Seb Jenkins, author of Life After Death

Recently I had a chance to interview Seb Jenkins, author of Life After Death–a story about a man in his late 30s who is “plunged into an apocalyptic world of the undead” (quote taken from Life After Death description).

Let’s start with a little background.

(Photo courtesy of Seb Jenkins)

Seb Jenkins is a 20 year old student from Bedfordshire, England. His recent works are described as dark, gritty, and atmospheric which he attributes to a lifetime of immersing himself in endless horror books and gore-fuelled tv shows/films. When he isn’t writing, you can find him banging his head slowly against a brick wall, or desperately trying to think of that best-selling idea he came up with at 3am last night.

As of 2015, Seb is currently attending the University of Kent to study journalism and hopes to carve a career out of his passion for writing.

Why did you start writing?

It kind of just happened after time. I grew up reading series like The Maze Runner, Cherub, Darren Shan, and young teen books like these. I’d always wanted to have a go myself. After reading/watching a load of zombie type stuff, I just made some random notes and ideas, kept adding to them over a few months and eventually had this really detailed idea for a book.

Do you consider yourself a writer or an author? Why?

I consider myself a writer rather than an author as most of my work is unpublished. I think you make that step between the two once someone picks you up and/or you start making some money off your work. At the moment I just do it because I thoroughly enjoy it.

Who’s your favourite author? What’s your favourite genre? What’s your favourite story/book?

It’s impossible to choose one favourite author or book, but studying Brighton Rock by Graham Greene is something that leaps to mind. Usually picking a book apart and writing essays on it kind of kills the enjoyment side of things, but I loved that book from start to finish. My favourite genres are horror/thriller, so obviously anything by Stephen King is always a good shout. At the moment I’m reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

I’m not a big fan of “picking a book apart” either. I like to keep the enjoyment alive too.

How did you get people to know about your stories/books?

I pretty much just upload my work to Wattpad and talk to other authors on there. Eventually you find people who want to read your work, or they just stumble across it.

How do you judge if you are successful?

Personally, I would consider myself successful writing-wise if I could ever make a career out of it, but different people have different goals.

How did you find Wattpad? Why Wattpad over other sites? Are you on other writing sites?

Wattpad is the only writing site I use really, after a friend recommended it to me. I love it just because there are so many similar writers, in similar positions, with similar problems, all in one place. It’s a great tool to swap tips, improve your writing and read some other great work.

Have you been published, such as self-published or through a publishing house? If so where can people find you books?

I have self-published my first book Life After Death, however it is currently going through an extra stage of editing before I re-launch it. People can find all my work by following the links on my website, or checking out my Wattpad account.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Sometimes I have to just put my laptop away and go do something else for a few hours. I find that torturing yourself over details that just aren’t coming to your mind in that moment is extremely annoying. Usually I’ll just go watch some Netflix, or hang out with some mates and often the idea I was looking for kind of pops into my head eventually. Forcing writing never works.

What is your proudest moment as a writer?

I would say finishing Life After Death was probably my proudest moment. After a couple of years of writing and editing, finally finishing the final chapter was so satisfying. Then once started getting amazing feedback on Wattpad, it just amplified this even further.

What book/story has been the most fun to write? Which was the least fun to write?

So far, Death After Death (book two of Life After Death) has been the most fun to write. I’ve kind of found my groove with the story now, and added some really cool, fun characters to the second book. I’m really happy with where it’s going so far, and there’s so much less stress after the first book in a series is done. My least favourite would probably be There’s Been Another One, purely because sticking to a maximum word limit was so incredibly difficult.

What character would you want to be and/or what world would you want to live in?

I’d love to have a crack at the apocalyptic world in Life After Death, and I’d probably choose JJ from book two as the character I’d most like to be. I think he’s the one I modelled on myself most.

Imagine you could do anything you wanted—“in the real world” (you had enough money, time, etc), what would you do?

Unlimited food would be nice. If I had enough time and money I would love to create a huge immersive world like George R R Martin has done so beautifully with Game of Thrones.

What advice do you have for other (or new) writers?

Don’t be put off by negative comments, or bad reviews. Just take what they say on board, go back and edit your work, often they will be making good and honest points. Your writing is always going to be a bit crap to start with, you just have to improve as you go to be honest.

What advice do you have for other (or new) writers on Wattpad?

Join some kind of group or book club to get you started. You’ll meet new people straight away, and find readers for your work. It’s the best way to get involved in a variety of circles on there. Don’t be afraid to message someone and say hi, or ask for help, or whatever. Most of the time they will be friendly and helpful.

Thank you for your time Seb Jenkins. Good luck in your future endeavors.

You can learn more about Seb on his website or contact him here.

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Where’s the riot?

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot by Pat Shand has our spacefaring heroes taking a shipment of medicine to a plant people planet (try saying that three times fast) who are suffering from a plague. Once the Guardians arrive at the star system, they find it to be blocked by a force field. They need to get permission to pass. After some creepy feelings and subtle threats, they are allowed to leave. Once on the plant planet, they soon find that the plague was not a plague but an invasion. The Guardians are soon on the run from an at least two planet strong army.

The use of having each chapter told by a different character is nothing new, but what I enjoyed is that they sounded like that character. The Star-Lord chapters sounded as if Star-Lord was speaking, that he’d written that chapter.

I found the Drax chapters a little harder to find his voice. The Drax chapters sounded more like the author speaking than Drax. But to be fair, Drax has a different short of character. He doesn’t really have the internal dialogue like the others and he’s more literal. I did notice that once Drax began to have a personal conflict, involving a crush on someone (and I mean a love-crush not a smash-crush like Drax thought “having a crush” meant), the Drax chapters did seem to change.

When I saw that each chapter would be “narrated” by a different Guardian, I hoped that there would be a Groot chapter. I wondered how Shand would do that. Would it be six pages of “I am Groot”? I was surprised to see that not only was there a Groot chapter but it delve into the mind of Groot. You get to see how he feels about not being able to communicate with anyone other than Rocket. You get to see a version of Groot that is quite smart. Some stories show Groot as being stupid or naïve; this Groot is wiser and observant.

I also enjoyed how the individual chapters allowed the reader to see more of the characters’ motives and backgrounds. You learn a lot about why the characters act the way they do.

Shand’s description of the Thandrid was excellent. I got a clear image of what they looked like. Maybe too clear. I kept getting an image of a insect that looked similar to a xenomorph from the Alien movies. But this might’ve been on purpose because of how the Thandrid invade. Much like the xenomorphs, the Thandrid burst out from their host’s body (except it’s the head instead of the chest).

I was surprised and not surprised when the first head-bursting happened. Since I had the xenomorph image in my head (no pun intended), I was not surprised to see it happen. In other words, the clues had been there since the beginning. I didn’t feel like this was some cheap scare that came out of nowhere. Nonetheless, it still shocked me because I wasn’t waiting for it, and the description of the baby Thandrid crawling around creeped me out. It wasn’t like a mystery book where you solve the murder in the first chapter and then are waiting till the end to have your guess confirmed.

My main problem with the book is I kept asking, “Where’s the riot?” The book was called Space Riot and yet there was no riot. There was war and fighting and explosions, but not much of a riot. I guess you could call it a riot because the Incarnadinians, the other planet marked for invasion, and the Guardians rebelled against the Thandrid. Also, all the people of the system were held prisoner by the force field, so it was more like the rebel “prisoners” were rioting against the Thandrid “guards.” The war was very one sided. The Thandrid had the numbers and the technology, so it was more of a riot. But the riot idea really came into play when the Guardians and rebels crashed into the Thandrid prison allowing all the prisoners to escape. It then turned into a literal riot and they attacked the Thandrid.

I have to give Space Riot a 4.6 out of 5. The writing was excellent, the book was short enough that I could finish it in a timely manner but still long enough that I felt like I got my money’s worth, and the book kept making me want to continue. It wasn’t boring at all. It seemed like we were always moving forward. Sometimes the forward motion was a little slower but we were still moving forward. But, it didn’t have the same…silliness of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It seemed like these Guardians were ones that had more experience or were more mature. They still had the same characteristics, but just different.

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Malicious leaves no malice in readers

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Malicious, a James Patterson Bookshots written by Patterson and James O. Born, is another book staring Mitchum, an ex-Navy SEAL turned private private investigator (aka unofficial) and paperboy. He is called in to help his brother, Natty, who has been arrested for murder.

It doesn’t look good for Natty as he is a known dope dealer—pardon me, drug dealer (a correction which become a recurring joke through the first part)—and he has a thing for the victim’s wife.

The 125 page story is a nice, quick read. Its size and weight make it perfect for reading while on the go; whether you are waiting at the doctors or on a long car ride. Or if you just want to relax in bed.

Overall the story was good with its knife fights, fist fights, and gun chases, but there were a few problems.

In the beginning, Mitchum and a “client” are waiting at the diner to meet his client’s estranged daughter. I was confused at first because I thought in the last Mitchum story this case was already closed. He mentioned it many times, so I thought this was a flashback or a prequel. I quickly realized he had only found the daughter in the last book; now they were meeting.

I first realized this was a present/sequel story when Mitchum mentioned the death of Mabel. It was an unsolved case in the last book and hinted at some bigger plot, but in this story it just gets a line and is never mentioned again. I kept waiting for something in this story to connect back to Mabel, but it never happened. It was disappointing but no big deal. This is pretty normal in serials.

I liked the fluid writing where each event flowed into another without awkward breaks. The book also had a nice pace-flow between fast action, slow action, and medium action. Mitchum stays in investigation mode throughout the story, but you get calmer moments where you see into Mitchum’s normal life, such as when Alicia asks him out.

Mitchum is also a well-developed character. Only from a few sentences you can see his moral code and how much he cares for family and community. The same can be said about the other characters. Within a few short sentences, you know who Natty, Mitchum’s mother, and the investigating police officer—Mike Tharpe—are.

The final item is both a positive and a negative: I figured out who the killer was pretty early. The bad part is that it made me want to jump to the end to see if I was right instead of reading the whole book. I don’t like it when I guess the end so quickly because I become impatient waiting for the end. But at least with these Bookshots stories, the end isn’t far away; I’m only waiting for a few hours or days till the end instead of months as I try to read a 400 page novel.

But this quick-solve shows how well written the story is. All the clues are right there. Once the reveal happens, you don’t feel cheated; you feel like everything that happened made sense. You don’t feel blindsided or that the authors threw in some shocking twist just to throw in some twist.

All in all, Malicious is a nice, quick read where you feel like the story is complete but still makes you want more Mitchum stories. I would give it a four out of five stars because there were a few issues but nothing distracting.

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