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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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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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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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Behind The Scenes – Behind The Typewriter

Author Interview

This interview is reprinted from the one that I took part in for Jazzy Book Reviews during last week’s book / blog tour for my new book Lost In Plain Sight:

1.       What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?

Gin (even with tonic)…

2.       If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just get it down, then stress about it. I still need to yell that sometimes at myself…

3.       What book do you feel is under-appreciated? How about overrated?

Difficult. I have my opinions on books, but we’re all entitled to our opinions, right? I’m not too bothered if I’m in the minority or the majority.

4.       Favorite childhood memory involving books?

Discovering Isaac Asimov, or as an only child trying to re-enact bits of the Lord Of The Rings in the back garden.

5.       If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?

See below about my fictional friend!

6.       What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?

That’s a tough one, but I’ll plump for the absurdities, wonder and awesomeness of the Discworld. But only if I could be head of the City Watch.

7.       Did you want to be an author when you grew up?

Yes. Being a lawyer in the intervening period from not being grown up to being a bit more grown up has allowed me the privilege of having a go at it…

8.       If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Me: creativeirreverentobsessive

My wife when I asked her about me: stubbornannoyingobsessive

All a question of perception, I’d say…

I’m not even going there with my nineteen-year-old twins, but grumpy would no doubt feature as one …

9.       What is your most unusual writing quirk?

Writing while my Burmese cat drapes herself on the right side of my chest and sleeps. That causes problems of course: I need to choose a lot of words on the QWERTY side of the keyboard…

10.   What’s one movie you like recommending to others?

Has to be Die Hard. Yippee-ki-yay!

11.   If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?

Drogon from GOT’s looking good. I stopped being afraid of heights a while ago.

12. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Not really.

13.       What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty.

The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett) made me cry with laughter. It was my first exposure to his extraordinary perspective on the world. (Bambi was the first movie that made me cry when I was a kid, and I vividly remember Gallipoli as a teenager…)

14.       How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written two.

The novel, Lost In Plain Sight, took around two years or so to write; the collection of ultra-ultra-short stories much less time. I’m hoping for about twelve months for my next novel (currently in production at Chapter 4 [now 20]…).

15.       How do you select the names of your characters?

They just come, probably from people around me, the media, whatever. It then takes a while to get comfortable with them if they’re major characters. My half-human character, Meyra, in LIPS started as Grace (too serene for what I wanted), then Miranda (too witchy) before settling on Meyra (Other, without being too odd). Sam Franklin came straightaway. And Pagoda? Well, that’s my cat’s name…

16.       What creature do you consider your “spirit animal” to be?

A Giant Panda – they seem pretty chilled.

17.       What are your top 5 favorite movies?

Favourite rather than best, I hasten to add:

Die Hard (see above)

Aliens

Blade Runner

Gattaca

Parasite

18.       If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?

Find an iconic place to do a Charlton Heston impression and yell something iconic. Not the Statue of Liberty, he’s already done that. Mind you, it might take me a while to get to New York from Surrey.

19.       What fictional character would you want to be friends with in real life?

Sam Vimes (from Discworld). Although, given my answer about where I ‘d want to live, I would want his job, so that might cause friction…

20. What book do you wish you had written?

I like the books I’ve written and am writing, but I love The Old Man And The Sea (Hemingway) for sheer bang for word-buck. The simplicity of the language, the timeless themes, the bleakness and the hope, all wrapped up in such a compact package. Awesome.

21. Tell us 10 fun facts about yourself! 

My Joker wig is in a hat box in my wardrobe, just in case. I keep my other nine fun facts tied up in a purple bow next to it.

22. If you could live in any time period, what would it be and why?

Another wow question. Three immediate thoughts: in the 1920s, but only if I could be Bertie Wooster; mid-nineteenth century if I could invent something to get the industrial revolution going and be allowed to wear a stovepipe hat; as a 15th century explorer when anything was possible and there still might be dragons.

23. What is your favorite genre to read?

I love books that defy pigeon-holing. But if forced to choose, then it’s Fantasy. Or Thrillers (especially Noir). Probably Fantasy-thrillers. I need some humour in that, not just bleak and dark. If any Sci-fi comes along for the ride, then so much the better. And neo-Victorian, I like a bit of that. It’s very difficult. The Maltese Falcon’s Magic Blade Runner That’s Dreaming Of Electric Sheep. There. Perfect.

Check out Jazzy Book Reviews for a bunch of interesting stuff, including a blog and reviews: https://www.jazzybookreviews.com/2020/06/lost-in-plain-sight-by-alan-camrose.html

WEAR A MASK!

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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ALAN CAMROSE NEWSLETTER


APRIL/MAY 2020


Blog, books, reviews, human sacrifices (by appointment only)

Dare to explore my Lair

This time:

Shows my playful Joker face

Exciting news! Look out for my blog tour about my book, Lost In Plain Sight…Available on Amazon for 0.99 (free on Kindle Unlimited) Buy now

More details soon!
Shows my playful Joker face

I have just launched The Lair Of The Camrose, my Blog stuffed with articles, musings, pics and other stuff, including a video trip into the heart of the Lair.

Latest blog post: reviews of selected thrillers from the bookshelves in my Lair…

www.alancamrose.com

BE THERE AT THE LAIR!

Shows my playful Joker face

Try out my cat lovers literary quiz at Goodreads. A Magic-based one is coming shortly! It will ruffle your fur…

The Art of Paw

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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The Lair Of The Camrose

Welcome to my new home.

This is the first post on my new website

Published by Alan Camrose on April 16, 2020

My Blog, in The Lair Of The Camrose, is part of my newly revamped website. It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…


This time, I’m taking a look round with you, into my den, my wordshack, palace and stately ruin that serves as my hangout in cyberspace. Glad to have you along for the ride.


I have been working on social media for a few months, trying to figure out the various platforms, battling with the tech and carrying on in the face of TBV (That Bastard Virus). I have carved a deep cavern in the byways of the Internet together with squillions of other people trying to be heard, trying to promote their whatever (the WordPress YouTube vids are my firm favorites at the moment).

Except when they utter the dreaded words code or coding…That earns a swift visit to the top right-hand X of Doom.

In the coming weeks and months, I will post reviews, articles, newsletters and quizzes, and information about my new projects, in an effort to give insights into me and my work, and why I’m pursuing the Writing Thing.

But first, there’s the small matter of my pad in this neighbourhood.

Indian dancing girls
There are Indian dancing girls to greet us.

Burmese Buddha staring eyes
A mystical Buddha to look over us and protect us.

A fearsome guardian:

pagoda cat fearsome guardian
Baby Yoda, eat your heart out

A vista over a vast valley of temples from one of the higher floors.

Bagan pagodas landscape
Magical landscape TM

No need for a reservation, there’s room enough for all….

Take a look at my other blog posts: see if they lure you deeper into my lair…

Welcome to the party, pal….

John McClane

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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The ties that bind a writer

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, come with me to Myanmar (Burma, as was) and see the origins of one of the characters in one of my books


We holidayed in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 2012, travelling from Yangon to Bagan, to Lake Inle in central Myanmar, via a couple of bracing air and road trips. The great thing is now we’re able to say that – like Nellie the Elephant – we met one night in the silver light / On the road to Mandalay. No traveling circus to run away from, although we did have our eleven year old twins with us.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the religious dimension of the exquisite reclining Buddhas. Now I’m going to talk about the exquisite Burmese cats there, which delighted and charmed us in equal measure.

Burmese cats in Burma? Who knew? Read on.

We found them at Lake Inle. It’s an almost supernaturally peaceful place of calm water and effortless fishing with nets by wiry boatmen. They work on long skiffs, their practices unchanged over thousands of years, balanced, more like perched, on one leg. Precarious but elegant. Their non-standing leg wraps around a long oar which they use to propel their boats, freeing their hands to manipulate long, thin bamboo poles and silky fishing nets. They look like eerie stick figures in the early morning mist, or complicated semaphore signallers. Magical.

We saw hand-weavers and metalworkers plying their trades in raised bamboo buildings on sturdy poles above the lake. Then we landed at an island jetty revealing the entrance to:

to cafe for Burmese felines in Burma
Afternoon tea for cats. Burmese cats. In Burma.

Do not enter here if you are not a cat-lover, or if you do then be warned (and wear a hat). There are lots of cats. Burmese cats. A silken wave. In fact a heat map of Myanmar would surprise you in terms of hits for Burmese cats, since they died out in Burma in the 1930s. No more Burmese cats in Burma, like no chocolate in a chocolate cake. 

They were re-introduced to their native and spiritual home in 2008/9 from Australia and Britain to re-kindle the flame. Make the world right. Put that smooth, delicious chocolate back where it belongs.

Cat storage platform cat sitting on head
Just passin’ through…

The cats at the Cat Café won our hearts – as well as high ground in the picture opposite. Their now familiar to us complete lack of fear (common sense) of strangers had them cavorting around all of us in no time. 

It was an easy step to acquiring one when we got back to Britain. 

Pagoda.

She even now walks on my shoulders – not so much on my head, maybe – in the same no-nonsense way as her predecessors at, a link to the feisty cat familiar in my new book, Lost In Plain Sight. 

What felt like an inevitable starting point for my writing journey: that cat as one of the protagonists, allowing mere humans a periodic glimpse of what it means to be a cat. 

I was acting on the most consistent advice that I’ve seen, apart from the raucous screaming of the words “SHOW, DON’T TELL!” :

“Write what you know”. 

Maybe something about law at some stage. I was a lawyer for a long time. However, for my first project I chose to write about a magical cat who naturally believes that her “owner” is in fact her familiar while they hunt down a murderous demon. With the greatest possible respect, that was a lot more fun than writing legal opinions. 

I hope you read it and agree.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose


Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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The magic of make-up: Lights…Camera…Joker!

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, come and see me in my make-up studio, also known as my office…


Dressed as Joker in the office, the magic of make-up - nothing to do with my magic cats novel

I absolutely love the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie. He made me feel sorry for the Joker. Crazy!

Worth his Oscar every day of the week.

It’s been an epic journey for the Joker leading up to this point:

Cesar Romero was fantastic cavorting opposite without question the best Batman ever – Adam West. Cesar was the chortling Clown-Prince of Crime…Among others, the reckless and deranged Jack Nicholson, guilty of chewing up the furniture in Batman.  And the sadly missed nightmare of Heath Ledger’s take. Genuinely unsettling, and brings nightmares even now of his magic trick with a disappearing pencil…

But I think the Phoenix version had the extra dimensions of his aching need for acceptance and terrible mental health issues. All of that seeped into the character so much that even with the horrific crimes that he commits during the course of the movie and his thirst for chaos and destruction, we are still invited not so much to side with him as to at least understand him as a complete character rather than a caricature – an amazing feat when you think about him strutting around in lurid clothes and troubling make-up, the scent of coulrophobia burning your nostrils as you watch.

My stint as a villain (apart from the heinous crime of being a lawyer, that is) amounted to several hours at an office party a while back, heisting beer. You can see the office below…

I recall having taken a conference call that day in my get-up, asking the – very understanding, and amused – client to allow me to conduct the call on speaker, explaining that I didn’t want to smudge my make-up.

Becoming someone else for a brief time is amazingly liberating, as you can perhaps see below – a visit to the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong for tea illustrates that…

Make-up and costume of Joker in Hong Kong

I asked for a table for four in the Clipper Lounge for my wife and the kids. The staff are magnificent there, not even raising an eyebrow – they could have borrowed one of mine – as they showed us directly to our table. I suppose it made it OK because I was wearing a tie?

This feeds through into my writing – the liberation not the need to dress up in odd costumes. Each character unleashed in a book contains – worryingly sometimes – a little bit of me, my family, friends, acquaintances, history. Inevitably. Everything comes from somewhere. All part of my way of understanding the world and me, and me in the world, as part of my writing.

Take a look at my other blog posts: see if they drive you crazy…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose


Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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Appearances are deceiving…

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, come with me on a trip to Cuba and see the coming together of Santeria and roast chicken…


Santeria emporium, Havana, Cuba
Santeria emporium, Havana, Cuba

We wandered round the streets of Havana, Cuba drinking in the sights and some local beer. Our journey led us into a surreal world of crumbling beautiful buildings topped with optimistic modern extensions, watchful street cats, and the mysterious religion of Santeria (the Cuban version of voodoo).

That was a departure from the usual boat-like classic automobiles and challenging-coloured cocktails). 

We discovered a voodoo shop around Calle O’Reilly (O’Reilly Street) in Old Havana. There must be a magic spell over it; I would never find it again, tucked away off the main thoroughfare. The street was named after the unlikely sounding Alejandro O’Reilly, 1st Count of O’Reilly of the Spanish Empire, rewarded by Spain for among other things during the course of the 18th century re-building Havana’s defences after they’d proved to have been set in the wrong place. So, who did your building work last time…?

The exotic emporium was festooned with bowls (for offerings), trinkets, candles and candlesticks, figurines of Catholic saints, necklaces, and coloured beads called elekes. The authentic, sacred versions of elekes are carefully prepared by santeros (think, priests) to reflect and guide initiates in suitable ways; other beads are…just beads.

Elekes Santeria jewellery, magic, voodoo
Elekes

The religion of Santeria developed undercover as a shadow of Catholicism, when slaves from Africa arrived at their new enforced homes in places like Cuba, and were discouraged from openly practising their beliefs. They used Catholic saints as avatars or proxies to cloak their own style of worship, an intriguing sleight of hand to allow them to continue to follow their old ways. 

Orishas – the Santeria equivalent of selected saints – have specific colours, behaviours and powers associated with them, practitioners emerging from behind the disguise of Catholicism to make offerings of food and sometimes blood (animal sacrifices). The latter adds something of a sinister element to the religion, often over-shadowing its predominantly uncontroversial ways and discouraging open practice.

I made more of Santeria in my novel, Lost In Plain Sight, which portrays a menacing arm of the religion allowing – demanding – human sacrifice, not merely chickens. 

Roast chicken at Hixter

Is this a horrific memento that I stole away out of the back of the Santeria shop allowing me to make an evil Hand Of Glory to strike fear into my enemies and lay waste to their souls?

No, It’s a roast chicken served at Hixter restaurant, Bankside, in London. It’s presented at your table done up like a, er, chicken, including a very fine looking pair of feet. Took me back to our days in Hong Kong, where chickens’ feet are alarmingly popular, espacially when employed to bait foreigners at dinner. 

They’re not for the squeamish, but neither are they a monstrous display of dark magic. The chicken is moist and succulent, run through from the base with an uncomfortable nod to Edward II. 

I picked out this image to illustrate the power of connection and association.

I used the concept of Santeria in my book, albeit distorted and made more alarming by the introduction of higher levels of sacrifice rather closer to home. 

Here’s a passage from my book that talks about it, a taster perhaps, using authentic names but for more diabolical purposes:


EXTRACT from Lost In Plain Sight

The leader intoned in a voice that melted into the African drums and the chant as the chorus writhed in anticipation, all in time with the ancient rhythms: 

‘Babalu-Aye, Oh Lord of Healing, Lord Ọbalúayé, Wise and conquering One,Your Worshipfulness Erinle, Your medical wisdom we need and implore, Lord Esu, Your Tricks and Wit are our Guide, Lord Kokou teach us your Warrior ways, Obatala, help us to create human bodies in your divine image, Lord Shango put your trust and lightning in us, Lady Aje share your bounteous wisdom and wealth, and Mistress Oya, let us know the secrets of your Maagic, we beseech you.’ 

The leader motioned to his entranced entourage, like a king cobra conducting at the Royal Albert Hall. They responded immediately. I am horrified to say that we responded immediately, just far enough away to escape the strangling power of the combination of beat and words and song. The circle of acolytes and spheres tightened; the intensity and volume increased. I could smell its dark ululations, feel the texture of its cloying taste, hear the jangling of harsh colours, even from where we were.  


Religion covered over with religion in the real world, a chicken that tastes wonderful/ looks demonic, and the modification and distortion of reality to provide grounding for some pretty anti-social behaviour in my book. All things that were unexpected for me related to my experiences, woven into fiction because they fitted in with what I wanted to show.. 

Nothing’s wasted. 

Like the chicken (well, maybe those claws this time around)…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose


Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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