Sunday, 29 September 2013
Look at this people, my book, Knights and Butterscotch, was chosen as Editor's Choice on the Total E-Bound newsletter. They have so many great books that it feels like a HUGE honour. I am so very, very pleased! Forgive me for being very un-English for a moment while I wallow in the feeling.
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Last day to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Knights and Butterscotch. Go here to enter.
I'll pick a name from the hat tonight. Good luck!
I'll pick a name from the hat tonight. Good luck!
Picture the scene: I was up in my elderly parent's loft, looking for a suitcase among the spiders and Christmas decorations when I found a box of old photos. Without thinking I sat down in the dust and started to look through them. Well, you have to, don't you?
They were all from our family holidays. There was I at 13, with a hideous haircut (I was aiming for trendy but ended up with a mullet) and tombstone teeth too big for my face, playing Swingball next to a caravan. Suddenly all the memories came flooding back. The caravan was in Kent and belonged to my aunt. We’d often go there and I’d lust – in my awkward and gawky way – after the boy, two caravans along.
The caravan was dilapidated and old, on a site with no facilities, and the toilet block was the other side of the field. There was one tiny shop that sold bread, milk and my favourite Fab lollies. But, somehow, those holidays felt magical. I’m sure the summers were warmer and lasted longer, even the sea was bluer.
We always went on holiday at least once a year and the whole family came along: aunts, uncles, cousins and grand parents. We never went abroad, we didn’t have the money, and we stayed in some really scabby holiday camps and caravans, but why go anywhere else when Britain was perfect?
Now I'd started on the photos I couldn't stop. Further down was a picture of me at six dressed in my mum’s cardigan after I fell in a pond. Mum was cooking sausages on a tiny primus stove and we were all waving to the camera. We looked like a bunch of down and outs, but the sun was shining and it was beautiful. I think it was then that I fell in love with the British countryside in all its variations. That's the great thing about Britain, there's so much variety. The high cliffs at Dover, the splendour of the Yorkshire Moors, sandy beaches, stony ones, Snake Pass in the Peak District, the rolling hills of the South Downs.
Another photo showed an older me, burying my dad in the sand, somewhere in Devon. Okay, so we had our coats on in June, but it was a gorgeous beach with sand that went on for what seemed like miles.
Next came a photo of a very sulky teenage me. Oh I must have been murder to live with; I was far too cool to walk the cliff path in Dorset with the family! But even now, I can remember the view was stunning and the air clean, with a tang of the sea.
As I got older we started going abroad but there’s something special about the ones in Britain. We've visited steam trains, mines, theme parks, caves and castles. Yes, it rains a lot but that’s part of the fun. Don’t we all pack umbrellas and welly boots, as well sun cream and swimsuits for a holiday here?
We’ve eaten our soggy sandwiches in the car as the rain poured down the windows, walked over the moors when it was so cold I thought my head was going to fall off. But we’ve also spent hours in the sunshine, having fun with an old blow up boat on rivers I've forgotten the name of, sweltering as we plodded up a Welsh mountain or playing our version of non-stop cricket until it got too dark to see. That's the UK for you and you have to love it.
Friday, 20 September 2013
You can buy Knights and Butterscotch here:
Total E Bound http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?P_ID=2320
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/knights-and-butterscotch-faith-ashlin/1116943653?ean=9781781844595
There's a problem with Amazon but hopefully it will be up there soon.
Or if you'd like to win a copy leave your name, email address and say who's your favourite hero either here, on my other blog or Facebook. I'll pick a name out of the hat on Wednesday 25th
We all love a hero, don't we?
I've always loved the idea of a rough and ready hero, one who tries to do the right thing no matter what the cost to himself. A man who has honour and a sense of duty, which he holds true to quietly, without a fuss. I think we all know the type, from Charlton Heston's Rodrigo de Bivar in El Cid, to Orlando Bloom's Balian in Kingdom of Heaven. The rugged hero.
I'm sure it's partly because I'm ordinary, unexciting and I really like my creature comforts. I like central heating and knowing I have somewhere safe to go home to and a future to look forward to, however predictable it may be. That makes the brave and true hero seem all the more appealing.
But I wanted to take the idea of a hero one step further and make him a knight, like the romantic ones we think of in old Camelot. Respected and valued for what they did and what they stood for. I didn't want him in a silver suit of armour or on a white horse, though. No, I wanted my knight to be a modern day one with an armoured vehicle and the latest weapons but still that sense of honour and duty. You have to admit it's a lovely idea.
But how would my hero-knight cope if hit by a thunderbolt of lust that has him acting in crazy ways? It gets even more interesting when the lust turns into love. Add in a background of war and a desperate turn of events for King and country and things got really complicated. I wanted a story about love being put to the test by brutal events
Knights and ButterscotchA story of modern-day knights, paint-splattered artists and a lightning bolt of attraction that hits hard enough to make a knight think he's going crazy. And then things get complicated.
The year is now, the place is somewhere like here but the feeling is very different. Matti Elkin is a modern-day knight and, while he may not have a horse or a suit of shining armour, he's brave and true, has a sense of duty and honour a mile wide and a passionate belief in his king.
There's a war on and the knights are fighting hard, but while on R&R Matti is hit hard with an overwhelming attraction for Jamie, a tall, handsome painter.
Jamie makes his head spin and his cock harden, and has him acting in ways that make him question his own sanity. But when the war takes an appalling turn, they are both thrown into a world of confusion that has them questioning everything they thought they knew.
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
When I was a kid swearing was a big no-no in our house. My mum's mouth would pucker and her chins wobble if she heard even the most innocuous of words. Result was I was too timid to say any out loud. There were a few said in my head but she couldn't hear those, right? Didn't stop me feeling naughty though.
Now, luckily, she was mellowed. Her chins might still wobble but she'll use the odd 'bugger' when the situation calls for it. In fact, she rather loves a 'bugger.' She thinks she's being naughty. I think she sounds like Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and his, 'Oh bugger.'
It was just as well that she relented because I learnt to swear. Oh boy, did I ever learn to swear. For a few years I worked in a very, VERY tough part of London, doing a very tough job with tough people from all around the world.
I learnt a whole new world of swear words. I was there for about a year before a colleague told me what one particular word meant. I stormed out to deal with the man who called me it, even though everyone had warned me he could be very aggressive. I needn't have worried. I was really indignant; he was really confused because I'd suddenly reacted after so long. He looked at me perplexed, shook his head, said I was 'bonkers' and walked away away.
I embraced lots of swear words and use them way too much. But then it seemed everyone I knew had little kids and I was always surrounded. No swear words. Not even in another language. I accidentally taught a friends 5 year old daughter a naughty word. How was I to know she'd pick up Spanish that easily!
So I made up my own swear words. It's amazing just how nasty 'you pilchard' can sound if you say it vehemently enough. And yet my mum's 'bugger' is still sweet.
Here in England we have some great swear words from an innocuous twat, through wanker to a full on fuck. But it's all in the way you say them. My best friend and I routinely call each other silly cow or sill moo. But it's done with love and humour and we both know it.
How about you, do you cuss?
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
On the way to work yesterday, "Reasons To Be Cheerful" by Ian Dury & The Blockheads came on the radio. You don't know I? Oh you should! Let me introduce you.
In it he lists a load of things that make him cheerful. Anything from curing smallpox to the Marx brothers, yellow socks to saying hokey-dokey. As I wasn’t feeling especially cheerful (work meant I’d miss the last of the sunshine and I could see my grumpy face in the rear-view mirror) I thought I'd have a go making my own list.
I decided I couldn't have the obvious things like family, sex, books or food, they're too easy, and that I'd limit it to 10. So here's my list. It’s in no particular order, just as they came into my head.
Reasons to be cheerful
1. Purple nail varnish. Other colours are fine but purple is the best. And, no, you can’t disagree with me, this is my list!
2. No more school run.
Oh this is a beauty, guaranteed to make me happy. My kids are old enough now that I don't have to walk them to school. It's like a scene from ‘The Time Machine’, when the siren goes and the Eloi walk, trace like, to be eaten by the Morlocks. The school bell rings and the zombie-mums all head in the same direction. But I can stay home in my pjs eating toast and feeling smug. I figure I’m allowed to be smug as I did my time and it went on for years. I am not (categorically, no arguments) not taking my grandkids to school, if I ever get any.
3. Led Zeppelin's 'Thank you'
A beautiful track. It needs no explanation, although… I did used to dance round a field to it – when I was in my hippy phase.
4. Caleb Followill's skinny jeans (with his arse in them, obviously. It would be a criminal waste to look at them empty.)
5. Sambuca. Now I'm going to admit something shocking. I’ve only recently discovered the wonders of sambuca. Why did no one tell me how good it is? Why? All those years I've wasted.
6. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An obvious one.
7. Middle aged men in long shorts and socks. I can't find a picture but I saw one as I waited at the traffic lights. Big belly, shorts that ended half way down his calf and socks with sandals. I laughed so hard I didn’t move when the lights changed and the car behind me tooted me. But it was worth it. Anything that can make me smile as hard as that has to be a good thing.
8. This picture of 2 members of a boyband. The band is long gone but, oh, that's pretty!
9. Cold white wine. After the sambuca I’m starting to sound like an alcoholic. I'm not but a glass, in a bubble bath while the rain lashes against the window or in the garden on a warm summer's evening or… Yeah, I like a glass or two.
10. Cow's face, especially their eyelashes. Yes, I know it’s an odd choice but, really, doesn't this make you smile?
So what would you add? Don't think about it too long, just give me the first thing (or couple of things) that make you cheerful.