Monthly Archives: May 2012

We’re Going to Talk About Fight Club part 2

Last week I spoke about writing fights and the need to balance the realistic while making it something that isn’t incredibly dull to read.

This week I thought I’d take a look at the things I’ve used to help inspire the various fights scenes that I’ve written.

Asian Cinema

This is the big one. I could do a whole blog post about what Asian cinema people should watch. Asian cinema is overflowing with incredible fight scenes. I’m not just talking about the stuff from the 70s and 80s, like Project A or Police Story. There’s also a lot of incredible new stuff, Ip man, Chocolate, Kung Fu Hussle, 13 Assassins and a host of other films that are full of incredible feats of fighting process. I’m not such a big fan of the wire work films, like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but there’s some impressive stuff to watch.

One of the best films ever, made by a master. You know, before he went crazy and made Rush Hour 3.

Some of it is also exceptionally brutal. The violence portrayed feels almost real, it’s usually quick, breathless and unrelenting. Man from nowhere, Oldboy, and a host of others are amazing films, but not for the faint of heart.

As you can tell from the poster, it’s a lovely film about carpentry.

Hollywood

There’s a lot less good fight scenes in Hollywood. The heroes were usually near invincible (which is fine if the fights are interesting, and dull as hell if they’re not) and it was rare that a fight ever lasted beyond one punch or kick. Don’t get me wrong, they’re finally catching up with Asian cinema, but for a long time a lot of fights in American films were fairly dull to watch. The Bourne Films, Matrix and most recently Drive all give three very different types of fights. Drive in particular, like the Asian Cinema I described above, has a very vicious side to it.

It takes 45 minutes for the action to kick in. But when it does, it’s unrelenting.

Anime

Anime is fantastic for getting ideas for the most incredible parts of fighting, especially where your characters aren’t human or use magic. If you’re writing fights, or even action scenes, where something unhuman happens, amine is a great tool to give you some inspiration you might not have thought of before. Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ninja Scroll, Hellsing, Bleach, Soul Eater, Kaze no Stigma, there are far too many to mention here. In fact I’ll probably do a blog post at a later date about Anime.

Best. Anime. Film. Ever.

Probably the best anime TV show ever. Miles better than almost everything else on TV.

Books

David Gemmell. Seriously, if you’re writing a fight scene, this is a man you should be reading. Even more so if you’re writing scenes where weapons are used. The pacing and violence are perfectly pitched, and the writing for them is fantastic.

Whether you like fantasy books or not, David Gemmell should be one of those writers that you read at some point in your life.

Richard Morgan. His fight scenes are raw and feel like they would be dangerous, they also fit in tone with the rest of the book.

If you haven’t read Altered Carbon, you really should.
Unless you don’t like to read well-written stories.

Now, I’m not saying you should watch or read all of these, or copy what they do exactly, but it’s certainly a good place to do a little research and hopefully crack a few ideas loose at the same time. And if I leave you with one thing you should all watch, it’s this fight from Flashpoint.  There’s a reason that Donnie Yen is awesome.

Donnie Yen. Also known as ‘Holy Crap, That Was Insane!” He probably prefers Donnie though.

Here’s a link for anyone who would like to see it (and yes, I know the pic isn’t for Flashpoint. The Ip Man picture is just much cooler): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo_YfzvAYJY

Don’t say I never give you anything.

LINKS

I took over Angela Addams’ blog and wrote about writing sex scenes.

Joce Adams asked what I’d do if I had a time machine.

Over at Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Reviews, there’s an excellent interview where I answer the hardest question I’d been asked about my book. Who would I like to play the main Characters.

Advertisements

We’re Going to Talk About Fight Club Part 1

Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked a few times about how I get my ideas for the fights that occur in my books. I’ve also seen a few blogs that deal with the subject, leading me to believe that there are a lot of unsuspecting characters that some writers are about to have assaulted in the name of literary endeavour.

People all have their own ways of thinking about new fights or action scenes, but for this post we’ll assume anyone else is wrong and go with how I do it.

Before you write a fight scene there is one thing that you need to be aware of. Real fights suck. I’m sorry to all of you who think that real fights are somehow a cross between Jackie Chan and a UFC fight, but they’re not. They’re normally fought by people who have no idea what they’re doing and they’re normally dull, insanely stupid and not worth bothering with. Normally alcohol is involved. This does not make you a good fighter.

If you really need to see a real fight just go to Youtube and type in ‘Man punches…’, then the noun of your choice and then sit back and wonder how human life has actually managed to not implode with stupidity yet.

From every fight I’ve ever been in or seen, there’s one prevailing truth. They’re over quickly. Either because someone gets a lucky punch, or because after a few punches, the participants are far too tired to continue. I’ve seen two grown men, clearly very angry at one another, start slapping each other like a Three Stooges sketch, because they’re too tired to actually continue fighting.

Every Saturday night in Southampton is another unnecessary pie fight.

There’s one other thing about real fights. In your mind you may have the idea that someone gets a kicking and at some point they bounce back to life and dish out a thrashing to the thug in question. This doesn’t happen. Life is not the end of the Transformers cartoon movie.

You got the the touch, you got the power…

So, when writing fights you’re going to want to make them sound interesting. No one wants to read every fight if it’s “I punched him once, he fell over, I moved on.” You can only really use that once, maybe twice before it gets dull. So, you’ve gotta mix it up a bit. Lee Child is excellent a this, his fights are normally short, sharp yet still exciting. But his main character, Jack Reacher, can hit people once and move on as he’s the size of a small car.

So writing fights in a realistic manner is something I don’t usually do. I usually tweek that realism until it gets to a point I’m happy with, and for that there’s a multitude of places you can go to get inspiration. Asian cinema is fantastic for this, and there are a few american films that have some great fights in. Anime is also a great place to find interesting ways to fight, especially is you’re using non-human characters. But as for telling you what I recommend you watch, well, that will have to wait until next week.

If you’re writing about vampires (not so much the sparkly kind), Blood the Last Vampire is a film you should watch. Not the live action thought. No one should do that.

In the mean time, here’s some links that you should be checking out.

Bea’s Book Nook has a Spotlight on Crimes Against Magic.

Ciara Ballintyne has a great interview with me on her blog.

Both of which are worthy of your time to go and have a read.

This week I plan on getting more of Born of Hatred done, and I have a new story, a Steampunk Fantasy, something I’ve never written before. I”m currently at that exciting point where I’m making notes. I’m quite excited about writing it, and one day I may actually tell people what it’s about. That it’s for now, so until next week, have a good weekend.


Small Time Vengeance

A few weeks ago, I wrote a prequel of sorts to Crimes Against Magic, by the name of Small Time Vengeance. It was a flashfriday piece, my first ever, and since I spoke about it, I’ve been asked by a few people if I plan on posting it on my blog. Well, as I’ve been very busy this week, and haven’t had time to write anything interesting. I figured now was as good a time as any.

So, I present you to you. Small Time Vengeance.

Near Soissons, France 1414.

The only reason the man wasn’t dead was because he hadn’t taken part in the raid. He swung gently from the rope I’d wrapped around his chest and under his arms, before I’d hoisted him off the ground. After gaining the information I’d needed about his friends, a cloth gag ensured he would make no sound, and if he woke up and thought about making problems, the four corpses of his comrades, lying clearly visible below him, would prove I wasn’t someone he wanted pissed off.

The four had died while they slept, their throats cut without a sound by the light of their campfire. They’d deserved no less, but my anger would be saved for the man who truly deserved it, the chief of the bandits I’d decimated.

I sat on the thick branch of the old oak tree, high above the ground, watching the man swing slowly back and forth beneath me.

My patience was rewarded as the moon reached its fullest and the sound of laughter came through the forest. The newcomers called to their friends in the camp, their laughter dying when there was no reply. Weapons were drawn and their leader barked orders, as he realised that there would be no answer from his erstwhile followers.

I stepped off the branch and white glyphs erupted over the backs of my hands and up my arms, as my air magic slowed my descent. When I was just over head height with the bandits, I forced the magic down toward my feet, so that I smashed into the ground with a roar. Leaves and dirt were thrown into the air, causing enough confusion and panic that the two closest bandits died before the leaves had drifted back to the earth. A blade of white-hot fire cut through their throats as I moved past them, out of the clearing and into the darkness of the forest, where the blade vanished from my hand.

Four were left in the circle of their camp, their eyes flickering frantically at the merest hint of movement.

The chief grabbed the nearest minion and pushed him. “Get in their and find him,” he barked.

I used my fire magic to see in the dark, turning my vision into a mixture of reds and oranges without casting any visible light from me.

Two large men crept into the forest, their daggers drawn. I moved behind them and took the first one with a blade of air into the base of his skull, almost decapitating him. He fell forward, alerting his companion who turned toward the noise, only to have a gust of air lift him off his feet and crash him into a nearby tree. The angle of his neck suggested he wouldn’t get back up.

“What are you fucking idiots doing in there?” the chief shouted from the tree line, his voice full of barely concealed anxiety.

I charged out of the forest and caught him in the jaw with a blast of air that threw him onto the ground.

I sprinted to the final bandit and he swiped at me with his sword, but I dodged aside and broke his knee with a swift kick. He screamed in pain and fell back, but I caught him and snapped his neck before he hit the ground.

The chief had gotten back to his feet and drawn a dagger, waving it in my direction. A gust of hardened air removed the danger and a second shattered his arm. He howled in pain and I punched him in the stomach, doubling him up, and then pushed him onto the ground.

“Who are you?” The chief’s voice was raspy with pain.

The noise had woken the hanging man, and he watched wide-eyed as I picked up the dagger and crouched beside his boss.

“You terrorised that village. You went there time and time again to steal and have your fun. And when a boy of twelve stood up to you, you murdered him in front of his parents and maimed the man who tried to stop you.”

I smiled down at the chief as fear oozed out of him. “You did everything in your power to break them. But you know what? When I arrived there two days ago, the first thing they did was offer me hospitality.

“They warned me of you and your bandits. They made sure I was going the other way. They wanted to keep me safe from you. Even though you tortured those people, you couldn’t break them.”

“So?” he groaned as I placed the tip of the dagger against his stomach, drawing blood.

“So, clearly you’re very bad at your job. And someone that terrible needs to be shown how to do it properly. So allow me to educate you on the fine art of breaking someone.”

The chief’s screams and pleas lasted only a short time. I gained no enjoyment from what I did, but it needed doing.

The surviving bandit begged me to spare him as I cut him down and removed his gag.

I nodded. “But you’re going to do something for me in return for your life.”

“Anything,” he said immediately.

“You’re going to gather up every last coin and item of worth from your fellow bandits here, and you’re going to take it back to the village you stole it from. You will do this tonight. You will beg for forgiveness. And if you fail to do any of these things, I will find you.” I dragged him over to the body of his chief.

“And I will make what I did to him appear as a tap on the wrist, are we clear?”

The man nodded repeatedly.

“One more question,” I said. “Have you heard about Soissons?”

“You don’t want to go there. The French army murdered everyone. I’ve heard stories of monsters and demons roaming the city.”

“Monsters and demons?” I smiled. “Sounds like my kind of city.”

*****

I hope you enjoyed it.

There are a few links this week, that I suggest you all go and check out.

The first is actually on my blog. An interview with the very talented Colin F. Barnes. My first ever in fact, although not my last by any stretch of the imagination.

Colin also repaid the favour and interviewed me, which was a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, Tom Harris had be take the Badger, which I assure you is not some weird euphemism. It has to be read to be believed.

Debra L. Martin also did an interview with me this week.

The fantastic Keri Lake conducted the last interview of the week with me.

And last, but by no means least, Kendall Grey allowed me to steal her blog for the day to talk about the day before I published my book. Something I hope you find both fun and interesting.

As for Crimes Against Magic, well it’s doing okay. A sixth, 5 star review was superb, and i’ve had a few people e-mailing me to tell me how much they loved it. Thanks to all of you who took the time.

That’s it for this week.

And as he proved so popular last time, I’ll leave you with one image.

All Glory to the Hypnotoad.

Interview with Colin F. Barnes

Today I’m conducting my first ever interview, so I’m very pleased and excited to introduce my friend, Colin F. Barnes. His newly published anthology sees him working with a host of very talented writers.

So without further ado…

1. Hi Colin, can you tell everyone a bit about yourself and your latest book?

Hi Steve, I’m a writer and publisher. I’ve worn many hats over the last few years, mostly because I have a receding hairline, but also because I’m a hands-on kind of guy who likes to get involved with projects and create new things. Hence my interest in publishing as well as writing. Writing is my prime interest however, and that is where I focus most of energies.

As for my latest book, I don’t actually have fiction from myself in this new release. Day of Demons is one of my publishing projects. It’s a dark fantasy anthology of nine stories exploring the effects of a demon upon a character or characters over the course of a day. We have contemporary character pieces, old-school psychological horror and even some epic fantasy. This anthology has a got a little something for everyone.

2. Your website suggests that you’ve held a lot of interesting jobs. Including Somalian pirate and Snake poison collector, how have they prepared you for the world of publishing?

The poison is surprisingly effective when mixed with fountain pen ink. I can say no more on the subject. If someone, maybe like Dan Brown happens to turn up dead, it’s not my fault. Ahem.

3. As a writer, editor and publisher, how do you find the time to prepare the stories you’re sent and write for yourself?

I have no other life outside of fiction. I’m not married (although living with a partner) and have no children other than two pesky cats. I’ve whittled my many hobbies down so that my only commitments on my spare time are publishing and/or writing. I gave up drinking (heavily) some years ago which means I’m not hungover very often and I spend very little time in the pubs. I’ve also eschewed most TV and video games. I have a few that I watch/play, but these are usually when I’m between projects (or procrastinating — which really is just seeding the imagination. Honest). So although it seems I have a lot on (which I do), I just about manage to hold it together. Although lately, I’ve regrettably had to drop a number of writing commitments as my other projects and various life issues have grown in size.

4. What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?

Learn to write, learn to take and seek out expert criticism and don’t publish the first thing you’ve written.

5. How did you come up with the idea for the, quite frankly stunning, cover?

I usually do the covers myself, but I was put in touch with a friend of a friend who is an excellent artist (and lived locally which helped). I was interested to see what someone else could come up with for the concept of Day of Demons. We had a chat and discussed some art and artists that we admired and he went away and came up with a whole bunch of ideas. There were at least three or four that were equally as good, but for pure attention-grabbing-ness, this one jumped out at me right away. So we worked on it, improved it, refined it, and then I added the typography. I’m happy with the results, and so far the feedback has been positive. It certainly stands out of the crowd even as a thumbnail, which I think is important in this day of digital marketplaces.

6. Will there be a follow up to Day of Demons?

I wasn’t planning on it, but a number of people have asked this so, so depending on the success of the first I wouldn’t be against doing another later on.

7. What book(s) are you reading now?

I tend to have a number of books on the go at once. I’m currently reading Michael Marshal Smith’s ‘Spares’ which is simply brilliant. I recently finished Samuel R. Delany’s ‘About Writing’ which is a deep academic look at the craft. I got a lot of value from that one. I’ve also got some thrillers that I’m reading by Kathy Reichs and Jo Nesbo. I read widely across genre and usually add in short story collections and classics too. The Vandermeer’s ‘The Weird’ is a collection that I’ve been working through. It’s a mighty tome, but full of wonderful examples of the genre.

Thanks, Colin for a superb interview. If you want to know more about Colin’s world, the links below will provide you everything you’ve ever wanted to know.

www.colinfbarnes.com

www.anachronpress.com

www.cityofhellchronicles.com

To purchase Day of Demons (which I can’t recommend enough). 

Amazon US http://amzn.to/Jdy01c

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/HwO3HD

Am Published. Would like to Write.

I’ve been a published author for nearly two weeks now. And, despite the fact that it’s still weird to write that, I’ve spent pretty much every day doing marketing. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every single person who has allowed me to steal, borrow or befoul their blogs, but before I published, I’d spent every available second working on the book for at least two weeks before hand.

So that means I haven’t written anything new on book 2 for nearly a month and my brain is beginning to dislike that fact.

Not this Brain. Although, that would explain my desire to take over the world.

However much I’d prepared for the marketing side of being published, the reality and the plan go about as well together as oil and water. Learning how to mash the marketing and the creative together so you can do both, is a trick I’m still learning. There’s no how to guide, there’s only trial and error. Hopefully, with more success than error.

At some point soon, I plan on getting back to writing, that’s what got me to the stage of being published in the first place after all, and maybe, just maybe, my brain will be happy about the fact that I’ve written something.

Once again, not this Brain. This brain is never happy.

Speaking of the past week, I have several more links for people to go check out:

Chrissey Harrison did an excellent review of Crimes Against Magic, which you can go to here.

There’s also a wonderful interview you can check out here, with the chance to win a copy of Crimes Against Magic.

Big Bear has also done an excellent review.

As did Darcie Mair, here.

Belinda Frisch did an awesome interview too.

At the moment, Crimes Against Magic has five, 5 star reviews and three, 4 star reviews. All in all, a superb total and one that I couldn’t have expected if I’d tried. A serious thank you to everyone who purchased a copy. Which, you can still do by going to Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

For those who have been asking for a paperback copy, your wish is granted:

 

The couch is extra.

 

It will be out, hopefully, by the end of May. I’ll confirm a date and price closer to the time though. It’ll also be out on smashwords soon, once again price and date to be annouced.

 

So that’s it for another week. I hope you all have a good weekend.

 

One Hell of a Week

Well, here we are. On Monday I published my first novel, Crimes Against Magic, and to be honest, it’s done better than I could have ever imagined. Including getting two 5 star reviews on Amazon.co.uk and entering the top 100 for fantasy in both the US and UK on monday.

Thanks to everyone who purchased a copy, and if you haven’t yet, you can go to amazon.co.uk (link) or Amazon.com (link) to get one. It’s okay, everyone else will wait until you’ve come back.

I’ve spent the last week being incredibly busy and taking over several blogs:

My first stop was for the quite frankly awesome, T.James, in an interview described by one reader as the best they’d ever read. Here

My wonderful crit partner,  Michelle Muto also did an interview with me. Here

The talented J.A Belfield did my third interview this week. Here

D.B. Reynolds has been singing my books praises for a few weeks now. And seeing how she’s also my crit partner and one of the best writers I know, I think it’s only fair that you go over there and read about it. Here

The wondrous, JDwaye has done a superb interview with me. Here

My last interview of the week was done by the incredible Krista Walsh. Here

The prequel to Crimes Against Magic, Small Time Vengeance, is hosted by the delightful, Danielle La Paglia on her flashfriday post. Here

My good friend and fantastic writer, Ken (Bulletwisdom), has been very kind and plugged my book for me. Here

And lastly the great author, L.E. White will be hosting a post of mine tonight. Stop by and give it a read. Here

Before I forget, I’ve been asked a lot this week about the possibility of a paperback copy of Crimes Against Magic. My answer is watch this space. I originally wasn’t going to bother, but as the idea seems very popular I’m going to look into it. A word of warning through, it will be much more expensive than the ebook version. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that.

So that’s it for this week. Please take the time to look through the posts above, each of them have helped me a lot this week and their posts are all excellent.

And in the mean time, as far as Crimes Against Magic is concerned.

Buy it, buy it, buy it.

All Glory to the Hypnotoad.