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I would like to leave out this section and remain invisible, suggest that you talk to me on Facebook or something, but it would seem that it is not really permitted. So with the grim determination and anticipation of disaster of one of my characters, I unroll a little of my own tale. I was born in the latter part of the last century in NW London and spent most of my childhood there before moving to Devon. Here I met the person with whom I would share my life and, after a spell reading medieval history at King's College London, go on to produce nine children. Feeding that number over some forty years takes a lot of provender, as JRR Tolkein said of young hobbits, and so my aspirations to write went on hold for the duration as I knuckled down to burn up the years in the service of Mammon.
The Collector of Tales Trilogy
In 2008, as another financial crisis hit the UK and I lost a significant amount of income almost overnight, I decided that my indentured service had finally come to an end and I began once again to write. My day job over the past years had taken me around much of England, staying in hotels of varying quality from seriously impressive to places where I have wedged a chair and the bed against an unlockable door. A mashup of these experiences (and dialects) provided an ideal backdrop to the Collector of Tales. The Xandrian Quarters followed on naturally although a wedding in Cyprus provided a different palette and the latter theme is being brought to a close in the final book of the trilogy, the Prawns of Lebowa.
Seagrum the Dwarf
Now the tale of Seagrum the Dwarf is another matter altogether. Here I am looking to build a series of tales about an irascible dwarf who inhabits a brutish little world in which humans are not necessarily the top predators. In this world, called Se Molde (from the Anglo Saxon for the earth or soil) but pronounced in this case, Same Old) humans have come to terms with the fact that there are a number of carnivores that are quite happy to feast on human when the opportunity arises. As a result of this circumstance, the humans have written up a document that they refer to as the Social Contract which sets out the rules of engagement, as it were.
The first novel, Seagrum the Dwarf, is set in the sleepy backdrop of Florencetown and concerns some weird goings-on with vampires and something that they refer to as a death pledge - we would know them as mortgages - and the fast and loose action that the old vampire houses have devised to further enthral those humans that fall prey to them. The local agency known as the Hue and Cry, whose role it is to regulate these activities, has called upon Seagrum with his recognised ability to get a job done, to help them sort it out. Frankly it is beyond the wit of the Hue and Cry's tame werewolves whose main focus in life is their next meal. The story is based upon the financial crisis of 2009 and I guess that it is allegory really.
The Head Gardener
The second book in the Seagrum series is still a work in progress. The Head Gardener is written in the vein of a detective novel. There is murder afoot (not the usually killing for food by the occasional troll or more regularly by the ogres or frequently by the werewolves). In a world where the Social Contract allowed for human deaths by predator to be recorded without penalty, people were going missing. That was wholly unacceptable to the Mayor of Florencetown yet although he was himself unwilling to bring in a dwarf to solve the problem, other powers in the town were. It should be noted that the Mayor's prejudice towards all those governed by the Social Contract was extreme to the point of profound and dwarfs were included in that motely crew.
A History of the Troll Wars
A History of the Troll Wars is the third in the Seagrum the Dwarf collection and has managed to get to online publication ahead of its prequel. Indeed in March 2019, the version available has a definite spoiler for the Head Gardener which I will have to correct. I wanted to write something about the whole issue of humanity ravaging the planet that we live on and our myopic stupidity regarding the planet that we call home. This is particularly brought to the forefront by Extinction Rebellion from a kind of grass roots level and by figures such as Greta Thunberg on the larger world stages. Yet despite all this we aren't really doing a lot about it if we are really honest. It is to support the various messages that I have written this little book and have introduced the trolls and indeed their fate in the tale as a form of deus ex machina. They are there to represent the forces of the natural world and yet, in the end , are subject to the weaknesses and forces and rules set out in the unnatural world that is this fantasy in much the same way that we are heading blindly toward oblivion in our world.
The Dreamweavers is a cross-over novel that I wrote for my two youngest sons. Both have their own challenges and issues, not least of all in speech and language. I wanted to write a tale that they would find interesting and that would encourage them to read. I am not entirely sure that I succeeded but I do know that Tom has read the book and even Sam, who, armed with the double whammy of verbal dyspraxia and dyslexia tends to treat the printed word as something approaching arcane magic, has read some of the text on his ipad. The book was written a few years ago now, at a time that we had not really heard of autism. Since then, we have taken a substantive journey with Tom to the realisation that he is autistic and I have determined that I am going to go back to re-write some of it to reflect those issues that I misinterpreted about Tom when drafting it the first time. I also have a sequel in mind to focus more on Sam's story.
Current work in Progress
Whilst I am currently attempting to finish The Head Gardener (and it is proving difficult) I am also working on a new novel which I have called Zeus & Hera in Paralimni as a working title. It is a tale that interlaces the lives of a middle-aged couple in the world of today on holiday in Cyprus with those of Zeus and Hera and a number of other Olympian gods. It isn't really a fantasy and in that respect it differs from most of the novels that I have written to date but, for the avoidance of doubt, it is very much a fiction. Nor, should I add, is it any from of cross-over novel. The relationship between the main characters and the Olympians is far more intimate.
It is meant to be slightly personal so that our offspring can see a part of the relationship that was that of their parents I have also taken a few liberties with the deities, especially the virgin goddess Athena who in this tale has three small children. That's all I will say for now as I am about half way at 32,000 words.
David as Collector
David as Seagrum
Synopses, audio extracts & other tales
I have come to realise that I want to write the kind of fantasy novel that you might want to read as you get older and you start to think that you can't really face another high fantasy battle or even, the god's forbid, another Game of Thrones. Of course all these have their place and I wouldn't want to presume but I think that I now want something else in my fantasy tales and, as I can't find it elsewhere, I am going to write about it.
So what you will find in the true fantasies that I am writing , such as the Seagrum Tales and Troll Wars, is fantasy that focuses on some of the smaller things in life. Some of those ordinary situations that any of us might find ourselves in, only set in a fantasy world. Of course, it is fantasy so not many of us are going to walk into a troll as we step out of a pub, nor are we likely to meet a legally sanctioned werewolf who works for a government agency - well any werewolf actually. It allows me to make observations about the world in which I live whilst at the same time writing stories that I like based on my experiences and historical background.
For the avoidance of doubt, The Collector Series is something different and the Dreamweavers is a story that I have written specifically for my boys. However, if you want to know a bit about each novel, then click on the image and you will see a brief summary of the tale, hopefully without spoilers.
There are some audio samples of the books in the links below. They are read by me, David Payne, and are done on nothing more than a laptop so they are a bit rough. Hopefully however, they will give you a feel for the tales.
Samples of published novels & works in progress
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