New short story – ‘Running The Gauntlet’

My latest free short story, Running The Gauntlet, is also the first to be set in the world of the Shadows series (to celebrate the release of the second book in the series, Shadowsiege – only 99p/99c for a limited time). It’s an idea that’s been kicking around in my head for a while now, and it gives a bit of background on Brice, one of the main characters in the series.

Hope you enjoy it. As always, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Click here to read Running The Gauntlet.

Shadowsiege now available at a low new release price

Shadowsiege (Shadows Book Two) is now out at a special new release price of 99p/c (or the equivalent wherever you are in the world) and free to read through Kindle Unlimited.

Shadowsiege_smallNot all monsters hide in shadows

Ryann should feel safe, but everything has changed. Haven is under siege from the shades. They hide in the shadows of the forest, waiting for night, always hungry.
But they don’t always kill. Sometimes, their bite infects.
Cathal lies in quarantine, the infection changing his body, turning him into something else. He sleeps, as do the other infected‌—‌but sooner or later, they will wake.
Then there are the men from the company. They say they have come down to Haven in order to help, but as far as Ryann can tell, they are only helping themselves. And in a company this big, individuals are of no consequence.
Whichever way she turns, Ryann is besieged by monsters.

If you’re in the mood for a nail-biting sci-fi/horror, click here to check out Shadowsiege.


‘The Gift And The Giver’ – new short story

Another free short story‌—‌The Gift And The Giver. Not going to say too much about this one‌—‌check it out here.

I wasn’t purposely basing the musician in the story on anyone in particular, but after catching Ed Alleyne-Johnson busking in York again last weekend, I’m sure he was a bit of an influence‌—‌although I’m sure he doesn’t feel the same way about performance as the story character does. If solo layered violin sounds interesting, check him out (

And if you want more short stories, click here.

Gatekeeper is still free, despite the price on Amazon!

Gatekeeper_smallI’ve just noticed that Amazon has changed the price of my short story, Gatekeeper (A Dominions Prologue) up from free to 99p/c. I’m trying to sort this out, but in the meantime, you can still get Gatekeeper for free through BookFunnel (click here).

This is only an issue with Amazon‌—‌it’s still free at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and other places.

Apologies for any inconvenience. I’ll let you know when Amazon have price-matched it back to free.

Whose voice do you hear when you read?

When you read, do you hear the words in your head? And if you do, whose voice do you hear?

For me, the voice I hear is fairly nondescript, a bit like the one I hear when I talk. To me, it has no accent and no distinguishing features. But sometimes, another voice takes over.

Most of the time this is because of films. When I re-read Fight Club after seeing the film, I could hear Ed Norton narrating it (and I could also picture him, Brad Pitt and the rest of the cast‌—‌great book, great film). When I read Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy I hear the voices from the original radio show in the dialogue, and Peter Jones (who played ‘the book’ in both radio and TV versions) for the rest. Even in the later books, it is Peter Jones’ voice that is reading the words to me.

This makes sense. If the film (TV show/radio show/whatever) is done well and complements the book, they almost merge to become one thing. If they are different, or if they don’t connect so much in my mind, then I revert to my generic voice. So, when I read Daphne du Maurier’s story The Birds, it is so different to the Hitchcock film that there is no cross-over. Similarly, although there have been some TV adaptations of Terry Pratchet’s books, they haven’t been as good as the books, so I don’t automatically connect them in the same way.

Most of the time, the voice-from-the-film effect works well for me. But sometimes, hearing different voices can be a distraction.

group-1825503_1280I’m a fan of the Sterling & Stone guys‌—‌Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright. Not all of their books work perfectly for me, but they’re never afraid to try something different, and their books are always work reading. And when they’re good, they’re fantastic. Yesterday’s Gone, overall, was wonderful. Crash was a gem of a book. I love Unicorn Western, and The Beam is constantly intriguing. And their Tomorrow’s Gene trilogy is a current favourite of mine.

They also produce a weekly podcasts. Although they generally stick to the topic in these shows, there is a natural banter between them that often takes them off in other directions. They’ve even taken this off-topic stuff into its own show (Worst Show Ever).

They’ve been doing this for years, and I think I’ve listened to just about everything they’ve done. I’ve had their voices in my ears for hours and hours.

Maybe this isn’t too healthy.

Their written work reflects the way they speak. They’ve even done readings of a couple of their books. And now, when I read anything they’ve written, I hear it in their voices.

For their non-fiction, like Iterate And Optimize, this makes sense. These books are supposed to teach me things, after all, and they are the teachers. Rather than their non-fiction being lists of instructions, it becomes personal advice. In The One With All The Advice (where they pull writing advice from different episodes of Friends), it adds a great deal to my enjoyment of the book.

But this also happens in their fiction. This started becoming obvious to me in the last few books in their Invasion series, and has carried on with everything they’ve written since that. Even with Dead City, which they first released in audio format as a separate podcast, narrated by Scott Brick—‌when I read the book, I still heard their voices.

Mainly Sean’s. Probably because he talks most on their podcasts, and he’s involved in just about every book they produce.

I’m starting to find this distracting. Maybe that’s because I’m noticing it more often.

Some people might suggest this is a problem with their writing, but it is clear that they are improving in their craft all the time (their latest ‘literary’ novel, Devil May Care, might not be a total success, but it contains some of the finest writing they’ve done to date).

It’s often said that the writer should be invisible, and that the story (and the characters) should be everything. But every writer has their own voice, which becomes more identifiable as they progress in their writing journey. Unless they are specifically trying to write like someone else, their books will all be ‘theirs’. And if, as a reader, you identify with their voice strongly, it is natural that you will hear the story being read to you in their voice.

Which, ultimately, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We often choose books because we enjoy a particular writer’s work, and that usually means their voice resonates with us in some way. With the rise of podcasts and videos, writers are becoming more accessible‌—‌we don’t have to wait for a book-signing to see or hear our favourite authors any more. The connection between the writer and their work is more apparent than it ever has been.

So I guess I’m looking forward to having Johnny, Sean or Dave reading their next book in my head.

As I’m writing this, I’m wondering something else‌—‌whose voice are you hearing right now? I doubt it’s mine (because only a few of you will have heard me speak). Is it your own internal voice, or some kind of ‘generic blog post’ voice? I’m British, but if you’re from somewhere else, do you hear it with an English accent or your own, or is it some kind of mid-Atlantic thing? If you’re British, does this read with a northern or southern accent, or a hint of west-country? Has that voice changed over the last few sentences?

And how much of this has pulled you away from the words as you try to listen to the voice in your head? Have I messed up your reading?

Maybe listening to the voices in your head isn’t such a great idea.