Daily Archives: June 25, 2012

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Imagine a world in which firemen don’t put out fires but start them in order to destroy books. That one idea sounds like my worst nightmare. Ray Bradbury’s seminal work paints a tremendously bleak future where the public are essentially sedated with pop culture.

Guy Montag is a fireman who is beginning to question his career choice. His wife is more interested with her virtual television “family” than Guy but his young next-door neighbour Clarisse opens Guy’s eyes to the possibility of life being more than mindless streaming of media. When Clarisse disappears, Montag begins to rebel against the system which has some dire consequences.

Reading ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in 2012 is an even scarier prospect as I’m fairly sure that many of the people in the world are more concerned with reality TV and celebrities than with philosophy, politics and literature. This book reminded me of several elements of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ mini series which was obviously inspired by Bradbury’s dystopia.

I did feel that the book was nothing new to me but it’s likely that I’ve seen things that reference it or take inspiration from it so it doesn’t seem as fresh to me as if I’d read it when it was first released. I did feel like it was heavily influenced by Orwell’s ‘1984’ but, in my opinion, it failed to be anywhere near as well-written as ‘1984’.

Still worth a read.

Vic x


Getting to Know You: Eileen Wharton

Today I’m really happy to introduce you all to one of Byker Books’ finest authors. This is Eileen Wharton’s first guest blog so I’m thrilled to have popped her cherry!

Vic x

What do you like about writing?I like playing God and being able to kill people off who annoy me. Mwahahaha!

What do you dislike (if anything)? I dislike not being able to write full-time. Having to pay bills gets in the way of writing. I have to masquerade as a teacher in order to survive. I think gas, electricity, council tax, mortgage payments etc. should be subsidised by rich footballers.

What inspires you to write? It’s a tough one. I don’t think I’m inspired to write. I just have to. I get ideas and I have to write them down. I go through phases of thinking everything I write is absolute crap or everything I write is pure genius so I think it’s probably somewhere in between. I am sometimes inspired by different things I see, hear, smell etc. Like thunder and lightning, a snippet of a conversation overheard on a bus, my friends’ dramas and dilemmas, the scent of cinnamon or ganja.

‘Shit Happens’ was conceived when I was a single parent and my phone had been cut off as I couldn’t afford to pay the bill. The first chapter was written as therapy and the novel was originally called ‘Cut Off’.

Do you have time to read? If so, what are you reading at the moment? Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing? I always find time to read. I read every morning in the bath. My tastes are eclectic. I like anything from picture books to heart-breaking works of staggering genius. From ‘The Gruffalo’ to ‘Madame Bovary’. I love crime fiction: Mo Hayder, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham and Stuart Macbride are among my favourites. I love Lionel Shriver. My writing is, unfortunately nothing like hers. ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ is pure genius. My favourite novel of all time is ‘Wuthering Heights’. The passion, the Drama, the lurve… Ooh I also love Paul Auster. He’s weird and soooo clever. Loved ‘Brick Lane’ by Monica Ali, ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue, ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold. I could go on forever. I just like writers and books. Lots of writers and an endless supply of books.

At the moment I’m reading ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ by Andy Rivers and ‘The Stranger’s Child’ by Alan Hollinghurst. They couldn’t be more different but I’m enjoying them both. Can’t believe I almost forgot to mention one of my all-time favourite authors, Pat Barker: Genius! ‘Union Street’, ‘Blow Your House Down’  and The Regeneration Trilogy. Wish she’d hurry up and write the next one.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing? Well, I am masquerading as a teacher until I’m discovered. In another life I would be an actress. It’s what I always wanted to be growing up. I’d be an international sensation and I’d have Simon Cowell as my personal assistant. He’d have to attend to my every whim. “Simon darling, when you’ve finished peeling that grape, stick Sunita on ITunes and polish my toenails. And while you’re down there…”

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you mean as a writer or as a human being? As a writer my strengths, I think, are dialogue. I’ve been told I write realistic dialogue and I’m good at characterisation. My weakness is plotting. Plotting is soooooo hard. It’s getting easier with each book but I don’t think it will ever come easily to me. Oh and finishing things is another weakness. Well, not finishing things. I have a number of incomplete novels. I start them and then I don’t fini…

My strengths as a human being are: I have a good sense of humour, I am almost completely non-judgemental and I try to help people who are in trouble. My weaknesses are many and you don’t have time for them here. Procrastination covers most of it, gluttony and hedonism covers the rest!!!

What are you working on at the moment? I am working on a number of projects atm. I‘ve half written a young adult, futuristic novel about Greater Britain. The BUS or British Union of Separatists have come to power and are ridding Britain of all anti-social aliens. (People from other countries and cultures.) They then turn inwards on their own people and send people to anti-social behaviour units or ASBUs for being fat, ginger haired or gay.

I’m also nearly finished a crime novel called ‘Blanket of Blood’, in which a serial killer kills pregnant teenage girls and removes the babies from their wombs. He then plastinates the corpses using Gunther von Hagens’ technique. My detective, Gary Blood has a transgender daughter/ son. He’s in love with his sister-in-law and he has a psychotic stalker.

I’m also writing numerous children’s books. My first children’s picture book is being published by Hogs Back Books later this year. It’s called ‘Daring Aaron and the Shmoogly Boo’.

Where can we find you online? You can find me online on Facebook or Twitter. Admittedly I haven’t really got the hang of Twitter yet but I love Facebook. I no longer have my own website as I couldn’t afford to pay Vista!!!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?  Ignore advice unless it rings true and be tenacious. I’ve been trying to get published for years and years and years. I started sending things out in the early nineties and started writing seriously in 1999 ish. Things have only just started to happen and I’m a long way from fame and fortune. Keep at it! Keep going! Don’t give up! Believe in yourself! Use a literary consultancy like TLC. They give excellent, impartial advice and the fee is well worth it.

What’s been your proudest moment? I have many proud moments in my personal and in my professional life. Not necessarily in order of importance:

  • Winning poetry competition age 10
  • Beating Colleen Wright in Needlework
  • Playing Alice in ‘Alice In Wonderland’
  • Giving birth to my 5 lovely children
  • Passing my degree with first class honours
  • Winning short story competition
  • Getting Northern New Writers award from New Writing North
  • Having SHIT HAPPENS published
  • Having children’s book published

Download your copy of ‘Shit Happens’ here: http://amzn.to/LLuD2L

Silly Sign Monday: Week 16

Vic x