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With cat like tread, upon our prey we steal..

by on September 23, 2013

“Were you in the D’Oyle Carte?” “Right in the (d)oily cart, mate”. Ah, the immortal genius of Spike Milligan. I’m going to confess that there are times – not very often I grant you – when I write a joke and I can hear his manic laughter in the back of my head. That’s when I know I’ve written a gag that worked for me. What I find strange though is other people’s reactions. The whole point, for me, of my entire comic fantasy series is to make people laugh. Yes, it borders on the insane fringe of fantasy I admit, but my deep desire is to entertain and give some reader a moments relief from the general grind of the daily round. And people are laughing at different things in the books. So the attempt at a wide variety of humour works, occasionally. One reader told me last night that she was giggling helplessly at a line I hadn’t considered all that funny when I wrote it. But good for her! And a huge thank you to her ( she knows who she is, I’m sure). Telling someone like me that as a reader she was giggling at one of my gags actually makes writing the book in the first place worth while. And another reader, this time looking at my horror work, said in an online thread that she had been infuriated at getting visitors whilst immersed in The Showing. I had a warm fuzzy from that, too. I must be getting soft as I get older, I’ll be writing chic-lit next. Oh wait…

Whatever. I’ve been wondering though this week about influences. You see the point I made earlier about hearing Spike’s ghostly giggles was quite serious. I do sometimes ask myself how what I’m doing matches up to a writer I really aspire to emulate, and wait to hear approving or disapproving voices in the back of my head. I’ve been reading a lot of Graham Greene recently: whilst I admire his work enormously (reading his prose is like bathing your mind in a scented bath with candles and soothing music*) I know that the quality of fiction he produces is beyond my skillset for a couple more incarnations: but I do sometimes hear approval or disapproval from a collection of voices at the back of my skull. I know who my influences are and I might talk about them more in a few weeks: hearing their disembodied voices yelling at me is sometimes unsettling, though.

Before I answer the door to the nice men in the so-white coats with the unmarked white van carrying an odd padded jacket, does anyone else get that feeling? And feel driven to do better as a result? And feel infuriated when the voices tell you it isn’t happening?

And finally, yes really finally for this week, I can’t finish without mentioning that Amazon have started selling the Kindle version of my next release – The SatNav of Doom (The Banned Underground #5) already. That’s the fifth book in the series. Honestly when I started out with a bizarre idea whilst lying down in the sunshine on top of High Street Fell in the Lake District, I had absolutely no idea that I might end up like this. A basket case, panicking that I might not be making a good enough job of the sixth book I am just finishing. I have to express my undying gratitude to the publishers, Safkhet Publishing who have stuck by the series through thin and thinner. May their printers never run out of ink.

At the moment, The Satnav of Doom is out at a promotional price. I urge you to buy it much, much later when the price goes up and I will earn a higher royalty payment. No, not really. Go and bag a bargain now.

* Soothing but sharp edged at the same time. Disraili Gears, maybe. Or Back in Black. **

** Didn’t think I was going to write a whole blog post without at least one of these, did you?


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  1. You know, I’m not sure I actually picture myself trying to impress the people who’ve influenced my writing, it’s more a case of adding them to the dish; taking a dash of their ethos, mixing it with mine, shoving it in the Kenwood until it makes soft peaks and then cooking it on a low heat until it is suitably light and fluffy. Sorry, I probably went a bit far with that metaphor.

    That said, there are times when I write something that makes me laugh and laugh and there are also times when I discover something I didn’t think was that funny had the same effect on someone else. I also float a few inches above the ground for several days when someone is nice about my stuff.

    Finally, yes, I also share the same relentless search for better. I write something that I like and before long I start to wonder how I can improve it. As soon as I manage to master the basics of character interaction in a given situation I start trying to achieve more, or put the characters in a situation I lack the literary skill to describe and then agonise over it for months until, at LAST, I can make a reasonable fist of it.

    Sorry I really am waffling here aren’t I? But does any of that sound familiar?



    PS and congrats on the Showing one. I saw that and hoped it had suitably chuffed you! And congrats on the latest book out, too! šŸ˜‰

  2. Yes, every so often something tells me I’ve ‘done it right’ and they are good moments šŸ™‚

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