Category Archives: Vivika’s Musings

Why do you have to be that way?

I’m going to be blunt here because as you will find from the content of this particular post that’s just how I am. Ever since I was a little girl I have always been made out to be some kind of freak because I tend not to go about things the ’normal’ way. The other kids were, I guess, expected. When you are growing up you don’t know much about the world and you are learning so I can see why I was seen as being somewhat unusual by my peers. That wasn’t just it though. Adults were much of the same opinion.

What made me so freakish? What did I dare to do that was so unconventional? Nothing really. It was a curiosity I had about the world around me that others wanted to curb. They said they were concerned about me. After all, curiosity brought about the demise of the proverbial cat. I wanted to visit museums rather than playing with the other children. I wanted to read books rather than take part in party games. For that I seemed off and weird.

As I grew up I continued on that trajectory, caring not one bit about what others thought. As an adult I was considered strange because I had no interest in having children or getting married. To me marriage is an outdated concept that has no real place in modern society. Sure, there are plenty of people who love being married, are excited to be married or can find happiness in that kind of partnership but it’s just not for me. As a thirty something woman with my own independent life I don’t see any way a marriage could improve my current existence. I’m especially close to my little 11yo niece and my 3yo nephew so they are all the children I need.

I guess the point of this rant is to urge you all to live your life the way you want to. Do the things that make you happy despite what society might think is appropriate. I’ve grown up people thinking I’m a freak. Embrace that freakishness because odd things, atypical hobbies or out of the ordinary life decisions don’t make you any less valid than the most conventional of people. What would the world be without that varied tapestry?


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Dinner for Four

It’s an age old question that seems to be important to a lot of people. You most likely would have been asked it in your life in some shape or form and that question is, ’if you were to invite anyone in the world (living or deceased) to a dinner party who would those guests be?’

I like this question because to me it highlights the human want to connect with others, no matter the barriers. It shows we like to connect in an intellectual way. The purpose of this exercise is to show who you would like have around your table for the purposes of hearing what they have to say. A dinner party, by nature, is a way of sharing discussion and opening up. Those you would chose to sit around your table says a lot about your personality. So for the purposes of this discussion, my pick of dinner party guests would be as follows:

Charles Dickens

Not only is he one of my most favourite authors and a huge inspiration of mine, he was also a critic of the moral evil that was present in Victorian London. He used satirical writing to bring attention to these injustices and he was effective in doing so. This undoubtedly influenced writers who came after him to approach their work with the same boldness. I know that certainly was the case for me. From what is told he was a kind hearted, intelligent man who paid close attention to what was going on around him and for that reason having a chat with him would be an opportunity I would hate to miss.

Harry Houdini

Escape artist, circus performer and spiritualist debunker. Houdini is already an admired figure of mine so he would naturally make for an exciting presence at my table. I would love to ask him all about his escape acts and his performances. His thrill seeking presence would keep things lively and I’m naturally engrossed by people who have a performance flare. He spent a lot of his later career debunking spiritualists. Discussing this could make for a lively debate. Also, after some wine has flowed and bellies were filled he could grace us with a demonstration of one of his tricks.

Anne Frank

If there is ever a girl with a story to share at a dinner table it would be this one. She lived through great adversity and it was of no fault of her own. She was just a young girl who had no control over the devastation that was arising around her. She already had a fascinating story to tell as is evident in her famous diaries. Learning about this young girl’s remarkable experiences from her own mouth would have the discussions going on well into the small hours.

Those are just some examples of the fascinating figures I would invite to my dinner party. Given the opportunity to reach out to anyone, who would you choose? Funny? Inspirational? Intruiging? What would you look for in your dinner party guests.


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Hell Awaits Our Unfortunate Inmates

Gather round, ladies and gentlemen. Gather round, for a tale of desperate men on society’s ultimate time out. 

You may find yourself feeling sorry for them. But don’t. They know why they’re here. They know what they did.

Here we have murderers, thieves and vagabonds of all descriptions. We are home to the worst of the worst in the Shady City. They will now pay for their crimes. They won’t be shown an ounce of pity.

This castle was once home to a glorious queen. You can’t imagine the battles and blood shed she had seen. Times may have moved on quite a bit since then but our dungeons are still filled with the cries of desperate men.

Bring me that one! And that one! Yes, and that one too!

That fat one cowering in the corner? I suppose he’ll have to do.

Bring me him! And him! That one appears to be at a loss. 

You will all be reminded I AM THE BOSS! 

Available April 15th


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Television and Cinema: The big vs small debate

When I was younger the big screen was held as the epitome of the entertainment industry. There were popular television shows but if you really wanted your name in lights the cinema and the great red carpet premieres were the ultimate goal. Movie actors had a lot more credence than their small screen counter parts and the cinema was a treat for all the senses.

One of the first movies I remember going to see was Jurassic Park. (Yes the first one. Yes I am dino cups being sold in McDonalds years old). I’ll never forget the rumbling of those almighty notes as the park itself is first revealed. I still get goosebumps when I see it. I’ll also not forget being accidentally smacked in the jaw when the T-Rex burst out of its damn cage! (Too soon for spoilers?). It was a completely immersive experience you wouldn’t find in your living room with the television. Going to the cinema was an event. The smell of popcorn, the advertisements for the latest movies and the ridiculously expensive snacks all made for a great night out. The love of cinema continued for me with the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was obsessed with the movies and Return of the King was one of the few I had went more than once to see. The only other exception to that was the Truman show which I saw five times. The quirky premise was unusual for the time. It was before reality TV became common place. Coupled with the beautiful Philip Glass soundtrack and the island setting, it was a cinematic experience I opted for again and again. But I digress. My point is cinema was an exciting place.

Television isn’t without its merit. What the cinema offered in experience the television made up for by giving families, companions and friends a place to gather round. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family gathered together to watch our favourite shows. When I first went to uni I was thrown into a hall with strangers but as soon as we put on the television and watched together we became friends. Where the cinema was an exciting out of town visitor the television was your constant companion. I often hear people talk of putting on their favourite shows for comfort as they fall asleep and I find that remarkable.

Which brings me to the modern day. Before the days of the disease which shall not be named, the cinema was already losing its grip on the collective imagination. Streaming services became common place and more and more people were opting to stay at home and watch their favourite shows. When cinemas closed for an extended time it seemed to be the final nail in the old girl’s coffin. The glorious cinematography of a Marvel movie is great but when there are shows and stories you can lose yourself in just as easily at home (the Loki series for instance) then it doesn’t seem the cinema is holding its worth any more. To me it seems that cinema is something of a bygone era now. The big movie releases are becoming a thing of the past and instead more focus and attention is being placed on the latest shows the streaming services have to offer. Maybe that’s just my experience. Maybe I’m just cynical. Maybe I should give our times of recovery more of a chance.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the cinema still has the same sway it used to? What are your favourite movies and shows? Let me know.


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Reasons to Smile

With the world around us being something of a mess and more pressure thrust upon us each day we can all feel a little overwhelmed to a greater or lesser extent. We’ve just come out of January – the Monday morning of the year. A virus is still raging, threatening to dictate our lifestyle and politics is a hot mess across the world. There are many reasons to wake up and think, ‘this bloody place!’ Yes it seems dire but let me make a suggestion. Take the time to consider the best parts your day. I know that sounds like stupid advice from a grumpy author and it might seem a dreadfully simplified response to what’s going on. However, allow me to explain.

Like many I find myself falling into depressive episodes. Mental and physical exhaustion often manifests itself into a train of morbid thoughts that can’t be shaken off. Then the need to step outside and put on that smile sends a bag of wriggling anxiety worms chewing through that depression. I decided that although what I was feeling was valid I wasn’t going to let it consume me. So, now each morning (even on those days I’m struggling to get started) I ask myself to recite at least three things I am looking forward to in that day. I urge myself to focus on the little things that will make me smile or breathe a sigh of relief. These can be really simple things like I how I’m looking forward to grabbing a coffee in my favourite book store or I’m going to be having a visit from my niece or nephew. They don’t have to be especially life changing, sometimes the best things are the simple ones. I found that no matter how dreadful the day seems if I can point out little things that make me smile it shows me it doesn’t have to be all so bad.

I’m not a professional in mental health so this is by no means sound medical advice. I’m hoping that by sharing this little tip others will be able to calm themselves and perhaps find that road to recovery that can seem all so far away.

All in all, look after yourselves, look after each other and I urge you to pick just three little things about your day that you are looking forward to or will make you smile. It will make even the toughest situations that bit easier.


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Success!

We all want to be successful. I don’t know anyone growing up who would say they didn’t want anything from life. (I’ve known plenty who have been told they shouldn’t want anything from life and all ambition was knocked out of them but that’s a story for another time). There is a part in all of us that wants to succeed. Those ambitions differ from person to person. Some are simple ones like having a nice house. Others are more lofty like being an international superstar. No matter what, success is something we can all achieve. The beauty of success is it’s not something that is infinite. There is plenty to go around.

To some, success is monetary gain. This is quite often the first thing most people think of when they are asked to measure success. Sure, wealth can be a contributing factor but what about all the other measures?

Success can be academic. Good grades in school or an overall impressive education connotes success. It could be argued that academic success is a natural precursor to financial ones. In the real world this isn’t always the case but if you have set your mind to achieving an esteemed job by studying well and proving by exam that you are capable then that is success. If you set your mind to just passing a test and you do then that is also important. Success sounds academic but really it is about setting goals and achieving them.

Success could also be seen through how well turned out those in our care are. If you have children then success could be seen as how well they behave. Raising well mannered children ready to contribute to society is a success in my opinion. When you’re on your own with only the bare minimum finances to work with but your children are still fed, clothed and put to school that is still a success too.

There are different ways to view success and it doesn’t always have to be through the means society has taught us. We are individuals so it is really a measure of our own journeys. Where have we come from? Where do we plan to go? What have we offered the world around us? To me those are the true measures of success.


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Toxic Free Zone

I have hit on this subject matter before but since it is something that really resonates with me and it seems something that so many people have to deal with in their daily lives I am going to broach the subject again. Since we are now heading a little further into 2022 (I can’t stop myself still writing 2020. Where did 2021 go?) we are leaving behind the holidays that force you to interact with relatives and acquaintances that, shall we say, aren’t the most positive influences in your life. That means that you may find yourself a little freed from toxic people. I hear all to often good people putting up with toxicity because ’they’re family’ . Toxicity is toxicity regardless of blood. It doesn’t matter if she birthed you. It doesn’t matter if you shared parentage. It doesn’t matter if some DNA test would confirm you are related, toxicity is still toxicity.

Just the other day I was having a zoom call chat with a friend and they were telling me just how anxious and upset they were because their elder sister had been staying with them and she was making their life a misery. Now, if someone came to you and asked, ‘can you put me up for a little while? In exchange I’m going to take over your whole house, I’m going to treat your hobbies and interests like a joke and I’m going to make your life a misery to the point your stomach starts to rumble with nerves as you reach your own front door, you would say Hell no. However, when they come flashing that magic DNA access pass it seems to make the whole situation more difficult. It shouldn’t be. You have to prioritise your own well being. Being related is no excuse to disrespect you. Your home is your haven and you can’t let it be invaded by noxious forces.

Maybe you have that friend from school that their very company leaves you emotionally dehydrated. You listen patiently for hours as they list off the problems they face and their hatred of the world around them but never ask how you are doing. Life is tough enough. You need people who lift you up not put you down. Knowing someone for a long time and them still behaving like putrid ponce should tell you all you need to know about them. I’m no expert and I dare say I have my own share of behaviours some would consider toxic but to me any relationship is a partnership of sorts and requires mutual respect.

In ode to this I say to all of you have the best 2022 there can possibly be for you. Clear out those cupboards, wash up those messes and dry those tears because every day is another chance to start something new and it can start right now.


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Holiday Hums and New Year Bugs

Welcome to 2022 folks!

I can almost hear the collective moan as we recover from a year long hangover of lockdowns and all sorts of other struggles. Regardless of that I hope you all had a great holiday. This time of year tends to bring a lot of stress on people (most of it unnecessary). We are conditioned to want to spend money on elaborate gifts, debt rises and the pressure of having to enjoy ourselves really takes it toll.

I for one like a quiet holiday with those nearest and dearest to me. I grew up in a raucous household so nowadays I like things more subdued. It makes me sound like an old woman but life is tough enough without some overly commercialised holiday forcing you to spend time with people you can’t really stand throughout the year. We’re told to grin and bear it, they’re family. They’re blood. Like Hell they are! Family are people who come into your life to make it easier, to support you. If Uncle Jim across the table is on his fifth glass of wine and demanding everyone listens to his racist tirades then that’s not family. When Grandma is guilt tripping you because you’d rather spend your Christmas day happy than crying in the bathroom because she hated your gift then that’s not family.

As someone with no kids I can only imagine how dreadful the approach of the big man with the beard must be for those who do. It has to be tough seeing all those photos of bragging parents with the mountain of gifts they bought their little precious when you are worried if you can even scrape enough together to get those shoes they really wanted. It’s unnecessarily showy. ‘What are you trying to prove?’ I always wonder.

I don’t want to put a downer on Christmas. The truth is I do find it a fabulous holiday. It’s message is to be kinder to each other, to bring joy and cheer to each other and to spend some time in celebration with those close to us. That is a principle I will always champion. I guess my point here is don’t let yourself get bogged down with the pressure of it all. Remember, toxic people are toxic people and don’t deserve a seat at the table even if they are blood and Aunt Kate will be really put out if not invited. Screw you, Aunt Kate. If you force yourself in then cousin Derek will have to come too and he can start a fight in an empty house.

We all have them. This time of the year is always a real test. But it can also be a marvellous opportunity of new beginnings. A new day, a new month, a new year. When you are given the chance of complete revival it doesn’t matter what came before. Look forward and make this the best year ever!

I love you all folks and I sincerely wish you the best time ahead.


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The dark parts of your mind

My ten year old niece is hitting that stage of life where she is observing the world around her and developing her mind into her own tastes. She has found herself fascinated by the darker side of literature, movies and art. She knows her aunt is very much the same so it is a beautiful bond we share in that respect. I was much the same when I was her age. I read macabre books, I watched horror movies and Edvard Much’s Scream was my favourite painting and still is one of my favourites to this day. With that in mind we came to a discussion on the line between fiction and fact. We discussed how throwing yourself into a dark mindset can require you to know that there is a firm difference between creative licence and reality. I’ve already discussed the influence media can have on the temperament in a previous blog which you can read HERE but I’d like to revisit the topic from the perspective of those of us who create dark material.

All roads lead to the same place in the end.

I told my niece that some of the work that I write requires some dark thoughts that you of course wouldn’t even consider normally. In order to write characters with despicable intentions you have to think like that and it can be a little mentally exhausting. Creative licence is important and I don’t believe in hindering yourself if you really want push boundaries in art but as a young person I wanted my niece to realise that as okay as it is strive for some dark art, to listen to those nasty songs or to watch those horrifying movies you need to be prepared to pull self back and take stock of reality again. She is just a young kid and as a youngster she is influenced by things around her as she finds her own creative voice. However, I have personally seen people completely lose themselves in a mindset and it doesn’t take much searching to find stories of others where this has happened to.

What is art if not to influence? What are the dark reaches of the world if not to explore? What is curiosity if not a little on the morbid side?

It’s fun to lose yourself in twisted imaginations. By all means enjoy those things that can manifest when you give way to the darker emotions. The important thing is to remember that the world is generally a great place to. Find your happy spot. Don’t let it consume you. I guess what I’m really saying is let the light in every once and a while.