Tag Archives | yonder

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Berlin April 10

Catching up on my stored Instapaper* articles, I found a piece describing some of the (often strange and ritualised) ways in which acclaimed writers write.

Having spent the last few months twisting around myself, trying to organise the ideas and plans for my novel without going crazy, wondering if it was normal to spend so much time planning that the actual writing of prose seems to be the thing I do least, sitting at a desk buried in layers of post-its and index cards, writing in notebooks overrun with more arrows and crossings out than words – breathe, Rhian, breathe – to read about Ishiguro’s flow-charts, Mantel’s showers and Atwood’s scribbles has reassured me that I might be sane. Or, rather, normal. For a writer. Maybe.

Sounds like I have the ‘create whichever system/state of chaos you need in order to beckon and then trap your ideas’ part of novel-writing right, so all I need to do now is try not to flinch at the prospect of getting my prose anywhere near the level of those masters.

(Um, yes. I only want to read really bad fiction at the moment, stuff that makes me feel superior. Badly punctuated, excessively descriptive, heavy on the speech tags? Bring it on! Cliched or nonsensical characters in overwrought settings? Yes please! I’ve had to put my Maggie Stiefvater* backlog to one side, as I can’t handle the prettiness right now).

The article is here, and if you enjoy reading about the writing process then I recommend the Paris Review interviews – a fascinating collection of interviews with artists and writers, in several volumes. Volume 1 is my favourite, featuring Hemingway, Capote, Dorothy Parke, Joan Didion and Kurt Vonnegut.

*Instapaper ROCKS. Especially if you’re trying to reduce your time online, but don’t want to miss out on good reading. It’s especially useful for me because it syncs with my Kindle.

When I see something online I want to read, say an article about literary agents or a blog post about female YA writers, I click to send it to Instapaper and then The Magic Instapaper Fairies compile everything I’ve saved and email me a mini-newspaper made up of them.

So, I can give myself five minutes to scan Twitter, send any interesting links to my Instapaper account, wave at my friends and then get back to what I was supposed to be doing offline. The next morning, my Kindle receives a document containing anything I tagged, and I read it on the train. I don’t find myself online for hours reading when I should be writing, but I still get to keep up with interesting articles at a time I choose. LOVE. IT.

*the beginning scene in Linger, when Isabel comes into the bookshop? It slayed me, it was written so well. So much is conveyed without ever being explicit – I had to stomp around the house, loudly Giving Up Writing, before I could pick up either the book or my writing again.

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Roil by Trent Jamieson

roil cover rb

New review now up at Slacker Heroes.

Margaret nodded, and David considered her resolute expression, and the way she packed away her weaponry with an efficiency at once beautiful and terrifying. Rather like the Roil.

“We’ll make them pay. We’ll wipe the blasted earth of them. I’ll not see another city fall,” Margaret said, as though she was capable of such things, as though she might singlehandedly save the world.

The Roil is a turbulent mass of darkness, death and monsters that is steadily filling the sky, destroying civilisation and heating up the world til it’s the right temperature for full scale invasion. You know when you look up and the clouds have swarmed over that blue sky you were enjoying? You shiver, and curse the fact that you left your jacket at home. Imagine something like that, but where the clouds are full of things called Quarg Hounds or Wit Moths, and they’re going to block out the sun, kill you horribly and then swarm out of your eyes. You won’t need your jacket any more, honey.

Jamieson’s novel takes us across the land that the Roil is overtaking, following a group of people with nothing in common but the desire to survive and/or destroy the Roil. Can a drug addict, a plucky young woman and a mysterious Old Man stop the encroaching destruction?

There’s a lot to like here, though in places I wanted more. The world building is intricate, imaginative and impressive and I am sure that what we see here represents an iceberg mass that, right now, only Trent Jamieson knows about. I love the variety of people who populate this country, and the thought that’s gone into the towns they hail from. There are the cavalier Drifters who live in the sky and despise the land lubbers, the merciless Verger assassins who kill for the state, and the scary Cuttlefolk, who seem to be man, bird and insect. I was reminded more than once of China Mieville and the original detail of his Bas Lag metropolis. That’s a compliment.

But on a smaller level, scene by scene, the book would benefit from more detail. I’d like to know about the rooms these people are in, the routes they take there, what’s inside their heads. There are missed opportunities to tell us more about this world and these characters. They travels for miles and visit cities they’ve never seen before, and barely react. The writing is so sparse sometimes that it’s more like an outline or a script than fleshed out fiction, which is a shame as I’m sure there’s more to tell. Too much is held back from the reader, which may be a tactic to build tension but can verge on confusion instead.

The nasty stuff is deliciously horrid, with gore and viciousness that Jamieson should be proud of. The concept of the Roil, and the way I can so easily visualise it, makes it a magnificent monster and one I don’t expect to be easily beaten. I liked that; it’s good to read something where I can’t tell if the good guys will win or not. A lot of people will enjoy the original world building here, and might not mind the scarcity of detail which made me balk. I hope so – let me know what you think.


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A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

cover of A Long Long Sleep by Anna SheehanReviewed for the British Fantasy Society, on their site now. I really enjoyed this one. Here’s a sneak peek of the review –

In the future Sleeping Beauty wakes up, leaves her stasis chamber and tries to piece together how she was left alone for 60 years. She is now the sole heiress to a massive interplanetary corporation and has celebrity status. But high school is difficult for the best of us… Click for full review

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Yonder: Hunter S Thompson, a Giant Rabbit and Antler Barrettes.

No theme for this week’s links, apart from no-theme. And coolness. I’ve also included a new playlist for you, not styled as anything to do with writing this time, just the ear-worms of my summer. But let’s get to that in a minute. Firstly – breakfast!

self portrait by Hunter S Thompson

self portrait by Hunter S Thompson

Sarah Wilson found a great article about Hunter S Thompson’s rigorous, riotous breakfast requirements. I’ve always loved his writing, but never much fancied living with the guy, what with the whole ranch-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-filled-with-guns-dynamite-and-crazy-people asethetic he had going on. But this is the kind of breakfast I’d be willing to make a lifestyle change for.

‘. . . The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert. . .’

Read the full description here. Then come back to read about Monster Hair Clips. I know you want to.

ram horns hair clip

Monster hair clips. Werewolf snouts. Tentacle belts. Visit Miss Monster’s store of Fantasy accessories and get your very own antlers. I have a big crush on this shop and I’m hoping to wear some of these to work and see who notices.

Fed and dressed? You’ll be ready for a photo of an enormous rabbit then.

Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman

Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman

Crafty Crafty blogged about this Big Yellow Rabbit, a sculpture by Florentijn Hofman which you can see if you are in Örebro, Sweden next week. Or now. I would love to walk around the corner and see something like this. I know my boyfriend thinks this is how I see the world all the time (He’s the prosaic one. I’m the trippy daydreamer).

Finally, here’s my latest 8tracks playlist. No writing theme this time, other than the fact that I write and I also like this. This summer my brain has looped these songs over and over, so for my own sake I’ve put them all in one place where I can get to them easily. You’ll see that my New Wave fetish continues unabated. The track by Television is over 10 minutes long, and totally worth it.
As always, if you only see a blank spot below, you’re using a browser which doesn’t like Flash. Click here for the music instead. Tracklisting below.

8tracks licensing requires that the second time you listen to a playlist it plays in random order. But all other times you should hear the songs in this order –
1 No Fun, The Stooges
2 Marquee Moon, Television
3 Thank You For Sending Me An Angel, Talking Heads
4 Kimberly, Patti Smith
5 Gravity Rides Everything, Modest Mouse
6 Gone Daddy Gone, Violent Femmes
7 Cattle and Cane, The Go-Betweens
8 This Time Tomorrow, The Kinks

Happy Weekend. X

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