Inspiration: A Ghost Story

What inspires you?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my fellow writers over on Twitter where they get their inspiration from for their writing, and although answers varied, a number of them did come up with similar answers. Mainly TV, movies, games and music.

I’ve talked before about how some of my writing has been inspired by dreams that I’ve had. Creatures, in particular, was heavily influenced by a dream I had, and it’s what got me writing in the first place.

However, my most recent work, Blindsighted, was influenced more by my experiences of places, people, and events.

Without spoiling the story for those that have read it, I want to talk about one event in particular that happened at my junior school.

Blindsighted is a ghost story at heart, and the experience that inspired a particular scene still lingers in my mind to this day.

Back in my old junior school, there was a story about a man that haunted a certain room.

The story went that a man was fixing the room one day when he slipped and fell off. However, he wasn’t killed from the fall, but some slate slipped off the roof and struck him in the head after he landed.

After his death, he had been seen on the balcony that overlooked the main assembly hall and also in and around one of the classrooms.

The classroom in question was across the assembly hall and was next to one of the boys’ toilets. This part of the school was always dark. The classroom was used for music lessons and wasn’t always in use, so more often than not, the place was in darkness. I remember avoiding this place wherever possible and never going through there on my own. But one day I had no choice.

I was in a lesson on the light side of the assembly hall and needed to go to the bathroom. I knew that I couldn’t be too long, so I couldn’t go to the toilets that were on the other side of the school. I had no choice but to go to the ones near the music room.

I asked permission to go and started to make my way to the bathroom. I stopped at the doors to the assembly hall, which was in total darkness because it wasn’t in use. I couldn’t turn the lights on; otherwise, someone would come and tell me off, so I slowly opened the door and started across the hall.

As I walked, I kept my eyes on the opposite doors and could see a tiny sliver of light coming from one of the windows in the music room (this was never enough to light it properly.) I don’t know if it was because it was dark and I was young and impressionable, but I felt like I was being watched. As if someone was stood on the balcony above me, watching my every move.

As I pushed open the set of doors – which, of course, creaked eerily – and stopped, ready to bolt if something was there. After a minute or so, I knew I had to get moving, so I made my way into the bathroom.

Inside I used the toilet (they were all in cubicles) and laughed at myself for thinking there would be a ghost.

As I flushed the toilet, I thought I heard the doors go. I wasn’t sure if I heard right because of the sound of the flush. I remember standing there in the quiet for a bit, wondering if there were would be any other noise – if someone else had come in, there would be sounds of them moving about.

After standing there in silence and internally laughing at myself again, I turned and left the cubicle. As I washed my hands, I heard a shuffle behind me – there were no mirrors in this bathroom, so I couldn’t look up and see. Something made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I cautiously turned around.

I then saw something that I can never forget.

Stood in the corner opposite me was a man. He had his back to me, but I could see he was wearing overalls and looked kind of shabby. I didn’t know what to do; I just knew that he shouldn’t have been there. I looked up at his head (I was much shorter back then) and could see something sticking up out of his head.

The door was on the opposite wall, a few feet left of the figure. As much as I didn’t want to move, I knew I had to get out and back into the light of the corridor on the other side of the assembly hall.

I ran. I don’t know how quickly I got out of there, but I was out of breath by the time I got into the hall.

I could see the lights on the other side of the door and darted for them. I didn’t turn around, but I felt like someone was walking behind me.

When I got to the other corridor, and was thankfully back in the light. I got on my tiptoes and looked through the small window in the door. I could see across to the other set of doors, but I couldn’t see the thin bit of light from the music room window. It was being blocked out by someone standing just behind the doors.

I calmed myself down some and went back to class.

I never used those toilets again and only went to the music room when I was with other people for a lesson.

Now I know there are many people out there who will dismiss this as the overactive imagination of a pre-teen child. But I know what I saw and experienced. The entire thing was terrifying and enough so that it sticks with me to this day. I’ve had other haunting experiences, but this one, because I was so young, just seems the worst by far.

When writing the scene in Blindsighted that relates to this experience, I tried to get across the feeling of fear that I felt when I was a child and saw what I saw.

There are other things in the book that I’ve pulled in from childhood memories, but nothing as scary as seeing the man with a piece of slate in his head.

I hope you enjoyed this little story, and I hope when you read Blindsighted that this will give you more insight into how I wrote that scene.

 Have you written anything about any experiences that you’ve had in life?  – not just ghostly things but anything.

What inspires your writing?

 

 

 

In Rays of the Light: Weird but Oddly Good (Review)

First off, let me say that I’m switching up my posts this week and doing my gaming post today and writing on Wednesday. The reason for this slight schedule change is that – if you didn’t already know – my next book Blindsighted will be released on Wednesday, so I’ll be doing a special post all about that.

Now that’s out of the way, let me get back to why we’re here; In Rays of the Light.

In Rays of the Light is what has been termed a “First-person meditative quest” – which I would say sounds about right. It was released relatively recently on 21st March 2021 for PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and XBOX One.

You start the game in a room in front of a TV with static displayed on it and expected to figure something out – I’m still not sure what…

There is no tutorial that tells you what the controls are; you’re pretty much just left to figure it out for yourself. When leaving the starting room, you are left to explore an empty and overgrown building and its surrounding area. There are strange messages written on the walls throughout the building, which only serves to weird you out that little bit more.

Although at one point you pick up a piece of pipe and get yourself ready to bash something’s brains in, there is no combat. Nothing will jump out at you – although there are a couple of dramatic stings of music followed by flashes of shadows that I’ll admit made me jump.

You’re free to explore the areas, finding keys and other bits and pieces to help you solve puzzles and get to the end of the game. There are also several notes that you can pick up and read and, along with cutscenes that play out, tell you more of the story.

I don’t want to give too much away – mainly because I’m still not sure what happened – but the game concludes with some bizarre occurrences that might leave you scratching your head and asking, “What the hell was that all about?”

In Rays of the Light isn’t a huge game, and if you only play it through once, it probably won’t take you any longer than maybe 2 hours to complete it. If like me, you wanted to get the platinum, this requires a second playthrough, but that will only take around 30 minutes as you can pretty much just run through it, especially if you’re just played it through once.

We picked this game up for around £7, and honestly, it was worth the money – although I wouldn’t pay more for it. It’s a decent way to spend a couple of hours and, in the most part, is pretty relaxing – at least until the last third or so of the game.

I don’t think it will be a game that I go back to at any point as I’ve seen pretty much all it has to offer, and although I still had questions at the end of it, I feel like I had a rough idea of what the developers were trying to say. I’m going to give In Rays of the Light a ⭐️⭐️⭐️. It was alright for what it was, but there wasn’t much to it. I’d say if you want a little game that you can just run through (especially if you want to get an easy platinum), I’d say give it a go.

Blindsighted: A New Book on the Way

Welcome to another week

I started writing what became Blindsighted when I was trying to get back into writing after being unable to get going on anything when struggling with my mental health. Starting a new story really helped me get back into writing and calm my brain, which at the time was going a million miles a second with all the bad things I could possibly think of.

I got maybe around a third of the way into the story I wanted to write before deciding to stop and get back going with The Next Stage.

Up until that point, I’d struggled to edit TNS and the chore of going through it multiple times and editing was too much for me to handle. However, this time, I got into it, and I didn’t stop working on it until it was released back in October 2020.

When I’d released TNS, I started work on a story that I’ve had in my head for years; It’s All in the Eyes (you may have seen me mention it in other blogs.) I got a fair way into this story when, for whatever reason, I hit a wall. I felt like I was just writing for the sake of it and wasn’t really adding anything to the story. As much as I wanted to finish it, I didn’t want to rush it and mess it up – the story has been in my head for years; I don’t think it’s going anywhere. This was when I picked Blindsighted back up.

When I started on Blindsighted again, I had the story that I wanted to tell, so it didn’t take me long to finish it and once again be back to editing.

I’ve mentioned before that editing isn’t my favourite process involved in writing. It’s not that I find it hard to do – well, it is, but I find it hard mentally. Editing doesn’t engage my brain as much as concentrating on actually writing a story. The process of guiding a character around their world is much more satisfying and involved than going through something that’s already written and just needs proofreading.

But, as much as I struggle with this, and after four digital and one paperback proof readthrough, Blindsighted is finally ready for release.

I’ve set a date of 14th April 2020 – so, next Wednesday – for release. In theory, I could release it now, but I’m trying to get a little bit of buzz going beforehand.

A Goodreads page for the book has been set up, and I’ve been sharing the link on social media for those that like to add things to their TBR list. I’ll share it here, too, just in case you’ve missed it. Click the logo below to be taken there.

In between the release date and now, I’ll be working on another story. As The Next Stage has been received so well, I’ll be working on the sequel. This is provisionally titled, The Next Stage 2 – catchy, huh?

For now, though, we’re spending the day trying to do a low chaos run through of Dishonored…we can do this!

Have a good week all.

Another Monday

On a Monday I usually do a writing update and was hoping that today I would have the news that I finished editing the proof copy of Blindsighted, but unfortunately I don’t. Editing is taking a little longer than I had originally expected for one reason or another, but I’m still doing what I can in a view to release soon.

To acknowledge the imminent release of Blindsighted, I’ve put both of my other books – The Next Stage and Creatures – up for a reduced price over on Amazon. For the next few days, both books will be 99p/99¢ so make sure to grab your copy now.

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Over the weekend we spent time boxing up more of our stuff in preparation for moving very soon. We’ve been living out of boxes for months now while we wait for our new house to be built. With the move just around the corner it’s almost painful having to wait the remaining time. We’ve been to see the house a few times over the past week and it’s amazing to see the progress that has been made in a week. Our house has nearly finished rendering and we can’t wait to move in so we can finally have a home we can make our own.

That’s all for today, I’m going to get back to editing and maybe putting together some blogs for the next few weeks.

Have a good week all.

Paperback Proof Editing: Blindsighted

It’s that time once again. Time to go through a paperback proof copy of my next book – in this case, it’s Blindsighted.

I did this with my last book, The Next Stage, and it really helped me pick up on some errors that I had missed entirely when going through my digital drafts.

When I go through it, I spend my time highlighting things that I want to change and mark the pages with little sticky notes, so it’s easier for me to find what I need to alter on the digital version.

At this time with TNS, I was almost ready for release, and I’m at that same stage with Blindsighted.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to go through the paperback proof, so I still don’t have a firm release date, but I’m hoping that it will be some time in the next couple of months – so stay tuned for further updates.

At this time, it’s probably a good idea to share with you what Blindsighted is all about and show you the cover.

Description:

When Nathan and his mother move into their dream home, they think their days are looking up.

But when Nathan starts to experience visions of a man with no eyes stalking him, their dream home soon becomes a nightmare.

Soon he starts to see a mysterious ghostly boy that seems to be guiding him towards something. Can Nathan make sense of what the boy is trying to tell him before the sinister man gets too close, or will he disappear as others have?

Cover:

The Third Draft Continued

It’s Monday again, which means I’m back to going through my latest draft of Blindsighted.

Last week, I decided to change the style from third-person to first-person and as much work as that’s created for me, I feel it was the best decision.

It now feels a little more personal, and for the story, I’m telling, first-person works so much better than I third. I’m hoping that it will allow the readers to get a little closer to the main character and feel what he’s going through.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, writing in this style is a first for me. I usually follow several characters, but for Blindsighted, I’m only following the one. The MC is called Nathan, and he’s an eleven-year-old boy who lives with his mother. The story follows him as he and his mum move into a new house, and he starts to have strange experiences. I don’t want to go into the story too much as I’m yet to write and reveal the blurb. I’m hoping that once this draft is finished, I can spend some time writing it, and then I’ll give you more of an overview of what the story is about.

As it stands, I’ve got just under 100 pages to edit, and I’m going to try, this week, to get this draft finished. Of course, whenever I say things like this, there’s always something that will come up. We’ve already got someone coming in to fix the bath today and a new bed being delivered on Wednesday, but I’m hoping that I can work my way through the remainder of the draft even with these distractions.

I hope that your work has started well and continues on the same path.

Have a good week.

Changing Perspectives

So, over the weekend, I had a thought…

I’m currently going through draft number three of Blindsighted, and over the weekend, I had an idea for something that would perhaps make the story work a little better. This idea means that I not only have to edit the story but also to change it from reading from a third-person perspective to a first-person one.

I don’t know where this thought came from, but it’s something that I can’t get out of my head now, so I have to at least give it a go.

Writing from a first-person view is something that I’ve, so far, not done. My two released books have both been third-person and have followed the style of having each chapter about rotating characters.

For example;
Chapter 1 > Character 1
Chapter 2 > Character 2
Chapter 3 > Character 3
Chapter 4 > Character 1
Chapter 5 > Character 2
Chapter 6 > Character 3
And so on…

So writing from a first-person is going to be a new challenge for me. But, as Blindsighted follows a single character with everything being seen from his view, it makes sense that this one is done in this style.

I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, but I’m more than willing to give it a go if it’s going to make the story better. Of course, this may mean that my release date is pushed back a little way, but I don’t want to send it out there if I’m not completely happy with it.

Keep everything crossed for me that this turns out okay.

I’ll also try this week to finally get my description/synopsis/blurb done. I’ve written a few different versions but I’m not overly happy with any of them so far. Maybe if the change of perspective works out, it’ll help me with this too.

For now, I’m going to throw myself into this challenge I’ve set for myself.

Here We Go Again…

As I said in Friday’s post, last week was a bust as far as writing was concerned. I started doing some on Monday but couldn’t focus enough on it for it to be worthwhile. I didn’t want to muddle my way through and mess things up. This week though I’m back on it.

As is sometimes the case when I take some time away from writing, I had new ideas. Not just for my current WIP Blindsighted, but also for new things. I’m not sure I’ll be working on them anytime soon, but it’s good to have some ideas in the bank.

My progress through the second draft of Blindsighted is steady, and I’m just over halfway through it. I’ve been adding things to flesh out the story and going through everything to make sure it makes sense and flows well.

I’m using the same method for this novel as I did for The Next Stage. I’m going to have at least 4 or 5 drafts, with my last being the one with the proof paperback. With TNS I found that this method worked really well, so I’m hoping it does the same for this story.

I still don’t have a firm date that I want to have it done by. As much as I have a goal of having it done in a few months, I don’t really want to set a deadline. I feel if I do, and I don’t meet it, it’ll stress me out unnecessarily. Although I’m treating this as a 9-5 job, I don’t want to add extra pressure. I’m already under enough as it is, what with my hip and moving house soon. Blindsighted will be ready when it’s ready. I’ll keep updating as I go through the drafts so you can see my process.

I’m sat working on the sofa, which hasn’t caused any issues before, but now I have a PS5 staring at me begging me to play it. I had a quick stream of Ghost of Tsushima this morning to help me wake up. I’ve put the controller down now, but it still calls to me.

While I’m in the mood to write I’m going to get back to it. Have a good week all.

When Can You Call Yourself an Author?

This is a question that bounced around my head for a while. Before I talk about how I felt and when I decided to use the word author, I asked the writing community of Twitter what their thoughts were;

This question was something that prayed on my mind quite a bit when I started writing especially after released Creatures.

Although having written and (self) published a book, I still didn’t feel like I could call myself a bona fide author. Maybe it was the self-deprecating part of my brain, but I didn’t think I was good enough to be able to use that word.

Something in my brain associated the word “author” with the likes of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, James Patterson, Steven King, Michael Crichton; the authors of books that I grew up reading and I think I was comparing my work to theirs and, honestly, it just didn’t stack up.

In May of 2020, I was struggling with my mental health to the extent that made the difficult decision to quit my day job of working in IT. With this done, I had time to focus on my mental health, and I felt like a big part of my healing was being able to write, and although I was now doing this full-time, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough.

Having these thoughts is difficult to describe, and I’m doing my best to get my thoughts and feelings down here. I suppose a part of my struggle was that I had imposter syndrome. In case you don’t know what this is; it’s a psychological pattern where an individual doubts their skills, accomplishments and talents and you have this fear that one day you’ll be discovered as a fraud. Even though I had written and published a book, I still didn’t have enough confidence in my skills to say that I was good at this and I would be able to write anything else, that Creatures was a one-off. However, then came The Next Stage.

It took me around two years to finish and get The Next Stage published. I think a big reason for this was me delaying it because I still didn’t think it was good enough. It was only when I got to the point where I couldn’t do anything further with it that I eventually released it. When writing it, I knew that this book was superior to Creatures, but there was still that part of me that couldn’t believe I had written it.

Before publishing, the only people to read it were myself and Alex. When she read it, she said it was amazing – so much so that she read it in around four hours because she couldn’t put it down. But there was still that niggly feeling in the back of my brain that it wasn’t all that good and the only way I would truly find out is getting it out so that others could read it.

Once The Next Stage was released, and I saw the reception it was getting – being likened to the Alex Cross books and Blade Runner – it was as if a switch had clicked in my head, one that went from “I’m not good enough to be doing this” to “This is what I should be doing because I’m good at it.” Overnight I was able to call myself an author. Don’t get me wrong, the imposter syndrome still creeps in occasionally – usually when I’m hitting a depressive episode, but for the most part, it’s gone.

As I stated earlier in the post, this is just my journey through this period, and others experience other things and ways they define it. If you feel like you can call yourself a writer/author, then you do it, don’t let anyone stop you from defining your work.

Monday Writing Update

Just a quick update today as we’re off for our pre-plaster inspection of our new house.

When I get back to writing, I’ll be continuing with my second draft of Blindsighted. Last week I got around halfway through and even managed to add an extra 4000 or so words for the extra bits I wanted to add.

The extra bits are just small additions to the story to make it read a little better and give the story a bit more depth. So far it’s meant the addition of a couple of chapters and will probably mean another few will be added too.

In the background, I’ve also been tweaking the cover a little bit too. I’ll reveal at a later date.

I’m also happy to see that another 5-star review for The Next Stage has come in over the weekend too.

I hope you’re week is a good one. I’ll see you for the next post on Wednesday.