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Tom Harris

Writer of edgy Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

Brain Feeding: A Monster Calls

An utterly compelling read, its tone reminiscent of a classic fable in parts, A Monster Calls is one of those rare books that you wished you’d never read, so you could read it all over again.

It tells the story of a young boy battling far bigger fears than the most gruesome and terrifying of all monsters – the reality of his Mum, losing her battle with cancer…

Its roots are fixed in the mechanics of a troubled young mind, where imagination and fantasy become barriers to the harshest of all realities. Yet Ness doesn’t dwell on the loss as many of these tales often do. It’s not a story that grinds you down and makes you wish you’d never wallowed in it – it’s quite the opposite.

It’s a beautiful concept delivered with simplicity, respect and elegance.

The origins of the story were the brainchild of talented YA Author Siobhan Dowd, who before her tragic passing wrote some fantastic fiction of her own – The London Eye Mystery in particular, which is back on my reading list – but Ness takes up the baton here and produces something truly special in completion.

The atmospheric illustrations of Jim Kay add so much for me too, as a huge graphic novel fan, I would definitely check out this illustrated version if you haven’t already.

Read it on your own, read it with your kids, take it down the park and read it to anyone who’ll listen. You can’t fail to be inspired by something as stunning as this.

This is exactly what I mean by Brain Feeding

Truly outstanding

*A Monster Calls is available from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Portsmouth & via Amazon

#RISE: EP7: EATING DAD

They want me out there. Think that they can lure me to them.

Dad always warned me about two for one deals.

My heart is breaking as they take a bite from his shoulder. The flesh tears. He smiles through it all and then he’s gone.

I just watched my dad get eaten. Part of me hears the ping of a message, but I can’t take my eyes off what is happening. What is wrong with me?

I shake it off as they snarl, their bloodied muzzles taunting me at the glass. I can smell the metallic crimson, wafting through the broken rubber seals.They’ve torn him to pieces.

They may have done this, but I know who’s truly to blame…

Crowley.

He’ll pay for this.

I stare into their dead, congealed eyes as I pull the curtains closed on reality and I dart back to my laptop.

A new message. J is back online.

I know about the field.

How? What? I don’t type the words, cause my hands are still trembling…

It is some time before I reply…

Okay.

Okay. Let’s meet.

Meet?

Let’s meet. You don’t have long.

Don’t have long? What does he know?

What happens when I turn 14?

There’s no reply to that. Maybe he doesn’t know.

Meet at the field. Meet in 4.

I sit back in my chair and this time it isn’t Crowley’s government hackers who break the connection. It’s me.

I slap my laptop shut and bag up what’s left of my life.

I take one last look at the curtains, imagining the horror playing out beyond the window and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I take a deep breath and head for the door…

#RISE

#MARIGOLDS

Word of the Year: 2016

Every year, per annum in fact, Oxford Dictionaries come up with a ‘Word of the Year.’ I’m not sure if the adjudication panel hold a reality-style word-off series of auditions or not, but the word of the year for 2016 is an adjective and is…

POST-TRUTH

‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’

So, why of all the words in all the world, that had to walk into our lives, did they choose this one?

It won’t have escaped your attention that 2016 has been a year dominated by politics with the EU/Brexit Referendum & the U.S Presidential election. It is in this area that has seen a spike in the usage of the word, and its association with the phrase – Post-truth politics.

So there you have it.

The Word of the Year, 2016, is post-truth…

you-cant-handle-the

There are plenty of other words they could have come up with in my eyes, but hey, this is a family show, right?

Who will be the ‘Word of the Year’ in 2017?

Do words get nervous at awards ceremonies? I bet Agitated and Alarmed do.

 

#RISE EP6: ‘J’

24 hours is all I have. Happy Birthday, Anderson.

Not heard from the others for a few hours now.

No contact. It’s like Crowley and his hackers have stopped the feed.

Broken our connection.

Whilst I can still get word out, I will. Thought I’d get a message back before now, but sad to say I was wrong.

I’ve bolted my door with ten locks. Dad got them off the shed door after Mum attacked him. She’s already started to gnaw at her own chains, but it’s doing nothing but break her teeth.

Yeah, it’s come to that. Dad has her chained up now, but I’m not naïve enough to know he had no choice.

I know she’s gone. She never really came back. That was just politics. To get our vote.

I’m locked in my room. Dad is in his, with just an adjoining door between us…and Mum, well Mum is chained up in front of the telly, like she’d want to be. Dad still puts the soaps on for her…Some family, huh?

Crowley would be proud of us. He’s still everywhere. On the news. On every channel at least once a day. No-one sees the PM now. Crowley speaks on her behalf. We won’t see her again, that’s certain.

There’s a flicker on my screen. Incoming. A sign of life…but I’m distracted by the bumps and thumps at my window.

Syd from next door. Her face plastered against the glass. Her smile says come out and play. Her eyes say I want to eat you! I get up and draw the curtain. She’s not herself.

When I return to the screen, there’s a message. Life.

Hello. I’m J.

The cursor flashes slowly at me, with fingers hovering over the keys I type…

Hello.

Who is this? 

Anderson.

You’re a disciple.

It’s not a question

The others. Crowley has them.

I pause. Can’t move. I knew it would come to this, but not without a final showdown. The disciples v’s Crowley, that was how it would end, but now…They are gone and I am alone. I know there’s Dad, but he’s not as alive as he used to be…

The cursor flashes. A new message…

Did you hear me, Anderson?

What do I say? Thanks for the update…?

As my fingers rest upon the keys, choice is taken from me…

They’re here. Got to go. J.

The screen goes blank. I rush my fingers over the keys and break the connection.

Still going. Still fighting…and that’s when I hear three taps on my window.

I get up. Know I shouldn’t. I hover at the curtains. Draw them back.

Syd and Mum. Mum unchained.

She’s gnawed through her own arm to get out, but it’s much worse than that…there’s a third person with them.

‘Dad?’ I whimper, and his cheeks stain with tears to see me, as our eyes meet for the last time…

 

#RISE

#MARIGOLDS

Goodreads: My Year in Books 2016

To balance your writing and reading is essential for any writer. It can be a real challenge, with too much of one and not enough of the other leading to a – in the style, if not the words of Dr Emmett Brown – a Transverse Imbalance in the artists Flux-Capacitor!

So I settle on 40 books a year, hoping that 25-30 of them will be enjoyable enough to allow me to rate them above 3 stars on Goodreads. I don’t tend to leave ratings of 1’s and 2’s or even finish those books I’m not enjoying. Life is too short, especially when there are so many great books to jump into. Everyone hits a bad streak though and I had my share of stuff that didn’t really work for me, but there were some belting reads within the duds.

Though it wasn’t at all planned, in this last 12 months, I’ve returned to some old classics, such as Watership Down, beautifully scribed and imagined by the recently departed Richard Adams, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and the Legend of King Arthur & his Knights by James Knowles.

I took my annual trip back to Hogwarts of course, sinking into Quidditch Through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Vol’s 1-4, leaving me to complete the set again in 2017, and of course we were treated to something new from J.K, with The Cursed Child screenplay, which I’d been eagerly anticipating, especially as Jack ‘The Fades’ Thorne was involved, and it didn’t disappoint.

2016 was also the year when I gave up a portion of my life to immerse myself in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, and as an avid fan of the TV series, I loved the first book, what an epic journey, and I shall venture on another next year without doubt.

In terms of graphic novels, Mark Millar’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was a highlight, as was Volume 7: Endgame of Synder & Capullo’s Batman New 52 series. I’ve not read nearly enough good ones this year, having hit the buffers on a couple of series that I tried out. I’ll be wading out a little further in 2017 with a graphic novel fest planned for Jan.

At the end of the year I became embroiled in a Victorian phase, as inspiration for a round of edits I was working on with a new novel of mine – a Steampunk fantasy tale called The Sweep. This led me to receive a ghostly Christmas visitation from Mr Dickens, and the discovery of the works of local authors, Victoria Leslie and William Sutton, who have now invaded my reading time and both are most welcome again…as friends and great authors who I share the city of Portsmouth with.

So throw in some Goosebumps, some Peculiar Children, a spot of cricket, a Watchman, a Buddha, a Spear, a Sanctuary and some Prudence…and that’s my year in books.

If you want to see my full list, then here it is – Tom’s Goodreads Challenge List 2016

goodreads-challenge

Now for 2017! What Crackers shall await us all!

Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Reading Year!

Tom

The Great Amber Giveaway: Part II

Huge thanks for all my readers in their support of The Amber Room giveaway before Christmas, which saw the book climb into the Top 5 of its genre in the Free Download charts.

So as a thank you for that, I wanted to offer everyone a chance to read the second book in the series. So for the next 5 days, beginning on Tuesday the 27th of December and running until New Year’s Eve on Saturday the 31st, you can now pick up The Amber Antidote on Kindle absolutely FREE, exclusively on Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY OF THE AMBER ANTIDOTE ON KINDLE UK

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY OF THE AMBER ANTIDOTE ON KINDLE U.S

I think everyone needs an antidote to the year that is for 5 days more, 2016, so please spread the word and enjoy the book.

The follow-up to Antidote, The Amber Moon: Shadows & Dragons, is due for release early in 2017, so I’ll be back with news on that along with the cover release soon.

Thanks again for all your support

Tom

Brain Feeding: A Christmas Carol

‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.’

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol, Stave 4, Dec 19, 1843

marley-is-dead

A Christmas Carol has spurned many adaptations on the big and small screen and there are many versions I recall. In 1938 Reginald Owen & Gene & Kathleen Lockhart were among the cast and in 1951 Alastair Sims famously donned Ebenezer’s nerdy night cap. Albert Finney got all musical on us in 1970. Mickey Mouse had a go too as did The Muppets and Michael Caine in 1992, taking us right through to Jim Carrey and Robert Zemeckis’ animated interpretation in 2009…but there’s nothing like reading the book.

Don’t get me wrong, I watch Scrooged every Christmas, with the brilliant Karen Allen supporting Bill Murray’s wickedly funny turn in the lead role. It’s a great Christmas movie, but my Brain Feeding seasonal recommendation has to be the original classic, the inspiration for all of the forementioned.

So say goodbye to chapters and hello to staves and immerse your minds in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in all its whimsical splendour.

‘Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know of my own knowledge what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.’

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol, Stave 1, Dec 19, 1843

It’s a pretty quick read actually, so it’s ideal to tuck into in front of the fire as the family drift off for an afternoon snoring contest. So if you wish to visit the ghosts of literary past, turn your attention to this masterpiece. Turn away from the box of goggle for a moment and get inspired this festive season by the masterful wordsmith that is Mr. Charles Dickens.

Merry Christmas

Tom

a-grave-mistake

 

#RISE EP5: “Get the Chains”

The signal is breaking. Links unsecured. We have to meet.

My message is simple. It has taken little thought.

It is a consequence of where we are at. Nothing left for us to do.

I wait. The replies come soon enough.

Thomas. Michaela and Petra send emoji’s of agreement.

smiley-thumbs-up-emoji

Thumbs sticking up, nodding dog heads, pair of hands clapping, that sort of thing.

I wait for more. They come in bursts. James. Simone. Phillipa. Bart.

Then Matty, Johnny, Judy and Thaddia. We’re all in agreement. The time has come. It’s not safe. Crowley’s damned hackers are closing in…

Thomas comes back with

Where?

Judy says

The Field. 4.

I know. We all know what that means.

In 4 hours we meet at the Field.

The field of Marigolds. It’s been on TV every day. The location a secret to many…but we know how to find it.

So this is it. It’s time to meet those I’ve never met.

A rush of dread and expectation flies through me. For a selfish moment I wonder what Judy looks like. I always like what she has to say…

It’s Bart…

They are here…

His message sends shock waves through my body.

Then for ages there’s nothing.

I scramble to log off. Alone again.

A scream from outside. From next door maybe. I push back off my chair. I sit panting in the corner of my room. Then there’s another. Only this one is inside the house.

Courage finds me. I flee to the door, swing it open.

“Dad!” One of them’s attacking him!

I reach for my cricket bat. I race into the room and with all my might I swing hard.

Mum’s head turns sideways. Her neck cracks. Would have broken if she wasn’t already dead.

Dad lies there panting, looking up at me. His eyes are thankful, if not a little shocked, his face splattered with his wife’s blood.

“Get the chains, son,” he says, as Mum lies twitching on the carpet…

 

#RISE

#MARIGOLDS

 

The Great Amber Giveaway

Ahead of the New Year release of The Amber Moon: Shadows & Dragons, I thought it was time for a little worldwide Amber giveaway.

So for the next 5 days, starting on Monday the 19th of December until Friday the 23rd, you can pick up The Amber Room on Kindle absolutely FREE, exclusively on Amazon.co.uk & via Amazon.com.

I’m all about subtlety, so here’s the links for you to follow below

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY OF THE AMBER ROOM ON KINDLE UK

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY OF THE AMBER ROOM ON KINDLE U.S

Please enjoy the book, tell your friends, your enemies and especially anyone with interests in world domination & how to stop it, there’s a lot of useful tips to be found inside these pages…

Oh, and finally from me to you – Have a very Merry Christmas

Tom

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