Authors, what are you working on now?

Here is an update of what I am doing. If you are a writer or reader, tell me; what have you been up to?

New Book Covers

I have had new covers designed for The Ice Boat and The Man Who Recreated Himself. Tell me what you think. Thanks to those who have helped me; you know who you are. New covers for Infinite Blue Heaven and the Short Stories volumes are on the way.

The Ice Boat cover

The Ice Boat cover

The lovely new cover says it all about this book. A lonely man searches for love in some of the remotest, as well some of the most urbanised, places on Earth. There is a coldness in his heart that he doesn’t seem to be able to fill. The covers for Volume 2 and the Boxed Set are of the same design.

The Man Who Recreated Himself cover

The Man Who Recreated Himself cover

I love this new design! The tunnel looks like a key-hole to me and that represents the idea that, in some way, James Brennan has the key to the future of man. The butterfly symbolises metamorphosis.

The Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Extended Edition sale

The giveaway of this book was quite successful, with about 300 copies downloaded. What has been great is that I sold 3 copies since the sale ended!

Forthcoming releases

I have begun completely reworking the book with the working title Escher’s Staircase. I don’t like this title by the way but haven’t though of anything better yet. I guess the best way to describe this book is; reminiscent of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. It has that dark, gothic feel to it and an air of mystery. It is proving quite difficult to get to a state whereby it can be published but I have had some great input from those close to me and my beta readers so when you do see it, I think the wait will have been worth it. I would guess I am about one or two months from having a fair copy. It will require another read though and proof-reading after that so perhaps it will be published in January.

Worlds Like Dust, the final installment of the Iron Series, is close to the end of it’s final proof and beta read. I have no idea what changes will be required so its much harder to give an estimate of its release date. Certainly, this will be after Escher’s Staircase.

Another World War Two drama has had a few beta reads but it still in an early form. I don’t anticipate this being available for at least a year because I want to send it to a few agents; they prefer unpublished work and take a long time to respond.

I have also completed a first draft of the third book in the Ordo Lupus series and feedback from the beta readers has been good so far. Interest in it is high but I want to send this to agents too so I don’t anticipate this being available for another year.

Some of you may recall that I began a work on a book about busking. This has been shelved due to lack of interest from publishers.

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What is the back-story behind your books?

This week: Here is the back-story behind my newly published volumes of The Ice Boat Volume II and The Ice Boat – 2 in 1. What is your back-story?

The Ice Boat
In the Lazlo Ferran Newsletter which went out to my friends last weekend, I announced the publication of the last volume of The Ice Boat and a 2 in 1 version, which includes both volumes in one book.

I published Volume I back in 2009. It is semi-autobiographical, largely anecdotal, and was the first novel I wrote, even further back, in 2003.

The Ice Boat is largely autobiographical, although certainly not for most of the erotic passages, which are many. It was written at a time in my life when I was frustrated by my own lack of wisdom; in particular my inability to be neither totally cynical or optimistic. Perhaps because I had just moved from a life as a full-time musician to an IT professional within the science sector, I felt a little bit ‘dislocated’.

I remember completing it while on holiday in Spain. I sat on my balcony, late into the hot evenings, writing the last chapters with a cold drink! The whole novel was written on paper. Writing in long-hand allows your thoughts to flow more freely. I think that is why this book is more like a stream-of-consciousness than any of my other books. The drawback was that ten years later when I re-located the manuscript for Volume II, I couldn’t read my own handwriting!

I lost the manuscript for Volume II when I married and it wasn’t found until late in 2013 by a cleaner! Now it is published for the first time.

That is the story behind my book The Ice Boat. What is yours?

Description of The Ice Boat
“The only reason anyone went out was to buy drinks in town. The tide of cans was always in on the studio floor.”

With plenty of drugs, sex and rock and roll; The Ice Boat is a modern pop-culture odyssey.

David Dee has almost got it; with a solicitor girlfriend, a job, a flat and a band in London, he almost has the happiness he has worked for all his life. His reluctance to compromise takes him away from London to disaster in Rio de Janeiro and on to surreal adventure and self-discovery in Amsterdam.

You can buy ‘The Ice Boat’ Volumes I and II in one book: The Ice Boat – 2 in 1 at a considerable saving.

All three eBooks and paperbacks of The Ice Boat are available on Amazon from today:
The Ice Boat – Volume I http://bit.ly/OqGsCT
The Ice Boat – Volume II http://bit.ly/1gCfK15
The Ice Boat – 2 in 1 http://bit.ly/1g08qwE

Why should your main character have flaws?

This week: Sneak Preview, news about an Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate promotion and: Why should your main character have flaws?

Why should your main character have flaws?
All of my main character (and thus protagonists) have flaws. In my earlier books I think it was just instinct that led me to this. In fact you could argue that for James Brennan in The Man Who Recreated Himself and King Vaslav in Infinite Blue Heaven the question of whether they are flawed or not is the main theme examined in the novels. James is perhaps naive and Vaslav is perhaps sexually weak, being a willing participant in incest, something not uncommon in the 17th century. In The Ice Boat, which is my first novel completed, it’s very obvious that David Dee is flawed; naive and confused by life. Physically he is in good health however, as are the other two characters mentioned.

The practice of giving the main character (MC) flaws probably began in Greek literature with Odysseus. He is a superb physical specimen, canny and intelligent far beyond the abilities of most around him. He takes on the Gods and wins. He dreams up the Trojan Horse trick which had become legend. But, he has a kind of self-loathing, and considers himself ‘odious’, from which the author – nominally Homer – gave him his name. However, Odysseus is not part of a tragedy; he does regain his Kingdom, his wife and his son – eventually. In Greek tragedies we have perfect beings that suffer terribly as a consequence or despite of this. King Leonidas (whose name incidentally derives from the root ‘lion’) doesn’t seem to have had a fault; incredibly brave, resourceful, physically strong and tough, and loyal to Sparta beyond consideration of his own life. Moreover he was real; he actually lived. Of course he probably wasn’t perfect but his exploits have become legend. With 300 Spartans of his own personal guard, he held the pass at Thermopylae against at least 10,000 Persians long enough for the Greek navy to assemble and defeat the Persian navy. He and all his men were lost. This is the essence of Greek tragedy: great deads and great intentions that end in disaster for the main protagonist.

It is said that we no longer write tragedies: perhaps we no longer can. All modern MCs are flawed. We even have the ‘anti-hero’ now; a character so flawed he would probably be the equivalent of the baddie in Greek Literature. Perhaps it’s because we no longer look to stories for moral guidance. Nobody likes being preached to and even authors of quite ‘high’ moral literature such as J. R. R. Tolkien distance themselves from any suggestion of allegory in their work. Nowadays we prefer to sympathise with characters. We are looking for escapism. All we want to do is imagine that we are the MC in a book or one of the main protagonists and absorb ourselves in the world the writer has created for us.

In Iron I: Too Bright the Sun, Jake Nanden has his flaws: he has mechanical body parts and is terrified of mirrors. He also has the deep lack of confidence that is the realm of replicants. Jake was a fascinating character to create and write about because he saw himself as non-human so he felt he had a perspective on the whole human race. Stone, in Iron II: Unknown Place, Unknown Universe is a self-proclaimed douchebag. They don’t come more anti-hero than Stone. I loved writing his part because I could make him as selfish, self-absorbed and obnoxious as I wanted. Then of course there are the aliens! Chief among them as protagonist is Kek-suîxjh. Super-intelligent, he nevertheless suffers from an innocent awe of the world that slips dangerously over into naivity at critical times.

My most flawed MC is the anonymous hero in Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. He has an eye defect, a kind of spiritual’weakness’ and suffers from extreme bad luck. Incidentally one of the other protagonists in this book, Georgina, is much-loved by fans and readers despite the fact that she is a baddie and out to exploit the MC. Strange how such characters can sometimes gain sympathy.

I am about to start work on a pure Vampire novel. Now the MC will have no flaws other than that he is a vampire. Is this a flaw? I don’t know but certainly some people view vampires as super-beings. Perhaps vampires, werewolves and other shape-changers or mutants and the last domain of the ‘perfect’ being, albeit in disguise. It will be interesting to see if a ‘perfect’ character manages to gain audience sympathy. In fact this leads me to my main question this week: could a perfect character gain acceptance from an audience today? I want your views so please post your comments here.

Sneak Preview
This is from my latest project, December Radio:

December Radio
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

Roger Dyce was beside himself with frustration. His eaglet frame paced up and down inside the small anti-chamber within the Cabinet War Room complex while Mr Brown sat, apparently calmly, on one of the wooded chairs placed against the wall.
“Sit down Dyce! You have nothing to worry about!”
“I’m not worried sir! I’m… well, I’m very angry! And frustrated! Yes, that’s what it is. Didn’t I say…?”
“Yes! Yes! We’ve been all through that. But perhaps this is your chance. Don’t blow it!”
That made Roger sit down. “First of all nobody will listen to me! And then it is implied that I’m somehow to blame for sitting on evidence!”
“Yes. Okay. I know, War is never fair.”
“And I’m nervous! But why here?” he continued. Brown didn’t answer. Dyce stared at the flaking cream paint smeared across bricks. During the last fifteen minutes they had heard the sound of muffled shouting from within the Map Room where the British Prime Minister was about to receive them. At that moment the door to the Map Room was flung open and out stumbled a well-built man whose facial features were so pleasingly regular and whose receding hair was so neatly minimal that they both looked as if painted onto an egg. He was wearing a neat blue suit. He nodded curtly to Brown and smiled curtly at Dyce. Roger could see the man was hurt underneath a brave façade of brisk efficiency. Whoever he was, Roger didn’t want such a powerful man as his enemy. They both followed the man though the door and took seats facing Winston Churchill.
For brown, this was only the second time he had met Winnie but he was no less nervous than Roger for it. Winston was in a foul mood:
“Now, you may wonder…hm, why we are meeting here?” The Prime Minister’s face was graven. “The truth is, from what I have learned yesterday, the War is not as over, as I thought it was! Indeed, we are in the most grave danger! Grave! I have no intention of leaving here until this is resolved. Brown, you’ve met J. J Llewellin, MP and currently serving on the board overseeing the American Nuclear Bomb programme. And this, I understand is the young Dyce!” A fleeting smile from the Prime Minister showed Roger that he alone in the room was above blame. This gave him confidence.
He smiled. “Yes, Prime Minister!”

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate promotion
I have just signed up to a new website promoting covers and first pages of novels. The website is run by internationally selling writer Laurence O’Bryan, a writer much respected and with nearly 200,000 followers I am hoping to get some decent exposure from this promotion. I have chosen Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate for the promotion because it’s my best-selling novel and is most like Laurence’s own work. The promotion will run for one year from the day it starts (in the next week or two) and to mark the occasion I did one last edit on the novel to create the Third Edition. The website is: http://booksgosocial.com
Apart from some small corrections to the text to make it more readable I have taken out the Author’s Notes and the Secret Codes that they referred to. I felt that the book has stood the test of time and no longer necessarily needs the Secret Codes to be enjoyable and furthermore, they may put off some of the more serious adult readers. I am quite sure the book’s contents are mature enough to please such readers.
However the Secret Codes, for anybody who wants to try deciphering them and nobody has successfully done so yet, will still be available in the Second Edition. For some reason, known only to Amazon, even though this is still available, it’s not associated with the Third Edition and is only possibly to find by searching specifically for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Second Edition.

Blog – Frankenstein: The True Story

The Lost Manuscript

I published Volume I of The Ice Boat in April, 2o10. It was the first novel I ever wrote and I wrote it in long-hand. I didn’t realise just what a pain in the ass it was gonna be to type it up. In fact a friend typed up nearly half of it for me – free – which is the only reason I published Volume I when I did!

Writing it up in long-hand did have some advantages; I could write in the relaxed environment of a holiday apartment in Spain and I could get my thoughts down as fast as my pen-hand could write. The latter, in my opinion, has made the manuscript more like  stream-of-consciousness than any of my other novels.

I published The Man Who Recreated Himself and then Infinite Blue Heaven – both typed out on my old Mac – before my friend had struggled through the first half of the novel. God knows how she translated my spider-scrawl into English. I published it, but shortly after this I married. I guess many marriages start with a big clear-out. Mine was no exception – one of the worst atrocities in my view was putting the old Garrard record deck into storage. But even worse was that the manuscript for The Ice Boat Volume II was lost. Fortunately I didn’t know this until my marriage broke down and my wife moved out; I thought it was safely stored in a cupboard. It was only a few years ago that I remembered it and thought, ‘I must type this bastard up somehow.’

I couldn’t find it! It was lost and I had already announced on Amazon that I would publish Volume II in due course. I felt bad. I felt I had let down my readers. There was nothing I could do.

Then, early this year, I employed a cleaner for a few months and she found it buried beneath some books. Praise the Lord! Eureka! I was saved!

What was better was that  I sound discovered that I had actually typed up about twenty pages of Volume II years ago. Now I have commenced typing up the rest. I am doing five pages per day and I reckon it will take me about a month. I will publish it in 2014 – possibly in the first half of the year, if I can find the time.

I have an observation to make about the whole episode. Reading something you wrote ten years ago is quite painful. The writing itself is painfully amateur. This leaves me with a dilemna; do I attempt to update it and possibly ruin what is there (and spend a huge amount of valuable time on it) or do I leave it as it is, a kind of historical document. No doubt many will disagree but, for now, I have gone for the latter. If I attempt to change it, I will have to practically rewrite it and I simply don’t have the time. I think it’s better to just get it ‘out there’ for now. If people want to read it, great. If not, that’s fine too. Maybe, one day, I will have the money or time to go back to it and thoroughly update it. For now, it remains as it is.

So what have I learned from all this:

1. Never write in long hand!

2. If you do, don’t use a lined A4 pad bought in the supermarket; it’s too easy to lose!

Other News

The blog is quite short this week because I need to spend time interacting with other blogs that I follow. This is something I keep meaning to do but don’t find the time. Infinite Blue Heaven is currently free on Amazon and Eighteen, Blue: (Short Stories: Volume II) will be FREE from 18-22 December so make sure you grab a copy.

I am interested in doing a VBT in January to promote Attack Hitler’s Bunker! so if you have a blog about aircraft, especially vintage aircraft and want some more traffic, get in touch.

Work on my new novel December Radio is going well; I hope to finish it in 2014.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this week’s title is a reference to the fact that The Ice Boat is having a tricky birth at best. If you haven’t seen it, Frankenstein: the True Story is the best Frankenstein movie in my opinion.