Tag Archives: book

My brain takes me here…

They say that the books you love to read, the movies you love to watch and the things that stick with you the most can be seen in your own writing. 

What you love is often reflected in your writing and once you know yourself well enough you write better.  Once you throw yourself into all of your passions and are writing things based on your passions or similar to your passions unashamedly, you will develop your style and you will therefore come across as unique and fresh in the genres you write.

As long as you stay true only to yourself, do not write for the market, write for you!

I hope this is true.  If it is, then you can more or less guess from my likes and dislikes what could end up being in my novels.

I don’t like to be predictable though, but it is true that there is a little of what I love in everything that I do

Below is a list of stories, books or movies in which I mentally visit and live in a lot, for some reason or another, I am dragged back there to relive scenes or add new ones in my mind.  However, I never write those reimagining’s down through fear of becoming a fraud!  Though I have sometimes thought about doing fanfiction!

1922 By Stephen king – this story in particular has actually influenced a horror I am writing, which is based around a well in a garden too, funnily enough.  But the story concept is poles apart besides the setting of a well. 

Spider By Hanns Heinz Ewers – Every time I see a spider I remember the story.  Every time I see a woman working at a loom or spinning yarn, I think of this story.  You would think that wouldn’t be very often then, but I know a lot of prepper, homesteading type ladies who do this regularly.  I have wanted to do this myself; I have always wanted to make my own felt too. 

The complete collection of The Wizard of Oz By Frank L Baum – So many imaginative things in all the stories, living china dolls, servant monkeys, it’s absolute joy!  The landscape descriptions, oh my word, they are divine, I just can’t help but bring myself back to those scenes. 

Smoke and Mirrors By Neil Gaiman – So many lovely stories and poems in this book, I presume they are poems in any case?  I see them as such, I love the prose, I just love the way he writes!  It is very soulful writing. 

The man in the picture By Susan Hill – This is the only book in my entire reading history, of such length, that I have read and could not put down even for a toilet break!  It is just so gripping and I loved it, it had a similar air to Dorian Grey, but in my opinion much better executed.  I love Venice, never been, but still, always wanted to, love with a passion masquerades and carnival life. 

Matilda By Roald Dahl – Ever since I was little, since Victoria Wood read this on TV I have loved this story and nagged my mum in buying me the book, but she never did.  I must have borrowed this book a hundred times from the library before I became an adult and bought it as part of a trilogy compilation.  How I wished that my soul got angry enough with the people in my life that I could play with the supernatural like she did!  It may have solved a lot of my childhood problems, or created worse ones, who knows? 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Very alike to Wizard of Oz, the scenes are great, but I also like crazy characters, madness or at least the descent into it ideas.  I love kooky takes on animal and plant life and this was such a joy to behold.  The artwork etc, I love everything about Alice in Wonderland and I have an addiction to collecting Alice in Wonderland novelties.  There were times I pranced around in life hoping I fell down a hole where things were very different too. 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – If you can actually manage to read the whole book and get past the awful main scene, you will actually find this book very deep on an emotional level that is not just traumatic, but beautiful too.  If you read deeply, push past the horrible stuff, it is very meaningful.  How the dead view the living, how the living cannot move on until the dead does, what dead children do in the heavens.  Living out their wildest imaginations; yes, a lot of it is weird and sickening, but I urge you to try and edit those horrible bits out of your mind and read it without those bits.  It takes strong stuff to do that, I know!  But honestly, it is a lovely book besides. Try to skim the nasties.   

Confessions of an ugly step-sister by Gregory Maguire – I love Cinderella anyway, but this plot was good and more to the way that I thought it was behind the scenes.  I love how I learned real history in this book too, the bit about the tulips in Holland.  By the way, that’s another addiction I have – tulips.

I.T By Stephen King – I used to be scared of clowns, big time, before I even learned about Pennywise, but it is funny to actually say that I loved the character Pennywise so much it lessened my fear of them.  Weird I know!  In the past two years in particular, I have lost my fear of clowns entirely and now enjoy them, in fact, they are becoming the main projects for my art!  I just hate the scene of little Georgie.

The Mad Max Movies – I have a thing for life on the road, roguish living, post-apocalyptic tribal societies and the general chaos of survival as whole societies descend into madness.  For this reason too, I think I like the next movie;

Reign of fire movie – I love subterranean settings and when you throw in dragons in a post-apocalyptic world I am in my element. 

Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins is another subterranean setting I love, full of gothic elements such as bats, rats, roaches and gore with an edge of the apocalypse feel to it. 

The Blue Bird starring Shirley Temple – this has been in my mind since I was a very small child, a lot of things about this movie can be seen in small snippets of some of my work.  I have mentioned Old father time and I have cats and dogs which can take on a human form, children trapped in dream time in a couple of my stories to date so far.  No Spoilers, because they were just passing things in the plot, not the actual plot at all.

The Karnstein Trilogy – I love this much more than Dracula, I love the movies and the books they were based on.  I loved it so much that I had been heavily influenced by this trilogy my whole life; I have had to be careful when writing my vampires in fear of coming off as a plagiarist.  You may see what I mean with what I mentioned in “The Blue Bird” paragraph.  I have had to learn to chop up everything I love and move them around genres and different stories, like some experimental stir fries. 

I shall write about the tropes and scenes and types of characters I like in future posts – keep eye out for those!

Happy reading! 

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Researching religion to its core

In my previous post I mentioned a book that I am reading called “A History of Judaism” and some of you may be curious as to why I am reading such a book?  There are in fact two major reasons for me reading this book and both are to do with simple research.

Firstly I wanted to get to grips in understanding Judaism from its core because of a couple of specific themes I want to write and I don’t like to be ignorant when I am writing about culture.

Secondly, I want to find out why my ancestors left Judaism at the turn of the twentieth century just a decade before the Second World War.  Why some of the very oldest members of my family admit they were originally Jewish, but get rather aggressive about it and somewhat evasive.  I am also interested in finding any new books regarding this subject but set in Italy and Italian Jewish history in particular.

My son Henry absolutely loves learning anything at all about his family history and he has become less afraid of R.E at school since we have been learning the differences between what we know to be Evangelism, J-Witness and Judaism.  My family became Catholic and Evangelists when they left Judaism and part of that branch that left Judaism, also became J-Witnesses.

Part of my problems growing up was the cultural confusion my extended family had on supposed opposing ideas and therefore my understanding of religion was warped over the years; as literally my family would rage war on each other over their beliefs.  According to my grandmother, my great grandmother’s sister reacted so violently against her leaving Judaism for a Catholic man that she threw her into the fireplace and she escaped barely scarred.  Another incidence was that I was reminding an anti-Semitic evangelical relative of mine about how Jesus was a Jew and their response was to slap me across the face!

It astounds me how so many religions are at odds with each other when they all share the same core, corrupt the word of the core and kill each other in the name of the God that is the mainstay of the core.

However, as I am teaching my son, I am reminding him that you cannot hate anyone regarding this, because you cannot blame them for their ignorance.  Most people simply do not have the time on their hands to research as much as we do and therefore, you must always react to their violence with kindness if at all those people could make it possible for us to remain passive and kind that is.  Self-preservation kicks in for us all eventually.

The crucial thing to understand about all religions and cultures is that most people do not have time, they are too busy, they have other priorities and over the years many people have surrendered their personal research to trusted authoritive individuals who may or may not be corrupt within themselves, with the aims of controlling their particular congregations etc.  To be fair, everybody wants to try and honour their ancestors by keeping to what their parents believe and it wasn’t until the last century or so, that humanity in general were largely uneducated due to class differentiation and lack of opportunities.

There will be many updates in the future of my reading lists and there will be many different types of cultures and religions I will be study over the course of my life, because I have an insatiable yearning to understand humanity.  In fact in 2009 I signed up to the OU to do a Social Science degree, but I couldn’t cope with the demands of a new-born baby and running a house so went on extended leave, which is still ongoing!  The OU is lovely in that they have still left it opened for me to return whenever I want to, and I may eventually, as I miss it.

I feel I must apologise to some readers who may have found the tone of this post offensive, because no doubt, there are some who do.  But it is by no means an attack on religion, simply a passive eye opening, hoping that, with the tools of the modern age, that you will find time to research the roots of your beliefs to the very core and not just what your local parish tells you.

Thank you for reading.

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Schedules & personal butt kickers

Reading as much as I used to have taken a back bencher in the past couple of years, my Goodreads.com account is evidence of this; but I have a plan which seems to be keeping me on track with my library rentals.

Before this downturn in how much I read, I used to borrow ten books a week from the library and read them all, then it lessened to just three per week, now it is around four to six per month and I haven’t been able to read them all by the end of the three week period either.

At the moment I have six books out from the library and some of those I have re-borrowed the maximum amount of times, one such book has only nineteen days left for me to read it and it is only halfway and I have already re-borrowed this book three times in the past and I can have it no more after that!  So, noticing that I have just nineteen days left to read this book, I panicked, because there are approximately two hundred pages to read of this enormous essay about “The History of Judaism”.  Why am I reading such a book?  I will explain later in another post…

So how do I solve the problem of reading things in time?  I have only just started this idea from yesterday, so who knows how well it will work for more long term!  The plan is this… I calculate with a calculator as I have dyscalculia, the number of pages per book I have and divide that by twenty one, which represents twenty one days, the average length of time to keep a book without re-borrowing.  So, I did this will all the books I am currently reading on Goodreads that are borrowed from the library currently.  This breaks down each book into littler bites and gets every book picked up daily! 

To a lot of people who love reading this sounds like a nightmare plan, because I know a lot of readers can’t put a book down until it’s completely read for another book.  But for me this works a treat because I lack focus and have a very shoddy attention span.  Paul believes I may have undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, because I can’t stick to one thing solidly and concentrate on it for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

So for me, the idea of skipping through books one after the other in the same day works well. 

So my current list is broken down like this;

History of Judaism by Martin Goodman 11 pages per day for the next 19 days

Fermentation on wheels by Tara Whitsitt 9 pages per day

Preservation book 17 pages per day

Abundance by Aly Fowler 10 pages per day

Burning the books by Richard Ovenden 11 pages per day

The last book from the library is actually currently completed, so I shan’t add that here.

To me, each from the above would take around twenty minutes to accomplish when not having a bad sinus day, which in comparison to how fast I used to read, is very, very, slow.

But it is doable if I break it down throughout the day, rather than sit back with sixty two pages a night in bed in around ninety minutes.

It is not a maximum requirement, it is a minimum requirement, if my attention span is enjoying the book naturally I will read more if I feel I can and have the time.

Yesterday, so far, I have read more in a day, than I would have otherwise, if I had not had given myself a schedule and deadline.  I think I have mentioned before I am a person who thrives on deadlines? 

Yes I am one of these weirdos who literally rot away in a corner without some kind of schedule or motivational person hounding me to do things all the while.  Unfortunately Paul is rather passive on this matter and so, Henry, my doting eleven year old son, has taken it upon himself to be my butt kicker and I thank him tremendously for it!

So, any future postings, writings and art and even YouTube videos and podcasts, will really be, to the thanks of my son who is prodding me to accomplish things.  He too, has made a sort of pact with me that I should do the same for him and we will together, become a successful family.  Totally Henry’s idea and isn’t it brilliant?   I am so proud of him!

Happy reading!

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World War Z – book review

I finished reading World War Z on Wednesday by Max Brooks and I have to say that it was incredibly thought provoking and the best example of world building I have come across in a long time!

There were things in this novel that I would never ever have dreamed of thinking as possibilities in a zombie infested world that I found very clever.  You understand that zombies are considered undead or dead people reanimated but do you really understand what that would really mean if it were real?

Think about it, what could the dead do that we could not if they happened to have become ravenously hungry reanimated autopilot predators?

Terrifying things actually!

They could survive climates and places that we as living breathing human beings would struggle with!

The story is absolutely amazing and without giving you too many spoilers I can’t really say much more than this… if you want a horror in a dystopian world and you want to be taught near perfect world building and keeping things real, then this is a must read, whether you like zombies or not!

This is how world building is done folks!

Happy reading!

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March reading pile

Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson – as I didn’t finish reading this last month!

Entangled by Merlin Sheldrake – for the same reason as above!

Little Book of Wonder by Bernadette Russell – again for the same reason as the above!

The Spooks Apprentice (book 1) By Joseph DeLaney

World War Z by Max Brooks

The Library of The Dead by T.L Huchu

I am trying to read more fiction than I am known for; because I tend towards non-fiction more than fiction.  I am trying to broaden my horizons.

Since becoming ill I have become a very slow reader; but I am blessed with bouts of OK days and therefore my reading can speed up again to how I used to be.  This happened around January, but health has meant that I have slowed painfully down again.  It is frustrating because I get a sense of achievement for every book I persevere with and read to the end and I feel great about it when it’s finished!  But instead of finishing more than one book per week, when I am ill, I am lucky to finish one book a fortnight!

Will the above list be shown again for April’s list?  Probably, because my glands are getting swollen again and that usually means six weeks of health hell!

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Health update & cataloging books

For the next few days I will be cataloguing all of the books in this house (with maybe the exception of my son’s bedroom as I want to live till the end of the week), to put on Goodreads.com as there has been some debate from some of my reader friends about just how many books I actually own because according to what they see on Goodreads I don’t have much.  Well I only used to add those that I bought at the time I have been a member of Goodreads, not all the ones I had before I became a member of the site – so, apparently I have to prove my hoarding addiction to the world – lol.

So that is my challenge for the week and it is back breaking!  You’re probably laughing your heads off at what you think is an exaggeration, but for me it is a reality.  Being bed bound sick for the last 7yrs has severely weakened my core that even standing up for more than 15 minutes at a time is very painful.  I think the diet I have been doing for immune boosting is working, because I am having more days out of bed, in fact I haven’t had a full day in bed since around the 21st of January.

I still need to go back up there regularly, but I am definitely seeing an improvement.  I am also taking extra vitamins with it all too.  I am not losing any weight, in fact gaining it – which is disturbing for me, because my calories are less.  Sugar and fat content is less, food is more nutritionally dense than before and I am slightly more active than I used to be.  It is puzzling why, I have the weight gain.  I am eating approximately 400 calories a day less than I did before these changes and I am doing more around the house, I am now able to care a little for the rabbit and even make snacks and lunches whereas I hadn’t been able to since 2016.  The weight gain is only 5 pounds, but it is freaking me out – somebody suggested my insomnia could be a reason for it, because your  metabolism is determined by your sleep patterns, not sure what to think of that!

My sleep patterns are all over the place.  I usually can’t sleep before 5am and sleep 9 hours a day on average, sometimes I need 13 hours, don’t know why.  I hate sleep, I really find it a time wasting thing and I resent that I need more than the average person because of my infections, arthritis and so forth.  I am trying to force my body into a sleep pattern, by forcing myself to wake up by 10am regardless of when I slept the night before; I started doing this 3 days ago, and last night I think my body decided OK, I will sleep now and the last time I saw the clock it was 02:10am, so I think it’s working a little.

I am really trying to discipline my body.  I am pleased also that whatever is happening to my body, I am able to do around 15 minutes of exercise before getting really tired – it’s a big thing for me, because as I said, I have hardly been able to move for a few years and all of this has happened much quicker than I thought it would.  But all in all there is not a massive difference in my pain levels or infections. 

I’m just trying to force myself and it is torture, I will tell you.  I need to get back to my athletic self again.  I used to be very athletic, I was always up and doing things and loved sport and I miss it so much!  Honestly, this was NOT a lifestyle choice for me, I genuinely became too ill to move and this is why I resent people who think they know about overweight disabled people, people like Anthea Turner!

I have been the victim of disability discrimination and fat discrimination for the past few years and I have seen the worst of humanity – it is especially prevalent with doctors who should know better!

Let’s pray you assholes who fat shame and hate on disabled people are never put into a situation where you are injured and sick enough not to be able to move and that you get fat too and get karma kicking your asses like you would deserve!

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February’s reading pile

  1. Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
  2. How to build a girl by Caitlin Moran
  3. Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake
  4. The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr
  5. The little book of Wonder by Bernadette Russell

I very rarely read fiction in comparison to my friends from goodreads.com; I consume mostly non-fiction books and self-help, so my monthly updates will rarely show that I have fiction on the list.

I am fascinated by the structure of language and its origins, all languages worldwide, not just the development of the English language.  I definitely consider myself a philologist, hence why Mother Tongue is on this month’s list. 

I have a life goal to become fluent in 5 contemporary languages and one ancient by the time I am eighty years old – hopefully I’ll live that long!

I am not yet fluent in anything other than English at the moment, but I can understand small bits of French and Italian.  If I were able to travel, I suspect that I could feed myself and ask very basic questions in France and Italy, I would say my Italian skills are better than my French skills at the moment.  I would also say that the main problem would be hearing conversations if they are spoken fast because I am deaf – totally deaf in my right ear and with only a half working left ear.  People ask me why bother learning then if you know that eventually you will lose all hearing altogether?  Because I believe that tomorrow there will be a cure for me – I believe that science will provide, so why not live with what I have and make the most of it now?  Basically – why give up on something I love, just in case I can’t?

I’m not really sure how I got spoken into reading Caitlin Moran’s books this month either, this is the second book I have read in the last couple of weeks by her and I can see a consistent theme, a theme which is getting eye-rollingly boring to be honest.  I shan’t be reading anymore from her, there is only so much masturbation you can read about!

Entangled Life is on my list because I have a weird fascination for microbiomes, fungi, bryophytes and subterranean lifeforms in all its forms.  I have no idea where the fascination came from but I can say, that if I lived my life again, I would run away from home, tell social services everything that ever happened to me and study maths and biology hard, because if I could live my life again I would like to be a microbiologist or something along those lines.

The prophets look really refreshing and I was just lured to it, I have no idea why, but at the moment I am enjoying the read.  I love learning about Afro American culture ever since I found out my nan was right about her great grandmother being mixed race and from Boston USA.  I believe this is fiction, but not sure to be honest. 

The little book of wonder is being re-read with fresh eyes and new perspectives; I am redoing all of the tasks in there and enjoying it again – especially as I have different ideas these days about things. 

So with any luck, all of these books in particular will have been finished by the 1st March and I might write up the reviews of how I feel about them all.

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Types of stories I have finished or are working on

Types of work that I am currently doing;

I have mentioned in several posts that there are certain themes I am writing in my novels and there has been a question of just how many novels are you working on at the moment?  Personally, I don’t know!  I know that sounds really funny to some, but I have been writing loads of stories almost my whole life and I have never really sat back and wondered how many I am working on, because I just write what I feel like at the time.  Yes, there are many novels which are 100% finished now, but to me they could still be in redrafting stages and many have been redrafted umpteempth times since two years ago.  I only started redrafting my 30yrs of work two years ago, simply because I never thought it would be necessary and also because I was never sure if I could cope with writing as a career.

I think I am ready to say, I am now ready for this career, hence why a lot of my writing habits have changed recently.

I am totally self-taught, I have no formal education and I was home educated by a dyslexic parent throughout most of my childhood and pretty much neglected by social services to get on with it without too much interference.  As an adult I have been kept too busy to take up education, but even now, I am trying to teach myself.  I can’t afford even the cheapest monthly fee on skillshare yet, but I am hoping by the end of the year that I can do some of their courses to learn how to punctuate properly and use grammar and anything else I need to improve my writing for both my blog and my novels, before finally approaching that agent I want to.  I have found an agent I like, but whether or not they will like me this time next year is another matter!

This post is going to tell you the types of novels I am working on or that have been finished, without revealing too much of the plot; but the list is not conclusive, these are just stories I am willing to throw out into the world in the next couple of years, with any luck!

  1.  You all know how much I love my vampires; so it shouldn’t be a shock to tell you that I have twenty seven different stories already completed in both my mind and on paper, along with full encyclopaedias and fictional historical booklets based on that world.  I have been working on this massive project since I was ten years old, yes ten years old!  That’s a whopping twenty eight years!  However, there is a list of seventy eight other stories I haven’t even finished yet, not even once that has been on the go for years, some are new. 
  2. Recently you have learned my second favourite creature to write about are dragons and there are approximately five books I have been writing, three of which are near completion with hopefully their final drafts. 
  3. Pirates are another fantasy thing I like to write about regularly and there are three separate pirate books to date.  One of which is near its final draft and another is an off-shoot book to one of the dragon novels. 
  4. Gargoyles also have their own books with this author, I have six novels with those and in two of them they are the main characters.
  5. I have written two novels with phoenixes as the main theme too.
  6. I have a whole series based on a character that lives in a hot air balloon, this is currently five books long, but there are more being planned.
  7. There are seven books based on robots. Half of which are fantasy more than sci-fi.
  8. There is a big series about giants, that is almost ten books strong and again, they are off-shoots of a dragon novel I have.
  9. There are loads of mermaid novels I have and various other new sea creatures, I haven’t actually counted those, but I do know that there are at least six finished.  These are standalone novels, not a series.
  10. I have four separate series of werewolves, one of which I am very passionate about and spend a lot of time on.
  11. There is a demon erotica series I have been working on for the past eight years; the series is actually nearly complete now.
  12. There are three zombie books that are both standalone novels, too, two of which are more fantasy than horror and very comedic.
  13. There are five separate afterlife series I am working on, some are fantasy, some are horror and some are dystopian.
  14. There are fourteen dystopian series I am working on too, two of which are based on religious ideologies.
  15. There is a series of fairy stories for children too, which is approximately seven books and I regard as novellas.
  16. There are four Christmas themed books I have written too.
  17. There are four comics too, or, I think one of them is actually graphic novel rather than comic – this is dystopian and steam punk in style.
  18. I also have two ghost stories.
  19. I have a selection of horror too, which could be considered a series, but they are all standalones really.
  20. I know I have 777 poems on this blog, but there are at least 5000 off the blog that have never been published online anywhere.
  21. I have nine musical compositions as well, that has never been published anywhere.
  22. I have six operas written too as well as musicals for theatre, but I am so not confident about those right now.
  23. I have a series about little people that were inspired by Land of the giants and the borrowers. 

There are probably more I haven’t mentioned yet, but these are the only things that come to mind right now for me.  I do have a lot of work here, but I just haven’t had the confidence about really throwing myself out there.  I am terrified of the consequences.  I don’t want fame, I want my work to be enjoyed and I really want to see them as movies, but I don’t want to have a famous face.  But I am getting used to the idea that maybe I will have no choice someday?  I can’t keep my work hidden forever, I didn’t write it for it to be hidden and forgotten – those novels are like little people to me, they are like creatures that need to be nurtured and their only food is recognition.  Their only source of nourishment is to be enjoyed and read, it keeps them alive!  I believe in BIG MAGIC, I believe ideas are alive!

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Books to buy

I need a place to list things I want to buy eventually for myself, I keep losing notebooks and stuff around the house, and wanted something quick to add it to. I need to find a way in making this post in particular private someday – as I am sure nobody really is interested in my shopping lists, lol.

The books below, written in red, meant I have got around to buying it!

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

The future of humanity by Michio Kaku

The Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitefield

Arc of a scythe (the whole series) by Neal Shusterman

Underland by Robert MacFarlane

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Top 10 children’s books that influenced me

Top 10 children’s books that influenced my writing and why

Dragon’s dinner by Susannah Corbett

This is a hilarious book I read at least once a month to myself, I know it’s a young child’s picture book, but I adore it!

It is written in rhyme and there is a comedy element on every page, not to mention great illustration too!  I have a love for dragons that almost rivals my love for vampires; this is seen in the novels I write.  In fact, I have nearly finished a dragon novel to the extent that I may be considering sending it off to an agent in 2022.  At the moment I have approximately three more chapters to write of it again, this is the eighth draft, but then I will store it away for a couple of months and look again with fresh eyes and see if it needs a ninth draft – but I doubt it at the moment.

A strange thing for me is that writing the story initially can take just under a month for me to do, but editing and redoing drafts can take me three months, because I find that a boring process, I hate redoing stuff!  I am trying to learn to love doing that.

My dragon novel is potentially YA or adult fantasy, not sure yet, it is definitely bigger than this picture book and does have a lot of comedy elements to it.

Horton hears a who by Dr Seuss

I love most books by Dr Seuss and this is my favourite.  I like books where something unbelievable is eventually proven to the other characters of the book and that is something that is seen in a handful of my own works.  Once again there is a comedy element to the book.

I think I love this story a lot because when I was a child I used to blow bubbles and imagine that every bubble was a planet full of life, like Earth only different with unique creatures on each planet and that the time scale was epically fast.  I never read Horton Hears A Who until I had my son Henry and bought the book for him when he was 2yrs old – so the book resonated with me a lot.

James and the giant peach by Roald Dahl

There would be more than just one book by Roald Dahl on this list, but I wanted to be as broad as possible in my listings; it was difficult trying to narrow down which book to choose for this list by this specific author; I chose the one that I felt was the most unique and the one that literally got my heart pumping with excitement as I read it.

There were so many wonderful things in this book, talking, friendly insects, a comedy element, drama, horror, lots and lots of excellent scenery I just adored it.  I loved the parts where the peach acted like a hot air balloon and was flying above the world.  It is this scene which has influenced me the greatest, because I am working on a fantasy series based on a hot air balloon traveller which is aimed for a YA audience potentially.

Harry Potter and chamber of secrets by J.K Rowling

Much like most people nowadays, it is hard to think of fantasy and children’s books without thinking about Harry Potter, it is a great series and narrowing down to a specific book was very difficult, but this is my favourite because of the living trees and the giant spiders.  Also I found this the funniest of the lot.  I like depictions of forests particularly with living trees mentioned occasionally, such can be found in many books, Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz to name but two.  I have to admit, even I have written a scene with forest spiders in one of my novels, not to copy, but because it just felt so right and almost expected in a manner; in fact it is a scene in my main dragon novel.

Engelbert Sneem and his dream vacuum machine by Daniel Postgate

This had me riveted from the offset, it is amazing.  I love books where you get to dance around in someone else’s dreams and things like this, BFG and a couple of other stories had dreams in them too.  I love writing about dream worlds within my stories from time to time, but they do seem to be more horror based than my usual comedy fantasy.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I have loved reading Heidi ever since I was a child and I must admit not only reading it, but also love watching all the movies that come out based on this story too!  Heidi has influenced my imagination a lot over the years.  I love goats and mountain sceneries and books with snow, books that star strong minded children who seem to act as blessings to the adults of their world.  I love miracle stories too and little Clara certainly had a miracle happen to her!

Quite a few of my books do seem to be rather Germanic, Norse or Slavic based, unintentionally, I haven’t really understood why.  I have strong warrior figures in my novels and the landscapes usually end up sounding like Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, the Alps and sometimes even the Carpathians.  I have never travelled outside of the UK; it would be lovely to do so at some point and visit some of those places that influence me and my writing.

Diary of a wimpy vampire by Tim Collins

It is such a funny book and the fact it contains vampires is another reason why I love this book so much; also this book made my son into a reader, because before he saw me reading this book to myself and laughing my head off at it at every page turn, he absolutely hated reading!  But now I have to say, he tries to read a whole large novel once every month.

My vampires have some comedy interjected into the pages from time to time, but it is not deliberately set out to be a comedy series – I just can’t help myself.

Mr Stink by David Walliams

I like books where children change the minds of the adults around them as I have mentioned before and this book does that.  I love books which show the best qualities of humanity, generosity etc.  I also love stories that are riches to rags and back again to riches, I have loved themes like this since I was a kid.  I loved movies such as “The Jerk” with Steven Martin and “Life Stinks” with Mel Brookes amongst others and yes, it is a theme I would like to write someday too.  Once again, there is comedy here.

I will say, that as a child I read a lot, but it was mostly non-fiction and that a majority of the fantasy and stuff I indulged in were movies, I watched a movie every day, without fail, sometimes three times a day, because I was home educated and work fast in my studies and had a lot of spare time to myself, cooped up indoors all day long.  My father had a massive VHS collection over eight hundred which had two or three movies on each he recorded off the TV, so there were always a lot of things to watch!

The tin can band by Margaret Mahy

I love all the poems and songs in this book.  I love the artwork and everything about the book.  The art inspires my art a lot and the poetry knows how to touch several nerves too.  I love the concept of dancing in the shadows and having night time, shadow acrobats dancing around you, causing you to hallucinate and see things that aren’t quite what they seem when the lights are out. 

The poems contain witches and various other creatures, some with comedic ideas and others more serious in tone, such as deforestation and a lovely concept on death too.

I love authors that have a knack in making death less scary and more beautiful or at least more fun.

Wolf by Gillian Cross

I like books about the homeless and hippies and that sort of thing, this book contains squatters and a little girl who tries to live with her mother under extraordinary circumstances.  The child is rather independent and I just love the book, but I can’t say it has influenced anything in particular though.

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