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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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