Friday, 27 March 2015

She Who Dares Writes: Brooding and smouldering novel ideas - Poldark!

She Who Dares Writes: Brooding and smouldering novel ideas - Poldark!: Settings and landscape. Do they make a story as much as the characters do? The Poldark brooding and smouldering has set me thinking abou...

Brooding and smouldering novel ideas - Poldark!


Settings and landscape. Do they make a story as much as the characters do?

The Poldark brooding and smouldering has set me thinking about a novel I wrote a few years back, gently shelved and neglected. Now seems the right time to re-write and release it back into the open,(known as a reboot I believe?)given all things Cornish and Poldark are gathering pace. The story was called,'Flow' a tale of the disappeared Cornish miner and The Mermaid of Zennor, how he re-appears one hundred years later, on the hunt for an heir, just as Evie bowls into the village, a fiesty teen who's a fish out of water on the quiet coast of Cornawall in the 1980's. After a screenplay adaptation developed with the Script Factory, it's now back to a manuscript re-named 'The Last Enchanted'.

Writing it allowed me research holidays to Cornwall and inspiration form the landscapes I found there. Then there was 'Girl In The Box' a dose of Northern fantastic realism set in Blackpool. I went there to be inspired by a very different landscape.

'The Reason For Silence', which I am currently writing, came out of repeated visits to the wonderful Gardens Of Easton Lodge and is full of the history and landscape there.

Short stories are inspired by settings as varied as Whitstable, Allotment sites spotted on train journeys, Perth, The back streets of London, Roadsides in South Africa. Place is my muse, what's yours?


I'll let you know how the reboot goes, given that I'm back in Cornwall in the summer, who knows where inspiration will take me next?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ali Smith - Confetti, Time and How To Be Both

She Who Dares Writes: Ali Smith - Confetti, Time and How To Be Both: Leaving late afternoon on an impulse to undertake a mini adventure and having a free ticket for a Royal Society of Literature event at LSE ...

Ali Smith - Confetti, Time and How To Be Both


Leaving late afternoon on an impulse to undertake a mini adventure and having a free ticket for a Royal Society of Literature event at LSE this week, time gave me a journey and exploration.
London bound, a run down four carriage train, dusty and blue with flat springs in the seats, the floor scattered with crumbs.Sped past twig trees, grey industrial units and rivers that had burst their banks, over flat marshes, grey through the rain stained window. Birds in a pair, two cranes, no three cranes, bent over old buildings. Graffiti tunnels, Clapton, black brick, soot dark, no light, grey light, rain light. Debris on the banks, a blue ball shone in the litter.

There was a bomb scare at LSE, the building evacuate, so I diverted around the square of Lincolns Inn Fields to the home of Sir John Soame, architect of the 18th and 19th century (Bank of Engalnd) and collector. His house a treasure, stuffed with artefacts from floor to ceiling, crowding the narrow doors, dark and gothic. A crypt contained a sarcophagus to rival any in the British Museum. Emerging into sunlight, a little time for lavender cake and reflection, sitting in a draft in The Fields cafe, plane leaves piled up like discarded writing drafts.


Time

Time to wander over to LSE. I spot Ali Smith outside, walking purposefully towards the building, a small creature with a sharp face, wrapped in a mustard yellow scarf, carrying bags of books, does she bring her own books for signings?

Time to find the venue. The basement, a modern structure, ceiling hung with red and silver spheres and white glass teardrops. They remind me of the colour of my primary school uniform. It's so corporate, the students flow from the lecture theatre, well dressed, not a worn down heel between them. How things have change from my student time when we dressed in second hand, not vintage. Into the lecture theatre, a proper lecture theatre, I haven't been in one for years. I miss studying, perhaps because of the theatre, the need to perform, these talks help fuel the flabby brain cells. The stage is set, it's time to start.

Ali Smith sits on the stage winding a ribbon, she's just winked at someone. I like her. The host introduces her,"Every time you find an adjective that you think nails her, the opposite is true." Ali Smith giggles.

Why write Ali? She completed How To Be Both in just over a year, "I had a tax bill." Taking writing seriously as a calling/career after a diagnosis of ME. Why does she write about grief? her companion on the stage, Marion Coutts, wrote a memoir accompanying her husbands when he was dying, it's obvious why she should write about grief, but why Ali,
"It's part of where I come from, an undercurrent, death is not in the current of the everyday." Her books have grace and energy, what Blake called 'eternal delight', "the connection between the vibrancy of life and the going thus."

Ali Smith once gave a sermon in Manchester Cathedral about time. In How To Be Both, her Booker shortlisted novel, time, "Bursts it 's banks." She was inspired by a picture she saw in a magazine, "It was so beautiful I wanted to go and see the original." She went to Ferrara to see the Fresco painted in the 1460's in the room of the months, "you walk into an empty room and it's full of life, time just doesn't exist." Ali talks as she writes, articulately, lyrically, yet accessible, deep thought with a light touch. She reads from How To Be Both with more inflection than I gave it, a scene in Italy, a perfect pinch of the mother daughter relationship and a ruminescence on time, "The interest in her is the life, eyes bright with a purpose." I remember my copy of How To Be Both had been leant to my eighteen year old daughter, a lovely, slippy, perfect sized hardback that I would very much like back. I decide to buy another copy and speak to Ali later. There's not enough well written mothers in literature, she reminds me, "they are either absent or dead". And we're back to the cyclicity of life. Her eyes are bright with purpose, she shows intest in me and my work, and the possibility of a visit to the forest where I teach. I'll hold you to that Ali, thank you.



Thursday, 29 January 2015

She Who Dares Writes: The netherworld doldrums of January

She Who Dares Writes: The netherworld doldrums of January: I have vague memories of the animated 1970's film 'The Phantom Toolbooth', a linguistic road trip based on Norton Justers book,...

The netherworld doldrums of January


I have vague memories of the animated 1970's film 'The Phantom Toolbooth', a linguistic road trip based on Norton Justers book, with similarities to Alice in Wonderland. I tried, but never made it through the book, reading it to my children years later. But I have a strong memory of one part of the film - The Doldrums, a quagmire of a place in the dark wood where thinking and laughing are not allowed.


That's January, post winter festivals, it sneaks in with dark mornings and hibernation temptations. My bed has become a magnet, I find it hard to leave it in the morning and it calls to me through the day. It's not a bad place for writing, but then I fall asleep and the words are lost.

My words are out there somewhere in January land, in the doldrums. My novel, Girl In The Box, emailed to agents with bright, perky, hope filled covering letters. Short stories sent to magazines and entered to competitions. Now silence, the waiting, the tumbleweed rolls across a writing career. The metronome of work beats on, inbetween I plan the next batch of stories, work on a new novel, plan entries to Mslexia and other competitions, find myself on page 23 of their latest issue in the synopsis surgery. A sign that something good may be about to happen? And wait..

What next? What can you do in January? Keep busy, keep writing, keep working, keep reading,keep swimming. Get up in the morning and don't let the doldrums get you!

Saturday, 15 November 2014