Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Well, wot's next?

So, a quick recap on 2009, which hasn't been too bad. There was two trips to the USA, two radio shows, one tv show, trip to Russia (research, honest!) two book tours, a large number of schools, and few bookshops (thanks to the few who turned up!), and Devil's Kiss hit the shelves. I've completed my first full year as an author, and still loving it. Oh, and I learnt how to skip in a manly fashion. It's not as easy as you think.
Right, for 2010. I'm a great believer in New Year's Resolutions and breaking them. It reminds us that we are, after all, only human.
1. Carry on skipping. You may laugh, and many people in the park do (9.30am Tuesdays and Fridays, just by the gates), but gosh, it's hard work. I think it's not helped by the weight of my belly on somewhat dainty feet. Still, my vain ambition to be Daniel Craig's body double continues.
2. Be adopted by Angeline Jolie. Yep, still keen.
3. Well, since I am here in the land of make-believe, a literary prize would be nice. Hmm, is it too early in one's career for a Noble prize for literature? I think not.
4. Something writing related. Like another book. Yes, that sounds reasonable.
5. Read a lot more. This is something I'd thought would be automatic, but no. I used to read a lot when I commuted. So 2009 has probably been the year I've read less books than ever before. Plan to fix than in 2010. January will be NOTHING but reading.
6. Oh, another research trip. India in February. The next project is set in Varanasi, I'll tell you more about that in March (ish). My agent read the first draft. Her comments were unpublishable but 'sickeningly violent' were amongst them. So, maybe it won't be a picture book after all.
7. Not become the local mad old man. I'm slowly slipping into that 'don't see why I need to shave/ dress/ wash/ brush teeth/ get up before 12pm' routine and have started spending my waking hours shuffling around in my dressing gown and slippers, usually holding a cup of tea. Yesterday I used up three razor blades getting rid of my Xmas beard. Scary.
8. Expand my horizons, not my stomach. I might make a sideways step into writing pantos. Oh yes I will.
9. Dark Goddess. Deliver that in all its blood-soaked glory. Rewrite almost done!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Make way for the original bad boys...

This came up in Publishers' Weekly some months ago and is in today's Independent (link to the article is here).
So, are vampires on the way out and angels on the way in?
Well, yes, but mainly no.
For those of you who have read Devil's Kiss (thanks guys and gals!) you'll know the book centres around Billi's misguided relationship with the Archangel Michael and his plans of humanity, namely the unleashing of the Tenth Plague.
Angels have always been there, well before the vampire. If we follow the development of the modern vampire we follow a trail that takes Edward Cullen to Lestat, to Dracula, to Poladori to Milton and Satan, the first, original and still best literary bad boy. Ask not if the angels are the new vampires but more the vampire was the new angel. I like to think the angels are now reclaiming their original primacy, shoving the vampire back into the earth and coffin. Time for a rest, a long one.
I'm bloody excited about this new take. As the article states the angel's a interesting reflection on our times, especially since we're focusing on fallen angels, those that were good but no longer stand in God's light. Are we, as a society, feeling we've done the same? That we no longer strive towards noble ideals? that we've become tainted by lesser, more earthly desires?
I remember how Devil's Kiss started and my decision to make Michael, the guy who cast down Satan, into the villain of my piece. I've had some flack (though not half as much as feared) for taking a good Biblical figure and casting him in a less than flattering light but angels raise important questions of 'how do we know we are right'? The world's too complex and today's hero may be tomorrow's villain. The Book of Enoch, a tale that never qualified into the Bible, centres around the Grigori, angels sent down to Earth that refused to go back. My version plays on this legend as well as King Solomon, John Dee (said to have communicated with angels) and how righteousness can become a dangerous virtue, maybe the most dangerous.
The poster's for a movie called Legion, with St. Michael going totally badass. Frankly, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that , is there?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

International appeal for home-grown stories

This is the German edition of Devil's Kiss, due out in January. One of the strange side-effects of publishing is the foreign rights market, and wondering why some stories seem to translate internationally, and why some don't.
Frankly, I haven't a clue.
Look at 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Isn't it 'Rags to riches'? Isn't it the American Dream (local boy makes good and gets the girl). Given its setting there's nothing particularly Indian about the story, is there? You don't need to know anything about the culture beyond what you've picked up on the news or in your local curry house. The story has a strong Dickensian streak, it is both gruesome and sentimental (but with cooler music).
I think concentrating on the greats certainly helps. Not what's big now, I'm not a hundred percent sure Da Vinci Code will be popular in 100 years (though I hasten to add I learnt a lot about pacing from it. It's an awesome page turner). But look at Dickens, Shakespeare and Austen. Settings vary from Prospero's Island to the drawing rooms of Sussex. What is it about them that has such timeless and global appeal? I remember when the Indian adaptation of Austen, 'Bride and Prejudice', came out. But of course! Marrying off your daughters is a major theme in Indian and Asian lives. I'm reading Emma right now and touched by her self-sacrificing nature. She does so much for her dad and has abandoned any hope of her own marriage to support him. Maybe Billi could learn a thing or two from Emma, they're in the same boat regarding dependant dads. The best stories touch us because they speak to something fundamental in our hearts or psyches.
Universal and timeless appeal. Isn't that something to aim for?