Saturday, 27 June 2009

Feeling like Alice...

I'm sitting here typing with a fidgety cat by my shoulder, which is very distracting to say the least.

I've just finished reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, its a wonderfully imaginative children's book so may not be on every ones radar, although it was made into a film which starring Brendan Fraser. I haven't seen the film, but as it has the fantastic Paul Bettany playing Dustfingerwho is my favourite character in the book, plus Helen Mirren and Andy Serkis playing the evil villian Capricorn, it is now on my 'to watch' list. The central conceit of Inkheart is that when he reads a book aloud Meggie's father, Mo, can conjour characters from the book into our world which is how Dustfinger, Capricorn and various of Capricorn's associates all got here. I would have absolutely adored this book when I was a child.

I've also read a couple of books by Neil Gaiman, who writes the most wonderful contemporary fairy stories, Neverwhere probably being my favourite - travel on the tube will never be the same after reading this. The Graveyard Book, his most recent release reworks The Jungle Book into a darkly beautiful, fairy story. While Coraline has just been made into a deliciously scary film - one day Coraline finds a strange door which leads to an alternative version of her home with Other Mother and Other Father which initially looks more fun.

I loved these books as an adult and would have absolutely adored these books as a child as they sit alongside Antonia Barber's The Ghosts (aka The Amazing Mr Blunden) Penelope Farmer's Charlotte Sometimes and Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden, three of my favourite childhood books.

I don't remember being a particularly unhappy child, but these three books all share the central conceit of an escape to another world which does make me wonder - OK I'm not sure I'd want to be living in a girls boarding school during WWI. I also have a vivid memory of me aged around seven wobbling on my mother's precious sideboard and staring intently into the big sitting room mirror, trying to recreate the opening of Alice Through the Looking Glass - only a seven year old would want to meet some of those characters, its been a while since I read the Alice books but I am sure that the Red Queen is in the second book as well - so let's chalk this up to childhood imagination and a desire to learn about places other than the small cathedral city in Southern England I grew up in. A desire I still have as an adult, especially after a very bad day at work.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Small Beginnings

1,032 words written. Not an enormous amount I know, but they look like good words and in the right order...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Quick Update

You may have noticed that a new widget has appeared on the blog called "Book" showing how much of my book I've written. It stays relentlessly at zero for the moment, although I do have a rough chapter breakdown and I've concluded most of my research, so I am ready to go.

But not a word has been written.


I've had a really bad couple of weeks with work, and when I say bad I mean sleepless night, 3am pacing bad - worrying about the discovery of a huge issue with one project close to completion which seemed, at 3am at least, completely unsolvable - while trying to deal with a series of 'what if...' questions that are basically unanswerable. So my poor head feels as if a hole has been drilled in my skull and various fingers have poked and prodded what's left of my brain.

The good news is that there are certain deadlines that can't be avoided so things should get easier soon. But I'm still not getting enough sleep as I'm worried that it is going to be too quiet in the second half of this year!

The good news is that this all means that I might actually have the time to get a good first draft of the entire novel written. I nearly abandoned the whole project a couple of weeks ago, because I thought I didn't really have anything to say, but then I read a couple of books that really didn't seem to be saying anything at all, to me at least, and this has spurred me on and I'm aiming to write around 10,000 words a week which a break for the bit of research that I've been avoiding. The 100,000 words on the widget is just an estimate, I may write more, I may write less - as Neil Gaiman says in the Intro to Smoke and Mirrors 'Sometimes the only way I would know that a story had finished was when there weren't any more words to be written down' and I suspect that this is true for me.