How long does a book take to cook?

The previous post – ‘First Day Nerves’ is connected to this one. Both come from the same story, which will probably be called APPLEHEART.

It will be a long time before I can call it a book, and, to be honest, it’s already been stewing for a good number of years. Checking back, I wrote the Appleheart excerpt in 2014, and First Day Nerves is from 2016. It’s now almost 2018 and I have the best part of four chapters. Four years to write four chapters!?

This is what I like to call a ‘slow-cook book’, and they’re often the best. I’ll keep adding to it, and all sorts of ideas will get mixed in along the way. It should make for lots of flavour, just like a long-simmered stew!

Appleheart

APPLEHEART

My mother said I would regret choosing art as a career. My father couldn’t care less what I chose. He was, however, worried about Ned and drama. If he’d ever seen any of Ned’s acting; if he’d bothered to go to the school plays or the drama group productions like I had, he wouldn’t have been so worried. My brother was a natural. We were still in nappies when he began to people his world with characters from his imagination. They occasionally took him over so that he became someone else entirely. Many times, over the years, his acting made me laugh so hard I was sick, or cry until I had a headache.

As kids, we would sit together in a tent pitched in the middle of the room we shared. It was like a wigwam, but one we’d made by haphazardly stitching old sheets together and stealing bamboo canes out of the garden. Only we two were allowed in. No family. No friends. Because, inside that tent, was our own little world. A stage for Ned, a studio for me. We would sit together for hours, forgetting empty tummies and full bladders and all the boring routines of life. I had my drawing pad and my coloured pencils on my knee. Ned told me all about the people in his world. I drew them for him.

“Draw an apple for Murphy. He loves apples more than anything.”

I drew an apple for Murphy and tilted the pad.

“No. He only likes red apples. Not green ones.”

I rubbed out the apple, picked up the red pencil, and started again. “What about Mia Emilia? What does she like best?”

“Mia Emilia doesn’t like anything anymore. She’s always sad. She has a face like this.” He pulled the saddest face I’d ever seen. “And she only ever talks in a whisper.” Continue reading

Odd Writers #7: Sitwell’s Spooky Habit

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Writers are funny things. When the dreaded writer’s block rears it’s ugly head, they often think back to when they were writing really well. What were they doing then? Had they had three cups of coffee instead of just one? Were they using a red pen or a blue one? Had they gobbled down cornflakes for breakfast, or Cocopops? Was their computer exactly 23.5cm away from the edge of the desk?

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of: ‘If I do this, this and this, in that order, I’ll be able to write some good stuff today.’ But some writers can go a little too far… Continue reading

The Surprising Story Behind ‘The Blackwood Crusade’

BC1

‘The Blackwood Crusade’ was born after a long discussion with a fascinating man on a train. The man was Dr. Melchior Williams, now a much-loved friend, and he had discovered an exciting collection of old 13th Century manuscripts which spoke of an all-out war against pesky supernatural elements bothering a tiny village in the middle of England.

Most of the records were petitions by the villagers to the Lord of the Manor speaking of events ‘wyked and evyll’, ranging from the bizarre to the seriously scary. There was also a lengthy report from someone called Christiana who was summoned by the lord to ‘soulve the mystry’ (crikey – they were such bad spellers in those days :-)) Continue reading

Confession Time

peterpan

27 Cartoon Characters who gave us the Hots as Kids

This article in Huffington Post made me laugh. I remember only too well destroying my bumper Disney book so I could have a badly cut-out picture of Peter Pan stuck on my wall. My first pin-up!

But there’s a serious side too – apparently the type of cartoon character you fell in love with as a child can set up a precedent for the type of person you’re attracted to later in life. So if it was Gaston, you’re in trouble!

FROM THE HUFFPOST ARTICLE

“Do you remember, as a kid, watching your favorite cartoon and realizing that you were focusing a little too much on one of the characters? Lots of the characters were great, but there was one in particular who was so smart, so cool, so good at vanquishing bad guys. 

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Me, Marie Antoinette and ‘The Moment’

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I remember we were at a friend’s house. I must have been about four. They had white blinds hanging in long strips at the windows, and I spent a long time pulling (‘Gently please, Jojo!”) at the plastic, beaded cord, twisting the strips open and closed. Letting the sunlight into the room in bright stripes across the beige carpet.

Then the TV came on. A children’s programme for us little ones to watch. We planted ourselves, cross-legged, on the carpet. The grown-ups were chatting, their existence stripped to knees and feet, hands holding steaming mugs of tea and reaching for biscuits. Faceless. Just background noise.

But on the screen… on the screen was a woman clothed in a dress of cream and gold that came out from her narrow hips and took over the whole corridor of a sumptuous palace. She was like a doll, with white hair piled up high and unmoving on the top of her head, red lips and a black spot painted on her lip. This, the narrator told us, was ‘Marry Ann-twan-ett’ Continue reading

A bit of fun with the Dark Lord!

This one was a homemade job created for a reluctant reader who was also a massive Star Wars fan! It caused another problem – he was no longer reluctant, but couldn’t read for laughing 🙂

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