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I am a writer of novels, plays and film scripts. I live in Manchester England with my partner Andy and our teenage son Jack. Andy and I started my Newsletter Raw Meat and began publishing with Rawprintz in 1999 to showcase my work. Some of you may be confused by my continual references to Ziggy, that’s my wheelchair! Both Andy and I are writers. I’ve recently lost my sight – hence the continual reference to my being confused! Thanks for visiting.

My Comrades...


Catching The Light - Chapter One


In a land not so far away, there is an island in the middle of a massive peat bog that is said to be enchanted, because it is completely shrouded in mist and can only be reached by a small boat; and only sometimes. Most of the time the island isn’t there, and even the slim boats moored on the mainland to take you there can not be seen. The peat bog itself is too treacherous to walk across – many people have missed their footing and been swallowed by the water – so the only way to reach the island is by the slim boats that are steered carefully across the bog by strange creatures, who are partly human and partly frog. They resemble frogs to differing degrees – some of the boatmen simply have a reptilian quality and colour to their skin, while others are almost completely frog like, with wide mouths set into huge, flat faces, never speaking, but just croaking from time to time.

If you’re lucky enough to be taken across the bog to the island, and actually feel the island’s solid ground beneath your feet, then you might be able to meet a few more strange creatures who inhabit the island, along with many children. The children are held by an enchantment. They are entranced by the magician, who is also a giant – but a very friendly one, who’s name is Oscar. Everybody, all the people on the island, are quite willing captives. They come and listen to the magician’s stories, a truly magical experience, you can never forget. As the children on the island grow up, they develop into different animals, though some of these changes are only very slight. Some of the changes overtake the child completely, so that there is little human left.

Although Oscar knew that he had magical powers, he didn’t want to be in control of the island, and so when the other inhabitants, the children and the animals, asked him to be their king, he refused.

“No,” he told them, “you don’t need anyone to be in charge. That would only lead to bad things happening.”

“But Oscar, we want you to be our king!” cried out a child who looked somewhat similar to a hyena. “You don’t need to control us, we just want you to look like a king, all covered in jewels and golden embroidery!”

“Well…. let me think about it,” said Oscar, turning away from the group of friendly creatures. As he did so, he noticed a beautiful woman – she resembled a lovely young doe with great brown eyes and a soft muzzle.

“Hello,” Oscar said to her, gathering up the hem of his magician’s robe so as not to trip over it. “I don’t believe that we’ve met… what’s your name?”

The doe-woman blinked her long eyelashes demurely.

“ My name is Constance, I’m very pleased to meet you,” she said. “Will you really become our king?”

Oscar smiled slowly, taking Constance’s hand in both of his.

“Only if you’ll become my queen,” he said firmly.

A great cheer rose gradually from the inhabitants of the island, who were all assembled nearby waiting for Oscar to begin telling his enchanted stories.

“Long live king Oscar and queen Constance!” they shouted, and burst into spontaneous applause.

Soon after this they were married, and there was a great, colourful wedding with lots of flowers, food, wine and music… the wild celebration continued for several days and nights, with all the children joining in, of course. Following the wedding came the crowning of the new king and queen; both of their crowns were garlands of flowers, Oscar’s was made with white lilies and yellow sunflowers, and Constance’s was made with blue and purple wild flowers.

The inhabitants of the enchanted island built a beautiful palace for the king and queen, filling it with richly coloured silks and exotic jewels and embroidered tapestries… everything about the palace was carefully chosen and designed so that every colour and texture either blended into each other or contrasted sharply, so that the whole was absolutely a delight to look at. Both Oscar the magician and queen Constance were perfectly satisfied to be surrounded by such beauty… which was made even more special by the magician’s powers of enchantment which crept over everything and held it in place.

“I think I am the happiest magician alive!” King Oscar told Constance one evening, as they sat together upon the gold embroidered couch. From a birdcage came the gentle chirruping of wild birds. “I want for nothing.”

Constance smiled at him.

“Not even our own child, Oscar?”

Oscar took Constance in his arms and spun her around in a wild dance. Around them flowers came showering down like confetti, though nobody was quite certain where they came from.

Outside the Palace Beautiful the crowds of children and creatures all cheered and jumped, the great singing and shouting rising above their heads in a joyous melody. The colours of the flowers they threw all mingled together with the colours of their scarves in perfect harmony. Most of the inhabitants of this enchanted island were artists in one way or another, and as they had created the Palace Beautiful, so they felt they had also created the new king and queen.

But not all of the crowd joined in the celebration; one hairy little man, who looked more like an ape than anything else – his long arms dragging along the ground by his sides – turned away from the rest of the celebration. He wore a red kerchief fastened around his neck, for his name was the Scarlet Marquis… a vicious creature whom everybody disliked. His tiny, malicious eyes moved restlessly over the shadows that were thrown by the jumping creatures in the crowd, searching… and then he stopped, catching a glimmer of light amongst the shadows. The glimmer came again and then disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, so that it might have just been imagined. But still… the Scarlet Marquis saw it, and king Oscar himself thought that he might have seen something, as his eyes looked over the dancing crowd.

One of the first things the new king did was select courtiers from amongst the inhabitants of the island. As the Palace Beautiful was designed to be a work of art, it was right that his courtiers should be artists themselves… along with musicians, dancers, actors and writers. There was Charles with his tiny, tamarind face and flaming orange beard that was in fact a flame. His head tapered to a point and on top was another orange flame that burned with a warm brightness. Aubrey, whose thin pointed face finally turned into an axe blade, was a very strange looking creature indeed! Also at king Oscar’s court was a fairy, Lily, whose pale face of course became a lily that drooped as though struggling to bear its own weight. There was James, who forever strutted back and forth across the court; his face became a beak, and he had both the gorgeous tail and crown of a peacock. Meanwhile, William appeared to be a strange mixture of flesh and wood, some of his limbs were ornately carved pieces of furniture, while all over both his body and face were beautiful designs of leaves and flowers entwined. Always beside King Oscar’s throne stood the slight figure of a wood elf named Robbie, coloured green and brown. Every one of the courtiers was always busy, for they were driven on by a constant need to create beauty around themselves and to keep on creating.

King Oscar sat back in his golden throne one day and turned to the queen and said, “How happy I am! I have everything I want, I have beauty all around me and you to share it with.”

Constance smiled sadly, shaking her head.

“Everything is too perfect; I feel something must happen to change it all.”

“Ah, but you forget… I’m a magician,” King Oscar said, getting to his feet so that a shadow was cast over the entire court. “and I can control everything. Nothing is beyond me. Now, I’m going to go down to the beach to tell my stories to the children. They’re waiting for me.”

As King Oscar moved across the court with great, swinging strides, all his courtiers stood aside so that he could pass through the giant door and down the ornate steps of the Palace Beautiful. As the doors of the court closed behind him, King Oscar paused for a moment, as he thought over Queen Constance’s words. How could all this possibly change? As he looked around the marble covered walls, he saw the tiny figure of a man crouching back in the shadows, or was it monkey, or even an ape? He was scarlet red. As King Oscar watched it slink away back to the court, something flashed… for a moment it seemed to be a figure made entirely of glass or crystal, with many facets. It turned, catching the light, and then was gone. King Oscar stood immobile, his eyes fastened on his own giant shadow, not sure what it was he had seen. He went into the sunlight outside.


The Reluctant Vampire - Conclusion


If you enjoyed reading The Reluctant Vampire, I was considering several other things I might follow it with… but would like you, as my readers to make the ultimate decision. Here are the alternatives – I was thinking of following the vampire with…

1. Another early novel.

2. Dry Rot – A black tale of Catholicism and decay set in Old Trafford.

3. Catching The Light – My short Fairy Tale based on the life of Oscar Wilde.

4. Killing Time – My ambitious novel about Jack the Ripper, an alternative psychic medium and Oscar Wilde… called by a friend Sensational!

5. The Light Fantastic – I’ve already started a novel which involves chapters written by my own readers… You can read it on this blog and take it further as you choose!

Please leave your choice in my comments box. Many thanks! Nic
By the way,
The Reluctant Vampire will shortly be available as an E-book, which you can order from Rawprintz Manchester..


Catching The Light - Introduction

To make a complete change from The Reluctant Vampire, here follows the introduction to the very first short children’s story I had ever written Catching The Light… which actually turned out to be equally as readable to adults. See what you think.


When I heard about a competition held by the Sunny Worthing Art Group, I was immediately inspired. It asked for just the first chapter of a children’s story based on the life of my ultimate hero, Oscar Wilde. I was particularly excited by their encouragement of imaginative freedom so that the story should be an embroidery of history and imagination. After completing the first chapter I had to go on and finish the story. The whole project took just a few months, making it one of my most speedy creations to date! Most readers will by now be familiar with my long standing obsession with Wilde, and so this idea of creating fiction based on historical facts of someone’s life was one I was very keen to try, or try further, I should say, as I’ve already been working on a trilogy based on Wilde for some time, The Space Between.

Although I hadn’t written for children for quite some time, I found it instantly enjoyable and very easy – the ideas came flooding into my mind; indeed the ideas came flying into my mind, scrambling over each other in a psychedelic jumble. Before me is this sense of colour, light and vision that I feel so strongly running right the way through the story making it filled with life and excitement for me and for you also.

When I was researching for my dissertation on reinventions of Wilde, I’d come across several ideas of his that sparked my imagination – one of them being his obsession with Bosie, who he called his “Golden Boy.” I wanted to interweave this idea with Wilde’s life story, so Bosie became the Crystal Boy. Ever since reading about his writing of The Picture of Dorian Gray, I’ve been intrigued by his vision of the novel being autobiographical:

“I am so glad you like that strange, many coloured book of mine: it contains much of me in it. Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry, what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be – in other ages...”

It was easy for me to use Wilde’s ideas on his three selves and embroider them in Catching the Light, where they seemed to fit quite naturally as the one-legged artist, the harlequin and The Crystal Boy himself. I can envision Wilde reading this story aloud to friends, and I feel quite confident he would have liked it as much as I do. He would have called it, “a most charming little tale” and I hope you’d agree with him.

I’d like to say a special thank you to my Dad for his speedy artwork and to Ruth for her patient typing and of course to Andy and Stan for proofreading, typesetting etc.

Read the first chapter here.


The Reluctant Vampire - Alternative Ending


Final part rewrite…

By the time I arrived back at Dudley Road it had really begun to rain, a sort of depressing mid-September drizzle which suited my mood perfectly. Thomas closed the front door with a final bang and turned to me but we couldn’t bring ourselves to speak or look at each other directly for quite some time, neither one of us daring to break the silence. I sat on the edge of the sofa, from my right Bosworth jumped onto my lap but I couldn’t even bring myself to push him away even though the weight of the fat animal caused my legs to ache.

After a while I looked round slowly as Thomas came into the room and stood beside me; I could feel the blackness of his cloak almost touching me but not quite, hovering inches away. It seemed like a promise of something remote, intangible. I could feel one of the cups in Thomas’s hands almost scalding my cheek and I stared at it blankly for several moments wondering what it was.

“Brought you a cup of tea,” he announced with his usual theatrical flair.

He sat down next to me and I could feel his black cloak swishing past me as he moved, the shadows in the room seeming to mingle with his presence and become one. I took the cup from him and took a sip savouring the intense heat of the liquid, it seemed a welcome sensation in the circumstance.

“It might make you feel better about this… steady your nerve.”

My tears continued to fall, unbidden. I swallowed down a great lump in my throat before managing to speak in a strangled voice.

“It feels like a last request… Thomas, do you really mean to go through with this? I still can’t believe it.” I shook my head firmly, trying to make sense of what was going on, I still felt as if I was slithering down a steep slope into black water, absolutely nothing to grab onto to save myself. Bosworth leapt off my lap as I stood up, spilling some tea onto Thomas’s beautiful cloak – I hoped that he wouldn’t notice. Perhaps tea stains wouldn’t last on a Vampire’s clothes.

I got to my feet and took Thomas’s cold hand pulling him up.

“Come on, let’s go upstairs then… we might as well get it over with.”

As we climbed the stairs I was aware of Thomas following behind me, still the reluctant vampire right to the end. A sort of numbness had descended upon me which was absolutely self protecting, I was just unable to handle this situation. I reached out towards the bedroom door but Thomas stopped me, laying an icy hand on my shoulder.

”Not in here… I want to die underneath Chatterton,” He told me gesturing towards the back bedroom. “In here.”

It was only when we had moved into the back bedroom and he lay down on the bed that the full detail and horror became real. As I bent down to pick up the stake and hammer my grip upon these objects failed me completely, so I dropped them uselessly upon the floor. I couldn’t stop crying by then, I just stood there stupidly shaking my head.

“I can’t do this, Thomas… I’m sorry, but I just can’t.”

We looked at each other desperately or at least I felt desperate – Thomas simply seemed to look completely resigned and even peaceful, and just waiting for the hammer to strike.

“But we agreed, Alison,” he said flatly.

“I know but I just can’t!”

“But we agreed!”

I looked down at the beautiful face of my eternal friend, an idea gradually gelling within my mind.

“There must be some alternative… some other way.”

Still Thomas’s eyes remained fixed on me although he didn’t speak. And then he sat up slowly reaching out his hand towards me.

“There is.” He said simply.

I was drawn towards him so that I was completely enveloped by that magical sensation of the excitement of the unknown night filling me completely and making my nerves tingle with excitement. As Thomas kissed me tenderly once again I felt the sharp prick of his fangs… but I wasn’t at all frightened – I just wanted him to go on, to go further, to go the whole way. I lifted my chin, exposing my throat… I suppose rather like a sheep asking for its own slaughter.

“Go on then,” I whispered.

Thomas didn’t need any encouragement, obviously. As I felt his fangs sink in further and further below my skin, I thought about the horror my friends would feel when they found my dead body lying there on the bed with big fang marks in my neck. The thought made me almost laugh despite the pain of the actual kiss off the vampire… I suppose there was no way they could keep on telling me my stories weren’t true anymore! And Doctor Lloyd-Jones would be really pissed off now that he would never get another chance to meet Thomas, now that we had both escaped together never to return to Timperley. Where we would fly to exactly, I wasn’t sure… perhaps the Carpathians or some such suitably gothic and remote spot.

I was quite happy to follow Thomas blindly as he flapped his bat wings against the stillness of the night… I felt myself unfurl my bat wings quite naturally even though I couldn’t explain where exactly at what point the actual pain had stopped and the change into bat form had begun – it had happened without a doubt. I followed Thomas off into the night, and as we rose higher and higher above Timperley I was completely filled with such excitement that there was no room for even a single trace of reluctance.


You can now read my CONCLUSION post here.

By the way, The Reluctant Vampire will shortly be available as an E-book, which you can order from Rawprintz Manchester..