Tag Archives: Messenger 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…

Mini review of books, sort of/kind of.

Brief update amidst chaos. This weekends been both wonderful (lovely weather that allowed us to do a lot) and a fire fight with autism at the centre of just about everything we did and had to do… On a program in the last week someone described parenting autistic children and adults as never getting beyond the stage of dealing with a 2 year old and, to an extent, that’s true (which makes it all the more difficult when the 2 year old is trapped in a healthy 9 year old body and wants to jump at you from the middle stair). The good thing about it then, I suppose, is that if you like Pixar films, Brum and Thomas the Tank engine you’re going to get very knowledgable about the plot lines through repetition.

So, at the end of a pretty long 48 hours, it was very pleasant to see a twitter… um…. tweply (? re-tweet? Tweet back?) from a Mr T. Merritt to say he enjoyed the card and was ‘impressed’ with the books. In 140 characters it made me smile, want to know more (either one in particular? Favorite character, can I post the quote in big, neon letters, that sort of thing), want to print a screenshot of the page and post it and all sorts. Regardless of increased curiosity levels it was a pleasant end to the day, which now gets a postscript here. 

Heck of a week to come: lots of juggling with a freelance job which had been agreed to which falls slap bang in the middle of the college’s ofsted inspection, a few emails that really need sorting out, a new CRB to be completed, a staff card to be applied for… Stupid amounts of stuff that have to be done by Monday alone…. But for the moment I’m happy 🙂

Incidentally: little bit of Summer Sylver watch.

… there had been a brief hold up on Sylver 3 on, ironically, a tiny, tiny point. I’d decided to reword the first paragraph and what a hassle that turned out to be. Sigh. 110,000 words (yep, none of your 98,000 words slacking off of Dr Sylver two nosiree) and it turns out to be the silliest thing in me getting my head down and getting it handed in for the middle of March as promised. If you haven’t already done so I should pick up Dr Sylver 1 and 2 from here and here respectively (how’s that for not showing any favouritism) because the reveal of the bad guy will be that much bigger if you know where that persons come from in the first place. It does say in book 1 who the big bad will be at the end, well, the clues are there at least, but so far no-one’s asked if it’s the person who it will be… So I’m either clever or obtuse.

That said it’s done now and I like it loads. Hopefully I’ll be posting up chapter 0 and chapter 1 (or something similar) as a digital download and text attachment here soon enough.

The chapter title, I’m sure I can share that wouldn’t you think? Again it makes me smile, which is a good start, for me at least. Chapter 0 of Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time is called ‘The diary of days yet to come.’ 

… which is optimistic in as much as the main thrust of the book is that, once the bad guys have had their way, there won’t be any days yet  to come at all. So maybe I’m just being sneaky.

Anyhow: Still on for May and a nice slice of summer reading. I think. That’s the plan anyhow. We’re also hoping to do a joint Messenger/Dr Sylver gig in May, well… I say gig… Something a little diferent, although again the problem with plans up in the air is that they can land on my head like a stone rhino at times. We’ll see.

One more thing for the day…

Also: keep forgetting to big up this, which the publisher started off for me and I then forgot to mention anywhere much (sorry, been a hectic end of year last year).


Join if you’d like, would be nice to see people there.

Although, that said, I’m not really a Facebook person. For a start I prefer Myspace and for a second start I hate the whole XXXYYYZZZ has invited you to give all of your details to a third party to answer twenty questions about squirrels. 

Also, in other, different news, I picked up Guitar Praise for the PC/Mac yesterday and I’m reminded of that because, in the dim and distant past of last Novembre I’d hoped to do a Geetar Praise night as a launch doo-dah. That didn’t come to be so I picked it up to see how it played and had a quick blast on it today, propped upright on a wall to keep my back from ouchying. 

Not sure what to say about it really, not quite yet anyhow. Only played it for half an hour or so which isn’t anywhere near enough to write any sort of review, although without wanting to seem too unkind I dare say some reviewers have tried… I will be playing more of it soon and the music chosen was a good mix so the initial thoughts were not unpositive…

Also, dissimilarly linked I’m watching Lost while typing and have just seen the Killzone 2 ad. Um. Again, not sure what to say, but they’ve possibly suffered enough so shan’t really add to that. For the obvious strengths of the game (and I’m not saying whether it’s good or not, just that it has strengths) the advert does seem to spectacularly miss them in a pinpoint way. Impressive.

Garfield 2? Really?

Now that comment almost got unapproved I can tell thee.

And, on a similar subject, just noticed that last year Cars 2 was announced for 2012. Woot. On reading more of the thread that the (old) news was contained in I noticed that there was a lot of criticism for Cars, more so that any other Pixar project, which surprised me greatly. I can think of negatives that can be laid at the door of their films but mostly tiny, fractional things rather than big, meaty issues. Bugs LIfe had too many characters, Toy Story had no depth perception in the external scenes (almost certainly a technical/time limitation) and so on and so forth. The casualisation of violence in Incredibles – even in the soft way it was portrayed – was suited to the story but not always to the audience I felt, but again that’s more me than others maybe. Nemo is the one I have the most difficulty with as I still believe that the end can be read two ways and that, in ways, makes the film both better and more affectingly sad.

Cars however was a labour of love and, I felt, strong in nearly all areas. I avoided it at the cinema, assuming – wrongly – that it was a rip off of Doc Hollywood and, although I can’t remember the time itself, but given the choice of going to the cinema I think I was on one of my low ebbs watching things with my son next to me. So I missed it and caught up with it on DVD and realised just how good it was. So a sequel, bearing in mind also the merchandise from the original film which I understand is still strong, always seemed on the cards. A rematch between Chick and Lightning always seemed to be the logical progression as well. Surprised it’s been so long in coming.

Talking about sequels: Sylver 3 is on the way and, I realise, that for a blog about books and writing this does very little about both so a brief word about that if I may:

Messenger came out late last year and it’s been busy fitting that and other things in. Work wise I still have two part time jobs that think they’re both full time but, ((spoiler alert)) one finishes, mostly, in April. I haven’t told everyone involved with that decision just yet, but aim to do so soon as April is pretty close all things considered. I also had the added complication of a family illness and other issues to deal with so the end of 08 was… roller coastery. One project that I was emotionally attached to found itself shelved and, on top of everything else, that was a bit of a bummer.

Which led to a certain amount of creative block in the tail end of the year. Sylver 3 was the thing I was working on and, even though only 10% of it was needing fixing it still couldn’t come.

The past few days (hmm checks notes, from the 9th) the fixe to the issues have all fallen onto the page and it’s been great. I had to cut one part of the book – which’ll find itself into a following project in some way as it’s one of my favourite … well, most haunting parts of the story anyhow, but it can wait and deserves the room to breathe all on its own. So at least one question that people want answered in Sylver 3 will not be, I mention that now. Also two questions that people should have been asking but have not done so yet won’t be answered…. Everything else is tied up though.

((in fact I’m pleased that one puzzle from Sylver 2, fully explained but hidden in the background, was only picked up by one person who asked me what was going on with one of the characters… I was getting worried at the time if it was too obtuse but the person who noticed had picked up on all of the clues and knew exactly what was up. So that’s cool. Also – to re-add one hint that’s been given a couple of times – we all know the name of ‘the bad guy’, the one who’s going to bring an end to everything if he/she has his/her way – because it’s been in the books from a pretty early point yet, so far, no-ones sussed it and nobodies asked if he/she is going to act out his/her motivation… ))

You know what I can’t wait to see what people think of the next Sylver book I really can’t.

But, getting back to what’s currently on the slate I saw someone reading Messenger (available now from Play, Amazon, Wesley Owen etc 🙂 ) and I was delighted. It was really cool to see it out and about and, again, I want to know more of what people think about it. Some have come back to me and said that a couple of the net-isms (Messenger is written entirely in instant messenger speak) were confusing but it’s surprised me how much the story has been communicated between people who see it as a different language. Nice, but, again, would prefer to see it a little more noticed… Sometimes I feel like a little fish in a huge pond with few people noticing my efforts, although I dare say that’s true of many people all over the place…. 

Anyhow, time to take a break, been editing since early on and, on a half term break that’s not really fair. Time to down keys and spend some time playing…

But really… Garfield 2? Not watched it (although do own it surprisingly – son boy was very fond of Garfield 1) but classic sequel? really? My mood on it may be coloured by the fact that one summer group all of the kids called me Garfield (including my Goddaughter grrr) so I tended to avoid mention of the other orange cat. That said: on mondays, lasagne and sleep he and I are in complete agreement so maybe I should give it a chance.

Couple of updates:

First off: Messenger. The lovely George C at Spring Harvest has mentioned it in the latest flyer from them, which is very kind and much appreciated. It’s mentioned in the same breath as Compassionart which, if you don’t know anything about it you really should. You can find out about it here: http://www.compassionart.tv/

((and you can find out more, well, a little but there’s more coming soon, about Messenger here: www.kercal.co.uk)).

Actually I was stupidly excited about Compassionart when the flyers came over and it’s been duly plugged at the church I go to, until I found out that it was more about the musical arts. Not a problem, it’s a good thing to support – cd and book wise, but the photo’s were so ace I was sad to see that there weren’t more of them or more visual arts involved… The website is beautifully designed and the pictures of people around the heart logo inspiring, moving and thought provoking (which is why I wanted to see more of them, I think…) (in fact they are very reminiscent of the extraordinarily beautiful pictures that Tre Sheperd took while visiting the engageHIVaids.com hospitals in Africa. Those are well worth a search for if you have an hours worth of mooching time on the Internet. I’d post the link but start at the engage website and work your way from there I think 🙂 There is some amazing stuff on that site too…)

Anyhow: Compassionart is something which I hope grows and grows, taking on more artforms and showcasing the heart of more and more people who want to change the world. More photos and art please, but please support them now, so that further projects can happen and so that the projects they are supporting can feel the benefit. As mentioned previously also consider getting it in town, rather than on le web, from either WHSmiths, which I believe was going to stock it but then got caught in the Woolworths troubles, but worth an ask anyhow, or at a Christian bookshop. Yeah it’ll be a quid or so more, but it’s the difference between free-range and factory farmed innit.

Which SEAMLESSLY brings me to the latest doodle (or at least would have if I hadn’t added another paragraph in between the art stuff and here), which will take me out of any consideration for any future of Compassionart projects ( (: ) Asbo Gran. The image tells the story, but omits the fact that I was giggling like mad when I first saw the picture in the circles (a lesson intended to take students away from the crutch of “I don’t know what to draw”) (because sometime’s it’s about the drawing, just for the fun of it, like you sing a song because one note springs into your mind or you dance just because you can…) (/rant). Anyhow, image almost derailed lesson, but the guys liked the character and it did take on a life of its own in the class… So added here, just fo’ the fun.



Anything else? Had a down week last week for various reasons… Autism being the main one, sometimes it’s not particularly easy trying to head off the issues that come up. But so far this weeks been better so onwards and upwards, hopefully. Tried to send out a couple of quote begging letters, one to someone who I know I’ve got the tiniest sliver of a chance getting at best but would make me smile to hear what he thought for reasons outside of the book… but, much like when I sent out loads of WYAC letters to people for a quote about youth work to get one reply which was not helpful, sometimes it’s a big world and I’m a very small me.

Also went to a flower show, of all things, which had a floral arrangement done with the title Japan, which was allegedly sponsored by me and the book. Not sure that the audience was entirely within the same bracket as the one for the book but hey, was an interesting experience. Photos to come. That said did get lots of ideas for something so who knows… Maybe the next thing would be set in a flower arrangers circle?

Anything else? Um…

Nope. Well, not at mo anyhow.

DOH! I KNEW there was something else. We were VERY pleased and delighted to have Susie Clarke pop into the arts centre to work with the kids and play us out with a song. She’s a fabulous singer and has a voice that has to be heard to be believed. Difficult to describe but, in the same way that Alison Moyet has a voice that sends shivers down my spine, Susie has a VOICE. Deep and soulful, her song at the end of last weeks session was an absolute delight. If you’ve never heard of her check out: www.myspace.com/susieclarke and if you ever get the chance to hear her play live jump at it. Not to diss the recordings of her songs but hearing them sung live is an experience.


Thanks Susie 🙂