Looking Back at 2018

As we slowly roll towards the end of the year it often comes to us to start looking towards the things we might want to achieve in the coming year. It’s a time for making plans, dreaming, wondering how we can shape the future; it’s time to spring clean the mind.

I’ve always found the best place to start with that is to take stock and look back at the year thats just passed. What plans did I have in place? Did I achieve them? What went wrong? What went well? What impacted those plans and skewed them off course? What could I have done better. It’s a time of reflection.

So, with that in mind, it’s time to roll out my GDRs (Goals, Dreams & Resolutions) review for 2018 and check out the stats. I already knew before I did this, they weren’t going to make for pretty reading:

  • Of 9 Goals: 2 were completed
  • Of 3 Dreams: 1 was completed; 1 partially completed
  • Of 3 Resolutions: 1 was completed

Not great. Not great for a full year of work.

It’s pretty much taken as red that the goals you set out will be, with a bit of hard work and application, achievable. So to complete only two is really quite poor on reflection. After what was a great start to the year, everything just changed from the end of June onwards. I’d published a new chapbook as Chas Stramash (DIGITAL PENETRATION OF A TICKET MACHINE), published a new thriller novel (HUNTING JACK), and taken the first draft of a new novel through to completion. Things were looking good.

Then I received an opportunity within the sphere of my day job (linked to one of my dreams) and I simply had to take it. It would mean (hopefully) a happy and rewarding working life and so far this has proved to be the case. It has also meant fully committing myself to the my new career, which in turn has meant taking on a lot of new things, learning as I go, and a lot of days packed with hard work. Fulfilling, yes. Conducive to writing novels, absolutely not.

Dreams are tasks one would complete towards turning life dreams into actual achievable goals, so to complete one and move to forward partially, is something to be applauded. I’ve got to be happy with that no matter what else has or hasn’t happened to plan.

The failure of my Resolutions — which were mostly life improvement resolutions — was mostly down to my own laziness, pure and simple. The best it got was when I almost achieved one then more or less gave up after I’d got it into a good place, so this was particularly galling. The one I achieved is, however, very significant so I’m delighted with that.

One year ago when I wrote my GDRs for 2018, I had no idea what was in store in the coming months. I was also coming off the back of an extremely successful 2017 and maybe I got a bit carried away with what I imagined to be achievable. Maybe I was already biting off more than I could chew, or maybe I just hadn’t considered things might come together in the way they did. Either way, going into 2019 I realise I have to be much more realistic in what I can achieve, and more importantly, can’t. I am going to have to fight to find a balance between my work life and writing life, that has swayed back and forward to both extremes in the last two years.

It is time to balance the boat and ride the waves.

And to finish up, here’s my BEST OF 2018:

Best Album Bought: Call the Comet, Johnny Marr
Best Live Gig: Mogwai at Leith Theatre
Best Musical Discovery: Willie Nelson

Best Film (cinema): Solo
Best Film (TV/DVD): Roller Dreams
Best Series (TV/DVD): The Sinner (Netflix)

Best Fiction Book Read: A Day at the Office, Matt Dunn
Best Crime Fiction Book Read: Follow You Home, Mark Edwards
Best Non-Fiction Book Read: Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff
Best Poetry Book Read: N/A
Best Author Discovery: Mark Edwards

Best Meal: Amanda Galbraith’s Summer Tasting Meal
Best Sesh: Diners Xmas Day Out in Paisley
Best Celebrity Encounter: When the Group Captain won a St Mirren signed football from Saints Club Captain, Stephen McGinn
Single Most Embarrassing Moment: Fake fall in the packed lobby of the Holiday Inn Express, Washington, Tyne & Wear
Saddest Moment: Death of our wee Crumble in my arms
Single Most Memorable Moment: Success of new career gamble

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Hunting Jack Hits the Cyber-Shelves

Hunting Jack by Colin Galbraith is Released Today

My new novel, a tense thriller set in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1995, was released yesterday by Blue Sea Publishing.

HUNTING JACK is the story of a young Scottish lad brought up in London by his Aunt and Uncle after his parents were both killed in a car crash. On finding a hidden letter from them, he runs away to Scotland to try and find them, only ending up in a world of gangsters and a history embedded in the infamous Glasgow Ice-Cream Wars of 1984.

I originally wrote this story back in 2004 and it appeared as an internet serial, being delivered twice-weekly to subscribers email inboxes. Now, after a re-write and tidy, it can be yours as a single one-off novel – how I always wanted it.

Here’s the official blurb:

It’s midnight in London during the summer of 1995 and JACKIE McCANN is on the run.

With only the clothes on his back and a letter from Scotland, he is determined to make his way north to find his true identity. Behind him, he leaves his Aunt and Uncle, who for years told him he was the sole survivor of the car crash that had wiped out his biological family. But now his life has turned upside down upon finding a letter from his father — hidden by his new family.

In Glasgow things aren’t what they seem. Jackie discovers the infamous Ice-Cream Wars of 1984 provide the violent backdrop to his family history, and a mysterious man in black makes his bloody presence felt.

On the run and with his options slowly running out, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival opens up more links to his past and options for his future.

Does Jackie find his true identity?

Will he be reunited with his family?

Will he wish he’d never found that letter in the first place?

Some secrets are best left buried.

And here’s the pretty cool trailer for it:

Happy reading, and if you DO decide to buy the book (available at the special eBook launch price of 99p until this Sunday), don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon.

Finally, here’s where you can buy the Kindle, eBook and Paperback formats of HUNTING JACK:

Oh, before I go, I have a mailing list now. This will be THE place for the latest book news, special offers, freebies, and basically all the juicy stuff that I won’t be putting on Twitter or Facebook.

Just click here to be taken to the sign-up form: http://eepurl.com/dkIVBD



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GDRs 2018

It’s not been the best start to the year, in fact this posting is already around two weeks late, but I’m back up and running and in the midst of kicking off my GDRs (Goals, Dreams & Resolutions) for the new year. I’m not taking things easy and I’m not going hell-for-leather, but I’ve laid out a plan for 2018 that if executed in the correct order, could prove to be fruitful — more-so than 2017.

I remember saying the same last thing last year: “I’ll never get through all of this,” and “there’s no way I’ll find the time to do all of this as well as live a life.” But then I bit off the easy bits first, chewed them up and devoured them, which took care of a large chuck of my plan all before the first quarter of the year was over. Suddenly, by mid-March, everything looked easier and much more do-able. So that’s my plan again this year.

Here’s what I‘ve come up with. Not that two of the Dreams and two of the Resolutions have been redacted — they’re not for public consumption. In fact, this may be the last year I actually publish this on the blog. While I love — daresay need — to tick off lists in order to get things done, the way I approach my work these days is much more relaxed and depended on how I feel at the time. So applying too rigorous a framework around it is not having the desired effect as it once did. Nevertheless, here’s the 2018 GDR list:


“Tangible actions with deadlines that get me further down the path.”

  • Complete and Publish Sri Lanka Chapbook
  • Write and Prepare Bob Lennox Prequel Novella
  • Write 1st draft of Bridge of Weir Novel
  • Complete and Publish On the Rocks: Bob Lennox #1
  • Write NaNoWriMo Novel (1st Draft of Bob Lennox #2)
  • Complete and Publish Rhodes Chapbook
  • Complete and Publish London Chapbook
  • A Ditty A Day Project
  • Read 30 Novels


“Fantasies about the future I plan to build, with an action plan to turn them into reality.”

  • XXXX
  • XXXX
  • Be Regularly Selling ‘00s Books Per Month


“Bigger, more life-changing commitments that build on the goals and work toward the dreams.”

  • XXXX
  • XXXX
  • Learn Basic French (carried over)

All in all, this gives me a total of 15 specific GDRs that I am aiming to hit to some degree. You can begin to see where the demands on my time are going to impact.

Of the Goals listed, there is a lot of interesting work listed here that I am hoping to see through. Namely, three new chapbooks, which are all already in different stages of production already and may see the light of day very soon.

There is also the intended publication of the first full-length Bob Lennox novel, a prequel giveaway, and a second novel in the series.

And the more keen-eyed among you will have spotted the “A Ditty A Day” project, more details for which will come soon.

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Hunting Jack Cover Reveal

Attention! Here’s the new cover of my next novel, HUNTING JACK, out in February next year with the terrific Blue Sea Publishing. It’s a tense crime/thriller/gangster story set in Glasgow and Edinburgh and based on the Ice-Cream Wars of 1984. Right up your street, basically.


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Wrapping Up 2017

2017 Now that the first draft of the novel I began writing during NaNoWriMo is over and done with (out next year hopefully), it’s time for me, as a writer, to take stock of the year that’s drawing to a conclusion.

Did I meet my goals? What were the highlights and lowlights? What went wrong and what went well? And in what direction am I going to take things next year? All of these questions and more are what I ask myself as part of my annual Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions (GDRs) wrap-up for 2017.

These GDRs are nothing new; I’ve been working this process for years now. It helps me focus my mind on what I’ve been doing and where I’m going. They are based on an original idea by Devon Ellington who runs the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions website, and they are all prepared and committed to at the start of each year in order that they act as a guide for the coming year.

So here’s my 2017.


  1. Complete and Publish GATECRASH
    • Gatecrash has so far blown all of my expectations out of the water in terms of sales and reader response. It is my biggest success so far.
  2. Re-write and Publish HUNTING JACK as a Novel
    • Marked as complete as it is now pending publication, a decision made late in 2017.
  3. Re-Publish STELLA Through Smashing Press
    • Publishing rights were returned from the previous publisher, allowing it to be re-published with a new cover by Smashing Press.
    • Also re-published as a 2-in-1 combo purchase for e-readers.
  4. Publish One New Chapbook
    • Poolside Poetry 2 made it to publication under my pseudonym, Chas Stramash
  5. Read 40 Books X
    • Made it to 31 books as this blog post is published. It’s a fine balance between reading and writing one’s own novels.

Midway through the year I also decided to partake in NaNoWriMo, which led to the penning of a new novel with DI Lennox as the protagonist. This novel has now gone through its first draft and will hopefully be published next year.

As you can see, meeting almost all of my goals and managing to include a full unforeseen novel writing project into the bargain, means 2017 has been a huge success for me. 2018 will be tough to match.

I don’t publish my Dreams or Resolutions as they are usually too personal, but I’ve summarised them regardless.


There were two.
One is still on target and one has not been achieved down to alterations in personal circumstances. They both still remain valid, and indeed one of them is being carried over to next year. The other may not.


There were four.
Two were achieved and this indicates a marked success given they have been on the list for a couple of years now! One is still in progress and on target to be met in 2018 so is being carried forward. The final one was nearly complete then turned around and was never achieved. This has been a huge disappointment, and so it is being made a top priority for next year.


Best Album Bought: Mogwai, Every Country’s Sun
Best Live Gig: Porgy & Bess, Sketches of Spain, Usher Hall
Best Musical Discovery: R.L. Burnside

Best Film (cinema): Star Wars, The Last Jedi
Best Film (TV/DVD): The Lady in the Van, BBC2
Best Series (TV/DVD): Liar, BBC1

Best Fiction Book Read: The Thread, Victoria Hislop
Best Crime/Thriller Book Read: Tombstoning, Doug Johnstone
Best Author Discovery: Kamel Daoud (The Mersault Investigation)

Best Meal: Melenos, Lindos, for my birthday meal
Best Sesh: The Diners in Queensferry & Leith, May
Best Celebrity Encounter: Andy Hamilton, Kings Theatre
Single Most Embarrassing Moment: Going topless on a tram in Edinburgh city centre
Saddest Moment: Death of Lulu
Single Most Memorable Moment: Finally getting to meet Paul Auster at the Edinburgh Book Festival

In the next blog post, I’ll be looking forward to 2018 through a new set of GDRs. These are still being worked on; I keep finding myself getting carried away after the success of this year. It’s a hard task forcing myself not to bite off more than I can chew and to be realistic about the amount of work I think I can actually get through and keep developing in the right direction.

But then, that’s what the GDRs are for.




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NaNoWriMo: Done, Dusted and Over For Another Year


It’s all over!

NaNoWriMo is complete, at an end, finished, over, caput, at an end, over and done with. It is no more. Fin.

And I completed the challenge!

Tired and just a little surprised with the monumental effort it took to get myself over the 50k line, I’ve found that I still have the burning desire to get to the end of the story that often dissipates once the ultimate goal of NaNo disappears. I was worried that without the drive that comes from Nano, I might struggle to get over the end-of-story line but that’s proved not to be the case.

NaNoWriMo can do that to you. You spend so much time and effort working towards to the goal of 50k by Nov 30th it’s easy to lose sight of the real goal which is the end of the actual novel you’re writing — assuming your novel doesn’t end at 50k words. The way I’m going just now, I expect the first draft of ON THE ROCKS to be complete in the next 10 to 14 days.

How did I get there this year given such a terrible first two weeks? It was a basic strategy really. I obviously had to increase my daily minimum target and force a few 5k days into the equation over a couple of weekends. Not easy going, but the closer I got to the end of this story, the easier it seemed to become. Quite often I hit a middle sag or struggle towards the end but in the case of this particular novel, it was a real slow burner that has spread like a bush fire in July.

In the end, the last Sunday of November saw me write almost 7k in a single day, which for me is a big day and pulled me so far up toward the goal line that I actually made the 50k mark two days early. Nov 28th saw me cross the line when all along I thought I’d be struggling to make it at all by the 30th.

It just goes to show what hard work and determination can do.

Did I enjoy it? Aye, without a doubt. This was a real challenge this year and despite the bad start, I came racing through. I’ve found there’s actually been a little bit of regret now it’s all over and that I’m missing it. I guess I’ll just have to keep on churning out the novels then.

But is the story any good? It’s only a first draft but it has real potential. I know where it has to change, which characters need to be moulded further, where the plot needs to be tightened, where the holes are, etc. The bottom line is, look out for DI Lennox’s first full novel with him as the main character later in 2018.

So what next now that December is here?

As I already mentioned, the first half is to be dedicated to actually completing this first draft of ON THE ROCKS. If you’re interested, the wee tracker on the top right of this page will continue to be updated with my progress as I strive for what I’ve estimated to be a first draft target of 80,000 words.

Then it’s into analysis mode as I look back and compare all my 2017 goals with what I ended up achieving. Then I can build a plan for next year, which based on this year’s successes, I already know is going to be busy and very exciting.

Onwards and upwards.




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NaNoWriMo: The Half Way Mark


It’s half way through November and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is at its outward most point. We’ve reached the turn and already I’m heading back to the clubhouse with only one aim in mind: to reach the 50,000 word mark.

By this point I should be on 25k or more, averaging just under 2k per day and be sailing through my manuscript. Not so, for it has not been quite so easy as I’d first hoped. Not yet, anyway.

To date, my stats make for some pretty miserable reading. Although progress has been made, and what is down on paper is not altogether a total pile of shite, as of last night (15th) I have only managed to get down 10,468 words, which is approximately 15k short of where I should be. It also means I’ll only be at around 34k by the time midnight on November 30th arrives if I keep going at this rate. Since the kick-off, there’s only been 3 days that I breached the daily minimum required, 7 days when I fell short, and a full 5 days when absolutely zilch got written.

How has this happened with a plot that was devised well in advance and a healthy pattern of working?

Two things have hampered my progress:

  1. The main reason is that my working pattern was forced into an unforeseen change. I’m a morning writer – always have been, always will be – I’m more creative nearer dawn, clear in my mind, and as a result, the prose I write is concise, natural and offers the story in the right way. Thanks to over-zealous project managers in my day job, however, I suddenly had to start attending regular early meetings. This meant my working day was brought forward an hour and thus encroached on my writing time. I struggle to write at night because I’m tired and nowhere near as motivated to be creative as in those crucial early hours, so it was a real hit to my schedule.
  2. The second reason has had far less a bearing because it only involved having to re-think things in the story. As is normally the case when you set out on a new novel, things happen during the writing that you simply did not plan for. Maybe a character does or says something unexpected; perhaps a new character bursts onto the scene; or maybe holes in the plot are discovered that require a re-think in the direction of the story. It could be anything, and basically, in my case, this is what’s happened. A new character arrived at the front door (literally) that then required a total re-think of most of the story. This knocked me back because it would have been stupid to continue without considering the implications, but as I already mentioned, it wasn’t too big a thing to happen. The net effect was that I lost a couple of days writing entirely due to the mind mess it created, but on the up-side, the book will have ore depth and be more multi-dimentional because of it. If I’d been winging it from the start, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but seeing as I’d decided to plan ahead this year, it was a pain.

So that’s my half-time report. Progress made but the play has gone against me resulting in a couple of dodgy decisions and a change in my game plan. I’m down, but definitely not out. In my opinion, 40k in 15 days is still achievable if I can get some dedicated writing time and stick to it.

That’s why this weekend I intend to take part in a writing sprint. If I can somehow make up the missing 15k between now and the end of the weekend I will be back on track, but if I can do it AND get a few more words down too, then I’ll suddenly be ahead of the game.

This has the potential to be a game of two halves and the whole thing could change with the kick of a ball. Okay, so enough puns, but you get the drift.

Back to the page. See you in two weeks.

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National Novel Writing Month: The Debate


This November will see the 19th annual National Novel Writing Month take place. Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, the basic idea — if you haven’t heard of it — is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November.

It sounds easier than it is, and in fact, requires a fair amount of commitment to hit the 50k in the space of one month. You need to write a very basic minimum of 1700 words each day, which when you balance everything up against all of life’s other commitments — a day job, kids, family, social time, etc. — you can start to get an idea of the amount of time that’s required.

My good pal Devon Ellington wrote an interesting blog a few days ago called Reasons I Should Not Do Nano, about her internal debate on whether or not to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. In it, she balances up all of her life and work commitments against the pros for taking part, and her article made me think about my own situation.

The pros for taking part are strong. You kick off on day one with an idea for a grand new novel — it may be plotted out or you may decide to wing it — but the goal is to start a fresh and exciting new project, and push through it until you have 50k words down on paper. It’s hard work and it can be a lot of fun.

I first took part in 2006, armed with only a basic idea for a story, a laptop and no planning whatsoever. I started writing at 5am on the 1st November, and by the end of the month, I had 70,000 words and the core of a decent novel. Months later the book was completed, edited and produced, and it hit the shelves known as Slick.

The following year was pretty much the same (basic idea, no planning), except this time I only just crawled across the line. And because I hadn’t planned for it and struggled to make it to the 50k, I let the novel go, only picking it up sporadically in several half-hearted attempts to complete it. That novel never saw the light of day until July this year and it was called Gatecrash.

Back in 2006/07 though, I was working full-time both in my day job and as a freelance writer and website designer. My time was fully occupied and I had begun to lose sight of the writing priorities that meant more to me. Since then, there has been a five-year spell where I never wrote a single word and used much of the time to re-evaluate what I wanted to do. The end result was to focus on thriller fiction as well as punk poetry under a pseudonym; two work-streams instead of the multiples I had running all at once ten years previous.

So this year I approach November in a good place and with a good life balance already in existence, and this includes plenty of time to commit to writing new novels. Moving into late September, my plan had been to take a pause in the novel planning that was already underway for my holiday in Greece, and use that two weeks to work on a new chapbook. This would then give me two weeks to finish up the new novel planning when I returned home in October, and I would use NaNoWriMo as the spur to write it.

What I hadn’t counted on was the sudden flash of inspiration I had for another novel I never saw coming, which has since taken over everything. It’s to be my first novel with Bob Lennox as the protagonist as opposed to the supporting role he played in Slick, and it’s actually pissing me off having to wait until 1st November before starting to write it.

But that’s the whole point. I’m excited about it and itching to get underway. I’ve got a burning idea with some great characters in a great location with some great thrilling twist points. In short, it is perfect for NaNoWriMo and will be the next novel to come after the next one already lined up to be published around the turn of the year. So you can probably expect to see it sometime in 2018.

Some people use NaNoWriMo to finish existing projects, some to continue other forms of manuscript, and others to test out other writing forms as an alternative. But I believe the spirit of the whole thing is what gives it the biggest pull of all, and that is that you start a new novel on day one and see it through to the end. It means all other projects sit aside (possible in my case; not if you’re a working writer for example) leaving you to focus solely on that one story.

For me, NaNoWriMo gives me the chance to fully dedicate to a novel and this year the timing is simply perfect. I’d be writing the new Lennox novel regardless, but with NaNoWriMo being just around the corner, I have the chance to be involved and give it a really good shot at completing it.

Of course, NaNoWriMo isn’t just an online project, it has a physical form too. There’s a community of writers all over the world taking part, and in cafes and bookshops and other spaces, local writers come together and support each other in their individual projects, all in the name of the 50k goal. I’ve met a lot of people through NaNoWriMo, and some I still know to this day, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually be as involved this year as much as I was ten years ago.

If you’re interested in tracking my progress, I’ll likely post a few blog posts as the journey progresses (time allowing). I’ve also added a wee word tracker to the blog (top-right menu) and there’s always Twitter and Facebook too.

So here we go. The novel is plotted (to an extent), the laptop is charged, I’m in first gear and the engine is revving waiting for the green light on 1st November. Bring it on!


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What Makes You Think You’re Any Good at Writing?

There’s a common misconception that if you’re a writer, it logically follows that you must be loaded because you obviously sell a lot of books. It also seems to be the common perception that if you’re a well-known writer you must be a millionaire because all your books are likely being turned into TV or film adaptions. Subsequently, if you’re a lesser-known writer who has a full-time job and writes in his or her spare time, then you’re not a serious writer at all — you’re merely playing at being a writer.

I find this to be of extreme frustration.

Among the first questions people always ask me when they discover I’m a writer is:

  • “how many books have you sold?”
  • “do you make a lot of money?”

They don’t actually get that I don’t write to make serious amounts of money (and by that I mean tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds). Sure, I make money from all my books; I make enough to put back into promoting my work or a damn good meal in a nice restaurant. I don’t make enough to buy Lamborghinis or yachts and nor am I trying to.

The reason I write is simple, unbelievable and unremarkable: I enjoy it. I don’t consider it a hobby. For me, it’s a second career (the one I really enjoy) sustained by the earning of money from another source. Going fishing is a hobby; writing is a serious compulsion.

In an ideal world, yes, I would be a full-time writer. I would be sat by my private pool somewhere sunny, churning out thrillers and travelling the world while raking in royalties and selling my book rights to Hollywood. But that’s not realistic because if I wasn’t enjoying it, it would just become another crappy job and therefore a chore I would rather avoid. The only way, therefore, is to continue writing while I do enjoy it; anything that happens thereafter is merely by chance.

Ian Rankin once told me over coffee that the only difference between me and him was that he’d been writing longer, had gotten good at it, and had sold more books than me. He didn’t set out to be a world-famous writer; he just wrote. And that’s why every book he writes must be better than the last, at least in his eyes, for when that burn to create disappears, so too will the book sales and so too will the royalties.

It’s the same for me. Each novel I put out simply has to be better than the one before. I have a desire to learn from each book and develop as a writer. It’s something I take so seriously, I’m actually prepared to devote months of time and effort into learning my craft and improving how I construct a story, then writing it down.

When people don’t see this because they think it’s a game I play in my spare time and not something to be taken seriously, or assume that I simply fart around with all those words and therefore cannot possibly be any good at writing, the frustration grows further and further.

So I’ll keep writing while that creative fire is there. For it’s not being a good writer that makes you rich it is merely luck. To be truly rich one must be true to oneself, and for that to remain true I must do one thing: write the books I want to write and appreciate those moments when some unknown person approaches me and says: “hey, I really liked your last book…”

It’s not a game, it’s quite serious. And with each book I write, I get better and better which results in more and more enjoyment. Whether I get “lucky” by other peoples’ perceptions is not up to me — in my opinion, I already am.

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Greece Provides the Inspiration Yet Again

We arrived back from the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes in the early hours of Sunday morning, after a wonderfully relaxing (lazy) and productive holiday. It’s the first two-week vacation we’ve had since we visited Sri Lanka in 2015, and with all the recent change and upheaval that 2017 has seen — new jobs and a new home — it was a most welcome time away for me and my wife on the largest of the Dodecanese Islands.

The plan for the holiday was simple: chill out and get some serious sun and relaxation. This was achieved to a great level of success as we enjoyed an average daily temperature of 29 C (84 F) along with unbroken blue skies, a high sun, and an ever higher moon. The full moon on the 5th turned out to be a Harvest Moon, and the sight of it hanging large and golden above the bay outside our balcony was a true sight to behold.

We hired a car and toured the island in depth, covering all corners of the island from medieval Rhodes Town to the windy west coast where I revisited the sight of my first ‘lads holiday’ back in 1992, the easy-going east coast with its luscious beaches and fishing coastline, and the beach at Prasonisi where the two seas (Aegean and Mediterranean) meet for some serious surfing.

To cover the inaccessible areas inland, we took a safari trip through the hills and valleys, followed dried out river beds and experienced all kinds of honey delights, strawberry liqueur, and firewater. We experienced the hard-worn areas of the island; Greece at its rawest under the blazing sun.

The food was amazing. The hotel we’d booked threw up some great stuff including fruits of all kind, fresh fish including sea bass, Greek salads, tzatziki, souvlaki, moussaka, the smoothest feta, and the freshest olives grown on the grounds of the hotel itself.

The food in the small cafes and restaurants that we stopped on our travels topped the lot though. I had the most amazing grilled octopus in a food hut on Prasonisi beach. It was also my birthday while we were away, and to celebrate it, my wife had booked a meal for us in one of the top restaurants on the island: Melenos. The food combined with the views across Lindos bay made it an amazing experience — the grilled Sea Bream providing the exquisite taste to go with the memory. This restaurant was so good in fact, we returned on the final night of the holiday to have another go at the menu, and noted just how good it was when noted Rick Stein and his wife walked in to dine at the next table — kudos enough for me!

But it was on the creative writing front that Rhodes yet again proved to be as unexpected as it always has been inspirational. In the past, it has provided the inspiration for some of the poems in Poolside Poetry 2, and of course, Greener is the Grass was written as a direct result of experiences I had when I last visited in 2011.

My plan had been to put the planning of my next novel to one side and pick it up again during the two of weeks prior to NaNoWriMo in November. I would then use the two weeks on holiday to write a new chapbook on Rhodes going back over my visits there spanning the last 25 years. This was largely accomplished, and I returned home with a notebook of new poems and ideas for work a new chapbook, Rhodes: Then and Now to be published under my poetry pseudonym, Chas Stramash.

However, on the 1st day of October, the very day after my birthday, while sleeping off a hangover on the beach, an idea — or rather a character and an idea — popped into my head and would not clear out to give me peace. The idea was too strong, the visualizations too clear, and the desire to write it down too powerful. Around three hours later I had the outline of a new novel down in my notepad. It was as simple as that: all the characters, the high-level synopsis, the twists, the themes, and the title. All done.

This new novel will now be the one I shall write for NaNoWriMo, and I’ll put back the one I was already working one until this one is completed — it really is a must-write story.

The character that has caused so much unrest in my mind and that demanded the new story takes precedence, is DI Bobby Lennox, a supporting character from my first novel, Slick, who received a lot of good feedback. I’ve often thought about doing a new novel with him as the main character but wasn’t sure the direction I was going to take it. For some reason, while lying on Vlycha Beach, he barged his way into my mind and threw a story at me set in Rhodes that I just could not resist.

Planning shall continue, therefore, until the end of the month, and the writing will commence on 1st November. I’m aching to begin…

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