The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge By Jackson Marsh :: Book Release :: Guest post ::
Title: The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge
Series: Barrenmoor #2
Author: Jackson Marsh
Publisher: James Colins
Published: 17 Febrauary 2020
Cover Design: Andjela K
Length: 86,000 words
Keywords : Coming out, YA, Contemporary, Romance, Friends to lovers, Teenage angst, Mentoring, Gay mentor, Gay teen, First gay love, Mountaineering, Adventure, Best friends, British, Rock climbing, Bad weather, Camping trip
Add To: Goodreads
Book two in ‘The Barrenmoor Series’ of MM romance stories with a mountain rescue theme.
Liam has set himself a goal. To come out to his best friend, Casper, before his 18th birthday while hiking at Fellborough in the Yorkshire Dales.
Things don’t go according to plan, and when a violent storm hits, the camping trip takes a potentially fatal turn. Local mountaineers, John Hamilton and his husband Gary are called to help, but it soon becomes apparent that the rescue is more than physical. Liam and Casper both have secrets that when known, have the potential break or mend their hearts.
A mix of YA, romance and adventure, ‘The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge’ brings back popular characters from the first Barrenmoor book in a familiar setting with love, mountaineering and the dangers of both.
‘The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge’ is the first book in the Barrenmoor Series of MM romances with a mountain rescue theme. ‘The Students’ takes place two years later, and it is better, but not vital, to read the stories in order.
From the series reviews:
“No usual tried tropes here. Great story, natural dialogue, well-developed characters, and unpredictable plot.”
“I loved reading the entire “mentor” series. Such great escapism. I Love the Pacing of the story, the twist and turns, the suspense, conflict, romance. The whole series is wonderful to read.”
Authors Guest Post
Plotter or Pantzer?
The simple answer is, it depends.
When I set about writing a story that relies on twists, for example, one of my mysteries, then I usually have some plotting done before I start. However, I also find over-plotting very restrictive. One of my first novels, written under a different name, was plotted to the last detail, and as I was new to writing novels at that time, I found it took me years to complete. I was caught up on not changing anything from my original storyline, timeline and plot twists, and that made putting in the prose difficult. It took me a good couple more novels to realise that authors can change their minds and stories as they go. In my case, I often had to because the characters took over. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.
These days, when writing, say, one of the Clearwater Mysteries as Jackson Marsh, I find myself starting with the ending. I come up with what I would like to see as the climax, have that set in my head, and then start at the beginning, usually with another idea I have had for a good opening. That, if you like, is the A, and the climax is the D. I must then get from A to D, via B and C which come to me as I write. Sometimes, it comes to the characters rather than the author, and I will reach the end of a chapter, and for some reason, one of my characters will say or do something that even I didn’t expect. I am then left wondering how I am going to get out of that new, unplanned twist, and that makes the writing more of a fun challenge. Of course, although characters take over, I am still in charge, and if I don’t like where they seem to be taking the story, I can always change it. If they get too out of hand, I can kill them off or demote them for a while until they have learnt their lesson.
Other stories have grown from a character. For example, ‘The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge’ began with the image of a young man, just about to turn 18 who was sure of his sexuality but who was missing the one most important thing in his life; love. He has a best friend, and they are close to the extent of loving each other platonically and behaving like a married couple. The main character, Liam, however, wants more and hopes that when he comes out to Casper, his bestie will be able to help him find someone. That was the start, and I knew the location and the action plot, and I knew I wanted to revisit characters and places from the earlier story, ‘The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge.’ After that, Liam and Casper took over, I had an idea of the ending, but again, not the B and C of it, so basically, I made the rest up as I went along.
These days, I would say I am a hybrid. I usually have a beginning and an end, and the middle takes care of itself. There are dangers in that approach, however. As they say in the screenwriting business, it’s the middle 90 pages that are the most difficult. In a classic, ‘hero’s journey’, four-act screenplay, as you will find in just about all action, mystery, drama and comedy mainstream movies, the first quarter is easy to write. Setting up characters, a normal world from which they are then removed into a new, unexplored world, and then putting in place the ideas, subplots and themes that will be resolved in the last act (the D, if you like) is simple. The final act of resolution and sorting out all the loose ends is also usually pretty straightforward to write, but keeping the audience entertained in a meaningful way through the middle 90 pages, or minutes in a film, is where the work really starts.
I studied screenplay writing and have scripted a couple of filmed movies, and it’s a different animal to novel writing, but for any aspiring writer, the structure of movies is well worth studying. Not only do you learn to understand form, character development, character arcs and all that, you also learn to be succinct. Being succinct in a pantster-written novel is something to watch out for. If you’re making it up as you go along, like I am doing with this interview, it’s easy to fall into stream-of-consciousness style and rattle off unrelated trains of thought while your brain figures out what the character is going to do next. The trick here is to go back and edit, reorganise and take stock, which is what I shall now do with this interview so that it makes sense.
Meanwhile, you may like to know that ‘The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge’ does have an A and a D, and it also has the B and C sections, character arcs, four acts and, I hope makes for an entertaining read. I am a writer who sets bout to entertain and, hopefully, connect on an emotional level with my readers, but I am also one who writes naturally, letting the characters go their way while staying within the confines of what I have invented as their world and my rules, and, of course, keeping to a sensible structure.
So, to answer the question, I am a plotting pantster, if such a thing is possible.
[The Clearwater Mysteries: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RPCKF4L ]
John was unable to sleep that night. The raging wind didn’t bother him even though the roof tiles rattled, and he knew the old yew tree would be creaking as it bent towards the lean-to. He was used to it and so was the cottage. It was well built.
Gary was curled up behind him, spooned in with one arm across John’s chest. The bedroom was warm, Gary’s presence warmer, and the pillows were soft. There was no reason sleep shouldn’t come, they were safe from the battering, cocooned in the perfect shelter of each other’s arms, and yet…
The scream of the wind as it charged them from the summit of Lhotse, the vibrations of the ground when an avalanche fell, the hiss of snow stinging the tent, and the mountain’s roar, all sounds he heard through the inconsequential force six doing its best to rattle the house. The bitter bite of memory gnawed at his mind for sure, but the main reason his thoughts leapt from the anesthetising approach of sleep to the worst conditions in the world had nothing to do with the past.
There were people out there now, at Everest, yes, but also on the fells. The team were over at Northpeak and they’d picked a fine night for training, but closer to home, there were hikers and climbers huddled beneath inadequate canvas hoping their pegging was sound and wishing the night would end. Daylight might bring security, but it didn’t guarantee good weather, and it was still hours away. A lot could happen. The storm had worsened to a frightening zenith before the thunder abated slightly, but still he couldn’t sleep. The lessening conditions meant the eye of the storm was overhead, and there would be more, possibly worse, to follow.
He pictured the fell from above, seeing through the agitated clouds to the swamped ground a mile below. Lit by lightning bursts, he imagined it as waves frozen in mid-roll with Fellborough peak a crest and the lower terrain its ripples. Peppered around it were insignificant dots of inappropriate colour, the shop-bought, budget tents of the unwary trembling against the elements.
He had pictured the scene on many nights as he lay listening to the conditions and wating for the MRT radio to spark into life, or for his pager to double-beep the call sign, but tonight he was seeing it more clearly, as if it was unfolding on a widescreen television in high definition. Unaffected by the storm, he floated above it, watching over its potential victims, safe at his altitude and apart. The unhinged tempest beneath blasted from one insane thought to another, swiping at anything in its path, but John was safe, hovering on a warm updraft that dulled him towards the soft paws of sleep.
Until he fell.
Security gone. No handholds, no rope, only the empty space between him and the life-taking certainty of rock.
Gasping, he opened his eyes as his body jerked. The clock glowed one-forty-seven, and Gary had rolled away leaving him exposed and vulnerable. The pager was silent, and John was safe in his bed, but a few miles away, people might be battling for their lives, and all he could do was wait.
The rain no longer stung when it swiped Liam’s face, his flesh was too numb to register the pain. The torch beam was nothing more than a thread through barely penetrable blackness, but it showed him the ground a few steps at a time.
That was all he needed to do, take it slowly using common sense and exercising caution. The tent had been facing west, and he found the way down from the ledge between two large boulders with no trouble. Straight on to the south, he met the path. Over to his left, the lightning was now on the horizon, and the wind was swooping down from the fell on his right. If the storm didn’t change direction, it would keep him on course, and the path, now more like a stream, was marked here and there by cairns. With the wind to one side and the dying lightning to the other, he only needed to keep going downhill until he met the riverbed. If it was flooded, he’d wade straight through to if he had to.
It was his fault that Casper was in trouble. Whatever had made him go out unprotected in the storm, and whatever had happened next didn’t matter. There was nothing that could be done to change that, all that mattered now was finding someone who could save him. Repercussions of a bad decision would come, and Liam would deserve them – unprepared, inexperienced, thinking he knew what he was doing… Why hadn’t he just taken Casper down to the beach at home to tell him? Why drag him halfway up the country and make him climb a hill to ruin their friendship? He could have done that weeks ago had he not been such a ridiculous romantic. There was nothing romantic about destroying their friendship and leaving his best friend shivering to death on…
He yelled at himself to stop. Beating himself up wouldn’t do any good. He had to concentrate on his footing, and pretend he knew what he was doing. Casper needed him to be strong, to be wise, to take only a course of action that would lead to rescue, everything else had to wait.
Not knowing how far he had descended, he stopped and took out his phone. Sheltering it as best he could against his chest, he switched it on only to find no signal and the battery bar now glowing red. The phone back in his pocket, the torch aimed at the path, his head down, he continued.
The rain was easing off, that was a blessing, but the gale roared in his ears, low and booming one moment, high-pitched the next. As uncoordinated as his frozen feet, as wild as the anger he turned in on himself, it would not leave him alone. It taunted and jabbed as it bullied, and in the cacophony, he imagined laughter, spiteful and insulting, but deserved.
Another sound grew closer on a rumbling vibration beneath his feet, and a few paces further, he came to the edge of the riverbed.
Except now there was no bed, only river as thousands of gallons of water teamed from the blackness on his right to vanish back into the night on his left. The torch lit foam spewing around rocks in untamed channels that bubbled wildly and fast across his path. There was no way to judge the depth, and no way of knowing if the rocks that stood above the surface were stable, but equally, there was no time to think about it. Squinting through dripping eyelashes and aiming his light, it was impossible to see how wide it was either, but he knew for certain that there was no way to go up and around. Downhill, it could flow east for miles and take him off his path. The only way was through, and he knew he might not survive.
Jackson Marsh is a British born author of novels and screenplays.
Jackson has a background of theatre, cabaret and music and yet holds a social policy degree. He was born on the Romney Marshes in Kent, UK, but now lives on a mountainous Greek island. During the 1980s in London he campaigned for gay rights and performed political satire cabaret, writing song and reviews, appearing at Pride events, national venues and on television.
He moved to Greece in 2002 and married his partner there in 2017. He has won awards for his gay erotic writing, and in 2007, won a European-wide award for short stories. In 2017, he won awards for his screenplay writing.
Jackson is the author of ‘The Clearwater Mysteries’, and also writes fiction under the name James Collins.