The Snug.


Snugs, or slumber-cats as they are more commonly known, are small, fox-like creatures from the woodland surrounding the town of Sparrowstitch in the O’Shrafe Drifts region. The have large ears, deep russet fur and long, bushy, prehensile tails which they can coil around themselves to form a comfortable nest.

Due to their habit of sleeping for twenty-three hours a day and their unusually high body temperatures which average 64⁰C, (almost double that of a human,) snugs are widely used by the people of Sparrowstitch as a means to warm their beds. The snugs are placed in their owner’s bed and are traditionally fitted with a leather collar and a pouch of lavender which leaves a pleasant smell on the sheets.

Wild snugs can usually be found in hollow trees and the abandoned burrows of other creatures. Much of their lifecycle is still shrouded in mystery and it is widely believed, due to their unequalled need for sleep, that they live their lives in the dream world, their physical bodies acting only as a means to keep them anchored in reality. This belief is strengthened by the fact that snugs have no digestive systems or genitalia. It is thought that any nourishment their physical bodies require is somehow obtained whilst they sleep. Their reproductive process however is still in debate. Each snug has a womb-like organ within their chests in which their young gestate and they are able to conceive their offspring without any physical contact with other members of their species. This has led many to believe that snugs are asexual, reproducing without the need of a sexual partner. Others however believe that snugs fornicate in the dream world.

During the first six weeks of their lives, snugs are fully awake and extremely active. During this ‘awake’ time their bodies are sustained by two large glands on either side of their neck. These glands constantly leech a cocktail of nutrients, fat and adrenaline into their systems, keeping them alert. Young snugs spend these first six weeks searching for a suitable den in which to spend the rest of their lives asleep. During this time they double in size and develop a bony growth on their foreheads known as a nightmare crest.

The nightmare crest is a snug’s only defence mechanism, an appendage which prevents their predominately unconscious-selves from becoming an easy meal. Through it they can project waking nightmares into the minds of any potential predators that come too close, sending them running in the opposite direction. This telepathic gift of hallucinogenic projection is possessed only by snugs and by a race of carnivorous humanoids known as the mirage that live within the sand dunes of the Hoax Desert in the Hollowburn region.

The nightmare crests of domesticated snugs are filled away, preventing them from accidentally inflicting their owners with lurid dreams.

Despite their ability to project nightmares it is said that those who treat their snugs kindly will be granted pleasant dreams. There are numerous accounts of snugs joining their owners in their dreams or leading them away from painful recollections. Snugs are also said to often appear to psychics during meditation where they act as spirit guides, helping the psychic along their path to clairvoyance.

In the late twenty-second century, the Earl of a town called Smudgedale near the Pheonixhelm-Sanintale border developed an unhealthy obsession with snugs. The Earl had suffered from insomnia and, after a visit to Sparrowstitch, his wife had gifted him with a snug, hoping that it would help him sleep. The Earl had placed the snug in the bed between himself and his wife and that night he had, in his own words, “Slept as deeply as a miner reading philosophy.”

The following day the Earl had given a handsome sum of money to two of his servants and had sent them to Sparrowstitch with strict orders to purchase every available snug in the town and bring them back to his manor house. Two weeks later the servants had returned in a holk-drawn wagon which had over two-hundred sleeping snugs loaded on-board.

The Earl had been delighted and he had placed the snugs all over his manor house. At night he was rumoured to have slept with up to fifty of the creatures, forcing his wife to sleep alone in an attic bedroom.

The Earl’s growing obsession with snugs gradually became an unwholesome mania and he spent his days locked away in his personal chambers, talking to his snugs. He longed to see the dream world in which his beloved pets spent their lives and he begged them to take him there. Eventually he renamed his manor house ‘Slumber-Cat House’ and ordered his wife, two sons and staff to leave him.

Over the next six months, the doors of Slumber-Cat House remained locked and the Earl became a complete recluse, not even leaving his house to purchase food. Fearing for his health and what remained of his sanity, the Earl’s wife had begged Smudgedale’s local sheriff to break down the doors of Slumber-Cat House and have her husband transported to Mount Bedlam where he might receive some help. After much deliberation the sheriff had agreed.

Inside Slumber-Cat House, the snugs had dramatically multiplied in number and every available space was now covered with their sleeping forms. The collective sound of their gentle snoring was said to be deafening and a path had to be cleared through them in order to search the house for the estranged Earl. The Earl was eventually found asleep in his bed, covered in a mound of snugs.

When the Earl’s wife was unable to rouse her husband from his slumber, a witch doctor was summoned. The witchdoctor’s diagnosis was that, for reasons unknown, the Earl had fallen into a deep coma. The Earl’s wife however was convinced that the snugs had finally led her husband into the dream world as he’d requested of them and, whilst there, he’d either become lost or he was unwilling to return to the waking world.

The Earl never awoke again and upon his death over a decade later it was discovered that he’d left Slumber-Cat House and all of his possessions not to his two sons but to his beloved snugs.

Slumber-Cat House still stands to this day and has become a tourist attraction for snug-lovers from all over the Known Expanse. It is still legally owned by the descendants of the Earl’s original snugs who still slumber on every available surface.

The image of the snug included in this post was very kindly created by my very talented friend Zowie Rothery. She created the model using air drying clay and hand painted it using gouache paint. To see more of Zowie’s amazing art work, click HERE. All likes on here page are very welcome.

Next time I will be detailing another creature from my own imagination which I briefly mentioned in this post – The mirage, a race of telepathic carnivores which hunt amongst the sand dunes of the Hoax Desert.

You can download The Architect’s Essence @

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Or follow me on Twitter @ @I_am_DRJohnson

The Jinn


There is a lot of lore on the jinn, and whilst researching them I found several different accounts of their characteristics and appearance. They are found in the mythology of several different peoples and religions and they go by many different names: jinn, djinni, genie, jinni and jann. There were so many different accounts ad stories of them in fact that I’m more confused about them following my research than I was before I began it.

The Jinn are supernatural creatures found in Islamic and pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. They are frequently mentioned in the Qur’an, the 72nd sura of which is entitled Sūrat al-Jinn.

They are said to inhabit a universe beyond our own, an unseen world called Djinnetan. The Qur’an describe the Jinn as being made of a smokeless, scorching fire but despite this they are still able to interact with our physical world in a tactile manner. They are believed to be made of fire in much the same way that man is made of the earth. The Quran states that the three sapient creatures of God are humans, angels and jinn but like humans and unlike angels the jinn have free will and can be either good or evil. The jinn are also often associated with succubi, demons that take on the form of a beautiful woman in order to copulate with men and steal their life energy.

The Islamic devil is known as Iblīs and it is said that he was once a Jinn who refused to bow before Adam, there is however some debate on this matter, some arguing that Iblīs is in fact a fallen angel. The only power Iblīs is said to have is the ability to cast evil suggestions into the minds of men and jinn. The Mende people of Sierra Leone use magic to guard against the jinn possessing the living.

There are records of the jinn dating back many hundreds of years, inscriptions in North-western Arabia which indicate worship of the jinn long before Islam. One inscription in the village of Beth Fasi’el near Palmyra describes the jinn as “good and rewarding gods.”

The ancient Romans believed in a jinn-like creature called the genii which was believed to be a spirit present at the birth of every man. The genii were responsible for forming a man’s character and were the cause all of his actions. Some believed that evil genii fought good genii for control over man’s fate. Roman women were said to have a similar spirit guardian called a juno.

The Guanche mythology of Tenerife also has beings very similar to jinn such as maxios, an attendant god and nature sprit and the Aboriginal god of evil Guayota. There are several references to the jinn in old Arabic translations of the Bible, the most notable being Isaiah 6 when the seraphim (literal meaning burning/fiery ones) appear to Isiah with their six wings covering their body, face and feet. There are also several passages in the New Testament which refer to Jesus exorcising evil spirits from those who were demon-possessed and according to Islamic tradition these demons bear a striking resemblance to the Qur’an’s description of the jinn, both of them able to possess human beings.

For the ancient Semites the jinn were spirits of ancient people who roamed the world at night but disappeared at the first light of dawn. These jinn were said to be able to transform into an animal at will and were blamed for many diseases and for the mental afflictions of lunatics who claimed to be tormented by the jinn.

In Islamic mythology the jinn are said to be controllable if they are magically bound to an object. This idea was made famous by the story of Aladdin in which a jinn or genie was bound to an old oil lamp and forced to grant him three wishes. The modern term genie comes from the French génie, which is a translation of the Arabic word jinn.

The Jinn or genies have become a part of popular culture and have featured in shows such as Supernatural, Charmed and The X-Files. They also feature heavily in a little known fantasy novel called The Architect’s Essence Salvation. An amazing read . . . even if I do say so myself. 2014 also saw the release of an action-horror-thriller movie called Jinn. To take a look at the film’s trailer click here.

Next time I’ll be describing a creature called the snug which is used throughout the Known Expanse as a hot water bottle.

You can take a look at my book, The Architect’s Essence Salvation and Ruin here.

The Lavatory Snail.

Lavetry Snail

The Lavatory Snail.

The lavatory snail is a creature of my own imagination which, due to its irrelevance to my story, never made it into The Architect’s Essence. Despite this, I still think of the lavatory snail as being a part of the world I’ve created and I’m glad I have this blog to finally let its existence be known.

In order to describe the origins of the lavatory snail, I must first fill you in on the history of the Hocus Factory, the main manufacturer of magical goods in the Known Expanse.

In the early years of the Nineteenth century there was an outcry for innovative magically crafted goods; enchanted tools and charmed apparatus and appliances to make life easier for all inhabitants of the Known Expanse. This movement was later referred to as ‘The Magical Revolution’ and the advancements it delivered led the Expanse from a turbulent period of war and famine into a new and refined era of relative peace.

In the early days of The Magical Revolution, two figures had stepped forward, eager to cater to the Expanse’s ever growing appetite for magical innovations. Each of them had formed their own establishments; Fagus Sylvatica, president of ALAKA Incorporated   and Nepeta Cataria, the founder of the Hocus Factory. Fagus and Nepeta’s rivalry for the domination of the magical goods market provided the Expanse with some of its most significant innovations; the mugger charm, the windless kite, chiller cupboards, watchman security masks, selective spoons and memorandum crystals to name but a few.

The advancements in the understanding and practice of magic had also permitted growth in other, more secular areas of manufacture and construction, providing improvements in plumbing, textiles, architecture and healthcare.

The rich and powerful had revelled in these advancements, improving their homes with the latest magical appliances. The most notable and highly prized innovation available at the time was the Waterfall Empathy flushable toilet which, in some places, replaced the chamber pot and cesspit, vastly improving sanitation. The Waterfall Empathy toilet had been a product of ALAKA Incorporated and it had dealt a serious blow to The Hocus Factory.

Sensing his victory over Nepeta, Fagus Sylvatica had created a whole range of accessories to accompany the Waterfall Empathy toilet. These included a biometrically heated toilet seat, a musical syphon flush handle, a telepathically activated toilet paper dispenser and, the focus of this blog post, the lavatory snail, a creature which would become Fagus’ own personal salvation and ruin.

The lavatory snail was created from an ordinary garden snail, its physiology dramatically altered by ALAKA Incorporated by means of several xenogenetic hexes. The first generation of lavatory snails were magically engineered to be smaller and their usual diet of plant matter was altered to include faecal waste and lime scale. This resulted in a snail which would happily graze on (for want of a better term,) any stains on that might be found on the toilet bowl. The lavatory snail’s ability to keep their owner’s toilet spotlessly clean made them an indispensable accessory and, due to their popularity, ALAKA Inc. decided to alter the physiology of the second generation of snails still further. This generation were given a pleasant lemon scent and bore a colourful shell which, for a price, could be tinted to match the décor of their owner’s bathroom. The snails were also crossbred with water snails which gave them the ability to breathe underwater and thus could clean both above and below the waterline.

This second generation of lavatory snail was to be ALAKA Incorporated’s downfall. Shortly after their distribution to the public, the snails proved to have a voracious appetite, not only for faecal matter and lime scale but also for porcelain. They also bred at an alarming rate and there were cases where entire toilets were devoured by the snails in a single night. This led many to flush the destructive snails into the newly constructed sewer systems.

The discarded snails found themselves in a place with an unlimited supply of food and their population and physical size quickly grew out of all control. There were reports from sewer workers in Deltafaun City that the lavatory snails there had grown to the size of dogs, their shells thick and as hard as stone. As their size increased, the snails’ appetite quickly outgrew the banquet of sewage which was daily flushed their way and they soon turned their attention to the brickwork of the sewers themselves, causing immeasurable damage to the sewers and also to the foundations of several buildings. As the sewers were slowly eaten away they lost structural integrity and there were several cases in Deltafaun City and Westarson Dora where the streets subsided, taking people and buildings down with them.

Panicked by this unexpected turn of events Fagus Sylvatica hired a team of eight hunters to enter the sewers and exterminate the snails. They went armed with machetes and a potion vial containing a magical pathogen which Fagus hoped would wipe the snails out.

Only one of the hunters returned from the depths of the sewers. He was covered from head to toe in lemon scented mucus and, for several months following his ordeal, the only phrase he could utter was “Bones. They ate their bones.” Several years later the hunter published an account of his experience in the sewers, entitling it ‘Lemon: The Scent of Fear.’

Despite the horrible losses that the hunting party had endured, they had successfully delivered the pathogen into the sewer system and, much to Fagus’ relief, it succeeded in seriously damaging, but not eradicating, the lavatory snail population.

Fagus was sued for the damages the lavatory snails had caused by every council, lord and municipal establishment from Demondice Bay to Dawnstrobe, leaving ALAKA Incorporated bankrupt. Fagus blamed the snails’ monstrous transformation on Nepeta Cataria, accusing him of sabotaging the snails with a few hexes of his own in an act on industrial espionage. These claims were taken to court but never substantiated and, free of Fagus’ opposition, Nepeta Cataria was able to establish the Hocus Factory as the giant of the magical industry which it is today.

Today, reports of lavatory snails are rare but not unheard of. They’re often found in small numbers, eating the foundations of old, decrepit buildings. It seems that the magic wrought upon them by ALAKA Inc. is weakening with each passing generation and it is thought that within the next one-hundred years, they will have fully reverted back into common garden snails.

One folk-tale told by the people of Smudgedale tells of a lavatory snail called Old Puss-Sack who lurks beneath their town. It is said that Old Puss-Sack is the size of a horse and capable of human speech. He is said to only dine upon the houses of the rich and that this is the reason for the towns less than adequate housing.

Next week I will be outlining a supernatural creature from Islamic mythology known as the Jinn.

You can find The Architect’s Essence Salvation and Ruin (which is now available as a paperback, woohoo!) at

The Pixiu.


The Pixiu (Chinese name – 貔貅.)

This is my third creature post – the pixiu, a creature which I only fleetingly mention in the Architect’s Essence. Prunus Amanogawa is disgusted to find the head of one of these creatures stuffed and mounted on the wall of Gunnera Scabra’s secret trophy room.

The pixiu is a Chinese mythical creature with wings, white fur, the body of a Chinese lion, the head of a Chinese dragon and the legs of a qilin or foo dog. Legend says that it is the ninth son of the dragon. It is a creature which symbolises wealth and good fortune and it’s much loved by the Chinese people, so much so that they have a poem about it:

One touch on the Pixiu head, one’s life will be worry free,

Pixiu facing bank, one’s life will have ample money to spend,

Luck comes with a Pixiu on hand, home prosperous with a Pixiu on stand.

There are two different types of pixiu, the sole difference being their horns. One has two horns and is known a Pi Yao (辟邪) and the other has one horn and goes by the name Tian Lu (天祿)

Pi Yao has the ability to ward off evil spirits and can also assist people who are suffering from bad feng shui, a talent which it acquired after it violated a law of heaven and offended the Grand Duke Jupiter (太岁) who is a highly respected and feared deity. Practitioners of Feng Shui often display a statue of Pi Yao in their homes to appease the Grand Duke. In 2015 the Grand Duke’s position is in the southwest, so Pi Yao should be placed in the northeast of your home to ward against him. Displaying Pi Yao is also said to ward off bad luck to people who have recently moved into a new home or who have undertook renovations. The literal meaning of the word pixiu is ‘to ward off evil spirits’ and it is said that a pixiu can drain the essence of an evil spirit and convert it into wealth whilst also protecting against disease.

Tian Lu, the one horned variant of the pixiu is in charge of wealth and is often displayed in offices and places of business in order to prevent the loss of wealth. Ideally Tian Lu should be placed on the floor and never above eye level or in a confronting position.

It’s said that no one can touch the face or head of the pixiu as the touch of an ordinary person would ruin their wealth.

After it violated a law of heaven, the Jade Emperor punished the pixiu by restricting its diet to only gold and silver and sealing its anus. As a result it can eat these precious metals but never expel them from its body, which is why it is has become a symbol of wealth and good fortune. Though I searched everywhere I could think of to find out what the pixiu had done to deserve such a cruel and unusual punishment I was unable to find the answer.

According to ancient Chinese texts, the pixiu was a” ferocious beast” and along with the dragon, phoenix, turtle and qilin, it was one of the five most auspicious creatures in Chinese history.

A legend tells that Pixiu assisted Emperor Yan and Emperor Huang in war and as a tribute to the creatures prowess in battle, it was conferred as “Tianlu beast”.

In ancient China pixiu statues were often found on the four corners of the houses of rich and important people such as the Emperor, presumably to prevent evil spirits from entering. Statues of the pixiu were also positioned outside tombs as tomb guardians.

Next week I will be outlining another creature of my imagination called the Laverty Snail – a magically altered, lemon scented, hygienic mollusk which never quite made it into The Architect’s Essence.

The Greep.

The Known Expanse, the world in which The Architect’s Essence is set, is not only populated by mythical creatures and demons but also by several races of intelligent humanoids. I included the minotaur, the centaur, the satyr and the gorgon from Greek mythology, the Neo-Pagan green man and I’ve also concocted some races of my own, creating the bat-like camisade and the reptilian yack’j’doom. Of course, not forgetting my own lineage, I have also thrown humans into the mix.

Whilst describing the attributes of these various races I realised something. Every one of them, baring the humans, shares its characteristics with another creature; the minotaur has the bull, the centaur – the horse, the satyr – the goat, the gorgon – the serpent. Even the green man shares a kinship with the trees and my own creations were based upon the bat and the lizard. This left me feeling rather jilted on humanities behalf. Where was our lookalike within the animal kingdom? I hear you all shouting out chimpanzee, but that was not quite what I had in mind, so, to illustrate what I was imagining I scoured Google images and came across the quite disturbing picture at the top of this post. This image is actually a shockingly realistic sculpture called The Young Family by Australian contemporary visual artist Patricia Piccinini. The sculpture is constructed from silicone, polyurethane, leather, plywood and human hair and it portrays a creature very similar to the one I am about to describe; the greep.

Greeps are quadrupedal creatures with unmistakably anthropomorphic characteristics. Excluding their long floppy ears, their faces are an elongated copy of a human’s, baring a moustached top lip, a prominent nose, bushy eyebrows and distinctly human eyes. Except for a long, untidy mop of fur atop their heads they are completely bald and they walk on four human hands, each of which bears an opposable thumb. Their skin comes in every shade from pearly white to dark chestnut and due to its soft, supple feel it is favoured by some creatures of the Expanse for making leather.

Greeps are intelligent creatures and, with training, they are capable of reciting short passages of human speech, repeating them in a parrot-like fashion. This coupled with their good nature and placid temperament has made them a popular pet. They are not however to everyone’s liking and, due to their distinctly human features, many find them disturbing company.

Unlike humans, greeps find it physically impossible to cross their fingers or nod their heads. They can however lick their own elbows which is an impossible feat for humans.

Due to their human appearance, many superstitions surround the greep, especially amongst the human population of the Expanse. It is said that if a human follows in the footsteps of a greep for too long then they’ll begin to walk on all fours and subsequently, if they continue to follow, then they too will become a greep. It is also a long-standing tradition amongst the humans that, upon the first day of spring, greeps are allowed into their master’s homes to share a meal with them. This is said to ensure a prosperous year for both greep and owner.

Greeps are very fashionable in the bustling streets of Deltafaun City and are a favourite pet for members of the aristocracy who enjoy dressing them in tailor-made garments which match their own outfits. The rich often adorn their greeps with powdered wigs, makeup and jewellery and teach them to say simple greetings such as “Good day,” which is usually accompanied by an awkward bow. If two gentlemen pass in the street it is considered a great insult if they are not greeted by one another’s greep.

In the small town of Hobblescrutch an annual greep show is held. Greep owners from across the Expanse flock to the show, eager to claim the title Best Greep and Best Owner in show. The winner of the competition is decided based on points accrued from several events:

  • Obedience – The greep must be able to follow several spoken instructions from their owner and complete a task within a certain time limit.
  • Speech – The greep must recite a poem or passage it has learnt. Points are awarded for pronunciation and fluidity of speech.
  • Musical greep freestyle – Greep and owner must perform a dance routine to their own choice of music. Points are awarded for originality, rhythm and flawless performance.
  • Best greep/owner in show – Greep and owner are paraded around an arena before a panel of judges. They often wear matching outfits and are judged on health, poise and grace.

Next week I will be leaving the sunny shores of my own imagination and returning to earth to describe a creature from Chinese mythology known as the Pixiu.

If you would like to take a look at some more of Patricia Piccinini’s amazing artwork then please follow the link:

Find The Architect’s Essence Salvation and Ruin at

The Argopelter.

The world that I’ve created in The Architect’s Essence Salvation and Ruin, The Expanse, is populated by a plethora of creatures both of fact, legend and also of my own devise.
Some of the creatures are well known and are quite stereotypical of a fantasy novel; dragons, yetis, vampires etc. Some of them however are more obscure; creatures of myth and legend from around the world such as the Pixiu from Chinese mythology and the Barghest from Yorkshire folk law. I’ve also included many cryptids (animals whose existence in our world is still disputed.) These include the Chupacabra of Puerto Rica and the Wendigo of the Atlantic Coast. A few of these creatures also come straight out of my own imagination; large beasts of burden called Holks, six-legged bat-like creatues called Jimjoms and telepathic, desert dwelling carnivours known as the Mirage to name but a few.
Whilst writing The Architect’s Essence I did a lot of research into these creatures and demons and I’m planning to make regular posts, highlighting the origins and characteristics of a different creature each week.
And so, without further ado I’d like to introduce my first creature, the argopelter (pictured above.)

The Argopelter. (Anthrocephalus craniofractens)

From what I gather, these creatures come from the imaginative tales told by the lumber jacks who work the pine forest that stretch from Maine to Oregon. They are said to inhabit hollow trees and live off woodpeckers, hoot owls and rotten wood, the scarcity of which is thought to keep their numbers low. Strangely argopelter pups are always born in odd numbers and always arrive on February 29th, meaning that they can only be born on a leap year.

Argopelters resent lumber jacks and will attack anyone who strays too close to the tree in which they have made their home, hurling branches and wooden splinters with deadly accuracy. It is said that only one individual has ever survived an argopelter attack, a logger called Big Ole Kittleson who was cruising timber on the Upper St. Croix. He was struck by a branch hurled by an argopelter, but, fortunately for him, the branch was so rotten that it shattered against his head. Big Ole Kittleson later described the creature to have “a slender, wiry body, the villainous face of an ape, and arms like muscular whiplashes, with which it can snap off dead branches and hurl them through the air like shells from a six-inch gun.”

If you would like to read more about the creatures of the lumber jacks’ tales then please take a look at William T.Cox’s The Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods (a free online ebook.)

Next week I will be outlining a creature of my own imagination known as a greep.

Why I Write

I’ve been tagged in a ‘Blog Hop’.

Matt Cairns, has kindly invited me to participate in this Blog Hop. He is the author of the action thriller/horror  novel, Cold Blooded. Here is a blurb of Matt’s book:

In the isolated, snow-bound town of South Pine, ex-soldier Tom Jade will literally face his demons.

Suffering brutal nightmares, and with little memory of how and why he came to be home, Jade will learn the dark truth of his clouded past: the agenda behind his sudden disappearance while fighting in the Middle-East; the strange and bloody events leading to his return; and the reasons why his father, a war veteran, has never spoken of his tour in Vietnam more than thirty years ago.

Together with Rebecca Leigh, a local cop with her own tragic history, Jade will face a steady supply of inhuman assassins, courtesy of the malevolent Louis Faulkner–a powerful figure with sinister ties to Jade’s father.

In this gripping, page-turning supernatural thriller, you will be asking “are they sent to kill him, or take him back? And if the latter, back to where?”

Sounds good to me! If you would like to take a look at Matt’s book you can find it at

And here is a link to Matt’s blog –

Okay, so how does a Blog Hop work?

*         Well, it’s like a game of tag, but on Twitter.

*         Once you’re tagged, you need to write a post on your blog about why you write. (Feel free to use the same kind of format as I have in this post.)

*          Make sure you link back to the person who tagged you.

*          Nominate and tag three (or more) people via Twitter to be next in the ‘hop’. (Make sure you contact them so they know.)


And so, here’s my blog…

Why do I write?

When I read the title of this blog hop, Why I Write, I had to have a long think about the answer. It’s not a question I’ve ever put to myself before and to simply reply “I don’t know why I write? One day I just picked up a pen,” didn’t sound quite right.

Whilst mulling over my answer I’ve realised three . . . maybe four things about myself; I’m an attention seeker, I’m sentimental, I’m trying to better myself . . . and I may be afraid of death.

The first conclusion I came to was that I write to impress my family and friends.  I want them to be excited that I’ve published a book and I want them to be proud of me for doing it. It’s self-centred but it’s true

That brings me neatly into my second conclusion. I’m sentimental. I want my son and daughter to be proud that I’m their dad. I’m no athlete, I’m no brain surgeon. I’m not a policeman or a fireman or anything else that a four-year-old thinks is ‘cool.’ If truth be told, I’m a temp working in a warehouse. When I was writing my first book I used to daydream about dedicating it to them, a dream which I have since realised. I like to think that in years to come they will show their own children the books I have written and the messages I have included for them.

When I left school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but warehousing wasn’t it. I don’t mean to sound big-headed either but I always thought I’d do better for myself and I guess I’m hoping that one day my writing will get me out of this dead-end job and help me to move on to bigger and better things.

I’m sorry to end my blog on such a morbid note but that brings me onto my final point. My fear of death. Well maybe it’s not so much a fear of death, but the fear of what will happen after I’m gone. I don’t want to be forgotten like what’s-his-name. I want to be remembered in some way and I’d like to leave more than just a tombstone as proof that I ever existed.

I consider myself quite an artistic person and over the years I’ve discovered that I have an aptitude for cake decorating, pumpkin carving, ice sculpture and writing. The only problem is that cakes get eaten, pumpkins rot and ice melts. The only gift I have that can possibly stand the test of time is my writing. The written word is timeless and I’d like to think that in a hundred years time or so, my books will still be available, downloadable for the new Kindle Holo Dulux or what ever they’ll be using in the next century.

Well, that was my blog and now . . .

TAG! You’re it…

Here are the three people I nominate to answer the question: Why do I write?  They are as follows: 

Brian Rathbone – creator of the World of Godsland fantasy series.

Theresa Jones – author of Stone Cold Touch.

Stephanie Collins – author of With Angels Wings.

A Story 65 Million Years In The Making . . . or 5 to be more exact.

 “If there’s one thing the history of literature has taught us, it’s that writers will not be contained. Writers break free. They expand to new territories. They crash through barriers painfully, maybe even dangerously, but – well, there it is. Writers will find a way.” 

Though I have slightly altered Dr. Ian Malcom’s words to suit my own situation I feel that his heated lecture to John Hammond on the uncontainable nature of life also adequately defines the journey I undertook to write and publish my book . . . Okay, so I’ve altered his words a lot, but even so my road to publication was a painful trek of realisation, rejection and despair and, at times, I was in danger of giving up. To reach my goal I was forced to learn, to adapt, to break through into new and unfamiliar territories. I may not have achieved publication in the way I was intending when I set out to write my book five years ago, but in the end I did find a way.

I started writing the Architect’s Essence after an extremely hard week at work when I was feeling particularly down-trodden by my boss and the constrictive atmosphere of my work place. I felt that I was just a pawn,  a yes-man, a puppet of the system who could only get on in life by becoming a crawling, brown nosing parasite. Five years on I’ve realised that I was right. At the time the reality of my predicament was not something I could stomach so, instead of letting the oppressive regime of my workplace break my spirit, I decided to vent my pent up frustrations into something creative.

After walking out of my job, I picked up a pen and paper and started to write. The last thing my boss said to me before I left was, “Use your f****** loaf.”

So I went away and I did.

True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!

The Cardinal’s line in Act II, scene II of Richelieu by Edward Bulwer-Lytton – 1839.

I tried to project my feelings of frustration into my principle character, Quercus Robur, a hapless dreamer who longs to explore his world but is caged by the oppressive rules and regulations which he is forced to live by. He is moody, rash and, at times, a little dim-witted and there is more of me in Quercus Robur than I would like to admit. The world that I created around Quercus, the Expanse, is widely influenced by myths and legends and is inhabited by a plethora of creatures both fact, fable and of my own devise.

I have no qualifications in writing and I’d had no prior experience when I began to write. The first thing I did was to make a list of character names and locations and I sketched a crude map on the back of a cereal box. My notes soon grew into a folder full of vague, scribbled paragraphs and seemingly random pieces of dialogue which eventually spilled over onto my fridge in the form of hundreds of post-it-notes.

I was unsure exactly where I was taking the story in the beginning, but still I continued onwards, jotting down whatever came to my mind. This was a practice that I later learned to be called ‘writing by the seat of your pants.’ As my story progressed I managed to sew some of my random paragraphs and ideas together and eventually I managed to reclaim my fridge. At that point my story was a sort of tatty, misshapen literary quilt with no discernible middle or ending and, I must admit, that it was mainly held together by bad grammar and poor spelling.

Here is an excerpt from the first draft of The Architect’s Essence:

The cottage had thick walls and a straw covered roof making it warm and cosy. Querc yawned contentedly; the flickering orange, red glow and the aroma of incense hypnotising him into a dream world. All memory of the snow storm which still raged outside was gone. Quercs’ eyes wandered casually over the crates and boxes and chests of bizarre objects filling the room. Shelves were stacked with bottles and vials of colourful, luminous and in some cases moving liquids and a bunch of enchanted kites were anchored to a hat stand in the corner; they swooped around the ceiling, casting dancing shadows over the walls. At the rear of the room a ladder led to an upper floor where Zea slept.

As you can see I was pretty terrible. Six  drafts, around a thousand cups of coffee, one massive learning curve and five years later and my work is much improved. Here’s the same excerpt from my final draft:

Quercus Robur sat before a roaring fire in the cramped yet comfortable cottage of his arranged fiancée, Zea Mays.

Zea knelt on a cushion at his feet, humming a soft, soothing melody. She removed a soiled bandage from around his left leg revealing horrific, weeping burns. She threw the bandage into the flames, sending a shower of embers skittering across the cobbled floor. A fresh bandage and a jar of sloof ointment sat next to Zea in preparation to re-dress his wounds.

Zea’s cottage had thick wattle and daub walls and a thatched roof, trapping the heat of the fire within. Querc yawned contentedly. The flickering orange glow and the aroma of incense was lulling him into a dream-like stupor, melting away the memory of the blizzard that raged outside.

Querc’s heavy eyes wandered casually over the crates, boxes and sacks of bizarre objects that cluttered Zea’s parlour. Shelves smothered the walls, chock-full of old books, maps and crumbling scrolls. Next to the pantry door a cabinet was crammed with bottles of luminous moving liquids, and in the corner a hat stand anchored a bunch of enchanted kites. They swooped about the ceiling, casting sinister shadows in the fire light.

At the rear of the room a ladder led to a small mezzanine floor where Zea slept.

Hopefully you can see an improvement. Though I’m by no means a bestselling author I would like to give some advice to anyone out there who may be thinking of starting a career in writing. My advice is; once you pick up the pen and put it to the paper, never put it down again. Even if you’re terrible, you can only get better. Practice makes perfect-ish, then perfect and you can never fail as long as you don’t give up.

I’d like to return to return to the Jurrasic Park analogy for a moment if I may. My journey in writing is still far from over but in terms of writing and publishing my book I now feel that I’ve escaped both the car and the tree, outrun the t-rex, avoided being trampled by the gallimimus and made it over the electric fence. The phones are even working. Now all I have to do is evade the raptors, escape Isla Nublar and sell some copies of my book.

If you would like to take a look at the Architect’s Essence Salvation and Ruin, you can download a copy at