When you decide to self publish a novel, you take a running leap off the highest diving board and plunge head-first into a whole new world of writing and creative thought. You draft your story to oblivion, you tirelessly polish, format and correct each and every word until you feel ready to send it out into the universe (sometimes with one or two minor corrections still to make) but the important part is, you took that leap. It’s at this point that the work stopped becoming something that you did in the privacy of your own home – you have now presented it to the entire world. This is when you encounter problem number one: The world doesn’t know about your book yet, you’ve only just located the box of matches, you’ve still yet to ignite the fire. This is where promotion is key, especially to independent authors. So not too long after I finished The Corpse Rooms I decided to set up a Twitter handle and connect with other independent authors who were also embarking on the same journey as I. Some of them were far more advanced and knew how to work the market, others were less proficient and were still attempting to get to grips with it all, quite like myself.
I found that that there are thousands of authors on Twitter and I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some wonderful creative minds and through this, I’ve also been privileged to encounter their work. I will state at this point that I’m not much of a self-proclaimed critic or reviewer but I do think that it’s important that as a network of independent writers, we share our thoughts and feelings about the work we enjoy and spread the word. So with this in mind, I’ll be posting reviews and recommendations about work from independent authors from time to time. If you are interested in having your piece featured, please feel free to connect with me on Twitter @D_R_Forest or contact me here.
Without any further ado, I’d like to share my review of a book that I recently read from the Author, Asher Meekins. Asher has also kindly allowed me to interview him, please see below for the interview. His debut novel, ‘Pascal’ is a story about Reece, a young man lacking in direction in life who becomes captivated when a mysterious stranger saves his life; the aforementioned Pascal. From here, Reece is whisked into a world quite unlike anything he has ever experienced before. From London to Paris, Reece and Pascal’s relationship deepens and becomes threatened by a group intent on causing worldly destruction. From here, Pascal’s life is inevitably in danger and Reece is faced with the turmoil of having to deal with the potential disastrous consequences whilst also still managing to adjust to the vampire way of life. If you haven’t quite worked it out yet from that last sentence – Pascal is a vampire!
So I’ll be honest at this point – I don’t tend to gravitate towards stories of vampires as much as I used to, however this one had such a refreshing premise that I knew I had to give it a try. For starters, this is vampire story featuring two main characters who happen to be gay – this already bends the traditional archetype of the ‘damsel in distress’ who falls for the ‘brooding vampire.’ Throughout the plot we are also introduced to some thoughtful new concepts concerning vampire folklore that add a fresh depth to the storytelling. These in turn are unique and prove pivotal in some of the major plot points, further persuading the reader to continue reading to learn more. One of the strongest attributes of the novel is the characters that Asher has created. They are both original and palpable, with descriptions that bring them to life right from the very page. We meet these characters through Reece’s experiences as he becomes further entangled in the vampire underworld (although it’s more like a sub-world since they live so closely with humans). He encounters trustworthy allies and venomous enemies that are presented in a way which makes them certainly unforgettable.
Pascal, is undoubtedly the knight in shining armour, he’s extremely likeable without being saccharine and trustworthy from the onset. However, I found that it’s the secondary characters that really bind the story and make it shine. Queen Ammonite, is most certainly deserving of the title of ‘queen’ but not necessarily in the ways that you would expect – she’s feisty and loyal and equally hilarious. Aaron, or Teardrop as he’s better known by, is a conflicted, no-holes-barred vampire who comes across as a self-destructive individual with seemingly no remorse for his actions. To me, he’s probably the meatiest character – he’s complex and this in turn, makes him feel more human-like than vampire. The plot leads up to a breathtaking climax that is both exciting and devastating and to say that I was unprepared for it is quite the understatement! However, that’s as much as I will say about the conclusion as I don’t want to reveal too much about the ending.
Needless to say, Asher does a great job at creating a world that is both relatable and alien, whilst inviting the reader on a wild, sexy ride that will leave you wanting to sink your teeth into a jugular just to find out what happens after the finale. I’m happy to reveal that Asher is working on a sequel entitled ‘Teardrop’ which should be released soon. For more information and to find out what Asher is working on, follow him on Twitter and if you would like to check out ‘Pascal’ for yourself, click on the link to be directed to the Amazon store
‘Pascal’ by Asher Meekins. Cover Art by Mark Satchwill
Interview with the Author, Asher Meekins
Hi Asher, how did you get into writing fiction?
I have always been a dreamer and being stained with dyslexia, writing and reading was almost a fear, I could never explain my dreams through song or art, so I fought the dyslexia and started to express myself through writing, first for myself then I thought I wonder if others would like to read this. My dreams are always very bright and consist of scenes and stories.
What was the inspiration behind writing ‘Pascal?’
Pascal and his story came to me in a dream, and the story just seemed to continue each night. I started to fall in love with this character and longed to see him in the dream; I remember one night he was there, and I studied his looks his hair and the way he spoke. When I asked a friend of mine and a fantastic artist Mark Satchwill, he wanted me to describe this man as much as I can. When I saw the finished painting (which hangs pride of place in my home), I was almost in shock; it was as if Mark too has seen him and had taken a photo. I like the build up and the strong connection the characters have in the series ’American Horror Story’, and I could imagine Pascal a complete series or movie, and that the way I tell the reader the story as if they are at the movies, and the title Pascal slowly rises.
Which character did you enjoy writing and is there one you felt you could relate to more?
Ummmm, First of all, Pascal was my favourite as I could hear his voice in my head, and the beauty that he holds not just in looks but he has a beautiful soul, I would imagine the reader will fall for Pascal. But along comes Aaron or the notorious Teardrop, he is totally mad, bad and bloody handsome and so hilarious, he is the one I can see being very close to. His is a tough Mexican man and a brother of Che Guevara; you know the famous rebel on the T-Shirts. He has a lot of his brother’s traits and for me, he is the one I enjoy writing about, he is just so bad and doesn’t give a stuff about the rules, but he has a heart, and God help the one he falls for or really the lucky one!
Do you draw inspiration from other sources, books, music, films?
I get a lot of inspiration from music, and when I hear a song that I really like the words and music turn into scenes, also watching real life and the rich tapestry of people walking around. I like to sit in a coffee shop just watching and thinking to myself, “they would make an excellent Reece, or they are so annoying I must kill them in a chapter.” So I would say real life and music. The ‘American Horror Story’ style is a huge influence, not so much the later ones but ‘Coven’ had a great bunch of characters.
How long did it take for you to develop the story of Pascal and what’s your writing process?
God I first started to develop the story in my head about four years ago, every song would lead me to another character or story line. I remember listening to a song played at the end of the movie ‘As Above so Below’ it’s by a French group Le Femme called ‘Hypsoline’. It blew my mind; I had this flash of Pascal and Reece dancing to this at a night club and the story evolved around that one song. I think it’s mentioned in the story as a tribute to this one song. I also think it’s the song that Reece and Pascal start to get together too.
I know that you’re working on the sequel to ‘Pascal’ entitled ‘Teardrop’ – What can you tell us so far about this story?
Oh God, it is turning out to be just wonderful, Teardrop has really developed into a much more complex character; he is just a smart killing machine, not just between the sheets, he is a maniac, I love him…Pascal has become so much more detailed, and the fans will enjoy the closeness to his character and discover more about him. All the favourites are there, and there are a few new ones coming up, one, in particular, has just started to come into the story line, and I have a feeling the readers will like him. I can’t say too much as it’s all a surprise but there is much more action and as one fan asked me, “are the runners in it?” Well yes they are, in a way you would never expect…….
What else can we expect from you in the future – any plans to develop ‘Pascal’ into a series or will you be working on something entirely new?
I have an idea for another book in the Pascal series, but I want to see how Teardrop goes as I am not sure where it’s going to lead. My gut instinct tells me just to keep going with the series as the possibilities are endless, and where this coven of vampire will go and who comes in. Who knows but all I can say is the tribe of Pascal is growing. There was another story I was just starting to produce and was going really well, it was based on the Devil befriending a teenage lad, but I found the story far too dark and to be honest it was starting to get to me, so I stopped it and left it alone.
I’d like to say a big Thank You to Asher for allowing me to interview him. If the story of ‘Pascal’ has intrigued you, I recommend you getting hold of a copy! Once again, if there are any other indie horror authors out there that would like me to review their book or take part in an interview, please get in touch.
Note: This is a repost from September 2016 taken from my old blog, some alterations and edits have been made.