bite your nails dear, put nice things in your hair and if you are not going to bother wearing make up at least make an effort to pinch your cheeks and wear lip gloss instead!

You want a nice man who will look after you, protect you and make you feel loved and safe and you want to be able to support him as much as you can and treat him like a king!

Hearing this being spouted to me at a young age, my mother’s reactions was often covering my ears up and giving short nasty criticisms to whoever was poisoning her daughter to become a man’s slave!

Shame on you!  Shame on the lot of you and to think where women have come from, only for stupid women like you to talk the next generation back a hundred years! 

Don’t you listen to them my girl, they are wrong; you don’t need that, you are better off far away from all of THAT!

That was my influence growing up and I still stick to my aunts and cousins concepts and steer well clear of my mother’s!

On my dad’s side of the family, up until the 90s it was quite common for the older generation to help you look for your husband if they knew you were leaning towards wanting a family at a young age.  My mother hated that about them – my grandmother knew when I was fifteen that I only wanted a career because my mother and big brother expected me to have one of their choosing, not my own.  But ultimately I wanted a large family and work from home either as a writer, designer or childminder. 

When I was seventeen my grandmother had found some nice young gentlemen to set me up with, but my mum got furious about it and it is one of the many reasons why mum decided never to speak to my dad’s mum again.

I had to listen to my mum, though I liked what gran was doing, because it’s been a thing I’ve wanted my whole life – a large traditional family.  Had I of started young, it would have been fun to see how many children I would have had by now!  I know a second cousin who is the baby of 17 and she too had 17 children of her own so large families are not uncommon in my family!

But I am forty now and only with one child and it really has never been my intention to have such a small family, fate was taken out of my hands.

It has left a deep hollow in me; it is something I have never accepted looking back in my life.  I am hugely envious of women who are running alive with kids!

I think I would have been healthier for it too, if I had got my way.  I don’t live for myself, I live for other people and when you have just one child and his father completely takes over and pushes your nose out of the way all the time, it makes you feel unwanted and useless – I think that’s why I got sick.

On my dad’s side of the family, they are feminine too, but they are a different kind of feminine than my mother’s side of the family.

My mother’s side of the family are very glamorous and are often mistaken for rich women.  The kind of women who feel naked without make up, stink of expensive perfume, wearing heels and have three inch long decorated nails with diamante on them.  One or two are unethical fur enthusiasts and all of them spend an hour on their hair a day!

Their focus is mostly to please their man, care for their looks, socialise with friends and then the children come somewhere after all that! 

My dad’s side of the family are the old fashioned but very maternal types.  To the women in that side of the family, it is you feed the man and take care of him when he is sick and support him in most of his endeavours if he is sensible, but outside of this you don’t dare come between a woman and her children!

The children come before everything after the basic care of the husband, the house cleaning is next, self-maintenance and then friends if you have the time – but as long as self-maintenance and friends doesn’t interfere with you becoming a good citizen, volunteering at charities and attending church or entertaining the elderly in nursing homes.

These women dress in simple country clothing, floral dresses with lace and mid shin and tend to wear pearls.

They also have the same ration ratio per family, the man gets the biggest portion, then the kids and the women tend to go hungry if they are poor or have meagre rations in comparison.

This is why almost all the women in that side of the family are gardeners, they grow most of their own food and have a “be prepared” attitude to life, as most of them were girl guides in their past!

They are the women who will eat left over from the day before or make soup from them, unlike my mother’s side of the family who seem to have a phobia of all food once it’s been opened or cooked!

As I was growing up, my mother’s family regarded me as an anomaly, because there I was a mere slip of a girl telling them what they can do to budget their food and how to save money.   Because I had learned it all by staying with my paternal relatives!

My dad’s family also taught things like sewing by hand, basketry and all sorts of things. 

Whereas my mother’s family knit only when they are past 50yrs of age and before then have no idea about darning socks and whatnot.

My family to onlookers would appear to be like Last of the summer wine ladies at tea Vs the Kardashians.  Or putting them as individuals my dad’s family as a whole woman would be Emma Thompson’s Karen from Love Actually vs Elizabeth Taylor.   Whereas my mum is more like Ellen Degeneres!

I like to consider this has made me more like Dolly Parton, well eventually lol!  She is like a good healthy mix of the two!

Anyway, those are my feminine influences according to how I was raised by my family and I have a lot of sprucing up to do, because being sick for so long has made me lazy.  I am looking forward to transitioning back to the old vain me again! 

Thank you for reading!

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Yes, Miss Hannigan!

Everyone has a favourite type of character when they watch a movie or read a book, don’t they? 

Well today I am going to talk about one of my most favourite female characters and character types ever! 

Miss Hannigan from the musical Annie has always been one of my favourite female characters of all time and I think it’s because she reminds me a lot of several different people I knew growing up!  Loving, usually drunken roguish women who are trying to make amends, literally drowning in kids and poverty!

But the one thing that really stands out about Miss Hannigan is this – she doesn’t let things get her down too much, yes OK she is a drunk with bipolar but she still has her sense of ironic humour and fun, like some women I have known in the past!

Self-deprecating jokes about her situation and the ability to smile, flirt and still take pride in herself makes her a loveable character really and she has inspired a story I want to write in the future – a story that has been in the planning stages for over twenty years – why?  Because I’d like it to be a sequel to the movie and I need to get permission to do it – but don’t know how yet!

This has been a long standing goal of mine since I was a child in fact.

I have always liked misunderstood characters, characters given a bad rap but they generally turn out to be nice people in the end or have taught a valuable lesson to the main protagonist in some way or had turned out to be an anti-heroine and not really a villain at all.

In the 1982 musical Annie, Miss Hannigan actually tries to stop her brother from hurting the little orphan and ends up celebrating with the orphans at the end of the movie, which got my creative juices flowing really well as to why! 

Growing up I thought I would get into amateur theatre groups as a side-line, but it never happened – there was too much control from my mum even in my adult life and when I finally got away from her I never had the time.

But Miss Hannigan was always one role I always wanted to play.  In fact, so much so one of the foreign accents I have deliberately tried to hone a skill in, is a New York accent!  But I think I need more work on it to be honest! 

There will be more character discussions soon as there are a handful of characters I admire a lot and I like sharing why I like them with you.

Thanks for reading!

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Mental health experiences

Descent into madness as a trope is something I have written in a couple of my novels, I have always been lured into reading books that have this as a theme and I think it has something to do with personal experience.

I have been there, twice in fact and I have experienced the rollercoaster of having such mental illnesses, so I can identify with certain characters.

I remember being put into such a violent situation so regularly and though I would fight against engaging in any physical conflict with my aggressors, I did succumb once to a violent frenzy that was uncontrollable, my doctor reckons it was my brain going into survival mode as I explained how I experienced the red into black vision as I went into a rage that I can’t explain to anyone what happened during it, only that others were absolutely horrified at what had ensued.

I went through eight months of daily torture, having to share my life with a group of aggressive adolescents because of a day care school I was sent to, a school which ironically was supposed to have helped me heal from my post-traumatic stress experiences of the isolation and abuse I had at home.

I had recently had lifesaving surgery because of an infection that got too close to the brain thanks to the mastoid problems I had, it was literally just two months before the incident I had the operation.

So you can imagine how delicate I was in the head area, so when the group decided to push me over a wall that had a nine foot drop, I went into such a rage that I had no idea what I was doing and a girl nearly got severely hurt because of my actions!

It was surprising for another reason, I couldn’t bend over and care for myself for two years after the surgery and this was within two months of it, yet I could find the strength in me somehow to drag the ringleader girl across the playground and into the girl’s toilets where I nearly drowned her!

There were lots of witnesses who saw the entire thing, including teachers, who knew that I was a good pupil who didn’t like to interact with anything that would cause me problems (I had enough at home and was often sat in the library to get rest), I was shy and insecure and healing from awful surgery from which I nearly died.  They knew I was badly provoked and they supported me through this time and managed to expel this girl, even though she did come off the wrong end that day – this was enough for them to feel that she was never meant to have been around vulnerable children – this school was just a stop gap for her as she had been expelled before.

I’ve experienced such deep depression and loss to the extent I have become anorexic and addicted to exercise to the point of collapse.  I have been there; I have even experienced the loss of two pregnancies, one due to violence and the other as an ectopic pregnancy.

I have been a victim of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and rape. 

I know what it feels like to lose control.

When I used to engage with English tutors they would be horrified at the graphicness of my writing, particularly when I used to write horror and thriller more than I do now.  I said to them, you told me that it’s best to write what you know and that shocked them even more.

Some people just can’t believe that one person can have gone through as much as I have; I have even had therapists quit on me, due to the extent they didn’t know how to help me as there was just so much to work on – so much crap in my life!

I have experienced a huge amount of discrimination from ex-boyfriends who don’t believe I have gone through all of these things, because it’s too much.  Paul is different; he understands and has witnessed a few things for himself.

I have only written about four characters with this trope, horror, thriller and dark fantasy.

Usually the character has some kind of background as being a victim of abuse.

I know the feeling of the spiral of hopelessness, that darkness that descends over you and clouds your vision, that experience of losing control of not only your mind but your actions.  Losing such control that no matter how much you really want to talk it through to people, you can’t utter a single word, it is like your mouth has been sewn up and there is nothing you can do.  You can’t move your eyes to look at them, it is as though you have been paralysed.

Yes, I have experienced the total breakdown, where I have well and truly become non-comprimentos, it lasted nearly a year.

The thing is, when you are in that state, you can see and hear what is going on around you, but you can’t respond, it’s like you have been turned into stone.

You can still remember what goes on around you sometimes, but you just can’t react.  I reacted once, finally, when in this… it shocked me too, as well as the people around me… because I wasn’t eating they threatened to put tubes into me to make me eat and on the day they were about to insert the tubes, I came to again.  Fighting against them doing this to me; I don’t know to this day, why it was that which woke me out of that state.  But I spoke them into allowing me have half an orange to see how I go.  They didn’t put the tubes in me.

The problem was my keyworker loss her kindness for me after this, because in her eyes, I must have been pretending all this time – I wasn’t!

Happy reading!

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Combat sports and feminine culture

Combat sports is another big influence in my stories; being a former judoka from the age of ten, I was just six weeks shy of the Commonwealth games trials of 1998 when I was rushed into A&E with a serious mastoid infection that literally ended my career before it could even begin, because I couldn’t do any kind of self-care for two years after the life-saving surgery I had to undergo.

This devastated me totally on a mental health level, because I used judo as a means to train my body for the hard knocks I was preparing it for as a professional wrestler, when I left school for college.  My grandfather was a backyard wrestler in the early 40s and 50s and he was a huge wrestling fan and I wanted to make him proud of me as he looked down from heaven and saw his “little cocker” as he called me, as world women’s champion!

But that was never meant to be, because my surgery meant that I had lost certain bones at the back of the right side of my head, which meant any future impact could be life threatening, so all dreams of combative sports had to end right there and then!

I love combat sports of all kinds, judo, karate, cage fighting, boxing, you name it, and I love it.

A lot of the various gimmicks in professional wrestling and other forms of fighting, whether it is combative entertainment or real, had influenced a lot of my characters and sceneries in some of my books – particularly those of the dystopian and cyberpunk genres.

I have a lot of background knowledge in fighting terminologies that can help with understanding the jargon, but I do know that a lot of my readers will not be au fait with the sport jargon that could be in the books, so I have honed in my skills as a very good describer of action scenes – of which a former English tutor is rather impressed with and says is a rare talent.

Along with my love for combat sports, I have a massive love for war history and battle games such as Rome total war, Warhammer, Medal of Honour and such the likes.

Back in 2004 I became an online player of Rome Total War’s original game that was based on my favourite TV show “Time Commanders”, as an avid devourer of history books, this was a massive thing for me and I soon became one the top five best generals in the world on their game leader board for two years!  Under the name Raven Warrior!

More recently I follow the artist Jazza which lead me to finding his brother’s channel of which I enjoy immensely “Shadiversity” which talks about the history of weapons and how good they are or not.  This is another tool which has helped me a lot in writing action scenes and accurate war scenes in my books.

You will find that there is a lot of fighting in my stories usually, but it is not constant mindless violence, I hope you will agree someday.

I’ve never been a girly girl and seeing ultra-feminine and helpless women in fiction is rather irritating for me, my characters tend to be female lead, strong-minded and independent women that save themselves because of hard times dragging them through into survival mode; usually they don’t have time to sit back and daydream of their perfect love life, they are usually dreaming about freedom and where the next meal is coming from! 

Thanks for reading!

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Cyberpunk, fashion & shiny things

Cyberpunk has influenced me a lot over the years, in entertainment, fashion and art!

A majority of the books I loved the most have been in some form or another associated with cyberpunk themes.  “Arc of a scythe” by Neal Shusterman and 1984 by George Orwell are my favourites so far.

Movies such as Tank Girl, Judge Dread, and Escape from New York have influenced more than just one of my novels over the years.

Though for me I am sure it is the visual and descriptive porn that grips me the most in this genre.  I am one of those weirdos that notices things in the background of a movie, the behind the character settings – looking at all the gadgets and gizmos and the wiring and so forth, trying to figure out how to describe the technology in use and often I am entranced by the neon lightings that is sometimes usual in such movies – I do like my shinies.

As a teenager I likened myself as a Goth, but I liked to be colourful and bohemian and it wasn’t until my late twenties I realised I should have been a cyber Goth.

TV shows such as The Tribe have also massively influenced a group of characters in a novel; I am working on and so have the suicide squad.

Video games seem to be the best influencer for me in this genre and various music videos.  Mostly for me it is visual being translated into a written form and being influenced by the technological styles of a futuristic world and their fashions!  I am not technologically smart and generally I find learning new technologies boring, but if I can find out the basic gist of gadgets and basic jargon I sail through it easily on paper.

Really readers don’t really want to understand the exacting details of how to operate the machinery (or do they?), but they do want to be enthralled about what technology can do and to have innovative ideas in written fictional form to influence massive changes in the world!

For me, cyberpunk is about a world that is relying too much on technology, whilst having a near uniformed but cool fashion sense along with it, but lo and behold it also has a near apocalyptic feel to it, because their world is crumbling down around them, they are so super sapped into technological cyberspace that they have to learn to be primitive again in order to survive – that’s the kind of cyberpunk I love!

Largely I love fashion, so any way at all to get inventive with it in text is a big thing for me, yes I do tend to be a little descriptive of what the characters are wearing, because I have the fashion bug!

I am also a huge cosplay lover, so I love the idea of inventing stuff for my characters in case the stories ever get published and popular!  Because, why not?

Got to have fun right?

Happy reading!

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Anthropomorphised animals

Since a child I have loved anything that anthropomorphised animals, I got into this after seriously becoming a mega fan of “The animals of Farthing Wood” TV series and being an avid collector of their magazine and other merchandise; it wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered that “The animals of Farthing Wood” was actually and originally a novel. 

I think I was one of the first children in this country to fully understand the impact humanity has on the environment and the animal kingdom, because I remember being commended in one of my schools for a poem I did about pollution and its effects on animals when I was just seven (that’s 1989).  I was a child, who was raised in the suburbs of North London, but I was often shipped out to other relatives around the country who lived rurally and on farms, so being a natures child in every sense of the word, I saw the massive changes humanity did to the world.

Every other month as I grew up my heart broke time and time again as more and more of my favourite outdoor places became new housing estates or had a railway track inserted through it and the dead animals that lined the tracks were heart wrenchingly numerous.

As a mostly isolated child who was ignored unless needed, I was often made to play in the large gardens with the pets I had, usually dogs and a rabbit, but squirrels and various birds became very tame around me as I was growing up that they became extended outdoor living pets.  I grew to empathise more with animals than with people.

To me, the animals seem to speak to me and we had an understanding, I learned their habits as much as they learned mine and we respected each other and each other’s ways.  This is why I found it easy to fall into shamanism, because it wasn’t so much as I wanted to be a shaman, rather than, I flowed into it without realising and it wasn’t until a high school friend said to me she thinks I am a shaman because of my ways, that I accepted that maybe she was right and I am that. 

So I read some books on the subject and I was laughing at how basic the training was in it, been there, done that was my response to a lot of it.  It was just so natural to me, that it seemed ludicrous to think people need courses on these things – whereas if they weren’t so involved in being human and doing modern human things, they’d all be like this too – it’s natural.

I know as I was growing up, cousins and even my own mother would be frustrated at how the squirrels and the crows won’t go near them, when they wanted to pet them right then and there like I could… I would tell them, you need to do this and do that before they come to you, you need to respect them and do it like this because they see it as impolite if you don’t – “you’re mad” was often the response as they grumpily slump off back inside, hating nature for rejecting them!

“The Animals of Farthing Wood” were not the only inspirations however, there were many others such as “Blinky Bill”, various Disney movies, “Rude dog and the dweebs” and so much more! 

So animals in some way or another are a regular feature in my stories.

Happy reading!

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