Tag Archives: book

I also write…

… Thought I’d better add that to the blog ‘cos it’s beginning to look like an art blog and, more than that, a Brushes/Youtube blog.

So, for the benefit of new readers, I also write books. I mention that for a couple of reasons: one I’ve been asked to spec up a book that I’m excited at the possibility of working on, especially if I get the chance to do a couple of the stranger, sillier things I’ve suggested, especially one silly idea which I’ve sort of nicked from comic books in a vague sort of way. Two: I’ve got a new book out in October – although I have a meeting about that next Monday to work out the timings and all and three: it’s something I’ve actively come to enjoy doing, although mainly by the back door and only recently.

When I wrote my first book (Dr Sylver and the Library of Everything) there was a purpose: I was trying to tell a story to youth group members that would help them where they were at. Some kids were struggling with bullying so I added a little of that, others with teenage pregnancy so that went in and so life sort of dictated the story, I just copied the words from the air onto the page. Book 2 (Repository of the Past) came along and one specific kid pushed the story along in and out real life so, again, I felt like I was doing something for someone else in a way. Then I wrote Messenger, but that comes into the story later.

I’d finished Messenger and was taking it around places, occasionally, over the course of a year when Spring Harvest came around and gave me a brief for teaching materials. It changed a couple of times and a couple of deadlines were left to pretty late notice but I loved working with them and was pretty happy with the result: The Exile Road. It was the first collaboration, surprisingly, of my writing and drawing in one place. I was signed up to do Exile 2 but, part way through production it was cancelled and although that was thunderously disappointing I carried on doing other stuff. The idea for Exile 2 was something I was excited to be carrying out and I hope it comes to fruition one day, somehow.

Then comes Messenger, published last year. A story written entirely in chat room text speak it was.. a funny one to work on. Loads of fun but the layout: that was a hospital pass and DLT did a fantastic job of putting it together and out on a shelf. It’s the strange story of a week of relational chaos for teenagers told only by the conversations they had after each days events.

In October we see the end of the Dr Sylver trilogy (although not necessarily the end of her stories, we’ll see). It’s called Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time and… well, this is the thing y’see: I like playing with conventions and Tapestry is my most playful book yet. The end… Well, I’ve seen some how to write webpages and documents that say an ending shouldn’t take more than two or three chapters – for what reason I don’t know – and Tapestry has an end sequence that’s… a little longer than that. I also get a chance to play about with the design of words on the page again and that’s something that’s come across from Messenger.

Anyhow: I’ve just started enjoying it… And the reason for that is a little circuitous: I met up with a student recently who said that I was his favourite teacher (naaaaaaa) because I wrote the best briefs. They felt more like stories that the students participated in and because of that encouraged a greater response. Truth to tell I probably do wind up some of my teacher colleagues because I’m not happy with a brief to be given to a class unless it has ‘the hook’: something that they’ll look at and say ‘cool, I want to do that.’ I wasn’t happy with a recent collaborative CD cover project for example because… well… CD covers are a part of our wallpaper, 12 x 12 cm squares of design taken for granted. After a good few meetings we extended the brief to add a caveat: mid-way through the designers work with the band the musicians had made it big and the record company was now paying for a special edition CD to be created. We gave the students the nets and said re-engineer the imagery to fit that. It was the hook I needed to get excited about it and that transferred over to the guys we were teaching. It was also more true to real life than some of the briefs we get and though the students moaned when we changed things half way through it taught a valuable lesson 🙂

Next year the course changes a lot (mixed feelings about that one and lots of good people are affected) and I (think I but we’ll see) get the chance to write the year. Looking forward to that loads. Not that it’s for anything more than a limited audience but I like the collaborative stuff loads 🙂

Which also brings me to the Guildford Big Book Draw and busses as ‘the zone’… But those are posts for later. Need to get onto non-computer stuff for a while…

Been a week, been a week, been a week….

Loooooooong time coming…


Said goodbye to one of my classes yesterday – the first of four groups I’ll see off this academic year – I’m only taking one class into next year – and it was a sad day! Was surprised but they’ve been an interesting group 🙂 Five more weeks and then it’ll be head down planning the next lot.

Apart from that? Survived Ofsted 🙂 College received a 2 overall, which is good, and our department was given a 3 which is satisfactory. They did say that if we had the results in and they were as projected we’d have had a 2.

Directly after my friday class ran off to get a train to Esher for the CBC show. Was good. Nice to see some old friends and some near neighbours. Had a lovely chat with someone who offered some very kind words on my writing (and to boot he had excellent taste in music too and beat me hands down for classic gigs attended…) so was glad to have been there. Dashed straight back to get to an exhibition of student artwork and then dashed from that to the pub where the tutors I work with were drinking the stress away. By this point it was about 6. They’d been in there an hour.

Oh boy.

Let’s just say that it was messy from then and only got messier… Some lovely chats and conversations though. Was glad I didn’t overimbibe though because we bumped into a number of students in the garden, one of whom had phoned in sick that day. Was glad to have the opportunity to stop by and say ‘glad to see you looking better’…

Apart from that? Hmmm nothing springs to mind, although there’s probably been loads. Big Buzz Out Loud fan so was amused to be namechecked twice in a week, sort of kind of. On monday I’d emailed in re: Chip and Pin. In Guildford a petrol station had moved the security cameras to film people putting in their pin numbers and been responsible for £1mill of fraud. To the best of my knowledge this doesn’t seem to be a hugely unusual circumstance as there often seems to be a story about some sort of card fraud of some sort. Anyhow I emailed in to say I didn’t really like Chip and Pin (for that reason) and they misread it and said one guy was paranoid about being filmed… ((I’m not paranoid… It’s not parano…Hang on, did the light on my isight camera just flash? Is it on? Anyhow… where was I?)) So I re-explained with web link about specific and there you go. Listen to it for years and then twice in a week get a vague mention… Funny old world.

In terms of turbulence the trickiest part of the week was definitely youth group. Was not there because of the aforementioned teacher mash up but left the pub at midnight to find four texts I’d not noticed come in. Turns out a kid who’d been asked not to come back until asked had turned up with a friend (we have a closed register to try and keep a track on numbers at the mo’). They were asked to leave, left using some specific language and hand gestures before we could phone a parent to explain (it was raining so we try and offer kids the chance to get lifts back if they’re not let in) and later the dad came round for a row. In fifteen years I can count the amount of times that his has happened on just over one hand but it always affects you when it does. So we’ll be there on friday as normal and I’ll be on door. I dare say it’ll calm down – nearly always does – but shame to end the half term on a barny especially as the people he shouted at in no way deserved it.

So, um, yeah. Busy week. Onwards. Teaching twice today then sleep, glorious sleep 🙂


((not that I often look back on these things but a band I wear bit the dust this week which made me sad for a couple of reasons. Again most know that I’m a huge fan of the wonderful band Onehundredhours. This band was one I picked up when they did a launch gig for my first book and has been worn ever since. In fact I’ve got an engage band on both wrists, one old and one new. Anyhow it snapped and has gone elsewhere… (Now I’m just down to five 🙁 It’s not an omen or something I’m superstitious about at all, but it did remind me about a good time in the past and remind me about how little energy I feel I have at the moment. Also: if you’re looking for a charity to support, even if only for a while, I can recommend www.engagehivaids.com give ’em a look, throw ’em some love.))

Sunday was Merritt meet day…

Long term reader may remember that I’ve become a total podcast devotee over the past few years. Rarely am I found not listening to one podcast or another and some; Joystiq, One Life Left, Fighting Talk, This American Life and many others have become firm weekly favourites. They’re pretty much taken over from music listening and tv watching for me… Podcasts are where it’s at and, in ways, where the market is heading – for good and occasionally bad.

Very high in my affections is Buzz Out Loud which, at its best, is a whip crack of a discussion with point, counter-point, offbeat tangent and rant about space travel and exploration batted around from one corner of a microphone to another. More often than not it sings me out of the day being the last thing I listen to at night because of the time it’s uploaded.

On Sunday the chief architect of the finest of cheesy links, Mr Tom Merritt, popped over to a London pub for a meet and, despite a number of facts that would have kept me away I was up there and enjoying the company quicker than you could say ‘oops watch out for that glass’.

(Which, in writing terms, is foreshadowing. We’ll come back to the glass later).

Of course, very cynically, this next part could be claimed as a lame attempt at networking. Tom also co-hosts an excellent fantasy book exploring podcast and, ahem, I’ve been known to write one or two of those myself. Recently they’ve been delving into my favourite fantasy series – Dune – and Tom expressed a high regard for that so the shared taste should have made it easier to say hi and beg a one-line quote right?

Wrongoloid. Big time.

Don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous passing a book on, ever. I was literally shaking prior to the meet, hiding in a corner as others went and said hi. I snuck onto the table as others moved to sit and chat and he noticed me and said hi and I nodded and raised a glass, total fanboy coward that I is. 

Anyhow the conversation, both with Tom and Nate from Cnet UK and a bunch of geeks of all flavours was chilled and easy, the beer was ace, courtesy of Weatherspoon’s excellent real ale festival (also mentioned by the equally esteemed Mr Dave Walker) and a card that I had drawn was serepticiously passed round the table for people to sign and say hi for themselves. I was glad to do it, I like the idea of someone taking something away when they’ve taken the time to do something nice for others – hopefully a reminder of a good time shared all ways round.  I did the same thing at Larry Normans farewell gig in the UK but no idea if he received the card… Hope so.

Tom did get the card because, as we moved from pub to restaurant I passed it on myself as it was returned to me not him (but ran away before he had the chance to open it, just in case…) as well as a brown paper wrapped package containing Dr Sylver 1 and Messenger which I almost wimped out on giving to him. It’s one thing to beg a quote from the LICC, Lord Ron and others and I was delighted when the NDCS came out in support of the book, but I’m a huge fan of the other TM so it felt much bigger the risk. Hope he likes anyhow. Maybe it was a pleasant read on the flight back, maybe it’s excellent bedding for their hamster, maybe I’ll not know. We’ll see…

And the glass? Well at some point someone started to collect all of the empty glasses and then a small group of people were doing it, just to see how high the tower could become. I want to make it clear that Tom was on another table at this point and is in no way implicated in such beery, bleary shenanigans… Through distance alone if not sense also. Anyhow, I went for a brief break to take in the scenery of the inside of the building, one room in particular, that sort of thing, and when I came back a few short minutes later there was a very clear table and a huge amount of broken glass on the table, floor, chairs, and one bag. Some people had scarpered off into the distance, others were helping clear up and soon enough a slightly – and can’t blame him – frowny faced manager was sweeping it up and we were keeping quiet a little.

So, lesson learnt. No more jenga using pint glasses. It is, however, something we’ll remember for a good few years that said and, fortunately, no-one was hurt bar for blushes from those concerned. Earlier a half pint had been spilt during an animated discussion, sideways and towards people at velocity. After the pint glass leaning tower disaster incident that seemed pretty small beer in comparison.

Below is the original sketch for the card, the card itself and inner image, the brown paper, decorated pleadingly on the longer than normal train ride up as the nerves set in, and a tall talented person standing next to a small one (but hey, short power and all that…)


*edit: Tom said he loved the card 🙂 time well spent then…

**edit two: just noticed that that the thing I didn’t photograph was the back of the card. As anyone who’s had a card from me knows I always sign them “Rushjob cards inc” ever since that card for Sarah E all those years ago… This one contained that plus the exclamation mark explanation: 
* we admit we did the tatt but the cylon spine was there before we got here…
(or words to that effect, can’t remember exactly. I drew it out anyhow and then, of course, Tom’s on the webs defending Lost to Molly Wood’s Galactica positivity. Ah well, both are ace).

And another thing…

So I know that I’ve probably said this before but just finished the guide draft of Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time. That gives me two weeks to refine and get it sent out to people for insta-review and then, 6 weeks later, it may be on the shelves provided the publisher is happy with the final version.

Added to that the myspace is currently being designed, we’re trying to get leaflets sorted for CBC, all sorts… Next week should be a mix of loads of stuff and some much needed tidying and housework.

The end… Ahh now that would be saying… I’m itching to find out what people think tho’. I’ve been editing all night and the hardest thing was that I kept realising I was in reading mode whipping through pages rather than editing mode and making sure there were no double words in a sentence double words in a sentence.

Bit of luck that’s sorted, next week is a read through again and hopefully the issues will be more and more minor. The main problem now is who I can send it to for review and whether they are un-busy enough to be able to do so… We’ll see. I think that’s the biggest casualty of me being so sidetracked this year.

But… Finished. And hopefully something that people like when it’s released.

Messenger quote…

Trying to manage a million things at once at the moment. Changes in work coming soon – don’t want to pre-empt the meetings I’ve had in the past week for friends who log on – and Sylver, Exile and many other things being worked on, not quite as we speak but in the same sort of quarter at least.

Messenger, published by the lovely people at DLT, has had a couple of reviews which I’m still trying to work out what to do with. The problem is that I’ve totally missed the boat with Christmas in mind so now have to start thinking in a logical manner for… what.. January? Easter? Hmmm… I try my best, is all I can say…

Anyhow: quoteses:

Tre Sheppard, lead singer and guitar amazingness from the awesome band Onehundredhours:
“I’ve liked Paul since I met him. This new book “Messenger” is a little like Paul actually… it’s quirky, engaging, creative and a seemingly quick read… of course, until you dive in and find wonderful depth, truth and a keen eye on the human condition and the need for grace. Count me in as a fan :)”

Ian from Youthblog.org said:
As a medium this is fascinating. Given that tween guys are renowned non readers, I can see the attraction of exploring different forms of visual type. … actually it was a bit like watching a Shakespeare play, i.e at first the language is confusing and annoying but you quickly adapt and then virtually don’t notice.

I think the book is fun, a great experiment and well rendered (and) the teenage humour and angst came across extremely well.

((and you can read the review in full here)).

And the wonderful Phil Groom from the London School of Theology books and recsources dept said:
Read it, loved it: ace.
((and has promised a longer review when he’s got the time)).

Also; this one came in and I don’t know if I’m allowed to associate it just yet. But it amused me so here goes:

It’s the dictionary definition of cool, I felt hip just reading it ;o)

More, I hope, to come. But that’ll do for a start and I’m chuffed with the comments so far. Let me know if you’ve read Messenger and, if so, what you thought about it.