Monday, 10 December 2012

New Cover for DON'T LOOK DOWN


has a brand new cover!

...and is only 99c, 77p or equivalent
throughout December.
Christmastime in Germany
but don't expect Santa Claus.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Next Big Thing…

The idea of The Next Big Thing is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” three other writers to do the same. The writer then posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

John Hudspith, a writer in possession of a wild and unique imagination, tagged me in his Next Big Thing. John is currently working on Kimi's Fear, the follow up to his outstanding debut, Kimi's Secret, a fantastic and fantastical book for readers aged 9 to 90.  Thanks, Johnny.

Here are my answers re my Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
I first called it Poetic Justice but now it's called The Spiritual Hunt. This will no doubt change to something snappier when it's finished.

Where did the idea for the bookcome from?
Mock up of cover when working
title was Poetic Justice
I've been fascinated by the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud for a very long time and wrote a play about him some years back (Death Without Tears), so it seemed a natural progression to write a novel inspired by him too. 

I was also struck by a brief meeting many years ago, with a young man in Berlin. He claimed to be under the spell of an older man who kept him in control by tapping him on the forehead and singing jingles. I never discovered any more about this young man but have always remembered his wild eyes and air of terrified vulnerability. His image and situation seeped into my consciousness and he partly inspired one of the characters in this book.

What is the genre of your book?
This is always a difficult one for me. It is, I think, general fiction with a good handful of literary fiction thrown in - I hope.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Another hard one! I tend not to imagine my characters in such precise detail. I like to leave the reader room to develop their own ideas as to what the character looks like. Of course, I do give descriptions - Andrea is blonde, Albert is dark with a little tuft of beard, and the boy has messy chestnut curls. But as to who would play them, I just have no idea.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A missing Rimbaud manuscript has been rediscovered - or has it?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm not sure about this yet. Some of my other novels are self-published but I might send this one out to agents to see what reaction I get. If there's no interest from the traditional publishing world then I would self publish digitally certainly, and possibly also in print form.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Ha! I'm still writing it and it's been several years so far. I do take a long time to write a book - I wish I could speed up but I seem to have to let the work mature before I know exactly where it's going. I revise as I go along so really I'm on the umpteenth draft but it just isn't finished yet. I'm hoping the whole thing will be all done by Christmas (preferably this Christmas!).

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
People who've read what I've written so far have mentioned The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas and The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies, as being in the same general category. I'm not sure that it's exactly like any of those books but perhaps has elements of all of them.

As it's written using various different voices and devices such as letters, diaries and blogs, in addition to the main narrative, it's not a straightforward book in terms of format and chronology.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As I said  above, Arthur Rimbaud - French poet extraordinaire - is the progenitor of this book. I've been mildly obsessed by him for three decades, if mild obsession is possible, and I've always been fascinated by the idea that there may be a lost work by him still out there somewhere. I also wanted to stretch myself by writing in different styles using different voices, so this novel has been (and still is) a challenge to write.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The main narrative is about the protagonist Andrea's obsession with Rimbaud and the lost manuscript. The novel charts her involvement with a man who claims to be a Magician - with a capital M! - and the teenage boy who is his acolyte. As she falls deeper under their spell, Andrea begins to lose her grasp on what is real and what is not.

In addition to this strand, there are also strands woven through which tell the story of Rimbaud and Verlaine and also chart the whereabouts of the manuscript from 1872, when it was last seen, to the 150th anniversary of Rimbaud's birth (2004), when the book is set.

The writers I am tagging are:

Jimmy Bain, who writes The Bumble Books

and (as I've been unable to find anyone else to tag because all the writers I know have either already taken part or are too busy (very sensibly) engaged in writing their next book)

Barbie Scott, who writes erotica.

If anyone reading this would like to take part, do get in touch and I will add you to this very select list of taggees!


Saturday, 20 October 2012


Today, 20th October, is the birthday of Jean-Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud. He was born in Charleville, France in 1854 and wrote astonishing poetry between the ages of around 16 and 21. He died aged 37 after living for many years in Africa as a trader.

I first became interested in Rimbaud in 1973 when I was a student at University College London. One day I wandered across the grand foyer where Jeremy Bentham sits and stopped to look at a display of letters and photographs. There I learned for the first time about the relationship of Rimbaud and Verlaine and, in particular, their time in London living in Great College Street, Camden in 1873.

Even though I'd never read a word of his poetry, something about Rimbaud hooked me and I've been fascinated by him ever since.

My current work in progress DELIRIUM: THE RIMBAUD DELUSION (now complete) is about a woman obsessed with Rimbaud (well, they say write what you know!). Andrea becomes embroiled with a Magician and his young acolyte while visiting Charleville for the 150th anniversary of the poet's birth. This odd pair claim to have rediscovered Rimbaud's lost manuscript, La Chasse Spirituelle.

The novel uses a variety of voices and devices to explore Andrea's gradual breakdown and tell the story of the whereabouts of the missing manuscript from 1872, when it was last seen, to 2004 when the novel is set.

Here is an extract from the early part of the novel:

~ ~ ~

Diary of Mathilde Verlaine
Rue Nicolet, Paris
September 1871

An extraordinary evening! Today there arrived from the north the most astonishing young poet called Arthur Rimbaud. Maman and I had awaited his arrival with some anticipation-the verses he sent to Paul were most unusual and we all had high hopes of him.
How those hopes were dashed! M. Rimbaud is not at all the elegant young man of our imagination. He is an unkempt youth, more child than man, though he is not much younger than I-seventeen or thereabouts. Maman and I were greatly surprised by his untidy appearance, his clothes being crumpled and somewhat outgrown-and he has brought with him no luggage whatsoever!
Despite all our efforts to engage our guest in conversation, M. Rimbaud would not be drawn, either on his future plans or his theories of poetry. Maman and I are quite worn out with the strain of fulfilling our social obligations.
In contrast, my husband is perfectly taken with him. Paul is of the opinion that this vagabond poet is a genius. ‘He will shake up the salons of Paris, Mathilde!’ he cried, when I remarked upon M. Rimbaud’s lack of manners at the dinner table. ‘He will make those stuffed shirts sit up and take notice. Yes, and your stuffed shirt of a father too, when he gets back.’
I dread to think what dear Papa will make of our strange house guest. I fear he will not allow him to remain here, once he returns from his hunting trip.
In the meantime, I become more indisposed each day as I await my happy event.

~ ~ ~
rue de Campagne
My cock nestles against Paul’s arse, languid after love. His breathing-rhythmic, slight snore-hasn’t begun to annoy me yet. I am lost in the deserts of love, still wandering amiably in those dreamlike states: fondness, tenderness, tristesse.
He stirs, groans, rolls on his back. Speaks broken words, half-formed thoughts. Perhaps I catch my name. I listen for it, ready to arm myself, the better to taunt him later. You dream of me. You need me more than I need you.
Putting my ear to his lips, I listen, but he is silent apart from the rasp of his boozy breath.
Sniggering, I pinch his nose and count: one, two, three-
He gasps, snorts, wakes. Wha-? What the-?
I’m astride him now, pummelling him, beating a rat-a-tattoo on his chest.
Ow- Ow- Stoppit! He grabs my wrists, throws me off. He is still the stronger of us-but only just. And now he’s on top of me, holding me down, snarling in my face. Cunt! Arsehole! Prick! And I’m laughing back at him, laughing at the way the rage boils up in him, rouging his cheeks; the way the spit drools from his mouth, the snot slicks his moustache.
I reach up, suck up his dribble, let my lips climb up the string of mucus to his mouth. Till we’re biting, teeth against teeth; clashing, snuffling, snarling, hearts pounding, cocks hard.
And off we go again. Carnival ride.
~ ~ ~
Charleville, France
August 2004

Deux pressions, sil vous plait.
The Café de l’Univers was cool and shady. It was also empty. The bored waitress stirred from her lethargy when I ordered beers from the tap.
Rimboy swung himself into one of the booths ranked along the right side of the room. I slid onto the red leatherette bench opposite him, keeping the table between us. Our knees brushed as we settled into our seats.
Glancing around, I tried to imagine the café as it was in Rimbaud’s day. Though it was now a different building, I fancied I could hear echoes of the poet’s pals—Delahaye, Labarrière, Charles Bretagne—all discussing Arthur’s latest exploits, and laughing. It wouldn’t have been like this then, with these fifties style benches. Then, there would have been round tables and bentwood chairs. Pipesmoke and carafes. Perhaps I sat in the exact space Rimbaud once sat in, the molecules of my body mingling with the memory of his.
When I read his poetry,’ I said, my voice smoky with emotion, ‘I curl up inside.’
Rimboy nodded, casing the room with his indolent blue gaze.
When I read about his life, I feel that clutch in the pit of my stomach. In my groin. It’s almost sexual, what I feel.’ I sat back as the waitress put a glass in front of me. ‘Not for the man himself, I don’t mean that. I mean for the idea of him. The myth of him. The-’
I spread my hands and appealed to him for understanding. He wrinkled his nose and the strabismus made a fleeting reappearance. Even squinting, he was cute.
I shook my head. ‘Oh, I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I only know how I respond to him.’ I ran my finger through the condensation on my glass. ‘You feel something similar, I imagine?’
I am Rimbaud,’ he said.
He swilled most of his beer down in one gulp. I savoured a long draught of my own. He was much deeper into the fantasy than I was.
So you believe in the transmigration of souls then?’ I said.
The survival of the soul. Reincarnation.’
He contemplated me for a moment. ‘Naturally I believe in it. I’m here aren’t I?’
Do you think the soul reincarnates immediately after death?’ I went on. ‘Or within forty-nine days like the Buddhists say?’
He shrugged. ‘Maybe it varies. I don’t know.’
Well, it’s over a hundred years since Rimbaud died. Where’s his soul been until now? Where have you been? Or rather, who have you been until now?
He tapped the rim of his glass with his nail. ‘I’ve been a lot of people. Before I was Rimbaud, I was Mozart. Did you know that?’
That took me by surprise. ‘No, I didn’t know that,’ I said, ‘but I suppose I can see a connection. Precocious genius, scatological humour.’ I eyed him up and down. There was more to this young man than I’d thought. ‘I always wondered,’ I said. ‘When you were Rimbaud—did you return to the Catholic Church on your deathbed as some people say?’
He snorted. ‘I’m a pagan now and I was a pagan then. Always and forever.’
All the time we sat there I was twitching in my seat. I wanted to have a look at the wad of poetry. I needed to see it, to find out if it was genuine. Truth be told, I wanted it to be the real thing. I’d probably be disappointed when it turned out to be another aspect of his fantasy. But I had to make sure.
Let’s have a look at the poem then.’ I stuck out my hand.
Best forget the dalliance. Concentrate on the manuscript.
He hesitated. Then, disentangling the sheaf of creased paper from his pocket, he passed it to me. I smoothed the top sheet and started to read.
La Chasse Spirituelle. The Spiritual Hunt.’
Now, I wouldn’t call myself a Rimbaud scholar in the academic sense, but I’ve read enough of the man to get a flavour of his work. I’ve pored over his poetry both in my cups and sober, with lovers and without. I’ve read him in sorrow and I’ve read him with joy. I have internalised him. So when the opening lines of the poem didn’t immediately shriek forgery, I succumbed to the frisson of excitement that tingled through me. This could be the real thing. A wet dream coming true.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

FREE copy to mark 25 years since the storm of '87 which starts Jess's journey.
Use Code PB37A to get review copy of
Please leave honest review on Smashwords or Amazon. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

is now available at
All formats: ePub, pdf, rtf, html, mobi, etc
for Nook, Kobo, Kindle and pc/ipad apps
$2.99 or equivalent

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Visit the location of THE LAND BEYOND GOODBYE


Allison Bruning is hosting a tour through the locations of various indie books.

Read about Tea Tree Falls, the location of THE LAND BEYOND GOODBYE.

Make a comment on Allison's blog today and get a free copy.

Saturday, 11 August 2012


The winners of the Flash 500 Humour Verse competition
have now been announced:
Read my Judge's report and the winning poems on the Flash 500 website.
Thanks once again to Lorraine Mace for giving me this opportunity. Great fun.

Monday, 6 August 2012

ANGEL ANGLES by Liza Perrat

This week's guest blogger is Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels. Here she explains the fascinating story behind the angelic theme in her books.

Liza Perrat

The word “angel” is believed to be derived from the Greek word αγγελος (angelos) which means messenger, but it is generally thought of as a description of the whole range of spirits created.

Whilst writing the first novel in my historical fiction series, Spirit of Lost Angels, I wanted to create some sort of connection across the generations – a good (or bad) luck charm; a talisman that would link the women of L’Auberge des Anges through time. I was looking for something by which the heroine could recall her ancestors.

My research led me to London’s Foundling Museum and the collection of trinkets and talismans that mothers often left with their foundlings – an object by which the grown-up child could identify her.

An angel pendant came to mind – a bone carving that might encompass the spirit of all those who had worn it before the heroine. It would act as a “messenger” of the strength and courage of her predecessors.

Throughout the first and second books of L’Auberge des Anges series, the reader (and I) learned that a woodcarver had carved this angel pendant for his wife many centuries ago. Nobody knew exactly when, or from what type of bone it was sculpted. Perhaps it was made from seal, ox or walrus tusk, or maybe even mammoth?

I am about to embark on the third novel in the series, which will explore the origins of this angel pendant, and how it was regarded as both a good luck charm and a curse, during the 14th century plague years.

Once I started writing about the pendant, other angel themes emerged in various forms. Firstly, the name of the family farm. In the poverty-stricken pre-French revolution years, the farmer and his wife turn their farm into an inn – L’Auberge des Anges (the Inn of Angels), naming it after their loved ones taken by famine, illness or accident.

Angels are evoked in professions. Many of the women of L’Auberge des Anges feature as the village midwife and healer-woman (la guérisseuse). But she is also an angel-maker, using her special herbs and teas to induce abortions.

Angels are reflected in the beliefs and superstitions of the 18th century villagers, who held witches responsible for bringing the storms that destroyed their crops and homes. The people attended Mass diligently, relying on their priest to ring the church bell long and hard to call on the angels to take the storm away.

When the Laki volcano erupted in Iceland in 1783 the villagers, and people right across the land, believed – amongst other theories – this occurred because they had enraged the angels.

Finally, in Spirit of Lost Angels, we encounter La Faucheuse – the angel of death.

References to angels arose, once again, in the second, as yet unpublished, book in the series – Wolfsangel. Firstly, in the insignia of Das Reich’s SS – a sideways Z with a vertical line through the middle. The wolf’s hook, or Wolfsangel. Another important angel also features in the story – the Good Friday angel.

When I began writing the series, I did not set out with the theme of angels in mind. They just seemed to fly in from all angles, and hover over me. It was as if they hankered to play roles in these stories, and I merely let them flutter across the pages as they wished.

For more information about Spirit of Lost Angels, or to read an excerpt please refer to Liza’s Website, Blog or Triskele Books.

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. She has been living in France for the past twenty years, where she works part-time as a French-English medical translator.

Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards and been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

She has completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency. Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in a historical series set against a backdrop of rural France, and was published under the Triskele Books label in June, 2012.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition

The shortlist for the Flash 500 Humour Verse competition is now out - chosen by yours truly.
I've had great fun reading the entries and choosing the shortlist wasn't easy.
The winners will be announced shortly.

Friday, 27 July 2012


Liza Perrat, author of SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS, is giving away her collection of short stories for the next few days.

Get Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder Free Now!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


This week I welcome Gillian Hamer author of The Charter onto my blog. Gillian talks about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing in mixed genres. Having read The Charter, I can confirm that cross-genre writing can work very well, each element - crime, history, paranormal - enriching a fascinating story.

Why the Charter?
Why Break Rules?
Gillian Hamer

The journey to get my novel, The Charter, into print has been a long and rocky road. It wasn’t until I felt confidence enough to approach agents, that I realised I’d committed quite a few cardinal sins by writing the story I wanted to write about a shipwreck off the coast of Anglesey that has long fascinated me.

Apparently in publishing there are rules. Lots of rules. And one of the most fundamental rules in ensuring success or failure of your novel is ‘though shalt not cross genres.’

I didn’t know this when I wrote The Charter. I simply wrote a story I’d had in my head for twenty years, crossing modern day crime fiction, with a hint of paranormal and a dollop of historical backdrop.

It’s all to do with marketing so I’m told. The fact that readers like order. If they like crime, they want to read crime. If they like historical fiction, they only read that. Personally, I think that’s a load of tosh. I love books that have that element of surprise, that leave you confused (in a good way) and breathless as the story unravels. I think of Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger, as a good example. Those who have read it will surely agree with me that they came to the end not entirely sure what they’d just read – but adoring it all the same.

Now, I’m no Sarah Waters of course, but that must surely point to their being a market of cross genre books, or books that don’t quite fit the mould. You’d think? But no. Traditional publishing shook its head and crossed its arms in a most definite negative. Although the story, or perhaps my writing, got interest from two agents, and went through numerous rewrites – removing ghosts, add ghosts, removing ghosts – it became clear when my current agent gave the thumbs down that my book had come to the end of it’s journey down the traditional publishing highway.
So, if I wanted to see The Charter in print I would have to go down the independent publishing route, which I decided to do last year when I formed Triskele Books along with two other talented authors in very similar positions to my own.

Why did I bother?

I’ve had close connections with the island of Anglesey, off the North Wales coast, all my life. It’s a place that fascinates and never fails to thrill me. You can’t take a drive on Anglesey without passing Neolithic burial chambers along the side of the road, and the Druids even based themselves there, creating a centre of excellence on the island.

For as many years as I can remember driving along the A5025 – the coast road that traverses the eastern side of the island – I can recall hearing about the story of the victims of the Royal Charter every time I passed Llanallgo Church – the cemetery where the majority of the victims are buried. The churchyard features heavily in the book.

I can also remember news reports and articles over the years when excited divers allegedly found Australian gold off Point Lynas where the ship hit rocks. And I even had a vivid memory as a child, of metal detecting with a family friend who lived on the island, somewhere on Red Wharf Bay who convinced me the shiny pennies I kept digging up were treasure off the Royal Charter – it was only years later I discovered he’d been the source of the hoard.

I think when a person, topic or legend has fascinated you all your life, any story as a writer you can create around its existence will always mean a lot to you. So, if I could bring the legend of the shipwreck to a greater audience and also write about a part of the country I loved, then it was a no-brainer for me. And if it meant breaking a multitude of publishing rules and regulations along the way – then it was just too bad!

Sarah Morton hopes discovering the truth about the 1859 wreck of the Royal Charter will silence the demons of her past. But, tormented by visions and threats on her life, Sarah fears the ship may claim her as its final victim.

Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian's heart has always yearned for the pull of the ocean and the wilds of North Wales.

A company director, she has been writing as a hobby all her life, but after a creative writing course a decade ago, decided to take her writing to another level and sought representation. She has completed six full length novels, split between straight crime and her mix of paranormal thrillers. Gillian is also a regular columnist for
literary magazine, Words with Jam, and in that role has been lucky enough to interview a cross section of authors from Ann Cleeves to Michael Morpurgo.

Gillian splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey
where she spends far too much time dreaming of being the next Agatha Christie, and can be found walking her Jack Russell, Maysie, on deserted beaches. In her spare time she is a regular theatre goer, an avid reader and a curious traveller!

Her novel, The Charter, was launched in June 2012 under Triskele Books, an author's collective set up by Gillian and a group of fellow writers. Her straight crime novels are represented by Shelley Powers of the Shelley Powers Literary Agency.


Follow Gillian on Twitter - @Gill1H or @triskelebooks
Facebook - Gillian Hamer or Triskele Books

Follow Gillian's Blog

Saturday, 7 July 2012


Fifteen Shades for GreyFifteen Shades for Grey by Various Writers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well worth a read - some lovely stories and - ahem - one or two reasonable poems.

And it's for charity!


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Thanks very much to BOOK JUNKIES LIBRARY for having me as one of their featured writers this month.

See more of what BOOK JUNKIES LIBRARY has to offer.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


This week I am a guest of Lorraine Mace at The Writer's ABC Checklist.

Writing in Different Genres

Because I write both mainstream fiction and erotica, and have also ventured into the thriller genre, I am often asked how I cope with writing across different genres. In truth, I find it fairly easy to switch from one type of work to another.

Thanks to Lorraine for this opportunity.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Check out my article on General Fiction at the BOOK JUNKIES JOURNAL

Along with Alex Canton, Uvi Poznansky and Laurie Boris, I discuss my take on general fiction. What it is and why I (sometimes) write it.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Many thanks to Crime Writer, Francis Di Plino, for reviewing

Review of Don't Look Down
by Barbara Scott-Emmett

Don’t Look Down opens with a scene which is only resolved at the end of the novel, giving us an
immediate hook. We have to keep reading to find who, what and why.
Lauren Keane flies to Germany to visit an old friend, Katti
Hauer. But Katti is missing and her brother, Wolf, with whom Lauren shares a
past blighted by a broken love affair, meets Lauren’s flight in Katti’s place

Read on...

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Writer, Reviewer and Book Junky, SUE PALMER, has put the following interview with me up on her Book Review Site:


I've always written, even when I was a child. I don't know why, it's just something I have to do.I love words and putting them together and I enjoy creating characters and situations. It's a way of harnessing an over-active imagination, I suppose.


DON'T LOOK DOWN is set in Nuremberg, Germany. I have friends there and have been there many times and love Nuremberg. I wanted to write a

thriller/crime novel and the idea of setting it there, in winter, came to me after a visit to my friends one snowy February. Nuremberg, and Bavaria generally, were so beautiful in the snow, I had to describe it and I had to build a story around my descriptions. Some of the characters are loosely inspired by friends and acquaintances there, but certainly not based on them. It was a combination of sights, sounds andinfluences built up over years of visits, plus a great love for the place and the people, that made me want to use Nuremberg as a setting. I wanted to use the idea of two women who had known each other since they were girls but story evolved as it went along.


I think the character Clara was the most fun to write...
Read on


Many thanks to Sue for giving me this opportunity!

Sue Palmer helps run the Book Junkies
Facebook Group and Review Page.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Flash 500 Humourous Verse Comp

Thanks to Lorraine Mace, I've recently been appointed as a guest judge for the Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition.

I'm looking forward to reading some great pieces!

My own collection of quirky poetry, WASPS & SCORPIONS: Luv Pomes and Other Lies, is available from Amazon.

Lorraine also writes dark thrillers as Frances de Plino. Check out her latest book Bad Moon Rising

Tuesday, 17 April 2012



Saturday, 3 March 2012

Friday, 24 February 2012

Words By Williams: Author Interview: Karen MacLeod

Words By Williams: Author Interview: Karen MacLeod: Karen MacLeod works in an office in Edinburgh, not far from the Castle and Gardens. In her own time she writes – compulsively. A Glasgow U...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Getting Over the Wall with John Hudspith

John Hudspith is the creator of the wonderful Kimi's Secret, a book for children from 9 to 90 - and if you haven't encountered it yet, do yourself a favour and read it. I've been following John from one writing forum to another for years - or maybe he's been stalking me! Either way, I've come to love his unique take on life and writing and I'm proud (well, sort of) to have been the inspiration for this blog on writers' block. Here's Johnny:-

The Wall – getting over the block.

Scared of facing your dreaded MS?

Think it’s rubbish?

The weather outside is frightful, the fire delightful, the house silent, and your glowing monitor beckons you to open that doc…but you can’t.

Not yet.

Not until you’re ready.

So you work through the familiar list: Tea, toast, dither, dust, hoover up, tea, dither, clean kitchen, more tea, more dither. Now, are you ready?


Walk. Fresh air. That’ll get you ready.



More tea. Dither.

Four hours have passed and you still haven’t opened that awful, rubbish manuscript.

Call it writer’s block. Call it fear.

I call it The Wall.

It exists in my mind, old and worn red-brick, from the nape of my cerebellum to the tip of my cerebral cortex, an imaginary divide twixt myself and my muses.

On this side of the wall (where I do my dailies), lives my wonderful autopilot. He takes care of pretty much everything without me having to think about it. Idly pulling his levers, Joey (that’s his name), has an easy job. Years of practice, working at a machine forged by millennia and billions of replications, Joey can do it with his eyes closed. In fact the only time he needs to open them is for emergencies. You know, when that snarling dog comes bounding over, or there’s an accident of some sort, or some pretty lady smiles at me. Against the right wall of my frontal lobe is the meds cabinet. There’s allsorts in there: adrenaline (for those emergencies), a whole caboodle of hormones and pheromones and endorphins, and probably some other weird stuff I’ve never heard of; each `fix` housed in a big bottle with a plunger. And when that hooter goes off and Joey’s eyes snap open he knows exactly which plunger to press. He can fix me in almost an instant.

Joey may have it easy, but he does work long hours. My self, on the other side of the wall, does very little in comparison. I sit in the dark for the most part, only switching the light on when it’s time to open that doc.

But why is it often so difficult to pull the cord, to illuminate my muses in a radiant glow, slap high fives and tallyho down the road to writers’ paradise where the words dance and the rhythm sings and the heart soars with the enlightenment of it all? Why is it often so damn hard to light the light and slide down that gushing water tube into the theme park of writing delights where Mickey and Minnie eagerly await? They’re full of ideas. Full of ‘em. So why the feck am I mopping the bloody kitchen floor?

I’ll tell you why.


I rely on him, see. Too much, probably. I sit there in the dark while my numskull plays the levers. In joey’s little room, Joey is unswerving, Joey will not rest until his chores are placated.

Bless him.

He’s even made some posters and pasted them on the wall:

~Your writing stinks~

~You call that a novel?~

~ Warning: crossing this wall is bad for your health~

~Joey’s room rocks – be there or be square~

He’s even gone and sawn up the ladders. For your own good, he says. Your MS stinks, keep away from it, stay here, let me do the work. Forget writing.

So you glare at him. You’re sick of Joey’s place, you want the theme park of words, want the golden place - so very badly it hurts.

Now scream (step one).

Push Joey out the way and yank on that horn. (the one labelled `vent`)

Go on. Do it. Doesn’t matter where. Let it out. Scream. Cry. Why oh why. Etc.

Feel better? Yes, Joey is now sulking, and looking at you warily. Rip down a poster, and then another. Hold up a finger to Joey. He’ll stay put. Trust me. Now show him how good you are, conjure up a new ladder, tell Joey he’s got the day off and hop yourself over that wall. Pull that cord and see the light.

I’m standing at the top of a very steep water slide. Below, my very own writerly theme park where anything can and will happen - a wondrous sight, and it’s bathed in sunshine.

I jump, ride that slide, right into the arms of my waiting muses. There’s Mickey with my laptop, holding it open like it’s a gameshow prize. His fat gloved thumb hovers over the `open` button. I tap his hand and the doc opens and in I fall to ride the ride once again.

Giving your Joey, your numskull, time out, works wonders for your writing.

Joey can keep his putdowns to himself for awhile, because that’s where they belong, with Joey, in the autopilot room.

Once you’re in your theme park of course there is no limit to what you can achieve. Every character you have ever created lives and works here, and so does your muse, or muses if you have more than one.

So what now? You’ve vented, you’ve put Joey to sleep, you’ve gotten over that wall, you’ve took the ride down the slide to paradise, everything feels warm and wonderful and all your characters from past and present are smiling and applauding, but what now?

Use them. Get them to read your latest. Listen to their critiques. Find your muse, pull him off the ghost train and ask nicely for some inspiration. Capitalise – make more muses – five is a good number. Ask each in turn as you ride the big wheel, as you charge around on the dodgems, ask them to point the way.

Have fun in your own personal Wonderland, and be safe in the knowledge that all the answers are there just waiting to be found.


No, wait!

I hear cries of derision, cries of `no that won’t work for me` - ah, that’s your Joey, see – whenever Joey is awake and functioning he will continue to hang those posters and saw up your ladders.

Put him to sleep, tie him to his chair if you have to, just get over that wall, pull that cord, and see the light!

Create your paradise theme park. Create your muses, give them flesh. Two characters from Kimi’s Secret are now fully embedded muses in my own personal aMUSEment park. Kimi herself, so young yet so wise, helps me a great deal with her ever-questioning attitude. You too can do this.

Make your muses work for you and the wall becomes easier to get over.

Create your own paradise and scaling the wall becomes a breeze.

Understand Joey and the wall becomes smaller.

Understand that pangs of self-doubt are really only your Joey keeping you on a leash.

Understand all that and your writing will come alive.

YOU can do this!

(disclaimer – technique won’t work for trolls – that’s another mindset)


In the northernmost spire of his black-brick chateau, John Hudspith edits novels by day and scrawls scary stories by night. Kimi’s Secret won a highly coveted youwriteon book of the year award and has had huge acclaim in every room in John’s home. John may look handsomely ancient but he’s really only 30. Five years to write a first novel takes it out of one’s mojo – that and the time-travel. But Kimi is alive now, waiting to suck you in and thrust you onwards. John is working on the sequel and hopes to see daylight before Christmas.

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Where to buy Kimi's Secret:  Kindle Edition  Paperback