Sunday, 12 December 2010

Past lives?

Samael is, on the one hand, just another teen supernatural romance. Hopefully it is a pacy read, an exciting, scary and romantic page-turner. But it does have some deeper stuff going on under the surface. The book (or rather the trilogy) explores many esoteric ideas and, in particular, the concepts of reincarnation and karma.
All the main characters in the book have karmic links; they have known one another in other lifetimes, in other guises.

Samael and Gen are linked at a deep soul-level. I won't give away exactly how and why but, suffice to say, their bond is immense and deep. No matter how hard they may try to keep away from one another (Samael consciously; Gen unconciously) they are fighting a losing battle.  Their souls simply yearn for one another. As the series progresses, the relationship between the two of them becomes clearer and we see just why they are so attracted - but also how dangerous their relationship could be.

I have undergone a fair amount of past life therapy, and have even trained as a past life therapist (though I don't practice!).  I was lucky enough to meet and work with the wonderful healer, shaman and all-round lovely woman, Denise Linn.  Denise is convinced by the idea of reincarnation.  In fact, she thinks that past life trauma can be the cause of many current life illnesses and psychological issues. She has seen people cured of severe arthritis after undergoing past life therapy; people with hearing loss who have regained their hearing; people with impaired vision who have regained their sight.  She's seen phobias clear up almost instanteously and asthmatics throw away their inhalers. Denise says you generally find that asthmatics have been strangled or asphyxiated in a previous incarnation.

But what about Samael and Gen?  Denise does believe that people can repeat obsessive relationships from incarnation to incarnation and she thinks the therapy can often throw light on love and sex. 'When you find out that your father was your wife in a past life, or that your mother was your daughter, that transforms those relationships because you begin to understand why you are with those people,' she explains.

I have met my husband in previous lives - but, interestingly, as my brother...  My past lives have been an intriguing mix.  My first experience took me back to a tough uncompromisingly bleak life as a peasant.  I was a man, exhausted from trying to keep my wife and children fed.  I died of pneumonia, shivering in the cold, guilt dripping from every pore that I was leaving them behind.  I have lived lives as an athlete in ancient Greece, a 17th century herbalist and a bored Victorian housewife.  Perhaps the most shocking was a life in a very ancient Ireland in which I was sacrificed, with stones being pressed over me, as my beloved was held back, kept from saving me. 
I also had glimpses of a very very remote life as a priestess in which I and my lover did something terribly, fatefully wrong; in which we turned aside from the path we were supposed to follow.  Or, at least, that's what I 'saw' in the trance state of regression. 

What do you think? 
Do you believe you've lived before? 
Do you think we meet the same people, time and time again? 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The dark

Strive for the light, always the light.  We live in a society obsessed with the bright, with the light, with the relentlessly positive.  Within this gleaming bright white perfect world there is no room for shadow, for penumbra, for twilight, for darkness. 

For a long time I relentlessly followed the path of the light.  I chanted positive affirmations until I was blue in the face; I knew I couldn't afford the luxury of a negative thought.  I manifested exactly what I needed - or what I thought I needed.  The message is that our lives should be permanently sunny, happy and joyous; all our relationships loving; all our spirits coursing towards the light. We are expected to be super-people, always up, always cheerful, always bright.

Is this natural? Is it realistic? Of course not. Virtually all of us have times when we feel down, depressed, negative. Times when we feel consumed with less than ideal emotions: anger, hate, jealousy, self-pity. If we were to believe some of the self-help gurus, we would seek to expunge such emotions immediately, drowning them in positive affirmations and self-talk. But is this missing the message? Do we do ourselves a disfavor by ignoring the dark and seeking always the light? Do we miss the subtlety of the moon’s shadows by always craving the clear illumination of the sun? By striving for perfection, for the ideal life, for permanent life, we are setting ourselves up for misery and failure. No-one can live perpetually in the bright sunshine. Life is made up of darkness as well as light. Our emotions too run into the shadows: fear, guilt, depression, anger. We cannot put a veneer over these emotions and simply hope they will simply go away. In fact, the more we disown these emotions, the more harm they will do.

We only have to look at nature to see that there exists cruelty, darkness, death. There are times of growth, times of decay. Sometimes day and light and the upward surge of life hold sway; sometimes we are in the grip of night and dark and the death-hush lies over the earth. We are splitting from an essential truth if we seek to live always in the light. After all, in order to have a peak, a mountain, you must have a trough, a valley. How can we truly know happiness if we have never experienced sadness and gloom?

By denying the dark we also lose the chance for genuine self-understanding and growth. There are many lessons to learn amidst the shadows, much wisdom in the gloom. We can and should sacrifice the idea of perfection because none of us is perfect. We all contain within us both good and evil, light and shade. When we turn and face our darkness, our demons of the night, we may find revelations beyond our wildest dreams. For there is dark energy too…

The ancients knew this and knew it well. In the Qabalah, the Tree of Life has a shadow image, a dark reflection. On it are all the sins and temptations known, the arch-demons of the soul. The qabalists realized that you cannot only see the bright side of life, you have to accept the dark as well. Ignoring the dark, pushing it aside, is to give it power over you. In many cultures the gods and goddesses were not just pure and good but complex creations with as many differing moods and attributes as us humans. Many initiation ceremonies demanded the initiate descend into the bowels of the earth or go deep into the forest or out onto the untamed sea to face his or her demons, to conquer fear, to embrace the dark and come out again, transformed, into the light.

I am not saying that affirmations and positive thought are bad things. They are in fact incredibly useful and worthwhile, particularly if you are the kind of person who constantly dwells on the negative. They are also valuable lessons in the first stages of energyworking. But once you have reached a certain level of skill in this work you no longer need to put a gloss on life. You need to face the dark energy, to plumb the depths: only then can you truly scale the heights.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Gates of Hell

What would they look like, the gates of hell? 
Would they be a split in the earth's crust, an abomination?  A gaping wound, a crevice, a vagina - the place of birth meeting the place of death? 
Or would they be suitably gothic and spooky? Would they swing open and you'd walk down a dusty path with nothing much to see?  Would you walk and walk and walk and walk, with the dust coating your throat and your eyes?  Would you just keep walking, never reaching a destination? 

Or would you see them from a huge distance away... rising up like a sentinel in a barren land of rock and dust? Would you imagine eyes watching you as you approach, your weary feet stumbling over the rocks?  You might want to turn back but you would know it's too late.

Might it be a small, Alice-like, hole. Something insignificant, something almost vulgar? An asshole of an entrance? 
Or, then again, could it be any doorway?  Any worm hole?  Any clicked link on the PC?  Any seemingly innocent door or gate or place?
The thing is, you never know just how close to hell you are at any moment in your life.  Be wary of doors.  Be very wary of invitations.  You never quite know where they are going to lead.....


I can't write right now.  Can't do anything much really.  Just exist.  I'm listening to music and crying and crying and crying.  Is that what writers do?  Is that a good thing to do? 

I'm also thinking about the underworld.  I feel a bit like Inanna, the Sumerian goddess. Inanna had the lot really - a kingdom, a husband, children, friends, all good stuff.  She is surrounded by love.  Yet somehow she feels she had to go down, to visit her 'dread sister' Ereshkegal, in the underworld.  She has to transform; she has to scour her soul. 

As she descends, she passes through seven gates and, at each gate, she loses a piece of jewellery or an item of clothing.  Each gate could be seen as one of the chakras, so I suppose you could say that the giving up might correspond with opening, or laying bare, each chakra.  Are they the trappings of our egos, our personas, the masks we wear?  Do we hide from our primal fears and dodge our true selves?  How scared are we to be stripped bare, to reveal our most inner being?  How scared are we?  How scared am I?

Finally she/I stands, naked, before Ereshkigal.  Ereshkigal, her sister, her shadow, kills her with a glance and Inanna is beaten and hung from a meat-hook like a slab of meat.  And so Inanna hangs...

And so I hang... 
And so I hang...
And so I hang...
And so I hang...
And so I hang...

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tanit - the sequel starts

Well, I gave it a shot.  I started Tanit, the sequel to Samael, at the beginning of November to tie in with NaNoWriMo.  I really hoped I could get 50K words under my belt by the end of the month.  But it didn't pan out. 
I found that having to write to order in quite such a formulaic way just didn't suit me.  But it did give me a kickstart and the book is coming on pretty well. 
This time the focus moves to London.  Gen is back living at home with her dad and stepmum and trying to fit into school after the events of the summer.  She's feeling pretty low. 

Everyone around her seems to be doing great. Her mother and Vivienne are all loved up and have returned to Texas. Zeke has a record contract and is flying.  Star is living her deam as part of a strange alternative circus, The Circus of the Macabre. 
Meanwhile Gen has hit rock bottom.  She's lost her man, lost her mojo and now she may be losing her home.  To make matters worse, there's a creepy guy following her and some crazy idiots are trying to break into hell.  The dead are coming back to life and an ancient (and madly unhinged) goddess is regaining power.
Zeke reckons it's time to call in the cavalry but, oops, the archangels seem to be deserting their posts in droves.
This time it isn't just Shadowcombe in danger - it's a whole city.  While everyone else seems hell-bent on leaving the abyss, Gen has no choice.  She has to find Samael.  She has to find a way back in

Thursday, 22 July 2010

If I had a book trailer....

If I had a trailer for Samael, this would be the soundtrack.....  It's Kitty Jay by Seth Lakeman and it's the music I had running through my head the whole time I was writing Samael. 
There is tons of music in the book but the lilting and then crazed fiddle is at its core.  It's not 'folky' folk music, I promise - and if you haven't heard Lakeman before, do check it out.
Gen hears a violin playing in the attic when she first comes to Borthwelm.  A strange, sad, yearning melody.  But, of course, when she gets up there, the playing stops.
The sound chases her in her dreams and becomes linked intrinsically with Samael. 

However Samael isn't the only one who can play a mean fiddle and, in a key scene in the book, he 'duels' with Zeke at Zeke's gig...playing the classic country song The Devil went down to Georgia 

But there's loads of other music too. Some is really well-known, like The Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers and the wonderful Marianne Faithfull.  Other tracks are maybe less familiar. 
I absolutely adore this - Deus ibi est (actually this version would make a pretty reasonable trailer too!).

Do you think YA books should come with a soundtrack? 
If you write, do you listen to music while you write? 
What are YOUR 'heart and soul' tracks? 

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Where I write

I am endlessly fascinated by where writers write.  If I see a supplement or magazine feature about an author I will pore over the pics, trying to read the titles on the spines of the books; I'll check to see what kind of computer they use; what kind of desk, chair...  Do they have a view or face a wall?  I dunno, I'm just intrigued by the whole process of writing so it's of interest.

I am hugely lucky.  I have a positively ginormous study.  It was the old dining room of the house and I've had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves fitted on two walls.  Instead of a desk I use a large kitchen table - because I like to draw as well as write.  There's a squashy sofa in the window alcove with more bookshelves either side. 

I like to surround myself with things that inspire me, that intrigue me, that spark off stories and thought processes.  So I have a few tarot packs (from my extensive collection) around me, runes and the I Ching.  I listen to music when I write - my soundtrack for Samael is extensive and I keep an old-fashioned beatbox on my table as I still like physical CDs (unlike Gen with her iPod).  I burn candles when I write too - my absolute favourite is Aromatherapy Associates Relax.
Scent is hugely important too - and those Jo Malone bottles in the bottom left are to remind me of how my characters smell!

But, when it came to writing Samael, I didn't actually do it at this desk or even in this room that often.  The whole book was scribbled longhand into a series of black Moleskine notebooks (three, to be precise).  I wrote it all over the place - in bed, in the car, on the beach, in numerous cafes, curled up on the sofa, in the garden.  The first chapter was written on the train as I returned from lunch with my agent in London.
Each chunk would be typed up here though...and the edits will happen here too.

btw, for those who have asked, Samael is finished (well, first draft at least).  It's now gone out to editors so hopefully I'll have some good news for you soon. 

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Ones That Survived

Why oh why did I burn my Samael paintings?  I do regret it.  I had a vast bonfire and most of my paintings went onto the pyre. 

These are a few which, for some bizarre reason, escaped the flames.  As you will see, Gen is a much better painter than I am!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

How it starts

This is the first chapter... let me know what you think..

Chapter One:  If that’s what love looks like

Sam and I sat on my bed. The tarot pack lay like a loaded gun on the duvet between us.
‘Okay, if it’s the same cards again, I’m calling in the exorcist,’ said Sam, her eyes wide.
‘You don’t know any exorcists, you bozo.  Anyhow, they won’t be the same. I’ve shuffled them really well.’

Sam was my best friend and we read the tarot obsessively. We’d lay out the cards again and again until they gave us the right answers; until they told us what we wanted to hear. In Sam’s case it was dead simple:  did Ben Lomax love her?  Did he really really love her? Would they be together forever? 
In my case it was a little more complex.  Should I do science or art?  Where the hell was my life going?  Would I ever meet my soul-mate?  Then again, there were the questions I never even admitted to Sam.  Did heaven and hell exist? What happened on the other side of infinity?   Would I ever feel truly safe?  Was I finally going mad?

I laid the cards out once more in the Celtic Cross pattern I’d learned from my mother, way back when I still had a mother.  One by one I turned them over.
‘Oh. My. God.’
Sam grabbed my arm as almost exactly the same cards came out once again.  Okay, so three were different but even so.  I shivered.  My mother always said that the cards weren’t a parlour game or a magic trick; they really could foretell the future. But more than that, she said, they could read your soul.  Did I believe that?  My scientific side, the side that liked facts and proof, rolled its eyes and said no way. My artistic side wasn’t so sure.

‘Well, looks like you’ll be alright,’ said Sam, her voice a little higher than usual.  ‘Look at that.  The Knight of Pentacles and the Knight of Wands.  Spoilt for choice.  Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool....’  She sang the last sentence.  Sam loved the cheesy old songs, and the lyric made me smile.  I didn’t like this though; what were the odds?  The same seven cards out of a possible 78?  I was doing physics and maths A-level; I knew that was seriously stretching probability.
‘Yeah, great,’ I said.  ‘But what about those?’
I poked the card with the tower struck by lightning.  People tumbled through the air, as flames flickered from the building’s windows.
‘Yeah, well...but...’

Sam tailed off.  We both knew what it meant:  disruption and unforeseen catastrophe.  Just as we knew that The Devil stood for violence, illness and black magic.  And The Moon signified unforeseen perils, deception and secret foes.
Three really horrible cards.  People freaked out about Death but that wasn’t the one they needed to worry about.  It meant change and maybe total change – but not necessarily death. 
‘Hey, The High Priestess is pretty cool.  And you’ve got The Lovers – that’s got to be good, right?’

Sam gave me a nudge in the ribs, and I turned away.  I was so darn pale that even the thought of a blush turned me puce.  I blamed my mother.  I’d inherited her alabaster skin along with the wild red hair, green eyes and willowy frame.  She had said that all the women in our family looked pretty similar, though I’d have to take that on trust  –  she hadn’t left us any photos of them. 
‘You’re too damn fussy, Gen.’
‘I’m not fussy hon,’ I said, wistfully.  ‘It’s just that all the boys we meet are so, well, boys.  I think I want someone more mature, not a numpty schoolboy.’
‘Ben’s not a numpty schoolboy.’
‘I didn’t say he was.’
‘You implied it.  He’s nearly nineteen.  And he’s going to law college – you can’t get much more mature than that.’  She swung her legs off the bed.  ‘I’m outta here. I’ve still got prep to finish.’
‘I didn’t mean Ben.  Honestly.’  I could have hit myself.  Why did I always say the wrong thing?
‘Sam, don’t be cross.  Please.  I didn’t mean anything about Ben.’ 

She gave me a hug.  ‘It’s okay hon.  Just sometimes it feels like you don’t know what you want.  As if there isn’t a boy alive who’s going to be good enough for you.  But we’re cool, we’re always cool.’
I squeezed her tight.  ‘Don’t go, not yet.  Stay and have some supper?  Please?  I expect Maddy’ll be here and I don’t want to feel like a flipping wallflower again.’
She patted my back gently. ‘I can’t, hon.  I’m going out for an Indian with my mum and dad.  I’ll see you tomorrow for the gig, alright?’

She blew me a kiss as she walked out the door.  Sam was lovely, a good mate. But she didn’t get why I had to make life so difficult for myself; why I couldn’t just go out with Nathan Lockwood.  Sure, Nathan was a nice guy.  But nice was a problem for me.  I didn’t want some safe, good-looking, smart enough guy.  I wanted the kind of love that makes your heart bleed; the kind of love that consumes you so totally you feel like every limb is being torn from your body.  For all that Nathan thought he was rebelling by wearing a tongue stud, I knew what the future held for him and it involved a suburban detached house, a BMW, two children, a Labrador and a time-share in Portugal.
I stuck my iPod on and stretched out on my bed.  I’d been in a full-on brat princess phase when I’d demanded the heart-shaped bed with the padded fuchsia headboard.  Now I was channelling a darker vibe.  I stared up at the crucifixes pinned to the headboard – just a few of the religious icons and knick-knacks I picked up all over the place.  I don’t know why I did it.  It wasn’t like I was some goth or emo type. I certainly wasn’t religious. They just called to me; had some meaning I couldn’t quite grasp.  A huge gilt-framed mirror leaned against one wall and a crystal-drop chandelier spun rainbows round the room when the sun shone through my red velvet curtains. 

Posters and pin-ups weren’t my thing.  I wasn’t interested in pop stars or actors.  My walls were lined with my own paintings.  I painted big and I painted bold.  Often they were self-portraits – me lost and bleak, caught up in whirlwinds of colour, trapped by thorns, tumbling through deep green water.  More often they were of him.  The face I kept painting obsessively, over and over.  His eyes looked haunted; they bored into me from the paper.  His cheekbones were high and wide, his nose sharp, his lips firm.  The face rarely smiled but if it did, it became cruel.  I had no control over what I painted – it felt as if the paints were controlling me. 
He snuck into my dreams too.  Sometimes he just stood, staring into the distance, his blond hair whipping round his face, as if he were standing in the face of a storm.  Sometimes he stared straight at me, a deep frown on his forehead, but he looked through me; he couldn’t see me.  So why did I get the feeling he was looking for me?  I could smell him though: amber and wood-smoke.  I could hear the wind and the far-off sound of a wild fiddle. I could hear him breathe.

I woke feeling bereft, as if part of my soul had been snatched.  I cranked up the volume on my iPod.  Soulsavers.  Broken.  It suited my mood.  Dad rolled his eyes at my music.  ‘Morbid weird shit’ he called it.  He could talk.  He was the one who called himself ‘Wraith’ rather than Rick; who sang lullabies to dark gods on stage; who rapped the Bible backwards; who’d made a living out of the macabre.  Let’s be honest, the daft numpty was jealous.
The front door slammed. Talk of the devil.  He could never come into a room quietly, always had to make an entrance.  He was just like an overgrown naughty schoolboy, trying to shock, to create a reaction.  His boots thudded over the polished concrete floors downstairs. 

‘Gen? You up there?’ he yelled in his gravelling too-many-fags and too-much tequila voice.
I pulled myself off the bed.
‘Get your ass down here.’
‘Gareth.’  A soft melodious voice but with a hint of steely disapproval.  The latest girlfriend.  Maddy.  She was a good twenty years younger than him, not that much older than me really, but she seemed kind.  After the cavalcade of brittle groupies I’d seen clip-clop through the loft, with their spray-tans and fake boobs, Maddy felt like a breath of fresh air.  I was pleased for him.  I was.

I slid down the stairs and padded into the open-plan living area.  
From the back Dad looked pretty good – all tall and lean with his faded jeans, biker boots and the old black leather jacket with the labyrinth symbol and ANUBIS RAT curling above it.  But when he turned round he made Iggy Pop look positively baby-faced.  Talk about beauty and the beast. Maddy barely reached his shoulder:  she looked like some war-time waif in a faded floral tea dress and Birkenstocks.

‘Hey, Dad.  Hey, Maddy.  You okay?
‘Hi Blossom. Come here.’  Dad pulled me into a bear hug.  ‘How’s you?’
‘Yeah, I’m good.’
Maddy gave me one of her little waist-high waves. 
‘You guys want some coffee?’
‘Not for me, thanks,’ said Maddy.  ‘I’m picking up some stuff and heading back to my place.  I’ve got to do some work for a breakfast meeting.’ 

She reached up and pecked Dad on the lips.  He snatched at her hand.
‘Aww, babe.  Don’t go.’
She stroked his rubbery face.  ‘I have to.  I’m not a rock star; I’m a PR.  I need to get my presentation sorted and I need my beauty sleep.’
He looked bereft, like a kid that’s had its favourite toy taken away. 
‘Will you call me when you’re done?  Can I take you to lunch?’
I moved into the kitchen area and fussed with the heavy duty coffee maker.  I seriously didn’t want to witness a smooch-fest.
I heard footsteps; a rather long pause and then the heavy front door shutting with a thud.  Dad came back, edged himself onto a stool and slumped his elbows onto the breakfast bar.
‘Yeah, Bloss.  That’d be good.’
I pushed his cup over to him, knocking the tatty old straw fruit basket.  Oranges spilled over the table.
‘Whoah,’ said Dad, trying to catch them before they reached the edges. 
‘We should get a decent bowl, Dad.  That thing seriously isn’t up to the job.’
Dad looked wistful.  ‘Ah, but see, we got it in Egypt, your mum and me.  We were going to some temple – feck knows which one – and a couple of kids were running alongside the jeep with these damn baskets.  I was going to send ‘em packing but your mum bought the lot.  This is the last one standing.’
I glanced at him.  A million thoughts cascaded through my head but I didn’t say a word.  Just sipped my coffee. 
‘She’s not a bad person, Bloss.  Honestly.’
I pulled at the neckline of my sweatshirt.  ‘Yeah, well...’
‘She loved you.  I mean she loves you...’ He tailed off.  He wasn’t an idiot by any means but his synapses didn’t always fire in the right order, they really didn’t.
‘Yeah, right,’ I muttered.  ‘I haven’t seen her for, what?  Five years?  If that’s what love looks like, I’m not sure I want any of it.’

His shoulders slumped.   ‘You should see her; you really should.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  I’ll talk to her; see if you can’t go and stay for a while over the summer.’
‘Oh no, Dad.  Really.’ I shook my head firmly.  ‘If she wanted to see me...well...she knows where I am.’
He frowned, looking for all the world like a Shar-Pei puppy. 
‘I dunno, Bloss.  It’s not right.  You’re seventeen.  You should be talking to your mother about...well...’
I held up my hands in the universal ‘back off’ gesture.  ‘About what, Dad?  Sex? Drugs? The evils of booze?’  I laughed.  ‘Er, hello. It may have escaped your attention but backstage at your gigs isn’t exactly a toddler’s ball pit.’
‘Aw shit, Gen.  I know.’  He reached out for my hand.  ‘I’m a crap father, I really am.’
I grasped his and squeezed it firmly.  ‘No. Absolutely not.  You’re a great father.  The best.’

I paused and gave him what I hoped looked like a bright smile. 
‘I just wish you’d picked someone else to be my mother.’


Sunday, 9 May 2010


I've been hugely lucky in that quite a few people have read Samael and given me their feedback.  Am really deeply madly thrilled to say they almost all loved it.   However, amongst the suggestions, I also got asked a fair few questions.  Some were really fascinating and so I thought I'd answer them here. 

Is Shadowcombe a real place? 
Not entirely.  I live on Exmoor, a stunningly beautiful (but pretty isolated) place in South-West England and it's fair to say that the landscape of Samael is based on what I see around me.  For a fair few years I lived in a very remote valley and that was certainly the inspiration for the world Gen finds herself in.  The village of Shadowcombe is a bit of a composite of a few Exmoor hamlets and villages.  The inspiration for the 'Mouth' comes from a narrow gorge that is nearer to Taunton - I have taken the writer's prerogative and transposed it.  However, I didn't want to make the setting too precise.  I think you can find Shadowcombes in many places - not just in England or even the UK but around the world. 

Did you base Gen on yourself?
No way!  I would love to be like Gen but I fear we're very different.   Gen has a deep sense of who she is - she's pretty strong.  But she's also kind and warm-hearted. I'm nowhere near as balanced and sussed as she is.  I guess we share a few characteristics though - I love to paint big and wild too (and like Gen tend to paint strange people I have never met).  I also love music (and we share a very similar taste in tracks) and horses.  Gen is a much better rider than I am though... 

Why are Gen's parents rock stars?
Because I thought it would be way cool.  I used to work as a journalist for a newspaper and part of my job was interviewing musicians and going to music biz parties.  Some of the 'stars' were lovely and some were total jerks.  It's quite an unreal world and, if people get success young (as Gen's parents did) it can unrail them.  So in many ways, Gen has parents who have never really grown up properly - even at 16, she is in many ways more mature than they are. 

Gen doesn't like Twilight.  Do you feel the same?
No.  I loved the Twilight series.  In fact, I love the whole 'dark romance' genre that Twilight spawned.  Personally I don't get off on the idea of vampire lovers though - Edward is a bit too marble and cold for my taste - I'm firmly in Camp Jacob, I fear.  But my supernatural creatures of choice have always been angels/demons (such a fine line between the two)...  Samael is my total heart-throb.  Though Zeke is a very close second.  I don't envy Gen having to choose.

How do you write?  Do you have any rituals?
I'm worse than a mage!  Normally I write straight onto my PC but this book demanded to be written longhand.  So I scribble it out in Moleskine notebooks (it has to be Moleskine) and then have to type it all up.  It's a huge pain.  I have a candle burning - scents are hugely important in Samael but the one I use for writing is Relax by Aromatherapy Associates (they've just stopped doing it and so I've stockpiled enough to get me through the writing and editing - I hope).  

There is a lot of music in the book - why is that?
I don't know really.  My last book had a very 'natural' soundtrack - I worked on it in silence and all the sounds in it were organic - birdsong, wind, rain.  Samael is very different.  My muse for the book was Seth Lakeman's music and that wild fiddle runs right the way through.  But really there's an entire soundtrack - mainly rock and indie-folk.  Joan Osborne, Marianne Faithfull, Nick Drake, Roddy Frame, The Killers and so on. 

The rituals seem pretty realistic.  Would they work?
Not entirely.  I have studied shamanism, Wicca and the Western Mystery Tradition ('magic') for absolutely years but I have purposely kept the rituals a little vague.  It's not a great idea to go round trying to summon up demons on your own! 

Are there going to be more books?
I hope so.  Let's just say that things certainly aren't over between Gen and Samael, that's for sure...

Any more questions?  Feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer....

Saturday, 8 May 2010

It started with a dream

It started with a dream, one I had when I was about sixteen – the same age that Gen is in this story. It was a recurring dream, of a boy so beautiful that he took my breath away. Not pretty boy beautiful; his face was all planes and angles and danger dripped from every pore.

He was a demon, I knew that, and knew that he could snatch my soul in a second. Yet he didn’t. Instead he tugged me close and held me as if I were the most precious thing in the entire world and beyond. He took me flying, swooping over the suburban landscape in which I lived then. We few over parks, through high streets, over playing fields. And then he said, in a voice that caught in his throat:

‘I must show you who I really am.’

We dived into a crowd in the park and he ripped off their faces. Bit them and tore them away. I shut my eyes and yet still felt the blood splatter over my face.

‘Why?’ I asked him. ‘Why?’
‘Because people hide their true natures,’ he said. ‘Because I disclose that which is hidden. I show the truth.’

What is good and what is evil? Angels or demons? Is everything really so black and white?

Samael has been in my head since I was sixteen. Like Gen, I have painted his face time and time again. Now – and I’m not sure why it’s now – he seems to want to have his story told. I hope you enjoy it.

You can read the first few chapters of Samael here..

I'd love to know what you think. This is very much a work in progress right now so any suggestions just might make their way into the book!