Thursday, March 31, 2005

Obsessive Compulsive

I've been away from this blog for the last few days because I've been busy writing towards the end of my novel. There comes a stage in the writing process where you get so into the story that it becomes hard to figure out exactly what is reality and what is fiction.

No - that's not exactly right. You do know - if you think about it - which is which. It's just that the emotions of he narrative you are telling start bleeding into real life. Like watercolour paint spreading out into a sheet of paper.

It is the obsessive end of the writing cycle - for me, anyway.

Now... where was I?

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Block suffered by internet writers - Blog Jam

The journey to the weekly writers' club meeting - Narrative Drive

The car on the left with all the bumper stickers and stuffed toys - Character Driven

The car that has just cut in front of you - Clot Driven

Any more suggestions?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Novel and the Novelist

I'm reading A.N.Wilson's wonderful biography of Tolstoy. I just want to share this quote with you:

Novels are works of art which arrive at truth by telling untruths. Novelists are frequently men and women who have been compelled, by some inner disaster, to rewrite the past, to refashion their memories to make their existence more interesting or more explicable to themselves.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Information Pollution?

I have a question - will digital technology change the publishing/printing industry into a writing/speaking industry?

A second question - will digital technology turn all of us into writers? And, if so, how will we readers locate the needle of excellent writing in the haystack of the information age?

Literary democratization or dumbing down?

I'd really interested in any feedback on those questions.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Interesting Times

After my first novel, BACKLASH, was finished, I didn't want to write a series of novels based around the same central character. I knew that was the commercial thing to do, but, quite frankly, I didn't want to put poor Mo through any more torment. (Mo was the first-person narrator of that novel).

In a moment of madness - I suggested a series based on a single time period, a single place. Three novels tied together by the same set of external events, but following different characters. The people at Simon & Schuster were enthusiastic about the idea. It was settled.

But think for a moment - one period of 2 weeks in Leicester. Three crime novels. They say Oxford had a high fictional body-count after Colin Dexter's wonderful Morse novels. But Leicester had horrendous body-rate once BREAKBEAT and BURNOUT were written - at least for that fictional two week period.

Interesting times. If anyone has counted up the bodies, please let me know.

The trick, of course, was to make sure that not all the bodies were discovered during that two week period. Otherwise it might give Leicester a bad name. Fictionally, at least.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Give me Detail

Novelists, in my experience, are hungry for detail. The right kind of detail will breathe life into descriptive writing. But where to find it?

Observation. Photographs. Talking to people. And now - I discover - reading blogs from around the world. Some of them are stuffed full of wonderful observations.

One I found recently, and am enjoying reading, is If anyone knows other fascinating blogs from around the world, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Watching Films with Writers

Never watch a movie with a writer - that's my advice. It is (so I'm told) like watching a strip show with an anatomy student.

A writer spends so much time working on narrative structures that he/she can often see the construction lines in the narrative being played out on the screen. And projecting those lines forward (to extend a rather shaky metaphor) can see where the film is leading.

Half way through the movie, the writer leans across and says: 'See that man - he's going to get killed by the woman we just saw.'

'When?' You ask.

'At the end of the film.'

'How? Why?'

'I don't know - but it has to happen. That's the way the narrative has been set up.'

Having said all the above, my wife and I watched 'Leon' on TV last night and didn't come to blows. We'd watched it before - which helps. And deconstruction of a really good film can sometimes enhance the enjoyment. And what a great film 'Leon' is.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Shhhh... I'm reading

How is it that librarians came to have a reputation for peering over their horn-rimmed spectacles and frowning at readers who turn book pages too noisily? The severe librarian has somehow come to be a cliche of comic fiction.

But from what I've seen over the last couple of days in libraries in the East Midlands, our typical librarian is more likely to be eating chips, making a lot of noise laughing, or discussing the best place to buy a sexy nurses uniform.

Seeing how I've been spending a fair bit of time in libraries recently (I always turn up hideously early for any event where I'm speaking) I thought it might give me an opportunity to read a chapter of Pompeii. It's always worth looking at Robert Harris's work - the man is such a wonderful writer and I'm always trying to work out how he does what he does.

So I started in one library on Wednesday and went on to try and finish the chapter on Thursday in another library. But in each case, the librarians were chatting with such exuberance, that I couldn't concentrate. Their conversations were just too interesting! Still - perhaps I can incorporate some of the dialogue I overheard into my next novel.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Edwinstowe and Glenfield

Tomorrow evening I'll be up in Edwinstowe library - hopefully doing a performance of Hazard Warning, along with the novelists Clare Littleford and Sally Spedding. Three interlinked short stories, following a journey down the M1 from Nottingham to Northamptonshire, crossing county and literary boundaries on the way. Then on Thursday I'll be doing an evening event in Glenfield's new library.

If you're anywhere near either, do come along.