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Posts by davefreer

Tossing your reader in the deep end

‘I am a watchdog. My name is Snuff. I live with my master Jack outside London now. I like Soho very much at night with its smelly fogs and dark streets. It is silent then and we go for long walks. Jack is under a curse from long ago and must do much of his work at night to keep worse things from happening. I keep watch while he is about it. If someone comes, I howl.

We are keepers of several curses and our work is very important. I have to keep watch on the Thing in the Circle, the Thing in the Wardrobe, and the Thing in the Steamer Trunk – not to mention the Things in the Mirror.’  A Night in the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny, 1993

To some authors drowning one’s readers may have a certain attraction… I mean, if you think your customers are deplorable idiots who should read your work because it will help to ‘educate’ them on the correct attitude to the cause du jour, I can quite understand it. After all, they fail to respond correctly most of the time. But while it may well be a very fashionable desire these days, it’s got serious drawbacks, besides wet paper. Read more

Demons and the dreaded reaper-man

Image Pixabay

“ ’ad a problem with that supernatural stuff once, ” muttered Big Jim in the middle of my story. “Yer want to stay right clear of demons and them Exhaustists, young feller.” He shook a warning finger the size of my wrist at me.

I blinked. Big Jim, with tattoos weighing 200 pound… and him weighing another 250 more (It was heavy ink) six foot ten… wide, hands that weren’t like hams around his beer, more like entire pigs … him with a bald shaved head, and a Doberman called Killer, well, he wasn’t the sort of bloke you’d think would be inclined to take Halloween stories seriously. I thought the only spirits he believed in came in a 160 Stroh Rum bottle and he thought they were pretty weak, at that.  “My shout,” I said, getting us a couple more beers. “What happened, Big Jim?” Read more

Die with t

Image Pixabay

Argh. This diet is killing me. I made one of those classic mistakes. I complained to my Doctor. So he made things worse. I said I was tired and falling asleep onto my keyboard. Now, in part I was wondering if the black dog might be physiological…

Did he say: “Write a more interesting book” or “Go fishing” or “go diving, at least you’ll drown happy” or even ‘get more sleep’?  Noooo! Instead he made me even more tired, giving me anemia. Well, taking away some of the precious, rare blood in my caffeine stream. Read more


Image: Pixabay

There’s no ‘right’ kind of sf (or fantasy or anything else, for that matter.) Only what sells, and it sells – or at least an author – or genre keeps selling (no matter how hard you market it) because readers enjoy it. It’s a big world with a complex range of kinds of people who enjoy different things. Just about anything will find some buyers who enjoy it (if they can find it, or even know it exists).

Of course some kinds, some subgenres, some authors sell better than others.  Part of that comes down to everything from covers to marketing and availability – But the truth is some books/authors/subgenres/etc just have a wider appeal than others. Some would sell more even if the playing field were completely level, the process transparent and even-handed, with no politics, no agendas and no dahlings. It would almost certainly not be all the SAME books that do well now, but some would do better than others – some authors write better in the opinion of a larger number of people, some subjects are more interesting to more people. Read more


A thing of many weak parts united into an object of strength… No, actually, I’m not talking about a novel. I’m talking about a light steel construction shed. A kit which the engineers say is cyclonic rated. Of course, it could have something in common with a novel, but generally most novels have at least one strong component. Based on what I’ve spent the last four weeks doing, that’s only necessary because most authors are not engineers.

This may (or may not) be a good thing. It is, however, in the same sense that Mount Everest is, and Alma Cogan isn’t (this for those of you deficient in Python is called ‘logic’. It is quite rare.). Read more


“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.” (Douglas Adams, THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY)

When I explained to the alien I was going to paint my car blue, that’s when the wheels fell off…

Its species can’t see blue, and don’t have a word for it, and don’t have cars or wheels, so it didn’t quite get that concept or what I was talking about. Well, it didn’t help that their hearing is in infrasound ranges either.  But other than that we understood each other well, and so he tried to kill me. Read more

A Bolg snippet

I’m frantically trying finish a short by deadline – so forgive me digging the start of another short up as a how I do this exercise. You should see me show the setting, establish the characters and hopefully set a hook in this.

The moonlight shadows on the water trembled slightly, shivered by the pre‑dawn breeze. “Not too fast, Eochaid. Not too fast. Wait for the wind to be still,” whispered Fintan.

My wet fingers were numb. I had a frozen snot stalactite forming on the end of my nose. “What are you whispering for, you daft old bodach,” I said, trying to stop my teeth from chattering. The icy water wanted about three inches before it would come fountaining over the top of my waders. It would probably drown me, or worse, let Fintan rescue me. He stood about 6’2″ in his bare feet and dirty white robe, so the water would be barely up to his underwear, if he ever actually wore any. I could always hope it would freeze his testicles off, and save me a lot of trouble in future. But I knew from bitter past experience I wouldn’t be that lucky. Read more