Beck’s Game: Wrapping Up Series One

Just Some Stuff I Wanted To Say

This is quite a self-indulgent post and I’m somewhat sorry about that. The fact is I’m buzzing (not like that). Beck’s Game has been one of the most successful writing projects I’ve been involved in. (My plan was just to write because I liked to do so). At the time of writing this, in total across all six parts, there have been well over 7,000 downloads. Every part, with the exception of the last to be released has over 1,000 with Part One now at 1,762 and still growing. Part Six is catching up as people reading at their own speed are coming back for more. This has far exceeded my imagination. July 2021 was in itself the most successful month my blog has had since I started. I realise this might seem like boasting and for that I do apologise, I state this however to also let you know I am so grateful to everyone who drops by and spends a little bit of time on my writing. So this is a “Thank You” post.

The South Bank

Thank you to the downloaders, the readers, the people who have said nice things, the businesses that took my hidden cards, the re-tweeters (a single retweet helped so so much) and you the readers of my blog. I really appreciate it.

The writing of Beck’s Game is a story in itself and being on the inside there are things I’ve wanted to say for no reason than I want to tell someone; hence I’m not completely sorry this is self-indulgent. Normal service will resume soon with some blogs about books by other people, I promise.

Last year, the year we want to forget yet call 2020, was the year I published Indoldrum. I’d started writing it before “events” became apparent and aimed for a summer release, which I got. To be honest the lockdowns didn’t impact it too much. I tweeted I’d finished the first draft on March 24th the day after the first lockdown in the UK. So redrafts, edits and all the rest were all done in our new world, but I was going to do them anyway, and when I get obsessed over writing I don’t need to be told to stay at home.

And so the book was released and as far as I was aware that would have been the end of my writing for a while. A novel is a big thing to write, as much you have a head full of ideas you need a whole lot more to make it work; and when it does it takes it out of you. I’d written Framed Of Rathgar summer 2018 to spring 2019 and then Indoldrum winter 2019 to summer 2020. I had no plans… then I had an idea.

There is no way I’d compare myself to the writers I admire, but I can learn from them. I love Fydor Dostoevsky and he published some of his novels in instalments in the The Russian Messenger before they were actually combined in to a volume. I had a blog, you might know of it, and I pondered the idea of releasing a serialised story using my own facilities. Of course this is not a new idea, there are lots of writers doing the same thing, but it hadn’t occurred to me before that I could use my blog to write fiction as well as write about it.

Camden, whilst researching.

You may have picked up I’m a bit of Doctor Who fan so the concept of telling a story in episodes is one I’ve grown up with, again it just hadn’t reached me until then that a writer didn’t need to be writing Doctor Who to do it, not that they do it much any more. I liked the idea and it suited the direction I wanted to go in. Indoldrum is rather an introspective novel and Framed Of Rathgar is deliberately slow, so I wanted to do something more action/adventure and faster paced next, whenever it was. I had the idea, I knew how I was going to do it, but it was now late summer, restrictions were easing and I was off travelling the country and “all this” would be over soon, so I thought.

I said earlier that you need more than a head full of ideas, you need to turn those concepts and fragments into a story. You need a hook, you need to hang good things on to it. I didn’t have any of that, and no real desire to get back into deep writing for a while, I’d been locked in enough. I tend to find the idea needs to be strong enough to motivate me to sit at my desk and type, I need to become obsessed with it. If it’s not strong enough to do that to me, how can I expect others to be interested in it?

But then driving the motorways of England, between listing to Garden’s Question Time and podcasts of Rutherford And Fry I found myself thinking. If I was going to write a six part adventure, for some reason it was always going to be six parts, what would the story be? What did I find exciting? Easy, maps geography… the London Underground! The moment it hit me, write a story about the London Underground, I was excited. I had a motivation, now I just needed a story and the time to do it.

The story of Beck’s Game came quite quickly, and I mean the whole story, I’ve only told one third of it so far. I soon realised six parts was not going to be enough. So I found myself daydreaming, the daydreams became spreadsheets, became word note pads of odd lines, became so much more. I experimented and soon came up with the format of Part One and then onwards. I now had a file open with the first “episode” as I found myself calling them to begin with, I still slip – I think it’s because my brain is programmed because of early Doctor Who!

I had planned it to be more of an anthology with each part being a self contained story which built into a bigger narrative. But in planning this it wasn’t really working, and I planned more for this than anything else I’ve ever written! Naturally it came out in the format it finished in, it felt right, the other way was more convoluted – however each of the six tales have found a place in the ongoing chronicle, some have just had to wait until a later series.

From late summer 2020 until early spring 2021 under two more lockdowns I wrote the whole thing, not just the first six parts, I mean the whole thing. I probably want to re draft the rest as in the time that has passed I’ve thought of changes I’d like to make, small ones, but other than that the whole thing was finished before Oxford Circus was released. I’m so pleased I decided to do it that way. The stress of thinking I’d now have to write two more series would be too much.

And now it’s out there, which is kind of scary to be honest. I know not every download will be read to completion, but that’s the case with any writer and their work. I’m just totally astounded, I honestly never dream of figures that high! Thank you.

As for what comes next? Well as I said the rest is written. I do want to have a bit of a break as it has consumed me over the summer, in a good way, but it’s a dark world and I need to step away for a short while; as well as to stop writing long self indulgent posts here! I want to get back to reading and writing about others. However I’m planning on releasing Series Two around the end of the year or early 2022 if I can, it’s a guess at the moment, but that is the aim. Rhys, Neil, Sophie and the other Players have much ahead of them. We have some new characters and the whole story becomes a lot bigger. There are whole lines of the Underground we’ve barely mentioned and parts of London that hold many secrets.

Series One will remain on this blog, under Beck’s Game in the menu, for as long as I feel it appropriate. I can’t overstate how grateful I am for the support Beck’s Game and myself have received, and I promise, normal service will now resume.


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Recent Interview

With SmartCherry (Twitter @SmartCherrysTho )

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by SmartCherry. You can find his YouTube channel here.

These days I’m used to video chatting with people, as most of us are; it’s strange to watch it back though. I’m pleased to say, although I move about a bit and use the word “err” a little to much I think I come across alright. He’s very professional, you can see which one of us is used to it!

I suggested the title. If you want to watch me ramble on about my books click below.

Check out some of his other interviews as there are lots of good ideas and advice from other writers.

Thank you SmartCherry for taking the time to chat to me.

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Indoldrum – Out Now!

My new novel.

My new novel Indoldrum is now out! After a long period of writing, redrafting, editing and proofing I realised I was at the point where I could unleash it on the world. It’s available on Amazon and for the weekend of 8th and 9th August 2020 the e-book will be free of charge. Just follow the links on this page to the Amazon webpage and download it. – It is also available as a paperback.

Johann might be lost, he isn’t sure. Battling Ménière’s disease and severe hearing loss is hard. Some of the strange new people in his life make him feel uneasy and he’s not sure why. Where have these people come from? What do they know about him? And is there something wrong with time itself? His in-laws have lost their cat, it’s an event which triggers unforeseen challenges and raises questions he’s just not ready to deal with. Johann loves his wife Harriet, she’d help him; but Harriet is dead and the world has ended in more than one way.

This is the first time I have written in the first person and it was an interesting challenge that I really enjoyed. The novel follows the character of Johann and his wife Harriet. However when we meet Johann he is a widower and the loss of his wife is something that he is struggling to deal with. It’s harder because he also suffers from Ménière’s disease, an issue which affects the balance centre of the inner ear causing severe dizzy spells that can last for hours as well as hearing loss. I decided to write about this as a few years ago I was diagnosed with it.

However there is more going on than that. I don’t want to give away too much but there is something wrong with Johann’s world, the laws of physics aren’t quite making sense. There’s a few mysteries to be solved including a person who appears in Johann’s life who will… well I won’t say too much, but who exactly is he? Why is he acting so strange?

Mainly though the novel is about loss. Harriet’s illness and then death casts a large shadow over everything that happens to Johann. That’s not to say it’s all sad, he tells of the happy times of marriage and the reasons for the love of his wife and his adoptive family of in-laws.

And so the evening followed. I’d been taken pity on for having no friends at the wedding even though I actually did have friends in my normal life. We did chat and her friends were nice and then I was dragged to the dance floor and made to humiliate myself to music I never listen to and I so wanted the evening to last forever and I so wanted to go home and hide forever.
We exchanged numbers and I decided that the best thing to do was to change my number the next day. Of course as an over-reaction it might give me away and I realised that as there was little danger of her actually calling me I shouldn’t worry so much. Until she called me.

I made it back to the table with two double whiskies and several packets of crisps. In all the excitement we’d not had anything to eat since a break in the music when we’d gorged ourselves on beef burgers.
‘So do you want kids?’ Andrew had finished his pint.
‘And an Aston Martin. Overall it’s cheaper than children but Harriet won’t let me have one.’

Sally and Felix were there and I felt it was nice as they weren’t family or work colleagues or whatever, instead they were people who only had ever seen Harriet and myself as one unit. We were the couple next door, not Harriet and the one she’d married or their old manager’s husband or even their colleague’s wife. Their being there represented the death of our marriage, not just the death of one person and I needed that.
As always Sally was wonderful, she understood I needed people to feel what I was feeling so she openly wept, sharing the grief, and I felt better for it.
After we had tea and cake at a village hall overlooking green fields and then it was over. My life, forever changed, was moving on. This my past was now my past and my future waited unknown and unwanted.

It’s deliberately written out of chronological order but it is written in an order which slowly reveals what is going on. This was something I realised I could do by writing in the first person.

I’m very happy with this, my third full novel, and I hope you will enjoy reading it. And remember it’s free on the 8th and 9th of August.

Buy Indoldrum by Arthur Hofn

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Giving Away Too Much

The fear of spoiling.

On my last post I spoke about how I prefer to know as little as possible about a book before I read it. This goes for most other things as well, TV programmes, plays and films for example. Whilst most people don’t want spoilers I’m probably at the far end of the scale, which I know is strange but I seem to get on fine.

What I can’t get my head round are the people who happily tell me that when they are looking for a new book, whilst they are in the bookshop, they will turn to the last page and read that as a way of deciding if they want to buy it or not. If you are one of those people please explain how this helps you, I’m genuinely interested to see how other people go about this.

I don’t really read the back of a book before I’m at least two thirds of the way through it, at which point I reckon it’s safe. As stated I prefer to see the plot unfold from not knowing anything. I love the moment when it dawns on me “so that is what this book is going to be about”.

On this blog, whilst I try and tell you about books I love, I also try and not give away that much in the way of plots. Hence this is never going to be a detailed analysis of the books – I’m aiming at just offering a taster and you can then find out as much or as little as you want. I’ll generally always put a link at the bottom of the post of where the book is for sale so you can read the blurb if you want to (although ironically not on this one).

Whilst this works for my reading it‘s a problem when it comes to try and promote my novels, I just fear saying anything is giving away too much. Of course that is the way to completely not promote anything. I can’t work on the basis of “just do what I would want” which is a principle I use for most things connected to my writing. I’d personally want just the title and a blank page. At most maybe a few random lines.

At first when I tried to send my manuscripts off to agents I would try to write the synopsis, but all the time I had voices in my head screaming at me not to give away the ending or the twists and plot developments, that was never going to work. I’ll only read a synopsis of a book I’ve finished or have no intention of starting.

My current WIP is a novel called Indoldrum and I’m very happy with it. It still needs a bit more work but I’m at the point where I need to start writing promotional things, the back cover, the Amazon blurb etc and it’s really difficult. At the moment I’m on:

Johan might be lost, he isn’t sure. Battling Ménière’s disease and severe hearing loss is hard. Some of the strange new people in his life make him feel uneasy and he’s not sure why. Where have these people come from? What do they know about him? And is there something wrong with time itself?

His in-laws have lost their cat, it’s an event which triggers unforeseen challenges and raises questions he’s just not ready to deal with.

Johan loves his wife Harriet, she’d help him; but Harriet is dead and the world has ended in more than one way.

It needs some more work, but for each plot point I’ve put I regret that a reader won’t learn them by just reading the book. The reveal that Johan is losing his hearing because he has Ménière’s disease, a condition that I have, isn’t stated straightaway and is only hinted at to start off with. I wanted the reader to notice something was wrong and then try and work out what it was. In most other books, because it is still relatively early in the book it is mentioned it would be a selling point so I have to fight my inner voices and go with it – but I’m not happy as it undoes all the natural building I put in place. Also the time thing… But that is how books and their promotion work.

I don’t suppose it really matters at the end of the day. I’ve tried to think of occasions where I’ve accidentally discovered more about a book than I wanted to and felt some disappointment. I know it’s happened but in trying to think of examples I can’t really come up with one that is worthy of note. Therefore I’ll just put this down to another one of my strange quirks and try and get on with it. But how do you define the correct amount of spoilers for the back of a book?

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