The Completely Different Viewpoints of Men and Women on Domestic Violence

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At the end of October 2018, I went to the monthly meeting of my local branch of the political party I’m a member of. I’m not hugely political, mostly because talking about politics is a good way to lose all your friends when you realise they think in a fundamentally different way to you. If you think joining a political party and making friends with the other members resolves this problem, then you’re wrong. I’ve yet to meet a single person who thinks exactly the way I do. Continue reading

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Book Review: Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian

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Full disclosure time: in 2016, this book was shortlisted for the Text Prize for Unpublished Children’s and Young Adult Writing along with a book I’d written and three by other writers. Clearly, my book and those three others didn’t win and this one did. I was always going to read Beautiful Mess because 1) it won a writing prize and that’s a pretty great endorsement, 2) I wanted to know what Claire Christian had done better than me and use it as a learning process, and 3) I’m a little masochistic (but mostly the first two). I’m very pleased to report that it’s an amazing book because 1) it justifies that it won the Text Prize and 2) I get to write a glowing book review and avoid looking like a sore loser. Continue reading

What Happens to Your Unpublished Writing After You Die?

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In March 2015, Terry Pratchett, the British author of over seventy books and creator of the Discworld series, lost his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. He was just sixty-six years old. In June and September 2015 respectively, The Long Utopia and The Shepherd’s Crown, his two final completed books, were published. In 2017, the manager of Pratchett’s estate used a steamroller to flatten a hard drive containing all his unpublished, incomplete works and tweeted a picture of the destroyed device. It was Pratchett’s wish fulfilled.

Pratchett’s estate and heirs were in an enviable position. With seventy-odd books already published, the royalties will be flowing in for many years to come so their decision to respect his dying wish was, it would seem, a relatively easy one.

However, it doesn’t always appear to be the case. Despite her immense success, after Virginia Andrews’s death in 1986, her estate hired a ghost writer to keep penning works in her name. Some of them were begun by Andrews but not completed before she succumbed to breast cancer at the age of sixty-three. Continue reading

The Death Decision: Which Characters to Sacrifice for the Good of Your Story

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Because writers are the gods of the little universes they create, eventually they must make hard decisions about their characters. And unless you’re a psychopath or sociopath, the hardest of them all is deciding which characters to kill and when.

Even in genres where it might seem like death isn’t going to or shouldn’t rear its ugly head, like romance, it can be an important background event. But it’s just as important not to overuse it. Violent video games have shown us that too many deaths leave people desensitised. But one perfectly-timed and meaningful fatality might be exactly what your story needs. Continue reading

Writing the book or character that will headline your obituary

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Earlier this year, while scanning news headlines (as I do frequently each day), I came across the following:

Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison dies aged 78”

Even though I’ve seen the movie of Legends of the Fall, starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, I didn’t know it was based on Jim Harrison’s book. In fact, I didn’t know who Jim Harrison was.

Now I know (because I did a little research before writing this blog post) that Jim Harrison started writing while he was recovering after falling off a cliff, that he was rather prolific, that Legends of the Fall is actually a novella, that he specialised in novellas and that I’ve never heard of any of his other works. Which explains why the writer of the headline felt it necessary to include the name of his most famous work. Continue reading

Screen Scene: No Easy Deaths

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This is a scene from the pilot episode of Raising Kane, a television show I wrote a dozen episodes of (never produced) before I switched my focus to novels. The Kane family, represented in this scene by Jolie (one of the daughters) and Francesca (the grandmother), are at the wake after the funeral of Jonas Kane (the father), murdered by someone as yet unknown.

Continue reading