Life of Maggot by Paul Jameson

Wendy Waters’s review of Life of Maggot | Goodreads

Paul Jameson is a master wordsmith. His tour de force Masterpiece, Life of Maggot, is a tone poem, a paeon to the power, durability and endurance of Nature, a postscript to a mad world of human invention, convention and ignorance.

As humanity slowly erases itself through endless war, savagery and greed, Peg the Queen of Nature watches from her sacred hill and saves the life of one small boy – perhaps the only worthy human left on the planet after the savage murder of his parents and The-Lady-Upstairs. I pronounced Maggot with the accent on the second syllable throughout the reading – rather like begot. I’ve no idea why but it just sat right for me. Apologies Mr. Jameson!

Jameson writes like no other unless it be Emily Bronte or that genius Shakespeare whose intouchness with the Kingdom of Other was equally profound. Jameson takes us into the world of Sprites, Elves, Faeries, Imps, Gods and Goddesses gently and completely and illuminates through them the hope that many of us need today as we watch the world incinerate and teeter on the edge of nuclear disaster. This is a post-apocalyptic world with a single portal through an ancient Yew tree that leads into a world devoid of Monstrous men and women with monstrous appetites, monstrous greed and obscene vanity. The harbinger of the return of the planet to its original owners?

Sound familiar?

I highlighted nearly all the language, so beautiful, visceral and talismanic enough to enter the bones, the blood and lastly, the soul.

When finally, she who is named Peg, Queen of Otherworld, knows the last horseman flames the night sky and death is inevitable she takes the man-child, Maggot, through the portal in the ancient Yew tree, a portal all the wise and knowing animals have already taken and presumably into a future as profoundly risky as the occupants of the Ark encountered when finally, the dove returned with an olive sprig.

I cannot praise this language highly enough, so I’ll let Jameson’s words speak for themselves. This describes the end of the human world.

Bright.
An explosion.
Behind and to the south. Blinding. A pillar of fire as reaches for the heavens. Without a word then Peg lifts Maggot, picks him up physical and carries him into Old Yew through the largest gap. Over shoulder Maggot sees fire block out stars, and Peg whispers in ear. A spell. In a strange tongue she sings, and it is as if they are of the tree. Climb at once to t’ highest leaf and swirl there in the wind, descend wild circle of stars to t’ roots and rocks below. Ride waves of time and space; see dark there the light, a sea as roils, and flee the fire the chase, a world as melts.”

I think Emily Bronte, that woodland nymph, child of nature and lover of the Moors would have adored this book. I think Shakespeare would have recognised a rival with as musical and keen an ear as his own and lastly, my highest praise of all: Jameson is to literature what Sondheim is theatre.
Bravo Paul Jameson!

5 Star Review for Paradis Inferno

Paradis Inferno

Paradis Inferno
by 

Wendy Waters (Goodreads Author)

Dustin Rielly‘s review

Nov 11, 2022

#5Stars

Read 2 times

The devil takes centre stage in Wendy Waters PARADIS INFERNO, the authors sequel to CATCH THE MOON, MARY. Descending from the sky over the English Channel, the disembodied Cherub takes a human form, and sweeps through modern day Europe on a quest for the one thing riches cannot buy – creativity. Aesthetically evoking Anne Rice, and with themes reminiscent of THE PARIS LIBRARY, in PARADIS INFERNO Wendy Waters tackles some big issues – heaven, hell, redemption, complex characters, issues of modern society and human connection as a bulwark against evil. Does it work? Yes – the author admirably links the levels of complexity into a seamless, engaging narrative.

Once on Earth, Satan takes the name Stanas Vedil, and the ruler of hell is soon living in his accustomed wealth and luxury, socializing with the elites, and interfering in the lives of mortals in pursuit of nefarious ends. His stream of consciousness, still reflecting his previous visit to Earth in a period roughly from the Renaissance to the Reformation, and burdened with age old conflicts and grudges, creates a compelling juxtaposition with his modern-day machinations via smart phones and night-club acquisitions.

When the devil becomes aware that Mary Ferranti (the protagonist of the previous book), a mortal whose music and creativity captivated the world years earlier, will play again in a concert to be held in an ancient Roman amphitheatre in France, he is determined to learn – and steal – the secret of her genius by any means necessary. Through a series of covert interactions, the devil ingratiates himself with Mary’s family; her son Rigel who is the son of the angel Gabriel, and Rigel’s wife Samantha. The targets of Satan’s manipulation are given hints about his true identity, such as protests against his Paradis Inferno nightclubs, which raises tension about whether they will guess who he really is before it’s too late.

The author handles the complex grand narratives of Satan’s character – age old celestial conflicts, his captivating insights into contemporary social issues, his new personal human connections and manipulations, and most interestingly, his inner torment generated by the conflict between his numerous selfish flaws and his desire for redemption – in a way that engages the reader on a number of levels. His formidable intellect is at war with his capacity for enlightenment, sabotaging his every moment; he finds solace from his aloof, emotional dislocation by seeking connection with a house rodent, and his honesty in these encounters is captivating. His moral corruption, which battles with his desperate need for growth and connection, is portrayed compellingly in lines such as, ’Why make the universe when you can buy it?’ But it’s his own blindness to his self-constructed prison that really engages, and the author handles this superbly with great insight into human nature, humanizing the epic scope.

Philosophical and moral explorations are balanced with the lively interactions and dialogue of Mary’s family, and these scenes flesh-out the dramatic situation and provide relief from the devil’s escapades; I got lost in these extended dialogues sometimes – with who slept where, or left who and why, but was always pulled back in. It may help if you’ve read the previous book, although it’s not necessary as the story stands on its own. The author’s prose shines, elegantly complementing and simplifying the deeper, complex themes.

This is the devil’s story – and he successfully seduces the reader, gradually pulling you into his conflicted, epic world. Will he steal Mary’s soul, as he intends? Or will he change and finally achieve a redemptive arc? What kept me engaged was the authenticity of the devil’s conflict, which had me turning the pages toward his ultimate confrontation with Mary. I highly recommend this book.

The Journey from Catch the Moon, Mary to Paradis Inferno

I wrote Catch the Moon, Mary in 2011.

Actually, I started writing it in 2011 when I was volunteering at Oasis Crisis Centre for homeless youth in inner city Sydney. I had never understood homelessness and the events that led to homelessness before, and I felt it was a necessary part of my spiritual evolution to confront my avoidance of the tragic situation many people find themselves in through no fault of their own.

I really want to stress that the people, some as young as fifteen, that I met while I was working at Oasis Crisis Centre were homeless through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.

They had chosen homelessness rather than the constant abuse occurring at home.

Imagine pimping out your pre-teen child to strangers. Imagine routinely beating up your adolescent son because you can’t handle your own life. Imagine pretending your daughter is not being sexually abused by her father, brothers, uncles, the elderly pervert next door.

Imagine.

People ask me how I could subject myself to that horror and I answer because the kids at Oasis had no choice. You’re very lucky if you do have the choice to ignore abuse, turn the page or the corner and walk away. I have literally had people say to me over coffee, “Oh, please don’t talk about Oasis, it’s too sad and it’s such a lovely day. Let’s not spoil it.” These days I don’t have much time for those people.

Prior to 2011 I used to cross the street if I saw a homeless person. I’m ashamed of myself for that cowardly behaviour. These days I stop and chat and give them money. I always carry cash when I go to the city for just that purpose. But more than money, most homeless people just want to be heard and treated as human beings. I learned that at Oasis. So, facing my own lack of humanity I volunteered to work as a music teacher, a singing teacher to be specific, and it was one of the best choices of my life.

Finally, I stopped being afraid of homeless people and saw homelessness as everybody’s problem to solve and the starting point is inclusivity rather than exceptionalism. Once I was able to see the human face of abused kids, I understood that until you get past your fear and prejudice, you’re no use to them. Their stories of truly horrifying circumstances in the homes they ran away from made me aware of the absolute necessity of seeing them as powerful human beings with possible futures rather than broken, irretrievably damaged souls with no hope. I suppose abused people became my “normal” and finding a pathway through for them was my job. I realise now that when someone opens up to me about their historical abuse, I don’t even find it confronting. I just listen and wait for that cue to start helping them process their healing. If you listen closely, you will hear the change in their voice when they talk about their passion in life. Once you isolate that dream it becomes the focus of your conversations with them. Supporting their dreams and finding pathways for realization is the way to help build a bridge to a better future.

But in amongst the stories of horror I also heard stories of survival from these kids and many of them involved what they called guardian angels or unseen companions who gave them a sense of worth and protection. It was this that gave me the idea for Catch the Moon, Mary and I started writing the story of a sexually abused, gifted child whose guardian angel saved her. But life has so many incidences of moral challenge/rape that I also wanted to address the idea of selling your soul for money or fame. How to retain ownership of your gifts when grifters will forfeit them for fame and make themselves rich twisting your genius into commercial warp. My heroine, Mary Granger, manages to retain her innocence by disappearing into her creative nature, her soul and ultimately, she draws others into that sacred space with her.

It took me many years to get the story just right and finally it was published in 2015.

I continued Mary’s journey in Paradis Inferno and this time she is catnip for the Devil himself, who wants her untrammeled genius in order to illuminate and heal his own soul. But no-one can do the hard yards for you and the easy road ends in a wilderness of loss.

Again, people asked me but how I can bear to write about the Devil. How can I spend time with evil? My answer again is that fantasy serves no-one and it’s better to confront the things you fear and find the pathway through rather than dodge the shadows.

I wanted to redeem the Devil or at least have Mary redeem the Devil.

In between Catch the Moon, Mary and Paradis Inferno I wrote Fields of Grace about an actress who becomes a famous star in London’s glittering theatreland in the 30s. She meets the other half of her soul and loses him to the irredeemable evil of antisemitic prejudice. A mighty wave of darkness engulfed the earth in the Depression years and into the hellish years of WW2.

People fell victim to their unconfronted fears of otherness and the underlying greed that permeates humanity, the lust for false power and the god of gold, overwhelmed their morality. In Fields of Grace, I was unable to redeem Hitler and multitude who marched in lockstep with him throughout those terrible years but because I held the pen in Paradis Inferno, I was able to redirect the Devil, set him on the right path and get his foot on the first rung of Jacob’s ladder.

He must get himself home as we all must.

My three books Catch the Moon, Mary, Fields of Grace and finally, Paradis Inferno.

Oasis Crisis Centre is https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/oasis/ always looking for volunteers.

Catch Up 2022

This is my first post in almost a year. Apologies but there have been so many changes and a perfect storm of “busyness”.

Trees in the garden at my new abode.

At the beginning of this year I moved to a cottage in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and within a few weeks saw a snowstorm! All night the wind howled and circled and I felt as if I had been transported to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The next morning I woke to a white landscape and a crusting of snow. Incredibly beautiful but so cold.

So, after packing up and driving five hours south of Sydney and hitting yet another reset button in my life, I settled in to the work that gives me my only steady anchor in life: writing. Since moving south I have been writing the sequel to both my books, Catch the Moon, Mary and Fields of Grace combined and am set to publish later this year.

Because CTMM and FOG have two characters in common: Rigel and Samantha, they have become the central characters in the long overdue sequel. I also introduced a charismatic protagonist to lure Mary Ferranti nee Granger back to her music after an absence of twenty years. My mother is painting a picture for the cover maintaining the extraordinary fortune I’ve enjoyed in having talented others gift me the cover images.

I have also been writing Book & Lyrics for three new musicals: THE LOVESONG OF RUBEN KEYES with composers, Frank Loman and Ricardo Nunes Fernandes and writer/performer, Lucy Aley-Parker. This is a two-hander (possibly four) musical about a middle-aged married couple who have never been compatible. Ruben is a romantic who worships T.S.Eliot (hence the title) and places his wife, Sara, on an impossible plinth stripping her of emotional ballast and the freedom to honour her wild escapist nature. Sara hides a truckload of baggage that can only be deciphered by a skilled counselor but Ruben won’t allow for her damage and as a consequence the marriage is doomed.

Composers Ricardo Nunes Fernandes and Frank Loman are creating some spectacular music and Frank, partnered with me, is writing original lyrics as well as shaping mine. Lucy is advising on script and providing a distanced eye and much-needed constructive criticism. A brilliant team based in London.

In another partnership I am co-writing a one-woman show for my talented friend, Angela Ayers. We are shining a light on the wasted talent of 50+ women who find themselves shelved in our outrageously misogynistic industry. It’s a depressing subject but Angela and I have injected it with some much-needed humour. We have called the show “A Rat in a Mask” because Angela told me she was painting a kangaroo in a scarf to ease her feelings of loss but she said it looked more like a rat in a mask. I said, “there’s our title!”

A Rat in a Mask – Angela Ayers Show

And finally I am writing Book & Lyrics for THE LAST TALE with brilliant composer, Shanon Whitelock. This has been a long project with lots of marvelous people offering support. A large-scale show set in Baghdad 800 A.D. about the famed storyteller Queen, Scheherazade. This musical is a joyous romp underscored with a darker message about women’s rights and freedom.

If I had to choose one discipline that brings me the greatest joy I would choose lyrics and the most exciting aspect of writing lyrics is hearing the music a gifted composer creates for them. Working with inspiring others raises the bar for all concerned. It’s the allowing of another’s ideas to meld and permeate your own that creates something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

That’s my world, the bubble I live in and breathe in and have the privilege of occupying without the chaotic intrusion of the outside world. But regarding the outside world: when will mankind learn to put the needs of community ahead of selfish individual cravings and desires? I see the actions of Putin as desperation stemming from inadequacy. He is not alone in this, millions of people across the planet only see what affects them but his power, platform and reach are insidiously wide and many will die before he is sated or halted. Trump set the tone for retrograde misogyny in America and the overturning of Roe versus Wade is a direct result of the selfish immaturity he exhibited and unleashed when he sanctioned the opening of Pandora’s Box. Perhaps he has shown the true face of that abberated brand of Christianity that bleeds into every aspect of American life and stains the corridors of power with its hypocritical sanctity. I’m not sure I understand how so many Christians believe themselves God’s personal messengers. I hear interpretations of the Bible that are so skewed as to be laughable but somehow they are sacrosanct because they are lifted from that book so many believe is God’s diary or memoir.

It is disturbing watching women slowly being reduced to servitude and desperation in a country that prides itself on equality and freedom. Again I am grateful for my bubble where I am free to think and observe and express without asking permission.

I have a friend who said that ultimately we must silence the arguments and simply leave the stubborn and the stuck behind. Jesus did that, too, when he could not make himself understood. He left the village, wiped the dust from his robes and said, “Let them sleep forever.” I know this flies in the face of God being aware of the fall of a sparrow but I wonder if we have time to debate with fools. When I was at school I was on the debating team and we invariably won even when we debated a POV we didn’t agree with. We did it by listening and constructing sound counter arguments that addressed salient points and then we presented our water-tight argument. As I said we invariably won but we could never have done so had we been unable to listen. What I am seeing today on social media are inflexible opinions expressed by people who cannot listen and sadly, what they mostly use to back up their fallible stances is the Bible.

The Bible was written two thousand years ago…by men. One of the beliefs back then was that the earth was flat and the sun and planets and stars revolved around it. America and the Antarctic were unknown to Europeans and Middle Easterners. Flight was a myth and sailing any great distance was impossible, except maybe for the incredible Phoenicians. My point here is that beliefs and positions held two thousand years ago are ripe for revision based on new information and discoveries. A small but salient point I would make to those people who believe absolutely that the Bible is the word of God – did God not know about the Universe? Did He not know about countries and racial groups outside of Canaan? It just seems very odd that the person who created everything had such a narrow view.

Finally, late 2021 the world lost two genius lyricists: Marilyn Bergman and Stephen Sondheim. I wonder if we will ever see their equal again. Growing up my favourite lyrics were Windmills of Your Mind. I considered it the perfect song: the circular lyrics spiraling upwards with the rising melody and then I discovered Sondheim and found my altar and idol.

Stephen Sondheim

Graeme Ratcliffe’s review of Fields of Grace | Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4503226752

Graeme Ratcliffe’s Reviews > Fields of Grace

Wendy Waters has managed to achieve something not often found in the contemporary novel. Her marvellously entertaining book, Fields of Grace, is at once literary yet as plot-driven as a spy thriller. Some writers are quite utilitarian in their use of language, they write well, often very well, but they render in charcoal. Ms Waters does not. She is Monet with a pen, and though her colours shine, they never detract from the drawing beneath, a well-structured and gripping yarn. Gripping, not only because of the emotional investment we can’t help but make in her lovingly realised characters, but also because of the care she takes with their backstories and their various fascinating, quirky, frequently amusing, sometimes sad and, at one point, truly terrifying journeys. From the opening pages I found myself intrigued by Grace Fielders, a woman with a past as exotic, mysterious and hidden as her old trunk, locked away, unopened for so many years. This trunk serves purposes historical, romantic and magical, a capsule to another time and place, the girl who still dances within the dying flesh of this determined yet gentle, ancient lady. A former actress from mystical, rural Devon, Grace relates to her granddaughter, Sam, the untold, erstwhile secret story of her early life, the world she knew before her life became mundane. We find her in the company of an eclectic group of stoically happy, yet emotionally unfulfilled, denizens of 1930s London, boarding at Wyncote House in Gloucester Mews. It is a cozy, very English place, but Grace will not be there for long. Talented and determined she soon finds herself launched into the dazzling world of the theatre. It is here that we meet the famous personalities. Woven seamlessly into the narrative, they tumble out in affectionate and sometime hilarious detail. We find John Gielgud nibbling on cake crumbs from his plate while he sips his tea and gossips resolutely. We are party to the shenanigans of Peggy Ashcroft, the saltiness of Harry Andrews and so much more, all these characters speaking in a voice ringing with authenticity. This is a world now gone but delicious to encounter, even if we might only take a tiny peek. Ms. Waters evokes, with a keen eye, the hazardous world of the theatre in a way that might find the reader giggling, if not contorted in a belly laugh, especially if the reader has ever dared to tread the boards. However, I have barely scratched the surface; there is so much more to this woman’s life. Suffice to say, from the curtain calls of the West End to the back alleys of Nazi Berlin to enigmatic ‘amberglow’, Fields of Grace is a thought provoking, intriguing, sometimes rollicking, sometimes distressing, world-class yet, still largely, hidden treasure. Take her key and unlock Grace’s hidden dusty trunk; you won’t be disappointed.

Author #Interview: Let’s Chat with #IndieAuthor Bryan R. Quinn!

Jean Lee's World

Follow Bryan on Twitter here!

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! I’m thrilled to continue sharing some lovely indie authors I’ve met in our community. This month, please welcome the mysterious Bryan R. Quinn!

You have a unique history in the publishing industry as well as in technical writing. From your experience, what do you consider to be the most unethical practice in the publishing industry, and what can be done about it?

Vanity publishing scams that milk naïve and, perhaps, desperate writers dry who haven’t done their due diligence are concerning. I hate to see writers, or anyone for that matter, get swindled. Writers need to investigate online publishers before trusting them with their hard-earned money.

Click here for more about this book.

Do you see your work as a technical writer influence your prose style as a fiction writer? Technical writing must be precise and concise, so I apply…

View original post 721 more words

One planet, one backyard

I am living on the Hawkesbury River and this morning at 6am I looked out the window and saw a house floating by, the roof glimmering pale and ghostly in the dawn light. These past few weeks have flickered by in a pastiche of movie frame impressions. A man who should be sectioned is holding the world to ransom because we were stupid enough to sign off on nuclear weapons on 16th July 1945 in a project that sounds like a hotel highball: “The Manhattan Project”. Flushed with recent victory at a time when humanity should have been reassessing its values a bunch of ego-driven lunatics decided to develop a weapon so satanic the next Hitler could not fail. Well, here we are, at the gates of Hell. And on my own doorstep someone’s home floated by like a surreal image in a movie, except it isn’t a movie. It’s someone’s home.

Some people are getting the message. Some people are asking their neighbours if they need help. Some people are closing ranks around their families and friends and offering to pool their resources to overcome the tragedy of having to rebuild lives and livelihoods. But so many people still don’t get it. If we do not pull together now as the waters rise we will all drown. Isn’t it time we stopped relying on governments and institutions for our safety and started relying on each other? I have faith that Russian soldiers and ordinary Russians will start to question the morality of bombing the crap out of their neighbour. Likewise I am hoping this melee of natural disasters will wake us all up to the reality that we can’t function in isolation from our neighbours. That the entire world must pull together if we are to survive.

My entire post right now is about dissolving those imaginary property and national lines that divide us globally and individually. Stop putting money and ego above heart and health.

On that note, I would like to observe that people like Putin don’t have lives. Why else would he steal so many others? Until and unless you have tried to create something unique and original out of the common clay of your spiritual coil you have no idea what real life feels like. There is no deeper joy than contributing something meaningful to the lives of others. The joy of contribution shadows the addictive pleasure of distraction and greed. If people could find the courage to try being who they really are instead of mantling institutionalized positions of usurped power there would be no more war and poverty would look like the crime it is.

Fields of Grace made Best Reads 2021 List

So thrilled to see my book Fields of Grace in @thereadingdesk’s #top10readsof201 #list.

This novel was rejected by every publisher I submitted it to for almost a decade.

In 2019 I reluctantly decided to self-publish rather than let my beautiful story gather dust. It was a risky decision but oh, how it’s paid off.

#FieldsofGrace has made three #bestreadsof 2020 lists by UK #reviewers and now it’s sitting side-by-side with New York Times Bestsellers in a @tbrreviews Peter Donnelly’s #bestreads2021 list.

Motto: Don’t ever give up! https://www.instagram.com/p/CZAih1Qhpc3/?utm_medium=share_sheet

Best Reads of 2021 List by Peter Donnelly @TheReadingDesk