Sunday, 26 July 2015

See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me…Zoned-in Descriptive Writing at

See me, feel me, touch me…sings Roger Daltrey of the Who, in the hit musical Tommy. The story is of a blind, deaf and dumb boy who becomes a master pinball player and the reluctant object of a religious cult. Maybe not the best plotted screenplay; maybe not the most wonderful lyrics, either, but the message that Daltrey belts out is a useful one for writers …
• My latest blog • on blogsite for the  • I am looking at  ‘zoned in detail

go to   . to read the full post 

Could you zone in to describe this?

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Parayournormal; Books for Fans of Mystical Mysteries.

I've just discovered a great blogsite; Kirsten Weiss' Parayournormal is all about  books full of mystery, suspence and a certain other something. As Weiss says, "Paranormal adds an extra thrill to a story. I created this blog because I wanted something that incorporated paranormal books AND the paranormal in real life." I love her catchline – We are what we imagine. Doesn't that just send a tingle up your spine? But it's also something I believe deeply myself – something I learnt to trust in when I first become an apprentice to one of the great shamanic teachers in Britain, Caitlin Matthews. 
Sabbie Dare, in my Shaman Mysteries, believes that too - of course she does - she would not be able to do her job of Therepuetic Shaman if she did not, and she certainly wouldn't be able to bring back from the spirit world the secret answers to the dark questions some of her clients want from her. 
I was so delighted and honoured when Kirsten Weiss asked if she could feature the Shaman Mysteries on her blogsite: 
the shaman mysteries

Book Spotlight: The Shaman Mysteries

As a hard-knock kid, Sabbie Dare knew she was different – she saw through the veil that hides other planes of existence. Now she lives a simple life, running her shamanic therapy business, but she’s still stepping headlong into trouble – when clients unwittingly bring danger with them.

go to parayournormal book spotlight to read the complete post.

Kirsten Weiss is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical DetectiveThe Alchemical DetectiveThe Shamanic DetectiveThe Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She is also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense set in Alta California.
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking good wine.
You can connect with Kirsten through the social media sites below, and if the mood strikes you, send her an e-mail through the contact form on this site.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Third Shaman Mystery

Coming soon in print and Kindle -
The 3rd Shaman Mystery, featuring Sabbie Dare. 
Pre-order to be sure of the best price and quickest delivery. Pre-order Beneath the Tor from Amazon

Beneath the Tor £9.75
Eligible for FREE UK Delivery and

Beneath the Tor is set in Glastonbury, one of the most mystic places in England. It's midsummer eve, and Alys has danced the entire night away on the summit of Glastonbury Tor. As the solstice sun rises, she drops onto the grass. 

“I saw her spirit rise. It’s already gone.”

Sabbie Dare is again in the middle of a mystery with

a murder to solve, but this time, all the people closest to 

her are suspects, and one of them is in deadly danger. 

Pre-order Beneath the Tor from Amazon

I am a druid; a pagan path which takes me close to the earth and into the deep recesses of my mind.  Shamanic techniques help me in my life - in fact they changed my life - although, unlike Sabbie, I’ve never set up a therapeutic practice. I now write crime fiction, published by Midnight Ink. 
Some years ago, Sabbbie Dare walked directly into my mind, fully formed and announced; I'm a young therapist, a shaman, and sometimes I do get very strange people walking into my therapy room...” 
I grew up in the West of England, and love the vast moors of the Somerset Levels. Their beauty takes away my breath, but they have a wildness that is equally sombre, mysterious and threatening.  I set my Shaman Mysteries in this unique place, and love to immerse the stories in the landscape and traditions. 
In Beneath the Tor, Sabbie spends the summer solstice in Glastonbury, where she learnt her shamanic practice. She's become experienced in therapeutic shamanism – helping people through contact with the spirit world – and she’s there to run a workshop for other shamans. 
After Alys Hollingbury, beautiful, rich and newly-wed, dies on the summit of the mystic Tor, her grieving husband Brice receives sinister and anonymous emails, which seem to link to a series of brutal attacks. As Sabbie heads closer to the truth about Alys’ shocking death, a deranged killer is also heading towards a showdown with a final victim. Sabbie knows she will not stop until she has all the answers…even though it is possible her closest shamanic friends might be involved. 

Beneath the Tor  will be released in the US in December 2015 and will be out in the UK in the new year, but you can buy the first two in the series now at; Nina Milton's Amazon Page 

This well-written story
 is incredible knowledgeable, suspenseful,
 and a truly cool adventure
 into the world that lies ‘beyond';

Suspense Magazine  

Sabbie Dare is the most compelling
protagonist and Milton’s tale is riveting. 
The visceral suspense Milton creates is
commendable, not to mention terrifying.
I like pairing her work with Elly Griffiths’s
 atmospheric English mysteries.
Library Journal

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Are they going to say this is fantasy?” KTWs Quote of the Month

The Buried Giant
Living in Wales, I’ve become obsessively fond of the ancient Welsh myths set out in The Mabinogion. Through the centuries since those stories were first written down, their wonderfully enigmatic themes have been borrowed time and again to help create other imaginative works.

When I first began to read The Buried Giant, by my favourite author, Kazuo Ishiguro, I was fiercely reminded of the story in Part Three of The Mabinogion. Two heros, returning  to their women from a  long and bloody war, find the landscape of their homeland altered. 

One of Alan Lee's illustrations from the Lady
Charlotte Guest translation of the Mabinogion
suddenly there was a clap of thunder and, with such a great clap of thunder, a fall of mist so that no-one could see anyone else. After the mist,  everywhere was filled with bright light, And when they looked where before they would have once seen flocks and herds and dwellings, they could see nothing at all: neither house, nor animal, nor smoke, nor fire, nor man, nor dwelling…not-one left except the four of them…

These four central characters wander this enchanted version of Britain until two of them are tempted into an enchanted castle and find themselves struck dumb and unable to move when they touch a golden blow beside a fountain. 

One of the major themes and motifs of The Buried Giant is a mysterious mist, and I wondered immediately if Ishiguro had been influenced by ‘the mab’. He wouldn’t have been alone; it is likely that E. E. Nesbit was. In her book The Enchanted Castle, she creates a castle with living statues. Half a century later, in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jadis, the White Witch, fills her castle with statues of Narnians she has turned to stone. Was C.S. Lewis influenced by Nesbit, or The Mabinogion itself?

Using myth to present ideas to today’s readers is not an uncommon one; we are all bound up, whether we know it or not, by the stories that define us, the archetypes that form our understanding of how the world works. With this already in my mind, I couldn’t help wonder if Ishiguro likewise had been likewise influenced. Just as in ‘the mab’, a deep theme of The Buried Giant is symbolized by a mist which has covered Britain and is making the inhabitants forgetful. The people are under an enchantment…and the book itself seems enchanted, for this spellbinding story is an allegory set out as a quest…a quest for a dragon, for family, and for memory itself. 

Several decades after the death of King Arthur, the original Britons are sharing their land with Saxons who are threatening to take over. An elderly British couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off to find their son, journeying through a landscape infested by ogres and pixies, and a dragon, Querig, who, it is said, is polluting the country with its breath, causing the mist which has resulted in an epidemic of amnesia. Axl and Beatrice want their memories back, but are fearful. Little glimpses into the past suggest things were different when they were young.

Axl and Beatrice encounter two warriors, a Saxon called Master Wistan, and the aged Sir Gawain, who both declare they are on a quest to slay Querig. They also take up with a young boy who has been inflicted with a strange bite. 

Kazuo Ishiguro
Their travel leads them into haphazard and troublesome misadventures, each revealing the human condition and the mysteries of life. One of my favourite moments in the book happens when Axle and Beatrice are sheltering from the rain. They watch an old woman slaughter rabbits to torture the sensitivities of a boatman. The old woman tells them she knows the man; he promised to ferry her and her husband to an island where they would both live. The boatman deceived her, saying he could only manage one passenger at a time. He carried her husband to the island, but never returned for her. 

Hearing this story, Beatrice becomes anxious that she might be separated from Axl. Again, I was reminded of The Mabinogion, and of the early Irish myths, in which islands, especially islands surrounded by mist, usually represent the otherworld, or the next world. This ‘story in a story’ affected me on a deep, almost subconscious level, and I became as desperate as Beatrice that she should not be left behind.

As I read deeply into the book, I could see it set up as many questions as it was answering. Are the supernatural creatures real, or just in the minds of the characters? What is it that Axl and Beatrice have forgotten? Who was Axl when he was young? Why does Beatrice not always trust him? Are the two warriors being truthful about their quests? What will happen if the dragon is slain? And, most importantly…what or who is the Buried Giant?

Ishiguro deftly exposes human nature with its weaknesses and strengths through his lyrical and emotive prose. His format is that of allegory, rather than the straightforward historical or fantasy novel, for as the messages are slowly revealed, and the characters face the effects of memory loss and the challenges of their journeys, I found myself examining this in the light of today’s world. The characters show pride, deception, lack of trust, disloyalty and disrespect. They constantly face danger, abandomnent, loss, illness and death, but also find awakening love, compassion and courage.

People have found this book mysterious, provocative and uncomfortably. It is unlike other modern novels, but I think Ishiguro means for it to be unique. He means for us to be challenged – to stop and puzzle the story out. The fact that all his other books are equally distinctive is one of the major reasons I love his work; he is without comparison, in my opinion.

The Buried Giant echoes the strange dream logic of the Mabinogion, where the tales are tangled and broken and yet weave a passionate magic; I recently spent an entire weekend at a symposium on ‘the mab’.  It would not have surprised me to learn that Ishiguro might use Welsh myths in this way, as he loves to take difficult themes and try to make some sense of them. In this book, the early confusions finally resolve into significance, but like myths themselves some extremely profound speculations cannot ever be perfectly clear. 

All Ishiguro’s books have a certain ‘dream logic’ where things are never really as they appear and core emotions, such as guilt, regret and fear of death lie just under the surface. Check out my review of one of his previous novels, The Unconsoled (1995 Faber & Faber) KTWs reading club

Gawain and the Green Knight
So was this book influenced by ‘the mab’? His answer is revealed in an interview with Guernica magazine, where Ishiguro discloses that he was, in fact drawn to the 14th Century Authurian legend, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – and even then, the major impact was that of setting – something I love to use myself. An entire novel can grow out of its setting, if a writer becomes immersed in it. 

In the Guernica article, Ishiguro says…What really sparked my imagination as far as The Buried Giant was concerned was [a] tiny little description of the country [Sir Gawain] was crossing. It sounds like such a weird place. Britain in those days was really rough. There weren’t any inns or anything like that where he could stay, so he had to sleep on rocks in the pouring rain—I don’t know why he had to sleep on rocks, he could have slept under a tree, but that’s what it says—and there are a couple of lines that say that he was chased by wolves and wild boar and panting ogres…I thought, “This is a rather interesting landscape.”

The very first and oldest tales of King Arthur are in The Mabinogion, first set down in the twelfth century and written in Middle Welsh. I would love to know if Ishiguro, among many of our great literary writers, has dipped into this fascinating text.

Kazuo Ishiguro