Mutterings and utterings of a budding novelist

Archive for August, 2013

Book Review: Season of the Dead

Here is my review for ‘Season of the Dead’ by Sharon Van Orman, Paul Freeman, Gerald D. Johnston, Lucia Adams

Zombies – how we love them.

How is it the simple premise of a human returning from the dead to walk amongst the living can inspire not only a multitude of tales and scenarios, but a diverse array of comedy and horrific genres.

So with this in mind I guess it’s hard to create something truly original when you fill a book with undead flesh chompers.

‘Season of the Dead’ is one of these books. Written by four authors, each from their own viewpoint as zombies take over the world. Two from America, one from Canada, one from Ireland. It’s a unique blend of cultures that fits remarkably well in the telling. I’ll have to admit the cover reminded me a little of the game ‘Left 4 Dead’, but aside from having four protagonists, the similarities end there.

What’s great about this book, without giving away any spoilers, is that the four seperate experiences truly give the feeling of this being a worldwide event, and that you secretly hope throughout the book that these characters will meet one another (I think I beamed with excitement when they finally did).

The twists and turns the four take as they carve, blast and chop through hordes of munching zombies leads towards an epic finale, beautifully crafted by the four writers who even though speak in their own voice, manage to keep the tale from diversifying into a jaunted quartet of seperate novels. Everything moulds seamlessly together like a literary synchronised swimming session. Even better is the fact that they use their own names for their characters, hinting further that they have actually used their own personalities to flesh them out.

All in all a great book, with thrills, chills, chuckles, and a sprinkling of gore. Well worth a read.

And one tip – should you ever encounter a zombie apocalypse – a full size squirrel outfit trumps full military body armour against the undead anyday!



Blurb:  “It is said that unto everything there is a season…these are the stories of a group of survivors during the season of the dead.”

Four individuals fight to survive as the zombie apocalypse crashes over the world in a wave of terror and destruction. Color, creed, and social standing mean nothing as the virus infects millions across the planet.

Sharon: a zoologist from Nebraska, USA, has worked with the virus, and has seen the effects on the human mind. She knows more about the virus than nearly anybody alive, and far more than she wants to. Gerry: from Ontario, Canada, he gets his first taste of the virus from inside a prison cell. Locked up after an anti-government riot, his prison guard transforms before his eyes into a flesh craving zombie. Lucia: a chemist from Pittsburgh, USA, flees from a furry convention dressed as a giant squirrel, and escapes from the city in a Fed-Ex van. She’s a girl who knows when to run and when to fight. Paul: thinks he can sit out the apocalypse in his apartment block in Dublin, Ireland, until the virus comes to visit, bursting his bubble and leaving him with no choice but to face reality or perish.

All four begin perilous journeys in mind and body as they face daily trials to survive: Four threads, four different parts of the world, one apocalypse!


Amazon US link

Amazon UK link:





Finding Your Calling

We’ve all seen the scenario – asking a group of young children what they would like to do when they grow up. Inevitably the usual responses crop up – Fireman, Nurse, Train Driver, Pilot. Basically the kind of professions youngsters are exposed to through kids books or children’s television.

But of course the onset of growing up causes that naive chosen job to change and then suddenly at sixteen (in England at least) when high school is over, we are all forced to make a decision on our career. Personally I feel sixteen is far too young to make such a life-altering choice. Another couple of years (like other countries) would mature the individual even more and make a more educated decision. For instance, when I left school I swore I wanted to be a Graphic Designer so naturally I went on to study it at college. But at the end of that course I decided I wanted to be an Animator. Strangely after studying that at university I decided I wanted to a writer/illustrator.

I guess it took me until my mid-twenties before I firmly made a commitment to myself to devote my life to the writing and illustrating of books. Of course I don’t regret the graphic design or animation courses, as they paved the way to where I am now. and now I am extremely grateful that I found what I want to do in life.

But I know many people who don’t have an idea of what to do with the short existence we’re afforded in this world. It can be a difficult decision, devoting yourself to one thing, hoping it makes you successful.

A long time ago I read a perfect way of deciding what to do in life.

Just ask yourself – ‘If money was no object, what would you do?’

Now immediately after asking yourself this thoughts of laying on a beach all day, endless parties, and living like royalty may flood your mind. This is only natural as this life is a fantasy very few can experience. But even so, after a certain amount of time, you WILL get bored of this lifestyle. Trust me! I’ve known very successful people who have become so wealthy they wouldn’t have to work again, yet after nine months of living in paradise, they actually returned back to work – bored.

So, the question remains – ‘Once the fantasy has been lived, and you’re laying bored on a beach, what would you do next?’

After a bit of mental digging, dormant dreams and desires surface. Ideas from long ago may return. Maybe it’s starting a business with an idea you had, writing a book, pursuing a sport, starting a band, or organising a charitable endeavour.

This is your calling, and once you’ve found it, it will envelop your life.

And if the doubts creep in such as ‘I can’t do that’, you must batter them back with a firm belief that you can. ‘I can’t write/draw/cook/play volleyball/play the guitar etc etc.’ – well of course if you’ve never tried it you can’t. Nobody is born an expert in any field. Most professionals will tell you that they only became good at something after hammering hours and hours away at it. It’s the passion that will carry you on, and drag you through the times of despair and doubt. It’s the passion that pulls you away from the TV, from the Xbox, and everything else that eats at your time, and focus on your heart’s desire. They key is to not give up, no matter what anybody says or even what you tell yourself.

Keep on affirming that you can do this, that you can succeed in whatever you choose to be. Believe in this enough and you’ll find any obstacles magically move out of your way as progress on the journey.

I guess that’s why the name it ‘The Calling’, – because it sings to you, pulling at you to keep on trying, keep on developing, and keep on improving at your game.

As the motivational speaker Wayne Dyer has said on numerous occasions – ‘Don’t die with the music still inside of you.’

What a tragedy that would be.




New Artwork

In my head, I have hundreds of pieces of artwork I’d love to get produced.

I only wish I could pause time for a year and get everything done. Until I discover a way to do this, I’ll concentrate on finding new ways to increase my productivity.

Here’s a couple of new pieces.

This one was for my old school pal Tiffany who runs a fitness studio. She wanted a pole-dancing warrior type character.



Close up



And here’s the first in a set of portraits for the ‘Sisters of Vyse’ starting with my signature character – Angel

Most pictures of her are of her fighting so we only ever see her expressionless. She’s normally a happy, kind character so it’s nice to draw her smiling.


Rolling with the Punches

This morning whilst getting ready for work I watched a great new episode of the ‘Spirit Science’ series. For those who don’t know about this, it’s a wonderful animated series (the website actually has tons more to it) created by Jordan David and starring a character called Patchman, delving into all things spiritual.

The website is here.

Now today’s episode was all about waves and cycles and theorised that all things, whether natural or man made, work in cycles. It went on to explain that within out own lives good times can cycle into bad times before spurning on into more good times, and that this is a natural way etc etc. And that by pushing away and resisting the bad times we can actually harm our own natural cycle and denying further better times in the future.

This is actually quite relevant in my own life at the moment. Now rather than risk losing my job by talking about my place of employment, let’s just say a few things have changed in my day to day job, resulting in less income – quite a substantial amount.

Now rather than bitch and moan about these things, I’ve decided to embrace this downturn and turn it into something positive. Because of these changes I now have more free time on my hands. So as well as being able to get more of my own personal work completed, I’ve decided to put together a fresh list of goals which I’ve named ‘Operation Conrad’ (after Charles Conrad who wrote The Richest Man in Babylon – an awesome book everyone should read!) in order to get fresh freelance work. This includes things like signing up to many online portfolio sites, cleaning up my book cover design website, and strengthening my online presence.

I’ve got into the idea that the recent changes in my life are a well needed kick up the ass from the universe. And that like Spirit Science says – this will lead on to much better things.

I think we all go through difficult times in our lives, and that we should not only allow them into our lives, but embrace them. They help us to take a step back and assess our situation. Then by correcting the course we’re on, we can make much better progress in our lives.

The bottom line is that without bad or difficult times, we can never truly appreciate the good times. Everything happens for a reason, and we are constantly receiving symbols and messages in which direction to go – whether through the Universe, God, a higher power – whatever you want to call it.

Just keep on your feet, keep running and smash through any walls that come your way, laughing, roaring and gritting your teeth along the way.

Never give up.