Has It Really Been Six Months?

Whoops. Been busy.

Real busy.

New book in the final stages right now. Stay tuned for more details!

back from the dead


Character Bios: Sidney Gaterling

A quintessential geek fantasy. Most of the time Sidney is unassuming and meek, but when he gets his hand on a sword he becomes AWESOME – he can fight monsters, save the world and rescue the girl.

00003 Sidney Gaterling

A bright, resourceful chap born in the fictional town of Pattersfield, England. Sidney Gaterling spent most of his childhood happily being on his own. He comes from a lovely, ordinary family, but learned his life lessons at school from the other children – to be quiet and go away. This  might sound like the start of a super villain origin story – but Sidney decided to shy away from social situations and found contentment in being alone. Over the years he studied hard, earned a degree, landed a fancy job and lived happily ever after.

Of course, that isn’t how it usually happens. Introduced as the protagonist of The Sardonyc, Sidney is a Master of Magical Science Studies who worked for the Hidden Government’s Research and Development department. He was in effect a freelance scientist, bopping around the world when his expertise was required for ancient artefacts and rare types of magic.

One ordinary day he joined the Super Human Project as an analyst. The tl;dr of that event was Sidney having to learn how to fight for his damn life, and never speak of what happened there again.

“I have a degree in Magic Science. It’s a wonderful oxymoron.”

By the time of Bloodfest, Sidney is a 27 year old soldier he uses sword based magic, living on the sequestered, Hidden Government controlled islands of Pacoven. He is settled in this role, happy to play as a protector with unique skills amongst the ordinary military personnel, until orders from the top transfer him into Delta Squad with a bunch of hard, gravel crunching veterans. Ace, Damian, Shimon and the rest are a different breed altogether, and Sidney struggles to integrate into the group at first.

As a combatant, Sidney consistently puts himself in danger. He has an altruistic, noble attitude (particularly when it comes to helping women), and a humbling will to serve, which may be a result of low esteem. Sidney is often nervous around others, yet he doesn’t care about himself getting hurt or even killed in combat, and his valiance does not go unnoticed.

Sidney’s entire story revolves around fitting in; finding your place, being useful and being happy. He wants to do well. He is an old fashioned romantic, and wants to find love and have a good life. Sidney’s stymie is his borderline social anxiety disorder, stemming from childhood and a lack of stability in his adult life. He claims to be like being ‘alone’, as he is used to it, but that does not mean he is telling the truth. Sidney yearns to be accepted and approved of, but has trouble asking for it. He doesn’t want to appear needy.

Sidney never feels worthy, but constantly feels the need to prove himself. He is in his own way a wonderful oxymoron.

“Heh, nervous fella, ain’t ya?” Damian chuckled.

“I’m cautious. Anxious,” Sidney replied. “Have you ever been through New York or London during a storm?”

“You what?” Damian muttered.

“Imagine you’re walking through the busy, rush hour crowds and it starts to rain; everybody puts their umbrella up,” Sidney started, staring straight ahead. “But after a while, the rain stops, and maybe you don’t notice. You’re too busy thinking, because you’re always thinking about things. Suddenly you’re the only person walking around with an umbrella, and everyone can see you holding the damn thing. And when you do realise this, you feel foolish…” Sidney concluded. “…That’s how I feel most of the time.”

All in all, Sidney is painfully English. If someone steps on his toes, he apologises to them. But that is not to say he is a pushover. Sidney has no tolerance for injustice. He has had to learn things the hard way, and is ever on edge. Finding a comfortable balance is still Sidney’s biggest challenge, especially when he can’t realise how much he means to other people, and how much they worry for him.

Despite the quietness, the shyness, the meekness… Sidney will throw himself into the deep end to save others. With sword in hand, he knows he can do the right thing.



Creation Notes:

  • Sidney was named as a long standing reference to the Final Fantasy series, of course. Coincidentally my great grandfather was named Sidney.
  • He favours the sword in combat but wisely keeps a firearm on hand. His choice is the S&W 44. Magnum. It’s small but dangerous, and restricted to limited shots before needing to reload. Possibly a bit like him.
  • Sidney was a ‘Pattersfield Fox’ when he was young, an equivalent to being a Scout or Cub Scout.
  • He has a fear of drowning in deep water, and prefers showers to baths.
  • His surname, Gaterling, doesn’t have a lot of meaning. It is purely meant to invoke the image of a Gatling Gun and its mechanical functions.
  • Like all of the characters in the series, Sidney has a strong affinity to one of the classic / fantasy elements. In his case Ice; but to be more specific he has a connection to Outer Space, a theme that will become apparent and relevant as the series goes on. Perhaps there is a reason why he feels so out of place…

Character Bios: Damian Hassler

He’s like a movie action hero… with the creative imagination of a ten year old boy. Some say Damian can make anything into a lethal weapon, and he certainly does try.

00005 Damian Hassler

Damian is a master of weapons. He has a destructive streak and a wickedly creative mind. Born in 1987 and growing up in East London, Damian was barely raised by his dad, and never even met his mother. It is suggested that something out of the ordinary happened between his parents; to the extent that his dad refuses to talk about it and appears afraid of bringing it up.

In his youth, Damian spent as much time as he could at his cousin Ace’s house. He was at ease there, and happy filled the niche of ‘annoying small child who breaks everything but gets away with it because the older child takes responsibility’. Despite this, Ace put up with him quite willingly. Ace’s friend Shimon Arkasone was round often, and Damian had terrific fun terrorising him physically; but only because Shimon always fought back.

Damian still looks up to his older, wiser cousin, but is reluctant to admit that. He pretends not to have feelings at the risk of appearing weak. He is utterly non-politically correct and quite content with that. He hates authority, only listening to those who he respects.

He often mocks people, or lashes out with his short temper, but usually feels bad about it if he respects them. Damian wants to be liked, and he looks out for the people he cares about.

Damian confronted the teenagers, clutching his rocket launcher and staring them down his fiery brown eyes, almost alight with fire.

“Move,” he grunted.

“Who’s this big fella?” Will whimpered.

“He’s my cousin, Damian,” Ace answered.

“Ok. Why’s he looking at me like he wants to pull my head off?”

Ace couldn’t help but smirk. “He does that to everyone. Don’t worry about it.”

“Just don’t make any sudden movements around him…” Shimon grinned.

While Damian possesses magical abilities, like all Hidden Government soldiers; Weapon crafting is his primary focus. He wants to create the most dangerous tools known to mankind, no matter how ridiculous they may be and has certainly succeeded more than once. He enjoys making bombs, challenging himself to come up with more elaborate designs. Detonating these things is the ultimate pay off. Damian loves explosions. It is a form of art to him. His greatest joy however is modifying the RPG, to see what else can be ‘rocket propelled’ to good effect. Some of his best efforts include the RPNB (Rocket Propelled Nail Bomb), the RPBFOA (Rocket Propelled Beaker Full of Acid), and the RPBOLOT (Rocket Propelled Box of Liquid Oxygen and Thermite).

Damian is not a force of nature. He is something else. Damian actually thinks before he acts, which does not mean he necessarily thinks with much consideration for trifling things such as property damage, cost of repair, mental anguish, etc. His mind is on getting the job done, and his objective always involves creating the biggest explosion possible.

He just does what the voices in his head tell him to do, whoever those guys are.


Creation Facts:

  • Damian’s character was clearly inspired by any action movie you’ve ever seen, but also pretty much every character portrayed by Adrian Edmondson in the 80’s and 90’s.
  • I feel that, despite his temperament and aggression, Damian often speaks for the audience. He is usually the first character to speak up in protest when things don’t make sense. He often demands further explanation when plot points or key moments of the series pop up, barking off a short “Explain,” for clarification. He’s a great narrative device in that sense.
  • Damian also pulls a lot of faces to express his thoughts, despite this being a written medium. That’s just part of his character though – he’s a rule breaker; a truly metaphysical rule breaker.

Always have a Battle Plan

I have been working on the Bloodfest series for  a long time now and I feel the need to explain myself; how the series works and what the ultimate goal is.

  • Stage 1: establishing the world

At the time of this post, I have written three books: one firmly self published on Amazon while the others are in the copy editing phase (I keep referring to it as ‘post production’).

In order to rebirth the series from a long slumber, I decided to write three original stories to firstly; practise writing again, and secondly; develop the characters for a modern era. These three books are all prequels to the “main event” called Bloodfest.

Call of the Conjurer is set in the year 2003, and follows the initiation of British born “magic soldiers” Ace Mcdagger and Shimon Arkasone. They have been ushered into the secretive organisation known internally as the Hidden Government, and are to be trained up in the art of magic combat. Several other characters find themselves in the same position, and a large part of the story is about team work.

Ace and Shimon are key to the whole Bloodfest series; or at least how it begins. But for Call of the Conjurer I wanted to write a bigger story, and invented the character of Calbert Mason – a figure for Ace to look up to – along with many others for Ace and Shimon to form close ties with. Some of these characters will make further appearances in the series.

Despite the establishing set up with Ace and Shimon, Call of the Conjurer became more of Calbert Mason’s story, and this formula of multiple viewpoints continues into the next book.

Typhoon of Fire continues the exploits of Ace, Shimon, and their close allies three years later in 2006. New key characters are introduced, and life changing events will affect the main cast for years to come.

Finally The Sardonyc changes perspectives entirely, focusing away form the action of the battlefield and onto the introverted scientist Sidney Gaterling. Set in the year 2010, this is one for the geeks. The pace is different; far more technical and steady. The Sardonyc is more of a psychological thriller, with a group of characters trapped on a ship and slowly going mad. Through these remarkable circumstances, Sidney faces his own battle against a mental threat, and his story gradually ties the prequel trilogy together.

Ultimateley, these three prequel books are not essential reading to understand Bloodfest, but help deepen the main characters’ motivations and hint at future events.

  • Stage 2: the Main Event

Bloodfest is a planned saga, currently shaping up to span five books. The first one has been written completely, and I am piecing the rest together all at once. I admit it is taking a while…

BF Cover preview.png

Set firmly in 2012, Bloodfest is an expansive story about savage battle, fatalism, bloodlines and mortality.

The conclusion has been planned, and I know what kind of story I want each book to tell. The series may be one saga, but each novel has its own collection of themes and arcing plotlines. I hate to leave a story on an unsatisfying cliffhanger, and want each one to have a concluding story.

  • Stage 3: the blog

Suffice to say the overall story arc has been mapped out over a number of years. Small changes have been made over time and continue to be made, but my primary intention is to put this series out and leave a little bit of me to the world.

Not only me: but my friends who helped directly create and inspire the series. A fellow called James is the key partner in crime here; co creator of the original home movie and continued contributor of ideas. He also writes, and is already penning a side story to Bloodfest that is totally original. I have no input on his tale and I love that. Even if he never finishes it, I love the idea of an expanded universe.

More about the origins of Bloodfest can be read here. I like to elaborate, and I want to answer questions and build up a reference source for the series with further texts and concept art.

Being a writer means constant practise. Some nights on the train ride home from London, I jot down mini stories built around the world of Bloodfest and I plan to post them on the blog as little treats.

For now, I hope you enjoy the character bios and develop an interest in the series. Please stay tuned as this blog fills with information!

Character Bios: Gretel Salneth

A soldier who needs re-training. She comes across as lazy and aloof, argumentative and unwilling to take part, but maybe she has every reason to feel that way.

Of course, excessive make up is not allowed in the military.

Gertrude ‘Gretel’ Salneth hails from Hungary, where she lived a quiet and unassuming life with her father and younger brother, occasionally helping around the family owned garage. Looking for a sense of purpose and wanting to go beyond the norm, she enlisted in the military. Without any choice or warning, she is transfered to the globally operating Hidden Government Army a few months later.

“Unfortunately, my name’s Gertrude. Gertrude Salneth.”

“It’s too old fashioned. I like to be called Gretel,” she said, smiling.

Recruit Salneth has become a familar face in the Myrtle Training Base. The 2003 season of training is her third appearance, and she doesn’t seem fussed. Captain Mason and his Lieutenants recognise her as a trouble maker – she lacks the discipline to work along side others, but Gretel claims that each squad she has been placed in were ‘a bunch of jerks’, among other words.

She speaks little about past experiences, but the recruits of 2003 seem more like her cup of tea. She likes her bunk mate – Tiffany – the only other woman in the group, even though they don’t walk much. She forms a close bound to Ace Mcdagger in particular; a kind, sweet hearted lad who seems very sad inside. She wants to work him out.

Gretel is happy to give everybody a chance, but she also makes it clear if you’re not responding to her. In reality, Gretel is considerent and honest; she does want to take part and work within a team, but she needs to feel comfortable with them. her arrogance is more of a shield. She tries to be ruthless in order to stop herself being nervous.

Gretel lowered her voice. “I do Witchcraft,” she said, and gave a cheeky smile. “Power of suggestion; manipulation, curses. I can make people do what I want.”

Sometimes she is very strong, and sometimes she is very fragile, espically when she realises that her past actions are putting her in jeopordy. The Hidden Government Army is a serious operation, and doesn’t take kindly to liabilities. Gretel simply isn’t ‘valuable’ enough to get away with her deeds, and she could pay for it any moment.


Creation Facts:

  • Gretel’s creation was a response to how Hollywood tends to make the goth girl bad, or downright evil. (think pretty much any character played by Fairuza Balk. Except Dorothy of course.)
  • Her weapon of choice is the AK-63, staple of the Hungarian Defence Force.
  • She is fluent in Hungarian, English, German and Russian.
  • Like the other characters in Call of the Conjurer, Gretel has a close affinity to one of the magical elements. Hers is Ice, although she hates having cold feet.

Character Bios: Calbert Mason

The head training instructor of Myrtle Base. Gentle natured and world weary,  Mason can summon loyal creatures in a safe environment, allowing new recruits to practice their spell casting combat.

He is a fatherly figure, to the point of caring far too much about those under his charge.00004 Calbert Mason

Captain Mason examined his reflection, adjusting his jacket lapels symmetrically. He’d been there for about an hour now, just getting ready; taking a look at himself in the mirror and admiring his finest qualities. He felt ridiculous doing so, but needed to psyche himself up.

Calbert Mason was born under a different name in Jamaica. He hails from a small inland village where his parents worked various small jobs throughout the year. Home life was very stressful, and his father was particularly aggressive. Calbert had two older brothers who worked from a young age, though one of them disappeared when he was five. Being the youngest child, Calbert felt like nothing more than another  mouth to feed.

It was around this time that Calbert was visited by a creature formed of light; an angel, he concluded, unaware of his ability to conjure spirits into our world.

The creature called itself Vaschelim, and Calbert was instantly enthralled. Its mere presence helped him to feel safe. Though Vaschelim stayed invisible for the most part, other people saw sometimes it, though no one could comprehend what this strange spectre was. It was often dismissed.

No one truly believed what they saw, except for Calbert.

Calbert joined the Jamaica Defence Force at 18, seeing few other prospects available. He took on the name Mason; the title of a creator, because it sounded strong. Only months into his career he was approached by a different faction; a group who called themselves the Hidden Government, and they made a very convincin argument to transfer Calbert into their own private army. They told him of his ability to summon; that other creatures like Vaschelim existed, and Calbert could control them all.

And contol them he could, forming stong bonds to particular monsters such as the legendary Golem of Yom Tov Lipmann Heller and strange, indescribable spirit wraiths. Vaschelim stayed by his side constantly, but throughout his service Mason never felt like a soldier. He did not enjoy killing, and was eventually able to secure a role as a combat instructor. Perhaps the position had always been intended for him.

He had once been a young, foolish boy. Now he is an experienced Combat Instructor looking into a mirror to practise his steely, piercing gaze aimed at trouble makers.

Mason, as he is known now, still harbours a resentment for his family. Maybe he feels ashamed for leaving, or perhaps he recognises a bit of his father in himself when he feels angered. Mason is generally calm, but can snap in the face of overwhelming injustice. His feelings for the Hidden Government have dropped over the years, and reached their lowest in 2001, but he knows he is stuck in his place. His only solace is to keep his recruits safe, but ultimately his job is to train them up to confront certain death.

Mason bides his time, doing the best he can. He knows he can do nothing more, but he holds onto hope. Hope for what, exactly, he isn;t sure.

Creation Facts:

  • In early drafts for what was code named Bloodfest 0, Mason was much younger and the Captain of Omega Squad. Omega Squad was made up of trainees, including Ace and Shimon, and were immediately deployed into combat. The whole second half of Call of the Conjurer was once the entire story, before I went back and created the training facility scenario. It made more sense that way.
  • He rarely uses weapons, instead commanding his conjurer beasts to act as supportive units. The shotgun he uses is purely symobilc, for the sake of ‘passing the torch’ when the time comes.

Character Bios: Tiffany Milich

… she preferred to keep her head down in active duty situations. Whilst on base, Tiffany seemed to come alive more – offering to fulfil the mundane tasks that needed doing day to day. She loved to take care of the little jobs, the ones nobody would notice.

A bright, quiet young woman with a fantastic mind. She remembers everything in perfect detail, choosing to employ this skill to learn as much as she can.

When introduced in ‘Call of the Conjurer’, Tiffany comes across as rather avoidant, maybe even a little abrasive towards anyone trying to get to know her. I tried to keep her out of focus, until she slowly opens up to the rest of the team and becomes a vital player in ‘Typhoon of Fire’.

For years Tiffany had no idea that she was special. Everybody around her generally regarded her uncanny mind to just ‘being smart’. Everybody said so; friends, family, and the jealous bully types.

Tiffany had a humble upbringing. Her family were ordinary, and she had hoped to become a doctor, but couldn’t due to the costs of studying. Instead, she entered the military to become medical personnel. It was only when she was ushered into the Hidden Government Army that Tiffany knew she might be more than just ‘smart’. She is told that her memory is perfect, able to recall the smallest details that one might not even notice at the time. Tiffany also displays adept magical combat, demonstrating a natural talent right away.

Despite all the praise, she tries to keep a low profile, fearing that people will regard her as boastful and bigheaded. Still, she has a nervous compulsion to correct people when they are mistaken and feels embarrassed for doing do. She tries to keep her head in books, learning all she can about any variety of subjects – with the ulterior motive of avoiding social situations.

I’m always spouting facts! It’s like… it needs to escape! I’m always rabbiting on. It must be very annoying.

Thankfully the other recruits are receptive and welcoming. Ace in particular wants to bring the group together and tries to encourage some confidence out of Tiffany, acting as wing man to his smitten buddy Shimon, but doesn’t quite succeed.

Thankfully, Shimon manages to speak up, and the  two of them mesh right away. Tiffany takes to Shimon quickly, naive in romance and charmed by this boy who shows her interest. For all that she can read in books, nothing compares to first hand experience.

Where Shimon is darkness, Tiffany is light. Together they are like ying and yang; an ideal pairing who need one another and play off each other perfectly. But with Tiffany’s ambitions, Shimon’s unique abilities, and their relationship embroiled in the sercret military service, the two might be separated at any time. Their lives are at the whim of higher powers. Can there be a happy ending?


Creation Facts:

  • It took me awhile to stumble on a first name for Tiffany. While documenting her orignal design to computer many years ago, I noticed the ‘.Tiff’ file extension and settled on that.
  • ‘Milich’ deviated from the word millet, mostly because it sounds nice, but also because millet is earthly and full of potential and growth.