Tag Archives: satire

My atheist comedy has been offered a review by a Catholic blogger…is this good?

So, every now and then in the life of a self-published, independent author like myself something interesting happens. It could be getting your first great review, as recently happened to a friend of mine and fellow indie author Rachel Shaw (she’s the writer of a fantasy novel called ‘The Raveller’s Guild’, http://tinyurl.com/kqxnrhu), or it could be going on a podcast and talking to people about your book or maybe starting up your own blog up and finding things to talk about that you hope your audience will enjoy. For me recently it was being offered a review, something that seems to be increasingly difficult to get due to the ever increasing number of indy authors out there, and the not-that-large pool of available reviewers but the interesting part was who the offer came from: a former atheist, now Catholic blogger.

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I should explain. ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ and the sequel ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again!’ are satire novels where religious icons travel to Earth to convince us to stop destroying our world. In the first book the only person who is able to help God is an atheist and in the sequel, Jesus treads God’s well worth path making somewhat of a fool of himself along the way. Now, these clearly make fun of the various religions and of the iconography of Christianity, and I have a lot of fun lampooning what God is, who my version of Jesus is, the role of the Heavenly Bureaucracy and The Committee, a group of angels who are now in control and so on and so forth and you can find an example of the sort of humour that this book contains below.

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But these books are definitely not aimed at a religious audience. Despite that I have always wondered what someone of that persuasion would make of them and so, naturally, lots of questions start swirling around my brain. Do they really want to review my book, a satirical poke in the eye for religion, and if they do how come? I mean, it’s light-hearted fun and I certainly haven’t set out to offend anyone but I’m still left with the question of why would they want to do this? Well, they say that all publicity is good publicity but I was still confronted with the choice of whether I should I do this, do I send a review copy to someone who may, in all likelihood, give me a very bad review indeed. They could always just buy the book but in the end I did send them a free copy.

 

Either way, it draws attention, right, even if the opinion given is not a good one. And if the review is very poor indeed I shall still tweet excerpts from it in the same way that I do with the good reviews that I have received (like the one below). I will simply ensure that the tweet contains the words ‘Catholic blogger’ and then my atheist followers will know that the review may be somewhat biased. If he says that the book is a piece of atheist trash, that’d work for them, right? At least I hope it will. Still, I can’t help wondering whether I have made a mistake in engaging with this person.

 

Now all I can do is wait and see what they make of it and what it is that they say in their review. And wonder, as we indie authors endlessly do, if this is one of the things that helps to pull in the publicity that launches the book to a bigger audience. Here’s hoping, even if takes the outrage of the religious to help move things along. Cheers!

 

‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ now has TWELVE reader reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers including Amazon UK here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z. The sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Finally, follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

Indie author? Lost your cover artist? Don’t panic…

I self-published my comedy novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, last July having spent the previous three years trying to find an agent who would represent me without success. Given that my novel is a religious satire where God comes to Earth to try to save us from ourselves and then finds that an atheist is the only person who can help him, I should not have been surprised that the agents I contacted were less than enthusiastic. The book may be something of a hard sell 😉 Despite this, I was certain that there was an audience out there who would enjoy my work. While I was repeatedly editing the novel and considering the self-publishing route I realised that I needed a striking cover, as all independent authors do, for that is the first thing that a potential reader will see and so a stunning image that grabs their attention is absolutely essential. I made some enquiries and found an artist who was willing to work with me and the image that you see below was the result.

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I was very happy with the cover, I’ve had many people ask me about it and so, when it came to writing the sequel that I never thought I was going to write, ‘Jesus Returns! Here he comes again’, I knew that I needed something that complemented the image that I already had. Unfortunately, this was when my cover artist decided to go AWOL. The last time I had checked in with her, there was a note on her website saying that she was taking time away from her business to improve her skills and come back afresh. Now she seemed to have completely gone off the grid. I emailed her, politely asking whether she would be interested in making a cover for my sequel and that she at least reply to let me know either way. I received no such reply. I waited a while, worked on the manuscript and then emailed again. And then finally, one more time just to be sure. Nothing. Eventually I came to the realisation that I needed to find another artist, that mine was truly out of the game, and that I would just have to accept that I would probably not get another one like the first and that whatever I ended up with would have to suffice, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. What else could I do?

So I again began the tedious process of sending out emails and searching for her replacement with little hope of success. I contacted some artists who never got back to me and then some kind person on Twitter sent me in the direction of Natasha Snow. I sent her an email explaining what I wanted to see if she had any interest in the project as well as a link to the previous cover image. Natasha replied that my last cover was indeed quite spectacular and that she would look into finding suitable stock images and I continued to wait and see whether she could help me.

I needn’t have worried. The first indication I had that I might get the cover that I wanted was when Natasha sent me some links to some stock images that looked remarkably like how I imagined the Jesus of my novels might look. I knew that his image was the key to the whole thing and that, once that was right, everything else could be figured out. So, we agreed on the image and on the details of the design and I sat back to await the arrival of my new cover. When I received the first draft it confirmed that I had made the right choice and that this whole thing was going to work out. I loved it, only minor revisions were even needed to finish the image and, once they were done, I received the rather wonderful image that you see below…

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So, if you’re a self-published, independent author like me who’s lost your cover artist (what are the chances?) then my advice is this: don’t panic, send out some feelers, know what you want and it will most likely work out well, as it did for me. You could also check out Natasha’s website (http://natashasnow.com/) and send your business her way, if you wanted to 😉 You never know, she might make for you as striking an image as she did for me. Here’s hoping!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ongoing Ramblings: Influences on my writing and the authors whose work I love…

OK, following on from my quite serious post last week about the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, I think it is time for something a little lighter in tone. This week I’m going to talk about the influences on my writings and the authors whose work I regularly enjoy. For now I’ll cover fiction and I’ll undoubtedly write more about the comic book creators whose work I love at a later date but I don’t want to ramble on too much so I shall limit myself to authors of prose. Anyway, a little while ago a kind person who had read my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, left me this review on Amazon UK:

“I really enjoyed this book, it’s witty, intelligent, and it has a good pace to it. If you like Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett you will probably enjoy this book. Don’t take this book too seriously though, it’s a comedy caper, not a religious book, but it might have you thinking about life the universe and everything in a couple of places.” Here is the link to the review for anyone who would like to see it: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z.

Now, this is obviously, a very nice review but before long I expect to get some less pleasant ones, especially considering that my book satirises religion. My tweets advertising my book have even been retweeted by overtly religious people and so I think that eventually someone with strong religious convictions will read it and will let me know their thoughts on the matter. I doubt this will be very pleasant but having written and self-published this work I have willingly put myself in this position. This, however, is not really the point of this post. The point is to talk about the influences on my writing and those to whom someone else (not me) might feasibly compare my work.

Now, I should not really compare my work to anyone else’s for it is not for me to make such comparisons. But, for the sake of argument, I’m going to start with the two names mentioned above. Now, it is an honour and a privilege to be mentioned in the same breath as late greats like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and, though I cannot say if I have succeeded, I do not for a moment doubt that my work has drawn on them both. Writing a comedy novel that involves God, demons, angels and humans it would be almost impossible not to be compared to Good Omens, the wonderful work by Mr. Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and, seeing as I have read almost everything published by all three of these authors I would also say that it would be very difficult indeed for me to not have them as influences when I am writing.

And, of all the authors whose work I love, Mr. Pratchett, Mr. Adams and Mr. Gaiman are indeed those to whom I most aspire to be compared. I have read the entirety of The Discworld from The Colour of Magic all the way to the last book, The Shepherd’s Crown. I consider The Graveyard Book to be one of Neil Gaiman’s finest works and I own a lovely hardcover copy that I intend to get signed by him when I get a chance. And the Hitchhikers guide was not only essential reading when I was growing up but something that I regularly return to when the mood takes me. These are the writers who have had the largest influence on me by some considerable distance and being spoken about in the same breath as any of these wonderful writers is an honour.

But there are also other authors whose work I always read and who I also consider to be influences on my writing. I have written another book, a science-fiction novel entitled ‘Balancing Act’, and in doing so have drawn on my love of science fiction including authors such as Alastair Reynolds, Paul Cornell and Stephen Baxter, all of whom I have been fans of for some time. And of course the late Iain M. Banks, whom I would also love to have met. His work will and should be an influence on anyone writing science fiction for many years to come. I have also read every book published by Christopher Brookmyre and intend to continue doing so. Other authors I enjoy include Mike Carey, Mark Haddon, Phillip Pullman and Robert Rankin. In my opinion one cannot be a writer until you have spent many years reading and I, like many authors, have torn my way through one book after another for as long as I can remember. I expect that I always will although my interests are now split between fiction, comics and non-fiction.

Now, I have obviously missed my chance to ever meet Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and that I regret but there is nothing I can do about that now. Were I ever to meet Neil Gaiman, and I certainly intend to do so to get my copy of The Graveyard Book signed, I don’t even know what I would say. I suspect I would stand there, star struck and dumbstruck, wanting to tell him how much I adore his work and yet saying nothing. That is how I expect it to go but then he must get that all the time so I’m sure he’s used to it. I would also love to meet the other authors I have mentioned in this post and expect to be equally star struck by them. Actually, I look forward to it!

You know, now that I get towards the end of this blog post, I’m not even sure what the point of it was. But then it isn’t entitled ‘Ramblings’ for nothing, I suppose. I guess the point is this: if you read my novel, and I hope that you do, I am sure you will see influences in there that I am not even aware of. And if you do read it, and you enjoy it, then please let me know and post a review on whichever site from which you obtained it. I would very much like to know what you hear in my words and what you see in the story. I look forward to every review that someone sends me, even the ones that I probably won’t enjoy, but, as ever, we’ll see.

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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