FEATURE: Chris Ord – Bunch Of Fives | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Local writer, Chris Ord releases his second novel, The Storm on Saturday 6th January. The novel is inspired by the heroic story of a nineteenth century Northumbrian lifeboat coxswain, ‘Big’ Philip Jefferson. Phil was awarded a clasp to his silver medal for the attempted rescue of the Norwegian brig ‘Embla’ off the coast of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in 1854. The events of that night provide the starting point for the book, weaving this together with a folk tale, and a series of mysterious incidents to create a tense, supernatural thriller. In anticipation of its release, Chris shares some of the books and writers that influenced the The Storm.

Stephen King – On Writing
For many years I wanted to write a novel. Many times I tried and failed. I had the passion and desire, but I couldn’t find an approach that worked. Writing is an art, finishing a novel is a discipline. There is no right or wrong way, but you have to find a model that suits you. It was only when I read On Writing by Stephen King that I realised there was an approach I could use, that fitted my style, and would work. The book highlights King’s development as a writer, his love of the art, and his frustrations in trying to get published. Above all, it demonstrates his compulsion to write, his passion, the strict discipline he applies to his work, and provides an array of tips he has picked up along the way. I would implore any aspiring writer to read this book. It was the key that unlocked everything for me.  

Daphne Du Maurier – Jamaica Inn
Du Maurier is the master storyteller. Not only is she able to create a powerful sense of place and atmosphere, her stories are compelling and hook the reader from beginning to end. For me, it is all about the story, the ability to engage, enthral, and entertain. I read so many books that are written in glorious prose, but very little happens, they’re all style over substance. They win prizes, but not reader’s hearts. My primary goal is to write great stories, and the words are simply my means of doing this. Style should never get in the way. Jamaica Inn is classic Du Maurier. The sea is an important element of the story, the relationship between it and a community. How it provides and takes, its power, and its danger. These are themes which are very much at the heart of The Storm. Du Maurier also wrote about Cornwall, the place she lived and loved. Similarly, my writing is inspired by Northumberland, the county I grew up in and will always consider my home. Every writer has to find their voice, and both Northumberland and the North Sea are defining features of my voice.   

Richard Matheson – I Am Legend
This is one of the best horror novels ever written. The atmosphere is suffocating as you are drawn into a terrifying world of isolation and fear. It was this kind of atmosphere I wanted to recreate in The Storm. The twist at the end is genius, and I love stories that keep the reader guessing and are full of surprises. I’m a huge David Bowie fan and this was a major influence on my favourite Bowie album, Diamond Dogs. Everyone focuses on the obvious link between 1984 and Dogs, but tend to overlook this one. Less well known and not quite as significant as 1984, the book is just as compelling and powerful. It’s short and can be read in a day which only serves to heighten the unsettling impact. It was also a major influence on my first novel Becoming.

Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
Frankenstein is one of our most important novels. Like so many of the classics, it captures the zeitgeist of a significant point in human history. Mankind’s creativity was allowing us to harness and control nature. Science was unlocking new potential, invention, and ambition. However, the novel is also a warning, not to let ego and ambition overcome us, and that nature still holds great power. It’s a fantastic story, but the book also deals with important universal themes. It is thought provoking and moving, and the ideas still have a powerful resonance in today’s world, perhaps more than ever. Writers and creatives play an important role in raising issues, stimulating debate, and provoking challenging questions. I want my books to be more than just stories, but also to make people think and reflect on the world and communities they live in. 

Let The Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
I came to this book having seen the original Swedish film version. It’s a clever modern take on the vampire tale and breathes new life into a theme which has become a bit hackneyed. The mood is dark and menacing and many of the characters are lost, unsavoury, and disturbing. At its heart this is a love story between a lonely young boy and a mysterious girl who moves next door. Love is a key theme that underpins ‘The Storm.’ Love of family and community, and the lengths people will go to in order to protect that love. ‘The Storm’ is also about love and strangers, how we view and treat them, especially when we think the people and things we love are being threatened.

The Storm is released in paperback and e-book versions on Saturday 6th January. The e-book is available to pre-order from Amazon now. The official launch of The Storm will take place at Newbiggin Maritime Centre on Thursday 11th January from 6.30pm. Tickets cost £2 and are available from the Maritime Centre or pay on the door. All proceeds go to the Newbiggin Foodbank.

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