About davidbrookesuk

David Brookes is an English writer living in Sheffield. His first novel "Half Discovered Wings" was published in 2009 - more details at his website http://www.spinninglizard.co.uk

Important: New web address for STP Editing

Moving to

Moving to “STPediting.wordpress.com”

Hello everybody!

I will now be posting on a new website that, in most respects, is identical to this one. All that’s changed is the web address (URL).

https://mrbrookesabroad.wordpress.com has now moved to http://STPediting.wordpress.com.

You’ll find all the old posts and information there on the new website. The reason for the change is to focus more on the professional/writing side of  things instead of the personal, which was what Mr Brookes Abroad was intended to be.

Please do visit the new site and be sure to click the Follow button to make sure you’re subscribed. All new posts will be on the new site, STP Editing, from now on.

All contact details remain the same and this won’t affect any ongoing projects.

I look forward to seeing you all on the new site!

—David Brookes

New Release: “Tulpa”

The Gas Giant Sequence is complete!

I’m very pleased to announce the e-book publication of “Tulpa”, the fourth and final part of the “Gas Giant Sequence” of short stories. Tulpa is available on the Amazon store here if you own a Kindle device, or via Smashwords here if you own any other ebook reader.

Reviewers of the earlier stories called them full of “evocative human experiences in alien environments”, saying “I was drawn in with the characters to the beauty and hallucinatory otherworldliness”.


Tulpa David BrookesA shattered moon. Minds unfurled.
Mysterious thoughtforms brought to life.

The impossible truths of Jupiter have finally been revealed.
Now it’s up to a haggard survivor, with nothing more than
cloned brain tissue and the fragmented resources of an
usurped conglomerate, to stymie the awaking entity
that threatens to bring pandemonium to Earth.

In this final part of the Gas Giant Sequence,
all hell will break loose, and Jupiter’s eye is ever watching…


I encourage each and every one of you to give my little stories a shot and perform what I like to call The Three Rs…

Read, Review, Recommend!

Write to me here if you would like to subscribe to my news feed: hear about new releases, as well as exclusive previews and offers.  Otherwise, join me back here for the next post where I’ll fill you in on even more news and one or two big surprises…!

–db

What literary agents want

Need-a-literay-agent

I could write a dozen posts on this topic, since what literary agencies want is such a mystery to most of us. No matter how clear agencies think they’re being (articles in “The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook” are about as helpful as we’re going to get), they still manage to be vague individually, and contradictory as a group.

I like to think that the collective noun for agents is a “barricade”.

Whilst searching for representation for my second novel “Cycles of Udaipur” (third, if you could “The Gun of Our Maker“), I came across an agency’s website that was actually helpful. Imagine my surprise!

Luigi Bonomi, the chief agent at his eponymously named Luigi Bonomi Associates Ltd, wrote the following very helpful piece on what agents are currently looking for. It’s snuck away on his profile page, which appears to have been updated sometime this year. Here is the relevant section, which I hope is useful for writers seeking representation.

It also illustrates the lamentable state of affairs that is the current publishing industry, but I may come to that in another post.

Increasingly publishers tell me that what they are after is a book that has a hook that makes it very easily pitched – not just internally to their colleagues but also to the wider public. So recent successes like Gone Girl, Girl on a Train and The Miniaturist are all very easily pitched. The phrase ‘a story about a husband and wife and their dysfunctional marriage’  is not a great pitch. ‘A story about a wife who sets out to entrap her husband so he is accused of her murder’ is much stronger. A clear strong, high-concept storyline that can intrigue people in one sentence is what everyone seems to want. This invariably means stories with strong plots, lots of secrets, many twists, and a fast pace. There is a huge appetite for crime and thrillers, for novels with unreliable narrators (despite the recent glut of these), for big sweeping family dramas, for novels with secrets.  There is also huge appetite, I think, for cross-genre novels – ‘crime meets paranormal’ being something that has been mentioned, but also other forms of cross-genre novels – as long as it is something that looks genuine, comes from the author’s own passion and is not forced.

So a strong pitch, a clever concept, a terrific plot with well-realised characters. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But I know it isn’t – it’s incredibly hard to get right. Yet I believe there are very many talented writers out there – all of whom just need a break.

It’s nice to see that Mister Bonomi actually seems so kind, as if he really does care about all the authors who are mercilessly (yet necessarily) turned away with little more than a rejection slip. It would be fantastic if sympathetic and thoughtful literary agents set up a regular blog so that folks like us could get some genuine, up-to-date insights. We might then see past the barricade and have some long-overdue good fortune!

—db

What is dystopian fiction?

New-York-Ruins_Extraordinary-End-of-The-World-Inspired-Artworks

I get rather frustrated by how many times I see people misusing the word ‘dystopian’ (sometimes wrongly called ‘dystopic’). I thought it might be worthwhile putting down a definition for those who are interested in learning more.

Let’s start with the basics. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a ‘dystopia’ as:

An imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible.

There seems to be a general misunderstanding about the word, as though it relates to a world where things are merely bad, or even just different, or set in the future. Readers and writers should ask themselves what kind of book they’ve read recently in which something wasn’t bad. The nature of fiction and drama is rooted in conflict. Therefore the protagonist will always find themselves in a ‘bad’ situation. That’s what fiction is about.

A dystopia is an extreme example of this. Think of “The Hunger Games”. This series for young adults is set in a future where the world is a wreck, where society has largely collapsed, where the majority of people live in oppressed poverty and a few live in perfect luxury. This is a dystopa. Things are really bad, all the time. It may be set in the future, or in an alternate version of today, or in another world altogether. A classic example is “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, where people are oppressed by a totalitarian regime and in some cases don’t even know it, or have forgotten. (When the book was written in 1949, the year 1984 was the future). People are always watched, and their very thoughts are monitored. Dissenters are harshly punished. Similar novels are “Fahrenheit 451” (or you may have seen the great film “Equilibrium”), or Alan Moore’s “V for Vendetta”.

Contrast with, say, a novel about war. War is very bad, but the world is not a dystopian world. It’s just an unhappy place with some hellish things going on. But imagine a world where war covers everything, where there are no safe places to hide, where there are no governments or civilizations left. That’s a dystopia, like the future world of the “Terminator” film series.

For a deeper understanding, we can look at the source of the word. It comes from the ancient Greek words for “bad place”. It is the opposite of a utopia, which actually means “not place” – because it refers to a perfect, ideal world that doesn’t exist. It may have been confused with a similar-sounding Greek word for “good” – eutopia, not utopia. There aren’t many books that are about true utopias because – as I pointed out above – fiction requires drama and conflict to be interesting and worthwhile. A perfect world would probably be pretty boring! And so often a dystopian world comes from a supposed utopian society, where certain people consider the world to be perfect, but actually underneath things are terrible. The world of “Nineteen Eight-Four” is actually a broken utopia, which in many ways is the same as a dystopia.

Dystopian societies are often ones that encourage people not to feel, or to speak out of turn. In the real world we recognise this as being silly – feeling is a part of being human – but philosophers around the world acknowledge that much of the bad things in our world happen because of emotional reasons. A science fiction writer might want to describe a ‘perfect’ world in which emotions or wrong words don’t cause offense, unrest or wars. Many dystopian novels address the issue of identity, and what it means for that to be suppressed. Invariably though, the characters in those books rebel. They want the freedom to be human. These worlds are often therefore bubbling underneath with violence waiting to happen.

Here are some great examples of dystopian fiction:

  • The Iron Heel, Jack London
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • Judge Dredd, the comic 2000AD
  • V for Vendetta, Alan Moore
  • Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  • Neuromancer, William Gibson
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K Dick
  • We, Yevgeny Zamyatin
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth
  • The Drowned World, J G Ballard

In film, you could watch:

  • Robocop
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Blade Runner (based on “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”)
  • Divergent
  • The Hunger Games
  • I Am Legend
  • The Matrix
  • WALL-E
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Terminator Salvation
  • Equilibrium
  • V for Vendetta

Dystopian fiction is a great way to not only tell a great story, but also to highlight the things that are wrong with our world today. It might be how we rely too much on technology, or how corporations are running the world, or about how we are destroying the planet. Many dystopian fiction books feature ecological disasters that have made the Earth almost unlivable, making life hell for everybody. Sometimes this is a freak of nature, but often it’s a man-made problem. The books are holding a mirror up to our world to remind us what we’re doing wrong, and make us try to change things before it’s too late.

Feel free to comment with other examples of dystopian fiction, or to ask questions!

—db

How to fail at writing a novel (pt.2)

writers-blockA few weeks ago I asked struggling writers to get to grips with their genre before attempting to tackle the arduous, intimidating task of writing a novel. You can read part 1 of my ‘how to fail at writing a novel’ series here.

This month there’s a lot of ‘news’ in the literary world about E.L.James’ forthcoming bestseller, “Grey”, the companion to her “Fifty Shades” series. This time she’s telling the story from her male protagonist’s perspective.

I considered pre-ordering the book, for about a whole minute. I would love to see James flourish into a competent author, in much the same way as I saw J.K.Rowling’s writing mature and improve. Then I remembered how utterly, irrevocably shit “Fifty Shades of Grey” was, and I couldn’t bear the thought of slogging through another 500 pages of ill-written tripe. I would dearly have loved to read “Grey” so that I could express, from a first-hand perspective, how awful it is, just as I did with “Fifty Shades” (Yes, I’ve read it, and no, it’s not worth the minimal energy expenditure it takes to open the cover, let alone read to the ‘end’).

Instead I realised that it was an opportunity to talk about a key issue in literature, and something that should be everyone’s foremost concern at every stage of writing their masterpiece.

2. Originality

“Fifty Shades” and its pointless sequels are a perfect example of doing a novel wrong. Of course, E.L.James is now a millionaire, despite single-handedly destroying feminism, diluting the self-publishing pool with the trash she inspires, and being yet another person who is famous for being talentless. If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. These three issues worry me greatly, particularly the first two.

I have no intention of retreading old ground by talking about the appalling pacing, terrible writing and laughable dialogue, or inept characterisation. Not to mention how painfully un-erotic the whole venture is. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent case study for the originality issues that surround this incredibly lucrative piece of radioactive cowshit.

E L James, Grey, 50 Shades, Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele

“Grey”, E.L. James – “Fifty Shades of Grey” as told by Christian

There are two angles to this multi-pronged assault, both related to originality. The first is the matter of knock-offs in the self-publishing industry.

Working in editing and ghostwriting, I see fiction from a lot of would-be authors who would like their work appraised. Some are disappointed – occasionally offended – when I point out that they have failed to meet the number one criterion for worthwhile fiction: originality.

“It’s a bit like Fifty Shades,” they’ll tell me, “but different.”

When I challenge the author to tell me how it’s different, I get little by way of a response. The reason is that if you write an erotic book about a domineering, super-rich handsome guy seducing a naive and sexually-inexperienced girl presented in the first person, then you’ve just written “Fifty Shades”. Congratulations are due for the many who actually wrote a book far better than the one that inspired it. Condemnation is also due, however. When I ask the author why they bothered to write the story, the answer is invariably one of two: “Because I wanted to” or “Because it will sell.”

If you work for the latter reason, good for you. You’ve found an industry. Sadly it’s the arse-end of the doomed publishing industry, which produces only the most banal and saleable fiction as a result of the lasting economic downturn, lack of interest in worthwhile literature, and the advent of online stores and ebooks. This is what I call the shitmill, and if you want to be part of it, good luck to you. It’s possible to make a lot of money in exchange for your sub-literary offal.

If you work for the former reason, “because you want to”, then this is more admirable. it also promotes a mindset that is not conducive to writing a successful novel, because chances are you haven’t considered originality. You’ve just written (I’ll add that this is no less of an achievement). Who wants to read the same book over and over again? How are you innovating to stay fresh and needed in the current market? What are you bringing to the table, besides more of the same – a flavour that loses its appeal with every new sub-standard e-novel that is released?

The vast amounts of so-called erotic fiction available through self-publishing platforms, by its nature, obscures original talent by drowning it in unoriginal pap. There may well be some excellent bits of erotic fiction out there, but how can we find them amongst the derivative stuff? E.L. James has managed to create a whole sub-genre of erotica, casually called ‘billionaire romance’. It’s a sad revelation that so many women fantasize about being subjugated by a violent male whilst being ‘looked after’ and showered with lavish gifts. I may well write a separate post about how erotica is devastating to equality and gender expectations.

Unoriginality is a sign of poor imagination, which often comes with lack of talent. Even if this is only a perception, do you want to be perceived this way? Would you really happy being a rich but derided author? Before you answer, remember that your chances of becoming rich writing trash are far lower than you might even think.

The second angle of attack is something that I shouldn’t even have to point out. James is being unoriginal even within her own body of work. Why should “Grey”, which tells the “Fifty Shades” trilogy from the male protagonist’s perspective, even exist? What is it showing us that’s new? I can only assume that it will reproduce slightly summarized scenes shared by Christian and Ana, plus a few extra scenes in which Christian privately broods privately over his awful childhood and the false dilemma of whether he can have a meaningful relationship with this vapid little girl.

I’m sure fans can’t wait to speculate that there is more of Christian’s disgracefully cliché ‘dark past’ to be revealed, which raises another issue: If it takes you four novels to tell us what your main character is about, you have failed. Authors, you can take that away as a bonus lesson on how to fail at writing a novel.

Originality is the life and soul of literature. Without it, the publishing industry would have decayed long ago into a skeleton of its former self, catering only for readers of text books and biographies. If you want to be ‘a writer’, then this should be at the front of your mind every time you brainstorm. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I read this story before?
  • Is my character behaving predictably?
  • How can I differentiate this from other novels? Is that differentiation convincing?
  • Did the story come to me without having to think much about it?
  • Have I just reproduced this character from somewhere else, and simply renamed him/her?

A simple exercise can be to reverse everything. Let’s say you’ve just accidentally rewritten “Fifty Shades”. You should hopefully by now realise why it feels staid and boring. But what if you swapped Christian and Ana’s characters around? What if the man is the sexually-inexperienced goofball and the woman is the S&M master? Already you’re far more interesting than the rest of the derivative stuff out there. What if your Christian is actually desperately poor instead of unrealistically wealthy? How could he ever entice a young girl into his life of depravity and violence then? What if Ana were ten years older than Christian and experienced in relationships? What if Christian is the one who wants to adjust, and Ana is the one enamored with his domineering sexual preferences.

As a final note, if you really must regurgitate another author’s material, why regurgitate something that was diabolically awful in the first place?

I beg authors to strive for originality. If for nothing else, remember that publishers and agents are looking for something fresh, something that they’ve never seen before. They will undoubtedly prioritise you over someone else in your genre who was ‘inspired’ by existing fiction.

Keep reading, keep writing, never surrender!

—db

Terminology: why cyborgs suck

Ghost in the Shell

Five years ago, after years of toil, I finally got my first novel published in paperback. Half Discovered Wings is not easy to define in terms of genre: it is ostensibly fantasy, in the broadest sense – it features monsters and supernatural/spiritual elements – but it is also science fiction, in that the post-apocalyptic world in which it is set has a history of high technology (sci-fi is a sub-category of fantasy in any case).

Prior to finally being accepted by a publisher, Libros International in 2009, the novel underwent six drafts and a title change. Characters were cut, scenes were removed or changed, even the dialogue was completely re-written for some characters. There are still many characters (possibly too many) and a good 142,000 words remaining, but since all of these characters are integral to each other’s stories, and since all those words are necessary to describe those characters and the world they inhabit, I realised that I could cut no longer. It then became merely a proofreading exercise.

Since I wrote the first draft in 2003, my literary ideology had changed, and each successive draft was what I hoped to be a significant improvement. I was developing as a writer and I wanted my novel to reflect my best efforts.

For the past few months I have been working to create another version of Half Discovered Wings, what I will optimistically call the definitive version, for ebook release. Revisiting this nostalgic reality has reminded me of another difficulty: that of terminology.

Science fiction runs the knife’s edge of being scientific enough to interest a certain kind of reader, using big ideas to either speculate or explain, whilst still being readable and enjoyable enough to sell copies. Fantasy does the same – take a look at the difference between The Hobbit (fun and readable) and The Silmarillion (Biblical syrup), for example. Many people have told me that they never got into The Lord of the Rings because there were too many unfamiliar names and words. Some readers shy away from sci-fi for the same reason – they would rather have a story instead of half a chapter describing how a faster-than-light drive works, or precisely how time travel is possible. Forget that: just get on with the story. And I sympathise.

There are several original terms of Half Discovered Wings, so many that my editor suggested I insert a glossary at the back of the book. I reluctantly agreed. What does it matter what the term ‘sanguilac’ means when the reader is being shown what these blood-sucking creatures are (a basic knowledge of Latin would help also)? Still, if even one reader finds it useful, why not? For the rest of you, please don’t feel patronised.

In Half Discovered Wings I also wrote a character nicknamed Caeles, which is Latin for ‘dwells in Heaven’. The irony is that he is far from angelic, embittered by over a century of grief and warfare. Caeles is a cybernetic organism, a cyborg, created to fight in the radioactively- and biologically-hazardous battlefields of a distant war. He is a relic from this world’s sci-fi past, and understandably he is treated with suspicion and fear by the relatively ignorant inhabitants of its present.

One piece of terminology I struggled with was ‘cyborg’. Talk about cheesy. The term is now 55 years old, coined in 1960 by some theoretically-minded scientists (aren’t all scientists theoretically-minded?). The earliest example in fiction that I could find was in the 1972 novel Cyborg by Martin Caiden, which was the inspiration for TV’s The Six Million Dollar Man and spin-off Bionic Woman. I’m sure that many writers are used to turning away from terms such as ‘cyborg’ and ‘android’, precisely because they’re retro, slightly naff terms.

But what are the modern alternatives? I recall reading a few books that created unique terms to describe their particular type of cyborg – I’m sure I’ve seen ‘Tek’, ‘Tech’ and ‘mechanoid’, for example, even though the latter is incorrect to describe anything with electronic components. I recall, years ago, wracking my brains for something like this to use. For a time I settled on the term ‘cybernetic’, utilising the term as a noun. This was vaguely original at least, but unwieldy. Having someone refer to a character as “a cybernetic” rings false, assuming the reader has a feel for the difference between a noun and an adjective. It doesn’t sound right.

I don’t know how long I spent trying to wrap my head around the difference between cybernetics and bionics, and the mess of similar terms, to make sure I was using the correct one. The individual definitions are clear, but how they might apply to, say, Luke Skywalker’s electro-mechanical hand in The Empire Strikes Back is not. Is the hand bionic? Cybernetic? Is Luke now technically a cyborg?

Let’s not go there.

I was surprised, and secretly pleased, to see the resurgence of ‘cyborg’ as a term in comics. This is a fine example of what all writers should be doing: using the simplest, clearest language to describe what you need to describe. There is no need to be fancy, there is no need to over-explain. If a character is half machine, just call him ‘a cyborg’. The reader knows exactly what you mean just by using that one word. Its simplicity is beautiful.

The image at the top of this page relates to the anime franchise Ghost in the Shell, a mind-blowing collection of manga, films and several TV series. The character in the picture, Motoko, is almost 100% machine, and usually referred to simply as a “cyborg” or “cybernetic human”. The Japanese have long been obsessed with the concept of melding man and machine. Having explored almost every avenue, in their wisdom they retain the simplest of descriptions.

I may change my mind during the course of this re-write of Half Discovered Wings. It’s been known to happen during my edits. But for now I’ll stick to my own rules: simplicity is best, conciseness is best.

Cyborg it is.

—db

[Half Discovered Wings is still available as paperback from Amazon here. Look out for Half Discovered Wings in ebook format soon!]

[P.S., artist of the picture above please step forward for credit!]

God in Fiction: Is it time for literature to leave religion behind?

God is fictionMany novels feature characters whose religious beliefs shape their ideals. An example might be To Kill a Mockingbird, which tops many lists of “best novels ever”, such as Time Magazine’s. The strongly moral Atticus Finch raises his children in a decidedly Christian manner – and, perhaps significantly, is considered a modern exemplar of ethical behaviour. It’s perhaps not coincidental that I see The Chronicles of Narnia high on these lists also, arguably the best example of religious propaganda for children ever (note “arguably” – I do love the books myself and feel strong that C.S. Lewis had the best intentions).

It would be fair to say that religious characters, or at least non-ostensibly atheistic ones, were always likely to inhabit the bulk of our fiction. After all, it’s only historically recently that the world has begun to shift towards science as the source of their answers instead of faith. Distressingly, I read that in a fairly recent study published on Gallup that 40% of Americans believe in Creationism in the strictest sense. A more recent and significant study by San Diego State found that our current generation of teens are the least religiously observant ever, and not as a result of being “unsettled millennials” as previously suspected by the skeptical. It strongly suggests an actual cultural shift away from religion.

For decades, writers of science fiction and fantasy in particular have embraced science theory (go here for a good explanation as to why “theory” isn’t a word that can be used against science in the defense of faith) and speculative science as vehicles for engaging fiction. However, many writers simply can’t help but bring religion back into the mix. Is this because it’s so engrained in our society that a novel is ‘incomplete’ without it (just as many would say, foolishly, that a novel is ‘incomplete’ without a romantic element) – or even simply as a concession to the faithful? It’s almost as though writers feel unable to generate a proper feeling of awe and reverence in their narratives without making reference to god.

Going back a while, The Matrix film series was a good example of taking something which would have been just as spectacular without its heavy-handed Christian symbolism. Its philosophy is actually a clumsy amalgam of messanic, Zionistic, Platonic and Eastern beliefs, a composite that didn’t seem to strengthen the narrative in any case. Watching the end of the cinematic adaptation of Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader makes me decidedly uncomfortable, with its monotheistic longing for material obliteration and ham-fisted allusions to the leonine Aslan actually being Christ in the world of Narnia, rather than a symbolic literary figure.

The arguments against religion and even faith in general have been expounded by far greater writers than I (love them or hate them, the works of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris are essential). Any one of them, I suspect, would strongly advocate the eradication of any meaningful inclusion of religion in fiction. This would be on the grounds that it reinforces mass belief in destructive and antisocial delusions, and that as a go-to for a sense of “spiritual” awe detracts from the pre-existing (and tangible) wonders of the material world. As symbolic references or colourful similes, writers get a lot of mileage out of the old Greek gods, for example. This would be fine. But in 2015, shouldn’t we be exploring more relevant aspects of our universe instead of the tired play of faith and spiritual redemption?

My Western novel, The Gun of Our Maker, makes little reference to religion outside of the title. The key theme is the expectations we place on others and ourselves. It is very interesting to me that the heroes of the Western genre, in literature and in cinema, are often godless. This is despite such characters existing in a faith-based society (regardless of what the American Constitution says) and several of whom were created by contemporary or at least anachronistically-conscientious authors. With the notable exception of Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider, why is it that so many protagonists are ostensibly without faith (even the nameless, murderous “Preacher” in Pale Rider seems entirely scornful of Christian beliefs). Westerns often seem to inhabit a decidedly god-forsaken landscape.

Examining mainstream literature, I’m frequently baffled by the constant allusions to faith as noble and worthwhile. The troubled hero, at the inevitable point of hopelessness on his/her quest, goes to a church to pray, or kneels in the downpour to beg god for a sign. Sometimes they are rewarded with a light, or the sudden appearance of a mortal saviour, who inevitably pulls them back from the brink and sets them on the right path. Religious experiences of this kind are always presented as a ‘seeing the light’ moment (best exemplified, tongue-in-cheek, by an early moment in The Blues Brothers), accompanied by sureness and renewed strength. A skeptic would wonder why this should be so, when in reality organised religion has often stymied the pursuit of science, art and freedom – a comparative Dark Ages.

I accept that our perhaps-indelible inclinations towards the gnostic (or agnostic) will always influence our writing, but why does it so often take the form of existing religious structures, such as Catholicism or Buddhism? Is there not enough wonder in the world already? As my beloved Douglas Adams said, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

As a writer, I don’t object to seeing references to faith in fiction. But why stick with it, when the modern world is providing us so much more material to work with? I congratulate films such as the recent Interstellar, which put us in awe of natural cosmic phenomena, or  writers like Charlie Kaufman, who posits that the complex beauty of orchids should be enough to write a two hour screenplay around.

I challenge writers to abandon god and religion as an element in their fiction. What else in our universe can inspire, clarify, reform, motivate, cultivate, or invigorate? In the endless search for a semblance of originality, this would be a heavenly place to start.

—db

[‘The Gun of Our Maker’ is available now from Amazon here, and Smashwords here.]

New Release: “Tranquil Sea”

I’m very pleased to announce the e-book publication of “Tranquil Sea”, the third in the “Gas Giant Sequence” of short stories (read about the first two here). Tranquil Sea is available on the Amazon store here if you own a Kindle device, or via Smashwords here if you own any other ebook reader.

Reviewers of the first two stories called them full of “evocative human experiences in alien environments”, saying “I was drawn in with the characters to the beauty and hallucinatory otherworldliness”.


Tranquil Sea David Brookes

Siblings Maria and James have been tasked with setting up
a nanomachine-based parabolic antenna dish on the dark farside
of the moon. With them is their philosophical Uncommon Materials
Science Officer, Theo, suffering from a personal tragedy, and
Michael Hudd-Karlson, their corporate sponsor with cloned
brain tissue and too many agendas to count.

When a mysterious vapour cloud appears over the lunar Daedalus
crater, the team is faced with only the first of countless impossible
scenarios. What is attracting the nebula to the new parabolic dish?
What is causing the moon’s chalky surface to change?
And what are the strange shadows lurking in the corners of their vision?

As the situation becomes more desperate and increasingly impossible,
the team must face the shared trauma of their past to overcome the
dangers of the present. But there are greater forces at work here,
and Jupiter’s eye is ever watching…


I encourage each and every one of you to give my little stories a shot and perform what I like to call The Three Rs…

Read, Review, Recommend!

Write to me here if you would like to subscribe to my news feed: hear about new releases, as well as exclusive previews and offers.  Otherwise, join me back here for the next post where I’ll fill you in on even more news and one or two big surprises…!

–db

Got questions?

Questions

The website now has a handy-dandy FAQ section!

If you have any questions about the packages available from the St. Paul’s Literary Service, you can now look them up.

  • What level of editing service is provided?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • How are the changes shown?
  • Do you provide a sample?
  • Can you check my essay for plagiarism?
  • What sort of things do you ghostwrite?
  • Can you format my e-book for me?
  • Can you give me some tips for how to get published?
  • Do you have a translation service?
  • Do you give English lessons?
  • Can you help me pass my TEFL course?
  • What are your qualifications and experience?

If you still have questions, you can always use the Contact page to get in touch.

Happy seeking!

—db