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‘Minding Mama’ – the next project!


‘Keep writing!’  Sound advice from creative industry ‘old-timers’ (by that, I don’t mean those authors are older than me, but that they’ve been writing long enough to know how it all works – and sometimes, why it doesn’t). Finish one project, and move onto the next, practice makes perfect (I hope) and all that… luckily I’m never short of ideas!

With ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ published and the last of the rewards about to go out, I’ve found my thoughts turning to my next project. Another book? Well, yes, but not in quite the same format, this time.

mama-logo-2jpg

Do you like it? It’s the lovely and rather intriguing logo created by emerging concept artist Amanda Fullwood (The Flock, Chasing Shadows, Word Bohemia)  for my next project, ‘Minding Mama’ – a science-fiction tale set in a future where mankind is forced to live underground in order to avoid exposure to lethal levels of UV radiation. Why is planet Earth in such dire straits?  You can find out on www.mindingmama.org  – but since it will be a little while before the crowdfunding project goes live, I wanted to get the word out to all my ‘regulars’ – and to ask you all to tell anyone you know who might be interested in an opportunity to be in at the start of a new graphic novel – with some beautiful and unique comic art rewards!

Producing a graphic novel is a new challenge for me – but I have a very experienced hand at the helm, in the form of the talented Oregon-based Dan Schaefer, who will provide the artwork for the graphic novel, and who will also be in charge of the story-boarding for the animated feature (did I mention that yet? Oh, I just did…) which will be my next challenge.  Those of you who know about comic books and story boards will doubtless know Dan’s work as a concept artist (Grimm; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and artist (Peter Parker: Spider-Man). I couldn’t believe my luck when Dan applied to the project; and having already seen his rough drafts of the first few pages and his early concept work for the AI characters in the story, I am really excited to be working with him.

As mentioned earlier, I’m also delighted to be working with Amanda Fullwood  – a graduate of Nottingham Trent University, Amanda’s enthusiasm for the science-fiction and horror genres and her work as a production designer and concept artist were evident at our first meeting in London in March 2016. By the time myself and Sue Turner of video production company  ElephantInScarlet waved goodbye to Amanda and headed for our respective trains, I knew I had to have her on board as lead concept artist. I can’t wait to share Amanda’s visualisations for ‘Minding Mama’  on our crowdfunding site!  That’s still a WiP at the moment, but you can check out more of Amanda’s work on her film and visual art journal .

 

So, if you (or someone you know) would like to own an original piece of Dan Schaefer art, in addition to many other unique goodies, please do visit www.mindingmama.org and sign up for notifications – the rewards are going to be something really special!  You can also contact me direct if you have any queries. We’re not into spamming, so we’ll only email you when we have news.

Thanks for reading!

x Elaine

 

Featured

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly” – would you like to help me imagine a book trailer?


TMP_Cover1awithstrapline11.4.15

Cover art by Rachel Lawston:  www.lawstondesign.com  

TMGSimonBuggisDIHammond1Richard Oliver is James MoranAmelia Sefton is Emma Morgan

 

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”  Or so said Lauren Bacall. I think she was right – free of earthly restraints, our imagination can take us beyond the edge of the universe. To infinity, and beyond, to quote Mr Lightyear! We can imagine events that have not yet happened, and by so doing, inspire ourselves and others to “make it so”. We can imagine a whole novel, or a film, or a play, or a series of dramas for television… or we can, if we are an Indie Author just starting out, imagine a book trailer…. you knew where this was going, didn’t you?

Unfortunately, imagination alone cannot pay people for their time and expertise…  So I’m going to imagine that you, just as I did with ‘The Minister of Chance‘, ‘Kaleidoscope Man‘ and ‘Kosmos‘, might just be interested enough in seeing the fruits of my imagination (and a lot of other people’s time and expertise!) to help us make the trailer!  You can do this via my crowdfunding link on www.ejjackson.org  and at the same time, earn yourself some unique rewards!

How Can I Help?

Firstly, by telling anyone you know who might be interested!  Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, PinIt, anywhere and anywhere – please spread the word!  Secondly, by pledging a very small amount to help me pay all those wonderful people who are going to make the trailer a reality – actors, voice artists, illustrators.

What Will I Receive in Return For My Help?

That’s a very good question, and one I’m very happy to answer!

The unique, limited edition rewards you can choose from are:  Your name on the credits as a supporter; an MP3 copy of the theme music; a signed copy of the trailer script; a DVD copy of the trailer; a signed copy of ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ when it is published (date TBC but provisionally spring 2016); a signed promotional poster, and a t-shirt. I may add a few extra goodies along the way, like key rings, badges, mouse-mats, photo-mugs… anything that says ‘thank you’ and helps to spread the word!

And although ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ is not a charity project, I will also be donating a percentage of the profits from book sales towards Progeria research.  Go here for more information about Progeria, and here for how it relates to ‘The Methuselah Paradox’.

Thank you for reading this – I do hope that you will join us!

x EJ Jackson

It’s Live…. How you can help me to make a video trailer for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ !

FeaturedIt’s Live….  How you can help me to make a video trailer for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ !

What you see above is a tiny preview of the theme and credits for a trailer promoting ‘The Methuselah Paradox’…   with today’s launch of the crowdfunding project , the reality is beginning to feel a little closer!  I’ve blogged before about crowdfunding, and also here, but it’s not until you support someone else’s creative endeavor that you realise just what can be achieved.  ‘The Minster of Chance‘ audio series (and soon to be a film!) from Radio Static, ‘Kosmos‘ and ‘Third Contact‘ from Simon Horrocks, and ‘Kaleidoscope Man‘ from Simon Cox are just some of the projects I’ve been involved with, and knowing that I’ve helped, even in a small way, someone produce something into which they’ve poured time, effort and dreams, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.  When I decided that I wanted to make a trailer for my book, and quickly realised that it would require a bigger budget than I could fund by myself… well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say!  I decided to try and crowdfund it.

Basically how it works is this: I tell potential patrons how much I need and what for, and offer a series of ‘rewards’ (signed books, t-shirts, scripts, etc.) for anyone who pledges. Patrons pledge, I make the trailer and produce the rewards, and hopefully everyone is happy!

I hope you will check out the project here on Patreon – and if you can’t afford to pledge, please don’t worry – spreading the word is every bit as important as making a pledge, so please tell all your friends about it!  If you know someone who enjoys crime mysteries and/or science fiction, perhaps they might enjoy ‘The Methuselah Paradox’….

Now I had better go and edit that script some more….

Thank you for reading!

Elaine x

Is the Singularity already under way?


Eminent scientists – among them Professor Stephen Hawking, who may have a brain the size of a planet – have been warning us for some time now that the advances made by AI could turn out to be the writing on the wall for mankind.  I mean, extinction. Hoist by our own petard, no less.

i, robot
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.

Now we learn that Facebook decided to shut down its very own AI program after it created its own language.  It wasn’t done with malice aforethought, or because the two Negotiating Bots (apparently named Will and Alice) wanted to take over the planet… they simply found it a more efficient way to communicate than using the English they had been taught.

Will our desperate race to create better and faster ways of doing things using AI (artificial intelligence) really be our undoing, as posited by Professor Hawking and a myriad of movies such as ‘BladeRunner’ (in which a group of artificially engineered and physically superior humans called Replicants returns to Earth to demand a longer lifespan from their creator – before killing him) – or are we all basically just AIs anyway, seeded by aliens who thought it might be interesting to see what happened… Whether we are truly indigenous or not, did the life-forms who were subsumed and/or destroyed by humanity’s rise from the primordial soup have the capacity to worry about it? Or were they blissfully unaware of the ticking time bomb in their midst until it was too late?  And would they have been able to do anything to stop it, even if they had realised what was going on?  You can read the original article here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m just going to swim back into the primordial soup and pretend this isn’t happening…

Elaine Jackson, July 2017

P.S. If you’re interested in the topics raised here, you might enjoy my next project, a graphic novel titled ‘Minding Mama’, which my team and I will be crowdfunding very soon.  It’s a dark tale which takes place amidst a ruined eco-system. Humanity has fled underground, leaving the surface to wither and die. Only the FarmBots can survive above ground…

Visit www.mindingmama.org to find out how you can help bring the project to life (if you dare) and earn some unique and very cool rewards!  

…and so it begins!


Beware the unintended consequences of a robot revolution

 

robot revolution_theguardian_ by alamy
art by Alamy via The Guardian

 

 

It’s always a thrilling and slightly scary moment when an author with a work in progress sees something online which has relevance to what they are working on. Thrilling, because it tells me that my content is current, and scary because, well, what if someone else gets there first?

That being said, I’m pretty confident that the project I’m working on, a graphic novel called ‘Minding Mama’, is not only topical but has characters readers will want to engage with. It started as a short story and might have stayed that way if I hadn’t had the blinding revelation that it would be even better in a visual medium. A film? Well, perhaps one day, if I’m very lucky. But for now, Mama, Cyril, Celia, and Bully will inhabit the pages of a comic book, brought to life by the combined talents of artists Amanda Fullwood and Dan Schaefer. and yours truly.

I’ll be appearing at Lazlar Lyricon 3 in Stoke-on-Trent on 9-11th June – organised by ZZ9, the only official ‘Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ appreciation society, so why not come along?  You can book here.  The Hitch Hiker’s Guide, of course, had its own share of robots – perhaps the most famous being Marvin, the Paranoid Android. Created by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, Marvin was a prototype ‘genuine people personality’ (“You can tell, can’t you?” he asks morosely of human Arthur Dent). Douglas Adams, always a man ahead of his time until his life was cut tragically short, foresaw the advent of robots with emotions and the ability to think for themselves.

Whilst The Guardian’s article talks more about the impact that a robot workforce will have on our lives in practical terms – massive job losses for human workers, an event most recently and chillingly referenced in Channel 4’s drama ‘Humans’ – being just the tip of the iceberg, the idea that robots may one day be able to think for themselves is fast approaching. Known as the singularity, when luminaries like Professor Stephen Hawking are warning us of the potential dangers, it is more than slightly worrying that no-one seems to be taking much notice. So whilst ‘Minding Mama’ is, first and foremost, storytelling with the intention to entertain, it does pose the question – do we really know what we’re doing, and how will we cope if it all goes pear-shaped?

 

DomeColour
concept art for ‘Minding Mama’ by Amanda Fullwood

 

The setting for ‘Minding Mama’ might be post-apocalyptic, but for me, the fascination lies in telling it from my character’s point of view. Mama goes on a journey of self-discovery which will challenge everything she thought she ever knew about herself and where she came from. I just hope her story never becomes a reality.

EJ Jackson, 17th April, 2017.

You can find out more about ‘Minding Mama’ here.

 

 

 

‘The Methuselah Paradox’ edges closer to reality…?


It’s always an exciting moment in an author’s life when you see an item online that connects to something you have previously written about.  Particularly when you happen to write science-fiction, and have taken a leap of faith with a premise which may (or may not) ever be possible in real life – you know, the stuff that happens outside our heads, rather than inside them… 

lab-scene-by-ca-w-emma-archie
art by Catherine Archer-Wills

 

By the way, I should warn you now that there are spoilers for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ ahead – so please look away now if you haven’t yet read the book, head on over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy, read it… and then come back to this page (pretty please)!

 

So….imagine my reaction, then, when after writing about gene therapy  for longevity in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, I came across this interview in The Guardian  with biotech boss Elizabeth Parrish, who has caused concern in some scientific circles with her decision to test her company’s anti-ageing gene therapy – on herself.

I’m not going to enter the debating arena by coming down on one side or the other, nor will I get into a moral debate about Elizabeth Parrish’s choices. (I could argue that I already did that in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ – if you want to know what, if any, conclusion I came to, well… here’s that link again…)

As a writer, I take ideas (from existing science where possible, because that -to me- is more intriguing than simply ‘making stuff up’ – although I do that too, of course) and run with them.  What if someone did this, or that – what might the consequences be? Even if my science (and I don’t have a University Degree in anything, let alone a field as complex as genetics) is somewhat shaky (and I did talk to someone whose wasn’t!) , science-fiction is about possibilities, and that is what makes it exciting.

Suffice to say, as I sit carefully on the fence about whether or not I believe Elizabeth Parrish has done a very brave or a very foolhardy thing, I can still take some satisfaction in having my fictional scenario play out (at least in part) in real life. Whatever the consequences of that action, Parrish has the same motive as one of the characters in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ – she desires to help people with life-shortening conditions. Only history will reveal whether anyone’s life is improved, or appreciably lengthened, by what Elizabeth Parrish and her team are doing. But I can’t help admire that she at least has the courage of her convictions.

 

TMP_Cover1awithstrapline11.4.15

cover art by Rachel Lawston

So You Want to be a Writer?


I’m re-blogging this invigorating and inspirational post by Hugh Howey – which was drawn to my attention by Ricardo over at Reedsy – simply because it IS so invigorating and inspiring. It looks as if comments are closed on the original post, but feel free to comment and discuss here…

 

So You Want to be a Writer….    

Wasn’t that a great post? Don’t you feel inspired? I know I do – thank you, Hugh!  Here’s how I have – or plan to- follow Hugh’s advice, and my thoughts:

Hugh advises that if you want to be a writer, these are ten rules to follow:

1) Make a long-term plan.   I’ll confess to you now, that I don’t have a long-term plan as such; it’s more like a list of things I’d like to do, but in no particular order. Like:

  • write my first novel – tick.
  • write and publish a short story collection – tick. (I did that first)
  • write something for film or television – I’m working on that.

So I’ll be working on the long-term plan. But mostly it will involve writing, and more writing. And then more writing. Books, short stories, scripts, blogs…

2) Reading.

  • I do this all the time. I devour books, always have done. I go through phases of reading different genres, but mainly: thriller/police procedural/detective mysteries, science-fiction, contemporary romance. Years ago I read a shed-load of Catherine Cookson, and dozens and dozens of natural history  and autobiographical works.  The one thing I have a problem with is ‘How To’ text-books…

3) Practice.

  • I do this all the time, too. Sometimes in my head, or in the form of emails, letters, blog posts, and pages and pages of dialogue, scenes that come to me out of the blue without a story attached… I have thousands of documents on my portable hard-drive, some of which I may not have looked at in years. I came across one the other day that I literally couldn’t remember writing at first…

4) Daydream.

  • I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but driving to or from work is when this happens most. The hard part is remembering it until I get a chance to write it down. If I could set up my Bluetooth so that I could mutter into my mobile as I drive along, that would solve the problem…

5) Learn to fail.

  • I’m working on that!

6) Plot trumps prose.

  • I agree – if the writing is ‘pretty’ but the story doesn’t engage…. I work hard at that, too. I find it helps to study other stories, and ask myself if I would have written it differently, and if so, why?

7) Live fully and cheaply.

  • That’s a WiP!

8) Network.

  • Most of my networking to date has been online – because I can fit more in! It’s fun and you meet the most interesting people. You never know when you might be able to help them, or vice-versa.

9) Write Great Shit.

  • I can’t disagree with this – if you don’t engage your reader quickly, they likely won’t buy your book. Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature is the opportunity to hook them. I always read the sample, and often know within the first paragraph or so if I am going to hit that magic ‘BUY’ button. If it’s a great premise, but the hook isn’t there… as Hugh says, pull out the stops to engage your reader, and do it as soon as possible, even if it means starting half-way through the story.  I had several beginnings for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ – a department store fire, the moment my protagonist realises that he has caused a death… and a scene in which someone very close to him is has maybe days to live… in the end I went with a scene which shows us who he is in his workaday life, showing the reader who he is.  I’m not convinced I chose the right opening, as it happens… (see point 5.)    As Hugh says, just keep writing…

10) Find your voice.

  • Agree 100% with Hugh on this. Have I found my voice? Maybe not yet – sometimes I think I have, then I’ll find myself struggling again. I think it is really important to be telling the story you want to tell, and not what other people think it is -or should be- about. If you find yourself listening to other people’s versions of your WiP, I think it could be a sign that you haven’t nailed the story, or perhaps that you are telling the wrong one. Or perhaps it’s just that you don’t have the confidence yet… but when you do find your fingers struggling to keep up with your thoughts as you write, there is nothing quite like it!

 

 

AUTHORS – HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU DIVERSIFY?


The online Cambridge dictionary defines an author as:

author noun [ C ]

UK  /ˈɔː.θər/ US  /ˈɑː.θɚ/

B1 the writer of a bookarticleplay, etc.:

He is the author of two books on French history.

 

Well, you can’t argue with that, can you?  The second question, ‘Should you diversify’ might cause some lively discussion, though.

When I started writing (I’ve been dabbling since my teens, but I didn’t begin writing seriously and ‘with intent’ until I had lived for almost half a century) I imagined that I one day I would write books. Stories, short-form or long, which would be published in the traditional way. Since then, the world has moved on (oh, how it has moved on! What I would have given for a laptop and Word in my teens…). who had heard of the word ‘blog’ in the late seventies/early eighties?  Twitter and Facebook weren’t even in a twinkle in the mind’s eye of their creators (who may not have been born then).

In days gone by, an author would submit a manuscript to their agent, who would (hopefully) secure a publishing deal.  Once the work of writing/editing/polishing was done, an author might have to turn up at various publishing house functions to promote their work, perhaps be interviewed by the literary media if they were successful…  But nowadays, even traditionally-published authors have blogs, some also have social media sites… it’s all about getting yourself ‘out there’.  So just how important is it for an author to diversify?   By diversify, I mean: writing a blog, writing copy for your social media sites… but also penning screenplays, stage adaptations, radio drama…

William Faulkner, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Aldous Huxley, William Goldman, Mario Puzo, Michael Crichton, Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, John Steinbeck… and more recently Nick Hornby and Gillian Flynn, have all written books and screenplays. In some cases, they adapted their own work for the screen.

I’ve dipped a toe into screenwriting waters – I entered three scripts in Create50’s ‘The Impact’ project (and learned a lot from it), and wrote the voice-over script for my novel ‘The Methuselah Paradox’.  I’m currently collaborating on an adaption for the stage, and am also turning one of my short stories into a graphic novel (and if all goes well, an animated feature). I see each project as an opportunity to learn, and to create something different. Each discipline has its own rules, but at the core it is all about telling a story. The mediums might be different, and perhaps I’ll discover that I’m better suited to one or the other; but I will never know if I don’t try!   Here’s another definition for you: Polyglot.

polyglot

ˈpɒlɪɡlɒt/

adjective

  1. 1.

knowing or using several languages.

“a polyglot career woman”

noun

  1. 1.

a person who knows and is able to use several languages.

“Slovenians, being surrounded by many countries, are mostly polyglots”

 

So why not be a polyglot?  Novels, screenplays, stage productions, graphic novels, radio plays… when all is said and done, they have two things in common. They are all stories, and regardless of whether they are in the language of film/TV, live theatre, the written word, or picture books, they seek to entertain/inform. Exploring the different facets of one story through different mediums is fascinating, and presents a challenge for any writer.

So my answer to the question ‘how much should an author diversify?’ is “As much as possible, if you enjoy it!”.  What do you think? Have you tried turning your book into a film, or a stage play, or a comic book, and if not, why not?

Answers on a postcard…. or maybe something bigger!