The art of story telling

October 5, 2022

We are all storytellers.  When we meet with friends we like to tell them what we have been doing.  Maybe we have just return from a holiday which went perfectly; we tried different foods, listened to different music tried different dances, experienced wonderful scenery, saw magnificent architecture.  Everything was wonderfully exciting.  Conversely, everything went badly.  The car broke down and we were stranded miles from nowhere in the rain.  The hotel was a dump and the staff rude and unhelpful and the food bad.  My companion was ill, we had to find a doctor and spent many hours in a hospital waiting room.  But there was one common factor with both scenarios.  We loved talking about it.

Life itself brings up its own challenges.  It never runs smoothly.  Like the holiday it can be enjoyable and rewarding.  We meet someone we love, set up home, maybe have children natural or adopted.  Get a job, buy or rent a house.  Make friends who we meet regularly.  But sometimes the opposite happens.  We loose loved ones, loose our house, loose our job.  Make enemies, fall out with the boss.  Again we need to talk about it.

Talking about it is therapeutic but can be mandatory as we often have to recount our experiences to a prospective employer to get a job.  We need to say why we studied for different qualifications and how successful we were at obtaining them.  Above all we have to self censorship as we have to be careful what we say as our careers may depend on it.

Literature provides us with skills to embellish our stories.  It is a source of colourful words which are tools we can use to describe our experiences, what we have achieved and what we hope to achieve.  The wider read we are the better equipped we become to convey our lives to others.

Literature provides us with hope.  There are wonderful stories out there written by brilliant wordsmiths.  Even better are those that are passed down over time.  Many are classical tales told to us by unknown authors whose identities are hidden in the past.  Such stories maybe thought of as fairy stories told to delight children.  Mixed within these are cautionary tales told as warnings in case we over reach our aspirations and become too greedy and thoughtless, paying little heed to others.  The list of folk tales are countless, told originally in the oral tradition but then become written down by enthusiastic collectors.

Then come the authors, poets and song writers with the gift to put stories into words that go down on paper.  They make the words sing by adding descriptions and metaphors to delight and enlighten us.  Such words can be acted out on stage, in the cinema or broadcasted in sound on radios.  Modern technology has given us tools to put these words in magical settings.  The use of CGI has created enchanting worlds that could not have been visualised in the past.

But nothing can surpass the magic of the original words.


Keep the Literature Fires Burning

September 26, 2022

Read widely.  Do not limit yourself to what is universally regarded as the Classics or a particular genera.  Encourage students to do the same.  Read to young children to stimulate their interest in stories, story telling and story tellers.  Get students to write down their own stories and own ideas about story telling.  Get them writing.  Everyone has a story within their own lives.  Talk to older generations as when they are gone their stories might be lost.  Read poems out loud to get use to the sound of words.  Quote the works of past and present famous writers.

Movie makers are story tellers.  Find out how they get their ideas.  It is usually from books and literature.  There is no original story.  Most stories have already been written.  New stories are re-workings of past tales with spins on them to make them look fresh and appealing to modern audiences.  A reader can draw significance, relevance or profundity out of a story when it understands the deeper implications, reasonings and causes behind it.  The meaning of a story depends on the standpoint, which is  the mental attitude from which a person views and judges things.

When writing get your words down on paper first and worry about spelling and grammar later.  Then check rewrite and revise so that it makes sense to yourself.  Do not let the reader anticipate the outcome of a plot.  Get at least three to five people whose opinions you trust to read your work.  Any more becomes difficult to manage.  If one makes a highly critical point, take note and move on.  If two or more make the same point, make changes.  If you wish to publish your work employ a professional editor.

I like to read the works of lesser known writers.  I review every thing I read and post my reviews on my blog and, if they are published, on Amazon and  I do not post bad reviews.  My reviews tend to be rated four or five stars.  I know how hurtful bad reviews can be.  In my view anyone who writes and finishes a novel is a heroin or hero.  If I consider that it is below par I will try to contact the author directly and give my views privately.  I get sent many stories to read and my reading list is long.  I am a slow reader and an even slower writer.  But if I feel a narrative may have merit I will get to it in the end.


Homer’s The Odyssey.

I have read this several times and consider this the best story about the human condition ever written.

Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon.

I do not read many travel books but this one inspired me to write about my experiences motor cycle travelling.

The Double Helix by James D Watson.

It is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  It is controversial due to Watson’s willingness to appropriate data surreptitiously from others and his sexist attitude towards scientist Rosalind Franklin who, because of the harmful nature of the X-rays she worked with, died early and therefore could not share the Nobel Prize.  Despite these flaws, I found the story fascinating.  It is probably the greatest medical discovery of all time which has lead and is still leading to momentous breakthroughs in modern medicine.  It is the best detective story I have read and is the main reason why I followed a career in biological science.

The Invisible Man by H G Wells.

A classic tale of what can happen when a scientific experiment produces an irreversible result.  Wells was a Master of Science Fiction.  Wells goes into great detail about how to change a body’s refractive index and become invisible  He describes the science of visibility in great detail so that his protagonist’s experiment becomes believable. What I liked about the story was that Wells skill in explaining the science behind the plot makes it seem entirely plausible.  The attempts of the protagonist to regain normality are cautionary and shocking.  This is a tale that has been imitated many times on film and TV but the original outshines all these and remains well worth reading.

The War of the Worlds by H G Wells

It fires the imagination about what may exist out in space and also is representative of an outstanding piece of literature. The author, H. G. Wells, lived in Woking and his nocturnal trips to the nearby common inspired this great story and created a new literary genre.  Like me he was a student of biology which he studied at Imperial College London.  Bacteria have an important role in the plot.  There is a magnicent sculpture in the centre of the town of Woking in Surrey, UK where I lived for over 40 years.  Next to this, is one of The Invisible Man.




The Importance of Networking

April 6, 2022

It is important that a writer meets with readers, other writers and representatives of the publishing industry, which is why Keith Jahans is representing Peatmore Press Ltd at the London Book Fair 2022.  Writing fiction is a solitary pursuit so it is easy for an author to loose contact with others and become unaware of those he or she he writes for.

The publishing industry does not stand still and neither does the technology it uses.  Readers’ tastes change so does the way they interact with the written word and there is a need to keep abreast of current trends.  It is imperative to understand how people feel about books and how they interact with writing.  The only way to be sure that authors are not left behind is to get out and meet readers to find out how they feel about fiction.  But one important fact that remains constant is that everyone enjoys a good story.





Enhanced Ebooks

March 2, 2022

Back in the mid 1990s I visited the London Book Fair.  I had written my first novel, “Cogrill’s Mill” and although there was some interest from a few agents and publishers none of them were willing to take a chance on an unknown writer.  I downloaded a pdf to a CD, labelled it with a book cover I designed and set off to promote it at the book fair.  No one was interested because during this time no one had heard of Ebooks.  So I gave up on the idea, formed my own publishing company and went down the print-on-demand route and began printing my own paperbacks.  A few years later someone approached me and asked if I had any Ebooks for sale.  I had not as I was busy promoting my paperbacks.  Then low and behold the Ebook phenomenon took off.

I was still promoting my paperbacks but it was not difficult to produce them simultaneously as ebooks.  Initially, I posted them on Amazon in Mobi format which was being used by Amazon for their electronic Kindle readers.  Then other platforms were developed, notably by, Google and Apple.  I visited a gathering of ebook enthusiasts at a Soho café in London where I met someone who told me that the way to go was with the epub format as Apple was using this to produce interactive ebooks.  He pointed me to Apple’s interactive version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which featured videos embedded in to the text.  I checked it out and remembered one featuring a caterpillar on a toadstool smoking a cigarette.  Later I vivited the London Book Fair once more and found a small number of publishers producing epub books with videos embedded in the text mostly used as promotional tools.  I was smitten.

Amazon was sticking to its mobi format so I began to produce my own enhanced epub ebook to showcase on Apple as what were then called ibooks but are now called Apple books.  I decided to utilise a book of short stories as a few of these I had turned into audio books.  So I inserted two audio books into the text at the beginning of two short stories and embedded a video trailer advertising the whole collection before the contents page.

I am still promoting this ebook.  The problem I found was that the files I made available to download are much larger than text only ebooks.  This may be off putting to the average reader.  In addition Apple has proved difficult for a small independent publisher such as me to work with so now I have made this epub book available free of charge on Google Play and  Readers can download this themselves by following the link below or it can be open to read on line without downloading it at


Keith Jahans

Crime and Passion enhanced ebook is available at:

Writing Detective Stories

February 16, 2022

When writing detective novels it is very easy to fall into clichés.  Such stories often use an element of violence and many of these involve the use of guns by the protagonist.  In my latest novel, “The Lost Girls”, the lead detective is a crack shot but hates using fire arms.  While working as a policeman in a past life he went to great lengths to avoid them.  He never carries a gun except at the end of the book when he is forced to do so by the villains.

Available as an Ebook from
Peatmore Press and Amazon

This scenario is helped by the fact that the police in the UK are routinely rarely armed.  When arms are needed during the arrest of known dangerous criminals fire arms are usually carried by specialist teams.  It is also important to note that handguns are illegal in the UK and are difficult to come by by the average member of the criminal fraternity.

The first detective story I published, “Victim of Compromise”, was a police procedural novel set in southern England.  Again the lead detective does not carry a gun, but other police officers do so.  I expect if I was writing in the USA my characters will be carrying hand guns and I would be tempted to use these in the plot which will add to the excitement of the narrative.  The advantage of having my central characters unarmed adds to their vulnerability and makes them sympathetic to the reader.

Available as an Ebook and paperback
from Peatmore Press
and as Ebook from Amazon


Keith Jahans

Writing Violent Scenes

November 18, 2020

Violent scenes have more impact when they come as a surprise.  I am not talking about those in horror stories where the suspense leading up to the action is often more effective than the violence itself.  Battle scenes tend to be ongoing and have violence surrounding them but a sudden violent act amongst the turmoil can have a devastating effect.  A good example of this can be found in the book, “Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray,” which I reviewed recently.  Here the author expertly describes battles between primitive peoples but in the last battle the impact of a sudden violent act against an individual comes as a shock.

My novel “Magic Bullets,” opens in a prologue with violence perpetrated by a single terrorist.  This is not referred to again until well into the story but I hope has the reader wondering how this event effects the narrative.  I feel that placing such violence in a novel without any lead up to it can be much like what happens in life.  The real effect is in the aftermath and comes when the characters in the story deal with it.  Post traumatic stress is an occurrence which happens to many people who experience violence, including professional soldiers.  The skill of the writer is to examine how these effect the characters in the story.


Keith Jahans

Published by Peatmore Press
as a paperback and an ebook

Writing Sex Scenes

October 7, 2020

Writing sex scenes is a special skill which I do not have.  I have used such scenes sparingly in two of my novels and only when I felt they fit with the plot and when added they clarified the motivations behind some characters.  But sex sells.  One only has to look at the success of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the popularity of erotic films and porn sites on the internet.  I must admit marketing was partly behind the decision I made when adding them to my novel “Victim of Compromise” but I still maintain that the scenes played a greater part in making the central characters more rounded.

The sales of DH Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” sky rocketed during a famous court case to overturn its ban and, more especially, after it became legal to buy in the UK.  On reading it I feel it would be a much lesser book if the explicit sex scenes and the language used to describe them were omitted.  Now that the Lady Chatterley milestone judgement has passed there are many contemporary writers who excel in the genre of modern erotic fiction.  One such author is Harmony Kent whose novel “Back Stage” I reviewed in my last blog.  I confess that, despite my past endeavours, I am not one of them.

Keith Jahans

Kindle Edition

The worst thing that can happen to a writer

July 6, 2020

The worst thing that can happen to writers is that nobody reads their work.  I used to get upset when I found some of my books were being pirated, but then I realised that I was getting free publicity.  Many readers, when they finish a book they have enjoyed, pass it to friends or family members.  The book often ends up in a second hand or charity shop.  Authors have no choice but to accept this, but what is unacceptable is that there are unscrupulous individuals out there who exploit the endeavours of an author for their own gain.

Sometimes a reader will not like a book and may leave an unfavourable or even a bad review.  It happens as a writer cannot please everyone and hopefully those occasions will be very few.  But at least this person will have read the book.  Of course, if it happens too much then the author must seriously rethink how they go about their trade.  A new author or even an establish author will give away free copies of a new book in exchange for a review.  It is very unusual for a reviewer to take advantage of this and sell the book on, but it can happen.

I have been surprised to find some of my books for sale online for far more money than they are advertised by my own website or reputable book stores.  There is a market for early editions, especially those signed by the author.  Some early copies of my first books, complete with typing and formatting errors, have even ended up online for exorbitant amounts.  There is nothing an author can do about this.  But it is publicity and how much income authors can loose must be offset against the free publicity they get.

Most authors earn little from selling their work.  I know very few who earn a living from their writing full time.  They write because they enjoy their craft, but above all they love to bring enjoyment to readers.  The best thing that can happen to a writer is when a reader who you have never met picks up your book and writes to you to say how much they have enjoyed it.  Those are the moments I savour.

Keith Jahans

Words per Day

June 10, 2020

I am fortunate in that, as well as a writer, I am an independent publisher which means I do not have to set targets for my writing.  I write when and where I want to.  I had had enough having to keep to targets set by my bosses in my day job in the years before I retired.  This means that I can go for days without writing a single word, which is often the case as I am lazy.  But it also means that I have time to enjoy it.

I like to tell stories and periodically find myself compelled to write them down.  Sometimes I write several hundred words a day and on the odd occasion this rises to over a thousand.  But more often than not I struggle for words, so my output can be just a few sentences.  My first drafts contain all sorts of mistakes of continuity, spelling and grammar.  The plot can invariably not make much sense.  This is where the editing comes in where content gets changed, thrown out or even added.

I am slightly dyslexic and, fortunately, there are aids on line and in the writing community to help me.  Before the age of computers and word processors, I began writing my stories by hand, but this was a slow process as it made for much crossing out and rewriting.  I graduated to a portable typewriter and, as I was very much a novice typist, the process became even slower.  But then came PCs, the internet, online spellcheckers and grammar aids and I was away on my journey.  This technology, though brilliant, is not nearly enough, but the help I receive from the trusted readers I first show my work to is invaluable.

Keith Jahans

Baby Boomers

April 9, 2020

It was a different world when we were born and bigotry was part of the culture.  Homosexuality was illegal and women were supposed to give up working once they started a family.  These attitudes though unpalatable today did not pose the same threats that we face now.

The two generations which preceded us boomers went through the war years and were largely unappreciated by us at the time.  We were spoilt and did not care to consider why they thought the way they did.  The flower power music and sexual freedoms of our youth were often self indulgent and then gave way to greed for power and possessions.  Thus we voted for governments (both Labour, Coalition and Conservative) who failed to plan properly for future generations, similar to the way that the post war administration set up the NHS.

The modern world has been unprepared for the current pandemic.  Governments had been warned.  As a microbiologist, who spent forty years in government service, I attended national and international meetings where the general consensus was that a pandemic similar to the flu outbreak of 1918 was on its way.  These views were largely ignored and other warnings expressed about climate change simply pandered to.

Britain has lost its soul to global corporations.  Those that follow us are the smart phone and play station generation that are already being recruited to pilot drones to drop bombs on poor people thousands of miles from where they are based.  But on the bright side the Johnson Government is having to introduce measures far more socialist than anything proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.  When the current pandemic passes our world will never be the same again.

Keith Jahans





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