Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Why I am writing Zombie

With all of the wonderful writing genres that there are out there, why is it that I have chosen to write Zombe?

-         It is trendy right now. I’m not going to deny that this factor is a driver. I obviously want as many people as possible to read my book once published however if I really wanted to follow the crowd then I would be writing a vampire romance novel, with more romance than vampire.

-    It is easy. I don’t subscribe to this train of thinking. Just because I am writing
     about rotting, brain munching creatures straight from the bowels of hell,
     doesn’t mean that the plot, characters and their interactions are any the less
     complex or that the story telling element is any more basic.

-         I am a sick and twisted freak. Now this may well be true, I must admit that I
do enjoy thinking of more and more disgusting ways for my characters to die
and putrid ways to describe the Zombies. However that said I am just as happy
writing poetry about nature and flowers as I am describing peoples heads
exploding, so again this is not really a factor.

So what is the real reason I am writing Zombie?

It is as simple as I LOVE ZOMBIE STORIES!! I have done ever since I picked up my first one aged 15 years old  “Assassin” by Shaun Hutson. I loved the way the books main characters were evil enough on their own as London gangsters without throwing Zombies into the equation.  From the first moment a Zombie appears – when a London prostitute performs oral sex on a zombie thinking him to be a smelly homeless bum, only to have him ejaculate maggots into her mouth. I was in awe as to the boundless possibilities that a story of that nature could go in. This was quickly followed by “Deathday” also by Hutson and countless others.

Around a year later I watched “Return of the living dead” (parts 1 & 2), “night of the living dead”, “dawn of the dead”, “day of the dead”, “braindead” etc and have watched nearly every Zombie movie released since. What has fascinated me right from the start is the human aspect of the story, the way the humans in the story have to deal with the horrors presented before them and have to evolve instantly to survive and discover ways to kill the Zombies by trial and error. Then there is the fact that a lot of the time although these characters are facing the most horrific of circumstances and should be joining forces to try and defeat the Zombies, a lot of the time they are feuding amongst themselves, normally at the detriment of their cause. I have been fantasising about the Zombie holocaust ever since planning how I would cope, what I would do to survive and although I have been writing for years, it is only recently that I have started to commit my Zombie stories to paper.

However it is this human story that is the main driver behind my apocalyptic journal series, a series of fictional journals written while the central character is in the midst of an apocalypse. The first of these is set in the midst of a Zombie outbreak. I am hoping to publish it in eBook format later in the year with the second book set in the midst of a new ice age following shortly after.

Keep coming back for news of my progress.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

2011 The Year of the Competition

I have decided that with the start of the new year that it is time I started entering writing and poetry competitions. This is something I have often thought about over the years but due to lack of confidence have never had the balls to try. As my novel progresses I have begun to think to myself - How can I go to a publisher or an agent with a blank CV? The answer to this conundrum is to try and get some competition wins or at least shortlists under my belt, maybe the occasional short story published in an anthology. Not only will it make my CV look as if I can actually do what I am claiming i.e write a decent story, it will also help to raise my profile and get my name known within the industry.

It is with this in mind that I list the competitions that  am am currently entering and please let me know if there are any I haven't listed that you think are worthy of entering.

1) Bridport Prize:                                                                                         http://www.bridportprize.org.uk/
2) Yeovil Literary Prize:                                                                                   http://www.yeovilprize.co.uk/ 
3) Leather, Denim and Silver:                                                                              http://www.pillhillpress.com/monsterhunter.html
4) The Bristol Prize:                                                                                         http://www.bristolprize.co.uk/
5) Agenda Poetry Competition:                                                                    http://www.agendapoetry.co.uk/

Friday, 4 February 2011

Creative writing

I thought today, that I would share with you all a piece of creative writing that I wrote whilst on holiday in Amsterdam. Amsterdam and in fact the Netherlands in general is one of my favourite places in the world. Friendly, full of history, beautiful scenery and a varied and interesting culture. Couple that with some of the best museums, art galleries and markets in the world and it all adds up to a wonderfully enriching place and very inspirational. I have been there many times both on business and pleasure and always come back feeling refreshed and positive about life. If like me you enjoy people watching, I can highly (no pun intended) recommend spending a couple of hours in one of the many "smoking" coffee shops whether you partake in the wares or not, it is a great place to sit back with a coffee or fresh orange juice and watch the world go by. It never fails to surprise me just how broader spectrum of the worlds population partake in a little weed (because they legally can). All ages, creed's, colour's and nationalities, Some sheepishly almost creeping up o the counter others bold as brass almost showing off about it. It is a great way to take notes on expressions and body language, and probably because of the nature of the effects of smoking cannabis there is always someone interesting to chat to. If the idea of smoking puts you off there are always the "herbal" cookies to partake in.

Please don't think that I am advocating drug use because I am not, all I am saying is if you want to experience it somewhere where it is not illegal then this is the best place to do so.

This is my experience of doing just that:

Beauty of pot smoking

It's only as I it here in the Grasshoppers coffee shop Amsterdam, that I have found the true beauty of pot smoking. It's not the "hurry, hurry it's get as smashed as we can" sort of smoking. Oh no, more the sit on your own, taking long slow drags on a joint, learning all it's scents, tastes and effects. It's getting to really yourself, all your scents, tastes and effects. It's not sitting in the corner of the room, stoned out of your head, listening to thrash metal so loud that, it could, most possibly blow your eardrums, but more, your listening to Massive Attack or Roni Size whilst reading a comedy thriller novel. Or really taking the time to watch the view from the window, looking at the people on the street, noting their expressions, moods and actions. It certainly isn't seeing how much you can dribble, whilst unconscious, whilst urinating into your trousers. No, it's noticing the pure sensuality of the patterns that the streetlights make on the road when it has been raining. Being able to drink orange juice on a Friday night without feeling like a complete sad arse. Finally it's not stuffing half a packet of Farley's rusks into your face in the space of five minutes. It's taking your time over food, to experience all the colours, smells textures and flavours they have to offer, and learning to live life to the full and enjoy it because it's great. All this I have learnt in just 6 days. What a time it's been.

Copyright Howie all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Language Revolution

Why is it, that I seem to be the only person excited by the fact that we are going through a language revolution?

Everyday I hear teacher's, parent's and politician's saying "Children can't even write properly these days?" Well I for one would like to turn things on their head and suggest that, maybe it is you Sir or Madam that can not write properly these days. That maybe just maybe, our beloved beautiful english language is changing, evolving and that our youth of today with their mobile phones, their twittering computers and facebook profiles have decided without even realising it to stand up and make the biggest change to the written word since ye olde english evolved into modern english during the 1700's.

Being the well read chap that I am I have many, many books in my personal library. However one of my favourites is The Oxford book of english verse. This book contains an awful lot of the most influential english poetry throughout time. I think it compliments my point here quite well.

The first poem in the book is by an anonymous poet but is one of the earliest surviving poems and dates to the 13th century...

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing, cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu.
Sing, cuccu!

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calce cu,
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth.
Murie sing, cucu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu cuccu!
Ne swik thu naver nu!

Sing cuccu, nu! Sing, cuccu!
Sing, cuccu! Sing, cuccu, nu!

Now you may need to take my word for it, but the poem is about the coming of summer and the noises on the farmsted, the cows farting etc (Yes Verteth means farts in olde english)

To most people however this is utter gobbledygook however this was the way of the english written work until the mid 1500's when there seems to me a language revolution.

Take Sir Phillip Sidney's (1554 - 1586) from The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange, one for the other giv'ne.
I holde his deare, and myne he cannot misse:
There never was a better bargaine driv'ne

A considerable change in written word from the 1200's I'm sure you'll agree. It then as I have already said evolved again into pretty much the modern form of english we know and love today around 1700.

William Collins (1721 - 1759) Ode, written to the beginning of the year 1746. As case in point...

How sleep the Brave, who sink to Rest,
By all their Country's Wishes blest!
When spring, with dewy Fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hollow'd Mold,
She there shall dress a sweeter Sod,
Than Fancy's Feet have ever trod.

I am sure that at all these points on history, scholars and self proclaimed fat heads have been up in arms about the atrocities being dealt to the english language, and how anarchy and the great apocalypse is just a step away. However it wasn't and it isn't now.

So if I may offer some advice? The next time you are reading through your child's english homework and your Sk8er Boi has written dat he woz not going der 2moz and dat if u fink about it den Tommy sed so. Before you fly off the handle just think maybe they aren't doing it wrong. Maybe just maybe they are speaking Nu English very very well indeed.

My Mum

The first time I knew anything was wrong, was just before going to work one day I was sat having a cuppa with my adoptive mum. We were having a perfectly normal conversation and an advert for a comedy show (the name of which escapes me now) came on tv. My mum turned round to me and said
"I want to watch that because I am in need of a bloody good laugh"
Her voice broke and mum started weeping. I walked over and gave her a big hug and we talked it turned out that she had been feeling more and more down over the past few months and had no idea why.

Mum decided during our chat that she needed to go to the doctors and discuss it with him and that's exactly what she did. The Doctor's opinion was that maybe losing her mum and the family dog over the past 8 or so years, work commitments and my dad having a heart attack had all taken it's toll and prescribed a dose of anti depressants.

Over the course of the next 6 months, mum took her tablets but still the feeling of desperation would not leave her.
"Maybe it is the menopause" her doctor suggested, she was 51 after all. She was placed on HRT in the hope that they would straighten out her feelings. Still the desperation continued.

My sister had been on holiday to the Dominican Republic with her fiancee and mum had said that she would pick them up on their return. I was on a day off from work and decided as I had an hours peace, I would jump onto the playstation and have a game. Suddenly there was a hammering on the front door. I pressed pause and got up to go to the door. when I opened the door I was met by the face of my sisters fiancee panic stricken, his face white, which considering he was heavily tanned from his holiday was quite a feat.
"Your mums had an accident you had better come quickly"
I ran as quickly as I could down the lane to the road at the bottom and there was mums car side on in the road with the front left hand side smashed in. Turned out she had clipped a parked car as she was driving down the road and swore blind that she never saw it there. Mum had banged her head on the roof of the car as it spun but after being checked over by the paramedics they let her go home without a hospital visit.

Three days later mum was giving me a lift to a friends house in my dads car when she didn't see the car in front stop and drove albeit slowly, straight into the back of it.

Two days after the second accident mum and dad went off to Salou, Spain to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, a two week break to relax and relive their honeymoon to Minorca all those years before. On the day they left mum and I had a blazing row, I was on my way to work and I barked some kind of abuse at her and slammed the door shut. Justifying it to myself on the way to work by thinking that given two weeks to calm down while she was away and we would be as if nothing had happened.

A couple of days into the holiday I received a call - you know the sort, "We arrived safely, we're having a good time"
Only that wasn't exactly the way the call went. I spoke to mum first and she was having a good time but informed me she was feeling a bit dizzy on and off. However when my dad came on ad mum had wandered off to look at something he told me that mum was acting really weird, she kept asking to go to the beach and then as soon as they got there she was saying it was too hot and wanted to go back to the hotel and that she would stumble from time to time as they were walking. He told me
"Somethings not right but I just can't put my finger on it"
The call ended and that was that.

On the Sunday morning I was sat with my 4 year old son watching kids telly when the phone rang, it was my dad
"Listen your mum has been rushed in to hospital"
My stomach instantly rushed up into my throat, he went on to explain that mum had started being sick in the previous evening and they thought she had a bit of spanish gut. This went on and on and mum got weaker and weaker as the evening went on, by the early hours ad was having to carry her to the loo. She finally fell asleep but th next morning dad couldn't wake her. He went down to reception to organise a doctor to come and see her. The doctor took one look at mum and said
"I don't like the look of this, I need to take her in to hospital for some tests"
Dad sat with mum as they did the tests and the doctors informed him that she had an until now un diagnosed brain tumor and that it had started to bleed.
"It was like someone turning on a light switch" said dad "it just all made sense"
The doctors had put a drain into mums head to try and reduce the pressure and it was now just a waiting game. I told him to back and be with mum and to be strong and the call ended.

I stood up told my son I would be back in a minute, walked outside lit up a cigarette and cried my heart out. I was 25 years old and had never felt pain of this nature however I think it was my way of coming to terms with the thought I may never see my mum again. I composed my self went back in side and carried on as if nothing was wrong for my sons sake.

The next day dad phoned again, mum had regained consciousness and had been talking about me and my son who had started school that day. The doctors had said that they needed to drain the fluid from mums brain and stabalise her and would then operate to remove the tumor. It was a risky operation and there was a 50 50 chance of survival and if she survived an even greater chance of there being brain damage, how severe that damage would be they couldn't say but at least there was hope.

On the Tuesday evening the phone rang and I was informed that mum had slipped back into unconsciousness however the doctors had said that this was a good thing because it meant she was fighting it. They also told my dad that it could be weeks maybe months before mum was stable enough for her operation and maybe he should think about flying home until such time as she regained consciousness. Dad was really upbeat and in turn made me feel positive. At that point I heard that there was a knock on dads hotel door and he said he had to go and answer it and would phone back in a bit.

The phone rang about two hours later. "I'm really sorry to have to tell you but your mum has died" The knife slid into my heart, I felt sick, I felt angry, I felt, well I felt a million and one emotions in a second and then suddenly. Shit and dad is out there on his own and I was brought back to reality. My dad had gone down to the hotel reception to take a call and it was the hospital saying that he better come to the hospital and could he take my mums passport with him. He knew what to expect, I don't know how he made that journey or how he walked into that hospital but he did and was told the inevitable that mum had lost her fight and slipped away. He spent a bit of time just sitting with mum before coming back to inform me.

Dad spent three more days in spain whilst they arranged a flight home for him and mums body flew back 4 days later.

I am writing this not to depress anyone or to try and upset but because firstly, although I was very angry for a long time that this went un diagnosed for so long and in fact until it was too late and therefore mum never got the chance to fight it. I am also very glad that she never had to live with the fear that she had cancer. It must be awful to spend the final months/years of your life in absolute terror that you might die.

Secondly, the last time I spoke to my mum face to face was in anger and I will never forgive myself for that. It is not something that I can ever go back and change. I want everyone that reads this to think the next time they are having an argument with someone that they love more than words can express, that this could potentially be the last time they ever speak to them and are these the final words you want to remember saying to that person.

With hindsight if had my time again I would say "Can we agree to disagree because you are off on holiday and I don't want to ruin it for you. I will see you when you get back" ..."Oh and mum I LOVE YOU!!"

A more detailed account of these events will be in my book Lost and Found.


It's a lazy Saturday and I have been reading through my old poetry notebooks and thought I would share some of it with you. Hope you enjoy.

Mother Nature's Way's

Blood trickle down rose, drip onto snow,
the mountains high, yet we can't go.
Air so fresh, takes your breath away,
all things end, come what may.

Rivers run dry, rain doth fall,
trapped against, a red brick wall.
Cultures clash, and people die,
lost someone? ask yourself why.

Mother nature, works her ways,
sun comes out, on lazy days.
Lots of things, I should have done,
and lot's of battles, I should not have won.

Irish Hope - (written following the Omagh bombing 1998)

Shattered glass and buckled steel,
busted brick, a Ford Escort wheel.
The odd flickering flame darting around
and lots of rubble upon the ground.
A perfect silence falls on the street,
for those who arrive, what a sight to meet.

Broken bodies, a twisted mass,
a faceless child, it's a wee young lass.
A blood splattered pram in the road.
Warnings came too late, without a code.
Then in the darkness someone screams,
they'll survive or so it seems.

Ambulances arrive and the fire brigade.
The street will take months to be remade.
It's the dead and maimed we have to think about,
we'll remember them without a doubt.
These senseless killings will not bring peace,
this meaningless violence, must now cease.


The dirty whore has many diseases,
that she passes on to the men she pleases.


I'm so sorry, I killed your Dad last night.
You see, well, we kind of got into a fight.
I never knew him, as nor do I you.
I couldn't help it, just something I was ordered to do.

I'm so sorry, I killed your husband last night.
You see, well, we kind of got into a fight.
I'd never met him,didn't know his name.
I suppose it is that it is me that you should blame.

I'm so sorry, I killed your son last night.
You see, well, we kind of got into a fight.
I suppose you'd call it murder but not chargeable by law.
Please understand, he was the enemy, after all we are at war.

Kind note

Dear Mr Blair
How dare
you sit there
and stare.
When your cabinet is lying,
about the people dying
and the children crying.
While we are sighing,
through frustration and pain.
Our energies drain
and our people strain,
just to maintain.
Order and peace,
to the world and it's niece,
'cause we can police,
in order to cease.
Racial discrimination,
worldwide oppression,
millions depression,
our planets destruction.
World poverty
and child cruelty,
nuclear warfare technology.
Yours sincerely

All poetry copyright howie.

The Beginning

So this is it, my first blog entry. I am 36 years old and was adopted at birth.

I don't normally introduce myself like that as normally it isn't relevant however at the moment it is, you see I have decided to write my autobiography - the story of my life, the life of an adopted person and more importantly the search for my birth family.

I don't know whether it will ever be published but it is something I need to do as I have a lot of shit in my head that I need to get out before it explodes. I also hope that it will help, encourage and give hope to other adopted people who are thinking of or in fact are, looking for their birth relatives.

I will be using this blog to inform how the writing process is going, post snippets of the book as I go along with talking about any other madness that happens to be going around in my head.

I hope you enjoy.

OH and if anyone has any questions on being adopted or the search for birth parents, please feel free to ask whether you be an adopted person, an birth relative or just an interested party.