Sunday, 13 May 2018

Class of '92

Hi all! I hope you are enjoying Happy New Year. It's going great guns and ranking high in the Kindle store so thank-you for your continued support.

Now it's time for me to start thinking about the next novel and the rest of May will be taken up with the planning process. As you can imagine, with time travel I have to map everything out very carefully to ensure it all ties up - not only within the current story but also with all the others. It's quite a task keeping track of it all!

Here's what I have so far. It will be book #5 in The Time Bubble series and will be set predominantly in 1992. Nostalgia always seems to be about a generation behind in my experience. When I was a kid, everyone used to go on about the fifties. In recent years, it's all been about the eighties. So I think it's high time for an appreciation of that somewhat overlooked decade, the nineties. This book will give me a good opportunity to kick-start that.

Cornmarket Street in 1992. Remember when you could 
hardly move for all the buses?

It will focus on two main characters. One of these will be Peter, who we've only ever previously met in middle-age. In 1992, he'll be a twenty-one year old University student in Oxford, and we'll get a chance to explore the culture of the times through his youthful eyes. This shouldn't be too difficult for me, as I was that age and living and working around Oxford at that time.

The other main protagonist will be Josh, who you'll recall at the end of Splinters in Time was heading back to 1992 in the hope of finding a way back to his own time. With several months to kill before he can attempt to get home, he'll need to integrate into the nineties culture from his twenty-first century perspective, which should prove interesting. I like the idea of pairing him up with Peter from their altered places in the timeline - Josh now middle-aged with a youthful Peter, who was once Josh's middle-aged teacher when Josh was at school.

Of course, there will be a big time travel conundrum for them to deal with, and this time I want to explore a concept that I touched on twice before, that of people from the past coming to the present. In Global Cooling there was the sailor who went missing for several months before popping up in the cave in Cornwall. Then in Splinters in Time, I wove the old English folk tale of The Mermaid of Zennor into the story, providing a time travelling explanation for the mysterious disappearance of Matthew Trewhella all those centuries ago.

So, what if a malfunctioning Time Bubble started sending people from the past into 1992 Oxford? And how will Josh and Peter handle that? I don't know yet, I haven't figured all that out, but that's what this planning process is all about.

My provisional title? Class of '92 - which I think has a nice ring to it.

Jason Ayres is the author of eight time travel novels including his latest release, Happy New Year. You can find out more by clicking here

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Ten albums in ten days

Music is such a personal thing, isn’t it? Some people will say they are into rock, others into metal, but the truth is that even if we identify with a genre each of us will have our own unique soundtrack to our lives.

I don’t have a particular genre as such, but objectively, if anyone was looking at what I have been listening to now and over the past few decades, they might define it as a cross between electronica and shoegazing (also known as dream pop). Neither of these are particularly popular these days in the UK (if they ever were) and they certainly aren’t fashionable but I don’t care one iota about that. I’ve always believed that one’s musical tastes should be true to one’s self and not what’s “cool” or to fit in.

I should add that I also like lots of other stuff that doesn’t belong to those genres. It’s why I go down The Red Lion most Fridays as they have all sorts of live singers on down there doing different stuff.

I started doing one of those “ten albums in ten days” things on Facebook recently but gave up because I didn’t see the point. One of the things about it was “Just post a cover, no explanation needed”. But why do that if you aren’t going to give an explanation? Surely that’s the whole point. Otherwise how will anyone be able to share in how you feel? So, what I've decided to do is stick ten albums on here in one big hit instead plus a little caption for each. That way you can look at them all together or if you're not interested it is only one post on Facebook you will have to ignore rather than ten!

One drawback of being into relatively niche genres is that it is very hard to find other people in real life who are into the same stuff. Therefore my music listening is an extremely solitary activity. I can read the comments under YouTube videos online to see what other people think but they aren't people I'll ever encounter in real life. Having no-one to share one's musical journey with is a great pity as I am incredibly moved every day through the music I listen to. My favourite artists talk to me about life, feelings, and situations in a way that I almost feel that they’ve written these songs personally just for me. Which I guess was probably the artist's attention as it is with all us creative types. I have had feedback from people describing how my books have touched them in a similar way.

Sometimes I am lying in bed and a song comes on and whether it’s a joyful or melancholy moment, I so wish there was someone to whom I could say “Listen to this song. Listen to the words. Then you’ll understand exactly how I feel!” 

There is a way to do this in the modern world simply by posting a link to the song on Facebook and asking everyone to listen to it. But I very rarely do this, because like I said at the start, music is a very personal thing. A song that I find incredibly moving, speaking volumes to me about my own life, may mean nothing to the vast majority of other people. They are likely to see a proliferation of such postings as self-indulgent, attention seeking twaddle. Eventually they will get sick of seeing them and unfollow me. Well I assume they will - because I've done the same to other people who post too much. Haven't we all?

So it seems I must keep my thoughts wrapped up and continue my long musical voyage alone. It’s sad because many is the time I’ve listened to a song that’s made me think about a particular friend and longed to tell them “Listened to this and thought of you” but most of the time I have held back.  In the past I used to make up mix tapes or CD’s for friend and girlfriends, and most times that went well but I haven’t done anything like that for a while. Most people are streaming music these days anyway so if I gave them a CD they wouldn't listen to it. What's the alternative? Spotify playlists? All very well if you're on Spotify but I'm not. I use Amazon Music unlimited.

For what it’s worth, whilst what I listen to changes from time to time, at the moment I’m listening to a mixed up playlist of around 100 tracks from the following six bands: Client, Garbage, Ladytron, La Roux, Lush and Saint Etienne. Some of these you will probably never have heard of. Client have spent a single week of their 14 year career so far in the Top 40, whilst Ladytron have not even managed that in nearly twenty years, though both have found greater success outside the UK. I’m not going to bother posting any links to songs for the reasons I’ve already stated, but here’s ten album covers in lieu of my failing to complete the Facebook challenge! 

Note that these aren't necessarily my ten favourite albums of all time but a mix of what I'm listening to at the moment with some old favourites thrown in. I could quite easily have given you 50 or a hundred but we haven't got all day, so ten it shall be...

The latest album from Client, still as good as ever despite
the departure of Dubstar singer, Sarah Blackwood.

Hard to believe this classic is
now twenty years old!

Pure pop perfection. I could never get tired of this
album - undoubtedly their best.

The second album from La Roux that was nowhere near as
 commercially successful as the first but just as good!

Pretty hardcore electronica, the sort that goes down well in
 Japan and Germany but not so well in the UK.

I'm a big fan of this band's early work,
particularly this debut album.

A shoegazing classic, before they embraced the Britpop movement
 for commercial success, though that was just as good!

Another great indie band of the early 1990s
 and an album that never gets old.

Sarah Blackwood's earlier band, with this slightly dodgy looking cover.
Is it just me or does the pencil case look like a fanny?

The band I have seen more than any other, and almost
 certainly my most played album of all time.

In the unlikely event that you are reading this and just happen to love one of those artists then get in touch! We’ll have something to talk about!