High Jinks Ensue

Type 3 web

This is a very long post and I feel it says very little. I’m telling you this now so you don’t feel diminished later on. Really, I’ve read two books that left me feeling I’d lost something by reading them. This is only a blog post, but still…

There’s definitely something to be said for taking a long time to finish a book – ok, it depends on the book, taking years to write an Agatha Christie would be a bit much, not least because she’s already written them so there’s really no point.

Anyway, I’ve been writing the book I’m currently working on for what, until today, I felt was far too long. I actually don’t remember when I started! That exclamation mark is for dear Agatha, I think she got a job lot and wanted to get her money’s worth!

I remember when I first wrote the story. It began as a movie. Through a friend I made my first Hollywood connection with an agent. Said agent would be happy to look at my work. That I had never written a screenplay didn’t matter to me. I bought a copy of some movie, I don’t remember, it was twenty years ago. 

Copying the format, I wrote the greatest movie anyone had ever written. It was the story of a has-been movie star who, attempting to revive his career, put himself up as a prize in a competition. High jinks ensue.

It was turned down as not being high concept enough to take to a studio. A few years later I nearly threw up when Win a Date with Tad Hamilton was released. That does not mean my script was ripped off, I got the idea from Tony Curtis’ autobiography in which he wrote about the time he was a prize in a competition, and, if memory serves, had to go and live with a family for two weeks.

Well, that Hollywood dream fell apart when the agent fell out with the person who had put me in touch, and I was released back into the wild.

But what I wanted to tell you about is the value of taking your time when writing. I wrote many different versions of that movie script, and even published one through Createspace. I think it even sold a copy, although many more people downloaded it for free. Sometime ago I started to turn it into a standard novel and I’m currently on the third draft.

Working on it tonight, I found myself analyzing each sentence as if it were poetry, while at the same time searching for the truth of the character. That’s not to say I didn’t do the best job I could with the books I have already out, but there’s something very satisfying about simply sitting there and looking at a sentence  that zings! (Dear Agatha) 

I don’t know how many more drafts before it’s finished, but I’m looking forward to writing them. Who knows, by the time it’s finished, I might even be able to play the violin I currently can’t even get to stay in tune.

Me & the Movies

The Company of Thieves book cover

Trying to think of who I could send this to in the hope of getting reviews, because despite getting four stars on Barnes & Nobel and Goodreads, under a different title, I still have no reviews on Amazon, which means, of course that sales are extremely slow.

Last night I realised it is most likely to appeal to fans of Tarantino. Like his early work, at least how it appears to me, I’m of the opinion that character is plot, perhaps because I trained as an actor. You put a character in an environment and if that character is true they can only behave in certain ways. This is true whether they’re heroes or villains. And of course heroes can be villainous, villains can be heroic, everyone has private motivations that we might never suspect, and almost no one is exactly who they appear to be.

I might be mistaken when I say this would appeal to Tarantino fans. I’m not a big fan of his work, I still think Reservoir Dogs is his best movie.

Pulp Fiction is funnier but I must have missed half that movie the first time I saw it because I was laughing and looking forward to seeing it again.

Jackie Brown is a much more mature movie (say that really fast!) but I feel it’s let down by him trying to be clever.

I haven’t seen either of the Kill Bill movies and both Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained bored me, so I haven’t bothered with him since.

I’m still acting and with the movie business being what it is I might be shooting my career in the head writing all of the above, but that’s ok; I’m a stage actor! That shouldn’t be taken as snobbery, by the way, movie acting is much more difficult.

Story

The joy and frustration of writing! I started a short story to put out some new material while I work on the next novel. But it turned into a long and now I’m tempted to make it even longer. It’s the story of how I wrote my first play: Trial of the Living Dead. I hope to have it finished this week, but deadlines and me are on very bad terms.

Online Cupid Play

 

I’ve just finished the second draft of my new play, Online Cupid. That’s right people, it’s based on my book Online Cupid. Anyway, a couple more drafts and I’ll be looking for a theatre company.

Damn!

 

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later; my books The Company of Thieves and Online Cupid were doing well in the Genre Busting category on Amazon until the March of Porn! Online Cupid is still there, The Company of Thieves is gone.

So begins the quest for a new category and visibility.

In the interest of visibility, here’s a free download of Day 1 of Online Cupid,

Untitled Opening

This is the opening paragraph of the book I’m working on at the moment. I wrote the first draft longhand and have just started putting this on computer, that will be the second draft. Then I’ll do as many as it takes to get it right – which might mean throwing out this paragraph.

* * *

Frank Moran opened the door to his father’s house and stepped out into a glorious morning. Only the raven struck a note of evil. At least that’s how Frank saw it; a moment of darkness, climbing, diving and wheeling in the blue. Beyond the fields, Frank could see the new houses that his father had written to him about – when was that? Jesus, it must have been twenty-five years ago. Beyond the houses, he knew, what was left of the town hung on as best it could. After having been bypassed, the town lost more business when a supermarket complex opened about ten miles away, taking business away from the surrounding towns. For a moment, Frank wondered if there was anything he could do to help the town – his home town – the town that had made him – recover. But he brushed the idea aside, it was just cheap sentiment.

Aaron Dreamed of Flying

 

(This is a first draft.)

Aaron dreamed of flying. He felt the slow-motion drift of his body rising and he felt the wind about him; he saw his body through the roof of the car below and the birdshit on the roof. Mostly he saw the sorrow of traffic: cars trucks busses, even the motorbikes, apparent rebels riding each one, were not immune – the long wait with engine running the sudden lurch forward and then driving for ten or twenty feet, in the hope that they would still have fuel by the time the road cleared enough to do more than crawl.

Aaron’s head dropped and hit the horn. He sat up, looking around, a spasm of thought, his eyes half dark with anger at having been pulled from the sky. A moment and he reached into the glove compartment for a peppermint to hide his breath. He popped the sweet into his mouth and opened the sunroof, then rolled down the window. He stifled a yawn as he realised there was a beautiful woman in the next car over. He looked away, preparing to turn back to try to get her attention. Then he felt the cold trail of sweat roll down the side of his face; embarrassed now, he felt the sweat under his arms. He reached over to the passenger’s side window, but only to try and check how badly his shirt was stained. With this operation complete, and having satisfied himself that his armpits looked ok, he began to turn back to the woman.

He stopped and pretended to study something on the dashboard. It had suddenly come to him that she would not be there; that the traffic would have moved on and she would have been replaced with an old woman, a spoilt child or a flamboyant homosexual who would blow a kiss to Aaron when he smiled, and how could he then explain that the smile was for a beautiful young woman.

Aaron wiped the sweat from his face and turned. She was still there, but her head was bowed and he assumed she was reading a book. He thought about tapping on her window and just saying hello, but first he wanted to get a look at whoever was on the other side of her. Maybe she had a jealous husband, or a jealous lover, or both, maybe the husband was driving the car and the lover was in the back.

He had to stop thinking like this. He looked at her again; she was a perfectly ordinary woman. The thought depressed him. He didn’t want a perfectly ordinary woman; he wanted an Amazon, a petite Amazon, really. The woman across from him was neither petite nor an Amazon. But … She was reading a book in a traffic jam, and he had to give her credit for that. He considered all the books she might be reading, he hoped for something cool but it was probably chick-lit. He found himself grinning at her and then he noticed the hint of a smile, the slight curl at the edge of her lips. He made up his mind to knock on her window, just as he lifted his hand her car began to move.

‘No,’ he shouted. In the same moment he hit the back window or the car and pulled his hand away, knocking his elbow against the central pillar of his car. His arm jerked away and he punched the bit that surrounds the window.

He pulled his arm back into the car as the traffic moved around him and the cars behind started blowing their horns. He was still nursing his hand a few minutes later when he realised they were blowing their horns at him. He pressed down on the accelerator and when nothing happened he took a minute to remember he had turned the engine off. He turned the key in the ignition, but nothing happened. He tried again and still nothing happened, When his third attempt failed he half turned to face the cars behind him, smiling an apology and cursing himself under his breath.

He tried again, getting desperate now that he could hear the helicopter. Traffic on the bridge was packed so tightly that if a car broke down, it completely stopped the flow of traffic in that lane. The only solution he had ever seen was the helicopter. At first it was just a sound, so faint you wouldn’t be sure you heard anything at all. Then the sound of chopping the air, and the helicopter appeared. It flew in low over the other cars, its magnet swinging its slow descent, almost touching the roofs of the other cars as it passed, and then Aaron was sitting in darkness and noise as the helicopter stopped above him. He tried to hide, crouching down, and trying to climb under the dashboard. Then the roof caved in a little when the magnet made contact. And as the car began to rise, gently swaying its way into the sky, a feeling of wellbeing came over Aaron; this was his dream come true. He sat up and looked around, smiling as he realised he was finally getting off the bridge. He could not remember a time before the bridge, he could not remember driving onto the bridge, but now he was leaving, rising into the sky and being carried along to… He became afraid. What if there was nothing else? What if there was only the bridge? All traffic moved in the same direction. What if there was a beginning but no end? That was ridiculous, he thought. He rolled down his window and looked out; there was nothing below him now but the clouds, and nothing above him but the sound of the helicopter he could no longer see. His car disappeared as it was absorbed by the clouds and Aaron was left floating naked and free. He thought about moving to his left, and found himself floating in that direction, he thought about another direction, and his movement changed. He was flying and wondered if it was a dream.