Friday, April 30, 2010

Penderown Progress and Characters

I'm sitting here in London and it looks light the sun might shine for the morning but they say we won't see it again until Monday. Typical for a bank holiday weekend.

Back during the Ash chaos i printed off Penderown and became to read - yes just read - well okay I couldn't just do that. Some typos were just too ghastly to let live any longer. The other thing I have allowed myself is to write up a note card for each scene - keeping it simple:

who appears
what happens (or doesn't)

I'm finding this really useful for seeing the story and allowing myself to 'just read'. I am also hoping that these cards will aid me to write the synopsis before I begin the rewrite.

With Penderown in the rough draft I also didn't write 'in chapters' just scenes so that I could break it up after where I felt it worked better and I can see the advantage of this. (This was a tip I picked up from Jill Mansell who writes this way and she writes with fountain pen sitting on the sofa in front of the tellie...the woman is wonderful).

I am pleased to say even reading the story in its raw form I can see my writing has grown. I have taken on some of the lessons learnt in August Rock and A Cornish House. The pace is good and to this point - about a two thirds through the story has kept me gripped and wondering where I got such a devious mind. So I am pleased which is a surprise because in mind mind this story had become a frightening thing that was just too terrible to live and now I can see that it's not. The break since October has allowed me to see what it is a good base it is and from it will come a good book.

Two days ago Biddy Coady, an RNA mate, came for dinner and we discussed all matter of things and at random....we'd be in full discussion of a non-writing topic when something about her work in progress hit me and I immediately jumped in with it and while working through some of my plot concerns with her she aided me with grounding the characters emotions. In short it was a brilliant evening. Do you have a writing sounding board? Does it help?

And finally, something that came out of the discussion with Biddy, how well do you know your characters before you write? It seems to me writers come in two camps on this - do and don't. I really don't know them before I finish the first draft as they come alive as the story goes on. Before I put together the synopsis I am going to do full character sheets on them to see if I can enrich the story with their character ticks - make more of the things I have discovered about them in draft one. Which way do you work?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wadi Ray - This Bog's for You

It was a glorious day out yesterday. Although hot the humidity was not evident and a wild breeze blew. Our guests were enchanted by the beauty of the landscape while I cringed. We arrived at Ray Pools to find them empty but the previous occupants had left there water bottles by the score, the bread still in the plastic wrappings, their crisps in the pools and the lemons????

Finally we stopped to have tea on a raised plato where some one had thoughtfully provided facilities....Hello people, you bring it in you take it out. Please please don't destroy this beauty spot like Hatta pools has been.

Respect the envirnoment and if you can't do that can you please just clear your own rubbish. Thank you.

Rant over.
Currently on my way back to Uk to return DD to school. Having been working hard on Penderown and will tell you more later. Have a great Sunday.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Travel Update

Up until a half hour before check in opened ds2 was still flying to Heathrow, but then it was cancelled. It is very funny to watch a tall kid dance around in the front seat of the car like a three year old. I will admit to being relieved in a way - I just didn't fancy him being diverted to Moscow or anywhere else while travelling alone.

Air travel is a key part of my family's life and it is not nice when it all breaks down like this. In today's world we take so many things for granted and we don't quite know how to react when a volcano reminds us that in truth we have very little control over much.

So thankfully we are all well. DS1 is safely back in the Uk with no excuse not to keep revising for his AS exams and I on the other hand will become atta-the-mum with the two here to get them to do some work. Of course I also need to do my own.

Hope everyone else is safe where ever they are and not too troubled by the travel difficulties.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pure Passion and Sue Moorcroft (well Sue's book) In Dubai

Today I was in the Kinokuniya book shop in Dubai Mall and much to my delight I saw Sue Moorcroft's latest book - STARTING OVER on the table just as you walk through the front door and near by I saw all Rachel Hore's books including her novel THE GLASS PAINTER'S DAUGHTER which was short listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year and it had its PURE PASSION sticker on it!

I was so pleased I had sneak these photos!

Today I printed off the first40 pages of PENDEROWN, looked through my notes, mind mapped my thoughts on where I thought the book should be going. I also allowed my self to rewrite in long hand the first page - magic again. Tomorrow I will write the synopsis as I see it at the moment and read what I have printed off without editing (this will be difficult) then as a reward I can rewrite page two.

It looks like ds2 can fly out tomorrow - now I am filled with worry. What happens if he's diverted? He's only 15 although he towers over the rest of the family at six foot two. Will he be able to manage the chaos that will be on the other end?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Travel Realities and An Experiement

Well as expected my flight to the UK tomorrow has been cancelled and rescheduled for....28th of April. To be truthful I had expected worse. DS2 is due to fly on Tuesday and I am now doubtful that will happen. So dd is going to missing the French trip and I will get to play home schooling with her - not a role I want in any way and God help me if I have to do it for ds2 - I might just be qualified to teach him English but only just.... Thankfully we are 'home' and don't have the difficultly of many others catch up in the travel nightmare.

Now back to things writing related...I had all those revelations in York and haven't been able to do much with them because the kids were still today I did a writing exercise. I took the opening of August Rock which I haven't looked at in over a year, a notebook and a pen.

Those of you who read my notes on Martin Amis will have noted that he writes in long hand but he feels the computer is suited to writing. I certainly agree with the later and since my university years I have composed on the computer. With my dyslexia this has been very helpful with things like spell check (sometimes) and my hands can begin to keep up with the racing of my brain.

So taking pen in hand I began to rewrite the opening and to be honest I have to confess, at least to me, something magical happened. Because of the slower method more pictures formed in my head and I felt closer to the work.

So I will put both the orignal and the hand written (obviously retyped) up for your scrutiny and I would be grateful if you told me which you preferred.

The Nare, Cornwall, England, 27th March 1846

Tobias Trevenen stood on Nare Head looking at the waves crashing onto the rocks below. The wind tossed his brown hair side to side obscuring his vision. In the distance, he watched the four mast barque fight its way toward Falmouth in the heaving water. The sky was increasingly grey as the weather closed in. Toby came here most days to watch the sea as that was where his mother was.

Time was short. Visitors were due from London and he must be at home when they arrived. Father was in a dither and everyone in the house was out of sorts. The approaching storm was peaceful compared with the tension enclosing the house. Mrs. Williams, the house keeper, had hit Toby with a cloth as he had crept out. Her anger with him was rarer than the treasure he had found on his outings on the river. There was treasure at August Rock, but thus far no one believed him. Soon it would be time to look again but not yet.

Now for the new...

The waves crashed onto the rocks below Nare Head while the wind blew Tobias Trevenen's hair side to side obscuring his view of the four mast barque as it fought its way to Falmouth through the heavy water. The sky was increasing grey as the weather closed in.

Time was short. Visitors were due from London and he must be at home when they arrived. Father was was in a dither and everyone in the house was out of sorts. The approaching storm was peaceful compared with the tension enclosing the house. The housekeeper, Mrs. Williams, had hit Toby with a cloth as he had tasted the cream sauce on his way out. She was rarely ever cross with him.

He scanned the mouth of the Helford River seeking the telltale jagged protrusion of August Rock that hinted at the deadly reef that stretched below, but all was hidden in the swell of the storm. He would have to wait for the August spring tides before he could search again for the treasure at the base of the reef. He hated waiting for no one would believe that he had found anything at all there except muscles and seaweed. He played with the gold coin in his pocket.

I think I may be only to a new working procedure for me - draft one on the computer, draft two long hand, draft three computer...anyone work this way?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Emirates Airlines Literary Festival - Martin Amis and A Wonderful Prize plus Travel Troubles

As is always - these are just my notes and a totally flawed - please forgive the many mistakes

Martin Amis in Conversation with Paul Blezzard

Paul opened with – language was closest to Martin’s heart and when did it begin?

M- it began in adolescence and he hopes the ‘book’ will never disappear. He was very self aware and articulate and during adolescence is when you begin conversations with self in a notebook, diary…we commune with ourselves and the book is a perfect self companion.

Writers never really grow out of the phase – the process of self communing – all writers are adolescents to a certain extent.

His early works were hopeless.

PB – Writers and age?

M- he feels that the talent will die out before the body and he can’t find many exceptions to the rule. He pointed out the Shakespeare and Austin died young. There is the haunting spectacle where different things go wrong with age – Updike…his ear went. Nabokov …loses his moral compass with his signature joke of a 12 year old girl

Exquisite tragedies – to live with words and to be deserted by them yet he will go on as long as he can – not giving up

He quoted Cheever – everything I read is not short enough

500 page novel is very different from the shorter one – the mass is more difficult to master

P. Roth quoted – harder to keep the whole mass in your mind

Writing is connected to Eros

The tactic of writing the short he feels is fine

not to lose the musicality- the paragraph that comes out of nowhere – decreases with age but you gain craft – early book deficit in expertise.

PB - Craft is the greatest pleasure?

M- no, it’s more general than that.

Quoted Saul Bellow – see the universal in the particular

He said the rest of us work the other way. Life is dead –a huge dead novel – it is not faithful to our experience – artifice gives it life – mirror experiences don’t breathe life into a novel – real life…nothing happens

P Roth – write fiction about what didn’t happen or what might have happen

It is a very English book – very diffident

When in Italy he kept feeling like he was in an oil painting

Wring is mysterious – only a writer knows how mysterious

Decide is never a groping process

About is wrong

Around is better

Subconscious does a lot of work for you

There aren’t many sad things about being a novelist, but you have to spend time over dead things

Writer’s block is when the subconscious is switched off

PB – Can writing be taught?

Quoted Nabokov – there is only one school of writing and that is talent.. but then went on to say you can teach craft and habits. His 19 year old self would have loved to chat to his 60 year self

He has learned to walk away when he comes across the slightest impediment – he reads

Writing is a physical business not just the mind – the body and the mind combined in a way

He described a writers life –


-living – not very relevant but necessary but does provide inspiration – brith, death...

-reading – fuel – influence/stealing – his are Nabakov and S. Bellow

The pleasures of writing and reading are the same – solving difficulties – readers create as well as writers – writers invite the reader to create the character in their heads...osmotic ..guest/host

He was asked how many words a day? Some days none, but never a week without – 500 words of fiction takes a lot of thinking time.

..Darker aspects of human nature – is he an optimists or a pessimist? All writers are lovers of life and the urge to put it down is a loving one

How does he physically write? The mechanics of writing...ritualized...talisman...he writes in long hand however the computer is suited to writers as writers need to insert. He writes in long hand – a flow of ink like the flow of love.

Asked about rejection...the treadmill of rejection having your child criticized and that’s why he doesn’t admit to a’s like your child and their is nothing you can do about it

What’s he working on now? He’s just finishing one and knows the next...senility and dementia have not got him yet...

So today has been a bit up and down to say the least - the volcanic ash is causing some serious nail biting here and a possible melt down of my complex travel arrangements. I am due to fly to the UK with dd on Monday so that she can make her class French trip which leaves by coach and ferry early on Tuesday each housr clicks past this is looking less and less likely. It will also mean i will miss out on The London Book Fair and the subsequent tweetup....We also still have ds2 here and he is due to fly on Tuesday...

However today is not all bad news because the wonderful Caroline Smailes was running a competition on her blog which I won! So soon I will be or more correctly one of children will the proud owner of a signed copy of Jon Mayhew's new book Mortlock!(‘Mortlock’s’ dark and alternative Victorian world is unforgiving as it pulls you into its grasp, snagging hold and refusing to let go until it has disgorged its gruesome secrets.) So today is good and let's hope my luck continues to success with flights.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different - Naming a Seismic Vessel

No one would say my life is boring - in York with writers on the weekend and few days later standing on the quayside of boatyard in Dubai with a prince.

Yesterday I saw the first true Arctic ready seismic vessel named and a crown prince - both exciting. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway toured the vessel before the naming ceremony. It was an exciting day of contrasts - an Arctic vessel sitting in the hot sun of the Middle East, a local dance group performing in front of her and guests donning their Russian styled hats in the heat.

This was my third naming ceremony for Polarcus and I can tell you the excitement doesn't diminish. The crack of the champagne bottle on the side of her bow causes the heart to race with joy at a new beginning.

So now back to my real world of writing and not living in the glamorous world of crown princes and magnums of champagne (shame I don't write the type of novel that could use these experiences!).

Monday, April 12, 2010

The York Festival of Writing

I’m not sure where to begin. The weekend was fabulous on so many levels.

I went to York at a bit of a cross roads. I’ll own up to the fact that I am a perfectionist and that this is quite frankly a pain in the back side. I have been told by many that I stress too much or think too much about the writing. I have been told by some that I am ready. I have smiled and said no, but they thought I was fussing. This weekend reconfirmed what I knew in my gut. I write well and to a publishable level, but that isn’t good enough anymore and it’s not what I want. Yes, I want to be published and I really want people to read my stories – the later really drives me. But I want to do it right and well and I don’t want to do it too soon. As the wonderful Katie Fforde confirmed you only get one shot at your debut.

My gut has been saying that I have a few more notches to climb and this weekend did two things or maybe even three. The one-to-one chats with the agents confirmed my feeling that my writing is good but they can see these is more there. One was most delightful and helpful – really thinking hard about the work and how to lift it – I am grateful. It is a joy to have someone study your work – to think about it hard and give you their thoughts even if they are not what you want to hear. Everything I heard I knew already which some may say was a waste of an opportunity, but it wasn’t for me as I hadn’t trusted me instinct. I needed to hear it from the pros who were kind enough to give me their time. So with the validation I needed I can now dig deep to lift (if that makes any sense) my writing the next two or three levels. Maybe the dig deep means mining my heart for the emotion and the dark underused recesses of my brain for the craft that has been lost since university. Don’t know but I do know I have a clearer picture than I have ever had of what type of writer I am and what I want to produce.

Now off of the quite so internal thinking to hard core tangible learning. The workshops i attended were superb – and touched and ignited so many things. I’ll give a brief summary of some of them:-

First up was Jeremy Sheldon’s – A Sense of Place. I will confess to some apprehension that I had chosen the wrong thing. If anything all of my book are dripping location. Cornwall is tangible on the page. Boy I am so glad that I went to this. Jeremy is a brilliant teacher and what he did was beautifully demonstrate what description can do for you.

He began with a quote from the Great Gatsby – a description of the Manhattan skyline. He asked us what the character was feeling – it was clear yet not a single internal emotional thought had been uttered. He then quoted Henry Miller (don’t remember the book) and it was a description of the same bit of skyline yet the emotion conveyed was completely different.

His task for us was to describe a journey in third person without using any words to tell the character’s emotional state.

So I wrote a scene from Pilgrimage where Pru is leaving Dubai –

Her sunglasses fogged with her first step outside. The taxi was there but between the film of moisture on her glasses and the textured wind of the shamal it was just a sand coloured shape in front of her.

Pru handed the driver her bag. Only one bag and that was a first. She forced the door open against the wind. The air con in the taxi did nothing to disguise the unwashed odour of the driver or maybe now that her glasses had cleared her sense of smell had returned with her vision.

She ferreted inside her Birkin checking for her passport and boarding pass. Finding them she pushed the bag onto the seat beside her. She looked out the window and let her hand cover her nose. The palm trees that lined the road had soft edges today unlike yesterday when they had been crisp against the cloudless blue sky.

Yesterday on the train back I looked the opening paragraph of A Cornish House

The car coughed, lurched and died. Maddie’s fingers clenched the wheel. The trailer’s momentum nudged it further along the dark lane. The moonlit sky silhouetted the twisted trees. Their tortured shapes rose from the hedges, forming a tunnel, which seemed to enclose the car.

It doesn't need the sentence in italics because the description says it much better. You know her state of mind. I need to trust my descriptive passages and enjoy them.

The next session was also with him and this was Show Not Tell. Again brilliant. For an exercise we had to take a noun like passion and say – passion tastes like or sounds like or smells like. The woman who read out her responses said passion smells like sulphur and my nose instantly reacted. Jeremy said this is what you want – you want to evoke a reaction and better yet a physical one in your reader.

Moving quickly along to the afternoon – Julie Cohen gave a character workshop. Now I couldn’t stay for the whole session because of a one-to-one, but recently I have been doubting that I am a writer - well I am. If you can create a character out of two letters and a number with the flip of a coin then you are a writer at heart. I love Julie but at the moment she is not my favourite person as I now have a fully fledged character with yellow eyes who is a conductor waiting for her story to be told......she is the type who I know will not now leave me alone.

Sunday provided me with tools to deal with many characters and how to look for the right hero. My head was bursting with ideas.

There was a good contingent from the RNA there – Katie Fforde who opened the festival with a stirring calls to write and keep writing. She gave us the ten tips to guaranteed publication and I believe she is right. I mentioned Julie but there was also Adele Geras, Sue Moorcroft, Veronica Henry and one of the organizers Kate Allen. There were six if not a few more aspiring members too. As always we were the first to the bar. Also knowing less people at the conference I could spend more time with those I did know - bliss.

The festival was brilliant for all the industry people who were brave enough to be there. I queue jumped at the bar for agent Peter Buckman, discussed Andrew Lownie’s newsletter with him, lusted after Jane Johnson's beautiful coat (and found a parallel live of sorts – she lives half time in Morocco and Cornwall), led wonderful Jane Judd astray plying her with white wine, had breakfast with a lovely editor who rejected me beautifully a while ago and then planned a handbag trip to Dubai with her, and had dinner with the gorgeous Barry Cunningham and thanked him for publishing JK Rowling for the hours of pleasure he had helped bring to me and my kids....I could go on....

They were all so generous with time and their thoughts. I watched them tactfully handle the full manuscripts shoved under their noses at breakfast or past rejections letters revisited. They kept the smile on their faces. As RJ Ellory summed it up at the close – they are passionate about books and it is why they do it. Writers are passionate about writing and that’s why we do it. Passion is the only reason to be in the business even if to some it smells like supher.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Inspiration - Emirates Airlines Literary Festival

The Essence of Good Writing is Good Thinking

Bahaa Taher, Yann Martel and Imtiaz Dharker with Paul Blezzard

“‘Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’ claimed the renowned American inventor Thomas Edison. But how does that apply to writers? And where does inspiration that initial stimulus to creative thought come from? Can it be ‘encouraged’ by leading a disciplined life in the writer’s study with designated hours dedicated to writing? Is the image of the starving writer in his garret waiting for inspiration to strike valid or do authors need to seek inspiration from the outside world? If inspiration is ‘the process of being mentally stimulated…to do something creative’ can it be taught or learned – and can an inspirational teacher encourage young writers?
Our panel trio of highly-acclaimed writers, each with a distinctive style and wildly differing subject matter, will be letting us into the secrets of how they write and what inspires them.”

(NOTE: I loved this session for its contrasts and how it shows how different minds and cultures work – this to me is what Emirates Airlines Literary Festival does best. By putting the different cultures on the same platform the dialogue is electric and eye opening as difference are revealed and similarities shown. I laughed out loud at the disparity at times – the world of creativity looks different through someone else’s eyes be they a poet or a novelist - Canadian, Egyptian or Pakistani/Scot. Link to biographies here.

It was also particularly tricky to take notes and keep up. I have used initials for the answers to the questions. Note: Bahaa’s answered in Arabic and I listened to the translation and took notes so I will have lost all the subtlety and possibly much of the meaning. As with all my notes - please forgive the many mistakes!)

Paul gave a brief introduction and then asked them to continue…

BT – all writers write – don’t know where their inspiration comes from. Creativity in itself has its own set of rules. The easiest form of inspiration is ideological. Good will triumph over evil.

Real inspiration comes from experiences a writer passes through – their own experience and other factors.

ID – read a poem to describe where inspiration comes from

Start with mud

Move it

Excavate with any tools you have

Clumsy earth

With daily labour

You set free

You call God

YM – there are two types of inspiration but normally it’s all hard work linked with a moment. The moment can be beauty which yields a moment of comprehension. It can be when things come together in a narrative.

Before writing the Life of Pi he was tired of being reasonable – it was getting him nowhere. On his trip to India religion was everywhere and he suddenly asked - what does it mean to me as it had never been a part of his life. He decided to look deeper.

-what would it be like to have religious faith

-no longer looking at the negative side of it

And that is when the story came to him – the Life of Pi is an explanation of what it means to have faith

SELF dealt with a boy who was a woman and then a man – gender and identity. He asked himself what it would mean to be a woman

He understands the question through the narrative.

ID – She experiences inspiration in a moment of stillness – balance and harmony

BT – magical touch – when you do this you write well. All routes are good – anything that brings good writing is good.

PB- Do you have a muse?

ID- peoples’ voices equal muses. She finds it at a busy airport or station…the moment in a busy place and where you find the stillness

- trigger outside (voices) but muse inside

- her muse is life

YM – it’s getting up early, it’s a daily affair, it’s business and you get on with it. It takes working every day to keep the tiger alive- to keep the story alive with writing. His muse is language. Finding the words keeps him going. Words are his muse.

BT - he doesn’t believe in muses as such, that inspire us but there are creative writers who take from their own imaginations and ability.

Muses are inside ourselves. We make the muse but really there is no place for muses in modern endeavour.

PBWhat sustains you when inspiration leaves you?

ID – not optimism. She doesn’t write for others she writes because she has to. Poetry is a hopeless cause. She wrote her first poem when she was ten and in love with an older man, twelve. He was out of reach and the poem had to be written and it still does.

When she first read Gerard Manly Hopkins she learned that words can be playful, things themselves, beyond anything in the real world

BT – Surrender – stop at that stage. Refrain from work and pursue inspiration with great diligence. Some writers wait their whole life for inspiration and this right – it is feasible that optimism is possible.

He finds it strange when people find inspiration gone that they continue to write – the writing has no beauty. They would be happier if inspiration returned. God is merciful.

YM – writing is now commercial

PBInspiration and Optimism

YM – can remember when he was 19 and studying philosophy and couldn’t understand Kant. He went to the movie and saw REDS and in it he saw the playwright Eugene O’Neil played by Nicholson. It struck him to see a writer visualised – he wondered if he could write a play then he did. It was terrible but he controlled things – he was a little god which was incredibly pleasurable – in fact the whole act of writing was. However he couldn’t move a plot forward but could do dialogue.

When you are young you don’t think about money and you can do what you want to and can be poor but when you get to 40 it sucks.

There is a concentration of joy in the pure arts.

You and your creation when you are young is magic.

BT – This applies to all real writers not to superficial – the sense of joy. Do not write unless you add something new.

‘I will sleep comfortably while others will argue over the meaning of my poetry’ (note: I don’t have the author of the quote)

YM – There was a hole in him that needed filling – a point of intelligent curiosity – the joy of creating all represented a reality that can’t be represented in another way.

A moment of disquiet is the start of art then joy takes over

BT – Inspiration springs from experience – any writing without inspiration is futile and useless

PB – Inspiration and Being Edited

YM – You have to compromise to be published. He thankfully has good editors – writing is social. Some writers don’t require editing but he doesn’t know them. He is not good enough not to be edited.

The great thing about a novel is that it hauls you up to the greatness of it. Make the changes you need to but don’t lose your soul.

ID – a poem is very different – you lose a poem you don’t change one. It is uncompromising

BT – I fought against changes and didn’t make them

YM – when edits come in he thinks ….she has completely misunderstood my book…a week later – well she gets it a bit….two weeks later – she’s completely right

Sometimes the book that you have written is hidden….

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Conn Iggulden - Emirates Airlines Literary Festival

Notes from Conn Iggulden at the Emirates Airlines Literary Festival

- as always these are notes and therefore inherently flawed - so please don't take them as a precise account of the talk.

Historical Fiction at Its Best

Conn began with the statement that a true story has power that fiction can struggle to achieve. He spoke about Scott and read an extract of his letter home to his wife about raising their son – (I was incredibly moved) and Conn stated that because it was ‘real’ it was more powerful.

He is fascinated with what a single person can do in a lifetime.

Before becoming a published writer he was an English teacher for seven years. His mum was a history teacher and his great grandfather was a Seanchai (a traditional Irish story teller – the one who passed down the tales orally).

Conn believes a story can be useful as well as entertaining. While he was standing in for an absent teacher he read about Caesar and heads – he was hooked. He then told us about Caesar being captured by pirates at 19 then when free meting out his revenge being a man of his word. Conn pointed out that you couldn’t make this stuff up and be taken seriously.

He also said that because these actions took place so long ago that it seems okay even though they were appalling. He provided a quote by Chesterton I think Pen couldn’t keep up – apologies) …I can forgive many sins if a life is interesting enough…

With regard to his own writing practices he never starts with a blank page – he starts with golden lines of history and he joins them up. The Difficulty is the he has to make things up because, as well as the events, you need the motivation and to fill in the blanks and this is where you fall foul of the enthusiast, but choices have to made.

Conn loves those periods of history when one person changed the world.

He said that history can change on the single word of a single man.

He then spoke of Genghis Khan and his attraction to write about him:

-greatest rags to riches story ever

-father when he was 11 and the family was abandoned

-utter poverty and expectation of certain death to grandson becoming the emperor of the most powerful country at that time

He is fascinated by the fuel that energizes leaders

-missing male figures

-the men they are produced by are cold and distant figures

Conn began writing at thirteen with a fantasy book about a dragon. He feels that to be a writer you have to know about people – almost withdrawn so that you can observe people. He wrote a book a year then just resorted to sending just the beginnings and sent them off. Finally one asked for the rest of the book and he couldn’t remember which one he had sent them.

He quoted Robert Hindley

Read a lot

Write a lot

Send away

Then added never be precious about your work.

Accept that there is an element of luck – for him it was the fact that the film Gladiator had just come out so people were interested in the Romans.

Conn then spoke about writing A DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS. He went looking for the books of his childhood like 101 Chemical Amusements for Boys and found they didn’t exist so he spent 6 months working in the shed with his brother…the book is less dangerous and more curious without limits….

He was asked who inspired him – James Clavell with Tai-Pan, Bernard Cornwell, the Hornblower books.

He said the more books you read the more you can see what works…

your heart pounds because…

you care about something because…

He loves writing history because the plot is taken care of – but people care about people so the core of a book has to be about characters and ones you can care about.

If a reader is upset or thrilled he has done his job.

For research he does travel. Initially he thought he could write without seeing, but found that he needed to see it, smell it ….for example without it he would never have understood that he could travel at 60 miles an hour for eight hours and still be in the same valley.

I could have listened to Conn speak for hours – he was enchanting amusing and so interesting. One hour was far too short. Conn's website is here.

Back for a Bit

NOTE: this post was written on the 28th of March, but I never finished it! So here's one of the fab photos taken on the photo shoot at Cafe Florian at DIFC and surprise - I am about to travel again - ho hum

Well, I think I'm in Dubai as the weather is warm and my bed isn't stuck in the lift - long story.I am yet again sitting here booking flights and trying to sort out crazy travel schedule. I have so much to report - all the sessions I attended at the Dubai Literary Festival for one...and along those lines I quote one stanza of Jeffrey Deaver's poem in my post on the opening ceremony - well here's the link to the full poem Picked up the link to the whole poem from Twitter and the very useful Emirates Lit Fest twitter person here - worth a follow

Following on from there (pun intended) I am off for a photo shoot today with wonderful photographer, Shruti Jagdeesh, I met at the festival. I had mentioned I needed a new photo for my website when looking over her shoulder at the pictures she had taken and next thing you know she she she would happily take some proper photographs... I love twitter and the Dubai Lit Festival....

Now onto to something writerly...I am off to the York Festival of Writing over my birthday weekend. I am excited and slightly dreading it (as it involves pitching to two agents).

During the preparation process I made a HUGE discovery for me...while I was doing all the synopsis work. I had been stalled on the rewrite of A CORNISH HOUSE for quite a while - something didn't feel right. I wasn't sure where I wanted to take one of the secondary story lines and my head was muddled and as a result I wasn't going anywhere. All the work on the synopsis to try a show the key conflict in the story told me there was plenty of conflict without this particular sideline. It also told me that if I hadn't hid my head in the sand and done a proper synopsis in the first place I would have saved myself several rewrites and headaches along the way. Note to self - after first draft write proper synopsis.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

We're about to sit down to our Easter 'lunch' (it's a working day here so lunch is being served at 19:30. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Easter weekend.
Posted by Picasa