Seven Books in Seven Weeks – Part Three

Seven Books in Seven Weeks – Part Three

Seven Books in Seven Weeks – The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

… Part three of a seven part series…

Welcome once again, to Seven Books in Seven Weeks. This time, we’re all about Hoopy Froods, Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, Vogon poetry and a man with the same name as a car. So, hold on tight, grab yourself a pint of beer — because you’re going to need it — and whatever you do, don’t forget your towel!

I was too young to remember the original radio plays, which made up Douglas Adams’, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and probably wouldn’t have liked them anyway, because I would have been four years old at the time. I do however, recall watching repeats of the subsequent television series, during the mid-1980s and being amazed, not so much by the storyline, but by the eponymous book of the title, which contained everything that a young boy could ever want to know about the world beyond our own and did so in a very amusing way. I think, at the time, I would have been quite happy if the programme had simply been a reading of ‘The Guide’, from A to Z, but then I was a strange child and always have been.

Incidentally, I later found out that the text and graphics used to animate the book’s entries on the television programme, were produced by hand painting the content, then covering it with a piece of black cardboard, which was drawn back, one character at a time, by the poor special effects’ technician and photographed with a rostrum camera. When all of the images were put together, the result was a series of smoothly appearing visuals and text, which looked exactly the same as if someone had typed them on a keyboard!


Babel fish still shot from The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Rob Gregory Author

Still shot of the Babel fish animation from the 1981 BBC television series. All of the text was revealed one character at a time.


Anyway, enough about radio and television, this is supposed to be a blog about books! Sometime after first seeing the television series (sorry, that’s the last time I will mention it), I got my hands on a copy of the book from the local library and then, in the mid-1990s, bought a copy of the five-part trilogy, which contained the story in its entirety*. However, it is the first two books in the series that I want to focus on today: The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, because that is what pretty much made up the television series (Aargh! Not again!).

The story focuses around Arthur Dent, who, in a very short space of time, one Thursday lunchtime, to be precise, loses his house and then the entire planet — when the Earth is demolished to make room for a hyperspace bypass — before finding out that his best friend is an alien researcher for amazing, electronic publication called, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His subsequent adventures take him through space (and time), in a madcap journey involving, among other things: a spaceship with an Improbability Drive, super-intelligent mice, a whale and a bowl of petunias, aliens who make a living by building planets, a robot that suffers from chronic depression, and the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, which in case you didn’t already know, is forty-two.


Front cover of the 1995 hardback edition of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Rob Gregory Author

Front cover of the 1995 hardback edition of Douglas Adam’s, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


One of the things that has always amazed me about the book, is the sheer amount of stuff in it. I’d be lying if I said that every page is packed with witty asides and observations, but it often feels like it and almost all of them would be worthy of further exploration. Take, for example, Mr Prosser, the council official tasked with overseeing the demolition of Arthur’s house. A direct descendant of Genghis Kahn, he wonders why an army of unidentified horsemen laugh at him within his head, whenever he feels miserable or hard done by. Prosser is only in the book for a matter of a few pages and is then discarded, having done his job in both the literary and physical sense, with all of his unique and fascinating foibles left unexplored.

Another thing I love about The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is how it works on so many different levels. I have no idea if Douglas Adams intended this when he was writing the radio plays or novelisations, but for me, it is one of the things that keeps me coming back time and time again. Taken at face value, the book is a relatively straightforward comedy story, involving the misadventures of the last human being** in the galaxy. But look a little deeper and there is a tale of a man who has lost everything and is struggling to come to terms with his place in a bewildering new environment, where he is closer to the bottom of the food chain than the top. Then, peel back another layer and you have a metaphor for the chaos and futility of life in general.

Poor old Arthur Dent. Not only is he a veritable Babel fish out of water, but he also comes to realise that it doesn’t matter what he does, the universe is more messed up than he ever imagined, so the best thing he can do is just go along with it. In, fact, it would probably have been a lot simpler for him, if he had stayed in bed on that fateful morning, all those years ago!


Rear cover of the 1995 hardback edition of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Rob Gregory Author

Rear cover of the 1995 hardback edition of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I wish that I could write blurbs like this!


I was going to have a bit of a dig at some of the names in the book, which I don’t feel have stood up to the test of time, but on closer inspection, it is pretty much only the Arcturan Mega Donkey, the Kill-O-Zap guns and occasional mention of Maximegalon, that make me cringe, which isn’t bad when you consider how many other unique names Douglas Adams came up with, including the wonderful Slartibartfast and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.


DVD cover of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Rob Gregory Author

BBC DVD (collector’s edition) of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Did I mention that I was a bit of a fan?


On a more positive note, the impact of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on me has been enormous. It has influenced the way that I think about the world and also the way that I write about it. It has even made an impact on my sense of humour, by introducing me to a wonderful sense of the absurd and ridiculous that I never knew existed. Just think about the idea that the Earth was constructed as a massive, organic computer, which was destroyed in a bureaucratic cock-up a mere five minutes before its ten-million-year programme was due to end. That and the fact that the fjords of Norway were designed by the aforementioned Slartibartfast, who carved his likeness and name into them, not to mention that the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything, does not marry up with the answer… or does it? All of it, sheer brilliance and utter madness.

So, thank you, Douglas Adams. You may have destroyed the Earth, but you gave us a wonderful galaxy in return!



* There has since, been a sixth book in the series, written by Eoin Colfer, but I don’t have a copy of that… yet.

** If you’ve read the book, then you’ll know that Arthur Dent is not actually the last human in the galaxy, but for the purposes of dramatic licence, please bear with me.


If you enjoyed this blog, then please share it with your friends and why not check out my other blogs and books?



Seven Books in Seven Weeks – Part Two

Seven Books in Seven Weeks – Part Two

Seven Books in Seven Weeks – The Book Of Three

… Part two of a seven part series…

Welcome back to Seven Books in Seven Weeks, a series of blogs, where I talk about stories that have made an impact on me over the years. This week, I’m covering another children’s classic, The Book of Three, by American writer, Lloyd Alexander.

As with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, which I discussed in the first part of this series, The Book of Three was one of those stories that I read as a very young boy and it has stayed with me ever since. In fact, it had such an impact on me that, in my mid-thirties, I decided to hunt down all five books that comprise the Chronicles of Prydain series (in the Armada Lion imprint, no less), just so that I could have a complete collection to call my own.

The Book of Three centres around Taran, a young, assistant pig keeper. Bored with his mundane existence, even though Hen-Wen, the pig that he cares for is a rare, oracular one, he dreams of being a hero, like his mentor, Coll, who was once a great warrior. Of course, when a shadow falls over the land and Hen-Wen flees the sanctuary of Caer Dallben, Taran gets more excitement than he bargained for, as he sets out to find his lost pig and return her to safety. Along the way, he meets a motley assortment of characters, including Fflewddur Fflam, a kingly bard whose harp strings snap whenever he tells a lie; Doli, a grumpy, yet loyal dwarf, with the curse of invisibility (read the book and you’ll realise why it is a curse); Princess Eilonwy, the haughty and feisty owner of a magic bauble and later, of Taran’s heart; and Gurgi, a hairy, humanesque creature, who, after many adventures together, becomes Taran’s closest friend.


Front cover of The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander - Rob Gregory Author

Front cover of the 1973 Armada Lion imprint of The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander.


Looking back on it, The Book of Three is essentially an introduction to the main characters that the rest of the chronicles are based around and the land of Prydain, where the tales are set. However, for a younger reader, there is more than enough action to carry the story along and Alexander, in my view, very cleverly uses the book to sow the seeds for events that occur later in the series. For example, although the Horned King, the central villain in The Book of Three, suffers a similar fate to Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, i.e. being killed off in the first instalment, without hope of revival, he is the mechanism by which we learn of the black cauldron and the undead, cauldron born warriors, which pop up in later books. Then there is Achren, the evil enchantress, who provides the backstory to Arawn, the Sauron of the series, to use another movie simile and of course, the incident with the Gwythaint, one of the many creatures that Arawn has bent to his dominion. If you haven’t read the series already, then, don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil that particular surprise for you here.

One of the things that I like most about The Book of Three is its humanity. All of the major players have faults and foibles, which make them more believable than say, the characters in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Taran, for example, begins the book full of boyish arrogance but quickly learns that being a hero takes a lot more than just swinging a sword around and looking menacing, which is what Coll has been trying to teach him all along. By the end of the story, Taran has learned more than a few hard lessons and is ready to take on his once mundane duties with renewed respect and humility.


Rear cover of The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander - Rob Gregory Author

Rear cover of The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, featuring Doli the dwarf.


I was, at this point, going to say that The Book of Three is a much darker story than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but darker is not the right word. As I mentioned in my review, the latter tale contains a number of very bleak themes, which, were they not so skilfully woven into the storyline, could have come across as downright terrifying. Perhaps the word that I am looking for instead, is, real, if such a thing can be said about a children’s fantasy tale? The Book of Three describes an adventure, which is closer to real-life than the magical adventure given to us in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Nothing quite happens in the way that Taran expects and he quickly finds himself well out of his depth. The emotions are more real, too. Taran treats those around him with suspicion, mistrust and scorn, until he realises that he needs them as much as they need him, if he is to survive and help to save the day. That too, is an important point, in terms of the reality of the story. In The Book of Three, Taran is the main character, but not the hero. He doesn’t defeat the bad guy and claim victory, someone else does. Imagine being ten years old and reading that, after growing up on ‘happily ever after’ stories!

Now, before you start thinking that I am slating The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I would point out that it is a vastly different book to The Book of Three. Not only was it written in a different era, but it was also written for a different and dare I say it, younger, audience. So, if Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are truly magnificent heroes, in the classic British vein, with maybe a touch of Ealing or Hollywood sparkle about them, then Taran is a darker, grittier, more fallable hero, possibly from the John McClane mould? Not quite: “Yippie Ki Yay…” but getting there.


The entire Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

The complete Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, in the Armada Lion imprint.


So, how has The Book of Three and indeed, the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain, impacted me? Well, as with, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I have read each book in the series many times, both as a child and an adult, and to this day, I still find them a wonderfully touching and absorbing rendition of a boy’s journey into manhood. I also suppose that, in a way, they introduced me to the notion of imperfect storytelling, i.e. that rather than the journey being a linear trek from point A to point B, it should be unpredictable and chaotic. More like real life, if you will. Finally, and it is a testament to the power and influence of Lloyd Alexader’s writing, both the name of the mythical sword in my novel Drynwideon, not to mention the magical bag, which the hero, Drin, accidentally summons from the Fairy Spinner in the swamp, were inspired by events in The Book of Three.

Right, two down… five more to go! What’s next? Well, I promise that it won’t be another children’s book! Stay tuned for more and if you enjoyed reading this, then please share it with your friends!

Thank you!


An Interview with James Stevens

An Interview with James Stevens

An Interview with James Stevens

Welcome! This month, I have a very special treat in store for you. We’re back in the land of the American dream, which, funnily enough, is America, for an interview with the multi-talented, James Stevens. In addition to being a successful author, James Stevens is also a highly-skilled illustrator, who not only did the cover art for his own novel but also did some for me, too. Check out The Lucius Chronicles, if you don’t believe me. So, let’s get down to business and meet the one and only, Mister Nice Guy himself, James Stevens!


James, apart from your love of dragons, which is evident from your many Twitter posts, what gave you the inspiration for your book, Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon, and why did you decide to pitch it at a younger audience?

My youngest son was the inspiration for my book. He came to me one day, a quizzical look plastered on his nine-year-old face, and asked me a simple, yet, difficult question. ‘How do you write a story?’ I couldn’t help but be taken aback. Without going into a massive lesson, I simply began to write. What was meant to be a short explanation, evolved into ‘Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon.’ Suffice it to say, I credit my awesome son with my authorship.


What did you find hardest about writing the book?

Simple. Finishing! Writing is easy, but completing a full-length novel is a daunting task. But, like it always does, perseverance pays off. I am now trudging towards the finishing line of volume two of the Fern Majestic series.


Front cover for Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon by James Stevens. Rob Gregory Author

Front cover of Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon, by James Stevens.


You’ve mentioned on social media that you have a military background. What, if anything, did you bring to your writing from that part of your career?

Ah, it’s funny you should ask! Leave no soldier behind. As you read Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon, you will find how devoted Fern is to his friends; he would die for them.


What’s the biggest buzz you’ve had from your writing so far?

Again, I must return to the completing of Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon. The pride/buzz that I felt as I turned the last page was the highest high anyone could ever have. The sense of accomplishment, the pure joy of knowing your hard work will be enjoyed by others, made me soar!


If you had the choice, what would you prefer to do, publish traditionally or self-publish?

I truly have no preference. If my work can be enjoyed by ONE person, be it traditionally published or not, my purpose for writing has been met.


Copies of Fern Majestic and the Fall of a Dragon, in a bookshop. Rob Gregory Author

Copies of the book, in a real, bricks and mortar, bookshop!


You’re a bit of a demon on Twitter. How much time do you spend Tweeting relative to writing and is it a happy balance for you?

I would describe myself as more of a dragon, but ‘demon’ works too. Lol. Seriously though, I spend ample time doing both and believe it’s a nice balance.


Have you always aspired to be a writer, or did the idea just spring into your mind later in life?

Well, to be honest, I aspired to be a Disney artist as I’ve always loved animation and drawing. I studied civil engineering in college and I am a United States Army Veteran; being an author was never in my deck of cards. Life is a funny animal.


Can you remember the first book that really had an impact on you? What was it and how old were you?

This is easy! The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I was eight-years-old when my father introduced me to the great grandfather of fantasy. I have never looked back!


Promotional blurb for Fern Majestic and the Fall of a Dragon. Rob Gregory Author

Promotional poster for Fern Majestic and the Fall of a Dragon. Pretty impressive, I think you’ll agree!


Have you ever started to write a story and then completely given up on it? If so, what were the reasons behind your decision?

No, not yet. Lol


How easy was it for you to find a publisher and what have been your experience with it so far?

Ugh! Is that too short of an answer? Well, that’s all I’ve got on the subject.


What’s the most uncomfortable thing that you’ve had to do as an author?

Definitely book signings. I’ve had to destroy the thick shell around my introverted self.


James Stevens signing a copy of his book. Rob Gregory Author

James Stevens signing a copy of his book.


Are you working on anything at the moment and if so, when and where can we expect to see it?

Volume two of the Fern Majestic Series. I’m hoping beyond hope that it’s ready early next year. Fingers crossed!!


Finally, do you have a message for your fans out there and also any sage words of advice for aspiring authors?

Fans? Do I have those? Cool! Well, if anyone wants to listen, I’ll say this to both fans and aspiring authors: never give up! As cliché and simple as those words are, they are words to live by. Nothing can ever be accomplished if one gives up. No truer words have been said!


James Stevens, the author, in all his majestic glory. Rob Gregory Author

James Stevens, the author, in all his majestic glory!




Well, there you go. James Stevens, in a nutshell. Definitely, an author to watch out for, you can get your hands on a copy of Fern Majestic and The Fall of a Dragon, as well as connecting with him, by clicking on the links below.



Thanks for reading and I hope that you enjoyed the interview. Stay tuned for another one, next month and in the meantime, have a wander around some of my other blogs. Guaranteed to brighten up your day!

Seven Books in Seven Weeks

Seven Books in Seven Weeks


Seven Books in Seven Weeks – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

… Part one of a seven part series…


Last year, I did a silly thing on Twitter. No, it wasn’t sharing an inappropriate picture of my anatomy with my followers or trying to chat up a complete stranger using a series of amusing GIFs, it was far more subtle than that. Share one book that had made an impact on me, every day for a week. Funnily enough, it was called Seven Books in Seven Days and the main criterion was that you couldn’t say anything about the book in the Tweet, you just had to post the cover. Thinking back on it, it would have been more appropriate to have called it Seven Book Covers in Seven Days, but then that wouldn’t have been so headline-grabbing.

Anyway, it was a bit of fun at the time, but because I am a writer and someone who believes that people can still read more than two-hundred and eighty characters in one sitting without fainting, I always felt that my selections deserved a bit more explanation. So, today I give to you Seven Books in Seven Weeks, a series in which I will revisit each book that I Tweeted back in November and provide you with a little more context about why I chose it. It will actually take a little more than seven weeks to complete, due to other blogging commitments, but you get the idea and I am sure that you will forgive me for the subtle deception in the title!

The first book that I have chosen is a children’s classic and one which has been reissued countless times since it’s initial publication, as well as being adapted for television, the theatre and the big screen. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis.


Front cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Seven Books in Seven Weeks. Rob Gregory Author

Front cover of the 1971, UK version, of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.


First published in 1950, I have a copy of the 1971 edition, which was given to me by an uncle when I was about seven or eight years old. At the time, I was still of an age where I preferred pictures to solid text, so was delighted by the many delicate line illustrations, drawn by Pauline Baynes, which littered the chapters.

Without giving too much away, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tells the story of four British children, who are sent to live with an elderly professor in the countryside, during the outbreak of the Second World War. Separated from their parents and in a wholly new environment, it is Lucy, the youngest of the two boys and two girls, who stumbles upon a magical world, apparently hidden within an old wardrobe, standing in one of the many unused rooms of the professor’s house. The world, called Narnia, has been locked in perpetual winter by the evil witch of the title. Lucy is mocked by her older siblings, until they too encounter the world and are thrown into an adventure, which sees them having to battle the witch, with the help of Aslan, a talking lion, in order to restore Narnia to its former glory.

As an adult, it is easy to disassemble the underlying mechanics of the story and especially with the cynicism that pervades modern society, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe could be dismissed as an outdated tale about four, privileged, white children, who, assisted by the most powerful being in the land, displace a tyrant, only to take over and rule without challenge until they are old.


Inside the beaver's house. One of Pauline Bayne's illustrations in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Rob Gregory Author

One of Pauline Bayne’s wonderful illustrations in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.


However, through the eyes of a child, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is a magical and very powerful book. While the setting, the characters and their behaviour are undoubtedly dated, they are also absolutely of their time and for me, this is part of what makes it a classic, along with the excellent storytelling, of course. Who, when they were growing up, didn’t like the idea of being thrust from their own mundane existence of school and suburbia, and dropped into a land filled with talking animals, overcoming supreme evil, in the form of a horrible enchantress, to end up living a life of luxury and adoration?

I recall being spellbound when I first read the book. I loved Mister Tumnus, the faun who befriends Lucy and is, in his own way, just as brave as the four children. The corruption of Edmund, Lucy’s older brother, with the promise of Turkish Delight had me on the edge of my seat and the scene with Aslan and the stone table upset me deeply, all of which was intended by Lewis’ fantastic writing.

Everything in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is meant to appeal to children and this is why I think that it has endured for so long. The clearly defined struggle between good and evil, the fact that the ‘good guys’ win in the end and get their reward, not to mention the ability to spend a lifetime in paradise, without any time passing in the real world, has an appeal that we see reflected, not only in modern storytelling, but also in modern movies, albeit to a lesser extent than before.


Rear cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Seven Books in Seven Weeks. Rob Gregory Author

Rear cover of the 1971, UK version, of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Note the absence of a barcode.


However, in amongst the saccharine and sugar frosting are darker themes. Edmund’s betrayal of his family, including Susan and Peter, his older sister and brother, for his own immediate gain, reflects a selfishness which many children can relate to and even though he is subsequently redeemed, he pays a price which hints at what life in the grown-up world can be like. The callous treatment of those who dare to oppose the witch, being turned into stone, introduces the nature of despotism and while done, I imagine, to help set the witch up as the central figure of hatred in the book, possibly also subliminally reflects events that had happened in Europe just a few years earlier.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is also a book which contains strong Christian themes and although, in 1958, Lewis himself made the point that they were suppositional, rather than allegorical in nature, I have to admit that I turned away from it for many years because of this fact. I have, however, since re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a number of times during adulthood and am happy to say that the Christian overtones no longer bother me as much as they once did. And looking back, it is hardly surprising that the book has a somewhat religious bent to it. After all, it was written at a time when Christianity enjoyed a far stronger hold over the British public than it does today and C. S. Lewis was well known as a deeply religious man, who included Christian themes in many of his works, both those for adults and children.

The impact of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on me has been profound. For one thing, it was one of the books which really got me interested in reading and I think that the fact that I’ve consumed both it and the other chronicles of Narnia more times than I can remember, speaks for itself. However, I also think that it helped me to develop my own ideas about what imaginary worlds could look like and taking Lewis’ lead, I’ve certainly not been afraid to do all manner of unusual and downright unexpected things to the characters in my own books. Anyone who has read ‘Death and the Schoolboy’ or ‘Drynwideon’ will be able to attest to that!

So, there you have it! Book one in Seven Books in Seven Weeks. Stay tuned for the next instalment, coming soon. As to what it is, well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Thank you!


I hope that you enjoyed this blog. If you did, then please do share it with your friends and have a look at my other offerings.


The mid-year writing review

The mid-year writing review

The Mid-Year Writing Review

… A lot has happened in six months…

Wow! It’s hard to believe that we’re fast approaching the middle of the year already. So much has happened in the last six months, that it feels like it was only yesterday that I was writing to you with a wrap up of everything that had happened in 2018.

Although I’ve been fairly quiet on the blogosphere since May, an awful lot has been going on here in the little prison-study that I call home. So, without further ado, let’s bring you up to speed with the Rob Gregory Mid-Year Writing Review 2019!

JANUARY. The start of 2019 saw me frantically working on the final edits to my epic revenge thriller ‘Yogol’s Gold’. Weighing in at just under 115,000 words, it was the longest piece of work that I’d produced to date and probably the one with the most difficult gestation. After scouring the Internet, looking for literary agents, I finally began sending out queries at the end of the month, in the hope of securing a traditional publishing deal. So far, the response has not been encouraging, but still, the year isn’t over yet, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Bars of gold. Yogol's Gold, mid-year writing review 2019 - Rob Gregory Author

Yogol’s Gold. Click here for a synopsis in rhyme!


FEBRUARY. This part of the mid-year writing review was dominated by all things related to The Lucius Chronicles, the compilation of the DATS Trilogy, which was my first offering to the literary world. Despite saying that I wasn’t going to bother much with self-publishing anymore, I found myself spending hours on Amazon and Smashwords, not to mention Facebook and Twitter, making sure that the book was formatted to perfection and given the best chance of making it. I even revised the front covers of the original books in the trilogy and made Death and the Schoolboy, the first instalment, FREE on Smashwords.

MARCH. The launch of The Lucius Chronicles. Despite applying just about everything that I had learned about self-publishing during the previous year, the response to the launch was more than underwhelming, despite masses of self-promotion and discounting on my part, in order to spike some interest among readers. Needless to say, I was left feeling rather deflated and began digging into the dark side of self-publishing. What I discovered there was truly appalling and has tainted my view of the industry forever. It will be the subject of a future blog, but if you’re interested, you can check out one very enlightening article about shady practices here.

The Lucius Chronicles. A book by Rob Gregory Author. Mid year writing review 2019

The Lucius Chronicles. Check it out, because it’s going to be a classic!


Despite the failure of The Lucius Chronicles to set the world alight, I did manage to begin work on a novella, set in Northern Thailand, provisionally called ‘Turning the Tide’. It was nice to get stuck into something a little different and more gritty than contemporary fantasy and it must have had some effect on me, because it was done, dusted and out for review by early April.

APRIL. At this point in the mid-year writing review, let me say that I’d reached something of a crossroads. With one novel out for query with literary agents, another doing very little on Amazon and Smashwords, and a 52,000 novella being tested by beta reviewers, what was I going to do? The answer turned out to be simple. Write another story! So, I set about creating a book of short, interlinked, fantasy tales, with a humorous twist, using some of the characters from my first novel, Drynwideon.

At the same time, I decided to make my Fotherington-Tomas series available on Amazon and Smashwords, under what is known as a rapid-release schedule, i.e. one story each month or thereabouts. For those of you who don’t know, Fotherington-Tomas is England’s greatest secret agent, super-detective, appointed by Her Majesty the Queen no less, to protect the good name of the monarchy and British Empire. A mixture of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Flashman, he’s an old school hero, dropped into the modern world, with highly amusing results.

Oh, and I also kicked off the first in my series of author interviews, focusing on the lovely Shauna McGuiness, from America.

The Untimely Demise of Fotherington-Tomas. A short story by Rob Gregory Author. Mid-year writing review 2019

The first in the Fotherington-Tomas series. Now available at Amazon and Smashwords.


May. Lovely May. With summer just around the corner, I spent a fair bit of time editing the four books that comprise The Lost Tales of Landos, for their owner, British author, Chris Whyatt. It was one of those all-consuming tasks, made all the more pleasant by the fact that I enjoyed his writing immensely. In fact, I now understand that he’s in the middle of writing the fifth novel, so watch this space for details.

June. And so, we arrive at the here and now, which is also the end of the mid-year writing review. A few days ago, I finished the first draft of the fantasy short stories I’ve been working on and will shortly begin the editing process. Then, that will go out for beta review. If anyone is interested, then drop me a line at

Following that, I’ll be finalising Turning the Tide, in readiness for another round of agent querying, before starting work on yet another book. I’m not sure at this stage, whether it will be my much-anticipated comedy Sci-Fi novel or another Thailand book, but whatever, you can bet that it’s going to be good.

So, there you have it. Not a bad effort for six months of work if I say so myself. Let’s just hope that it starts to pay off in the closing half of the year!

Thank you, as always, for your continued support and check out my books, especially the Fotherington-Tomas series, if you haven’t done so already!