Tag Archives: Sylver

And…. Saying goodbye to the class of ’09…

Ahhhh the class of ’09. Sometimes a good year, sometimes not so much. I look back on these guys with mixed feelings but a huge amount of happiness and joy.

I’ve been thinking about ex-students and the Book Draw a lot over the past couple of weeks. I’m coming up to the final months of, possibly, the last classes at my workplace and a number of students have been asking if I’ll miss them. Spoiler warning: (I will) and who knows what will happen in the future. I do know that some of the guys and gals I have worked with this have have been entertaining an fun to be with.

Which leads me to these guys: the class of ’09 Big Book Draw version. It was a wonderful day (click on the Guildford Book Draw tab to the right for more details) but a project that often nearly broke me. For a start I had huge dreams – as with any project – and I really must learn to stop doing that. One of the dreams was to have a launch party with a difference. I made forty copies of the book (and since each copy took at least an hour to make that’s a fair chunk of time when times always a pressing). The idea was to have a night out where people who had helped on the day could be given their copy of the book at random. The next step on this project is to wrap each book in brown paper and post them to recipients and give them to those more local. It was a lovely plan. Added to that I wanted to have a storyteller there on the night to read out the story of the Dragon and his Princess and the Fish’s Library (a story I’m quite pleased with 🙂 ) and it would all be lovely.

Of course it wasn’t to be. I tried but hey ho, some dreams fly too high and the reach of my net feels very limited. But I do still intend to send the books off to people, at random, and with a bit of luck the people who receive them will photograph themselves and their book and email that back to me. Then, and only then, will I know who got what.

It’s been a funny old road but one that’s kept me amused through some dips last year. Now I’m onto the semi-sequel (Wombat and Wambot) which, again, is a youth work venture and, again, will be drawn by teenagers who I’ve yet to meet and can’t wait to do so, and hopefully I’ll look back on the project in the Summer as I wrap it up and smile as much as I do with the mini-books above. We’ll see. I’ve yet to learn to stop dreaming but, since the dreams help me with the ideas in the first place I can hardly complain when the rough goes with the smooth I suppose.

In other news the final, FINAL copy of Sylver went of to the publisher today for print and release in early May. More on that when I have the time to type but youth work calls for tonight so it’s time to plod onwards on a different path…

Hurrah, whu? Aaargh and ohhhh…

In equal measure.

More to come, I’m sure. Big Book Draw on Saturday. You may be able to tell that things are a little stressy at the moment. Still, some AWESOME stuff to come. Couple of lovely artists lined up for the day, materials look very enticing (I want to play with them myself but no time 🙂 ),  and so on. MAsks off now, puppets to go in half an hour or so, then a meeting then straight back to it.

I shall sleep on Sunday, oh yes.

Sylver beta test book covers to be posted too, but that’s for a while yet. 100 copies, I think, to bet there at the Book Draw. Wonder how many I’ll take back home with me?

True to form…

I said I wouldn’t have much time to post and OH BOY has that been true. Anyhow, for a much needed space to clear head, and 6.5 hours enforced thinking/planning time on a train, I skipped down to Rye to check out Dave McKean’s brilliant Narrative Arcs exhibition.

More on that later, it was a very powerful and moving show, but in the interim the one break I did get between leaving the house at half nine and getting back at half nine was a ten minute delay at Hastings, where I drew this:


Truth be told the perspective is dubious* and the colours slightly incorrect** but I enjoyed the doing of it for a few minutes change of route.

Book Draw stuff going OK, Sylver… ish… We’ll be there with readers copies on the Book Draw day I think but it’s been a STEEP mountain to climb.

Righto, onwards as ever.


**ahem ahem.

Big Book Draw day stuff…

OK so October is shaping up to be a doozey. For a start I’m fairly sure we’ll see Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time hit the streets (third and final book in the Everything series although, not necessarily, the last we’ll see of Sylver).

Then I’ll be doing the Big Book Draw with my youth group kids, a couple of friendly teacher helpers, some students and all sorts. Should be ace. The venue is BRILLIANT for drawing and creating in and they’re keen to be involved which is always good in a partnering venue. As well as all that the story is strong (although I always say that, egotist that I am) and the beginning and end doodles look pretty cool (massive ego ahoy). (Well, I like them anyhow 🙂 )

Better than that this years book draw is different because I’m approaching well known people and asking them if they could fill in a template of doodles for inclusion into the whole piece. So the kids (of all ages) can go away with a book written by them and Tom Merritt (Buzz Out Loud host and writer of Boiling Point), Jan Pienkowski (Meg and Mog), Paul Cornell (writer of Marvel comics and Dr Who novels), Emma Dodd (loads of books for Templar publishing). Nick Page (The Longest Week, Whatever happened to… and many more books) and more. Which is great… So far spent a good portion of the evening sending out more begging letters so shall see what I get back. But whichever way round it’s going to be an interesting day.

I think we’ll be doing a second book draw day but that’s very much tbc so we’ll see what happens on that score. More info later, maybe.

And then, lastly, someone offered their venue as a host to an exhibition in Oct for the Brushes artwork for the BBD and more besides so it looks like that one may be a goer too. We’ll see. All exciting stuff.

Less excitingly wifey was DIYing (I was doing kid duty and setting up youth work stuff for tomorrow) and… hmm… let’s just say that one tin of paint should have had a top on. And not be trodden on. And catapulted over two carpets, a wall, two library books, four books of photographs etc. Oh well, we’ll look back on it and laugh I’m sure.

Righto, onwards. Loads to do, just fancied a rest from it for a min.

Bit of Sylver stuff

First off: Happy Easter! Hope that it was filled with hope and new beginnings and eggs and joy. Family Kercal had a busy one, dashing from church to family to other family to all over the place but was a lovely time  and being busy does make you appreciate the break when you get there 🙂

OK chat time about Sylver as I’ve spoken about pretty much all else for the past while.

May (may) see the release of Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time, the third and final book in the Everything trilogy (although not necessarily the last book in the series. We’ll see. That’s cryptic enough for the mo I think). The heroes of the tale are still the deaf and signing kid, the ex-bully, his ex-victim and a fourteen year old mother. Joining them are the nervous Christian, the self-harming goth and the wounded joker. It’s the six of them against the worst powers that Hell can throw at them… Doesn’t sound like a fair fight which is good, because it isn’t, but they aren’t alone and they aren’t defenseless. 

They are, however, in for a bit of a roller-coaster ride into some very dark places and some don’t emerge unscathed, either by their own choice or by the actions of others.

It’s had a semi-troubled gestation. Was finished last year but, because of a couple of personal reasons – family illness and such – the last couple of chapters were rushed and, as a result, didn’t have the required…. hmmm…. bite. Because there is a sting in the tail, oh yes. And if some people were cross with Sylver 1 for sailing close to the wind. Well… They’d better not read part three. The people who liked Dr Sylver 1 described it as edgey and earthy and 3 makes it look a bit sedate in ways 🙂 For the most part the questions are answered, although a couple are left open and one question that no-one’s spotted is left hanging for another time. 

It is, however, now done, pending approval by the publisher, and depending on a meeting on Weds we’ll know the date then. It does mean I’m all hands to the pump for the final couple of things, inner page image included and this is where it stands at the moment. It’s…. obtuse…. But makes sense when you read the book. Still needs come cleaning up but it’s getting there. 



Hopefully we’re getting there, although as ever with anything I do it’s a strange birth and I’m ultra-nervous for a variety of reasons. But, as with book 2 when the switch happened, I wish I could see people’s faces at three specific points in the story because… Well, if you’re expecting what happens then you’re weird, man 🙂

Anyhow, I’ll let you know on Weds what comes to be in terms of release date. Have a lovely Easter Monday.

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.

Going for an imaginary jaunt through an art gallery of one picture…

Nearly there on Sylver, 20 pages to go – in terms of re-jigging characters that is, typing (sigh) yet to come – and taking an achey breakey for a mo’. Get up, stretch, move about, sit back down and do a bit of blogging.

Prior to that I was having a mooch around le timewasternet and, somehow, found myself on a 2o00ad tribute site. Now, regular readers (hi mum and Ian 🙂 ) will know that 2000ad was possibly the most formative collection of art for me but I didn’t know if I’ve mentioned THAT image. Because, surprisingly, there was one image, and one image alone, that changed me around from doodler to determined wannabe artist. I did mention going up to Forbidden PLanet to get the artists scrawl on a sketchpad of mine but that picture. Wow. The Scret of Nimh made me want to be an animator, that was earlier and equally imprinted on my mind, but one picture alone made me hold a pencil in my hand for every waking moment after I had seen it.

Can’t find it on the webs, which is a bit of a shame as it should be on someone’s gallery somewhere, but in a strip called ‘City of the Damned’ I jumped into 2000ad for the first time, half way through the stories telling. In the centre of the comic, as a splash page, was an image of the hero, Judge Joe Dredd, precursor of Jack Bauer himself for all the diplomacy and gentleness he brought to the table, struggling across a burning, jagged floor, too tired to stand, blinded by monsters, near death. The words said something like “For you are a Judge…. And it is your duty” giving him all the motivation I needed to understand having seen the character for the very first time. 

Ian Gibson this is all your fault. You are the reason I’m not a postman.

Actually it was a whole hooting heck of an image. Gibson’s – correctly – more famous for his signature characters Sam Slade and Halo Jones and both were truly wonderful comic strips… But his depiction of Dredd on heat (sorry) was not just an eye opener but a brain opener for me. Other artists would have done the picture differently: Hicklenton would have made it ugly and grisly – possibly more suited to the image itself, Hughes would have made it very angular and possibly pop arty, maybe focusing on the flames and the colours of pain as, thinking about it, would have McCarthy. Bolland might have focused on the shadows cast from the napalm floor and others… Bisley would have slapped a few hallucinatory half dressed fairies?  Let’s just say that if I was rich, which I patently am not, I would commission a number of 2000ad artists to redraw that panel and have each and every picture framed. It’s the one image that I can look to and point at and say ‘that’s the one where my journey as an mock artist began’.

In my mind I think I’d go for the aforementioned artists plus Kev O Neil, Ron Smith, Scarfe, Dave McKean, Kent Williams, Mike Mignola, McMahon, Kennedy, McNeil and thinking about it a whole host of them, too many to name, all re-creating one picture in their own unique style, all making it their own. I’d LOVE to see that and, in my mind, I think that’s the gallery exhibition of art that I’m going to imagine myself walking down for a little while over a cup of coffee. 

And when I get to the last image, the Mona Lisa shot of the image under a stark light at the end of a corridor, held in reverence for all it means to so many people (and by so many people I mean ‘me’) and viewed in stark respect  that’ll be Ian’s original. Possibly my favourite piece of art in the world.

Like I say can’t find the image. Here’s another Gibson rendering of Judge Dredd… Not quite the same but hey, sets my imaginary jaunt to the gallery going.


Apparently, at the end of the year, we’re going to have a Creative Technologies art blogsebition. I was asked yesterday if I blog at all… Had to say that I did, a little, but now I’m wondering if I should just have stayed schtumm… Ah well. May well be a lot of fun.


Cobblered my back in yesterday. Which is moderately annoying and frustrating. I’ve gone 37 years on the planet with no back problems and 1 year pretty much totally susceptible, which, I suppose, put that way isn’t a bad ratio to complain about, but have spent most of the day lying on the floor. Sigh.

Did take the bus into town with son boy as a: he was a bit bored and b: wifey was feeling too sick to move also and c: when I said ‘should I take him into t – o – w – n’ we found out that he can now spell the word and instantly said yes. Scuppered. Still he was very good and, for the most part, stayed with me when staying with was required.

Anyhow bored now. Ouch.

On the Sylver side of things: now on pge 250 of the redraft and that’s when the main strands need to be slightly amended. Nothing huge thankfully as one character who has been… dealt with… can be transposed for another and it’s actually very pleasantly neat and tidy. The main change is the upping of four new characters screen time and … hmm… they make an impact, shall we say. For the first time writing Sylver 3, and having a quick tot up it turns out to be my seventh published work which is quite cool, I’m really enjoying it and finding the frustrations have now pretty much all melted away. I think we’re all good to go for a release date… soon… 🙂 but for the moment the first sight of it, sample chapters and all, will be the CBC/CBA (and CBA has ALWAYS struck me as the wrong three letters, much like the School Christian Action Team is very unfortunately named as is the County Councils youth work initiative; the Youth Offending Team is just plain stupid. Still, no-one asked me). Anyhow: CBC/CBA in Epsom: March 12 – 15 at the Highland books stall if anyone wants to say ‘hi’. I think I’ll be there on the Friday and Saturday (but we’ll see, planning that in the next week) and Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time will be very much on show and, bad back notwithstanding, I can’t wait.


Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time front cover.
Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time front cover.

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.

Brief distractionalisming.


Original doodle. Seriously it was that or eating my legs as a measure to stave of madness...
Original doodle. Seriously it was that or eating my legs as a measure to stave of madness...


After a little Pixelmator magic...
After a little Pixelmator magic...

So the headache from the meetings has subsided, a little, although work mojo is currently at low tide. Will try and get back onto speed track in a min but thought I’d add this and then start off back on Sylver stuff and then teaching planning thereafter.

Actually work ebb may be down to the fact that son boy was up through the night from 2.30 onwards and didn’t get back to sleep until 5… So brain really isn’t all there.

Also, shan’t mention last nights drive which saw us almost spin off the road three times. But that was fun.

OK, must be working! Back soon.

Actually, one more thing and it’s a mini-rant. I’m a big podcast fan listening to the casts far more than music nowadays. Favourites include TWIT, MacBreak Weekly, One Life Left, Buzz Out Loud, Ben Heck, This American LIfe, Fighting Talk, Kermode and Mayo, iFanboy and a few others. That’s probably one too many and I’ve just decided to start culling a little, despite my love for all of them. Buzz Out Loud is the first to get unsubscribed, mainly because, while most of the team are spectacularly good and entertaining to listen to, one of the mainstays has gone and they’ve struggled to replace her. The new voice just doesn’t gel for me, although that’s obviously a personal decision, and causes more problems than I think she addresses… At least it’s made the decision easier so that’s something.


((two quick questions if anyone uses this skin and knows: 1: where is the about me box to change the text at the bottom of the page? and 2: can I change the text size a little? It’s a bit small, although not too bad I suppose… Nice design though, like it lots)).