Tag Archives: inspiration

The Soundtrack Of Life

I am such a person that I spend a lot of my time stuck inside my own head. I’m either focusing on work, relaxing from work, adding some noise to my surroundings or I’m adding some joviality to a situation. Either way all of these instances involve music. I spend a huge part of my day with headphones on. When I’m trying to focus I use music to drown out all else. When I want to take a walk I put on headphones and can ramble for miles. What better way to keep the boredom of a long train journey at bay than by – yes, you guessed it – putting on headphones. With this in mind it gave me cause to think of the part music plays in all our lives.

What kind of music do you like?

It’s hard to find someone that doesn’t like music. it’s such a varied thing that there is surely something for everyone. From cheesy pop to death metal and everything in between there is a soundtrack for all kinds of situations. I guess that’s why movies and television shows use soundtracks to really capture the mood of the scene. Have you ever taken a scene and given it a different kind of soundtrack? it really changes the tone of the scene. Music can be beautiful audible poetry. It can also offer such lyrical genius as, “Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof, woof woof.” Or, “let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel.” (Probably showing my age with those examples there but you get the point).

What does that song make you think of?

Another thing about music is it can be a great memory trigger. Those carefully constructed notes go a long way to bringing all kinds of images to your head. They can make you remember a person or a place. As you listen along all the other senses are called into action. You can taste it, smell it, feel it. You can see the face of someone you haven’t seen for years as though they are standing right in front of you. For creative writers like myself it’s a great tool for picturing scenes, giving characters their personalities and really locking down what kind of emotion you want a scene to portray. I do this now quite habitually. It was on advice from my fellow writer, great friend and mentor that I do this. He himself is a director and musician so he knows all too well the importance of soundtrack.

Dance to your own tune.

The most important thing about music, for me, is how much it lets you explore. Sure you can be stuck on a crowded train into the city but stick on those headphones you can be transported to a memory of a night out with friends. If you’re at the gym and down want to be distracted by how slow the timer on the treadmill is going you stick on those headphones and suddenly you’ve ran your way through three whole songs. If you are hurt, push play on that song and let it guide your emotions. Music is a wonderful thing I can’t even begin to imagine the cold, silent world we would live in without it. So tell me, what does music do for you?


When, cult deprogrammer, John Reynolds, loses someone close to him to the Church of St Wigan, he will stop at nothing to bring them home. He’ll have to call on every skill he has to pull from the clutches of the zealous church leader. A pandering con man is all he has to help him. How far must a man fall before the climb back up becomes too steep. Praise Wigan!

AVAILABLE MAY 14TH

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Socially Awkward

The past year has brought challenges for all of us, some challenges we never expected to face in our life time. One of my biggest challenges was being separated from my niece and nephews for such a long time. Normally where I would see them almost every week I became nothing but a pixelated face on a screen. It is tough, I don’t mind telling you. The use of modern technology is great and all but nothing can quite replace human contact.

This got me thinking about society in general. As we become such a distant bunch (global pandemic not withstanding) is the art of intimacy becoming a thing of the past? I call it an art because it really is an art form when you think about it. You need the right approach. You need the right mind set. Like a lot of other art though is it becoming far more digitalised? People are more comfortable sending a text message than chatting on the phone (admittedly myself included).

But then this crazy train we called life pulls into an unexpected platform and the option of physical contact is taking away from us. That’s when we miss it the most. That’s when we crave more than just a text message. Video chats give you the essence of speaking to another person but it is all virtual reality at the end of the day. We need that social contact no matter how introverted you may be.

What I have taken from this experience is that no matter how much we distance ourselves from human contact, when ironically it’s never been easier to connect with fellow human beings, we are all animals at heart. We need our loved ones around us, no matter who that is to us. After a long year of lock down in Scotland I know I will be wanting to hug my little babies.


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Am I the A**hole?

Recently I’ve found a hobby of the ‘Am I the asshole?’ subreddit. If you’re not familiar it’s where people put scenarios they’ve found themselves in and they ask the internet whether they are the asshole or not for whatever it is they’ve done. We all know how much of a forgiving place internet forum comment sections can be but there are those rare gems that actually offer some real insight. That’s not the reason I’m addicted to it though. The addiction comes from getting the popcorn and reading the mightier than thou responses.

Either way it got me thinking of some scenarios in my own life where I may have been the asshole and not realised it. One particular event in mind happened some time back. Someone mentioned his disapproval of James Bond being played by a black woman to me. I explained that 007 was a codename anyway and it didn’t really matter all that much how the character was portrayed as long as the writing was good and the actor fulfilled their role. Sounds reasonable, right? Where I might be the asshole was how I responded. I was already in a foul mood about something else (what that is is irrelevant) and so I snapped. I had no patience for listening to what was no doubt going to be a racist, misogynistic argument against ‘ruining the classics.’ This person had never watched or read anything James Bond so their opinion either way was kind of moot.

So there you have it. I felt I was just making my point. Internet strangers may say I was nipping someone’s head off when they were just offering an opinion.

So what do you think, folks? Was I the asshole? Do you have any instances you would like to put to the court of public internet forum opinion?


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“You cannot be saved!”

Cult deprogrammer is on his way to Hathfield Bay to extract a loved one from the Church of St Wigan.

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Little Acts of Kindness

Last Wednesday I was having lunch with a colleague when I was given the opportunity to witness an extraordinary interaction. At the table across from me sat an older man and his granddaughter who seemed about school age. There’s nothing unusual in this. I’m sure there are lots of Grandads out there who spend time with their grandchildren. What was particularly noticeable about this pair was how willing they both were to use that quality time they had.

“Mum might get back tonight,” he said to her. “That’ll be nice, won’t it?”

The little girl smiled. Her eyes were filled with adoration for him. “It will,” she agreed.

As they ate their meal they discussed their days. She was telling him what she learned in school. He told her what he had been doing in the garden and what activities he had planned for them when they got home. Again, I know many of you are reading this thinking, ‘that’s nice Alison but what’s so unusual about it?’ Well the minute they sat down the Grandad stuffed his phone away in his pocket and it was never removed again throughout the duration. Not once did his interest wane in what the child was telling him.

In a world where the use of social media is making us more and more distant from real life connections it was nice to see that there are still some people who make a point of spending time

with loved ones. It’s too simple nowadays to pick up the phone and check Facebook or Twitter to see what’s happening, even when you have real life people in front of you. I am quite a frequent people spotter as I’m sure you can gather from this little anecdote but nowadays people spend such a great deal of time in a virtual world, no one seems to take time to view what’s around them. I’m guilty of it myself. Travelling from Edinburgh to Inverness via train gives you a lot of chances to see some of the beauty that Scotland has to offer but the entire journey all I am likely to see is my news feed or emails.

That man and his grandchild gave me some food for thought. Spend some ‘real’ time with your family and friends. Enjoy the wonders that your surrounding have to behold. Social Media is a marvel in making the world such a connected place but remember that nothing can ever replace the true interactions with your loved ones.

Vivika is author of thriller novels and graphic novels. She is also founder of the RAGDOLLS UK FOUNDATION  which supports girls and women with TURNERS SYNDROME.

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Combating the Negativity

Being a writer can be a dream come true for most people. For many it can also be a nightmare. The very nature of the craft means that we are baring ourselves to public scrutiny and it won’t always be good. For some, this just comes as part of what to expect. However, it worries me that there are up and coming authors who have exciting, vibrant and much loved stories but the badgering they receive before they have even left the ground has put them off. There is nothing more tragic than a story that will never be told.

It does take a very thick skin to succeed as a writer but what chance do up and coming authors have when they are shot down at first attempt? All I can say to my fellow writers who are starting out is don’t give up. Don’t let the negativity of others stop you. There will be readers who don’t like your book – that is unfortunate but all art forms are subjective. There will always be people who are just deliberately going out their way to be mean. The new digital age seems to have given them a platform to vent their poison to a wider audience. It is easier said than done but ignore them and let your writing speak for itself.

It’s a very true statement that an author can have one hundred great reviews but it is that one nasty one that will resonate with them. It is also true that people are more likely to be spurred into action (in this case writing a review) if they are feeling bad about it. How can you combat that? Trust in your own skill. Trust that you have written the book that you wanted to write. The rest will fall into place.

One thing that is also very upsetting to see is that authors (of various levels) are putting other authors down. The life is hard and alienating enough without us turning on each other. Why do that? Jealousy is the easy conclusion. They don’t like that someone else has written a book. There is no need to be jealous. The world is such a big place. There are so many different stories to tell and different ways of telling it. There is plenty of room in this world for all of us.

Support your authors. We are a large community but if you embrace it I’m sure you will see we are also a very loving one.

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