I should have done this yesterday but I was part of a mad house, getting ready for Ben’s birthday ‘jelly and ice cream’ do with family and a few friends, so I’m a day late. Ho hum.
It’s a been a good week. I got a lot of positive comments about the last blog entry, for which many thanks – it’s nice to know that what I’m writing here isn’t just cluttering up the ether pointlessly. Cluttering it up but being read I can cope with; it’s being friendless and alone that bothers me! Additionally, I’ve finished two stories (well, finished them to first draft stage anyway). Both still need work, but I’m pleased with them. They have specific homes (i.e. anthologies) in mind, which has been good because it’s meant I’ve been able to carry on targeting my writing towards specific rules/remits, which is a skill I’m keen to develop. Both stories deal with things I’ve not really written about before (specifically, aggressive sex and marauding beasts), which has been good fun too. It’s been odd to realise that I’m entirely comfortable describing people getting their heads ripped off, but less comfortable describing a blow job; I’m convinced that says something very telling about me, but at this point I think I’ll ignore it and pretend that it’s totally normal! I have no idea if either story’ll be good enough to be accepted or not, but it’s been fun doing them. With luck, you may be able to read them one day.
The meeting about the novel was … interesting. It was a really positive experience, and although they don’t want it, I can understand why. What was gratifying was that the problems they pointed out with what I’d written were partly things I (secretly of course) knew they were there and partly things that made perfect sense when they were explained to me. At the end of a very positive half hour (during which time my novel was, gently, strangled and placed into the unmarked grave of interesting ideas with flawed execution) I was asked if I had ‘any other ideas’. Well, yeah! I pitched something I’d been thinking about a while, they seemed excited and the upshot is they want to see chapters as soon as possible. So, a novel may still be on the cards if I can write something that ticks their boxes. Here’s hoping…
My plan is to leave the two stories for a week or so, get some distance from them (and maybe show them to one or two trusted critics, who’ll be firm but fair and not too vicious) and concentrate on the novel. I know how everything starts, and where I want to take it, and what I’m aiming for (I’m not telling, so don’t ask!), and I’m looking forward to the new challenge. It’s all a bit vague, isn’t it? Sorry, but I don’t want to jinx things by talking about them in any more detail than this. You’ll just have to wait!
And now for something a bit more concrete: review time!
Main one this week is Let The Right One In – a pretty good vampire novel. This is atmospheric, smart, moving and intuitive about people, their emotions and the things that drive them but…but…but…it wasn’t quite what I expected, and I ended up slightly disappointed. This is probably because (at least in part) I heard really good things about this book and was looking forward to it a lot, but there also seem to be a couple of problems with it (SPOILER ALERT). One is that, for me, it doesn’t quite find the right balance between the social comment/decaying lives stuff and the bloodthirsty vampire stuff. What’s there of both is excellent, there’s just a little too much of one and not enough of the other. The other problem I had is with the ending (or rather, with the unsaid parts of the ending). I think that, since becoming a parent, I’m far more aware of the impact of what happens not just on the person/people involved but also on the people that care for them. In LTROI, I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for Oskar’s mum, who’s just abandoned at the end without so much as a reference. Surely Oskar would miss his mum a bit? Surely she deserves at least reference or a comment, as she wasn’t a villain in the book? This seems to illustrate (albeit mildly) a problem I have with some horror stories: they don’t consider the wider emotional implications of what’s happening. Action and sex yes, but emotional bleakness? Well, sometimes, but often only in passing or not in enough detail, which is a shame because I’m strongly of the opinion that the most affecting things are located there. Or maybe that’s just me thinking too much about this stuff… Anyway, this is still a good read and worth hunting out, and I’m interested in seeing what they do with the movie of it.
Not watched any movies this week, been working and writing too much. Maybe I’ll manage it this week. Also, keep an eye out – in the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing the second novels from both Bill Hussey and Joseph De Lacey (The Absence and Garbage Man respectively).
That’s it. I’m done. Get on with your lives.