Question of the Hour Presents: Author Neil Christiansen

Hello friends, today I present an awesome ‘Question of the Hour’ interview by a fellow author and blogger.

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I present you with the latest victim of my random questions author Neil Christiansen.

‘Neil Christiansen has a way with words and imagery that pulls you into the gritty underworld of Chicago, in his modern noir thriller Dark White. Dynamic characters finding their way through the gray landscape of morality. Hold on it’s quiet the ride.’ -My Review of Dark White

Why do you write?
Everyone asks this question and I don’t really understand it. I don’t think people ask singers why they sing or bricklayers why they lay bricks. I write because I’m compelled to. I have stories in my head and they belong on paper. I hope people read them and like them, but even if they don’t I still have to write them.

What do you get out of it?
At the moment I get pride and my own satisfaction. I also get grief from my family…

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Hall of Information Interviews: Brooklynn Dean

The exploration of unique voices in storytelling is back for another Hall of Information Interview. On this occasion we are joined by author Brooklynn Dean who has mastered depth and symbolism in her unique books. From magical realism to rock and roll, you’ll find a lot more in her words than just a story.

Q1.  Let’s talk about your unique writing style. Most stories have nowhere near as much depth or inner meaning as ‘The Word of the Rock God’. Part of that depth is a moral story which centres around the themes of good versus evil, temptation and even purity. This is merged with the life of a touring rock band. What influenced you to find and write this story?  

“Wow, I feel very complimented by this question! Thank you for saying so.”


Honestly, I’ve always been interested in Christianity generally and Catholicism specifically as a theological topic of study. I find the lore of the Bible so interesting— the spiritual rules/regulations, the various creatures, the way angels are meant to interact or not interact with humans, angels mutating into demons when they disobey, etc. so when I write magical realism, divine creatures are always my go-to.” 


One night I was driving home from a concert, listening to Palaye Royale, and their song “How Do You Do?” shuffled on. The first line “good morning, how do you do? I’ve been up all night looking for you.” struck me, and I began visualizing a scene in which a stranger might sit down before a person and say these words. Who would this stranger be? Why would she have been searching out this person.

Having just seen a show, I imagined that person as a rock star. I couldn’t see the stranger who had been stalking him as just a regular old fan of his band, though, and my interests in mythology and Christianity quickly crafted this woman into a demonic figure. But then, why would a demon want him? Well, for his platform, of course, and to use to corrupt as many souls as possible, but why him? What’s so special about his platform? I won’t say here because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the concepts of morality and good and evil have simply always been intriguing to me. And I love shy, sweet innocent men. I don’t think they get enough credit in media; often they’re relegated to being the butt of a joke or a sidekick, and that doesn’t fly with me.


Given that my stalker-character was demonic, it just seemed to me that Max’s innocence should’ve stemmed from his faith.
I really don’t feel like I create the characters as much as I discover them. They exist somewhere separate from me, even though that place is inside my mind, and I feel like I sit down with them and let them tell me their stories.

“One thing that seemed as important to Max as it is to me is the concept of fate and destiny. I imagine we all have a certainty destiny laid out for us, but I vehemently believe that our free will allows us to step outside of what’s been written in the stars for us if we decide to. It was important for me to express that in the text.”

I very much believe that also, we all have the ability to change the stars. It’s very interesting to see how you constructed the story, it kind of makes even more sense now. For anyone who hasn’t read ‘The Word of the Rock God’ I highly recommend it – here’s my recent review.

Q2. Are there similar themes in your other works? Please tell us more about them?    

“A theme I touch on in The Word of the Rock God that I really delve into in Amethyst, 2288, and in my brand new work, Deification, is celebrity and idolization. In Rock God, Max wonders why people are his fans— do they dig into the messages of his songs and lyrics and admire him for what he’s saying, or do they simply see him as a modern deity? Do they admire him because he’s elevated above them on a stage? Does what he say matters or is it simply that he’s got a microphone in which to say it? I think we live in a society that raises us to believe we aren’t good enough (mostly for monetary gain by the major corporations of the world), and when you couple this almost-brainwashing insecurity with the loss of God (or any other deity) it creates a hole that can only be filled with the admiration of another person.”

“I think we enjoy loving each other and praising each other and feeling camaraderie— humans are social animals!— but if we feel inferior while praising someone else, we start to see them as superior to us. Celebrities have very much become modern gods, in my opinion. That’s why Amethyst’s tagline “you’re not god, but your my god” exists as it does. Our main character is extremely pessimistic and nihilistic, so when she sees someone creative and beautiful, she can’t believe he’s human. She immediately puts him on a pedestal instead of focusing on her own creative energy and becoming the god of her own life herself.”

In 2288, this idea of hero-worship is extended to a dystopian state wherein creatives are classified as Elite and everyone is simply The Citizenship.”

These stories sound awesome. Most books have nowhere near that much depth (including mine)…

Q3. Tell us about your newest release ‘Deification’?  

“Deification is most certainly an exploration of Christian creatures. As I’ve said, angels and demons and the anti-Christ are all such intriguing concepts to me. I love the idea of a great End of Days where these creatures mingle with humans on earth, where earth as we know it, is gone.”

“But my main character stemmed from a reading of A Clockwork Orange where I paused to ask myself why isn’t the evil gang leader-murderer ever a woman? Just as I enjoy giving shy guys a spotlight, I very much enjoy giving bold, unsympathetic, selfish women a place to exist too. So Torrence stepped forth from my subconscious and said, “Hey, I’ve got a tale for you. Here’s my life story.””

“I almost always find myself relating to the male character in movies which feature both male and female leads, so I try to write men and women the way I’d relate to them. It’s not the traditional view of gender norms, but I’m writing for the people who don’t see themselves in those traditional roles.” 

OUT NOW!

Q4. I’ve seen on social media you mention reading the work of Anne Rice, do you have any book recommendations from authors you follow and what genres you enjoy?  

“I absolutely adore Anne Rice, yes. Since so much of my answers feature idolization and worship, I’ll be the first to admit that she is my god. No doubt about it.”

“I absolutely would recommend your work, Lee, and have done so to quite a few people! I also enjoy the work of Jeremy Megargee and Gillian Dowell, two fellow indie writers whose works deserve attention.”

Genre-wise, literary fiction is my go-to. I love purple prose, flowery language, sentences that last for paragraphs (shocker considering the length of my answers, huh?) I think everyone should sit down with a book that explores the inner-workings of the characters minds as much as it does the action of the plot. Reading a stranger’s work can become very personal when you realize how deeply the two of you can connect over whatever innately human emotion or thought or concern a fictional character is going through.

Thank you for mentioning my work and of course recommending it. Much like you I’m all about proper sentences and the characters!

Q5. Moving away from writing and books briefly, what other interests do you have?  

“Music is extremely important to me. You’ve read Rock God so I’m sure you might’ve imagined that already. I love how deeply connected, much in the way of books and writing, music and lyrics can make you feel to people you’ve never met before. I can’t tell you how many dear friends I’ve made at concerts— oh, hey, we both like Ice Nine Kills and you drove 3 hours to be here and I drove 2 and a half, and we know nothing else about each other but for the next hour we are going to drink and sing and laugh and enjoy our shared experience here. That’s beautiful. I think because of concerts, music offers a connection other art forms aren’t necessarily able to.”

“Outside of music, I love comic cons. I’m a total nerd. Give me conventions, give me horror movies, give me cosplay. I love it all.”

“And of course, I’m obsessed with cats.” 

Beautiful indeed. Nothing beats live entertainment and the energy of a crowd.

Q6. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

“Tough choice as I love three of the four. We can definitely get rid of beer. Reluctantly I’ll give up tea. I do love wine, but I’m not sure I’d survive without coffee. If I have to choose between the two, I’ll take the coffee. But this question is evil. Haha.”

Q7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?  

“Absolute night owl! I hate mornings.” 

Q8.   You have quite an impressive social media following. What’s your strategy when it comes to social media and does it play a part in selling books?

“I can’t say I have any real strategy. I’ll post or tweet something I think is hilarious or artistic and see a much smaller response than something I was hesitant to post at all will get. I think a big thing for me is my ability to talk to anyone as if they’re my best friend. I know a lot of writers and readers are introverted, so me saying GO TALK TO EVERYONE isn’t exactly helpful. But I really think “be yourself” is an overused cliche for a reason. When you’re fully accepting of who you are and what you like and what you think, it’s very easy for other people who enjoy those same things to find you. I’m not sure if it plays into my book sales. I have friends who buy everything I’ve ever created, and I’ve become friends with people because they’ve read my books and reached out to let me know. I like to think I’m logical and intelligent, but truly I just kind of float through life on gut feelings and meditation, and it works out pretty well for me! I know some people probably cringe at the aloofness of that ramble. I’m kind of a hippy that way.”

Excellent advice and outlook. I’m kind of just winging it on social media…

You can catch Brooklynn over on the Tweet machine here…

Q9. What projects are you currently working on and what can we expect to see next from Brooklynn Dean?  

“I’m revisiting an old manuscript I wrote back in 2016-2017ish. It features my trademark shy guy and assertive woman pairing. It’s paranormal. A thriller of sorts, I suppose, though I’d like to try my hand at something romantic.”

Sounds awesome, looking forward to it!

Q10. Finally, a question that I ask all interviewees. If there is one sentence of advice you would give someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?  

Writing is an art form and you know your story better than anyone, so don’t let people force their own “rules” on you.” 

 

Great advice! Thank you Brooklynn Dean for taking the time to share an insight into your unique world of story telling.

Brooklynn’s next book ‘Deification’ is out now and available here. You can also find her backlist via Amazon here.

Fly Fearless & Fear Less: Eliminate your Fear of Flying with Knowledge! By Peter Brandt – Review

A concise, insightful and reassuring read that’ll help you cope with the irrational fear of flying…

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Peter Brandt has compiled an easy to read book that aims to reassure anyone with fear related reservations about flying with knowledge and facts. Many of us fear the unknown or what we don’t understand and even things that we cannot control – all of which fall under the fear of flying umbrella and as someone who personally doesn’t particularly enjoy flying this book has helped quell those feelings.

The bigger picture is mentioned at the start, that being this world is worth exploring and seeing, a fear of flying shouldn’t stand in the way. What follows are concise and to the point chapters that explain everything that is to explain about flying from the basic science and anatomy of aircraft to the subjects that might cause some unease to the nervous passenger. There are tips and small details throughout that make the whole narration feel calm and reassuring whether it be about turbulence, tips on where to sit in order to avoid noise or to get a smoother ride, what those noises could be, the engines and how they work, loss of power and the wider power systems, cabin crew and their responsibility, pressurisation of the cabin, air traffic control and even the anatomy of that window you’ll sit next to.

All of the subjects are delivered like a text book that anyone could pick up and read. This is the type of read that’ll serve as a resource time and time again for anyone who faces any anxiety. There were even some facts that I didn’t know about modern aircraft which adds to the concept of fighting fear through knowledge. Throughout Peter Brandt draws his knowledge from extensive experience in the aviation industry while also delivering many of the explanations through images and easy to follow diagrams along with quoting fellow professionals experienced in flying. I particularly appreciated and enjoyed the tips section nearer the end that focuses on a breadth of flying subject matter all of which looks to help anyone fight their fear of flying.

‘Be a pioneer. See the world and leave your worries behind’

4 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy discovery.

Weekly Ramble #72

I’ve been watching the news less and writing more. Sometimes you just have to play the adult card and choose to not have certain things in your life, the news is one of them… 

We are 8 or so weeks into this whole deal. A deal where are all home more often and can appreciate our own patch alongside those we share it with. There are some who haven’t stopped working (from home or out there) and those who are on vacation right now (me, most of the time). Technology allows us to see relatives, friends and colleagues easily through a screen. In this big wide world of connectivity, none of us are truly alone anymore.

While I struggle more than ever to blog or at least find subjects to blog about – I’ve taken a break from indie reads right now . I’m still here, trying to be active in the arena and trying to contribute. Last week I ran a giveaway over on Facebook, where my page nearly has 500 likes, only it seems to be the most difficult thing in the world to achieve right now…

The numbers don’t lie and people are still coming to the Hall of information for just that; information. Whether it’s my post about a scammer book reviewer or the many many indie book rec’s you find here, to even my weekly ramblings, writer, blogger or reader, you’ll find something here. And so for as long as those numbers trickle in, so will these words, no matter what is happening out there – right now the sun is shining, guess I better grab my shades…

 

 

 

 

 

Annabelle: one creepy looking fu**ing doll!

Seeing as the leafs are turning and the darkness of winter is approaching, that means one thing! Halloween and horror movies. We in the UK don’t treat Halloween as big as the US but that doesn’t stop us from getting their movies. So the next few weeks shall be dedicated to all things horror, including an account of my up and coming trip to to UK theme park Alton Towers and their seasonal scare fest!

hallowseve

 

The current state of Horror Films

In this age we are exposed to more gruesome and more ‘real’ style horror flicks, Notably the Saw series and of course the many ‘Blair witch’ style found footage films. But for some reason so many films of this genre fail to pack the final punch in their presentation. It gets to the last half hour and there’s nothing more to show, the creature/ghost/murderer/thing has been revealed and the ideas are wearing thin. There are no more shock moments or the shocks are so over the top they seem desperate.

A struggle is apparent in the world of telling scary stories and the cinema is the perfect setting for such things. It’s dark and theres an unavoidable screen in front of you, plus your surrounded by complete strangers. Cinemas can be eerie sometimes, playing into the hands of the genre. But the films themselves do lack in somewhat scary quality. Now I like a good scare, makes the heart beat faster, gives you a cold sweat and all that but these days that’s a rare thing.

Creepy Doll 

anabelle

Told ya it was creepy

This past weekend I went to see a new release about a possessed doll. Now many of you will think about that small red haired thing running around with a knife. But I am talking about Anabelle, a doll that comes to be possessed and causes all kinds of hell for the viewer and owner. To me this film simply delivered in all tick boxes available for the genre. It was jumpy, dark, not too gruesome and somewhat original. Creepy is a massive understatement in terms of this doll, they certainly designed this thing well. And they used it well, there are many instances when the camera is focused on the vacant yet transfixed eyes of the doll Annabelle with the viewer expecting them to move at any moment.

We have seen on many occasions an unbalance in a film whereas the killer is way to scary for the film or the concept is just too cool for the environment. But in this film they got it all right, the balance from a small cast worked wonderfully well with scary possessive concepts that coincided with the all-important matter that this could be a true story.

 

If you like your horror good and somewhat original then go and see Annabelle. Especially if you have seen the conjuring, they are kind of related in sideways kind of way.

Having purchased a ticket and being sat in the cinema I had no choice but to be exposed to some up and coming trailers and Halloween is looking good this year, with Ghostbusters being re released and Alien/Aliens in some cinemas.The Pyramid with Jay from the inbetweeners is looking good and that’s what we want to see, some choice in our modern scare films!

 

Next week I look at the potential of another Harry Potter book, stay tuned!

The Simpsons Guy, a Review and I changed my name, sort of

Hello and welcome back to Lee’s Hall of information. I spent much time this week pondering as to what I was going to put into my blog this week. A wet, rainy and wild Monday morning hit me with a cold slap in the face with the realisation that winter was on the doorstep. But something else hit me.

When I first opened the Hall, back when the temperatures were hotter and the sky was somewhat brighter, so were my prospects of becoming self-published.  But Monday something hit me, with reference to the whole L A Hall author thing. Who the fu** is L A Hall? My name is Lee Hall and I don’t really give a flying frig who else is named the same, that’s me and that’s who I am. (I then marched upon Facebook, twitter and wordpress and changed my name accordingly to what it’s supposed to be!)

Clark Thorn and the Warrior Project is written by Lee Hall and Lee Hall only! Ah Lee Hall, nice guy (likes the sound of his own name and voice though)

Since coming back from my holiday and the start of this series I haven’t been involved in any writing. One of the key ways of surviving as a writer is to take a step back every now and then. The brain is also a muscle and many of us like to go to the gym and work on our muscles. But in order for them to grow a little rest is needed.

Soon it will be time to shortlist a group of agencies for submission. Of course a brand new synopisis will feature and I shall share that with you good people.

As I do send off my work, a week to week report will feature on the blog, tracking my progress, if any.

Please check out my resources section.

 

The Simpsons Guy

Television crossovers are a very rare and fragile thing. When I heard the news that Family Guy would cross with the Simpsons I was immediately intrigued as to how they would achieve such a thing.

the simpsons guy

 

For 24 years Matt Groening has delivered an animated television show that in my terms can only be described as undisputed. From politically loaded satire, to guest voices all the way to spoofing everything including itself. The Simpsons has achieved everything, even managing a box office smash film and then proceeding to recover and carry on.

How in the world is anything supposed to stand next to what the show has achieved? That’s what I asked myself, then an already cancelled once animation show came along. In many ways it echoed the Simpsons but Family guy is somewhat different. The themes are consistently adult and yes the spoofing and political satire is there. Throughout the late 00’s family guy began to snowball into something of a large following.

So I looked for what would make such a TV event work. To me it was what the two shows shared and what they had in differences ultimately made this wonderful viewing.

homer vs peter

Both families differ in so many ways, that when their scenes together were happening it was simply magic to me. It slotted together ever so well. I found myself enjoying what was unfolding on screen. A longer than usual running time, but this was needed because both families to me are larger than life. This was the moment when Family guy finally stood shoulder to shoulder with the Simpsons. And what I like the most about it is, the Simpsons can live with that.

I think only a certain age demographic will appreciate the Simpsons guy, but I recommend it to all that have seen either shows, just for the fact that it’s a massive writing undertaking and a great achievement by all involved. I look forward to the Simpsons Futurama crossover.

 

 

 

Pilot

It’s that moment, much like when you watch the first ever episode of a TV show you come to love years later.

Where it all begins, a wild eye medical intern called JD passes through the walls of a daunting hospital known as sacred heart. Or that moment a cartoon layabout and accidental time traveler meets a well-known robot bending unit, unaware he has just stepped into a suicide booth.. Yes I am referencing TV pop culture because apparently it’s appealing. I pity the fool who doesn’t use pop culture to entertain, ok I’ll stop now.

Many of us have those favorite shows we watch over the years but never see the pilot. We will have that eureka moment when we realise why something is the way it is. That is of course if you are lucky enough to be around for the first episode. For you this is that moment. The few people who are reading this on release date I salute you!

This ladies and gentlemen is my pilot blog and welcome all of you. Much to my dismay it won’t be paraded in front of television networks and selected for an autumn slot on E4. But it will be exposed to the people that matter the most to me and that is you. Thank you for taking the time to look at this member of the general internet public.

Welcome to the Hall of information.

Side note: Having read a self-help book recently it did advise coming up with a pun type name for one’s blog, I hope you like it.

Condescending paragraph about your surroundings:

As you can see I have constructed this page via word press who have kindly provided setting a template with colours and all that jazz. At the top of the page you can see some categories, they can all be clicked on and take you away from this (thank god, some of you are thinking.) To the right is a Facebook thingy and below that, a sign up doohickey to receive email updates of when the next installments of this blog comes out. I will leave it up to you to decide if you would like that service (do it for me). It will make the blog seem more popular to newcomers. Finally there is some kind of twitter feed. Anyway that’s enough of the surroundings.

Introductions Part 1

Most of you will know who I am to some degree, having been spammed by me over the last few years but in case you are a viral reader (not the diseased kind) let me introduce myself.

Lee Hall is my name and I am an amateur author. Having just recently changed my pen name slightly to L A Hall, this is because there is already someone famous out there called Lee Hall. He wrote billy Elliot and that is far as I will possibly advertise him. Back on to the subject matter, I have been writing since the age of 12. Mainly focusing the genre of science fiction.

I remember that rainy Sunday afternoon spent on an old windows 98 pieceofs**t (although windows 8 isn’t much better) and pecking away at a keyboard. Hence my first character and creation was born. Jack Thorn was the name and the story. Simple at first, about a guy seemingly talented in fighting robots.

That was the whole premise of what would snowball over ten years later into the Thorn legacy. I originally envisioned 3 Jack Thorn books but quickly the back story expanded so much it became 6. Hence Clark Thorn was introduced (Father of Jack). Are you still with me? Yes complicated I know but if I pull it off and it’s successful this will be short of what I class as a small miracle.
So, what is this blog about?

My journey towards publication of Clark Thorn and the Warrior Project. The various musings, trials and tribulations of an unpublished author trying to get his name on the bookshelves. Each week he will update the world trying to earn their following/pity.

The end
No this isn’t the end or is it Monty python in which this title was inspired by. But I really don’t want to bore you all with a long winded story about how I wrote a story. Story in a story we all know what many film fans will yell next! Incep…… We get it. So a little more of the history next time and even a picture or something.

Of recent I have decided that I will travel along the route of self-publishing. Now a lot of you will think last resort. I think the opposite, I see an opportunity here to build something from the ground up. That is why this blog has been created. A platform of access to my readership, a chance for me to convince you that I am a competent writer. Because I know fighting criminal robots isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but the material here might be.

Upon my many drives to and from work I have eureka moments or things that I think are clever (tractors on the road are not). My latest one is the following concept.

I can write a book but it is up to YOU to decide whether or not it is a success.

Therefore I need to connect with people on a basis such as this to gain a following and when launch day comes my posse will be there for me. That would be to buy my book, but that’s only if you like it.

So why? I hear you ask? What makes me want to read your book?

  1. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Or 2. (my preferred answer) Have you ever purchased a book or a music album that you were proud of discovering yourself?

Not in the sense of ‘gathering a crew of 20 strong men and sailing into the unknown’ type of discovering. I mean perhaps you read a book you really liked then you wanted it to do well. You backed it because you liked it. Then it hit mainstream audiences and you smugly say, ‘I discovered that before it was cool’, you proceed to put your hipster glasses on and sail off into the wind. (yes there are two sailing references in this paragraph) That’s the type of loyal followers I am looking for (not sailors, well If you are, alright if you must). People who helped towards something meaningful. People like me who are just normal, but there efforts towards something are extraordinary, much like Clark Thorn (clever that). Something that started out small but became a big deal.

If I’m gonna get published I may as well try to aim high. Yes, ladies and gentlemen that what this effort is all about. The only way I’m gonna get there is with help from my contacts. It could be you!!! (absolutely no relation to the lottery adverts, if you see a large hand pointing at you from the sky then run in an orderly fashion)(UK joke only I think)

Come launch day I would like a decent group of people to help me put a dent into amazon and help put my book on the map.

But if you don’t fancy what I have to offer you are still welcome here. It won’t just be about my first book and the trials of getting it published. This is a fun informative read for anyone to enjoy or try to enjoy anyway, ok just tolerate. Easy reading we could say with a slight edge of humour.

And that was it. Thank you for reading, do tell your friends, share it on FB but pleaaaaase actually say something about it instead of just sharing. Importantly and above all tell me what you think, this blog is for the reader and that is you!!
The actual end.

(and remember this is the pilot, so you the audience member can decide what worked and what didn’t, was it too long? The power is in your hands to tell me)
suicide booth