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Can you hear the words?

Welcome to my Blog


You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, a few thoughts on the voices in your head…


Audio books are a conundrum for me.

They are an attractively packaged way to absorb a book. The words are broadly the same as in a printed or downloaded version, often abridged.

Why cut down? They reduce listening time for a not-huge novel to 10-20 hours rather than 30 or 40. A working week for some. Therein lies the nub of the problem, it doesn’t matter if it’s Charles Dance or Benedict Cumberbatch reading the book out and providing a nuanced voice to differentiate between characters’ voices. The problem for me is that it is too slowly delivered. I process a word and race for the next one which I need to carry on the flow. So why not speed it up? Making it 1.5x speed or more just makes it sound like Mickey Mouse is providing the reading voice.

So it’s too slow or too fast.

Either way, it’s relentless.

I sometimes dwell over a paragraph or re-read it in a book. That’s not possible with an audiobook without a great deal of haphazard fiddling with the buttons.

Relentless, like the tapping of the Master’s fingers…

It will keep coming until the charge runs out, and you wake up at 3 am five chapters on. The Voice is still going and you’ve no idea where in the book you lost consciousness.

I don’t know whether it’s a scientific Thing, but the words don’t seem to stick with me as much when I’m listening to them being read. It’s much easier to be distracted because there’s nothing right in front of you drawing you in. I am more absorbed in the pages of a book, paper or otherwise. (Some people can learn how to speak Swahili while listening to a tutorial tape as they sleep, so perhaps it’s the way my brain is wired.)

Why have audiobooks? Why are they so popular?

They give the gift of time.

When driving a car or gardening or doing something else active, an audiobook nearly allows the luxury of multi-tasking which, from my perspective as a male, is an alluring and usually unattainable prospect. But it comes at a cost. Keeping up with the story. Driving a car and listening to an audiobook, especially at a gripping bit, has to be one of the most dangerous ways of getting from A to B, when you want the gripping bit to be the tyres on the road. That Voice requires concentration and focus, not things one typically wants to divert from pointing a couple of tons of metal and plastic along some tarmac.

It’s a compromise, then. But sitting in a hammock on a lazy afternoon in the blazing sunshine and floating away to the past or the future or simply somewhere else without squinting at dappled pages and battling a wasp for a good view of the next paragraph is a wonderful thing, while swaying in the breeze.

It’s like having a radio station follow you around dedicated to telling you stories. A kindly nanny reading you bedtime stories. Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime on tap. It shouldn’t replace a book but, like most things, at the right time and in the right place, it can be perfect.

I am currently listening to The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter (main picture above). It’s War of the Worlds 2 with more tooled-up ETs. Like Independence Day 2 but set in Surrey. Bertie Wooster fighting off Martians. More likely, Jeeves fighting them off, having invented a fiendish secret weapon while spit-and-polishing some brogues. Unlike Wodehouse, there is strictly no humour in MoM, which is a shame, and there’s precious little soul. A little too much stiff upper lip for me. The pace is – like the audiobook – relentless, but at the same time also rather sedate. Only five hours to go, and I’m sticking with it.

What ho!

Alan

Alan Camrose

Martians, pah! Meet Dogzilla…
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Watch this space

Welcome to my Blog


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, a Spring break, sort of…


I have been working on a new novel (recently completed the manuscript) and a non-fiction book, to add to my list of available titles, hence the slight break in blog posts.

We are getting ready for Jab 2, enjoying the re-invigorating weather and generally keeping busy, busy, busy…

Here’s to a warm and welcoming Summer and my normal blog-posting will be resumed shortly.

I’m thinking of re-vamping my site to spruce it up now that I’ve been at it over a year and posted 44 articles. When I get to 50, I’ll come up with something to celebrate that milestone…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Pinned to the tropes

Welcome to my Blog


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, some genre mish-mashing in an epic battle of thriller vs historical romance


I thought that I’d have a play with a couple of books, in totally different genres: thriller and historical romance clashing head to coiffure (one of the two is not the type that I usually read, but Lee Child shouldn’t feel left out by that).

I thought I’d see where they took me when trying to compare the genres, checking out the tropes in the first few chapters…

GEORGETTE HEYER

“Sylvester”

First published 1957

Novel

Historical romance

Essentially timeless, allowing a reader to sink into it.

Style

  • Third person omniscient narrator, perfect tense – provides distance. Do not necessarily want to get inside the characters’ heads in this genre. Need that distance.
  • Various elements are used to paint a picture of opulence and privilege as the overall setting for the story.
  • Very formal, “old-fashioned” writing style with archaic language used – scythemen, breakfast parlour, things are agreeable, matters are of sufficient moment. Infelicitous. In keeping with the genre.
  • Names – Sylvester, Edmund, Ianthe.

Setting and character

  • Difficult to place in history with precision from the first few pages. The reader would be expected to place it in the Regency period, late 18th, early 19th century without the author spelling it out. You would be forgiven for expecting period historical detail later to place it more fully, but light touch.
  • Difficult to place geographically. Sylvester is the Duke of Salford, but it doesn’t really matter where it is, it’s the characters which are the important feature of the story, unless later the place becomes more relevant. I would not expect that to be the case in this genre other than to reinforce the sense of privilege. I would expect visits to the equivalent of the Pump Room and extravagant balls. We are set up for all of this in the first few pages.
  • First line: Sylvester in his breakfast parlour – sets the scene and prepares the reader for “Chance”, which has an “east front”. This genre demands a lavish house as a starting point to establish wealth and social importance.
  • Tudor-origin winged staircase, gallery guarded by two figures in full armour (not just any old armour). Building the feeling of solidity and the weight of history.
  • There are “scythemen” in the grounds, servants, a nanny, a butler, a footman.
  • The weather has robbed him of two hunting days – hunting would be a suitable pastime for a gentleman. Horse riding too.
  • Sylvester has a “huge inheritance”. Born to a “great position”, with “a long line of distinguished forebears”. Standard to have a well-established family. Therefore he has rank, wealth and elegance. All the pre-requisites of a historical romance leading man.
  • He is handsome, with a singularly charming smile, but with a slight rakish look when he frowns…He has the tiniest glimmer of a fault in his appearance no doubt intended to make him more attractive.
  • There is a liver-and-white spaniel, which is to be expected in this type of setting. No doubt it is graceful and loyal.
  • All tropes present and correct.

LEE CHILD

“Killing Floor”

First published 1998 – the first Jack Reacher book.

Novel

Thriller

Punchy title, punchy delivery.

Style

  • First person narrator, perfect tense – provides immediacy. Breathless. Things happen quickly and IN YOUR FACE.
  • Various elements are used to paint a picture of grit and toughness.
  • Clipped, aggressive writing style with modern language used – in keeping with the genre.
  • Short chapters for faster pacing.
  • Names – Jack Reacher – blunt and no nonsense. Baker and Stevenson (the cops) – everyman names.

Setting and character

  • First line: I was arrested in Eno’s diner. Compelling start. The impending arrest immediately sets the scene for the novel and does not relax.
  • There is a low-key, ordinary, everyday setting as the launch point – a diner, filled with non-descript civilians. Adds an air of earthy reality to the scene.
  • Drama injected early with police cruisers pulling up outside the diner.
  • Violent language and violent moves: screamed, yelled, focus on hardware and police tactics. Exclamation marks! Very short sentences and fragments to allow tension to be cranked up.
  • Rebellious language: reading about a President he hadn’t voted for and wouldn’t.
  • Set in the US, but assumes reader knows that. Good introduction of place – Georgia – when he is arrested and read his rights, including a state-appointed attorney, rather than saying: “I was in Georgia”…Then, arriving at the police station precisely places the action in the town of Margrave.
  • Action is more important than the exact location except for providing colour in this type of fiction to ground the action.
  • Reading Miranda rights – readers are expected to be aware, and reading the rights adds a further air of officialdom and authority to the scene. Typical in a thriller of this kind.
  • Description of the car and the tarmac again ground the action.
  • All tropes present and correct.
Sylvester is the Champion!

I think Historical Romance has marginally kicked ass and left Reacher gasping on the tropes, although the re-match is likely to be brutal (and quite polite).

I found this an interesting exercise in getting to the heart of those genres, peering at what makes them tick…Difficult to mix up, and difficult to position wrongly in a book shop…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Cuban Coffee Break – maybe make it an espresso?

Welcome to my Blog


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, reflections on the sea and Cuban cats…


This is a selection of six word stories, following on from my three earlier articles about the form, Hemingway and his extraordinary (and hopefully true, but what the hell) bet…

I have started with a six-worder that I have written as an homage to The Old Man and the Sea.

I have tried to capture the essence of the book – a futile exercise in many respects, but a fitting place to start…It’s not a movie trailer or blurb, but an attempt to encapsulate the book’s essence as an evolving story. Ironically, Hemingway’s book title comprises six words. They elegantly tell you what the book is about; it is not in itself a six word story that stands in for the book as a whole, it simply sets the scene, promises a story. About an old man. And his interaction with the sea. Hemingway had the whole book to dazzle us with that interaction. I have instead endeavoured to tell the story within the self-imposed limit…

Here it is:

Elder catches marlin. Sharks. Start again.

There’s an old man (an “elder” – it seems to me important, for dramatic effect, that the balance of power is shifted even further away from the fisherman in his struggle). He catches a marlin (an impressive catch), but is thwarted by relentless sharks and is forced to start again his almost Sisyphean task of battling the elements and Fate. A survivor, but a battered survivor.

In the stories below, I have sometimes played a little with the font and spacing in the stories for dramatic or comic effect, but always sticking to the rule for the body of each story.

Here we go…


Receding tail lights.

Rain.

FadIng hope.


Shiny licence. Road trip. Twisted metal.


The Four Horsemen arrived.

THE END


Measuringdevicesland coup.

I’m the new ruler.


Lifeboat. Two passengers. The non-vegetarian survives.


I have given the final SWS a title, to see whether it’s: 1. cheating, 2. helpful for context, 3. see what you think…


NCIS: Lothlórien

Galadriel slain!
Elf-defence?
First degree Mordor.


That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed these voyages into tragedy / thriller / very silly.

Please do let me have your comments; all welcomed.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Bet out of Hell

Havana Good Time – Part Tres

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, getting to the heart of six-word stories and the Bet Out Of Hell…


Ernest Hemingway, one lunchtime with friends, reputedly took on the seemingly crazy challenge of paring down his already wafer-thin prose to a six word story, no more, no less.

My slightly longer than six words story goes that he made that bet at a lunch, possibly in The Algonquin hotel in New York.

He famously wrote it on a napkin.

For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.

He collected his winnings while his companions gladly paid up, knowing that something extraordinary had just happened. I cannot help thinking that, if this is indeed how it happened, there’s a faint whiff of him setting up his literary friends with something pre-prepared, possibly to fund his next dozen or so daiquiris at the Floridita bar in Havana.

Another ,daiquiri, por favor, barman!

Whether the bet took place, where it took place or anything else about it has become a matter of legend. Urban legend in this case. If it were in New York, that is one of the most urban settings imaginable.

In many respects it matters not whether the concept fought its way into the world on that day – whatever day it was – or whether it was a confidence trick on the part of Hemingway or a wily agent to highlight and publicise his Spartan writing method. Whether it was effectively copied or adapted from earlier newspaper stories or word-games does not matter either.
It is one of those stories, fictional or otherwise, that I want to be true, not to be taken away from me. Comfort can be taken from the fact that the six words differ from the earlier apparent sources and the least of it is that Hemingway perfected the form.

It is a clean and brutal format.

The Hemingway baby shoes story sets the scene, homes in and then tears your heart. The baby shoes on offer have never been worn. A clear and dramatic pointer to ultimate tragedy.
Interestingly, if the shoes had been a boy’s shoes and the expectant parents had, by a twist of fate, welcomed a daughter into the world, then the same words would have simply described a correction of an unfortunate mistake; there would have been no drama, simply the acquisition of pink shoes with the proceeds to replace the blue. No tragedy. More importantly, no story to speak of.

We are made complicit in accepting the presence of tragedy to ensure that the dramatic weight of the piece crashes home. In those syllables, some collaboration is required between Hemingway and the reader to arrive where he wanted to be.

With all of this in mind, I decided to have a go at creating some more of these fiendishly awkward one-liners. The rules are quite simple, unchanged over the decades:

Six words. No more. No less.

That’s it.

I have found a sense of poetry, seriousness and playfulness in this form of story which I hope you will share with me in my stories in Part Four.

Hasta La Vista, Baby!

Cheers!

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard

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Havana Good Time – Part Dos

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, reflections on the sea and Cuban cats…


Last time, I looked at Hemingway’s house in Havana and his deep connection with the area over a long period.

Hemingway was inspired to write “The Old Man And The Sea” in that house, a short but perfectly formed masterpiece of the relentlessness of Nature, the triumph of carrying on, the acceptance of what has to be – and be reconciled with – and the critical importance of striving. Particularly heroic striving against insurmountable obstacles. The sweet taste of triumph: an enormous catch wrestled from the Deep. Followed by the realisation that the old man was on a small boat a long way from home. With sharks in close attendance.

The nearby town of Cojima, with its sweeping bay and crumbling fort, must have felt part of him as he wrote, the panoramic far horizon filled with different shades of blue would have offered the promise of adventure and fulfillment, but nonetheless a vista absolutely not to be taken for granted.

The book cries out the old fisherman’s love for the power of Nature and his love for the fish that he hunts, all part of the ongoing Circle of Life.

An aspect of that Circle was, for Hemingway, the allure of cats. He was a self-confessed ailurophile, owning over fifty of them during his time at the house. At the same time, not serially, a wave just as impossible to resist as the sea itself. Especially at feeding time.
He is “credited” with making six-toed cats – polydactyl cats – an important part of the feline population of Cuba. Six toes – one more with which to shred furniture. Hemingway would have hated the notorious times of the Special Period in Cuban history following the collapse of the Soviet Union when, amongst other signs of desperation, the population resorted to consuming cats for sustenance.

That is no longer needed, although the humans will need to trust in the feline population not keeping a group memory of those dark times and bearing a grudge. Not something to presume: cats play a long game. I’m reluctant to raise the subject with my cat.

There are no feline residents these days at Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s beloved Havana home. Purported descendants of Hemingway’s cats live at his other house and museum in Key West. Finca Vigia seems strangely empty without any.

Hemingway referred to his cats as “purr factories”, once saying that “one cat leads to another”. Happily he was too early to be referring to the Special Period.

All of this made me think about Hemingway, his relationship with Nature, reflected in his writing, the lean and mean – some might say cadaverous – quality of his writing, particularly of “The Old Man And The Sea”, and my mind wandered to his famous bet.

It’s his remarkable wager that I shall talk about in Part Tres.

Maybe just another Daiquiri, or six…

Cheers, Papa!

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard

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Havana Good Time – Part One

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, a trip down memory lane, Cuban-style in a classic automobile…


We were in Cuba for a holiday almost exactly a year ago, before COVID took a grip on all of us.

Seems like years ago.

Havana in particular was awash with gorgeous classic American automobiles (not just cars: automobiles – they deserve to be called more than mere cars). Those automobiles are a Cuban calling card.

They had been sadly under-used, even before the outbreak of the virus, relying on a trickle of tourists rather than the flood which would descend from US cruise ships in better times. Times long gone, then re-instated, then once more long-gone with the bite of the further crushing US sanctions biting into the population, then COVID-19.

The time of cruise ships is surely gone forever, regardless of the political climate, a sobering thought for the Cuban population awaiting those better times.

We went on Ernest Hemingway’s trail in Cuba, keeping a low profile in our bright orange Buick (one of many that we hailed) in the sunshine. The trail was littered with bright shards of Hemingway’s life. Cuba was the place where he seemed most obviously at home until forced to leave by a sharp clash of revolutionary and reactionary politics. I thought I’d share with you some of that journey and what came out of it.

Finca Vigia – Hemingway’s home in Cuba for twenty years – is nowadays a place of pilgrimage and will no doubt endure. Bus-loads of tourists descended on the spectacular “Lookout Farm” (the blunt English translation from the as usual more romantic Spanish) while we were visiting. The tower that gave it this name is designed to accommodate hordes of tourists gingerly clambering up the one person wide rickety steps accommodating – or trying to accommodate – simultaneous up and down traffic. That is something to bear in mind when once again you get the chance to visit this place.

When I was already a long way up, I found that it would be a really short way down without civilised stair etiquette.

We were tourists, too, just in a smaller bus. Not that much smaller, come to think of it, given the Buick’s voluptuous curves and not-at-all dainty footprint.

The property is a place where, without the gold dust of the Hemingway connection, most people would draw level with the entrance to the winding drive, mutter ‘I wonder what’s up there’, then drive past. They would move on to the next attractive example of faded glory, inevitably mixed with pockets of quiet desperation. It’s a remarkable testament to the power of icons, infusing gravitas into bricks and mortar.The inside of the house is not open to visitors. Everyone must take their turn and crane their neck through the open windows. The house is mercilessly exposed to visitors by those open windows. That gives a strange feeling of space and connection, no tomb-like atmosphere.

Visitors are forced to perform contortions, not least to avoid an ear or a corner of someone’s parasol in their snapshots. All to catch glimpses of things like the nine thousand or so books stuffed into the building, untouched from Hemingway’s day except to be worshipped by the army of staff individually and relentlessly hand-cleaning each book. It would be a firing offence to smear a sticky finger from a stolen bite of a pastelito over one of the treasured tomes. Probably more than just firing.

Stretching the scene into a touch of the absurd, possibly even slightly grotesque, for a peso or two one of the guardians is happy to sneak your camera deeper into the house to take close-ups of the bathroom and elsewhere with the promise of transformation from the mundane to the magical. I politely refused the proffered virtual tour of Hemingway’s bathroom.

How all of that comes together with the Old Man and the Sea, will be in Part Two…

Cheers.

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard


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2021 – New Year, New Book

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, news about my new book…


I have not posted for a month. I have taken the time away not just because of the Christmas and New Year holidays, or That Bastard Virus, or the blues of January. I have just finished the first draft of my new book, and am very excited about it. The working title is “Building Memories”. It’s a supernatural thriller.

A young woman hunts a killer harking back to the Great War and finds they share a hidden parallel world.

I’m in final editing mode and I will then work out what to do next with it.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share the first few lines with you, the lines that introduce Becky Slade, the main character, and her private investigations agency:

CHAPTER ONE

Winter in Balham, South London, swathed in glamour; Becky Slade wondered whether she should have put on her best ripped jeans for the victory feast.

Golden trumpets tuned up for the start of her victory parade. Strip-lights in the walkways of the block of flats shone down on her like torches as they flickered into life to light her way. Finishing touches were made to her laurel crown in the fading late-November afternoon.

Case closed.

The sharp tang of cat wafted up to her from the cat box containing her captured fugitive, the latest success for Slade & Co Private Investigations. A yowl of rage from the Thing that seemed like it had eight legs instead of the regulation four, with a wicked barb at each end. Even its whiskers had sharp points.

Becky had needed this win. Funds were short this month, regardless. No stranger to a touch of danger about her finances towards the end of each month, this would be a bit close to the wire even by her standards. When Mrs B – the cat’s owner – later thrust some money in her direction, that would at least allow Becky to fend off her creditors for a while longer without resorting to the Mother Option.

She did not want to go beanie hat in hand to her mother; she had avoided it so far. Too much chance of there being I told you so; why don’t you get a real job, sweetheart? dropped like depth charges into the conversation. And Mother was the good cop member of the parental taskforce…

Building Memories, by Alan Camrose

Any comments would be gratefully received.

I do hope that you enjoy it and want to see more in due course.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard

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Cuban Cool Cats

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, some Cuban reflections.


We were in Cuba in February 2020, a lifetime ago. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the cocktails flowed like, er, wine. Like Freddie, we were Havana good time, Havana ball… Far away from where we are right now after these dangerous months.

When I think of Cuba, I think of cars, cocktails and – slightly strangely – cats. At times, they blend together: when we first arrived in Cuba, a 1958 Plymouth ride back in time to La Guarida restaurant in the heart of Havana, its feline guardian in the entrance hall large enough to hold a dance floor, a rooftop terrace housing the open-air Mirador Bar dispensing life-giving Negroni Habanero cocktails – a mixture that includes aged Campari, red vermouth and the perfume of orange rinds. Plenty of ice.

I thought I would share a few memories like that of our trip to bring a little salsa (and, as you will see, heavy metal) back into life for a few minutes as we mingled with the cool cats of Cuba.

La Guarida restaurant in Havana, Cuba
Paladar La Guarida, Havana with a bonus game of Spot The Cat

More cool cats at the Buena Vista Social Club.

You have to smile when you see this much joy

Music is an enduring part of the place. Take a look at a few moments of this street sweeper practising asome moves to the beat of a nearby bar.

A brush with Cuban music

And in Varadero, a table band in a restaurant playing the final notes of some AC-DC…It’s a matter of great regret that I didn’t hit record sooner; too busy head-banging with the rest of the restaurant-goers…

Definitely not A Touch Too Much…

In addition to hearing some heavy rock on a violin in Cuba, I have also been lucky enough – quite a few years ago – to hear Jingle Bells on a sitar in an Indian restaurant in Sri Lanka to get us in the festive spirit.

But it’s best to leave the last words to the cats and cocktails of Cuba:

Please do not park on this cat

The cocktail below is an El Presidente (there are numerous variations, but this one works a treat):

  • 25 ml Bacardi
  • 25 ml White Vermouth
  • 5 ml Grand Marnier
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Beautifully cut Orange Peel, preferably sliced very thin and in one piece – the one below was from the maestro who served us at El Floridita in Havana

Shake with ice. Pour into a Martini glass.

Glorious

Harking back to AC-DC, this cocktail is perhaps a Highway to El…

Cheers!

Alan


Alan Camrose with beard

Alan Camrose writes books and a blog:

www.alancamrose.com

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Baby steps


Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose

It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, I’ve had a think about how I got going with my new book, based on past experience with the others…


I’ve written and published two books, one an urban fantasy-thriller, the other a (short) book of (ultra-short) stories. I’m in the middle of my third book, a novel, around 40K words in out of probably about 75K…

What have I learned from my earlier forays?

That a rapid lift-off is important. My first novel started as more of a “write one chapter of something and see how it goes”. The longest things I had written before that were long legal opinions. I wrote the first chapter, felt good and just struck out into the ocean from my tiny island beach, trying not to be swamped by churning waves and iffy Internet.

The first chapter proved not to be the first chapter at all in the end. My initial efforts were very much aimed at describing the world and some of the denizens, I suspect more for my benefit (and pleasure) than anyone else’s.

Nothing actually happened in the book when I started it. There was a set-up scene of the main character wandering around his London HQ, bumping into what I thought of as interesting locations and characters.

Nothing changed. It was like painting a mural.

Then, when I’d properly got the taste for it, came the painful evolutionary process of re-organising material and dumping some of it – particularly any over-indulgent scene-setting material that I was too pleased with (or it simply pleased me) but did not fit the needs of a Beginning (I hate prologues, I find them too artificial and jarring with continuity).

The pick-axes and shovels had to come out…What had to go was too info-dumpy, too self-obsessed, too whatever – too needing to be cut and then pasted into an “at some point may come in useful” file. You know, the file that you never look at again, like most clippings from the Good Food magazine or that recipe book based on Madagascan delicacies that Auntie Beryl gave you six Christmases ago.

I have read thousands of books, but had never really clocked how they tend to work. I have simply read them.

Something happens to get the reader interested, the main character is introduced and is hopefully appealing, there is some sort of hook at around the end of the third chapter or so to keep the reader from the book equivalent of channel-hopping to yet another of the millions of available tomes. That all sounds very cold to me, but it wasn’t until I focused on that kick-start that things started to happen a little more fluently. And I had to realise that everything was a kick-start for the next part, phase , whatever of the book…

In my current book, I have three main protagonists, all on a collision course from the off. I have changed the running order of the first three chapters once, and I think that’ll be it. No navel-gazing, just an attempt to make sense of that and the following material. I’m just going along for the ride at the moment.

I’m eager to see what happens.

I have a rough idea of how it will end, but that’s up to Rebecca Slade, Greg Barker and Charles Fitzgerald, Cheung, Unusual Steve and the others.

In the meantime, here’s my proposed (not set in stone!) first line, which I hope you’ll find enticing…

It began with a cat, a single-decker London bus and the First World War, not necessarily in that order.

Guardian Angel

My plan is to give you periodic reports of where I’m at, now that my new book is more than a mere glimmer…

And I’m nearly ready for beta readers of the first half, if you’re interested.

Long way to go yet…!


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Alan Camrose with beard

At The Lair Of The Camrose: Everyone welcome!

Alan Camrose

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