Tag Archives: Arts

The Darwin Murders

A short time ago, I was invited by a friend to write a short piece for an upcoming anthology, published online, called The Darwin Murders. Participants were asked to write a 250 word piece in which they could kill of a character of their choosing, provided the poor unfortunate didn’t/doesn’t exist in real life. (No killing Hitler or Stalin, okay?)

I choose the bane of modern-day small screen viewing, the horror that is the television licence inspector. The editors liked my story so much that I was one of two authors who had their pieces put aside for special mention.

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If you want to find out how and why I murdered a television licence inspector, pop over to Amazon and see for yourself. And don’t stop at me, either. Other writers in the anthology harbour secret desires to bump off their nemeses. At the end of the day, we each have our dark sides.

Don’t forget to look behind you – you could be next.

 

NaNoWriMo 2011: Day 0

It’s the eve of National Novel Writing Month 2011. Thirty days of literary abandon start at midnight. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I’m stoked, but I’m nervous. Already I’m wondering if I’m good enough to complete the task of writing a minimum of 50,ooo words in November. Already I’m concerned that outside distractions (work, family, friends, life’s problems in general) will cause me to fall at any of the fences in front of me.

I can’t let that happen, though. I won’t let that happen. Barring serious injury and personal catastrophe I shall pass the post with days and words to spare. Okay, if I’m to be more realistic about this, I’ll be equally as content if I pass the 50,ooo word mark at 11:59pm on 30 November.

My preference is to write at least 2,000 words a day: 1,ooo in the morning, 1,000 in the evening. Two hours’ work, tops. Seeing it written down like this makes it a far less tortuous prospect, don’t you think?

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 99. On Unfriending.

Yesterday morning, to my horror, I lost two friends. But I don’t know who they are; not yet, anyway. My Facebook friends list was reduced from a total of 284 people to 282. I scanned down the list to see if there were any notable exceptions (I don’t keep a written record, by the way), but I was unable to work out who dumped me (or dumped Facebook).
A while ago this would have bothered me, causing me to think of how I might have offended these people. But to each their own reasons. Maybe they just grew tired of social networking…or me.

Write Here, Write Now: NaNoWriMo Update.

National Novel Writing Month is just over two weeks away. To this end I have come upon an idea that I think will carry me through these “30 days of literary abandon.”

Having decided to not play it safe this year and write within my (limited) comfort zone, I will take on a challenge. For those of you who have read the book or seen the musical Les Miserables, you will know it features the innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thernardier. In the novel they are an unscrupulous and devious pair, and they represent the true arch-villains of the piece. I know it’s Javert who is in pursuit of Jean Valjean but he’s not a true antagonist because he follows his own moral compass; he believes in God and the Law. The Thernardiers are a different story altogether, though.

In the musical they are used for comic effect and as such are good characters to play around with. So my challenge for 2011 is to reimagine Les Miserables from the viewpoint of the devilish duo. As part of my research I am reading as much as I can of Victor Hugo’s mammoth 19th century novel. This in itself is as much of a challenge as NaNoWriMo.

As an aside, I have to work out whether I want to portray the characters as they appear in the musical – comic relief – or in the novel – much more complex. I’ll work on this closer to the time. So enjoy what follows this post. I had the pleasure of seeing Master of the House performed live on stage recently and it is one hell of a showstopper.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 90. On NaNoWriMo (via Quantum Leap).

Theorizing that one could write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, Writer James McShane turned on this laptop and typed.

He wrote until he found himself stuck in the zone, facing words and  images that he had created, and driven by an Unknown Force to change plot points for the better.

His only guide on his journey is You, a reader that James can neither see nor hear. And so, Writer McShane finds himself leaping from chapter to chapter, from character to character, striving to put down one word after another, hoping each time that the next word will be the last.

 

 

Write Here, Write Now: NaNoWriMo – Challenge Me.

For the third year in a row, I am going to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those of you unfamiliar with this annual contest, the challenge is deceptively simple: you have the 30 days of November in which to write a novel of no less than 50,000 words. Sounds easy, right?

Wrong. My first attempt ended in failure. I shut up shop after ten days, much to my dismay. Last year was better, though; I completed the challenge with days to spare. The story itself was a bit iffy but it served as a template of sorts to my ongoing work in progress.

This year I want my friends and readers to challenge me. Last weekend I went to see the musical Wicked in London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre. As you may know, it’s based on a novel written by Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Basically it’s a retelling of the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but paints Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the title) as a misunderstood character and one that readers ended up rooting for, or at the very least sympathising with.

The musical is stunning and seeing it is definitely a high point of my year so far. (I saw Les Miserables, too, but that’s a subject for another day.) But what really got me thinking was the sheer audacity of the author. Maguire took a well-loved classic and twisted it into something else, something distinctive, something with its own identity.

My challenge to you is to pick a classic for me. Find a book that is as popular as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, then challenge me to do a Wicked on it. As long as it’s not as massive as War and Peace or as obscure as Ulysses, then I’ll consider it. Allow me at least a week to read it, if I haven’t done so already, then let me at it.

Am I being foolhardy? Am I setting myself up for a fall? Or do I have no original ideas of my own? The answers are possibly, very possibly, and yes, I do. But I fancy this.

Please give me your ideas, please. I would love to hear your feedback.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 81. On Art.

Art can be a polarising subject. The phrase “one man’s fish is another man’s fowl” comes to mind when I consider what is conventionally called modern art. Okay, grab a few tin cans (empty ones preferably), find a pole tall enough to stick them on. Throw some paint over the whole thing, then voila: someone comes along and buys it from you, sticks it in a museum and allows people to pay in to see it.

Great! All I need now is a few cans, a pole, some paint – and then I’m set up for life. Oh…and a rich friend.