The 4 am Creative Battle Starts Here

Why the hell would anyone get up at 4am?

The loud purring from Steve (named after Steve Rogers of course) the Cat is normally the first thing I hear. I fumble for my mobile phone on the bedside table, hoping I’ve remembered to dim the light so I don’t wake my wife (a fate worse than death) and check the time – 2:30am. I would fist punch the air in happiness if I wasn’t so knackered so instead I drift back to a blessed half sleep.

“You’re not good enough.”

My eyes snap open and before I check my phone again I know it’s either 4am, on the dot, or a little after. I know because I hear the voice, my very own personal alarm clock.

“You’re not good enough and you never will be.”

The voices continues to berate me while I throw on the clothes I left by the stairs last night, in preparation for this morning. I head downstairs to the kitchen and as I make a cuppa the voice gives me a few choice words of inspiration.

“Go back to bed Barry. This is a waste of time mate you’re just not that good. Your mind’s blank mate, you’ve got nothing. I should know I’m the one in here putting up with your delusions of grandeur.”

I settle down in front of the laptop. A mug of tea is clasped in one hand, like a warm liquid barrier against my inner critic. I hit the power button on the laptop and launch my word processor of choice.

“Why are you doing his mate? You could be asleep or playing on the Xbox or something.”

My hands hover over the keyboard. I take a deep breath and I start to type. The voice is still screaming obscenities at me but they lessen with each word I type until it is more white noise than the deafening cacophony of negativity it has been.

So this how my day starts (well some days Steve the cat leaves me alone) and has done for the past three decades. The days when I don’t hear that voice I worry that it’s lurking at the back of my mind plotting a massive attack, which it is. It will then hit me with the deadliest weapon in its critical arsenal – writer’s fear. Now I don’t really believe in writer’s block anymore but I am a paid up member of writer’s fear. This condition hits when my inner critic has been so scathing, so relentless, that for a time (and sometimes, for me, it can last years) I see the world through its eyes. Every time I force myself to sit down at the keyboard to look at my work all I see is a jumbled mess of nonsense.

“You were right. What the hell was I thinking?”

Not content with savouring the victory the voice conjures up other voices, ones from my past to batter me into submission. The English teacher who wrote in my school report ‘Barry has an overactive imagination which he needs to learn to control’ (she put in something like this year). The art teacher who told me ‘drawing comic characters is not what we do here Mr Nugent so stop doing it… here we do fine art (I lost that war)’. The computer studies teacher who told me ‘You’ll never amount to anything in life Nugent’ and to round it off that well known writer who told me ‘Self publishing is for vanity writers and writers who just aren’t good enough.’

This cheery pick me up normally ends with me pouring my cuppa down the sink and heading back to bed or numbing myself with some early morning TV or gaming.

All of those comments haunt me every time I sit at the keyboard and stare at a blank screen at 4 am.  No writer works in insolation. Those, early morning, whispered voices join forces with my own inner critic, like some Marvel villain team up, telling me I’m not good enough. The 4 am battle I call it and I believe it’s something every creative person, at every level fights (yes even the JK Rowling’s of this world). It is the one constant, the one thing that makes us all equal as creative people.

When I’m asked why it’s taken me seven years to write a novel it’s mainly down to that creative battle and the truth that I don’t always win.

Unfortunately the only strategy I have for winning the battle is just showing up. Even when I am caught in the hurricane of writer’s fear on an instinctual level I know it is a phase that will pass. So everyday I continue to get up at the crack of dawn and drag myself, word by word, to the eye of my inner critical storm.

Why the hell would it take you seven years to write a novel?

I like to think that every creative person fights this battle on a daily basis. The methods the enemy uses on my fellow creatives may differ but its goal is the same. It wants to stop us writing, acting, painting, lettering, colouring, sculpting and dreaming of new worlds and new adventures. It wants to stop us doing that one thing we love to do more than anything else.

Knowing that there are people out there fighting and winning that battle (#amwriting and #NaNoWriMo #NaNoWriMo17)I’m looking at you) always helps me to stand up to myself and type that next word, complete that next sentence and finish that page. I know if I keep doing it that one day I’ll look up and I’ll have written a book.

After watching Creed (great film by the way) I have now adopted one of Rocky’s training mantras taught to the young Creed and giving it a little creative make over.

One word at a time. one page at a time. one book at a time.

Yep I know chapter would have made more sense than book but book quite frankly works better when you’re using it in time with typing…try it. It also works very well with a punch bag.

So in conclusion, to all our inner enemies, I’ll say this.

“We see you. We know there will be times you’ll win a battle or three but never the war. As long as we keep showing up you lose. As long as we keep writing, keep dreaming you lose. So we’ll see you bright and early tomorrow at 4am. You bring the negativity and we’ll bring very sharp pencils.”

And yes I did start writing this post at 4am today…well ok it was 4:20 but Steve wanted Tuna.

“This is it. The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let’s see what we’re made of, you and I.”
The Doctor


Forgotten Warriors is finished and gets a new official synopsis

So earlier this week I received the final draft of Forgotten Warriors from the editor. The novel is now complete.

It is very hard unless you write to understand what it is like to finish a novel. The sheer emotional weight that hits you is something I don’t think you ever prepare for. As I sit here a blubbering mess trying to type this I have over seven years of emotional weight and memories of working on this novel settling on my shoulders. The times when I felt like a failure. The times when all I saw was a blank screen for hours on end, laughing at me. The times when I thought this was the best work I had ever done. The times when I lost my brother, my father and felt like I would never write again. Always in those times, both good and bad, I would hear my mum whispering to me to keep going, to just do one more word Titch, one more page.

To say writing is a rollercoaster of highs and lows may sound cliche but it is as good a metaphor as any.

Some writers would have you believe that writing is a solitary profession, it is least not for me. The amount love and support and ‘kicks up the ass’ from friends and family can not and will never be underestimated.

So thank you all for your love and support, some more than others (you know how you are).

And lastly… Mum…still here, still trying to save the world.

The plan is to launch the novel at the Thought Bubble Exhibition together with The  Chimera Factor graphic novel. The comic is stand alone, in many ways, but it also acts as a prequel to Forgotten Warriors.


Look out for a post of how to pre-order your copy soon. It will be doing a limited edition special edition copy in the first instance..more details on that soon.

In the meantime if you’re a fan of Fallen Heroes…thank you for your support and sticking with me all these years..not much longer now. If you want to pick up Forgotten Warriors and want to read Fallen Heroes first you can still pick up a copy from Amazon.

Here’s the new story blurb to give you an idea what’s coming.

Hold your breath.

Stand your ground.

The worst is yet to come.

Three years ago, on the eve of their greatest triumph, the Book of Cademus instead suffered their greatest defeat.

Today the leaders of this apocalyptic cult are hunted across the globe as their followers lose faith in their gods.

Reduced to striking out from the shadows in petty acts of vengeance, the cult hatches one last desperate gambit to regain all they have lost.

The Icarus Foundation, ignorant of the danger, has become locked in a political power struggle. The United Nations believes Icarus are too dangerous to be left unchecked and take drastic measures to bring them under control.

With Icarus’ focus turned elsewhere the burden falls on those scarred survivors to stand against the Book of Cademus once more. If they can…


Tales of the Fallen at Thought Bubble 2011

Well all the dust has now settled on the Thought Bubble convention and normality is finally beginning to settle back in. I have to take my hat off to the comic creators who sell their wares at every con as it’s a very different experience sitting on the other side of the table. A lot of hard work and a lot of talking…my voice was not in great shape by the end of Sunday.

Big thanks to our printer Stuart from the UK Comics Creative who turned up in the nick of time with copies of Tales of the Fallen and Fallen Heroes issue 2 on Friday evening…once again saving the day.

Continue reading

Welcome to the Unseen Shadows Website

So welcome everyone to the new Unseen Shadows website. From here I hope to keep you all up to date on all the news spinning out of the Unseen Shadows universe of which the Fallen Heroes novel and it’s upcoming follow-up, Forgotten Warriors, is a part.  As well as news on the novels there will be updates on some of the other spin-off titles in the works. The site is still being worked on so look out for changes on a daily basis.

This will also be your one shop site for picking up Comics, Books,CD’s and more from the Unseen Shadows Universe.

As this is the first time I’m really pushing the Unseen Shadows Universe I thought I would do a small post to explain the idea behind it all.

So What is Unseen Shadows?

Originally Fallen Heroes was called Unseen Shadows but the more I worked on the story the more I felt that the title was a little too overarching to fit one book. I knew I was going to tell this one huge adventure spread over three books and so Unseen Shadows became the overall theme for that story.

Now with the ongoing work to expand the world and characters I’ve created via the mediums of comics, audio and live action  it made sense to bring the term ‘Unseen Shadows’ more to the forefront. I know a lot of people, myself included sometimes, still refer to everything involved with the project as Fallen Heroes but in truth everything being worked on is part of the Unseen Shadows universe. It was one of the reasons I decided to launch this new website to try to reinforce that message.

The really exciting thing for me is how the spin-off work has affected me as I work on the second book in the trilogy, Forgotten Warriors. I found myself subconsciously referencing events in the spin-off scripts as if they were canon and then the thought occurred to me ‘Why don’t I just make them canon’.  So now every member of the creative team knows that their material is 100% a part of the Unseen Shadows universe and not just a nice little side story with no impact on the events surrounding it. The spin-offs expand and enhance the characters lives and relationships within the novels. Although the books and the spin offs can be read and enjoyed independently of each other you will get more insights into the characters by experiencing all the stories across the Unseen Shadows universe. At least that is the plan we are all working towards. You want to know more about the how the Reverend was trained to become the man we see in Fallen Heroes then you Cy Dethan’s The Reverend: Wrath of God comic.  If you’ve ever wondered how did a decorated solider like Clancy become a mercenary then Dan Thompson’s Clancy Wallencheck: Band of Butchers is for you. Desperate to learn about the inner working of the Icarus Foundation?  Alan White’s Tales of the Fallen: Empire of Blood audio drama is the place to begin your education.

So What’s first?

Well first up we will releasing four(maybe five)  one-shot comics, based on characters introduced in the Fallen Heroes novel,  in a digital only format and then to collect them as a anthology entitled ‘Tales of the Fallen’, which will be printed for launch later in 2011. Of we have the second issue of the comic adaptation which is being worked on as I type this.

I think if you a follower of the independant UK comic scene you will recongise some of the names already involved. They are all people I have a lot of respect for and am very happy to have them be part of what we are trying to do. Someone suggested to me after seeing the list of those involved that this team was ‘The Expendables of Indie Comics’ which bought a smile to my face as well as the team. A far as I know the team have no plans to overthrow any Latin American dictators any time soon.

So far involved in the comic side of things we have

Richmond Clements

Cy Dethan

Vicky Stonebrigde

Pete Rogers

Conor Boyle

Rob Carey

Dan Thompson

Martin Conaghan

Steve Penfold

Nic Wilkinson 

Roy Huteson Stewart

Paul McLaren

As time goes on I’ll be introducing you to some of the other teams involved in expanding the Unseen Shadows universe.

Why branch out into all these different mediums?

“I’ll wait for the audio version”

It was that phrase I heard years ago when someone was interested in buying the novel but only as an audio book that lodged the idea in the back of my head. It was one of reasons I sought out David Ault to do an audio version of Fallen Heroes. I was always drawn to the concept that whatever was your medium of choice there was a means by which you could experience the story I was trying to tell.

 To be honest a large share of how this came about should go to Nic Wilkinson, who always had this grand scheme of spin offs and expanding the Unseen Shadows universe for probably about two years now (I’m sure in a past list she was an evil genius). Being able to bounce ideas off her and getting her input has been invaluable in making this all work. She also knocked my head together with C Dethan’s who I been skirting around the idea of asking do a spin off comic for some time. There was never a plan to do more than one spin-off comic but Cy coming aboard to do the Reverend spin-off comic really opened the door and suddenly I found myself being emailed by loads of creative folk wanted to know how they could get involved. It also showed me that the only boundaries to what I’m trying to achieve are those I impose on myself. Doing this new website is a way to help me  embrace the idea that anything is possible.

I’m very lucky to be working with so many talented and great people. I’ve already learnt a hell of a lot from them and I hope this trend continues.

So be brave and take a step into the Unseen Shadows and I’ll see you on the other side.

Barry Nugent, author of Unseen Shadows: Fallen Heroes