Part II of my ‘Do’s and Don’ts of writing SFF’ is up at Mslexia now; I hope you like it. Guest starring Over-achieving cousin Mieville, Daddy Gaiman, and older sister Scarlett Thomas.
Realised this morning that, until today, my brain has always merged Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper into the same person. My brain clearly has a compartment for Gory English Murderers from Olden Times and it’s squished them both together. It’s only when I googled Jack before writing this & wondered why wikipedia didn’t refer to the hairdressing that I realised what my brain had done. The internet also says that Sweeney is fictional?! Pshaw. Next thing you know they’ll be saying Jack Sparrow isn’t real, either.
(You know I write fantasy, not history, right?)
Anyway, that’s a roundabout way of saying that I’ve had a great week and it started in Brick Lane, overlooking the spot where Jack (Ripper, not Sparrow) is said to have murdered Elizabeth Stride. That was the view from the flat I stayed at on Saturday, visiting a friend in London. I confess that as soon as she said goodnight and left me on the sofabed I snuck over to the curtains and peered out, imagining Johnny Depp beneath my window, slashing away with those scissor hands of his. Goodnight, Johnny. Please don’t murder me in my sleep.
I survived, and proceeded to eat my bodyweight in street food at the Sunday market – dumplings, kitchoori, ackee & saltfish, ethiopian salad, jamaican goat curry – I was too full for cake afterwards. A personal first.
Our amble along the Thames (kept referring to it as the Taff – whoops) coincided with a blimp flying* past Tower bridge and I thought I was in Fringe’s alternate universe. Yes, I basically spent the weekend pretending imaginary men were real. They do say that travel expands one’s creativity. And that was the point of my trip – to get away from home for a while, then come back all refreshed & write write write.
It worked. I’m writing faster than I ever have before and getting right into the heart of the story. This possibly helped by the death of my iphone last week (I drowned it. whoops. knocked a glass of water onto it in my sleep) – not being able to go on the internet at any moment is definitely good for my focus. Plan is to finish this draft by the end of next week – gulp – wish me luck! Send me words. Lots of words. Not adverbs though, they are Frowned Upon.
(*Do blimps fly? that seems to vigorous a word for their stately fatness).
Newest post is up at Mslexia – click here for Part I of the Dos and Don’ts of writing SFF. Includes reference to poisonous space-rhinos, which I now *have to* write a story about.
First published at Slacker Heroes.
I’m even more excited about the Hunger Games film now than I was last month. Since my invite to the premiere seems to have gotten lost in the post, I keep replaying the trailers and crying instead. It’s not that I’m sad, it’s just that the book makes me so goddamn emotional, and the same thing’s happening when I watch the preview clips.
I usually avoid movie adaptations, invariably preferring the novel, but something’s got me excited about this one and I think the fast-paced, life-or-death story will really work. The stakes are high on every page of The Hunger Games, and Suzanne Collins made an art out of twisting the knife a little more with each sequel.
I never knew what was coming next, and I usually couldn’t even tell you what I wanted to happen – Katniss’s choices are heartwrenching, and I liked too many of the characters to choose who should get what they want. One thing’s certain – not everyone will get as far as Happily Ever After, and the film is going to be gripping throughout. Fingers crossed, anyway.
So, after last time’s ‘Which Hunger Games Boy are you?‘ quiz, are you ready for the girls’ turn? While the quiz is tongue in cheek, in truth, the writing of every one of the female characters in this trilogy massively impressed me. Every one of them is strong in their own way, and that doesn’t meant they are all kick-ass or clever or morally admirable. Whether I’m cheering for the tributes or wincing at the ignorant vanity of the Capitol women, I always believed in that person’s character, motivation, history and right to be the way they are. Bravo.
1) What’s your hair like?
A) Shocking pink (today), artfully arranged with the utmost care. Appearances are extremely important.
B) Kept away from my face in a braid, the way my mother does it if ever I let her get close to me.
C) Thick, dark and girlish.
2. How’s your timekeeping?
A) I can’t bear to be late, and I expect the same high standards from everyone else.
B) I’m often late, after getting held up in the woods or trapped in trees. Who cares, anyway? We’ll all be dead soon.
C) Sometimes I get left behind because I’m so little and quiet, but I move so fast that I can always catch up.
3. It’s payday – let me take you out for a meal. What kind of dinner companion will you be?
A) I have superb table manners and I love to eat the finest delicacies of the Capitol. A little binge-purge behaviour means I can keep eating all night!
B) ‘My mother says I always eat like I’ll never see food again. And I said “I won’t unless I bring it home”. That shut her up.’
C) What, you mean I get a whole meal to myself? I’ve never had this much food before.
4. Guys describe you as
A) Maniacally terrifying.
B) Attractive but hard to reach.
C) Their musical kid sister.
You are Effie Trinket, relentlessly upbeat hostess of the reaping, there to applaud when the tributes are selected and then to escort them to the Capitol. You hope to improve the presentability of your charges, but are most often appalled by the behaviour of District 12′s ill-mannered tributes and their alcoholic mentor. You seem to wear a lot of wigs.
You are Katniss Everdeen, District 12′s female tribute. Your determination to survive has kept your family alive since the loss of your father, but can it help you survive the 74th Hunger Games? Your love life is about to get as much attention as your archery skills, much to your annoyance.
You are Rue, the tiny but speedy tribute from District 11. You are a valuable ally and loyal friend, and your enemies do wrong to underestimate you. You know a great deal about plants and nature, and you love music most of all.
I read an article recently about ‘How To Be Creative’ which said,
Get Groggy. According to a study published last month, people at their least alert time of day—think of a night person early in the morning—performed far better on various creative puzzles, sometimes improving their success rate by 50%. Grogginess has creative perks.
As anyone who’s lived with me, worked with me or talked to me before noon will tell you, I am not a morning person. But this groggy thing made sense to me. I thought it could be like working in that creative haze I get sometimes, when the words flow and I write cool dream-y stuff without trying. That most often happens when I’ve got a fever, so a way to recreate that without ‘flu sounded like something worth setting the alarm for.
So, I woke up early today and tried to write whilst groggy. Sat at my desk at 7am (which is extremely early for me), without coffee, and tried to blog. Then I tried journalling, then fiction. They all sucked. I suck. Mornings suck. My brain-fingers-keyboard interface needs coffee. To be honest, even with coffee I tend to stay fuzzy til about 2pm.
This post is here to prove that I once tried this – and am therefore excused from trying it ever again. It is now 9am and two hours of writing crap hasn’t been the best start to my day. To the coffee machine! And/or back to bed.
First published at Slacker Heroes.
In the lead up to The Hunger Games movie release, here’s a fun quiz in place of a book review. Because everyone’s already read the book, right? Right? If not, you’d better hurry up because the film’s out next month and you’re going to want know what all the fuss is about.
I definitely recommend reading the series before you watch the film; no matter how good the adaptation is, it can’t be better than the novel. The story is high tension, dystopian YA that grabs you from the start and drags you through to the end so fast your hands are bleeding from turning the pages. That’s right, dystopian paper cuts. For reals.
Here’s the main premise -
The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.
This week, it’s time to find out which of the male characters is most like you. Next time, you’ll get to identify with one of the girls. Ready? Let’s get started. And may the odds be ever in your favour.
1. There is a squirrel in the trees. It may be your only source of food for months. Do you:
A) Drive it out of the trees using a tactic you perfected years ago, catch it in a homemade trap, then share it between two starving families.
B) Entice the animal down with a beautiful trail of sugar icing, leading from the base of the tree right into your perma-hot baker’s oven.
C) Not notice it because you’re still drunk from this morning. Who needs meat, when whiskey has all the carbs you need?
2. What do you look like?
A) Dark, lean and grey eyed. Admired by the ladies, but too busy hunting and brooding to hook up. Coal smudged, with twigs in your hair, which is strange since those woods are forbidden…
B) Floppy blond hair and kind blue eyes. Broad and stocky from your flour-hauling, dough-kneading days. Face red and puffy from crying. Occasionally on fire.
C) Woody Harrelson.
3. What would be your dream holiday?
A) An adventure holiday, orienteering-type thing, where you have to live for weeks on grubs and tubers and people are impressed when you drink your own pee. You would save the biggest grubs and send them to your family back home.
B) A trip to the English sea-side, with lots of tea shops and crumpets, lashings of double cream and long, romantic walks on the beach.
C) An all-inclusive trip with a 24 hour bar, where it’s totally acceptable to have vomit in your chest hair and fall over a lot.
You are Gale, loyal best friend with super sharp huntsman-smarts. Your devotion and rebel sensibilities add a sexy dash of derring-do to your woodsy get-up, even though you probably always smell of blood and coal.
You are Peeta, the baker’s son that the TV cameras love, selected to battle one of the girls you went to school with. Form no attachments because a maximum of one of you is getting out alive. No, stop smiling at her, don’t you, oh. Fine. Befriend the pretty girl you’re going to have to kill. Just don’t come crying to me when it turns out messy…
You are Haymitch, the drunked-up mentor, the only living Hunger Games victor from District 12. What did you do, breathe poisonous booze fumes at the other competitors? It’s up to you to bring this year’s tribute home. Remember, only one can survive, and it won’t be easy to choose if you’re already seeing double.