Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Can a Dream Make a Good Narrative for a Novel?



We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning after an incredible dream and think; that would make a good book. And with that thought, the memory of the dream disappears.But seriously. Can something you dream become a basis for book? If you believe Dean Martin’s character in the 1955 movie ‘Artist and Models’ then yes it can. In the movie, Dean is a comic book author who’s flat mate Jerry Lewis has nightmares that he narrates in his sleep. Dean notes down the narration, and turns them into the narrative for his comic books, and then poor old Jerry has to illustrate them, unknowingly living his nightmares twice. And of course in true tinsel town style the comics are a runaway success!

Of course, that’s Hollywood; glossy and perfect. In reality dreams are a scrambled mess, our subconscious trying to make sense of our lives and keeping us sane. However, sometimes I believe dreams can provide the inspiration for something that can be turned into a promising narrative.  The concept for the current book I’m working on, ‘The Alchemist and the Bone Factory’ came from a dream. It was one of those rare dreams which tells a story (no jumping into thin air and flying, no teeth dropping out, oh how Freud and Jung would be disappointed!) When I woke up, I bolted out of bed, ignored the children’s whines for breakfast, and ransacked the house until I found a working pen and noted it all down.

Mad you may be saying. Well maybe, but once the concept was in my brain, my conscious mind started to modify it, twist it, embellish it, and improve it. I began to see the start of a plot and beginnings of narrative. Then it was down to business; Plotting, researching, and writing, and who would guess, it is actually shaping up to be something quite good.

So, my verdict; Can a dream make a good narrative for a novel? I think yes, in the same way an idea can be nurtured into a sound concept for a book. However it will need work – a lot of it, but it can produce something very different to a concept that comes from you conscious mind. Think like the surrealist artist Dali, he was shunned by his surrealist peers for not painting authentic dream subconscious images, but improving them and constructing dream inspired ideas, to create aesthetically pleasing pieces. That’s exactly what a writer has to do when using a dream as a narrative, use it as inspiration and improve it, make it something really good. After all, how many other surrealist painters can you name?

If my argument has not swung you, then here is a list of four famous books that were inspired by dreams in alphabetical order…

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson - who dreamt the story, woke up and transcribed the scenes from the dreams, finishing the first draft in 3 days!

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – Who dreamt the concept at Lord Bryon’s estate in Switzerland and then, with encouragement from her husband, wrote the book.

Misery, by Stephen King - Dreamt the concept whilst in an aeroplane, then not wanting to forget the details sat at the airport and started to write the novel.

Twilight, by Stephanie Meyers - first conceived the concept for the twilight saga on the 2nd June 2003 after a dream. No matter what your opinion on the twilight series, it is nothing if not successful.


Friday, 25 November 2011

Once upon a time Red Riding Hood was made of cake… So was the Wolf, and Three Little Pigs...


Once upon a time Red Riding Hood was made of cake… So was the Wolf, and Three Little Pigs...


It’s Friday and today it’s fairy tales but not as you know them. Today the blog is dedicated to fairy tale cakes. Liz Mergel, an Oxfordshire based cake creator, crafts beautiful cakes, and when I saw the fantastic Red Riding Hood Cake in, Throwing Bun CafĂ©, in Abingdon I begged her to let me share them with you. So feast your eyes, on some fairytale characters that are literally good enough to eat…




To see more fabulous cake creations by Liz visit her web site www.cakesbylizmergel.com



Monday, 21 November 2011

2012 the Year of the Fairy Tale? Part 1


2012 the Year of the Fairy Tale?

Next Year marks the 200th anniversary of the Brothers Grimm’s first publication of the ‘Childhood and Household tales’. But 2012, is more than just the anniversary of one of the most influential books, it looks like it’ll be a bumper year for fairy tales all over.

Hollywood, for instance, has taken fairy tales by the hand. March 2012 sees the release of Mirror Mirror, an adaption of Snow White starring Julia Roberts. June 2012 sees another reincarnation of Snow White, with the release of Snow White and the Huntsman (Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron)

Later on, we have director Bryan Singer’s ‘Jack the Giant Killer’, starring Nicolas Holt. Before the summer out, along pops Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters starring Gemma Atherton. Then, if you thought that Hollywood may have had their fill of Fairy Tales, how about the new Chinese thriller set to hit cinemas, titled ‘Perfect Fairy Tale’; with a tag line of ‘A fearless cop is appointed to investigate a series of puzzling murders which resemble Fairy Tales.’


It’s not just the movies - 2012 should be good for fairytale literature too.

In February we have the publication of Melissa Marr’s ‘Fairytales and Nightmares’ anthology, which if it anything as good as her Wicked Lovely series should be a great read.  

The first three months of 2012; January, February and March, the UK will see the publication of the US bestselling YA Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking. The first book ‘Switched’ is published in January and is a contemporary fairy tale about a troll, or ‘Trylle’, community who switch infants for their own children. This is fast, funky and above all true to fairy tale genre - dark and un-compromising.

We should also see the publication of the paperback version of Jackson Pearce’s Hansel and Gretel inspired YA novel ‘Sweetly’.


I’ve watched some of the trailers, and although the still shots are beautiful, especially in Snow White and the Huntsman, the trailer of Mirror Mirror doesn’t distil much hope that Hollywood understands fairy tales. It appears, at a glance, to replace depth with comedy.   The books, I’m working through, and I’ll post up any comments I have once I’ve read them.


So in summary then, yes 2012 will definitely be a year of Fairy tales, but whether it will be a year for good well written and produced fairy tales is another matter entirely. Can Hollywood and authors preserve the authentic properties of fairy tales? Or will their messages, mortal learning, and darker natures be lost in translation?

Roll on 2012!!!

My Image of 'The Girl in Red Shoes'

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Something an e-book can’t do…


Something an e-book can’t do…
Can an e-book truly span generations? Will it ever have the longevity to be read by both parent and child when they are the same age?
My daughter is seven and has just discovered that reading is fun. So I pulled down a dusty box from the attic with all my treasured books from childhood. She sieved through them and picked out my battered copy of Jill Murphy’s ‘The Worst Witch’, which she is totally enthralled by.
Being of similar mind, she was adamant that this now belonged to her - her new reading book! We opened the book to put her name inside the front cover, only to discover my own seven-year-olds hand written scribble of my name. What better thing to do then but to have Beatriz write hers underneath.
Watching Beatriz read the book I loved as at the same age, seeing her finger the same pages, smelling the same paper (although it is distinctly more potent now!) is a beautiful thing. It all seems very magical that somewhere in the time-line there is a seven year old version of me reading the exact same book as my daughter is now.  It’s all very ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’.
This got me thinking that this is a small triumph for Books over E-Books!
If you buy an e-book, will it last 26 years? If so, is your child likely to be reading it on the same device 26 years later? I think this is very unlikely if the lifespan of computers and mobile phones are anything to go on. Don’t get me wrong I think e-books are great and have their own charm and advantages, but there is something altogether more romantic about the intimacy of reading a book, and knowing that other people you love have caressed its pages before you.
Long live the book!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Pain of Wisdom

So here is my first blog that kind’a personal and about me, without any link (tenuous or otherwise) to my writing.  I’m nervous, no scrap that, I’m bricking it!
Why? Well on Monday I’m going into hospital to have all four of my wisdom teeth extracted.
So what’s the big deal? You may say, well it goes like this. Last time I went in for an operation (a rather nasty procedure to saw my hip joint off and reattach it at another angle with copious amounts of metal screws) I managed to, wait for it…
…faint while under the general anaesthetic!
Yes I did say faint, while unconscious. This is no mean feat, and caused much excitement and disarray in the operating theatre when my blood pressure dropped dangerously low. Post-Op,  I was diagnosed with a heart  condition that make me predisposed to fainting, which was responsible for causing the commotion and therefore having to abort the op, but not before they had cut through my ligaments and muscles, (yes lots of pain, and absolutely no gain!)
So, I think I have reason to be anxious, even if it’s pointless and counterproductive, knowing that a plan is in place and it will be in a controlled environment where they are expecting it and are prepared.
However I’m still worrying and I couldn’t work out why. Then after quite a few restless nights I’ve figured it out. I’m not a young as what I once was (are any of us?) and that confidence and feeling of invincibility has been slowly whittled away. Also, I’m a mother and neuroticism is a prerequisite part of the role, so I’m wallowing on the worse case scenarios.
But with that solemn note, I’m going off to a book shop which always calms me down, to buy a stock of books to read while I’m feeling sorry for myself and looking like a punch-bag next week. 
So if anyone has any idea of how to get myself in a better frame of mind, or even has a distraction technique to stop me worrying, then please do share it with me!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Dachshund vs Straightjacket…

Yesterday I was merrily walking about, talking to myself, or to be more specific, talking the dialog (both sides) for a new scene I’m adding in to my manuscript, when I was spotted by some dog walkers. This was fine apart from it was a particularly emotionally charged scene, so these poor people came across me, a strange person wondering the countryside, arguing loudly with myself.  When I spotted them, I stopped, smiled, and cheerily said ‘hello!’ They politely responded, as they warily tiptoed around me and picked up pace, looking over their shoulders to make sure I did not follow.
I thought this rather odd behaviour, as I frequently walk and talk both the narrative and dialog of my story, and have on many occasions passed other people. Never before has anyone seen me, and run off in fear, whilst calling the men in white jackets from their mobiles.
So, it got me wondering; why now?
The answer is a simple one. When I was doing the initial write for TME, I spent a lot of time walking, and talking to myself. But, the crucial difference was that I wasn’t by myself, I was with my dog Theo. 
Theo, my lovely ginger wire-haired Dachshund (sausage dog), accompanied me on these walks and heard the whole story as it unfolded. It seems now that he served as more than just an ambling companion, but as my writer’s ‘superheroes’ mask, protecting my secret writing persona, and sanity, against anyone who might think that I was otherwise a loony, talking to myself. 
Strangely, it seems to be culturally acceptable to talk to, or even argue with a dog, but not to yourself!
With all this, I suddenly missed my dear old walking partner who sadly passed away last year.
So today’s dilemma is; do I buy a new dachshund? Or, run the risk of being sectioned?
RIP Theo – and thank you for listening!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

To Converse or not to Converse?

Today's a sad day, the end of an era, the death of a great partnership…
…My last two pair of Converse baseball boots gave up, and finally had to ceremoniously thrown out.  I wept a tear for the loss of my favourite shoes and for the loss of youth.
My relationship with converse started when I blew my first pay check paged thirteen on a pair of green, red and blue All Stars, (and when you’re getting paid £1.00 an hour that a lot of work!) Since then I’ve dredged through desert sands in them, got them wet in the cannels of Venice, walked up mountains in them, and on far too many occasions trudged through snow in them.
I remember every pair, the red green and blue All Star Highs, (x2). The blue pair, the red pair, the black suede one-star lows. The dusky pink pair, the pink lows, the lilac pair, brought to go with a proms dress for a wedding. The metallic gold pair, brought to go with a posh frock I wore to a ball. And not forgetting my all-time favourite, the silver and green trainers which were very cool, circa 1999!
Oh yes, these shoes defined my youth, and were loyal through the good times, and the bad times. They became an extension of me, part of how I defined myself, being the only label I’d ever be proud to say I wore. But now, with all my faithful friends broken and gone, I feel alone, sad, and quite frankly old!
I need (doctors’ orders) to wear sensible shoes that have more support, if I’m to (doctors’ advice) keep walking pain free and to avoid some pretty nasty surgery. So here’s my dilemma, do I follow doctors’ orders and get sensible shoes, (much like the ones favoured by Frankenstein and Herman Munster) or do I desperately try to hang on to my youth and buy a new pair?