Thursday, 26 July 2018

Road Trip

As I sit here on the decking in the garden of my dream home that I bought last year, on the umpteenth night of the best summer in over 40 years, I have to reflect that life can't get much better.

If there was one thing I could change? I wish that I didn't live so far from the sea. I have always felt drawn to the coast, and am so envious of those that live close to it. Bicester was just about as far as you can get from the sea and Evesham is only marginally nearer.

With temperatures of 30+ forecast for today, I declared to the Ayres family last night that we would be going on a road trip. I've been sat in my office working away on my latest novel and various other projects for weeks and felt in need of a well deserved day off.

So with the car packed up with everything needed for a day at the beach, we set sail from sunny Evesham around 9.15am this morning, with the dulcet tones of Ken Bruce to help us along the way.

Where to go? Well the nearest seaside spot to us is Weston-Super-Mare or Weston-Super-Mud as some have dubbed it, with good reason. It's fine when the tide is in, but unfortunately when it is out, the water retreats approximately half way to France. This leaves several miles of dangerous mudflats to negotiate to reach the shoreline if one is feeling particularly suicidal. That's what happened the last time we went and a quick check of the tide times suggested it would be the same story today.

So instead we decided to try Barry Island, somewhere I've never been before. I'll be honest, I went with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. It was an easy journey, in just around two hours we were on the beach munching our sandwiches under the watchful gaze of marauding seagulls. And the temperatures were very pleasant - whilst Heathrow was sweltering in it's hottest day of the year at 35c, we were enjoying a lovely 27c with sea breezes.

What are you hanging around me for? Do I look like the sort of
 bloke who's going to have loads of food on him? Oh...

I couldn't believe how warm the sea was. It reminded me of when I was in Hawaii all those years ago. It's amazing how much difference three months of almost unbroken sunshine can make to the waters around Britain compared to your average summer. Rather than my usual paddling I actually went far enough out to start swimming - something I found absolutely exhilarating. Swimming in the sea is one of those pure and joyous experiences that really makes me feel alive, something that in a world full of adult responsibilities is something that we can easily forget how to feel.

Me on the beach. I can't show you the topless ones
as I've sold the rights to them to Playgirl.

The one downside? Somehow I managed to step on and get stung by a weaver fish, necessitating a brief visit to first aid. That wasn't pleasant but I didn't let it spoil my day. After about four hours on the beach we went to the fair, where the kids made good use of the tokens I bought for them. We then wandered past a few gift shops selling tacky Gavin and Stacey memorabilia, finishing with a slap up meal at a lovely little cafe on the front. Then we headed home, returning to Evesham just before dark, All in all, a grand day out as Wallace and Gromit would say.

Now here I am, 11pm, in the garden again with a glass of wine during the summer that just keeps giving. Cheers.

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

Monday, 23 July 2018

Bringing my words to life.

It's been a busy few weeks here at Chapel Street Press - which is the name I gave to my modest little publishing empire when I set it up two house moves ago. It was back in those heady days at Chapel Street in Bicester where the concept of the Time Bubble first burst into print.

I've been beavering away on the fifth book in The Time Bubble series recently. It is in fact my ninth novel in this series overall when you take the spin-offs into account. You know I love to come up with original concepts for my books and I'm quite confident that I've come up with another new twist with this story.

Whilst I've been writing about Josh's latest adventure in 1992, I've also been working on another long term project to bring my books to life via the medium of audio books.

I already dipped my toe into the waters of this area a while back when I got together with Paul Messingham, a voice actor from Brighton, to record the audio book of My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday.

Over the past few months I've put some of the other books up for audition and have received an overwhelming response. The books have been flying pretty high in the Amazon charts now for some time which must certainly have helped because the number of auditions I got for The Time Bubble alone took me days to wade through. I was amazed at the number of high profile people expressing an interest - audio books are clearly no longer merely a niche market. In the end I went with a RADA actor I was already familiar with through his long running role in The Archers, in Big Finish Doctor Who audio productions and more.

For Midlife Crisis and Rock Bottom, I've got two more great actors/ producers on board with huge experience within the BBC, ITV and elsewhere. I'm going to run features on each of these people as the audio books are released so watch this space.

One of the things I'm finding absolutely thrilling about this whole process is when people who I've grown up watching on TV seek to connect with me. Only this morning I've been chatting to a female actor who had a long running role in Brookside. I was almost in awe when her name popped up in my inbox, showing interest in the next audio book I plan to commission. If you've read Happy New Year you'll know that Amy, the lead character, is from Liverpool. What could be better than having a native speaker with a proven track record from the greatest soap of all time?

It's quite an amazing experience hearing some of these hugely talented people reading aloud the words I've written, particularly the dialogue sections. My characters have always felt very alive to me, but hearing their voices brought to life by these actors brings it to a whole new level.

It also makes me think how much more potential there is in these stories. Hearing the voice of my characters is one thing, but how about seeing them in the flesh? It would be my absolute dream to see Lauren Kent, Kay and all the others brought to life on the silver screen or on TV. Who knows? Maybe these audios might bring that one step closer to reality.

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

Sunday, 8 July 2018

It's coming home - but I don't want to watch it at home!

For those of you that hate football look away now. I haven't posted excessively about it. so you're just going to have to forgive me this one post when it pops up on Facebook.

It's only fair, after all. I mean, the World Cup is only once every four years, and England doing well at it is only about once every quarter century. Compare that to the endless shite that has dribbled down my news feed year after year about The X-Factor, Love Island and Strictly Come Wanking or whatever it's called, and I think you can cut me some slack this one time.

Actually none of that stuff does come down my news feed anymore as I automatically unfollow anyone who mentions it. So if I haven't liked or commented on any of your statuses since about 2013, that's probably why. Sorry about that.

Now I find myself in a bit of a quandary. Thus far, I have watched the England games mostly in the comfort of my own home and with my family, but now things are getting serious, the stakes are being upped. Today I was at Eynsham Carnival in Oxfordshire with family, and we had a good get together at my Dad's house to watch it. Even my sister, a confirmed non-football fan joined in. Everyone's getting in the spirit.

So where do I watch from here on? Well in England's not so glorious past, before I had children, I invariably spent every agonising failure in some pub somewhere, drowning my sorrows at various missed penalties with the other desolate souls. Now things are different - I have children (7 and 10) so I can't just bugger off to the pub for the semi final and, dare I say it, a potential final.

Well in theory I could - most pubs allow kids in these days so I could take them with me, but I am not sure my two would cope with an absolutely mobbed football pub crowd. I'm not sure even I would, come to that.

Equally, I don't want to watch it at home, just the three of us. Not such a historic moment as this might turn out to be. I need to be in shared company.

So I've got two ideas - one is to see if we can get some of the neighbours together and have a bit of a street or garden party - entirely possible in our street which is end of a cul-de-sac and mostly off road. Providing we can rig up some sort of visible outdoor TV it's a possibility.

Or alternatively, maybe Wychavon council could spring into action and set up some sort of big screen mass event in Evesham in Abbey Park or Crown Meadow. What an experience that would be - especially with the amazing summer we are having.

That would be an amazing experience and not too difficult to organise at short notice, I would hope? After all, Eynsham Carnival managed to get some big screens today, only a few days after they found out England were playing. I've seen plenty of footage on the BBC of such events taking place all over the place so how about it? Let's get families and their kids out there on the field to celebrate this fantastic adventure together as it enters the final stages.

Come on England!

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