Tag Archives: Les Miserables

Write Here, Write Now: “Wish” – A NaNoWriMo Update

At the risk of disappointing some of my friends and readers, (Scott Perkins being one of them), I have at almost the last minute changed tack on this year’s NaNoWriMo project. I had mentioned previously that I was going to take on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Miserables and revisit parts of the story from the viewpoint of the supporting characters, the Thernardiers. And indeed I was building up a head of steam, what with reading the novel and brushing up on some French history.

But then I had a dream (though not the same one Fantine had) which really put the mockers on my original plan. I can’t describe the dream because I don’t really remember too much of it. All I was left with was a feeling that reality had somehow shifted. When I picked up a copy of Haruki Murakami’s new novel 1Q84, I took this as a sign that I was on the right track again.

My new project is called Wish and this is the synopsis you’ll find on my NaNoWriMo profile page.

“After breaking up with his long-time girlfriend, Steven Pepper is attacked by a group of boozed-up teenagers. Left licking his wounds, he wishes for a different life, one where he makes the right choices and is rewarded for being a good person.

On the cusp of achieving what many thought was impossible, Terry Gall wishes for the one thing he lacks: immortality.

It is 2014. Ireland is the one country left standing after a global recession has all but shut down the world’s financial markets. Someone, somewhere, made the right decision: a first for a country used to following rather than leading. Journalist Louise Harrigan wishes she knew who it was.

All three get their wish — and nothing will be the same again.”

 

We’ll see what happens.

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100 Words. 100 Days: Day 94. On Classic Novels.

There was a time when I wouldn’t touch a classic novel with a lighted pitchfork. They were too dense, I thought, written in a language no longer relevant for today’s modern needs. Too many thees, thous and words I need to look up in a dictionary.

But then I picked up Les Miserables, by  Victor Hugo. Yes, it’s dense, with passages that seem to go on forever, and for no particular reason. It has more tangents than a geometry manual; but it’s a joy to read. I feel that I’ve given classics a bad rep. Now I’ve changed my tune.

 

 

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.

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.