The King Whisperers by Doctor Kerwin Swint takes as its subject matter a vast array of some 47 characters including Machiavelli, Dick Cheney, the entire cast of Hitler’s support act, and Rasputin. An impressive entourage of personalities that are, with the exception of Stalin, the figures behind the great political movers and shakers of history. It is a book that if one is to believe the marketing promises an enlightening and entertaining read. Unfortunately I found it overly simplistic, and more worthy of Fox News than a place in the historical cannon.
April 27th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I’ve been interviewed by Roxelana, for her blog, about e-pubbing and my work. Check it out here. I always find it strange reading back what I have said, in fact I always quickly scan the interview, almost through half shut eyes, hardly recognising the person that I was, uncertain of my own voice. In this case I got my wife to read it over just to make sure that I hadn’t said anything that might get me into trouble. It’s funny, with the other interviews that I have done for Heaven Sent, I was sent the questions and was able to take my time and consider the answers. For this one I spoke to Anna over Skype. It was a really lovely conversation. We chatted for a good hour or so. I came away thinking, that went really well. But as soon as the link came through I thought cripes, what did I say? Please God, don’t let me have ranted – I am prone to the odd rant, particularly after a few glasses of wine – not that I had any that night – no no no – sober as judge. After the interview I went for a long bike ride into the countryside surrounding where I live. It was late dusk and everywhere there was blossom. Anyway, I think I have done OK. Phew. Many many thanks to Roxelana.
The last moult of a caterpillar is quite an event. The new skin of the organism is not the skin of before but a new form, the pupa. The dermal cells of a butterfly are trimorphic: caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly are all the same. The pupa is a metamorphic transmorphification machine. The larva is dismantled chemically and the embryonic cells divide. Within hours of pupation the adult comes into being, its characteristics are formed, wings, mouth parts, thoracic muscles and legs. When the butterfly breaks free of the pupa haemoglobin is pumped into the wings and they expand and the hormone buriscon makes them hard. In the wind the wings twitch until they take command of the air and in a multi-coloured moment of self-expression the creature lifts, floats and flies.
The first time he saw her a shudder passed through him like the word of God through a virgin. He was sixteen years old and on his way home from school, lost in thought thinking about Christ and pain and torment, scourges, blood, demons and eternal damnation; all the subjects that dominated his life as he had grown up. Walking with his head down, not noticing the empty street. The rise of the black tarmac in the road. The foundation brush of dirt. Or the crisp packet in a crinkle twist on the wind.
April 21st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
The very esteemed and lovely Stacey Donaldson invited me to write a post for her excellent book blog, about going Indian Jones and putting my novel out all on mi tod. Check it out here.
April 21st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
Fantastic! Another humdinger review on GoodReads. I am doing a guest post on Stacy’s site, The Write To Make A Living, which should be up later today, will keep you posted.
Heaven Sent is like Romeo and Juliet turned inside out. Two kids from two different worlds fall in love. Carlo is from a prudish Catholic family, while Daizee is a prostitute who has seen and experienced more than most adults. The sheltered Carlo finds himself thrust into the world that his parents desperately tried to shield from him – all for love.
This book is not for the light hearted, as the subject matter is very dark. If you enjoy complex characters and you like pondering societal norms, morals, and ethics, this is the book for you. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. My eyes teared up at the end.
The author did a fantastic job showing the contrasts of these characters, even down to Daizee’s accent. Brilliant!
April 20th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I’m interviewed by the very lovely Evie Bookish, of Vancouver, BC, and she is offering readers the chance to win a couple of copies of Heaven Sent. What could be better? So make your merry way over to here.
April 19th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I've been interviewed by Daizee a character from Heaven Sent, at the top of a castle tower, over-looking a moonlit ocean, on the blog vvb32reads. There is also a book giveaway. Check it out.
Diavolino by Steve Emmett, the new kid on the horror block, is a spectacular, horrific and devilish romp that has all the catastrophic ambition of a 2012 disaster movie and it doesn't let you down.
Architect Tom Lupton is brought to the island of Diavolino to design and oversee the building of Sir Roger's Playhouse only to find that the island is the doorway to Hell – but of course it is! Before he knows it Tom and his family are caught up in some seriously dark shenanigans. And we have it all, earthquakes, freak weather, monks that are orgiastically charged devils and a creature that munches on skulls like they are hard boiled sweets. It rollicks along. Moments of pause are nicely played with gentle evocative prose. The choreography of action and spectacle point perfect.
If there is criticism then it would be that some of the decisions made by the characters seem a little rushed and not earned – the narrative flies ahead like a Hollywood blockbuster and as a result characterisation is truncated. The result is that a couple of choices taken by the heroes could have been explored more to make them work – an almost ridiculous statement considering the sheer enormity of the horror at play, but for me psychological logic is important, it supports my suspension of disbelief. But this is a minor niggle, Diavolino's sense of scale is no holds barred and Emmett's play on form is top notch and knowing, he writes with a twinkle in his eye and it's the twinkle of a rough diamond.
Diavolino is a big budget opera of doom and damnation and a hoot to boot. Go get now.
Click on the more link and allow me to introduce you to the very stupendous Steve Emmett.
April 18th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
The last time I saw him he was wearing a schoolboy’s uniform – white shirt, school tie, short grey trousers, long grey socks, boy scout green garters and a pair of black brogue shoes. His hair had a side parting and his boy-band quiff was brushed flat and neat. He opened the door, standing behind it so that he could not be seen from the Covent Garden alley, just a cock spit away from the Garrick Gentleman’s Club. He let me in and shut the door. We stood at the bottom of the stairs in the shabby dark stairwell. He looked up at me, a couple of inches shorter than the ’6 foot one’ he claimed on his adverts. The uniform made him look even smaller and that he had the limbs of a child.
April 17th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
*****”Xavier Leret is an accomplished author of screenplays and short stories; “Heaven Sent” is his debut novel. Leret displays a deftness with language and dialect that leaves the reader feeling eerily connected with the teenaged protagonists, who feel severed from the society in which they live.
Young Carlo struggles against his parents' unrealistic expectations and the crushing weight of their religious fanaticism. Carlo is a “good” boy with a bright future, but he finds himself irresistibly attracted to Daisy, a young prostitute who does what she must to survive.
“Heaven Sent” addresses themes of class, morality and judgement, as Carlo and Daisy fall into love and iniquity. This is a gripping, fast-paced read that will keep you guessing until the final scene plays out.” Majorie on GoodReads
Check out the review here
April 15th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
"A heartbreaking, beautiful, romantic story, if you ever find the same love that these main characters have keep it!"
Check out the whole review at mybookaddiction
And I'm interviewed on mybookaddiction too.
I've been interviewed by the up and coming new horror fiction star Steve Emmett. You can find the interview here.
April 11th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
*****"Mix together Romeo and Juliette with Bonnie and Clyde and throw them into J.D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and you'll get an explosive, brilliant and breath taking novel: Heaven Sent, by debut author Xavier Leret." evie-bookish Read the rest of the review here.
Keep an eye out on Evie's site as she will be interviewing me next week, I am also writing a guest post for this week. And, as if there could be no more – she'll be holding a giveaway of Heaven Sent – what could be better?
Other news, I'm just putting the finishing touches to some questions that electric author Steve Emmett has thrown my way – so keep an eye out on his site too – (check out the video of the Canadian ex minister of defense too). I will of course make announcements here.
Finally you can buy Heaven Sent here. Go Get!
April 10th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
***** Heaven Sent is a self-published book by debut author Xavier Leret. When I started to read it I was ready for the disappointment that all too regularly accompanies the foray into self-published books. I could not have been more wrong.
In his telling of the story of Carlo and Daisy, two young people from opposite sides of the tracks, Leret lays bare many of our prejudices. With great skill he subtly tackles the damage which over-zealous religious beliefs cause to the lives of the innocent every day, and how the results are the direct opposite of what is intended. I was reminded of the legionary making that final wound in Christ's side, forever a weeping hole in the doctrine of The Church. He draws his bow across the strings of child abuse and prostitution with all the sensitivity of a great violinist, the music rendering us weak and drawing tears to the rims of our eyes.
It is not an easy read. If your book library consists of Jeffrey Archer and Stephenie Meyer you may not like Heaven Sent. Leret has opted to write Daisy's heavy Bristolian accent literally and it takes some getting used to. And there are typos that a good edit would resolve. But none of these should stop you reading it and appreciating it for what it is: a work of genius.
*****"A novel with a lasting effect…highly recommended!" Amazon.com
*****"A heartbreaking, beautiful, romantic story, if you ever find the same love that these main characters have keep it!" Book Girl Addict
*****"Leret displays a deftness with language and dialect that leaves the reader feeling eerily connected with the teenaged protagonists, who feel severed from the society in which they live." Marjorie. GoodReads
*****"a work of genius." Steve Emmett
This is a copy of the article that I wrote for Sheila Deeth's blog.
When I began Heaven Sent, it was a eureka moment, not in the sense that I had cracked something profound like light speed or the secrets to eternal life, I just knew that I had started my first novel. I hadn't set out to start it. It wasn't like when I wrote plays. I would announce that my theatre company was going to tour a play and it would be about this or that, and then I would write it. Heaven Sent didn't begin like that. I just wrote a thousand words. That thousand words were about sixteen year old Carlo, except that then he was fourteen. In that thousand words were three sentences where Carlo, a lad from an extremely religious background met a girl called Daizee, whose step father sold her to sailors from out the back of his van when she was just three years old.
None of that first thousand words made it into the novel, even though at the time I thought they were a brilliant thousand words. But what I thought was really special was Daizee and Carlo. Carlo was like everything that I wanted to be but didn't have the courage to be. And Daizee – well I just saw her through his eyes and she was dazzling. She was everything that would scare the hell out a parent. Crude, guttural, hard and yet vulnerable – though she would only show that side to Carlo. But more than this, she understands life. She knows that nothing is what it seems because she has been abused by the upright as well as the lowly.
Two weeks later I had sketched out what I thought the story would be. Then of course the characters decided to take over the narrative. Daizee and Carlo taught me how to write the book. They were very patient. They let me veer off on tangents and experiment in style. They let me have two or three years off when I wrote other plays or made a couple of movies – though they were talking to me constantly – Daizee especially. She was in my ear all the time. When I wanted to give up she would curse me, calling me all sorts.
Just after Christmas a year ago I sat down to finish the story, nothing was going to get in the way. I hadn't touched it for a year and I was angry at myself for not completing it.
Back then I thought Daizee and Carlo would have an equal presence. I wanted it to be equal. It took me half of last year to realise that actually it was really Carlo's story. Not to denigrate Daisy – I had written huge passages of her back story, that were shocking and disturbing – some of it I still think is extraordinary, but it was too much for most readers. And it wasn't very present, it was in the past and a story needs to move forward. I had written her stuff as first person narrative, she spoke directly to the reader and because it was so disturbing it was alienating. Heaven Sent is dark as it is, but to have added in that detail would have put off too many readers. So I/we compromised. Also during this last year I cut all the work of the five previous years. That was difficult.
Daizee's accent is thick Bristolian. Bristolian is almost like another language. I began to experiment with the accent over the summer and found that it made me experiment with her vocabulary. Using the accent gave her a very clear poetry and rhythm. I loved the way that visually it stood out from the page. It makes Daizee appear from out of this world. I think also it immediately makes people prejudiced against her – which is how most of the characters in the book are when confronted by her. She is difficult to understand and her accent will suggest to many that she is trash. But not to Carlo. And because he listens and loves… then perhaps…