Thursday, 31 January 2008

It growed and it growed... all sorts of ways. Charlie herself has grown on me. I joke about her visiting and telling me the story that I then note down, but that is the relationship I have with the character and it is not one I have ever experienced before. Several of my main characters have been close to me in that they are reflections of my self. Charlie is something else altogether.

And her story has grown as well. When I started, I envisaged a single, extremely condensed novel using a very fragmented structure. It soon became clear that that would not work. I wanted to involve people in Charlie's story (which is unusual enough) before involving them in unusual text.

There were four parts to the story from the outset, so it seemed natural to expand that to four novels. Four short novels. But in considering the structure of all four, it became clear that the first book had to do certain things. And to achieve those, to tell what needed to be told, I would need another 60,000 words on top of the 60,000 already written.

This realization was a little dizzying. The finished work will no doubt edit down to something shorter (100,000 or thereabouts), but it means I get to spend more time in Charlie's company. And for that I am grateful as I have never had so much fun writing a book as I am having with this; and the best is yet to come.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

A trip down memory... er...

On Friday, after a heartbreaking trip to take a fostered cat to his new home (bwaa - he's ours!), we drifted round the shops. Barbara scooted off to do something practical in M&S or BHS (one of those shops where men stand around near the door looking lost). I ended up in a second hand book shop. It was all in a good cause as their proceeds (and a good number of their books) go to Africa.

There was not a great deal to tempt me (ever conscious of my still enormous to-be-read pile at the bottom of which are tomes penned on vellum with swan's quills), but I did find a wonderful gem for which I handed over all my loose change. It was a copy of The Comedians by Graham Greene. But not just any old copy. It was a Companion Book Club hardback edition in mint condition. The 7/3- price was still unclipped (that's seven shillings and three pence for you youngsters out there - yes, a hardback for 36.25p).

Now this may seem unremarkable, especially as there were a dozen other equally pristine volumes from the same book club. But for me it was a real dose of nostalgia. Perhaps not the best mix with the wrench of having parted with Mr Scrumptious the pussycat, but powerful nonetheless.

The reason is simple. My mother belonged to the Companion Book Club and bought these books. They sat on a set of shelves my father made and I read each and every one of them. The Graham Greene was when I was twelve and not long before we left Norwich (which I loved) and the City of Norwich School (which I loathed to the point my parents celebrated when my father was made redundant and we had to move).

I would often lie on the settee in the back sitting room and read one of these books (or any of the many others in the house). I look forward to settling down with The Comedians and, appropriately I suppose, conjuring the spirits of the past as I read.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


...what about that, then. Cranked up the old write-o-matic, put on some Hawkwind (full volume), out comes a whole chapter. Bliss.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

A new year...

...but pretty much the same old same old. Grey skies. Wet weather. Politicians dumping on the sick and disabled. People killing each other in the name of religion or politics. And I predict more of the same; as well as talentless 'celebrities' being offered big book deals (they are a recognizable brand, you see, and sod those who have spent years honing their writing skills), mediocre books selling by the lorry load because a film gets made or the author has a talent for self-mythologising (branding again, you see), and yet more lacklustre 'literature' from the literati whose real talent has been in attending the right University and having the right friends (ah, but of course, the 'b' word again).

On the other hand, and before I retreat entirely into the Eeyore corner, there will be many good things going on and, if you are prepared to look, there will be great books to discover - well written, astute, witty, vibrant, and with something new, genuine, and insightful to say about the human condition.

Which reminds me. I have a novel to finish.

I hope your 2008 is brand free and full of discoveries that delight and warm you.