It’s amazing with how busy you get, you forget your early blogging days, where you sat glued to your monitor with bulging out eyes and sticking out tongue, waiting desperately for someone to LIKE what you’ve written. Then that crestfallen disappointment when nobody does – even though you’ve only got three followers and two of them are your aunties. I must say that I love this bloggerverse more every day, and all the wonderful warm people I now get to call friend. Anyway, I suddenly remembered one of my first posts in those old shy days when the writing always seemed stilted, and you felt like you were peering in people’s windows and reciting poetry to them without an invitation, waiting for the laughter and jeering to begin. And then you find out that bloggers don’t generally roll that way – that they’re a pretty cool bunch after all. Anyway. Now I want to practice rescheduling posts on WordPress, so I shall inflict it on you. This post was “written” by Princess – Suzette’s cook in African Me & Satellite TV.
I have decided to share with you, a very simple chicken and prawn dish. You can serve it with rice if you wish, or do as I do, and fill buttered buns with it.
I do not eat chicken. I have seen that it is the one of God’s creatures that has been given the most hardships, and receives the most cruelty. I have arranged with God that I will not eat any sort of bird, unless he can show me in some way that it is the reborn spirit of one of those cruel people, who care so little of the pain of animals, and so much for the making of money. The bones of such a bird, I will crunch with relish!
I also do not eat prawns. Mr Herman once brought four lobsters home from Harare for me to cook. These creatures jumped to the floor, and caused much terror for myself and Felix. That cat had his nose crunched very painfully until I pushed that beast off with a broom. I do not wish to see such things again, and I will certainly not eat the flesh of their cousins.
So I see you ask, how then can you cook something if you cannot taste it? I will tell you what I have been told by madam and all of her many friends. That my cooking is always perfect. Why should I not believe this, when I can see that it is true?
I make many things which I cannot taste. Cocktails for instance. Obviously I do not drink alcohol, as I am a good Christian woman. But only once did I create a drink which was not very highly praised. Madam’s friends had especially enjoyed my Pickled Onion & Gherkin Martini, so I thought – what about garlic? That was thought to be my one failure. But after thinking myself about this, and remembering how Mr Collie had spat it on to the shirt of Mr Herman, who then fell from his chair, and caused Mr Themba to cry very loudly, I believe maybe it was not such a terrible drink after all.
PORTABLE SIN BUNS
I make these for Mr Herman to take when he goes fishing on his boat with his friends. He says that they are so good, they have to be bad, so he calls them Portable Sin Buns.
500g Chicken Breasts – sliced into thin strips
500g Prawns, cleaned & peeled
– Boil their heads and shells in 150ml water for 15 minutes & strain
1 Tablespoon Grated Onion
1 Grated Clove Garlic
1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper
2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
Buttered Bread Rolls
Brown the chicken with the garam masala, onion & garlic in a little oil.
Quickly add the prawn stock, tomato paste.
Allow to reduce until most of the liquid has gone.
Add the prawns and parsley and cook till done.
Season with salt & pepper to taste & add as much mayonnaise as you wish.
Spread the lettuce on a buttered roll and fill up with the chicken & prawn mixture.
I’ve been fiddling with my dragon on and off for ages, although I never have much time to spend on him. Today I was fiddling around with some illustrations I’m doing for someone, and all of a sudden I spot this pic of stars in my public domain collection. So I zoom across to my dragon pic – that’s a LOT different from the real paper one after a couple of hours of tweaking on the computer, and just pop it on there for fun. OOPS – hit the save button, and fiddled with dragon is no more. So.
I’ll be using this one for my Twitter account anyway until I can find some time to start fiddling again with the scanned guy. Talk about seeing stars! Bah!
I’ve been really sick this week, but not dead yet so things are looking up again. It’s because I’ve been overly gung ho about drinking the tap water here after everyone warned me not to. I reckoned that the news reports of this municipality happily dispensing crap in the water supply didn’t apply to me. Well. Bottled water for me from now on, and I really don’t recommend cholera, no matter how “mild”, as a new way to diet. I’m still not feeling a hundred percent, so I’m going to take it easy for another couple of days, and not allow myself to zoom around too soon. Anyway.
Before I was taken down in my prime, I had the most fantastic birthday ever on Saturday. Thanks to the most wonderful friends on the planet, turning fifty was actually a lot cooler than I expected it to be. I learned that one guy can singlehandedly ingest a small chilli and garlic plantation on Portuguese buns and live to tell the tale, and that you’re never too old for pressies, choccies, champers, good buddies and laughter. I remember my fortieth birthday as being a bit of a downer. It felt like I was officially middle-aged and that everything would be all downhill from there. Fifty is totally different. Apart from the recent invasion of the innards, I’ve never felt better. I certainly don’t feel old, and I’ve got no intention to swop the skinny jeans or heels for twinsets and slippers quite yet.
I have to do an emergency re-edit and format of African Me & Satellite TV now. I thought that it was in really good shape, and that Shadow People would be the one with hidden typos or issues, but that’s just had another proofing and one typo was found. African Me apparently has quite a few issues, and I’m cringing with terror, so I’d better get to finding them. The second book in the Shadow People series is still a good way away from publishing, but my lovely furry friend and genius cover designer Chris Graham has finished the cover, so now the new book excitement has already started for me. It’s gorgeous! Thank you Chris!
I was invited to participate in a Blog Chain by one of my favourite people on the planet Vashti Quiroz-Vega. Her blog posts and articles are often just plain genius, she is a great supporter of animals and humanity, an artist, an awesome poet, a wonderful supporter of friends and fellow scribblers – oh – and she can scare the pants off you too. I never want to miss a word she writes – love it! Read her gripping book – you won’t regret it – I promise you!
A kid should not be aware of his own heartbeat, he thought. Robbie is an ordinary boy in the city who struggles with the desire to prove himself to his friends, his enemies, and himself. When Robbie’s father, a stubborn man determined to teach his son through tough love, witnesses Robbie being bullied, he forces Robbie to face his fears. Robbie is then sentenced to a frightening challenge–staying in the basement alone for a night. But what lies in the dark recesses of the basement? Will Robbie make it out alive and well? Will the urban legend about the terrifying creatures that hide in the dark basement prove to be true? And most importantly, will Robbie prove to his friends and his father that he is brave enough to take on the challenge? The Basement is a tale of angst, teamwork and solutions, treasure hunts and adventure, and facing fears. It is a focus on the small world of one group of preteens and the very real and wondrous world they face.
The rules of this tag are to answer the following four writing questions, and then tag three other authors. Next week, February 10, 2014, these three authors will answer the same questions and tag three others, and so the chain continues to grow larger. This will enable readers to get to know more authors and their books. It will also allow everyone to get to know these authors a little better.
1. What are you currently working on?
The second book in the Shadow People series, and another called Lesser Being, which I’m trying to stop expanding – it’s developed an agenda of its own and isn’t overly keen on ending.
2. How does your work differ from others in the same genre?
Ack – the G word! I challenge anyone to tell me what specific genre Shadow People falls into. I write the stories as they happen in my head, and mostly my stories don’t stay in the lines. I suppose that the answer to this question would be that it differs from the genre because it falls into many others too.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I have never sat down and said, I’m going to write one thing or another. Switches go off in my old noggin all the time with stories that want to get out. I don’t restrict myself to writing in a specific genre or style, and never will. I love writing, and it really just has to happen or I’ll pop.
4. How does your writing process work?
Generally it begins with a character. These people (or dragons, or sentient chickens) arrive fully named and clothed generally, and let me know what they plan to be getting on with. On the couple of occasions that things stopped flowing naturally on their own, I ended up with some really rotten pages, so I never try to force the words anymore – I zoom off and spend some time with my friends on the wonderful web – which is currently still mostly locking me out by the way. Now that I’m getting a little more experience as a writer, I make sure to make notes of characters and scenes as I go along. I also stick poster sheets on the wall, and jot in possible future scenes and character information on that too.
Picking only three authors was REALLY hard for me, but knowing this lovely world of indie scribblers as I do, I know more of these wonderful opportunities will come up again. So I’ve picked three books from authors that I’m currently jumping up and down in my haste to read. I’m recommending on the strength of loving what I’ve seen of them, and the fact that these are books I would buy even if I didn’t know who wrote them. But I do know who wrote them, which makes it even better. So…
Is by the truly awesome Alison Jack. This author has been involved in the publishing world long before she decided to publish herself. Even so, she is a wonderful friend, and tireless supporter of writers everywhere. That’s not why I want to read Dory’s Avengers though – have a read guys!
In a stifled and oppressed United Kingdom, nothing can be achieved without the approval of the dictatorial Sponsors, at whose head is the malevolent and cruel Lord William St Benedict. In Britain’s cities the Sponsored live narrow, if privileged, lives, while the Unsponsored are confined to menial roles and to the ‘less desirable’ districts. Among the Sponsors’ many victims is Lord William’s own son, the forthright and charismatic Theodore – ‘Dory’ – held captive by his father since he was a boy.
In the unassuming town of Applethwaite, in the depths of the Cumbrian countryside, however, an unlikely revolution is brewing. Albino gymnast Louis Trevelyan and his motley group of friends are fiercely proud of their Unsponsored status and gradually forge a plan not only to liberate the beleaguered Theodore but the whole of the United Kingdom.
I start smiling before her posts open on my screen, because I know she’s going to make me laugh already. And I have a notebook to jot down all the new words I’ve learnt from her. For me, finding an author like M T McGuire is like finding gold. I do love sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but finding a writer that can make me make sure to go to the loo before I read their book makes for a happy, happy me. There aren’t many who can do this for me by the way, so recommending M T McGuire’s book is a big deal – definitely go get it. And while you are lurking around Amazon, have a squiz at MTM’s gorgeous author photo – love it!
The Pan of Hamgee isn’t paranoid. There must be some people in K’Barth who aren’t out to get him it’s just that, right now, he’s not sure where they are. His family are dead, his existence is treason and he does the only thing he can to survive – getaway driving.
As if being on the run isn’t bad enough, when he finds a magic thimble and decides to keep it, he unwittingly sets himself on a collision course with Lord Vernon, K’Barth’s despot ruler.
Unwillingly The Pan is forced to make choices and stand up for his beliefs, beliefs he never knew he had until they were challenged. But when he is faced with a stark moral dilemma will his new found integrity stick? Can he stop running?
My final pick (only because ladies first) is Kevin Cooper. As an added bonus to getting to read his fantastic fantasy, I love his blog posts. He writes and sings beautiful music, and his poems get you right in the heart every time. I’m happy to call this author friend, but once again, that is not why I love to read his books. Off you zoom to Amazon again….
This is an epic fantasy tale that takes us to the land of Geo which is a relatively small island where farmers, simple village folk, goblins and trolls live in relative harmony.
The land is shepherded by a wizard whose main role is to keep the peace and harmony by travelling throughout the land every year resolving any developed disputes along the way.
Normally this is a relatively easy job for the wizard and no one even remembers him having to perform any magic or put spells on anyone or anything to keep the peace. But then one day, all the simple folk disappear and there is a shadow lurking over the last mountain.
What are the goblins and trolls going to do without people to trade with? What is lurking in the shadow over the last mountain? Who is the little girl that magically appears and what has the unicorn’s horn got to do with any of the goings on?
More importantly, will the wizard be able to defeat the shadow and get the simple folk back? In order to find out, one must read: The Wizard, The Girl and The Unicorn’s Horn.
Enjoy guys! Now to see if that Publish button works again…..
Right up to Sunday, which turned out to be a brilliant day altogether, last week was crap in every way. 2013 has to have been the weirdest year I’ve ever had, with impossible things happening – both really good and really bad – back to back. My stubborn sense of trying to see the good in everything, and belief that every bad thing generally happens for a good reason or outcome, finally started to cave under the pressure, and good old anxiety set in. Shake, rattle, and roll, and I’ve still got the shoulder ache to prove it.
Yesterday we went for a braai with some lovely friends, met a lovely new friend, and had a really relaxing and great day at their gorgeous home. There’s nothing like spending time with people you like, people on the same wavelength, laughing and chatting about subjects that interest all of you, to get you out of a funk.
So, feeling really positive and once again able to string a sentence or two together, good old McNabs super-chill pack of holistic herbal peace pills doing their work, I’ve got my mojo back, and I foresee a good week of scribbling ahead. I’ve even got a better grip on my germ phobia, after being well sneezed upon in the bank, and managing not to sprint out immediately and buy a bottle of Dettol to disinfect – spending forty five minutes in a queue does wonders for embracing those funky germs.
A more interesting twist to the week. We’ve discovered that there could be a wee ghostie in these parts. To be honest, the feathered horde have been a bit put out and nervous on a night or two – with Beanie the parrot girl exiting her own warm bed and heading over to mine a couple of times. Birds don’t usually move around in the dark, and mine never have before, so this struck me as a little odd. And the whole horde has been reluctant to go to bed a few times. The occasional case of goosebumps for no reason, and general sense of not being entirely on your own, has now been explained by hearing of a small brown thing being seen flitting around and about here, and others feeling a general sense of unease.
I’m guessing that we haven’t finished with this – it’s two am right now and I’m feeling properly creeped out. Bring on the medicinal champers! It could just be that writing about these things will do that to you, and the rain is bucketing down. ‘Tis a dark and stormy night – sort of thing. I’m quite a coward when it comes to things that go bump in the night. The thought of something unseen being able to interfere with you gives me the proper willies, but I don’t care what sort of an ooh nasty you are – if you interfere with the horde and frighten my feathery guys out of their beds, I’m going to stomp on your spectral self – with a bit of luck and probably some burning sage.
Fear is a funny old thing. Whether it’s a fear of something creeping around when you’re asleep, or fear that your life has taken a disastrously dark turn, and you’re about to crash and burn, it’s never productive to let it get a good grip on you. Dark forces feed on fear – it makes them stronger. Whether that dark force is some sort of spirit up to no good, or a fear that no matter what you do something really horrible is going to happen, ruin your life, and make a mockery of everything you’ve worked for, it’s important never to give in to it. No matter what happens to you in your lifetime, it’s an amazing thing. Your life. Sometimes it helps to look at yourself, your amazingly alive self, and the world around you, and realise that ultimately nothing can truly harm you. You can choose to cower, or you can choose not to waste a second of your allocated three score and ten, and meet every little thing head on. You’re alive on this crazy miraculous rock – you have thought and you have soul – and the ability to choose to face anything with courage, or if necessary, a really big stick. Never let any sort of dark force steal any of your life. Rock on.
Something’s really put a bit of a damper on my festive spirit this year. One of my neighbours has some sort of parakeet in a cage in their back yard. It’s not tiny, but it’s not overly spacious either, and made of metal roofing sheets mounted on top of four poles. I guess that it’s about two metres on each side. All I can see is the back of it, but I think it has wire mesh on one side. They’re both out every day, and they don’t have any children so nothing happens out there at all, apart from troops of monkeys zooming in and out. I’ve been trying not to look at it, or think about it, but that birdie guy in there spends a lot of his day calling, and he sounds mournful and miserable as hell, so the thought of what his life must be like locked up in there year in and year out, alone, and in all weathers, pops up in my thoughts all throughout each day. It must be absolute hell. It’s hell for me just thinking about it.
I know that most people don’t get to spend as much time with their pet birds as I do with mine, and I understand that cages are the recognised homes for them. I think it’s bad enough that many parrots never get to leave these cages, often spending their days alone in empty homes while their owners are at work, and get fed what and when their owners choose, but to park such a wonderful creature out in your yard in a metal box just seems beyond cruel to me.
A couple of things that stand out for me as far as my own feathered horde are concerned – firstly is how incredibly intelligent they are. They get happy, sad, angry, and occasionally bored. They have clear thought processes. They have senses of humour. They feel emotion. The second thing is how loving they are. They so obviously feel love and affection. Thirdly is that they have no malice. So if I had to compare birds or animals to my human neighbours and ask who’s the better person I most certainly wouldn’t vote for the humans. No other creature on this planet purposely imprisons any other, and they certainly don’t knowingly or unknowingly torture them. Only people do that.
I’m not sure what, if anything, to do about the neighbour’s back yard bird, or if I’m over-reacting because I’m such a fan of the feathered, but I’m trying anyway to think of something that won’t offend them or bring wrath on that feathery guy’s head. But I can’t carry on listening to his sad calls, or catching glimpses of that contraption on sticks, and still be able to concentrate or get any work done. It’s so much easier when you aren’t forced to look at animal suffering. Out of sight, out of mind. I’m sure a lot of people would think that there’s nothing wrong with keeping a bird like that. Definitely the people who believe that animals are not sentient beings, and most certainly don’t have feelings or souls, or the right to freedom. You can’t free animals after being bred and kept in captivity anyway, but you can give them the dignity and comfort every creature deserves – at least to the best of your ability. And you can stop capturing and breeding new ones.
My wish for 2014 is that every person who wants buy any sort of bird, from a cheap little budgie to the most expensive parrot, first finds out how to care for it from someone who really knows. Find out how long your potential bird is likely to live (some live to a hundred years), and to behave, so that if having a lovely pile green poop on your shoulder now and then, or discovering that he likes to munch on furniture and has a voice like an air-horn is going to be a problem – avoid it before it happens, and you end up closing that cage door for good, and stealing the life of an animal designed to fly free. It shouldn’t only be about what the human wants or needs. Unless anyone has had a direct message from The Big Guy Himself saying that He is well pleased with the way we treat his creatures, I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t want consideration for their lack of freedom and happiness to be ignored.
As I’ve listened to the fireworks and parties, this year for some reason I just can’t stop thinking about those little souls around and about who have no reason to celebrate, because they don’t have the choice of how they get to spend their lives, and most humans don’t consider their lives of sufficient value or importance to give them that choice. I think we’re on a slippery slope believing it’s alright to do something just because we have the power to, and because we say so, and because just like me, most of us lack the balls to say something when we see these things. Easier to look away. I believe that humans instinctively know right from wrong – I think we’re born with that knowledge. It doesn’t matter how your parents raised you, if something feels wrong to you, it very probably is. So as we go into our shiny new year, spare a thought for those furred and feathered members of our families who never get to vote at family meetings.
Thanks to scribblers the world over these days having to learn how to self-publish their books, and thereby having to learn how to negotiate the old internet, there must be thousands of oldie but goodie techie wizards around and about. It’s a
rite write of passage I reckon.
1. Book written. Log on to the internet with your shiny new computer. Join as many Facebook groups as will have you.
2. Lurk around spying on “real” authors, then suck up to them in the hope that some of that awesomeness rubs off on you.
3. Get hugely impressed when the first fifty pounce on your bones yelling, “OI! Buy my book!”
4. Run away.
5. While hiding in terror in case any more pounce on you, learn about Show – DON’T Tell. Edit the crap out of your book and completely destroy it.
6. Find out that you have to have a Platform first anyway, so ditch the manuscript and join every single site on the interweb, and start building your Brand.
7. Use your most professional and author-like photo for your gravatar.
8. Be overcome with gratitude when a seemingly famous poet starts sending poems to your Facebook message box.
9. Realise you’ve just met your first Troll and he’s definitely reading the wrong kind of literature.
10. Get back to fixing your manuscript.
11. Spend all your money on self-help books on how to make covers, and……. stuff……
12. Make your first cover.
13. Publish your book.
14. Wait for the celebrations, and the sale of your millionth book.
15. Wait some more.
16. Give some away.
17. Find out it might take a while before the celebrations begin.
18. Write your next book.
19. Realise you’re an online GENIUS now anyway.
20. And you’re having way too much fun to ever stop.
Happy Holidays fellow travellers, I love you every one. xxx
A big welcome to my guest today, Phil A Davis, award winning architect and hugely talented author, all the way from the island of Maui. He studied music and was a songwriter and performer from 1969 to 1971. He has been a practicing architect since 1984 and has worked on projects across the U.S. and in other countries around the globe. Phil and his lovely wife Barbara have three grown daughters, three granddaughters, and a grandson. Apart from being a really great guy, I love his writing, and find his points of view on many subjects really inspiring. Thanks for joining me Phil. Love the lei!
When did you start writing? Did you write as a child, and how do you think that your life has influenced your writing? Share a little with us about who Phil A Davis, the man behind the pen is.
My oldest friend, Graham, is the son of two prominent actors who performed at the Laguna Beach playhouse way back in the fifties and sixties. Later in life he became an accomplished actor and was once a part of Clint Eastwood’s troupe. He is best known on the silver screen for a supporting role in the movie Pale Rider. He’s living in Virginia with his wife and teaching theatre at the University of Virginia, and we get in touch about once a year.
Graham and I used to make up stories, always fictional verbal accounts and each of us would contribute a portion to advance the story. It was all on the cuff and there were times when we actually did some of the storytelling with his parents listening – that must have been entertaining.
I didn’t do much with writing or storytelling again until I was in high school. Music became important to me when my then girlfriend asked me to join a singing group that performed locally. I wrote a few of the songs we performed and actually learned to score music on my own because most of the members could actually read music. As you can imagine, when I went to music school I was bored for the first year. It became a long piano lesson that I intend to kickstart in the future.
The end to my potential music career came when a few of us broke off and started performing in local bars and coffee houses and it was three years of working for next to nothing. As idealistic as I was I came to realize that our chances of becoming the next “thing”, or anything for that matter, were pretty slim. I broke off from the group and took a two-month vacation to drive across the country. I flew from Los Angeles to Maryland and then drove from Virginia to California. The trip didn’t take long to make life changes in my thinking. I remember sitting by a remote lake in Tennessee watching lighting bugs fly among the reeds along the shore and thinking architecture school didn’t seem so intimidating.
My young life as a musician is a time I look back at often when I am writing.
Tell us a little about your two very different careers. Do you sometimes wish you could just write all the time?
I have many interests, but creative endeavours have always challenged me.
I’ve always loved working on cars and I paid a large part of my college tuition keeping them running for friends and other students. I hated that I smelled like parts cleaner most of the time and my knuckles looked like I was a prize fighter in the thirteenth round. At that point in my life girls were becoming discerning young women and my red knuckles and odour wasn’t appealing to them or me. I still work on my cars, but only as a break from my version of everyday insanity.
I was also a pretty good baseball player in high school and college and for a time was scouted by the Los Angeles Dodgers – that is until an arm injury took me out of contention.
Architecture is my mistress. It always was, even when I studied music, and it always will be. It’s hard to explain the feeling of creating environments that people live and work in. It’s not just the buildings it’s the impact we as architects can have on people’s lives – and all the cool technology that is being employed today is something I’ve waited years to see evolve.
I did my thesis on “Passive Gain Solar Systems” way back in ’78 and back then I came to understand that the technology wasn’t up to the dream. I really thought we had come a long way since putting a man on the moon, but we were neophyte’s in a world we’re just beginning to see emerge today. We’re getting closer to the dream and we can do a lot in making buildings smarter and safer, but there is still a long way to go.
Up until three years ago I only wrote for mental recreation. I don’t tout my novel The Red Poppy too much, but it was written over twenty years ago on my Mac Plus. It was parked on a floppy disk, far from my professional pursuits until I ran into Jason Mathews. Jason opened my eyes to self publishing. I dug out that floppy (and it actually worked) and did some editing. The urge to write was re-invigorated in me at that point and I’ve kept on going since.
Raindancer was about half way complete on the same floppy disk so I did the same and published it as well.
When I was deeply immersed in The Affect of Red my wife was visiting in California and Colorado most of the spring and summer that year. Architecture work was pretty slow at that time so I was able to develop my writing habits. I wrote from 4 am to 9 am every morning. By 6 pm I was back at it until around 10 or 11 pm and by the end of the last chapter I was physically and mentally drained. I then asked my editor (Amy) to run through it with me and the dance started over again.
I work that same disjointed way today. Small bursts of inspiration in the morning, a little mind wandering around mid-day, and then back to more writing.
I love reading different genres by my favourite authors, and you in particular do them all incredibly well. What were the inspirations for Affect of Red, Raindancer, and Red Poppy? Do you maintain the same writing style across genres, or do you take on a different author persona for each of them?
New technology has always interested me. Even today I will sit and watch YouTube videos on new technology, physics and scientific subjects (Geek – I know, I know).
The explorer in me really came to life when Star Trek and Star Wars came out. Although I was never of a mind to become a trekky, I did spend a lot of time thinking about the reality of space travel and the technology it required.
The movie Serenity had the most impact on me as a writer. The characters were more interesting and very different than other space-based stories. Although technology is part of the story, it was mostly in the background and the personalities of the characters drew me in. I’ve watched it several times and still enjoy Mal’s (Nathan Fillion) wild west gunslinger persona. The sexual tension between him and Morena Baccarin (Inara) isn’t too far removed from Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty from the old western, Gunsmoke, and it’s a relationship much to my liking.
But I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed into SciFi. I wanted to write something in the fiction genre for a change, but I needed a topic to draw me in and hold my interest.
The topic became apparent when I began to think about the human condition we experience today. I saw a program on human trafficking and was horrified with the images. I remember thinking that as a species we’ve come a long way, but we’re still very primitive in many respects. The strong (still) exploit the weak, men abuse women and children bear the brunt of societies short comings.
I needed a cause to write fiction and The Affect of Red came from the disgust for this exploitation. I thought about how to present the subject for some time and after doing some research I began an outline. To get my details correct I did volumes of research on human trafficking, and then I read other novels on the subject. Two were very graphic, I mean blow-by-blow, hardcore descriptions. That’s not my style, but I’m glad I stuck through it. The brutality is harsh, but it’s real today.
There were times when I almost stopped writing. One part of the story that is a mainstay of the storytelling, a short chapter of 2083 words and it took me over a week to write. I walked the beach from Kihei to Maalaea almost every afternoon that week. I considered what I was about to do and what was the best way to do it. I was breaking major writing rules. I knew the reaction would be strong but I was in twenty chapters and needed to see it through.
Why? Because my writing style, no matter the genre, is an exploration of my characters lives. I came to know Camille Durran, Robert Jordan and Stacy Babineaux like old friends and there was only one resolution to my hesitation. Do it and don’t look back.
Do you have a favourite genre to read or write?
Just something that holds my interest and is written well. Thanks to Lelani Black (a good Hawaii girl), I’ve even read some romance.
You live in a very beautiful environment. How do you prefer to do your writing? Out on the beach, or do you have a particular writing area and set routine?
When I talked about distractions earlier I wasn’t talking about sitting on the beach to eliminate distractions. Really? Sitting under palm trees and tickling the keys sounds very romantic, but you know who shows up on the beaches of Maui? Too much skin – way too much distraction.
Believe it or not, I write at the kitchen counter.
Architecture for me these days is more about solving problems and less about designing buildings, but it’s all done from my home office and I spend long hours at that desk.
I need a change of venue for writing. I also know my most creative work comes in the mornings as opposed to afternoons. It’s quiet from 4 am to 8 am in the kitchen and I can listen to music (with my earphones) or enjoy the quiet.
What books have influenced your life most?
OMG! What part of my life are we talking about?
I had an English professor who loved Ibsen. We read Narcissus and Goldman and Beneath the Wheel (among others) that semester. I attribute my love of intense character development to Ibsen.
Anything by Mark Twain. He had an amazing gift for words, wit and humor. Tolstoy’s grace in the simplicity of his writing influenced my belief in what good writing and thorough storytelling is.
Contemporary indie writers like Liz Hoban, who writes amazing fiction much in the style of Pat Conroy, Sarah Hoyt’s science fiction and Mary Fan’s science fiction have had an influence on me through their writing. Oh yeah – there’s a girl from South Africa by the name of Jo Robinson whose prose is magical and whose point of view is unique.
Coming from you, that’s the nicest compliment I’ve ever had. Thank you Phil! Now, tell me, What do you find most challenging when you’re writing?
My finicky, convoluted style or writing. If I don’t know it, can’t see it or believe it, I won’t write it.
I’m glad you have such a fantastic imagination then! What do you like to do to relax, when you have the time?
Barb and I both have a lot going on. We try to get down to the beach at Ho’okipa or baby beach and just walk. I grew up in a beach town and the ocean was always a soothing place for me. Barb didn’t have the same experience growing up in inland Orange County, but living in Hawaii and spending so much time at the seashore has instilled the same sense of cleansing in her.
Living in paradise gives us the advantage of getting away to one of the large resorts for a weekend. When we lived on the Big Island and our youngest daughter was away at college we’d get a room at the Royal Kona or the Outrigger in Mauna Lani and have a short Hawaiian vacation. Really! A Hawaiian vacation just like any of you would enjoy.
I’ve been travelling for work quite a bit lately and Barb recently decided to start coming with me. We just did a couple of days at the Ala Moana in Honolulu. I visited sites with my client during the day and then Barb and I played tourist in Waikiki in the evenings. It was a great time and something we will continue.
Learning new things has become a new form of relaxation these days. Coding Java has caught my interest recently. Who knows, maybe particle physics next week (Geek – I know, I know).
What are your thoughts on publishing and marketing books in this new world of the internet?
Writing a novel is an incredible adventure. Marketing is tedious, internet or not.
After attempting to publish The Red Poppy years ago I learned that breaking into that world was much like the music business. Sure, you’ve got to have some talent, but it’s better if you know someone who’s willing to help push your career.
As an indie writer I’ve come to believe that books in the mainstream have a sanitary feel about them. Don’t get me wrong, the work of today’s top writers is incredible no matter the genre. But it’s all so formula-driven and just like Hollywood, it’s all so perfect and so predictable, and it’s all so controlled by the big publishing houses.
When I read for pleasure I always seek out something from the indie world. The internet has given us access to great writers and stories via Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords – there’s so much out there. I could read every hour of the rest of my life and barely scratch the surface of what’s available.
Tell us about your books?
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing?
Mmf, titter. The covers for all of your books are great. How did you choose them?
I can’t say too much about cover design. Until I started using Photoshop (in my case, GIMP) I’ve thought my covers have been pretty one-dimensional.
As there is a lack of bookstores here on Maui (and the Big Island) I’ve resorted to combing the books at Costco for cover inspiration. I know I should just scroll through Amazon but I’m always looking for an excuse to get out and interact with people from time to time.
Cover design starts early in the writing process. A recent habit has been to find images that depict characters and settings for my stories. It’s become a standard process in developing my characters and for me it really helps with the writing. My editor was all over me during The Affect of Red. The words “Get into her head!” was a familiar cry in her editing comments. I found that coming up with images helped me identify with my characters at a different level earlier in the writing process. When I came up with an image for Camille Durran she became familiar and easier to write. With Amy’s help I went back to the beginning and re-wrote her character. She became more real to me through that experience and I crossed some difficult bridges in my writing during that process.
I’ve done the same in my current SciFi series (Beyond the Door) and I’ve turned all the images into a Glossi (online magazine). It’s just another way to stave off block and I get inspiration and I’m able to generate different covers as a break during the process of writing.
I love that idea, and have every intention of pinching it! I know that affairs of the real world have a big influence on your writing. What would you change in the world if you could, and what affects you the most.
I’m affected by the ignorance of educated people and the tolerance of those same people to let shameful acts continue, and then do nothing.
When we were young our inexperienced and sometimes undisciplined minds jumped without thinking for almost anything. Enthusiasm is part of the growing and learning process. Today I see grown adults blindly drawing conclusions based on the beliefs held by their social groups. I see leaders who aren’t leaders, they’re more like celebrity entertainers.
Maybe it’s always been that way. Maybe it’s the 24/7 media with a voracious appetite that brings it to light, spewing venom in the guise of news stories.
Don’t get me started, Jo. Until recently I’ve stayed away from social commentary in my writing. Up to the time I delved deep into research for The Affect of Red world affairs was never a part of my writing mindset.
Just recently I did inject a little corollary to current affairs in my scifi series that runs on my blog, but that’s about as far as I’ll go. Rather than providing a mirror on society, I view my place in writing as an entertainer, hopefully a teacher and inspiration motivator. But I’m always looking for ways to draw my readers into the story.
How would I change this world? Eradicate ignorance in its many forms. It’s a game changer – maybe the exploitation of young women and children would stop if people really stopped to think – stopped to really care. Maybe, just maybe…
Hear, hear! I totally agree. So. Do you believe that fiction can make the world a better place, and if you do how do you think it could be written to make any sort of social impact?
As writers we have the opportunity to entertain and teach. Not teaching like lectures and lessons, but something more subliminal. Fiction should capture the readers interest, open their eyes to an objective or bring humor into their lives.
When I put on my writing hat I might take my reader into the gutter and expose man’s inhumanity to man, but my characters struggle and find a way to overcome. Good over evil is a yin & yang of storytelling, but the reality is that evil never goes away – it requires periodic maintenance.
What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in your writing career?
My novel, Exit Wounds, just flowed out of me a year ago. I don’t know why I wrote it, but there it is on Amazon.
My main character is a young hit-woman in Europe. Although she wants ‘out’ she knows the only retirement program is a death sentence.
When I got to what needed to be the end of the story I reached a philosophical dilemma. Hoping I could spare her I had her successfully managed to extricate herself from the profession of death, and then I had two choices: let her re-enter normal society and fade into obscurity, or make her pay for her past.
I was bothered by my choices and began soul-searching for the right path, so I posed the dilemma to ten friends, five men and five women. Here’s the general gist of their responses:
From the men: is she good looking?
From the women: let her burn in hell.
And now your latest book! What is Affect of Red about?
Robert Jordan and Camille Durran both find themselves victims of failed relationships. Robert is a studio manager for successful engineering firm and Camille is a young attorney in San Francisco. They both have consuming jobs that leave little time for romantic affairs.
Camille meets Robert in a bar in San Francisco. She is wearing a red evening dress and she attracts Robert’s attention. They both quickly realize their connection is a fairy tale of love at first sight. They meet the following weekend in Reno, Nevada for lunch, and then find themselves fleeing to Costa Rica from the Russian Mafia thugs who are after Camille. They fall in love, and when they return to the US, they marry, have a child, and begin living an idyllic life in the wine country of California. But the threat of the Russian Mafia never leaves their lives.
Thank you so much for taking the time to join me here Phil. It’s been fantastic to find out more about you, and your amazing life, and I’m really looking forward to reading Affect of Red soon.
Find Phil Davis on Amazon.
Visit his author website.
My two short stories are free on Amazon until 22 December if anyone fancies a little read.