Monthly Archives September 2013

Flash Fiction: ‘An Apple Five Ways: 1/Hers’

She gets on the number 45 and sits upstairs. He sits down so he can see when she gets off. In town they cross the road to the station. The ticket machine is out of order and he is pleased, he prefers talking to a person. He stands in line behind her. She buys a return ticket to London, so does he. On the train, he sits two rows away. It’s a bit close but she may make a telephone call on her mobile and he needs to hear. She could be arranging to meet someone. He sits with his good ear facing her, she sits looking at her phone, typing. But there is no call. At Waterloo he waits outside M&S, studying a poster about Kew Gardens. She re-appears, carrying a small green bag. Her lunch. He has no food, didn’t expect to be gone for long. He can’t go into a shop now, and risk losing her. Really he just wants to touch her, but he knows this is not possible. He is frightened she will disappear on contact, like the time he looked at his reflection in the pond at Wisley. He dropped to his knees to
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Categories: My Flash Fiction.

↑↓ Going Up Going Down 12

↑ & ↓ Poirot, re-invented I’ve never been sure of contemporary authors writing sequels to novels whose creators have long since passed. My one exception, I am happy to concede, is PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley. I am not sure what to make of the news that Sophie Hannah is to re-create Hercule Poirot. Hannah, who describes herself to The Bookseller magazine as an “obsessively” devoted Christie fan who read all her novels as a 13-year-old, is a proven crime writer so hopefully the most famous Belgian detective will be in safe hands. The book, currently title-less, is due out in September 2014. My instinct is to say, leave well alone. ↑ Way to go, Jeffrey, Barbara, Lindsey, Lynda, Harriet & Emily Jeffrey Archer, Barbara Taylor-Bradford, Lindsey Davis, Lynda La Plante [her latest mainstream thriller, Wrongful Death, is out this week] Harriet Evans and Emily Barr are the six authors who have written short books especially designed for adults who don’t usually read. The campaign, sponsored by Galaxy and supported by Arts Council England, has distributed 4.5 million books since it started in 2006. http://www.quickreads.org.uk/ ↑ Boutique book festival at Kings X London Lit Weekend is a new literary festival
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Categories: Book Love.

My to-read shelf is out of control

I seriously have to stop buying books. My to-read shelf is out of control.For the next month I will not:- a) Browse on Amazon; b) Go into any Oxfam shop; c) Avoid my local bookshop like the plague. I average three books per visit. My last visit was motivated by the need to buy poetry after Seamus Heaney’s death, I left with Death of a Naturalist plus Robert Graves’ Selected Poems. On my Kindle there are 51 items on the menu, but that includes the complete works of Dickens and Austen plus various omnibuses by Jo Nesbo and MC Beaton. Not all of it is fiction, there are a few tennis biographies and guide books left over from our USA tour last year. Unread gems awaiting me include Doppler by Erland Loe, Ferney by James Long, and Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver. Some are read – The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, The Hunger Games trilogy, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Some books on my Kindle are on my ‘must-read-before-I-die’ list eg War and Peace, and all of Ford Madox Ford. My to-read bookshelf, behind the door in the spare bedroom, is much more eclectic. From Granta to Haruki Murakami’s IQ84 which I was given
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Categories: Book Love.

Book Review: The Lost Girl

I admit to never having heard of this book by Sangu Mandanna until seeing it mentioned in ‘favourite read’ lists on a few blogs. I ordered it purely on that basis and had no idea it was a YA novel. It is a romantic story of love and loss, grief and identity, set in the UK and India, with sinister echoes of Frankenstein. Eva is an ‘echo’, a non-human ‘woven’ by a mysterious organization called The Loom which makes copies of real people for their family in case the loved one should die. The idea is that the ‘echo’ slips into the dead person’s shoes so minimising the family’s loss. Of course it is not that simple. Mandanna handles a difficult subject well, not avoiding the awkward moral issues which litter the dystopian story premise. The world is disturbingly almost normal, littered with everyday familiar references. Eva, who lives in the Lake District, is the echo for Amarra from Bangalore. I found it quite an emotional read, not just Eva’s situation but her guardians, her familiars, and Amarra’s friends in India. What seems a simple premise at the beginning, done with the best intentions, becomes increasingly dark as the story develops
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Categories: Book Love.

Aah Snoopy, you are so right… 5

The treadmill of the daily wordcount, only another 2999 to go Snoopy.   ‘Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life’ ed by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz  [UK: Writer’s Digest Books]   And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Searching for the right word: advice for #writers from @Snoopy http://wp.me/p5gEM4-rx via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Flash Fiction: Consequences

That’s it. The clock tower? Uh-huh. The building at which the man was pointing disappeared as their pod went behind a wide white steel upright. Father and son were on a big wheel beside a river. Each time it completed a rotation, the wheel passed a derelict building, a pile of bricks except for a wall standing prone and leaning slightly to the right. Just visible was a faded advertisement hoarding which said ‘Queue here for London Eye tickets’. So why did you bring me here? Because of what it symbolises, because it’s important for you to understand. Silence. Come on, think about it. You did history at school. Yeh, Mr Gayle’s class. I know the Government used to be in London before it moved to Norwich. And? And… something to do with the final war? Yes, in that building the politicians decided to go to war. That was the beginning of it all. If they’d listened to the people… we didn’t want it, we demonstrated. But it was democratic then, right? So the people elected the Government. Which sounds cool, I mean, I’d like to do that when I’m old enough. But then Mr Gayle said it was crazy
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Categories: My Flash Fiction.

Great Opening Paragraph 38… ‘A Severed Head’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“’You’re sure she doesn’t know?’ said Georgie. ‘Antonia? About us? Certain.’ Georgie was silent for a moment and then said, ‘Good.’ That curt ‘Good’ was characteristic of her, typical of a toughness which had, to my mind, more to do with honesty than with ruthlessness. I liked the dry way in which she accepted our relationship. Only with a person so eminently sensible could I have deceived my wife.” ‘A Severed Head’ by Iris Murdoch  Amazon Try these other 1st paras by Iris Murdoch:- ‘The Sea The Sea’ ‘The Philosopher’s Pupil’ And read about the first edition of The Sea The Sea, first published by Chatto & Windus in 1978. Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Nineteen Minutes’ by Jodi Picoult ‘1984’ by George Orwell ‘The Cement Garden’ by Ian McEwan And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: A SEVERED HEAD by Iris Murdoch #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-ml via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

If books were real, Miss Marple…

Miss Marple… would be a member of St Mary Mead’s reading group which meets every Wednesday lunchtime at the public library. They are currently reading The Great Gatsby in honour of the film, Miss M likes the book but disliked the film which she thought rather indulgent. Next on the list is a Jack Reacher book by Lee Child. Miss M rather likes Jack Reacher [above] though she is not sure about Tom Cruise. ‘The Body in the Library’ by Agatha Christie [UK: Harper Collins] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Jackson Brodie in ‘Case Histories’ Mattie Ross in ‘True Grit’ Jo March in ‘Little Women’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Miss Marple would have a crush on Jack Reacher THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY by Agatha Christie via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-s7
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Categories: If books were real....

I agree with Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle “[snappy dialogue is] the best way to keep the momentum going, rather than to interrupt it constantly with physical descriptions of people . . . It gradually came to me that I didn’t really care what Jimmy looked like, as such. It didn’t matter too much—I didn’t give him eye colour, hair colour, a height. The best way to get characters alive is to get them talking.” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine [June 2013] about his creation Jimmy Rabbitte in ‘The Guts’] Do we need to read a physical description of a character to really know them? I have pictures of my characters stuck on the notice board above my desk, but I don’t think I’ve written a physical description of them. The pictures are there to make my characters into real people, and it does help. Reading Roddy Doyle’s comments set me thinking: how many physical descriptions of characters are actually written on the page, and how many have I imagined. We all know Harry Potter has a lightning scar on his forehead because JK Rowling told us, but when I see Elizabeth Bennet’s face is it because of Jennifer Ehle in the TV series,
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Categories: On Writing.