Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Spalluccipedia: Spliff and His Origins

In this month’s Spalluccipedia entry, I want to have a chat about a much loved member of the Sam Spallucci books, the Reverend James Francis MacIntyre, or “Spliff” to his friends.

One of the longest running members of the Spallucciverse, Spliff first met Sam when they were students at Luneside University about nineteen years ago. Living on the same corridor, they quickly bonded and formed a friendship that would last way beyond graduation. 





Spliff acquired his nickname as he was known as the guy on the corridor who was always able to lay his hands on varying recreational drugs, something which he put behind him when, after university, he went to selection conference and was accepted into training for the Church of England. Ordination subsequently followed, along with a number of disastrous  postings in numerous parish churches. It was finally decided that he should be placed somewhere where he could do little harm and, at the start of the Spallucci series, we find him settled in for a few years as the chaplain of his old university.


Somewhat of a known maverick, he still managed to get himself into trouble with the authorities of  both the church and academia, however he was greatly loved by the students and was never fired, even though his libido often found him in embarrassing situations. Having said that, in the Spallucci series it is apparent that his ecclesiastical superiors are trying to persuade him that perhaps it is time for him to move to a country parish. 


Sam continually refers to his best friend as his rock and sees him as someone who keeps him continually grounded in the world of weirdness that is constantly unfolding around him. However, by Troubled Souls it is apparent that Spliff is, in fact, ill and is hiding the details of his condition from Sam, something which proves to create tension between the two friends.


A number of characters in the Spallucciverse have a certain amount of grounding in real life. Spliff is most definitely one of these. He is actually based around three characters (as I mention in the video), bringing to life a colourful character with real depth of personality who is always there for Sam through thick and thin.


www.aschambers.co.uk


Thursday, 30 December 2021

Writing Workshop: Location


I just want to have a quick word today about the importance of location when it comes to writing, especially in works of fiction.





It is supremely important when we set our story somewhere that the place where it is set actually feels believable. This can be a real tripping point for books. We may be enjoying the characters, the dialogue and the plot, but there is something that feels somewhat askew, something that we can’t quite put our finger on. More often than not, it is the place where the story is taking place, most likely because it feels vague or unbelievable. It could be that the author has set a story in a city that they have never visited, so it lacks the smell of local cuisine or the sights that one would expect to see from that place’s landmarks. This would be like me setting my stories in New York. Sure, I’ve seen it on the television and in films, but there’s no way that I could do it justice. It would feel like a cardboard cutout of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty which have been smeared in hot dogs and bagels! Or it could be a fantasy land where the writer is basically making it up as they go along, so the reader just does not feel engaged with a wishy washy background to an otherwise decent tale. The reader just sees elves and orcs battling it out on a landscape which is continually changing shape and not adhering to ever-changing arbitrary rules.


So, my suggestion, when you are starting out, is to take a place that is familiar to you and use that. It could be your country, your town or even your house. Explore details of the surroundings and look at what they mean to your characters. Include things about these places that are special to you, and your love (or even, hatred) of those places will shine through in your writing and help the reader to engage with your story.


This is why I set the bulk of my stories in my hometown of Lancaster. It is familiar to me; I know all its little quirks and details. I can then bring these in a neat little package to my readers, the vast majority of whom have never been here, and they can immediately pick up a sense of the city and its surroundings. Plus, they can see how the location affects my characters such as Sam Spallucci, my investigator of the paranormal.


Have a go. See how you can get on. Take somewhere that really means something to you and just play with it.


www.aschambers.co.uk.





Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Spalluccipedia - Sam Spallucci

     I often get asked, "Where did the idea for sam Spallucci come from?"

    The short answer to this is a teenage blend of Mike Hammer and, amongst other movies, a pirated copy of An American Werewolf in London. I was a huge fan of the former and terrified by the latter (I still can't open the front door if it's dark and the Muppets are on TV. I'm sure you know which scene I'm referring too...). I was also heavily influenced by an old Hammer werewolf whodunnit The Beast Must Die, as I explained in my little video from January 2021.



    So, one evening, when I should have been doing my chemistry homework, I sat down at this ancient Bulgarian typewriter that my dad had obtained from god knows where and wrote this, what I called, a novel (it was in fact just five or six pages…) about a fedora wearing private eye who gets called in to track down a werewolf that’s rampaging through a small village. The next day, I showed it to my mate as we sat at the back of the chemistry lesson avoiding being asked questions on a subject for which neither of us had prepared. He read it through and said that he really enjoyed it, especially the detective. He said that it was like Sam Spade meets the Wolfman. I took this as high praise indeed and as I had actually neglected to give my detective a memorable name, this suggestion got me to thinking. Sat on the other side of me was a girl named Maria Gallucci. I took Spade and Gallucci, then just glued them together and Sam Spallucci, investigator of the paranormal was born.

    Sam sort of stayed like that for about ten years or so until I drifted back to him in my twenties and started playing around with certain scenarios and realising that he could fit into the same universe as Fallen Angel, another novel that I was chipping away at. So it was that I finally knuckled down in my mid-thirties and, just after my fortieth The Casebook of Sam Spallucci was finished.

    At the time of writing this, I'm up to Sam Six (Bloodline) with four more due for release over the next few years before he catches up with the events of Fallen Angel. So, he's got a way to go yet and I hope we enjoy the journey alongside Lancaster's very own investigator of the paranormal.


    www.aschambers.co.uk

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Monday, 21 June 2021

Bobby Normal 2 is on its way!

Welcome to a slightly later than normal June update!

The month of May proved to be incredibly busy, albeit mainly on the editing front rather than the writing.


With regards to the second Bobby Normal book (Bobby Normal and the Virtuous Man) this is now all finished, formatted and ready to go. As you can see from the proof that dropped through my letterbox yesterday, I have another amazing piece of art from Liam Shaw for the cover. It is looking like the book should be published in August with the Kickstarter launching on 12th July. Number three, Bobby Normal and the Children of Cain is well under way and is steadily growing whilst I carry on with the huge task of editing Sam Spallucci: Bloodline.



Talking of which…


The main edit of Bloodline is now finished and I am onto the tidying up/proofreading stage. I am incredibly pleased with this one as it has taken me just a year from start to finish, which is a record for a Sam book. I have awesome cover art, again from Liam, and will be showing this off in a couple of months. All under wraps at the moment. There will be a huge Kickstarter for this project in October with lots of giveaways and, don’t forget, all Seraph members in my Book Club will receive a signed copy of this and BNVM as soon as they are published.


Another book they will receive will be If Ye Loathe Me, my next anthology. This is also down to the fine edit stage and should see the light of day about February next year, around the same time as  Bobby Normal and the Children of Cain. (In fact this could very well be a double release.) There are some cracking stories in here, including an extra epilogue to Bloodline and three (yes, three!) prologues to next year’s Sam Spallucci: Fury of the Fallen, when we follow the traumatic fallout from Bloodline and witness the arrival of fallen angels Asherah and Asmodeus in Lancaster. But enough on that for now, as that way spoilers lie…


Anyway, take care and keep looking for what lurks in the shadows!


Austin.




Saturday, 15 May 2021

The exciting month of May!

 Greetings one and all and welcome to this May update.


So, the big news of the month is that Bobby Normal and the Eternal Talisman is now published and available to be purchased. If you would like to jump into the adventures of Bobby and his kid sister as they are drawn into a world of intrigue in the post apocalyptic world of the Divergent Lands, then there are three ways to grab a copy for yourself (or even for a loved one).


The easiest method would be to nip over to Amazon. There are links for this over on my website. Also on my website, you can order a signed copy, should you want something a little bit more unique. Just drop me a line with your details on the contact page.






The third method, and the one that I am most excited about, is my shiny new Book Club. It has four levels of membership, offering you more and more weekly goodies depending on which level you subscribe to. Until the end of May, all new subscribers to the top level, Seraph, will have a signed copy of Bobby Normal and the Eternal Talisman posted out to them as part of their membership and at no extra cost. If, after that month you feel the Book Club isn’t for you, then you can cancel your membership. Details of all the membership levels are here on my website.


Now, I’m not sleeping on my laurels with the publication of BNET. Far from it. The second book in that series, Bobby Normal and the Virtuous Man, is currently at the proof-readers and I’m hoping to get that out late summer after a Kickstarter campaign, so watch this space for that. There will be all manner of rewards accompanying that one.


Also nearing completion is the next Sam Spallucci book, Bloodline. Set directly after the events of Troubled Souls, it will follow Sam as not only does he have to deal with the lycanthropic Bloodline of Abel setting their sights on Lancaster, but also the return of a romantic face from his past. I am currently targeting November as the publication time zone for this one. It’s been a blast to write and the artwork by Liam Shaw is outstanding. The Seraph members of my Book Club will be the first ones to see that, later this month.


Right, I’d better shoot off and let you get back to your lives.

Stay safe and keep looking for what lurks in the shadows!

Austin.






Thursday, 15 April 2021

A Release Date for Bobby Normal!

A warm welcome to one and all on what is a glorious April morning. 

First, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last few months with the production of Bobby Normal and the Eternal Talisman. Special thanks go to my lovely patrons who subscribe on a monthly basis, receiving all manner of goodies every week. Also, a big dose of gratitude to all of you who backed my immensely successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s overwhelming success far exceeded my humble expectations and it was wonderful to see, for the first time on a Kickstarter, new readers signing up to the ever-expanding Spallucciverse.

 

BNET is currently scheduled to be published on 30th April.


It will take me a couple of weeks to get my physical copies after that but, once they are in my possession, I shall post them out to my Seraph patrons, my Kickstarter backers and all those who have pre-ordered them directly from me. If you would like a paperback copy, please drop me a line through the contact form on my website: www.aschambers.co.uk. Alternatively, should you fancy a Kindle version, you can pre-order one from Amazon.

 

I am hoping, once things are safer, to hold a signing at First Age Comics on Moor Lane in Lancaster. I am also planning ahead for something a bit larger either late this year, or sometime next year. But more on that as it evolves...

 

So, after BNET, what next?

 

Well, be prepared to be hit with not one, not two, but potentially THREE books. The second Bobby Normal book, Bobby Normal and the Virtuous Man is in its final stages of editing, as is my next anthology If Ye Loathe Me. It is possible that BNVM might actually come out late summer, depending on time constraints. I’ve really been in the zone with Bobby, and the stories are coming thick and fast. I think you’ll love them. If Ye Loathe Me, although it is near completion, won’t be published until early 2022 – something creepy for those dark, wintry nights. This is because it contains stories that are set directly after the next Sam Spallucci book, Bloodline.

 

And what of Sam’s next adventure? We left him hanging at the end of Troubled Souls with the knowledge that his ex, Caroline Adamson, wanted him to appear on her prime time TV show and with strong hints that the Bloodline of Abel were alive and kicking in Lancaster. Well, Bloodline will pick up exactly where Troubled Souls finished and, trust me, it will be the biggest roller coaster yet for poor Sam. More on that next time. The book itself is half way through its big edit and the incredibly talented Liam Shaw is currently creating some amazing lycanthropic cover art, so I am hoping to publish in November. Ideal for Christmas!

 

Don’t forget that amongst all this writing, I have a steadily growing YouTube channel. Make sure to check it out and subscribe.

 

That’s all for now.

Take care and stay safe!

Austin.




Monday, 15 February 2021

Bobby Normal is on his way!

Greetings one and all!

I hope this newsletter finds you safe and well as we continue to dip a tentative toe into 2021, hoping that we find the water pleasantly warm and not infested with starving piranhas.


So, over the last month or so, I’ve been hinting at my next project, Bobby Normal and the Eternal Talisman. I thought now would be a good time to fill you in on some details regarding this new venture for me. 


BNET is going to be the first of five novellas set in the future, after the Divergence has come about. Kanor has risen, unleashed his constructs (and a few more horrors besides) and humanity has been reduced to a pitiful remnant. Into this post-apocalyptic scenario are born our main character, Bobby, and his sister Katy. Bobby is early teens and his sister is a feisty eight-year-old. When the series start, they are eking out a meagre existence in the village of Irlingbury, a few years after their father was executed by Shadow Wraiths, a type of uber-construct. 


Not only is life hard for Bobby and Katy, constantly having to hide from the bully Teller whose father is a quisling for the tyrannical rule of Kanor, but one day they find themselves tasked with having to deliver the Eternal Talisman into the hands of the Man of Virtue who is currently residing in the neighbouring village of Orchester. It has been said that the talisman will be a tool that will help him to destroy the “black dragon”, Kanor.


BNET tells the story of Bobby and Katy as they journey out of their home village for the first time in their lives and the adventures that they have on the way to Orchester. They are chased through derelict sewers by a horde of rats, meet an elderly enigmatic traveller known only as Cutter and are constantly tormented and tested by the vile Teller, leading to a horrific and unexpected climax.


I thoroughly enjoyed writing this novella, which is currently in its formatting stage and I adore the amazing artwork that the talented Liam Shaw devised for its cover. It will be published this Easter and I hope to have a Kickstarter up and running in March to cover the publication costs. More on that next month but, in the meantime, all my Seraph level patrons are currently enjoying teaser extracts from the book in the run up to its publication and they will receive a signed copy through their letter boxes as soon as it sees the light of day. If you want more details about becoming a patron, then please visit my Patron page.

 

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope February treats you and yours well and I look forward to chatting to you next month.

 

All the best, 

Austin.