Wednesday, 26 December 2012
I want to thank everyone who has followed me, read and commented on my thoughts and ruminations - and occasional ranty bits - and also to say how much I have enjoyed my second year of blogging. Reading all the other blogs I suscribe to has been an education and I can now state I am officially hooked on blogging! I hope my followers will continue to read my musings in 2013 as I try to develop my blog further...
However, I will say to all and sundry, that I intend to keep my postings relatively short as I know how precious time is to all of us. One of my bug bears in 2012 was trying to keep up with blogs I had said I would follow, only to discover that some wrote such long missives that I could not devote the time reading to the end! I hated this as the blogger concerned had probably worked long and hard on their post... But time is precious when you have a million things to do and a WIP demanding time and attention.
May I make a plea to all bloggers - KISS - 'keep it simple and short'??? I, for one, will then come back frequently...
So grumps done - bring on 2013 and let the blogging world rock and roll!
Happy New Year to all fellow Bloggers!
Saturday, 22 December 2012
The origins of Santa and the stories surrounding Christmas are buried beneath layers of popular cultural belief. I am, of course, for the moment, putting aside the religious meanings of Christmas – it’s not that I am anti Christian or anything, simply that the notion of telling children the story of Santa and his reindeer has got to be one of the greatest and most enduring stories of all time ( next to the bible and religious teachings). It is also the biggest lie that parents happily enthral their children with.
I mean, when you think about it the image of a big fat man in a bright red suit sliding down your chimney (breaking into your house), eating your food and drinking your wine and then going into a child’s bedroom when they are asleep, ought to be pretty scary for most children. But, hey, it’s okay for this intruder because he’s bringing a sack full of presents! Right!
It just struck me that in other circumstances you could possiblly write a reasonable paranormal thriller story around the notion of this superman character who can get his reindeer to pull a sledge around the heavens and visit every child in the world in the space of just one night!
But hey, who am I to spoil the kiddies’ fun? I believed it myself for a fair few years… And enduring and endearing it still is – especially when you watch their little faces light up with the wonder and the thrill of it all because they’ve listened hard on Christmas Eve and heard the sleigh bells…
I first posted this article a year ago but thought it worth reminding everyone of the joy children bring and that Christmas is the time when families come together and celebrate as one and the main focus is often the children. In light of the recent tragic events my heart and prayers go out to those families who have lost their beloved children (and those who lost other family members) and it is to be hoped that this kind of tragedy never happens again.
A very Merry Christmas to one and all and here’s hoping we all have a peaceful 2012!
Monday, 17 December 2012
Am I the only writer who agonises over names for days on end? I guess I find it so difficult because I think names are so important in characterisation. They give the reader clues as to what kind of person they should expect. It may seem arbitrary as we are all given names by our parents - when they have no idea what sort of people we will eventually turn out to be. Then again, many parents agonise over their children’s names too! We give children names and then hope their characters turn out to be what we would want for them. But in the world of fiction we try to choose names that suit the character we are trying to create.
For instance, age and era play a big part in my choices. A woman who was born early 19th century would not be called Rhianna or Stacy. Just doesn’t ring true, does it? But Arabella or Victoria does. The age of characters is also important in deciding names. I can easily imagine an older man called Hector or Jeremiah but not a young boy. I think most readers meeting a character with these names would automatically have in their mind’s eye and older man even before any physical description is given.
Whether your character is the antagonist or protagonist is also important in naming. Although sometimes one might want to increase surprise by giving an evil character an innocuous name… I think it depends on how you are trying to present your story.
Male heroes names tend to be strong masculine names – they are not usually called Fred or Bert - but female heroines may also be strong ‘no nonsense’ names too. I wouldn’t choose a name like Ophelia or Primrose if I wanted my heroine to be seen as strong and capable. But then again, it is all a matter of personal choice… In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like Ophelia!!
When we are introduced to people in real life we may be told their names but it is not the only information we have of them. We can see how they behave, what they look like and hear them speak. We can make judgements about what sort of person they are (although we may turn out to be totally wrong, of course!)
But in writing fiction we have to give a strong first impression by words only to have the reader ‘see’ our character in their mind’s eye. I believe this is why names are so important.
How much importance do you give to naming your characters? Do you agonise or go with the story and change the name later to fit the character?
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
“Now, about those ghosts... I'm sure they're here and I'm not half so alarmed at meeting up with any of them as I am at having to meet the live nuts I have to see every day.”
As a writer of paranormal thrillers, the world of the occult fascinates me. On looking at the dictionary definition of the word occult, I can see that it can mean esoteric knowledge, secretive mystery and supernatural.
To me the world of occult is mainly associated with the supernatural. It can include such things as Extra sensory perception, spirits, special powers, demons and devils, doppelgangers, possession and special powers ( such as telekinesis, telepathy etc). All these things are great fodder for the supernatural thriller writer. However one thing that is uppermost in my mind when I write is that, irrespective of the supernatural elements, the story must still hold together as a well plotted tale with good, believable characters. It must have the elements of a thriller with rising tension, conflict and suspense and a character in jeopardy.
I also do believe that stories centred on the occult world should grip readers and the supernatural element should be unnerving, scary and even a little terrible. Readers of these kinds of stories expect to be transported to an alternate reality where supernatural abound and yet are still pretty scary.
In the readers mind a little voice poses the question, at least for the duration of the story, “could this possibly happen?”
Suspension of disbelief is what keeps horror and supernatural writers going, as well as the enjoyment of heightened sensations if the story scares as much as it should. The fear, I believe comes from the not knowing.
After all, we really don’t know what awaits us in the afterlife and the possibility of spirits, ghosts etc is not that unbelievable to many people. And lots of perfectly rational folk do indeed believe in the Devil and Demons (for that matter many religions do too). I guess it is this notion of belief and the outside possibility of these things actually happening that captures the imagination of so many supernatural thriller readers – including me!
Does the occult world scare you? Or are you more scared of the nuts you meet every day?
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Natural disasters (and man-made ones) make for brilliant thriller reads, I find. The age-old ‘race against time’ to save innocent lives and – occasionally - the whole human race is the ultimate in ‘edge of the seat’ drama if done well.
Some of the best stories I have come across in the genre of thrillers, involve the use of the word ‘epidemic’. To most people this word is scary as it is the world of science gone wrong and nasty things happening to unsuspecting people. But I suspect the scary part is more about our lack of control over such tiny (usually unseen) microorganisms that can and do kill us indiscriminateWe can easily imagine catching a nasty disease and the thought that something can spread like wildfire and wipe out an entire population – well, we know in our heart of hearts that it could just happen…
To add to the tension and drama there is usually a time element to these stories and so it is not so difficult to build in a page turning tension. A sceptic (often a politician) who does not take the threat seriously is generally built in to provide the opposition to the main character and - voila – a readymade thriller plot!
I don’t mean to sound as if this is so easy but there is definitely a theme to these stories, and we all know it, but it doesn’t seem to stop readers wanting these kinds of stories.
I love these books and I have used the motif in my own novels a little. My latest thriller (unpublished as yet) does have a plot strand where a type of plague is released into a small community.
Have you considered using an epidemic (or the threat of one) to heighten tension and create extra conflict? Have you read a great book/story using an epidemic?