Monday, 22 July 2013
See you in two weeks :)
Sunday, 21 July 2013
Mr McIlvanney writes about Glasgow but he lives in Kilmarnock. As McIlvanney is known as the father of Tartan Noir, Ian Rankin started by asking if Laidlaw had influenced Taggart. Glen Chandler said that he took the name from a cemetery but he thinks that it definitely influenced it. He also revealed that once Sean Connery was once going to play Laidlow in a film, but that the funding fell through.
William McIlvanney admitted that he did not start out as a crime writer, all three of his first novels won literary awards, then his fourth was a crime novel as he had a voice that wanted to go to dark places, so it had to be a detective novel. Laidlaw had empathy with the perpetrators, was a philosopher and quoted from T. S. Elliot. Laidlaw won the Silver dagger and also with the Tony Veitch novel. His agent once told him that if he wrote one novel a year he would be a millionaire.
Ian asked why the third book is first person, as it is a change from the first three books, and William felt like it was more a personal journey and also there is no murder, just an accidental death. When he wrote Docherty he found out he is descended from miners, so he set it in a fictional place to respect the real people of Kilmarnock.
William McIlvanney then read from The Papers of Tony Veitch ( the section where the two gangs have a summit meeting at a Hotel).
Ian Rankin asked if McIlvanney felt he tackled the code of masculinity in his fiction and he felt that he did, as the working class code interested him as he felt it was a societal way of snuffing out debate or discussion, e.g. the infamous Glasgow Kiss.
He feels that Laidlaw is of a time as the police travel by bus, there are no computers or mobile phones so it is mid-late 70s and is a historical novel as it charts the changes in Glasgow life, but not self consciously. He feels it is not just a story of crime but a celebration of a city. He feels Greta Garbo would never have been alone in Glasgow. Minor characters are allowed to breathe and add a touch of humour, not just as a cipher as he wanted to create a sense of reality, as real lives are going on around the crime.
He believes that Noir is a bad person who cannot escape the nemesis and he admitted he hadn't read much detective fiction, except Chandler, but reads more now he writes it. When he was younger he watched a lot of crime movies, he was still at school when Brando appeared on On the Waterfront.
Strange Loyalties - people are like moles in that they pirate tunnels of purpose. He felt his character's loyalty is to his dead brother, but in some way we all are shaped by it. The move to first person was because he wanted him to be the narrator and be inside his head for the book because of his perceptions and it gave him freedom though it was painful to edit.
He admitted that he has dead projects lying all over the place (he moves onto other things) as he is a wonderful non-finisher of things. A couple of the projects are Laidlaw a prequel, the fabulous beast in the basement that's going to be the big one - the chimera, that book that says exactly what you want to say.
'Every novel is the wreckage of the perfect idea.' He feels writing should be a sharing of our humanity, one with another, to teach us how to be human and he feels Shakespeare does that.
His books came back into print as someone wanted to republish after they fell out of print and Canongate resurrected them. They are books he wrote 30 years ago and he is talking about them again and they are selling again, which he feels is wonderful. He has had many quotes from people saying how important these books are.
They reminisced about when in 1990ish William went into a bookstore and listened to Ian Rankin. Ian then wrote to him and asked about a change from third person to first in his novels asking permission as people would compare them, but as he received no reply he did not.
They then opened the floor up to questions and William admitted he found writing first person liberating as he has a linear narrative, but admitted that it has to be an interesting head.
He feels like the resolution has to be a statement about the society that he lives in rather than just about his dead brother. He gave the example of the story about the Spartan boy. We all have something that pains us but we all have to act like we're okay and he feels like everything is implicitly political.
William started writing at 14 and when he was 17 he read William Saroyan and for long enough he felt he was him. Then it was Hemingway and he used to teach secondary.
He admitted that no writer ever knows how a book will be received, but feels as long as you are an honest broker between your vision and the reader, you will do well.
Both writers agreed that they find it hard to relate to new writers as they say they want the truth, but they don't really want the truth and they both feel that you get the novels after the event, not during. You need the distance to get to look to back at the event and it can't be too soon.
A book signing followed after the event.
More to follow on tomorrow's blog.
Friday, 19 July 2013
I will be attending the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this weekend (review will be in an upcoming blog) and here is the link with the full details should anyone wish to view it:
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
There were five attendees and we started the workshop with writing about places that you go to in terms of love and hate via two characters. It was very interesting that in both exercises, the writers tended to use the same examples but twist how each character feels about it - e.g. one beach lover enjoying the warmth of the sand on her toes and another hating the fact that it sticks to her suntan lotion slicked body and that it gets everywhere.
Anna then outlined the origins of the Flashback Memory, for example everyone remembering where they were and what they were doing when Princess Diana died, in that it is in built in our DNA from our ancestors who had to remember a place in terms of it being safe, e.g. emotion is interlinked with a place. Anna then gave us five emotions - Anger, Fear, Joy, Resentment and Peace - asked us to pick one and write about a place that you have experienced that emotion in. Some of the other writers and I found this quite a hard exercise as more than one emotion kept slipping into the writing.
Anna then explained how the Watershed project came about and what it involved and discussed the four short stories contained within her Watershed project book Legging It, published under her author name of Anna Chilvers. Anna very kindly gave each attendee a free copy of the book and also signed it.
We then all went outside to people watch and let it inspire stories within us (we were allowed to take notes if we felt we needed to). It was very pleasant wandering around the Centenary Square lido, watching and listening to the fun people were having splashing in the water, running through the fountains and soaking up the sun. Among the many interesting characters I noted were an old couple with shopping bags and she in a wheelchair resting by the water but he was standing not sitting, a handsome young man with long dreadlocks dancing to a tune that was clearly in his own head, several cute toddlers with over-filled nappies thanks to the water fun, a paunchy businessman walking through the square oblivious to anything except his mobile phone call, a topless man on a bicycle with tattoos over 90 per cent of his visible skin, several women on precarious heels/wedges tottering across the Square and a man guarding his pram whilst his toddler son wanders further and further away from him.
After half an hour, we returned to the Gallery and had a cup of tea/coffee and a mini shortbread.
Anna began the workshop again by explaining what makes a story in terms of emotion:
1) Character in one emotional state
2) They want something
3) An obstacle is put in their way
4) Their emotional state has changed AS A RESULT
Anna gave us the following emotions - Anger, Guilt, Anxiety, Hate, Despair, Hopelessness, Indecision, Hostility, Fear, Jealousy, Grief, Suspicion, Loneliness, Worry, Sadness, Shame and Disappointment and we were asked to write a short story (in three sentences) with a character starting off with one emotion and move them to another.
We were then given two lots of 15 minutes to write a short story or outline ideas for a longer story using one of the characters we had been inspired by using the emotional route as outlined above.
Here is one of the ones I came up with (can you guess which one?):
Marvin could hear the drumbeat in his head and felt the rhythm right down into his toes. On days like today, when the temperature soars and there are no clouds to mar the sky, he totally identified with his namesake. There really were no worries on a day like today. Although there were no ear-buds, in fact no music of any tangible kind for him to dance to, he swayed on his toes non-the-less. Sunshine was sweet. He could stay here all day if he wanted to, alone with his thoughts and the Caribbean beats in his mind.
Across the way from him he registered the splashing of the children as the they played under the fountain. It wasn't quite home but he could imagine. All he needed now was Gelisa, but she was long gone. A world away in both geography and emotion.
He watched as a young child, her nappy hanging low beneath her pretty sundress, waddled away from her mother. Her skin was the colour of a ripe coconut shell and it was all too easy to imagine she was his. His and Gelisa's.
The odour of pot drifted across from behind him and he had to force his feet to keep moving to the beat rather than away and to the source. He had lost more than Gelisa to the lure of its power. But it was different now, now there was only one regret not the empty ache needing a plug.
It was indeed an inspiring workshop and I hope that more events are organised soon.
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
I went to see this with my friend B today at the L/B Odeon and I quite enjoyed this fantasy with more than a little nod to the fairytale.
IMDB states that the plot is 'The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds,' but for me, it is essentially the story arc of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, Warm Bodies) stars as Jack, a very down-to-earth hero, whose series of well-intentioned blunders leads to his Kingdom being joined once again to the Giants. Charged with helping to rescue the Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson of Angus, Thongs and Perfect snogging, Alice in Wonderland) from the lair of the giants along with the King's best men, including Elmont (Ewan McGregor of Star Wars, Trainspotting) and her intended, Roderick (a cunning baddie played by Stanley Tucci - The Hunger Games, The Devil Wears Prada) who has dastardly plans of his own.
King Brahmwell is played by Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides, Snow White and the Huntsman), but I was distracted by him in his gold armour (too much like Lord Farquaad in Shrek!) and there is a stereotypical cameo performance from Warwick Davis (Star Wars, Harry Potter) but for me, the actor who best nails his role is Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, Hancock) who plays Crawe.
The head of the CGI giants is General Fallon (a strangely Irish Bill Nighy - Love Actually, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) but disappointingly, Director Bryan Singer has tamed the gore in deft cuts away at the last minute. I know this is a 12A but the giants could have been made far more menacing.
Tagline: 'Prepare for a giant adventure.' 6/10 #JackTheGiantSlayer
Monday, 15 July 2013
I loved that the book had some beautiful illustrations and the premise was good, if a little similar to the Disney movie Enchanted, but I was disappointed in that it read far more like a less accomplished writer had written it. It only had a few aspects of Jodi in there. I know because it is YA it wouldn't have any moral problems, but I was expecting a lot more depth and an ending not as rushed. It felt like any deep and meaningful aspects were light and forced in there and the pace was too slow for everything except the last section, which was too rushed for me to feel fulfilled as a reader - especially with the loose ends.*
I found a fair few inconsistencies as well, for example, Oliver did not know what a sandwich was, but understood what orthodontia and a fire extinguisher was? As previously mentioned, a few plot points were, for me, not tied up (I have put these below, but they contain spoilers, so please do not scroll down past the picture if you intend to read the book) and the real-life world of the heroine felt a bit Glee/Mean Girls - though I admit, not being American, I would not know if cheerleaders really are that mean. Also, we did not get to see the development of Oliver/Delilah's relationship - we were told rather than shown.
Overall I was disappointed, but as the book is not aimed at me, I am not their target audience (though I did enjoy Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, the Harry Potter series, the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games trilogy to name a few - well most of the Hunger Games trilogy - so I am not unused to the YA genre and as I also write YA, it was good research for me), but I did expect a writer of Jodi's brilliance to conquer the cross-over as well as Phillip Pullman does.
I will be asking my daughter to read the book, so I can get a real YA opinion as this will be useful in my YA research and it is a way of introducing one of my favourite authors to my daughter.
'What happens when happily ever after...isn't' 6/10
* Edgar's Mum would notice the change in her son, especially as Oliver would be unable to mature. The fact that Delilah's Mum and her psychiatrist would have to gain closure to her running away from home to visit an author in order to 'save' a fictional character - this for me, would have made far better reading. What happens to Edgar, who would still age in the fictional world, as he matures? Unless this was left open for a sequel to save him. The mermaids changed character at the end of the story - I hate any character doing/saying things that are far out of character - they were supposed to be man-haters.
Sunday, 14 July 2013
NEW - Short Story Competition
Casting The Net is a bold, funny, sometimes painful, account of Julie McDowall's time online dating in Glasgow. It's not called 'no mean city' for nothing, as Julie finds herself sipping gin and cringing with a cavalcade of freaks, sexual perverts and screaming drama queens. A mean bunch indeed. However, the main man is the one known as The Clown. Throwing dignity, caution and clothes to the wind, Julie pursues him shamelessly despite her growing realisation that he is a liar and a cheat.
The reader cringes, ducks and grimaces as Julie gets deeper into a total obsession with this ginger maniac, and it is obsession which drives the book's narrative. This is no giggly, female tale of cocktails and dancing shoes; it is about an unhealthy obsession with an unworthy man, whilst Julie's mental health disintegrates. All is cast aside in her pursuit of The Clown.
This true story - from our now-recovered and sane - editor is gritty and shameless in discussing her obsession and the damage it causes - but also the lust and wonder and sheer excitement it threw her way.
Obsession can be delicious and delightful or plain deviant and destructive. It can be with a person, a place, a band; with a memory, with a song, with a job, or with a fairly unattractive ginger clown. Either way, it dredges up emotions which can be hideous, frightening and as exhilarating as nothing else you'll ever feel. Is it a state of passion or madness? Can you be obsessed but still be safely planted in reality, with sturdy mental health?
We're inviting short stories on the theme of obsession. The subject matter is yours entirely, but we want gritty tales which yank us - whether we want to go or not - into the heart of the obsession.
The word limit is 3,000 words and entries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 1st September 2013 with the subject 'competition' in the e-mail.
Please send your entries in an attached Word document.
And now, to the prizes....the winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Casting The Net along with 16 e-books - yes, 16 e-books - from the Blasted Heath catalogue. These will be THE BARBERSHOP SEVEN by Douglas Lindsay, THE CAL INNES OMNIBUS by Ray Banks, SMOKE by Nigel Bird, RIP ROBBIE SILVA and THE STORM WITHOUT by Tony Black, and THE MAN IN THE SEVENTH ROW by Brian Pendreigh.
You can read more about these titles at the Blasted Heath website here
Three runners up will each receive an e-book copy of Casting The Net
All four winning entries will also be published in The Puffin Review.
Friday, 12 July 2013
The Big Issue in the North announces The New Writing AwardThe Big Issue in the North has launched a New Writing Award to recognise excellence in contemporary short fiction writing. The competition, which carries a first prize of £1,000, is being held to raise funds for The Big Issue in the North Trust, the charity arm of the magazine, and is open to anyone who would like to get creative in no more than 3,000 words. Deadline for submissions: 1 August. Download an entry form from www.bigissueinthenorth.com.
Eat Our Words: submissions wantedOrganisers are looking for tea, chocolate cake and cheese-inspired poetry, micro sagas and flash fiction to be published, performed and eaten as part of the Speakeasy & Salon at NewcastleGateshead EAT! Festival 2013. Email your poems (maximum 10 lines), haikus, micro sagas (max 10 words) and flash fiction (max 100 words) to email@example.com by 12 noon on 31 July. If your work is selected, you will need to be available to read at the event on 25 August at 3pm. Maximum two submissions per person. And if your piece involves tea, please let them know which kind so they can buy in the right tea bags!
Deadline nears for Liverpool writing competitionsJust a reminder that deadlines for the the first Liverpool International Open Short Story, Poetry and Playwriting Competition 2013 is now looming. Organiser The University of Liverpool Creative Writing Society for Lifelong Learning will be donating £1 to the Alzheimer’s Society for every short story, poem and play entered into these three competitions. For rules and an application form, email Tommy McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer in residence wanted for Wakefield Lit FestWakefield Lit Fest is looking for a writer in residence for the forthcoming festival (20-29 September) and beyond. For more information, see http://beam.uk.net/news/seeking_wakefield_lit_fest_2013_writer_in_residence/.
Workshops and courses
Inscribe the sky: a writing walk with Linda FranceHadrian’s Wall: Saturday 27 July, 10.30am-1pm
For this event, participants are invited to join writer and renga master Linda France to enjoy and respond to a section of the wall. The format of this event includes walking, observation, reflection and writing. Participants will be encouraged to stop at specific locations along the route, where Linda will facilitate a renga, a Japanese form of shared writing to create a series of short haiku-like verses linked into one long poem, composed collaboratively by the group. This event is aimed at adults. For more information and to book, see www.eventbrite.co.uk/org/4070931431.
Want to write for television?Whitley Bay Library: 27 July-14 September, 10am-12pm
This eight-week workshop is for all levels and will help you develop your ideas and stories and cover all aspects of writing for TV. Course leader Anthony Gannie is currently working with BAFTA-winning writer Jimmy McGovern while also working on his own original drama for BBC1. His credits include The Street, stage credits and various work on long running dramas including EastEnders. Fee: £157. To book, call 07837 065 758 or email email@example.com.
Collecting the Colours of Autumn: writers’ retreatMonteleone, Lazio, Italy: 13-20 October
Autumn is the time of year when the colours come out to play, especially in Italy, and the changes in the seasons can also be a repository of memories, feelings, thoughts and fears. In this series of workshops with tutor Sheree Mack, participants will take a writers’ tour of the area and write their own narratives and poems exploring the colours of the season through a variety of exercises. Fee: €599 for five days’ tuition and eight nights’ accommodation, food, transfers, and local excursions including a day tour of Rome. For more information, see www.sagradellewords.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Click here to enter:
All queries about the Costa Short Story Award should be emailed to email@example.com.
Click here to see this year's judges
Click here for full Terms and Conditions
Also, I don't know about you, but I was feeling in need of a bit of motivation and the perfect blog post came up today from my fellow blogger Kristen Lamb on 10 Ways an ADD writer can become productive. This post was inspirational and I urge you to click on her blog to see why: Author Kristen Lamb
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
In the film a small time magician, Oz (James Franco of 127 hours, Pineapple Express) is swept away into an enchanted land and is forced into a power struggle between three witches - Theodora (Mila Kunis of Black Swan, Ted) her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz of The Mummy, The Bourne Legacy) and Glinda (Michelle Williams of Dawson's Creek, Shutter Island). Ably assisted by a flying monkey named Finley (Zach Braff best known from Scrubs) and a china doll (Joey King of The Dark Knight Rises, Crazy, Stupid Love) they rally the citizens of Oz to try and defeat the Wicked Witches.
The film is a kaleidoscope of colour and aimed squarely at a Disney audience (i.e. children). Although we enjoyed the escapism and I can see it clogging up our screens at Christmas in the same was as The Wizard of Oz does in the future, it did not hold the attention of all in the theatre (notably one older lady fell asleep several times during the feature and was audibly snoring).
The acting is fine throughout - James Franco seemed to be channelling somewhat of a 'dastardly pirate captain' and all three witches sold their good/bad personas. There are a few other faces to recognise amongst the citizens of Oz, e.g. Tony Cox (Bad Santa, Me Myself and Irene) as Knuck, Tim Holmes (Hostel, Real Steel) and several Raimi's (whom I assume are relatives of Director Sam).
Tagline 'Oz will amaze' It will, but probably only the little ones 7/10
Monday, 8 July 2013
P shared her copies of Writing Magazine and Writers Forum where we found some interesting free competitions and relevant articles on subjects such as 'writing a series.'
We discussed the ten shortlisted entries of the Munch competition that have been announced and we agreed with P that N's story is far better than all of them. This led on to a fascinating discussion in that P had seen an article in a writing magazine informing writers never to use 'ly' words and in the same magazine, a competition winning entry author not only used a plethora of 'ly' words, but also began to 'tell not show' a third of the way into her winning short story.
D informed the members that there has been a reading of the new Neil Gaiman story on Radio 4 and that it would still be available to listen again should anyone wish to.
I reminded D and P that I would be attending the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate shortly and I gave them information on a free writing workshop Anna Turner is running in Bradford next Tuesday:
Writing Workshop for Adults at Bradford Gallery 1
Free - booking essential - phone 01274 437800
‘Inspired by Bradford’: Take a short walk through the city centre with Anna Turner and open your senses to the stories around and within you. We will then use this material in a short story writing workshop. Bring a notebook and pen.
Sunday, 7 July 2013
Very disappointing. Unlike The Yorkshire Wartime Experience. Last year sadly, the event was marred by torrential rain that left the fields awash with mud, but this year we were very lucky with the weather. Glorious sunshine stayed with us all weekend, so the school visits on Friday and members of the public on Saturday and Sunday could enjoy all the vehicles, uniforms and events. We enjoyed listening to the music of the times, the ammunitions display and the tank parade. There were many families enjoying the event and I am sure lots of people learned far more history from the owners and participators than they could ever learn in school.
It is a fantastic event that I hope will be repeated for many years and thanks go out to all the organisers (including our friend S). As it is a non-profit event in aid of charity, I hope that some of my followers may be able to attend the event next year that is scheduled for 6-8th July 2014. For more information, please go to the website: www.ywe-event.info
Here are just a few of the photos I took on the day:
Thursday, 4 July 2013
I am an Insider, so I was able to see this film at the Showcase today for just £5 and my daughter went free, but the film was so good I would go see it again and pay full price.
IMDB lists the storyline as: Four magicians each answer a mysterious summons to an obscure address with secrets inside. A year later, they are the Four Horseman, big time stage illusionists who climax their sold out Las Vegas show with a bank apparently robbed for real. This puts agents Dylan Rhodes of the FBI and Alma Vargas of Interpol on the case to find out how they did it. However, this mystery proves difficult to solve even with the insights of the professional illusion exposer, Thaddeus Bradley. What follows is a bizarre investigation where nothing is what it seems with illusions, dark secrets and hidden agendas galore as all involved are reminded of a great truth in this puzzle: the closer you look, the less you see.
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland) plays J. Daniel Atlas, the arrogant magician of the group, Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games, Natural Born Killers) plays Merritt McKinney the mentalist, Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Wedding Crashers) plays Henley Reeves the female illusionist and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, Warm Bodies) plays Jack Wilder the pickpocket hustler for whom no door is ever locked. I love Michael Caine (Batman, The Italian Job) who plays Arthur Tressler and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Seven) who plays Thaddeus Bradley as actors and their confrontation scene nails their egocentric characters. Michael Kelly (The Adjustment Bureau, Dawn of the Dead) plays Agent Fuller and rapper Common (Wanted, Terminator Salvation) plays Evans and the film really benefits from the little comedic touches around the police and the audience.
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble, 13 going on 30) excels as Agent Dylan Rhodes and has excellent chemistry with Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) who plays Alma Dray, but it is the non-stop action and plot twists that really make the film. You are on the edge of your seat throughout and the colour and soundtrack really draw you in to make you feel that you are also participating in the magic show and illusion.
10/10 Tagline: 'The closer you look, the less you'll see'
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
The basic premise is that two salesmen get let go from their jobs selling watches because of the digital age and they decide to apply for an internship at Google, where they have to compete against young, tech-savvy geniuses for a chance of a job. Vince Vaughn (Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers)plays Billy McMahon, but he also wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay and you can feel it, as the film does feel like Dodgeball meets Wedding Crashers. The film has similar humour, feel-good factor family friendliness and makes use of the tried and tested comedic partnership with Owen Wilson (Cars, Night at the Museum), who plays Nick Campbell, Billy's fellow-fired best mate.
There are some good cameos from John Goodman, Will Ferrell and briefly B. J. Novak (Ryan from the US The Office), but the film really kicks into gear once the pair enter the internship process. At first the dinosaur/nerd dynamic feels forced and clichéd, but then when the teams are formed, the movie moves onto familiar ground. Nick's character falls for prickly Google Manager Dana (Rose Byrne of X-Men First Class, Insidious) and Billy's motor-mouth gets him noticed by both the super-competitive interns and the eagle-eyed boss. Aasif Mandvi (The Dictator, Spiderman 2) puts in an excellent turn as Mr Chetty and Max Minghella (Agora, The Social Network) does a very good stuck-up/mean Graham Hawtrey - the film makes it easy for you to root for the pair as they pit against Graham and try to impress Mr Chetty in the various team challenges.
For some inexplicable reason Google employee Lyle (Josh Brener of Glory Days, The Condom Killer) is given Billy and Nick's team (made up of Dylan O'Brien's Stuart, Tiya Sircar's Neha and Tobit Raphael's Yo-Yo Santos) to mentor and this is where the film really begins to resemble Dodgeball, when Billy's character helps to bring the mismatched interns together.
Mr Vaughn has taken the winning formula of Dodgeball and Wedding Crashes and written a script that could stand to be more involved, but the end result is a family-friendly fun movie that we enjoyed.
'They're crashing the system' 7/10