Saturday, 27 September 2014

Multiple Attackers in a Magical Fantasy Novel

This is a scene from my latest book THE SUNDER OF THE OCTAGON, a magical fantasy adventure aimed at older children.

This scene was inspired by the idea of "What would happen if a guy who was trained to fight in a very Kravvy way was magically turned into a geriatric...BUT then magically regained his youth and turned on his multiple attackers."


 An hour later Jeroth sat in the chair in his small room while Calson sat on the floor, cross legged, happily brushing away at the left boot. Jeroth looked down at his gnarled, calloused feet and winced. Glancing across at the boy he snapped, “No, no. Brush in one direction only, towards the toes. You got it now?”
Calson squinted at the boot and held it up then smiled. “Think so…”
Good, when you’ve done that there’s…”
Before he could finish there was a mighty bang and the door crashed open. Three huge men stood in the doorway. Calson jumped with fear and leapt to his feet. Jeroth stared at them in disbelief.
There he is, the little runt!” one of the men growled. Calson looked terrified.
You shouldn’t steal from your betters boy!” another snarled as they pounded into the room, their huge feet making the walls shake.
Calson ran behind Jeroth and gibbered “I didn’t do nothing like. Wasn’t me.”
Don’t lie you little wretch!” the second man said. They were all hugely powerful men and they ignored Jeroth as they advanced on the cowering, frightened boy.
Jeroth stood, his anger raised more by them ignoring him than their unwanted presence. “What do you want?”
The men stopped for a moment, looked at each other and then laughed.
Ohh, ho. Silly old fool” the first man said sneering. “Don’t be a stupid old man, just get out the way.”
Jeroth stared at them. There was a time when he could have put all three of these men down in seconds, in a fair or unfair fight. He felt his anger rise again. Calson stood behind him, clearly terrified.
Just go and leave us, you have no right to be here!” Jeroth shouted, his voice cracking. He brought his walking stick up and caught the middle man in the crotch with it. The man yelped and his eyes crossed as he sagged to his knees.
Right, that’s it!” the first man snarled and drew a dagger. Before Jeroth could react the man plunged it into his chest. He grinned as the blade went through Jeroth’s jerkin.
Gave you your chance old fool!” he hissed. Jeroth glared at him as he started to fall forwards, his hand fumbling weakly for the handle of the blade.
As the thug went to pull the knife free Jeroth’s face lit up with a blinding glow, the rays spreading rapidly down his body.
Gods Theub, never seen your blade do THAT before!” the first thug said blinking in shock. Jeroth collapsed on the floor, his whole body shining brightly as the men looked down.
Oh well, stranger things…and all that” Theub said and turned back to Calson. “Now look what mischief you’ve caused. You’ll pay dearly for this!”
The man on his knees struggled upright, drawing in breath in big gasps. Jeroth’s body continued to shine. “Weird” the man said shaking his head. “Get the brat outside.”
Calson squealed as Theub grabbed him by the ear and pulled him upright. As the man turned to the door a heavy hand descended on his shoulder. He turned to find a stranger glaring at him. Bearded, over six feet tall and heavily built. Theub’s dagger was sticking out from his chest.
The man looked down at the knife and with his other hand pulled it free. “Tsk, tsk” he said tossing the blade away. “We won’t be needing that now.” Before Theub could react the man punched him in the face. He flew back across the room. Calson stared in confusion at the newcomer. “Wait outside boy!” he barked. “This is not for your eyes!”
As Calson shot out the door and down the steps he heard the man laugh loudly.
Right! Who wants to go first?” CRASH!
No sorry, sorry…it was a mistake!” SMASH!”
It's naughty to tell lies!!” THUD! CRASH!
PLEASE…we’re sorry! Aahhh! No, no….!” SMASH!
Just you two left now, tell you what I’ll fight with my hands behind my back!” THUD! CRASH! SPLINTER!
Ha! Haa! Never said I wouldn’t use my head and feet though did I?” CRASH!
Ugh! Stop please, we’re sorry!”
Not as much as you’re going to be!!!” THUD! SPLINTER! CRASH!
Calson stared at the window as the noise continued. Suddenly the glass shattered and Theub came hurtling out and landed on his back in the street. He groaned and moved weakly, cuts and bruises on his face.
The bearded man came down the steps, holding his newly polished boots and whistling.
Ahhh, that feels better!” he said pulling on his right boot and then kicking the prone figure as hard as he could. Theub groaned again. “Just what I needed,” he smiled happily, pulling on his other boot and then turning to Calson who flinched in fear.
It’s alright boy, it’s me” he said. He held out his hands and Calson moved towards him. Jeroth quickly took him under the armpits, swung him up in the air laughing before putting him down again.
Calson stammered, “But what, what happened to you?” he asked, totally confused.
You appear to be an ‘innocent’ as hard as that is to believe,” Jeroth replied, winking. He reached down and felt into the groaning man’s pockets, grunting with satisfaction as he found a thick leather purse. He opened it and emptied gold coins into his palm. “Time for a steak, a fine wine and clothes that fit. Maybe even to ride a horse again.” Calson stared on in amazement.
Jeroth kicked Theub again and walked off. He turned to Calson. “Well, come on lad, you saved me. You get to come too!” Calson fell in step behind him.
Jeroth began singing his favourite song. It was a song about a blackbird and a milkmaid. Life was good again. Now the Emerald Queen’s spell had been reversed.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Eternal Practitioner

Throughout life there are different sets of responsibilities that slot into place as we walk through the process known as "growing up."

At about 5 you have to go to school, which is a huge change from hanging out with mummy or daddy and learning the rules of how to "play" (i.e. the advent of having to share your toys and say 'please' and 'thank you'). You may later on have a younger brother or sister to look after. You will be tasked to "set an example" to the younger kids at school. You have to tidy your room. Etc.

As you move up in years you may have a part time job (in my day the ignominious delights of a paper round) and become a Prefect at school (assuming that they still guilt older kids into being unpaid supervisors for younger ones).

Your responsibilities mount up as you move ever onwards in years.

In adulthood most people find a niche that fits the life of an adult. They form relationships, make lasting friendships and get a job that pays enough to set up a mortgage. They marry, have children and then settle into the life of a fully fledged "grown up". Even later in life they pass their knowledge and wisdom (or lack of) on to the next generation of grand children.

Life can basically be split into 3 levels. Practitioner, Graduate and Expert.

At Practitioner level we are learning. While some things are easy to pick up; such as walking, talking and riding a bike. Others aren't quite so simple such as maths, science or how to tie your shoelaces quickly. However we eventually learn and move on.

Graduate skills are based more on using the Practitioner stuff as a grounding. From basic science we move into the worlds of physics and chemistry and biology. The ability to speak is used to leapfrog into the skill of being able to express yourself through writing or learn a second language. Skills in social interaction will lead to finding a sexual partner and maybe having children. Being aware of danger will be used to become daily awareness of personal space, traffic and hazards. The lists go on.

By the time we reach the Expert levels of life, we are grounded in a full knowledge of Practitioner and Graduate skill sets. The earlier levels rarely need to be refreshed (although they do need to be, now and then) and we can pass on our judgments and experience to those who came into the world later on.

I am approaching a P5 grading, probably in December at the P camp that Krav Maga Global are holding.

There is a part of me that wants to rest on my laurels once this is achieved and not go any further. After all, that lovely patch with its 5 bars would look much more eye catching than a G patch with only one bar...wouldn't it?

Not really...but it's tempting to remain the highest grade of Practitioner than become the lowest level of Graduate. The reasons are a mixture of fear, foreboding but mainly the knowledge that I'll have to actually start taking some responsibility in my life as I move from the P levels to levels where I will not only be eligible to take an instructor's course (regrading pending of course) but attend G camp. The primary worry is that by stepping into big boys' pants I will be obliged to actually act like a Graduate, rather than remain an eternal Practitioner.

Sometimes growing up can be scary.

Bring it on.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Book Signing, Demoncon 8, Kent UK

On 14th September I will be appearing at DEMONCON 8 in the Royal Star Arcade, Maidstone, Kent.

I will be signing copies of my new book THE SUNDER OF THE OCTAGON: Tales of Alegria Book II (the sequel to THE CATASTROPHE OF THE EMERALD QUEEN) and will be accompanied by the cover artist Anneka Reay and internal artist Paul Rose. Both will be offering original artwork on the day.

The book has some very Kravvy fight sequences and characters based on KMG E3 Krav Maga Global instructor Jacek Walczak and KMM P1 student Tom Stiles.

It is aimed at older children and young adults, with strong anti-bullying themes. I am also visiting schools in the UK to discuss the book and how my experiences of being bullied at school in the 1980s inspired the themes of this book.

For further info get in touch with me or The Grinning Demon comic shop on 01622 68104.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

That "Near the End of the Summer Holidays" Feeling

After a Krav Maga grading I feel knackered but exhilarated. After all, I did it. I made the grade. On P2, 3 and 4 I came away with my body shouting abuse at me for the misery I'd put it through, but I felt A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

I might even miss the next lesson at the club and unwind with a shedload of alcohol (Guinness makes a good subsitute Night Nurse) and a gallon of ice cream. The DVD relevant to that grade gets put back in the sleeve and put on the shelf. The patch goes in the frame with its predecessors, at the corners of the certificate for my current level**

It's a wonderful feeling of having achieved something special and risen in the ranks.

It's in fact, very similar to that feeling I got when the school broke up for the summer holidays.

Six whole weeks of F.R.E.E.D.O.M to do what I wanted***, run around, stay up late and generally have F.U.N. The summer felt like it would never end. That first week would be a joyous adventure, knowing I had 5 more weeks after it. Weeks 2 through to 5 would be spectacular. On hols with the parents and my brother, back to play with my mates and ride my bike around town to my heart's content. No pressure.

Problem was, by week 5, once we got past Sunday I was feeling down and getting tense. After all, once that precious Monday was used up, there would not be another to replace it the week after. The same with every day up until that horrible Monday when I'd have to don the dreaded school uniform again and traipse up the driveway of Shitbag Comprehensive (otherwise known as Kenilworth School) to endure another term of bullying, boredom and dark sarcasm in the classroom.

But I digress...

In 4 weeks we have the Pre Assessment Workshop for the upcoming October gradings. That "Beginning of the School Holidays" feeling is now becoming a "I'll have to go back to Maths and Chemistry" feeling.

Down to work; as many sessions a week as possible; new level's DVD on mail order; book the venue...and spend my time getting nervous.

When I took P4 I was stressed almost to ruination the entire week before the grading. Fact it was hosted by the Master level 1 Zeev Cohen didn't help my nerves overly much.

So instead of 6 weeks of riding my bike, staying up late and hanging out with my friends, I now have 6 monthly gaps of trying to remain focussed instead of just riding on the euphoria of having passed a Practitioner level yet again.

Defending Against Impending Knife Threat?

Can do.


** Apart from P4 which I have passed but haven't passed as I have to redo stick defences before I get the patch or certificate, even though the stamp is in my passport. God bless "conditional passes".

***  Mother and fathers' approval pending.