Friday, 23 May 2008

Werewolves...lots of werewolves

Halfway through Book 2 and I thought I'd talk a little about it, but not much. It's tentatively called THE DARK GODDESS and it'll have werewolves it, bloody loads of them. It's about the Russian witch Baba Yaga (the Dark Goddess of the title) and what happens when she comes up against the Knights Templar. The entire Russian myth setting is very very cool, and that's where I'm headed...
If anyone's interested, try the works of Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber especially) and a book called Women who run with Wolves. One of my favourite ever films is 'The Company of Wolves'. It's going to be bloody, violent and savage. Like all good werewolf stories should be.

Did I tell you it's about werewolves?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Dealing with Rejection...and getting better

Since I don't actually have a book out right now, and judging by you kind people who've actually left comments, there's a lot of writers out there looking to get their work published. I'm picking up a thread off Sarah's website actually, but it did make me think.
Getting rejected.
It WILL happen.
I've been rejected. EVERYONE'S been rejected. No-one's that good. But if you check my website I've shown a before and after sample of my writing. What's very interesting is that you CANNOT judge you're work objectively at the time, you can only judge it looking back, once you've improved.
Get rejected. Collect all those impersonal slips writing by the sixteen-year-old intern who's power belies her dress size. You'll be upset. Your feelings will be hurt and you'll doubt yourself. Maybe you aren' that good. YET. So what? Just think of all those other writers who quit at this point, all those rivals who WON'T be around next year to queer the pitch, while you're writing, writing and writing. But it does come back to the most fundamental point. You must love writing. Wholly and totally. To the point of irritation to your partner, friends and children. Take this blog, right now. I'm sure I have more important things I should be doing, but I can't help it. Only the desperate NEED to write will get you through the rejections.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Book 2...or avoiding rehash

What happens next? I'm not going into details regarding plot, but more about process, and will be using films as an example ('cause I know you've all seen them).
The thing about writing a sequel is what's the key development of your character? The best stories are ultimately about the hero's emotional growth, but having grown immensely through Book 1, how much more immense must their growth be in Book 2? With Bond, he doesn't actually evolve in his stories (I'm excluding Casino Royale as it's a reboot, so shouldn't be considered as part of a series, will be interesting to see what they do next), he's the same at the beginning as he is at the end. Refuge is thus sort through spectacle as (lets admit it) the plots are pretty much the same. Which is why Connery was the best. In Doctor No and From Russia with Love, he isn't a superman, and the challenges are relatively small scale (from Russia with Love the whole plot revolves around he stealing a TYPEWRITER). But each challenge must be greater than the last, which is why it always ends up with FATE OF THE FREE WORLD being at stake.

The Bourne series tried to instill character development as the story does centre around him trying to discover himself (though I'll argue that Ultimatum was a repeat of Supremacy and actually the series was just one VERY LONG (but terrific) chase sequence) but did he actually CHANGE? He's still an ice cold operative at the end as he was at the beginning. Okay, he's disillusioned with the day job but hey, aren't we all? The story's about a man's mid-life crisis.

Granted, not all stories need to be based on the Hero's Journey (and if you're a storyteller, I don't need to explain this, do I?), but we are talking about the adventure the hero goes on MEANING something, rather than it being a recycle of what's gone before. To have meaning it must cause a CHANGE in the status quo.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Literary...sort of (well ok, not really)

The summer blockbuster season is upon us, and last week I started what will hopefully a cinema extravaganza of superheroes, more superheroes, and even more superheroes.

Yes, put a guy in a cape and I'm a happy camper. So...Iron Man. Ok, doesn't have a cape, but he can fly, which is almost as good. Everything Robert Downey Jr. does is cool, and this is no exception. Throw-away oneliners, the perfect mix of arrogance and charm, and the flying scenes were INTENSE! While I'm a through and through DC fan, this one from Marvel was great. The only thing missing was a REALLY BIG aerial battle with Iron Man and dozens of fighter jets, instead of just two.

Sticking with the comic adaptation (or graphic novel if you want to pretend to be grown-up about it) I also saw Persepolis, about a young girl growing up in Iran during the revolution. The animation was simple and beautiful, and the main character was both poignant and hysterical. It ended way too suddenly.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Went to a talk given by Darren Shan last week. Felt slightly embarrassed being the only adult there without a kid on tow, but never mind.
The guy's a steam-engine of productivity and said he usually has three books on the go, writing one, editing another, and something inbetween with the third.
Does anyone else work like that? Must admit, I'm not sure I could keep it all in my head. My methodology is finish one, work on another, stop, go back to the first, stop, go to the second. Actually, now I think about it, it's quite a shambles. Basically I'm a fair chunk into Book 2, but will shortly be putting that aside for a few months to rework The Devil's Kiss. What's great with having a sequel is that you don't get confused with you you're writing about since they're the same person, and each book feeds back and forth from the other.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Hooray for Harriet!

My sibling at Greenhouse has struck the publishing world like...a thing that strikes! Harriet's written a great book called The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 and it's a pretty unique tale (boy crashing his car into the underworld and teaming up with a girl who broke her neck centuries ago). She's got a two book deal with Stripes, an imprint of Little Tiger. It'll have maps, artwork and everything!

So, it's another notch in Sarah's pencil (go Greenhouse go!) and also another result out of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices anthology. Make sure you order your copy now from British Isles SCBWI and find out how it all began...

Well done Harriet!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Music to write to...or what's on my MP3

I started listening to my MP3 ( by Sony, I REFUSE to get an Apple anything) when I used to hang out in parks and cafes to write, so I could tune out from everyone else. I know I shouldn't listen while I write, but there are some tunes that get you in the Zen-like zone...

1. Scary Monsters Super Creeps...listening to it right now. back when David Bowie was a GOD.
2. Werewolves of London
3. Strange little girl...spooky throughout
4. Shut up and Drive by Rihanna. This song actually inspired a character in the Devil's Kiss. You know when you're at a club, party whatever and someone (usually of the opposite sex) comes in and it becomes that SLOW MOTION moment when you think...nothing. Your mind's utterly blank and it's all about OMG and what you feel is on a sub-molecular level? You don't just fancy them (join the queue) but every atom of you CRAVES them. No? Maybe it's just me then. Well this song is that character's theme tune.
5. Sorry...where was I?
6. Lucretia My Reflection by Sisters of Mercy. Yes, deep down I'm still a goth.
7. Voodoo People by The Prodigy. They define the early 90s for me. We won't go for Firestarter, too obvious. But this is a close call and I remember it from going to a Christmas party at a police station. Now THAT'S another story entirely...
8. The Wanderer by Johnny Cash. With a line 'They want the Kingdom but don't want God in it' this is another one of those songs that just builds and builds until your blubbing... Of the ones on this list, probably the CLASSIC.
9. Man Kunto Muala by Mehr Ali and Sher. Nope, you won't have heard of it but it's BRILLIANT. It's qwaali music and has a melancholy air you feel WAY deep down. The original SOUL MUSIC.
10. The Queen of the Night Aria out of The Magic Flute. Makes you sit in awe that a human voice can produce such music.