author books comic art comics creativity crowd-funding dreams minding mama patreon sci-fi science fiction

Indie Comics – to bravely go….

… Or to go bravely to!  Indie Comics are uncharted territory for this author.  So why would I leave my comfort zone (long-form novels) and venture into the unknown?  The answer is pretty simple: I wanted to see this particular story visualized in glorious colour. Preferably, with moving characters – animation or even (the holy grail for me) live action.  But I also love art – used to dabble a little bit myself many years ago, but didn’t think I was that good and got out of the habit.  Although I came to them late via back issues once I was earning, I do remember the ‘Captain Scarlet’ strips in TV21  – Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, Frank Bellamy…  names familiar to many of you, I’m sure. I would stare at the pages for hours, enjoying the detail and colour. Since we (like most people then) only had a black & white TV, the printed adventures were the only way to see Spectrum and its personnel in colour. On our TV, Captain Scarlet was Captain… well, grey, Captain Blue was also grey… ) I had a Captain Scarlet annual, I remember, and I looked at it so much the front cover came off!

my Captain Scarlet annual only looked this good for a little while… not my copyright, by the way.

So… A couple of years ago, I penned a short story about a post-apocalyptic vision of Earth in which the ozone layer had been all but destroyed by decades of intense solar flare activity, forcing humanity underground.  This scenario had really captured my imagination because, as I discovered some time later when revisiting my first draft,  there is more than a kernel of scientific fact in the premise. It could happen. Let me explain…

In October 2016, the then-US President Barrack Obama issued a Special Executive Order requiring that the nation be prepared for ‘Space Weather Events‘.  Whether this mass education of  US citizens about the perils of Space Weather ever happened, I don’t know.  But I do know that the release of this Executive Order seemed to be very providential – almost as if it was confirming my decision to write the story.  The premise chilled me to the bone.  What kind of world would any survivors of this mass-extinction scenario inhabit?

Looks a bit like Mars, doesn’t it? Not a world I’d like to inhabit – except in my imagination! (I’ll let you into a little secret – it’s Iceland with a pink filter, thanks to videographer Sue Turner’s magic touch. (It was also her holiday footage!)

Well, actually it would be a horrible world. We already know that UV levels are higher than in the past; when I was a child (in the ’60’s and ’70’s), we could stay out and play in the sun (often without any kind of sunscreen, either because it wasn’t available or my parents didn’t think to get any/couldn’t afford it) for hours before getting sunburned. Nowadays,  if you happen to forget to apply sunscreen, it doesn’t take very long at all before you begin to feel that ominous prickling warning you your skin is under attack. Imagine it magnified many times as the ozone layer thins; people, animals and plants would all suffer terribly. Even undersea creatures and plants would not be safe. Incidences of cancer (especially of the skin) would likely rise many times their numbers today. Without crops to feed livestock, humanity would also likely be deficient in the protein derived from meat, as well as green leafy vegetables.

So, I did a lot of research, and began to world-build (one of my favourite parts of the writing process – I can lose myself for days, weeks…).

The result was a tale of  small, fragile communities struggling to grow enough crops to feed themselves; a society splintered and reliant on old technology to grow anything at all underground; a society desperate to find a way to return to the surface without dying from UV-induced cancers;  a society probably deficient in vitamin D, and a society  increasingly reliant on robots (specifically, FarmBots) to create new strains of food crop which could be grown on the surface. Incidentally, the precursor to my FarmBots already exist – check them out here .

A sample page from Issue 1, before text is added. Art by Dan Schaefer, colour by Grant Kempster. How much do I want to see the rest of Mama and Cyril’s adventures in page after page of full, glorious colour?  I can’t even begin to tell you…

After almost two years of research, world-building, finding artists who also saw the potential in this post-apocalyptic tale, developing the idea from my initial idea to create a short animated feature into a comic-book series, building a crowdfund campaign to enable us to create a live-action trailer to head up the main campaign to help fund the production of Issue One, we are on our way!  On 27th August, our main campaign went live on Kickstarter,  but we already have an ongoing campaign in place on Patreon, which we’ll use to help fund future issues and (who knows) maybe that animated feature I originally envisaged!

With a week to go on the first Kickstarter campaign (we used Patreon and Go Fund Me to raise funds to make the live-action trailer with Kate Davies-Speak and David Learner as Mama and Cyril) I don’t know if we’ll meet our goal this time… but it has been and continues to be an education and if we don’t make it, we won’t be the first (or the last).  But we won’t stop – one way or another, ‘Minding Mama’ will see the light of day!

mama poster2 internet copy

Our official ‘Minding Mama’ poster by Amanda Fullwood. Not ashamed to admit it brought tears to my eyes. Can I imagine it as a movie? Oh, yes…!

Thanks for reading.

Elaine Jackson, England, September 2018.

life stories memories writing

A Tale of One Duckling…

(c) Classroom Clipart

After Thursday’s Road Rage incident, it was nice to see a retweeted post this morning showing some kind people in the US of A rescuing a mummy duck’s babies after they fell down a drain. Went some way to restoring my (slightly dented) faith in humanity!

It reminded me, too, that my husband and I carried out a similar rescue in Midhurst, Sussex, in the summer of 1990. We’d taken my old Mini Clubman out for a spin and decided to stop off for a meal before making our way home.

   Classic Mini Clubman   (not mine  -it was never that shiny!)  with thanks to Pinterest

We arrived in the car park and noticed a crowd of people gathered around a drain (the picture below isn’t the actual drain (in fact this one is from Vancouver, but it’s very similar) and joined the throng to see what was going on.  It seemed that a mummy duck had been leading her kiddies back to the river Rother (you try saying that in a hurry) which runs through the town, and one of her ducklings


had fallen through the grating and was now sitting miserably on the bottom, calling for his/her mummy.  Various discussions ensued, which ran along the lines of ringing the RSPCA to see if they could send someone out, ringing the council to see if they could send someone out (to open the drain cover) and so on. Because there was quite a big crowd and it all seemed to be in hand, with people donating a handkerchief and shoelaces to improvise a sling, we went off and got something to eat. When we got back about an hour or so later, it was late in the afternoon and we were surprised to see that the crowd had dispersed but that one chap was still there, with the duckling in his hand!  He said he didn’t know quite what to do – he lived in North London and had to get going, so hubby told him we didn’t live too far away so we’d take the duckling and see if we could reunite him/her with his/her family.

Because this was way before people routinely carried mobile phones, no-one had known the local RSPCA number, but we thought if we couldn’t find the duck family we could hopefully drop it off at a local RSPCA or veterinary practice in our local area.

By that time the mother duck had long given up on her stray child and had waddled off towards the river with the rest of her brood. I suppose when you have half a dozen babies you have to consider the family as a whole – ‘the needs of the many’ and all that!  We decided to follow the path down to the river and see if we could find the Mother Duck and her family.

We were younger and fitter in those days (!) so what looks like quite a long walk on the map didn’t take too long. We found the river, and after following it along for a little while, found a duck family.  The duckling tweeted but there was no response from the mother duck. Wrong family! We walked a bit further and found another family  – the duckling heard them and tweeted loudly; again no response.  ‘We’re going to end up taking him home with us!’ my hubby worried.  Then we found another family – ‘our’ duckling started tweeting loudly again. This mother duck stopped paddling and quacked back – we’d found the right family at last! Hubby went as close to the water’s edge as he dare, and as soon as he opened his fingers, the duckling tumbled out of his hand and down into the water, then started paddling. He was quickly rounded up by his mother, who seemed to be telling him off, then away they went. Our good deed for the day!

Below you can see the car park (on the right, near the bus station) where the duckling fell into the drain, and somewhere between the right angle of the river near the Cowdray ruins and Midhurst Castle is where we finally caught up with Mrs Duck.

Thanks to my hubby’s prodigious memory, I’ve been able to tell our little rescue story with reasonable accuracy. I often wonder if the other people (those who donated a handkerchief and their shoelaces) remember their part in the rescue. It would be lovely if any of them were to see this and realise that all was well in the end!

Thanks for reading!

Midhurst – site of the 1990 Duck Rescue! with thanks to Google Maps
life stories

Road Rage

roadrage I haven’t been on the receiving end of ‘road rage’ for a very long time (thankfully), and I had forgotten just how upsetting it can be!  But yesterday afternoon, I had a reminder of just how unreasonable other drivers can be…

My sister had picked me up from a medical appointment in Aldershot (which almost merits a post on ‘car park rage’, but I’ll save that for another time – maybe). It was a lovely sunny, breezy afternoon, and if all was not exactly right with the world, well, it was, shall we say, fair to middling.

But as we rounded the corner into my street (of course I don’t own it – I mean, the street on which I live), my sister had to pull out around a car parked on the corner, and almost (note: almost) failed to notice a car approaching in the other lane, hot on the heels of another car (driving on its bumper, practically). Luckily, she has fast reactions and noticed just in time and managed to pull the wheel back the other way, avoiding (note: avoiding) the second car.  ‘Phew! That was close!’

A moment later, as we made our way further round the circular cul-de-sac (er, dead end) so that my sister could park outside our house facing the right way, and not have to drive back through the narrow street in the dark later on, we realised that a car was right up behind her. Then the driver started leaning on his horn, and as he followed us all the way around, leaning on his horn all the way, we realised it was the driver of the car she had almost (but didn’t) hit.

‘Shall I drive on round a bit, we don’t want him to know where you live?’ my sister asked, both of us feeling a bit freaked out and threatened by now –  he was gesticulating at us by this time, still leaning on his horn.

‘No,’ I said, thinking that if there’s trouble at least my husband is home – he is six-five, big with it and has a scar running down one side of his face from a childhood accident (one day I might tell you about the time he accidentally reversed back onto another car in the filling station and cracked the their number plate… the driver got out, all angry, and hubby got out to apologize and to offer to pay him for the cracked number plate. The guy took one look at him, jumped back in his car and drove off (without stopping for fuel) much to my husband’s amazement and the amusement of the guy at the till!) … so we pulled into the drive.  Road Rage Man stopped, blocking the road, and started shouting at us. The conversation went something like this:

Road Rage Man: “Any reason you decided to swerve your ****** car at me, love?”

My sister: “I was trying to avoid you!” (which she did)

RRM: “Yeah, well, you two ******** ********* need to learn how to drive!”

At this point I got really annoyed. We hadn’t hit him – so what was his problem? If we had, I could maybe understand his anger, but chasing after us, leaning on his horn and verbally abusing us was really not warranted for a near miss!

Me: “(unprintable) … we’ve been driving a lot longer than you have!” (Guessing he was in his twenties/thirties, maybe even forties, hard to say because he had sunglasses on and never got out of his car – but he was certainly younger than either of us)

RRM:  ” *** **!” There then followed a tirade of abuse which although I can’t recall it word for word, went something along the lines of: if we had hit him or he saw us again he would hit us back twice as hard “and you wouldn’t be standing there now!”

Well that was a threat, so I walked towards the house intending to get my husband to come out and see him off – but with a few parting words of abuse, he sped off (luckily he didn’t hit anything but he was certainly well above the speed limit).

It took us both quite a while to calm down after that, as you might imagine! I wished I had taken a photo of his number plate with my phone, because when someone gets that angry over a near miss, you never quite know what they might be capable of – maybe he’d come back and slash our tyres after dark?!?  (We once had a driver  who had illegally parked in our private parking space for an air show -we used to live in Farnborough and it was a nightmare for the local residents-  let the air out of our tyres after my husband got home from work to find someone had parked there, and had himself parked close to him – not enough to stop the driver getting out, but enough to make it awkward)

I know (because I know my sister) that had the guy not been so downright rude and aggressive, that she would certainly have apologized for giving him a fright, and probably made light of it with “at least I did manage to not hit you” which is what most people would find acceptable, right?  But the guy wasn’t interested in anything but having a go.

Thankfully nothing else has happened (so far, touch wood), but I know it will be a while before I stop looking for  Road Rage Man in his silver estate car…



An open letter to WASPI

VESPA by Dordy

You may recall that I posted once before about WASPI and their campaign to seek some kind of compensation for women born in the 1950’s whose SPA (State Pension Age) was raised from 60 to as much as 66 but who were not informed until it was too late to do anything to cover those extra years  – meaning that thousands of us (not all) will have to work on or face poverty.  

During the past couple of months, I and other ordinary members of WASPI have been subject to a flurry of emails from the current board of directors and, disturbingly, from a group of members appearing to represent a group of resigned directors wanting to regain control of the organisation. Alarm bells rang when the very first email asked me to take part in a ‘vote of no-confidence’ in the current board of directors, and another email from the current board of directors claimed that the ex-directors had retained the company database and were using it to email the membership to force a vote of members about who should run WASPI.

Since then hardly a week has gone by without an email from the ‘ex-directors or their representatives, and the current directors, talking about AGM’s and EGMs and proxy votes and who-has-done-what.  My first thought was – ‘What the hell is going on?’ my second was: ‘Data security breach!’ Why has no one done anything about it?

The government seem intent on ignoring us until we all pop our clogs when the problem will, they no doubt hope, go away, and I now  have little faith in WASPI as an effective campaigning force for 1950’s women.  So, with little expectation that it will make any difference whatsoever, here is my response to all that, in the form of:

An open letter to all those involved in the WASPI dispute over who should run the organisation and how:


Dear past and present WASPI directors/committee members,

As an ordinary member of WASPI who does not personally know any of the previous or existing board/committee members, and who has paid my membership fee like thousands of other women who were hoping that WASPI might be a force for good in the campaign to seek some kind of recompense for those women born in the 1950s who have been left in financial difficulty following the DWPs failure to adequately inform most of us, I have watched with disbelief and dismay as this very unprofessional and unseemly ‘WASPI civil war’ has unfolded.

It is my understanding (from the various emails from both factions (the current board of directors and the ex-directors/a group of members’ representatives) that the ex-directors may have passed access to the private WASPI database – or at the very least a list of members email addresses –  to a group of women who describe themselves as the ‘Members’ Committee’ and ‘Members’ Representatives’, with the apparent intention of forcing the resignation of the current board of directors so that the ex-directors can force a members vote and re-take control. As I understand it, THIS WOULD APPEAR TO BE A CLEAR BREACH OF THE DATA PROTECTION ACT. (Not to mention that calling for a vote so that they can re-take control sounds a bit like the sort of thing a tin-pot regime might do – how do they know they will even win?)

Now I am not a lawyer (but I would very much like to hear from someone who is about the legality of what has been happening), but surely, ONLY THE EXISTING BOARD OF DIRECTORS SHOULD HAVE ANY LEGAL RIGHT TO BE EMAILING THE MEMBERS FROM THE OFFICIAL DATABASE?  Can someone with legal qualifications please confirm or refute this?

The current board of directors (whatever one may think of them) appears to be in the quite ridiculous position of having to create an alternative membership database because the ex-directors have held onto (and it seems may have restricted their access to?) the original membership database. The ex-directors/Member’s Committee (again none of whom I know personally) are stating that no-one on that new database can be allowed to vote in the EGM they are proposing, for fear of ‘vote-rigging’. Is this legal? Members are members, regardless of who has access to their email addresses. I am surprised the law has not been able to restore access to the database to the current board and remove it from the unauthorized people who have been using it. Why? Surely the law is the law?

For those reading this who are not too sure what is going on: As I understand it from reading the many confusing emails that have been sent to myself and other members during the last couple of months, THE PREVIOUS BOARD OF DIRECTORS RESIGNED due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ –  Okay, fair enough, but they appear to have RETAINED THE DATABASE AND ACCESS TO MEMBER EMAIL ADDRESSES, instead of handing it all over to the new board of directors. Is this legal?

The ex-directors who have (apparently) retained access to this database seem to have been using it – either themselves or by passing access to the ‘Members’ Committee’ – first to call for a vote of no-confidence in the current board of directors, and now to organise an EGM at which thousands of current members are being emailed and asked to vote for new directors. Is this legal?

I am pretty certain that most of those members (including myself) WILL HAVE NO IDEA WHO TO VOTE FOR BECAUSE WE DO NOT ‘KNOW’ THESE PEOPLE well enough to judge who should be a director.  It is my personal opinion that in order to ensure there is no repeat of this situation a year or two down the line, that NO PAST OR PRESENT WASPI DIRECTOR SHOULD BE ELIGIBLE TO STAND.  Sadly, it would no doubt waste a lot of valuable experience and skill, but it would seem to be a sensible precaution.

On a personal note:

  • I do not like the fact that my personal email address has been disclosed to people who (I believe) have no legal right to use the database or to contact me, no matter how deeply they feel about their cause. I’m pretty sure they have broken the law.
  • I  was at first bewildered and then increasingly annoyed by the number and content of a flurry of emails, all from the same email address but clearly from both ‘camps’ (current directors and ex-directors). It has been hard to know which are legitimate. I am not one of the active campaigners, but the hours I have spent reading the emails, ruminating on it and finally on writing this post, would have been better spent telling other women about the cause and using social media to promote it. Now, I’m not sure it is worth it anymore.
  • So I would like, please, the two ‘camps’ to explain publicly to me, other  members and to other interested individuals, what this ‘in-fighting’ is really all about; why have so many directors resigned and why have the ex-directors/other members felt it necessary to ‘hijack’ a database they should surely no longer have access to. Do you really think WASPI can recover from this? I think you will lose a lot of members, and I will probably be one of them.

As far as I can make out after reading all the emails sent by both parties,  it would appear to be about personality clashes within the board of directors, and disagreement about how the WASPI campaign should proceed, After hearing from one party that unauthorised filings had been made on the WASPI database at Companies House, I looked at the filing history; it is a litany of appointments and resignations. No way for me or anyone not ‘in the know’ to tell which are legitimate filings and which are not. Anyone can look this up for free:  Companies House

  • I do not particularly care about the personality clashes within the WASPI leadership. I only want the WASPI officials to crack on with the task in hand, at which they were doing so well until the derailment!  I realise that the issues which led WASPI to be founded in the first place are very emotive, I am grateful that enough women cared to do something about it, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of each and every past, present and future board member/director. But this current situation is helping no-one, and certainly not instilling in me any kind of confidence that the campaign can ever recover. Bad enough that 1950’s women get ‘stick’ from members of the public who want to know why we in particular deserve compensation when there are others with equal just cause; others who think we are complaining about having to work until we’re sixty but who don’t understand that it is not the new SPA as such we object to, but the way we were left largely ignorant of the change until it was too late to compensate… and  now people are laughing at the WASPI women who are fighting among themselves. Very funny (not).

It seems to me, as an unbiased member (because, again, I do not personally know any of these ladies) that the focus here should be on how to get born-in-the-1950’s women’s’ plight taken seriously by those within government with the power to make some kind of recompense, rather than fighting about how to do it. The government/DWP must be laughing fit to bust right now, don’t you think? How can WASPI (as an organisation) ever hope to be taken seriously if the people involved can’t even agree on how to carry the campaign forward?  You only have to look at the comments on the FT articles to see how people are laughing at the women as they fight amongst themselves. Very funny (not). If the two ‘sides’ can’t agree, then perhaps the ex-directors should set up a new company and a new campaign, and run it the way they want to.

In conclusion:

I am very, very disillusioned by the whole thing. Successive governments have badly let millions of 1950’s women down (we are not alone, of course, but this is about WASPI) and are unwilling even to apologise, let alone do anything to help those they have so badly treated. Now the very people (hearts in the right place but…) who wanted to try and convince the present government to do the right thing are shooting us all in the foot too.

So, Ladies, please, please stop this bickering, bury your differences, and act like grown-ups. Your fellow 1950’s women are counting on you!


Disclaimer: the views in this article are mine and mine alone, as are any errors/misunderstandings of the situation within WASPI.  I salute all the ladies who have worked so very hard to spread the word.  I have not named names, but the following links may be of interest:

Congratulations to everyone who made it this far, and thank you for reading! Despite the recent setbacks, the WASPI website has lots of useful information about how you can lobby your MP to take up our cause. We are many… our MPs are few!


1950's writing

“Times, they are a-changin’…”

Bob Dylan certainly got that right… This last Christmas holiday, my husband and I spent quite a lot of time watching YouTube on our Smart telly, and some of what we watched was footage of the world in the 1890’s, early 1900’s, and the years up to 1958. It was a fascinating glimpse into a world which has vanished forever, except in those snippets which have been immortalized in family photographs (on which no-one ever wrote names) or on jerky black and white film (any sound has been added post-production and probably was not of the exact event(s) being shown). But still, it was captivating.

Then I saw a post on Facebook which essentially congratulated people born in the thirties, forties and fifties for having been able to play outside rather than sitting indoors on a computer, tablet, or PlayStation.  And I wondered, is this down to concerns about safety, or is it because today’s children simply prefer to play in a virtual world rather than the real one? And is the world really any more dangerous than it was when people of my generation were growing up?

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, when personal computers simply didn’t exist. I was excited to get my first transistor radio!  I remember having to perch on the edge of the bath on a Sunday evening to listen to the Top 40 on Radio One, because you couldn’t always get a signal. Mine had a little arial you could extend and move about, but it didn’t always help.ITT TRANSISTOR RADIO 1970S

But prior to that,  my friends and I would play – quite happily, for the most part – in our back gardens. When we got a little bit older, we would ask permission to go to Rowhill Copse  (now a nature reserve). To us, it was the biggest & best playground you could wish for, and we spent many happy days acting out adventures. It often featured in my dreams well into adulthood! To today’s parents the idea of letting your pre-teen child go off into a nearby wood with others of a similar age might seem horrendously dangerous – we had to cross at least one main road to get there, and there were all manner of opportunities to injure ourselves, probably the biggest being a pond deep in the woods.  But of course we didn’t worry about that, and I remember being grounded on at least one occasion for going there without first telling my mother where my sister and I were going.  As we got older, days spent ‘up the copse’ or in the garden became few and far between, and we swapped outdoor delights for our bedrooms, where we would read books, play vinyl records and moon over ‘Elvis Monthly’ magazines.  Nowadays we’d be surfing online, listening to music on YouTube and Googling ‘Elvis Presley images’. (which I just did to get the picture below)

vintage record player.jpg   elvis monthly

My son will be twenty-five this year. He spent quite a lot of his childhood playing outside with friends, but (just as with my parents) it was very rare indeed that we didn’t know where he was or who he was with. We lived, for most of his childhood, in a cul-de-sac, and his playmates mostly lived in the same road.  But as he got older, he too opted to play indoors more often – and when we got our first home computer (in 2001, and it cost in the region of £1,000 for not very much processing power at all, really) that was – mostly –  the end of outdoor play!  Even now his preferred free time activity is an online game.  He recently bought himself a ‘daylight’ lamp… I wonder why?!

playstation1.jpg    colin-mcrae-rally-usa.jpg

So do today’s children ever ‘play out’ like we did? I’m of an age now where most of my friends also have grown-up children, and since we’ve not yet been blessed with grandchildren, I am a bit out of touch…

Will the children of today make tutting sounds when their attempts to get their own children outside for some fresh air fail miserably, or will they see nothing unusual in it? Perhaps they will be trying to convince the younger generation that laptops and tablets are a safer/healthier option that virtual reality games!  My parents used to stand at the gate and call our names – and later up the stairs – when it was time for dinner or tea or bed.  Now we have a hand bell that we ring, because nothing else penetrates the headphones our son wears clamped to his head most of the time… I sometimes worry that things might grow in the warm, dark interior between his ears and the ‘cans’ -but perhaps that is preferable to worrying about him being attacked in a nightclub…

Do you have pre-teen children? Do they play outdoors, or do they prefer computer games? How do you feel about that?  I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!






I have been following (and sometimes participating in) this ongoing debate on social media for a while now.  As with all conversations on social media, it becomes fractious from time to time, and it is a sad fact that many people (not just women) do not understand what many women who were born in the 1950’s are upset about.

To clarify:

SPA” = State Pension Age – the age at which you can claim your state pension.

“WASPI” =  WOMEN AGAINST STATE PENSION INEQUALITY” – a voluntary UK-based organisation founded in 2015 that campaigns against the way in which the state pension age for men and women was equalised. They call for the millions of women affected by the change to receive compensation.

Some participants express incredulity that women are complaining that they now have to work as long as men (FACT: the SPA age will equalise next year, with both men and women who were born in the 1950’s having to work until we are 66 (and 8 months in my case) before we can claim our State Pension.

Some participants express incredulity that many women did not know that they would no longer recieve their state pension until they were 66 (an example – the SPA varies according to the year you were born) – the primary reason being that many women born between January 1954 and December 1959 did not recieve a letter informing them of the change in their SPA from 60 to 66.  I am one of them.

Often (but not always) those same participants in the conversation seem to find it hard to believe that, even though many women didn’t get a letter, they still didn’t know about the change to their SPA, even going so far as to accuse these women of “living under a rock”.  There may well have been articles in the tabloids and features on the radio, but it is a fact that not everyone reads tabloids (I don’t) or listens to the radio (very rarely) – nor do they belong to a union (never have). And if they heard anything about it via friends and family, that is patently not the same as hearing it officially, as should have happened.

The DWP (or whatever it was called back in t

When the SPA issue started to come up on social media, I talked about it with friends and work colleagues, and the number of women who, like me, had not received a letter was considerable.



On Creating a Book Trailer…

As I write this, my good friend Susan Turner of is close to the final edit on the crowdfunding trailer for my graphic novel, ‘Minding Mama’.

Here’s the lovely Kate Davies-Speak as Mama, lead character in my post-apocalyptic tale of life on Earth after decades of intense solar flare activity has severely damaged the ozone layer and sent humanity underground.  The fragile community is facing starvation as their aged hydroponic equipment starts to fail. Desperate to save her son, Bully, Mama and her trusty FarmBot Cyril (voiced by ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ actor David Learner)  set out to find other survivors.

image by Stephen R Cox
Mama prepares to make a broadcast for help

image by Stephen R Cox
Cyril is a FarmBot – immune to UV radiation, he can safely venture onto the surface in order to raise UV-resistant food plants for his human charges.


Creating a live-action trailer (complete with a set, props, and limited green screen effects) has been a real challenge – and, I should add, a lot of fun!  From the original short story, to first concept art by Amanda Fullwood

to the first sample pages from  Dan Schaefer  (who has worked for DC, Marvel and Dark Horse Comics, and more recently as storyboard artist on NBC’s ‘Grimm’) , it has been an interesting journey!  There is a saying that one should not work with children or animals – should we add robots to that list, I wonder?  Filming Cyril wasn’t without its challenges!  And it’s not over yet…

art: Dan Schaefer,  coloring: Grant Kempster

Now I’m working on the details for the crowdfunding campaign which, if successful, will allow us to produce Issue 1 later this year. We’ll be offering some fabulous rewards to our patrons, including signed canvas prints, signed scripts, photos and more.

You can find out more on

WIP -Minding Mama – from a short story by EJ Jackson, art: Dan Schaefer, colouring: Grant Kempster
1950's advice uk pension age WASPI

Are you a WASPI woman? Do you know what it means?

I very rarely (make that almost never) post about anything political.  I see it all going on around me on social media – tweets, Facebook posts, and the like, and I hold my virtual tongue, because (a) I don’t consider myself that well informed and (b) rightly or wrongly feel that I don’t have time to get up to speed with most of it. I don’t want to get embroiled in an argument where I don’t have all the facts, or as importantly, an understanding of the facts.

I’ve made an exception for WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) because I understand one important thing about it: I will have to work until I am 66 years and 8 months old before I can claim my state pension. Given that I have a chronic disease (for which a life insurance company penalized me when my husband and I first took out a mortgage in 1990 because (in the words of the agent) ‘statistics show that you may not live as long’) well,  I have to wonder if I will make it. Fingers crossed, I will – but I wonder how many women born in the 1950’s won’t?

In case you are not up to speed on what WASPI is all about, in a nutshell it is this:

UK women born in the 1950’s were originally told that they would be able to claim their state pension at age 60. Starting in 1995, successive governments have increased the state pension age (the age at which you can claim the pension you have been paying into since you started work) so that now, the majority of women born in the 1950’s will not be able to claim their pension -which in many cases means they cannot retire from work because they will have no income- until they are 66 or 67 years old.  In my case, at today’s pension rate it means that I will have been deprived of approximately £41,397.00, or £6,203.00 per year, by the time I retire at 66 years and 8 months of age. My mother lived until the age of 77 (being born in 1930 she was able to claim her pension from age 60). Granted she was a smoker and had other health issues I don’t (to my knowledge!) have, but if I don’t make it beyond 77 the state will have made a nice little saving… and I will have worked for half a century in return for ten years’ pension. Hmmm, something feels wrong there.

The issue is not so much that this has happened (and I can see how, with the increasing age of the population and the dwindling pension pot – more people living longer, less money to go around – I dread to think at what age my son, who is now 24, will be able to retire if he is reliant on state pension), but that many women were not told about it, and so had no opportunity to make arrangements to prepare for the shortfall. Women like me have written to the DWP as part of the WASPI campaign, and have received standard replies which basically say ‘actually, we did send letters, and it was publicized‘. I did not get a letter, nor did many women I know; it seems to have been very hit-and-miss. And publishing details on the relevant government website or in newspapers will not (and clearly did not) reach everyone.

I gradually became aware of the pension age increase over a number of years, but not in a way that suggested to me I needed to do something about it if I wanted to retire at 60 – to be honest, it pretty much went over my head until I started writing books and got involved with social media – way too late for me to make any meaningful financial adjustment. Was I horrified? Yes.

I haven’t yet worked out what I am going to do – work on until I can claim my pension, or stop work and hope to survive on my husband’s pensions until I come of pension age.

It is, of course, too late to lock the stable door for many of us – the pension horse has long disappeared over yonder horizon. Perhaps we should have ‘paid more attention’ – but that isn’t really the point, is it? Governments have a duty of care, and as I see it, they have failed thousands of women in my situation by not communicating the true situation in a responsible manner.  Perhaps the DWP should have enlisted a well-known poster boy:
(with apologies to Uncle Sam)

Well, perhaps not. But something that was ‘in your face’ was clearly needed.

Are you a female born in the  UK during the 1950’s? Did you know about the increase in your pension age, and if so, when did you find out? Have you been able to make adequate provision? How do you feel about the situation?

If you’d like more information, please go to the WASPI website: WASPI


Political rant over. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…



advice Book Trailers crowd-funding dreams memories publication day science fiction the Methuselah Paradox writing

Lessons Learned: My Journey as an Indie Author

In the Beginning…

In August, 2014, I published my first science-fiction book on Amazon, ‘The Journey & Other Short Stories‘. As the title suggests, it is a collection of short stories, and the act of publication was a very exciting moment for me. It represented decades of wanting to be a published author but not having a clue how to go about it; two years of independent study with both Faber Academy and The Writer’s Workshop whilst holding down a stressful, full-time job; and two years (at least) developing and writing a full-length novel (working title ‘All Our Tomorrows‘) which would then only see the light of day in a much-reduced form, as the titular tale in ‘The Journey & Other Short Stories‘.

Keep Only What Serves the Story!

It was a very steep learning curve, and probably one of  the most important things I learned during that period was not to be afraid to cut out what doesn’t work. Ditching the best part of sixty thousand words (representing months of writing) and stripping the story down to the core to produce ‘The Journey’ was not an easy decision at all. As it happens, I believe  some of that material will probably be used somewhere else, one day… but it just wasn’t right for that particular story arc. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that… for now.

Keep it Up!

As soon as I finished the anthology, I began writing my first full-length novel, ‘The Methuselah Paradox‘, which funnily enough, was also inspired by  ‘The Journey‘. And again, I had to make a major decision during the writing. I didn’t have to lose so many words this time, though!  I had been so invested in Tom and Eva’s story (which began in ‘The Journey’ and continues in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’) that I made the mistake of making them the main characters in ‘Methuselah’. I soon realised that it just wasn’t working, and that the main character needed to be the time-traveller, James Moran. Once I accepted that, everything fell into place. So never be afraid to ask yourself – “Is my main character the right one?” Be honest, even if it feels rather like a betrayal to those characters. If you must, tell them that you are saving them for better things…!

Is Your Protagonist The Right Character for the Job?

Tom and Eva’s story had pretty much been told in ‘The Journey’ –  and ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ takes place almost a quarter of a decade later, when Tom and Eva’s daughter is abducted. Who has taken her – and why? It seems obvious in hindsight, but being emotionally invested in your characters, whilst it is a good thing, can also blind you to their place in the Grand Scheme of Things. So common sense prevailed, Tom and Eva took a back seat, and James and (to a lesser degree) Emma stepped forward. Hurrah!

Another Learning Curve… or two! 

‘The Methuselah Paradox’ was published two years (not quite to the day, but the same month!) after ‘The Journey…’, and I was already thinking about the next project. But hold on a minute – that’s not all I did during that time…

Almost a year before ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ was published (and whilst I was still working on it) I decided that I wanted to make a book trailer to promote it. Having taken a short course in screen-writing with The Writer’s Workshop , and because I love TV/Film drama, I wanted to try to bring my characters to the screen.

Incidentally… if someone out there would like to bring ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ to the screen, please do get in touch via

Crowdfunding – the Indie Creator’s Gateway

But how was I ever going to find the money to pay voice-artists/actors, graphic artists, a camera operator and a composer to realise my vision?  Crowdfunding worked wonderfully for me, and again that was another steep learning curve, with a whole other level of responsibility. If people are sending you money to help you create something, you had better get your sums right!  I used an awesome networking site for the film industry, Stage 32, to find a concept artist, Cat Archer-Wills, and using Patreon and GoFundMe -and some off-line funding from family members – I manage to raise enough, which was a huge relief because I had been working on the script since January 2015… We finally recorded material for several versions of the trailer in March, 2016, and completed several versions of the trailer just in time for the book launch in August 2016. Here’s one of them.  Kudos to everyone who helped make the trailer a reality – the teamwork of creative collaboration is just the best thing ever!

What’s Next?

One of my writing buddies (yes, you, MW!) described me as an ‘ideas machine’, and it is certainly true that I have more ideas and notes for new stories than I currently have time to write. I don’t have a full-time day job anymore (or as fellow author Nick Stephenson calls it, the DDJ – ‘dreaded day job’)  having graduated to a four-day week, but there are still never enough hours in the day!

Currently I have two novels on the back-burner (one of which is a follow-up to ‘The Methuselah Paradox’), a stage adaption of the same book, another short-story collection, and a Graphic Novel. I do like a challenge! First an anthology, then a novel and a trailer, now a comic book – whatever next?

‘Minding Mama’ – a Tale of Future Earth

Minding Mama‘, the Graphic Novel – or comic book, if you prefer – almost became one of the short stories in my next anthology (and still might). Originally written as a competition entry, I didn’t get to the required word-count before deciding that it was fine just as it was. I put it aside. Then I went back to it, and realised that it would work very well in a more visual medium… so back I went to Stage 32, and advertised for a concept artist, then later a storyboard artist/illustrator. Amanda Fullwood (who in addition to being a first class concept artist, is also a talented costumier/production designer) was first to join the ‘Minding Mama’ team, followed by Dan Schaefer . (Dan has worked for Marvel, DC and Dark Horse Comics and the film industry, creates documentaries, does graphic design for the advertising industry and was storyboard artist on NBC’s ‘Grimm’). My long-time friend Sue Turner agreed to do the camera/editing work, and Matthew Thomason is on board to provide a theme. We have cast one of the two performer roles – David Learner (science-fiction readers will recognise David as Marvin the Paranoid Android in Television and stage versions of the late Douglas Adam’s best-selling novel, ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘)

As of August 2017, we have concept art and sample pages (fully coloured, but without text) and are well on the way to creating a trailer/pitch video for the crowdfunding campaign – you can find out more about that here!

I love the process of research, writing, then creating a team to take it all further. Geography is no limiter – our current team uses Skype to link participants in Camberley, Southsea, Norwich and Oregon. Isn’t technology great?

So You Want to Self-Publish?

If you are just starting out on your self-publishing journey, and have doubts about whether you can do it, my advice to you is to keep at it! I’ve learned so much since I started on this journey, and have met some wonderful, very talented people. There’s a commonly-held misconception that writing is a lonely calling, and perhaps some of the time, it is. But I don’t see it that way. When I’m writing, my characters keep me company, and when I’m working with a team of fellow creatives, be it my cover designer (waves to Rachel Lawston and Harry Saxon) illustrators, actors/voice artists (hello to Simon Bugg, Richard Oliver , Amelia Sefton and David Learner), composer (here’s to you, Matthew Thomason) camera operator/video editor (waves to Sue Turner of, stills photographer (thanks to Sue Thomason) and last but not least, all the lovely people whose crowdfunding support made the trailer for TMP a reality, it feels anything but lonely!  There is a wealth of online advice  to be had (some of it free, but some well worth paying for if you can afford it)  and you’ll find that most people are more than willing to share their experience and to help you however they can.  Go for it!

Elaine Jackson

Camberley, August 2017






crowd-funding graphic novel minding mama sci-fi science fiction writing

Is the Singularity already under way?

Eminent scientists – among them Professor Stephen Hawking, who may have a brain the size of a planet – have been warning us for some time now that the advances made by AI could turn out to be the writing on the wall for mankind.  I mean, extinction. Hoist by our own petard, no less.

i, robot
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.

Now we learn that Facebook decided to shut down its very own AI program after it created its own language.  It wasn’t done with malice aforethought, or because the two Negotiating Bots (apparently named Will and Alice) wanted to take over the planet… they simply found it a more efficient way to communicate than using the English they had been taught.

Will our desperate race to create better and faster ways of doing things using AI (artificial intelligence) really be our undoing, as posited by Professor Hawking and a myriad of movies such as ‘BladeRunner’ (in which a group of artificially engineered and physically superior humans called Replicants returns to Earth to demand a longer lifespan from their creator – before killing him) – or are we all basically just AIs anyway, seeded by aliens who thought it might be interesting to see what happened… Whether we are truly indigenous or not, did the life-forms who were subsumed and/or destroyed by humanity’s rise from the primordial soup have the capacity to worry about it? Or were they blissfully unaware of the ticking time bomb in their midst until it was too late?  And would they have been able to do anything to stop it, even if they had realised what was going on?  You can read the original article here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m just going to swim back into the primordial soup and pretend this isn’t happening…

Elaine Jackson, July 2017

P.S. If you’re interested in the topics raised here, you might enjoy my next project, a graphic novel titled ‘Minding Mama’, which my team and I will be crowdfunding very soon.  It’s a dark tale which takes place amidst a ruined eco-system. Humanity has fled underground, leaving the surface to wither and die. Only the FarmBots can survive above ground…

Visit to find out how you can help bring the project to life (if you dare) and earn some unique and very cool rewards!