Would you donate your body to science?

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Are you curious about what will happen to your body as you die? I am.

I want to know how the mind shuts down, how the body begins to drift out of life, and how sight and our senses diminish as the cells begin to die.

So in The Donated, I explored how we might exist if we were kept artificially in that fleeting moment between life and death, when, perhaps, we are aware that we are still alive but the process of death and decay moves on, pauses, and maybe reverses for a as some of our cells regenerate.

You may have heard how genetic modification is creating franken-creatures and diabolical foodstuff, but Genetic modification also allows us to tinker with the very source code of life.

From such work the possibilities are truly astounding. A life free of disease, growing up but not growing older, living to experience the full potential of human endeavors.

But the consequences could also be terrifying.

The Donated is about one such experiment.

 

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New name and new cover for Generation

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Sometimes, after working long and hard to make book sales, you finally realise that you’ve got the cover wrong, and the name too!the-donated-_final

Generation has been re-launched as The Donated with a new cover.

Generation was a favourite name for me after dozens of brainstorming sessions, seeking feedback and thinking of how it might come across. But without the benefit of years in the publishing industry, it only slowly became clear that potential readers were confused about the genre and what might be in the book.

A re-brand was necessary to put the book firmly in the Thriller genre and a new cover to let people know they were buying a thriller yarn — all be it with and injection of horror 😉

In addition, a new Hendrix Harrison novel is planned to be released next year, and I wanted a themed cover style and title that more accurately reflected the two books together.

So, here it is. I hope you like it.

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Scared sleepless by your own plotting?

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You might think that novel writing was a safe and introverted activity. But because you are left to revel in the dingy recesses of you own mind, the daily pursuit of plots and story lines can make you thoughtless, depressed, obsessed, paranoid, and sometimes, scared witless.

When sleep is disturbed by plotting

When sleep is disturbed by plotting

You have to imagine it to write it. You have to create a scene or conversation in your head, remember it for long enough to describe it with your fingertips tapping on a plastic keyboard and then check it makes sense by staring at blue-glowing screen, often at the loneliest times of day.

And when you aren’t actively typing or editing, the mind continues to work. The reassuring clunk of a closing car door, or bees humming on the honeysuckle, perhaps your child screaming “he spat at me” or the bonkers contrast in mood before and after sex. All these precious moments cannot be lost (like tears in rain); they must be collected and collated, morphed and merged, formed and edited. The mind endlessly churns to make characters or scenes believable and rich with specific detail.

So when you read that, “The females [blowfly] will lay their eggs on the body, especially around the natural orifices such as the nose, eyes, ears, anus, penis and vagina,” it’s like projecting a mini horror film directly onto your neurons, and they strive to make connections with the current work in progress. It is an attempt to complete a giant, endless jigsaw: Oh, here’s a good piece I think that will fit in chapter 2, when Hendrix inspects the forensic enclosure.

And it’s not something that can be turned on or off just because of the inconveniences of real life. No. My children want attention, but I’m trying to rearrange an omen to the right place in the book. The last thing I want is to fix a Minecraft server error, or help defeat an end of level boss.

And when “…the cadaver is swollen by gas produced internally, and is accompanied by odour of decaying flesh,” pops into your head while at dinner with friends, it’s difficult not to blurt out where you think the reference is going to fit.

But for me at least, the dark side is always there. Generation has an artery of horror running through it and of course the book has themes of forensics, genetics and decomposition that are explored in depth.

The research, and subsequent churning, gave me nightmares of the sort an adult rarely experiences, and it didn’t help that, given my wife sometimes works on call, I was researching into the small hours when there really are things that go bump in the night.

At this time, when the house is dark and the only company is the orange shine of the distant city, decay lurks in every corner, “… flesh turns to cream cheese and the exposed body parts turn black.”
My mind does not rest just because it is supposed to. It works to fill gaps in dialogue and add twists to story lines. And it should not be constrained. Where it goes, so goes my mood, my attention and sometimes my sleep.

Your brain is both your best friend and your worst enemy.

But who’d live without it?

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Your readers will love the rich taste of good eating

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Eating starts and ends all the events in Generation, from the tarmac table of the opening scene to the al fresco irony of the final twist. But to describe these bracketing meals as cosy dinners for two would be to misunderstand the relationship between the food and the eater.

nyc-diner-bacon-cheeseburger

I’d not given it a whole lot of thought before, but when Shelly Workinger asked me to write a guest blog that focused on the eating habits of my characters I discovered that food and eating cut a path right through Generation as if I’d thought about it.

Because that’s the funny thing about writing. You never know what you put in, and it’s up to the reader to pull it out for you and tell you what you really wrote about.

So when I discovered that Hendrix Harrison often stopped for a hamburgers and lettuce drowning in mayonnaise or that Sarah Wallace (the rather too smart entomologist) controlled her students by bringing them, “…something to eat to stop you leaving the chair…” I realised the characters really did have a life of their own that was not planned on a spreadsheet or even intended. It’s as if they made their own choices. This is the sort of thing they talk about in writing books.

Actually, I feel quite proud now.

So please take a peek at Shelly’s blog, and leave a comment. It means a lot to us writers if you get involved.

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GeNeRation Deleted Scenes

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I’m putting together a collection of deleted scenes from Generation. This is for both die-hard fans of Hendrix Harrison and to illuminate the writing/editing process.

As an author, it’s instructive to read about the experiences of others and particularly instructive to realise that, no matter at which stage of the novel production process you find yourself, you are not alone. Generation went through a long development stage, and more drafts than I care to think about. Over its eight year gestation, I think the book was entirely replaced — regenerated if you like — at least three times.

The collection comprises of a range of scenes that were cut from early drafts, and also a few that so nearly made it. Each scene is preceded by my own comments on why it was cut and any other observations that seem relevant.

I’ll be putting a new one up from time to time, so check back. I hope you enjoy them.

Deleted Scenes On Facebook

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