The book that never was. Four years ago,on a trip to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, I got the idea for Chronicles of Mark Johnson http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/alan-place. The story of an ex-celebrity photographer who tires of the high life, and becomes a recluse. To date my love of the story has doomed it to failure - as I said it would - it was always my dream to see it on a shelf in a book store. I will be more than happy to see my US hit Forgestriker http://alsdomain.weebly.com/forgestriker---the-hit-series.html take that step soon, but I won't be doing book signings, I may have gone part way to beating my phobia last June, but I am not that confident. http://alsdomain.weebly.com/whats-happening/book-signings
My recent blog http://alsdomain.weebly.com/free-reads/my-time-is-limited was written with my limited time available for writing; due to my Ehlers Danloss Syndrome. However, in the time since I wrote the blog, the title has taken a new meaning.
Ehlers Danloss Syndrome (EDS).
EDS is an inherited muscle disorder, the sufferer has no support for any joint - hence the reason for the support boot on my left ankle - in the next month, I hope to have an operation to ease the pressure on the other tendon. If I don't get the operation - the op is only a band aid to help a broken leg - the tendon WILL tear by late March. I have been getting tingling sensations up my right leg for the last two days.
Because I am required to wear the boot, I can only get out of the house for one day a week, and then only for a few hours. Yes, I did overdo it yesterday, and yes, I will pay for it for the next three or four days. Can you blame me, it doesn't make a difference if the time is two hours, or five hours; the resulting pain is the same.
Near death experiences.
A few years ago, on the German site Bookrix, I put a few of my experiences in a short e-book; I later put them in two blogs entitled Guardian Angels. The resulting reaction to reading my blogs was that my friends were amazed I was still alive. I was asked to write a book about my time in the Royal Air Force, as a result of friends reading my stories.
As I say, I have been asked to write my life story, I have baulked at the idea for many reasons; the main reason being I feel it would be conceited of me to write about myself. If somebody wanted to write a biography, I would be honoured. Another reason is I don't consider my life all that exciting, hair raising at times-yes. However, in the light of recent events, I may change my views, not because I think I am that important that people will want to read my story - God forbid I get that arrogant - but to tell you of my near death experiences, and how they altered the way I think.
Many of the experiences I mentioned have led me to believe I have a guardian angel; I have almost lost the sight in my right eye three times, and been involved in many accidents. For what purpose - if any - I have been saved eludes me. I may be lucky, or perhaps it wasn't my time to go. However, with the light of recent events I fear things are changing.
Death of a news hound
Christmas 2013 was a traumatic time for me, it began a period when I almost died three times in a week, as described in my book https://www.draft2digital.com/book/62636 I already thought I was on the short list for a funeral; a few months earlier the specialist at Southmead Hospital, Bristol thought I had Farby's disease. This is a disorder, which builds fat up in the veins. It IS a killer, men die by 2 months after their 58th birthday, and I had just had my 57th a month before I was diagnosed. This threat made me realise the things I would miss; things you take for granted like the sound of rain, the feel of wind on your. The realisation of the closeness to death brought home to me, the small things I would miss, and the sorrow of my grandson not knowing his grandfather. A sorrow I can relate to, we moved south when I was eight, and I lost touch with my family in Yorkshire.
Last night I was trying to cross the road near our ASDA superstore, when I was almost hit by a car. Because I wear the boot, I always allow for more time to cross a road than I need, on this occasion it saved me from at least serious injury, and probably death. If you think I am exaggerating, the car involved approached the roundabout in question at about 40mph. The driver had one hand on the wheel, and the other lighting a cigarette - so, he never saw me - he had to brake so hard I expected to hear a crash, but he managed to brake and change lanes before he hit the car in front of him.
I get the feeling my time is approaching, I have had too many lucky escapes for too long. A cat is supposed to have nine lives, and mine are running out quickly. You may think me silly, and why not, but I sometimes feel as though I have a target painted on my back. I have almost been knocked down on a zebra crossing twice- while I was walking across the road - and I've lost count of the times cyclists on the sidewalks have almost hit me.
To add to my various other ailments, owing to Ehlers Danloss Syndrome I have weak joints.
While not a constant problem, it is a constant worry. I can jam a twisted wrist by picking a paper up wrongly; the only way to free the wrist is to hit it with a fist, which as you can imagine is both painful, and only worsens the weak joint.
Most days I need to wear wrists supports as my wrists are so weak. This means I can only work for short periods without a rest.
The current trend on the blog for reading about my declining health opens a new vista.
For many years I have had sleep problems, most of them are connected to my days in the RAF, when I was worried about N.A.T.O. exercises being called at 3: 00 am.
These exercise came in three forms from the smallest Minieval, which was a camp based exercise to test the speed of readiness, to the N.A.T.0. based Maxeval's which included all the camps in RAFG, and the US exercises Red Flag. I was involved in a Red Flag which had to be cancelled after an incident in Arizona.
Nuclear, Biological & Chemical (NBC for short).
This type of exercise lead to many amusing incidents; one of which I call my Beau Geste moment. The most amazing - and amusing - thing is despite all the higher education of the officer classes, they forget one MAJOR thing.
They first thing the officers did was to phone everyone up. In a nuclear war, there will be NO telecommunications.
We've all seen the effect a solar flare has on TV & Radio, imagine the world covered in something ten times as bad. Another example is the earthquake which hit San Francisco in the the late 1970's,the only news coming from the area was on the Short Wave radio bands.
Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada
I had a spooky occurrence five and a quarter years ago. I was having a bad time with my wife, and stepson, and I was back with my mother for the weekend. At 5:00 am I woke to go to the toilet,when I returned I checked my phone for some reason. On the phone was a message from my friend Faye's daughter, Marge. I didn't need to check the message, as we chatted on Facebook & IM most nights; there was only ONE reason for the call.
For several months after the death of my friend, I woke at 5:00 am.
Before I get too deeply involved in the characters and back story to the series it would be wise of me to tell you how the series came to be.
In June 2011, I was in a friend's house watching TV -- I don't usually watch daytime TV -- when Lorraine Kelly came on. She was doing a walk across the desert and all she was doing was complaining about the heat and sand and sweating too much. At this point I thought, "You ungrateful bitch, you have not said a word about the camera crew who have to lug heavy cameras around so your fans can see you."
Being a former photographer, my thoughts naturally turned to the unseen heroes who never get credit for their work, and from here I created Mark Johnson, former celebrity photographer turned recluse.
If there is a motive behind my stories it is praise for the likes of Tim Page, Mike Herr, Philip Caputo, Sean Flynn, Dana Stone, Martha Gellhorn, Kate Adie and Marie Colvin. These photojournalists often put themselves in danger to bring us news and rarely get the praise they deserve. To me this is photojournalism not (!) sitting in a plush studio taking 'pretties' of celebrities or shooting from distance.
Stranger than fiction
When I started to write Chronicles I had a great worry. I was worried the series would be so popular that the fans would ask questions about the characters and setting to which I had no answers.
As you will read later most of the characters are based on fictional TV characters but Mark and P A share a lot of my personality traits. And the enigmatic Lana Pawcel has a secret yet to be told.
CONCEPTS OF CHRONICLES PART 1
I decided to write a series of articles on my award winning book “Chronicles of Mark Johnson” explaining the formulating of my ideas and thoughts on the subject matter, I apologise to anybody who has read the background before but there will be new insights revealed.
WRITE WHAT YOU BELIEVE
I can understand why Chronicles never took a hold, the book demands the reader to believe in a world which they have no proof exists and therefore cannot imagine. I fully understand as I have the same problems with the zombie genre of films and books – not with real zombies – I believe in the real zombies.
This concept is often quoted by many writers, “You write better about what you believe in,”and in the case of my book it is true. I have had no personal experience of spiritual occurrences but I have had experiences which I have yet to find a logical reason for.
Do I believe in the spirit world of which I write? Definitely, without going into a Religion Vs Science debate, putting the situation in layman’s terms I believe when we pass across the veil of death our spirit remains, as water turns to steam our spirit remains.
Do I believe we can contact the spirit world? Yes, I do. Spirits are energy waves and certain people with open minds can tune into the world of spirits, much the same as a radio receiver can tune to a radio signal. A reason many people cannot tune in is that they are either afraid to open their minds or they don’t want to believe in the other realm.
At this point, I must point out I do believe in evil and will never (!) use an Ouija board, it has nothing to do with the Robin Williams film “Jumanji,” it is because when my late father was in India during WW2, he and some friends used a board for fun and from what I heard of the tales of terror which followed it was closer to a 1970’s Karen Black trilogy episode where a doll gets taken over by an evil spirit. You need to remember for there to be good spirits there has to be bad spirits too.
I have had two out of body experiences and firmly believe in the realm of spirits, only a few days ago I had an eye-opening encounter with death. After a series of bad nights caused by my ill-health, I was so tired I went into such a deep sleep that at one point I found myself not breathing in my dream world, this incident caused me to wake and find I wasn’t breathing in the real world either.
One of the main ideas in Chronicles is the acceptance that the world of spirit entities does exist, these entities do not have to have form as they are energy rather than mass, much like the mist on the moors at day break, we can see it is there and yet cannot touch it. Believing does not involving touch, we all see the effects of wind and accept it is there even if we cannot see the wind, so, the belief in the world of spirits crosses the divide between Science and Religion, or are they compatible?
The only characters based on actual people are Mark Johnson and his mentor P A Canella, both have a large portion of me in their character. Beyond that no character I write about is based on any person living -- the exception being John Andrew -- who was a real Yorkshire pirate and featured in my story "The Lost Ship."
Many of the characters are based on fictional TV shows. The exception being Lana Pawcel, who had no image in my mind at the time I started writing stories involving her, it was only later that I considered who I thought she would be like.
Mark is like myself in as much as we despise the falseness of the celebrity scene. He is based on the Whitby photographer Frank Sutcliffe as much as on myself; Mr. Sutcliffe made a living at the turn of the century photographing the people of Whitby as they lived their lives.
P A Canella epitomises my wish to have my work read and yet remain an unseen person -- fame is not the spur -- in the original story about him, P A kept his secret even from his closest friends. If there was to be a model for P A Canella, it would be Roy Dortice playing Albert Haddock in A.P. Herbert's "Misleading cases."
Rachel is to Mark a true friend, the type of person you can count on in a tight spot and her feelings for him are never known until book 3. Rachel is based on the character Gladys Moon from the TV show "Moon and son."
Mark's other close friend is Phil, who is based on Carl Kolchak the news reporter of the TV show which bears his name and like Rachel will stand by Mark through all his troubles.
The idea behind Mark is that real people matter more to him than the fame and glory of the celebrity scene.
The enigma which is Mark Johnson
From the outset of the series, I had nobody else in mind as Mark other than Clive Owen. I took his role in "I'll sleep, when I'm dead" as part of the character and added the reclusive photographer from my persona as the final touch -- in the film he played an ex-gangster brought back to find his brothers killer -- elements of my personality dwell deep within the characters of both Mark and his mentor P A Canella. The character of Mark is also based on Whitby photographer Frank Sutcliffe, who at the turn of the last century took pictures of local people going about their lives.
The beautiful and alluring Rachel Stockman
Rachel Stockman, the third member of the psychic research project at the University which included Mark Johnson and P A Canella. She is an enchanting and mystifying lady as nobody knows the true link between her and Mark -- not even P A -- and as Mark said to Phil, "You probably never will find out."
At Uni there was a strong rumour, which was never confirmed or denied by Rachel & Mark, that they were more than close friends and fellow researchers. There always appeared to be a strong psychic link as was shown at the end of Book 1, when she rescued him and Annette Palmer at the abbey.
From the outset of book 1 in the Chronicles of Mark Johnson series I had a definite idea of the lady I saw as Rachel. The lady is British actress Millicent Martin and I saw her part as Gladys Moon, in the short lived series "Moon and Son" as the role for Rachel. In the the series Gladys is a slightly eccentric fortune teller working on a pier at the beach.
Unlike some of her fellow performers fro, the 1970's Ms. Martin has kept her charming beauty.
The truth behind the relationship was going to be revealed in Book 3 in the series, but sadly I will have to leave the final decision as to whether you think they were more than close friends to you -- I know the answer -- and so would you if the other books had sold.
WHO IS P A CANELLA?
A lot has been said -- mainly from the middle of book 2 -- about Mark's connection to his mentor but who is P A Canella? And where did he come from?
The P A Canella you read about in Chronicles isn't my original concept of him, far from it, the original ideas for both P A Canella and Lana Pawcel go back further than Chronicles.
P A Canella started out as an early series of shorts, the general idea was of a well read writer keeping his anonymity by using tricks on his friends. The friends loved the books he wrote but never realised it was a close friend who had wrote them, until he told the truth about the story teller.
Towards the end of the series I introduced another of my noted twists, as it turned out that his stories were ghost written by Lana Pawcel and vice versa.
Time moved on and the concept changed. When I started Chronicles I had no idea how popular or how much I would write -- over 30 stories so far -- and had no intention of where it was going or what was ahead. My original hope was for about half a dozen short stories.
But, to my surprise the popularity kept growing among my friends, and not disappoint them I was happy to keep writing the stories. I used the original idea of P A to create the character you know in Chronicles, most of the characters in my stories are based on TV characters and P A is no exception, he is based on Roy Dortrice's role in A. P. Herbert's short stories "The Misleading cases of Albert Haddock." Albert always started the story in court on some charge, and throughout the story he would turn the law inside out using out dated but still in use bye-laws and walk out cleared.
PHIL & MARK
Older readers will recall Kochak: The Night Stalker.
It was the portrayal of the lonely and misunderstood news hound who tracked demons in Chicago's alleys which inspired me to the series as did the creation of my alter ego Mark.
Like Carl Kolchak, Phil Moore works in a dark and dust atmosphere which comes into play later in book 3, when strange things begin to happen.
Although not as visual as any of the others, Phil's role as Mark's best friend and contact with the outside world is vital to the series. Mark and he go back to their college days -- even if they did separate for a while -- when Mark went on a sojourn to Australia and Phil was contacted by P A Canella about some strange items.
In books 2 & 3 we come across all types of wonderful weapons and it is Phil's task to keep Mark in one piece. While his mind goes deeper into the darker regions of his soul after Annette betrays Mark's love.
If you read book 2 you'll notice how the friends worry over Mark's dark periods and again it's Phil who is left in the dark but has to pick up the pieces.
At the point when Mark takes Annette hostage, it is Phil's role to convince the police that Mark is not (!) psychotic but is perfectly in control of the situation and capable of killing her with no feelings of remorse -- such is his hatred -- at the end of book 2, we are left wondering what lies ahead for Mark.
THE RAVISHING LANA
Lana is an enigma which goes back beyond her role as P A Canella's friend in the "Chronicles" series. Like her friend she came to life in an unread early comedy set of stories I wrote.
She had made an impression even before then, as she become a new persona as a result of a challenge set by my friend Yezall. Yezall challenged me to write an erotica story and the result was "Sex at the Mill."
Lana also holds an unusual occurrence. She is the only character in Chronicles who was written with no person in mind, it was only after I wrote her stories I made the decision who she should look like.
For a vivacious painter of recently passed souls, who better than the lovely Rula Lenska
Lana's role is an entity painter, she can empathise with the spirit of the recently deceased and tell their story in both words and paint.
Among the other ladies I considered is another favourite of mine, the ever delightful Hannah Gordon.
Annette Palmer - Spirit Painter
Annette Palmer, one time lover of Mark Johnson and now his nemesis, his raison d' 'e'tre. His reason for existing, the person he thought of a possible soul mate turns out to be far worse.
She destroyed his soul but beyond soul lies revenge, how far would he go to destroy her? Would he survive the ordeal? What would remain of his soul if he did survive?
All was to be revealed in book 3.
As the headline reads "What she did to him was bad, what he did to her was far worse."
The final major player in Chronicles of Mark Johnson.
The lady I had in mind for the role of the former lover of Mark was always Julie T Wallace, with a dash of Kathy Bates for her role in Misery.
The role of Annette as a spirit painter is different to Lana's as an essence painter, as Annette can see and paint evil spirits from all eras and spatial dimensions.
The character was to have a reference to the often mentioned but never read series of stories which also featured the early appearances of Lana Pawcel and her friend P A Canella but I dropped the idea, the plot was getting too convoluted.
At the end of Book 1, Mark and Annette are terrorised at Wharfemere Abbey and profess their love for each other, so, what went wrong? During book 2, he turned on her but why?
You'll have to read the books to understand the plot.
This is the link to my page on Booktrap, a FB site where you'll meet some good indie writers http://thebooktrap.weebly.com/alan-place.html
Having an inquisitive mind can be helpful, and also a tease at times-as is the case here.
Many years ago I used to collect replicas of old newspapers, one such paper was The Illustrated Police Times.
Jack the Ripper
We have all heard the familiar story of the Whitechapel murders, and probably made our judgement on the nature of the killer. Did you know one key element of evidence was tampered with?
Writing on the wall
The common assumption made by many people is the writing on the wall said The Jews are not people who will not be messed with. This is the official police photographers version, however it is far from the truth. The original chalked writing had been wiped off, and replaced.
By using the term Jews, we are led to believe that the killer was Jewish. A fair assumption for the area, then as now, Whitechapel has a large Jewish community. It is one of the poorest London districts, and is near the docks. This is a false implication, then as now the Jewish people are hard working, honest folk.
The foundation of the term Jueues goes back to the days of the Knights Templars. It is a Catalan term, I haven't been able to find a meaning in my research of the years.
One thing I was able to ascertain is that at the time of the Ripper murders; there was a Masonic Lodge called The Jueues, and apparently three of their members were killed in the dockland area of London.
Where better to hide a murderer than a masonic lodge, bound by an oath of silence. If you doubt the power of the masons, read my book Sexual Explosions 1, https://www.draft2digital.com/book/32234 the crime I mentioned in the story, and the ensuing cover up took place as I wrote it. I know, I reported the theft.
Ideas on an identity
One of the most common theories is the killer was a French doctor who booked himself into a local asylum. Then, as now, if you booked yourself in you could come and go as you please.
Another idea on the killer's identity is he was a doctor with a grudge against prostitutes, this fits with the speed needed to dissect the bodies silently.
One theory is he was a butcher, someone in the meat trade could walk unnoticed with blood on his apron, people would assume it was animal blood.
One theory I like is that he was a Russian sailor, probably from a whaler; he would know how to dissect a body, and a few months later a similar spate of murders did occur in Russia.
The recent inclusion of my blog My fight with Neuralgia on the front page of a magazine http://paper.li/alfonsinamonroe/1314903855 came as a bit of a shock.
However, this is not the first time my work has been noticed, or caused a ripple in the science world. Two years ago, my e-book https://www.draft2digital.com/book/32522 made the top 50 in the Neuroscience section of Amazon.
This is the little researched, but very real fear of escalators. My book doesn't go into the high sciences of what causes the phobia. Like the article on neuralgia, I put in layman's terms the effects of suffering from the phobia.
Chronicles of Mark Johnson
My award winning e-book https://www.draft2digital.com/book/32117 deals with the issues of an ex-photographer who becomes a demon hunter, while combating his own demons. This book got a rave review from New York reviewer Fran Lewis.
The second book in the Chronicles of Mark Johnson series repeated the rave review of the opening book. In the words of my friend/editor who majored in the biochemistry of the brain at Harvard, This is a harrowing story of a man going through a mental breakdown. The story was written at a bad time for me, and is very dark. The writing is so strong the story gave me bad dreams for weeks - and I knew what was happening - what would it do for the unsuspecting reader? Read it and find out https://www.draft2digital.com/book/32125 , you have been warned.
Death of a news hound
This book https://www.draft2digital.com/book/62636 was written a year ago after a series of near-death incidents spanning three days. My friend & editor, Julia, asked me to change a few details in case my friends got worried about me.
Unknown to me until a year ago, my science teacher at school thought I had the right mindset to be a science student. I have always had an inquisitive mind - searching for little known answers. I always thought science were my weakest subject; probably because then, as now, I was very insecure and shy.
My fascination with science explains my addiction to CSI, rather than the Law & Order series. I admire writers like John Grisham who can write legal thrillers, but the law to me is a cold subject. Science is a living entity, always on the move, never standing still for long.
While being like Gil Grissom in many respects, I am also like Catherine Willows; in as much as the why matters to me. I wanted to take Psychology in college, but the class was full, and I ended up with Sociology.
As of writing this blog post I am officially through with Amazon. I am only using their cover designer because I can't afford covers to be made.
If you want my books search for me on either Draft2Digital or Kobo. The only books on Amazon are my old stock.
The reason for my departure is that in the last two months I had three e-books returned - that is half my sales - as you see I have nothing to lose by this decision.
I cannot give an exact date the fight began, but I can give a general time period. The fight began in late Summer 1978. Why can I be so exact? I have not forgotten the time, or place it happened-although it may have lingered for longer.
It was my first posting in the RAF. RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire. I was riding out to one of the hangars to collect some film to be processed, when I was hit with the late summer light bouncing off the tarmac. From above, the tarmac looks green - a wartime paint - but from ground level it's concrete grey.
I had turned the corner of the hangar, and caught the full Summer sun on my face. The only analogy I can think of is being hit with full beams from a lorry.
It was so painful I almost fell off the bike I was riding.
Since then it has been a constant companion; I can tell when it's coming. The pain starts as a slight headache - always over the right eye - travels to my ear, and up to the back of my head before travelling down the right side of my face, and into my shoulder.
As with every illness the symptoms cannot be defined, as each sufferer has their own. I can only describe my symptoms to you.
The main area of pain is my eyes, they feel as though someone is forcing their thumbs into my eyeballs. The pain is unbearable, and usually lasts hours.
I have to lie quietly in a darkened room until all things calm down. Behind my eye lids, the scene is similar to Star Trek when the Enterprise goes into warp, and the stars fly by.
If I open my eyes, all I see are bars of yellow light flashing around me.
Last night was Booktrap's 1st anniversary; I was scheduled to take the 12:00 (midnight UK) slot, but I had to cancel as my migraines kicked in. Instead of being awake until about 2:00 am, I was asleep by 11:00 pm, which is rare for me.
If you wish to leave any comments on here, please feel free, I am always pleased to hear how readers feel about my work.