Monday, 19 July 2010

The Story of My Life

Does the world need another story? You may well wonder - whether we understand that to mean something made up around the camp fire, or the ‘true story’ of just one little life form.

The only reason I set myself this task was that my family remains scattered, and we don’t get much time for fireside story-telling. I never knew much about my own father’s past, and it remains intriguing. So little got recorded of ‘little lives’ up until now that I have trouble reconstructing the past he lived through.

Future generations may have a bottomless resource to rebuild their own past from. Events shot from dozens of angles by camera phones. Snapshots, blog diaries, FaceBook entries, twits, you name it, the archive will be there for trawling. Still, like any researcher they may come across conflicting descriptions or edited or censored versions of ‘the truth’, which they may have to resolve to their own satisfaction.

Coming from the last of the unrecorded generations, I just wanted to capture a few of my experiences, if possible, as they might reflect on my generation, too, and provide clues not just for my own descendants, but anyone interested in the period.

As well as describing events, as best as I can remember with my unreliable memory, I may put in a couple of chapters of rants and opinions, as they also colour the way I lived, the way I experienced events and even the way I remember things.

As many of the people involved in my story still roam the planet I may not go into too much personal detail (without their permission) so don’t expect revelations, sordid details or unkind thoughts. We lived as best we could, and perceptions and intentions change all the time.

When young most of us have a very limited worldview, but we slowly grow and our world expands, along with the information we have to base decisions on. Some of us travel widely, some stay put – and those adventures can involve actual movement around the planet, through other cultures or life styles, or simple mental journeys through all human history, creativity and endeavour, without moving from our place of birth.

You can already find a simplified biography on Wikipedia, compiled by journalist Colin McEvoy from all the online interviews, blogs and websites I have already put up. In fact, playing with online resources seriously slowed down my desire to write this up in book form, but I feel the need to expand those bare bone details into something a little warmer and more personal.

I hope you may find something of interest here, and, of course, with the modern forms of publishing it will prove really easy to make a later edition, if anyone wants to add any corrections, anecdotes or other comments.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Still reading thrillers

A while back I discussed with friends why my own novels might prove almost unreadable (well, being written hastily in a month might contribute to that fact!)

Anyway, as people seem to think I lean in the direction of Dan Brown territory I decided to look at blockbuster thrillers in the conspiracy realm, just for an experiment, and began to make a list of essential ingredients.

This was my original post, back in February. These are the main points:

  • Famous Location(s) - Tourist attractions, cathedrals, special cities, etc. which might (or might not) like the publicity your book generates.
  • Famous People of the past - Who's been done? Mozart (Freemasons), Van Gogh, Gaudi, Da Vinci (or rather Leonardo) of course, Jesus and Mary, Shakespeare, Kennedy Bros, Elvis, Marilyn.
  • Imaginary organisations (or imaginative alternative uses for existing ones) or very secret societies - [eldritch rising organ music]
  • Scary events - Bond villain plans for the world – religious prophecies – natural catastrophes – alien invasion – ritual murder – abduction
  • Alternative Historical interpretations of source of civilization/religion, etc
  • Money (almost infinite resources to jump on planes, etc)
  • Religion - and esoteric belief systems of magic(k) or witchcraft
  • Espionage – codes and cyphers, cryptograms
  • A MacGuffin everyone is looking for (manuscripts, formula, Holy Grail, magic spear, etc)
  • Ingenious methods (technology from Q, magic from Jonathan Creek)
  • a couple of investigators - partly qualified but a little out of their depth [edit: I seem to have overlooked the 'man who can do everything', so 'partly qualified' seems a bit weak. Check this update.]
  • some innocents dragged into the whole thing – often in jeopardy
  • plenty of disposable villains (for getting their come-uppance)
  • the Grinning Sadist – boss’s sidekick or lone wolf?
  • a worthy opponent for our heros (curiously charming - but dangerous - Big Boss, or terrifyingly unhinged tyrant)
  • Special helpers (Mycroft Holmes, professors, etc) - usually die, too
  • Anonymous super-rich people (malign or benign) – provided with helicopters, forts, wodges of cash, etc
  • Celebrities (who, like police and spies, have access all areas – assistants, second homes, etc – disadvantage – easily recognised)

Anyway, currently reading The Cult of Osiris by Andy McDermott and it certainly ticks the boxes: female archaeologist seeking to restore her reputation; ex-special services boyfriend (only kills baddies, but seems to cause collatoral damage wherever he goes); disfigured baddie; secret society/cult; Egyptian treasure under The Sphinx, etc.

At least the hero attempts some Bruce Willis-type sidecracks during the contrast to the total lack of humour in many of these type of books...