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Tom Harris

Writer of edgy Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

#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

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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

Brain Feeding: The Hunger Games

Everyone and their dog now knows about Suzanne Collins’ amazing dystopian creation, but back in the deepest, darkest recesses of 2009/10, The Hunger Games was little more than a whisper on the lips of bookish bairns.

Picture the scene, I was in the midst of my MA in Creative Writing at Portsmouth University when our tutor Sam Hawksmoor, a fine author with a bloodhound-like nose for excellent YA fiction, put me on the trail of this book, offering more than a hint that this might be something fantastic.

It sounded right up my street and quite simply it took my breath away.

The Hunger Games made me feel alive. I experienced every emotion known to my own self whilst chomping away upon every delicious page. I took Katkniss and Peeta to my heart and by half way through I wanted nothing more than to be an usher at their wedding.

This book turned me into a blood thirsty maniac, an emotional wreck, a hapless romantic and a political activist all in a matter of days. I’m not actually sure I’m any of the above in reality!

At the time, I declared…

The Hunger Games! This is the best book I’ve ever read…ever, ever, ever…You have to read it! What do you mean I’ve got a mad look in my eye?

‘Tom Harris, 2010’

And this is what this post is recommending for feeding your brain and inspiring your creative and escapist soul.

Not Catching Fire.

Not Mockingjay.

Not even the option of a ‘Hunger Games 4 movie marathon…’

My recommendation is simply to read this definitive masterpiece in all its incredible glory.

Take a winter’s day, a comfy chair, soft lighting and a cup of what ails ya, sit back and devour this book. I’m envious just thinking about it…

*The Hunger Games is available to buy from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Portsmouth, Amazon & some other notable stockists too…

#RISE: Ep 4: APOSTLE DAY

The dead have been with us for almost a year now.

Crowley says there are big plans to celebrate the anniversary.

The rebirth of New Britain.

But I won’t be celebrating. I will be fighting. And I’m not alone.

There are others like me.

We post this stuff on what’s left of the internet. Just in case someone’s listening.

There are twelve of us. We call ourselves The Apostles, but none of us are religious.

How could we be after what has happened.

Most have given up. But we haven’t.

The fate of the world is in the hands of a bunch of kids – lol!

Even Syd next door has stopped saying hello.

Like the adults, she’s glazed over; become a ceramic version of herself.

I like that line and the image of it, even though I heard it from Crowley on TV, maybe he’s slowly infecting me…

Syd was fine until she turned 14, but now she too is infected with death.

Thirteen seems to be the lucky number for us all. But we won’t be thirteen forever.

13

I don’t have long.

I’ll be fourteen on All Hallow’s Eve – the 31st day of October.

The anniversary of the return of the dead.

Today is October the 30th. In the future we hope it will be known as Apostles Day.

The day when the twelve first met.

We have twenty four hours before the next rising.

Things are bad now, but when they come again…the dead will inherit the earth.

The dead are taking over the world. They are infecting the living.

I live in a world where the living are lifeless.

My name is Anderson. I am one of the twelve apostles of the living and I’m calling on you all now.

Anyone who’s left. Who’s out there, watching and waiting…

It’s up to us to stop Crowley.

It is time to take back our lives.

It is time for the living to rise.

END TRANSMISSION…

#RISE

#MARIGOLDS

#RISE EP3: The Disease of the Dead

The skies have been black all summer. Only the rain is the same.

Since the dead have been back, I’ve been feeling tired.

I do less than before although Dad says it’s difficult to do less than nothing.

It’s like the dead have bought back a disease. And it’s catching.

I’m sure I have the disease of the dead.

That is why I write. Why I must spread what I know as far and wide as I am able.

That is why I never stop.

If I did, my brain would stop working. I know it would. I would just sit around like the others. No telly. No books. No games.

Dad. He just sits there and grumbles and then he’ll get hungry or thirsty.

Only then does he get up and go out.

He comes back with tins from the corner shop most of the time.

But one day the shop will close. A lot of them already have.

shop

Children run the big supermarket round the block and the local chippy.

They even run the local newspaper and the radio station…

Adults have…stopped…working.

Shops, offices, doctors, dentists, restaurants, pubs, all deserted.

I should be at school, but all the schools are closed.

Dad leaves the door wide open now. Everyone does. No-one locks anything.

He also wanders into things…He’s just fallen over a chair in the dining room.

His face is scratched and cut and Mum is sniffing around him because the wound is fresh.

It gives me the creeps when she does that.

It’s why I carry my knife.

green-zombie-woman

Ever vigilant in this new world among the dead.

It’s how we all must be.

It’s why I must go.

But…it’s also why I must return, to share what I know, to find a way through…

It’s not too late for us…we can rise.

We can defeat The Party of the Dead together.

END TRANSMISSION…

#RISE

#MARIGOLDS

 

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