There is a long list of words that Shakespeare created, and an even longer lists of words I commonly misspell on regular occasions. I was thinking today about how English has progressed, or perhaps regressed, as my Nanna would say. There was a time before the written word when stories were told in song and by words remembered and repeated, past down from person to person. Now, we have audio-books, the modern equivalent, to transcribe those stories we are now too busy to read by eye. My husband, a classic example, "read" H.G.Wells the other day whilst driving at work. And whilst, I appreciated that he chose a classic and was now freely able to converse on the content, I did wonder how much he would have listened had it been written in modern text talk? Would yolo and rofl have the same impact? Would he have commented on the excessive use of wtf instead of his concern at the repetition of transcended and 'ly' words? Somehow, I think there are challenges ahead for modern authors, but perhaps we could all take a leaf out of Shakespeare's book and simply make up some new ones.
This month's authors:
Magnus came to fiction writing relatively late in life, and via literary detours in song-writing, film scripts and film criticism. He was kind enough to reply to my questions on how he managed his craft.
What is your favorite technique for creating suspense in your stories?
I’m a big film buff so I'd like to use an old Alfred Hitchcock anecdote to answer this question. Imagine two people having a chat, sitting at a table. Suddenly a bomb goes off that was hidden under the table. You get the element of surprise once (BANG!) but no suspense. Now, imagine the same two people again, however, this time the reader knows the bomb under the table will explode in 20 minutes. Now we have 20 minutes of suspense in which to root for them and fear for their lives. Will they find the bomb in time? Will it turn out to be a dud? Will they get up and leave before then? In a film as in writing, creating suspense is the management of information. If the reader knows something bad is going to happen at a specific point, for instance, because the narrator alludes to it ('It was the last time she had something to smile about for a long, long time' or 'From then on everything went haywire'; most classic of all 'He didn't know it then but he only had two days to live') then we get suspense. In my third novel 'Ungrounded' I've tried to use a slightly different approach. Ostensibly the narrator (and therefore the reader) doesn't have information that the protagonist doesn't have. Instead, the protagonist gets visions, flash-forwards, and I tried to create suspense that way, though it means that the reader might have to work a little harder. Will the visions come true? Will they come true partially? If so, when, and which part?
How long have you been writing for, and what encouraged you to start?
When I was 10 or 11 I wanted to become a Hollywood star (which wasn’t a particularly likely outcome for a boy in Germany). It’s not that I wasn’t flexible, though. I was happy enough to work my way up the ranks, start at the bottom, you see. So I got a few friends together to shoot a home-made Super 8 movie in our garden (called ‘The Monster from Sherwood’ ;) ). Trouble was, we didn't have a story to tell. So I knocked something together off the cuff. Little did I know then - for me a script was merely a means to an end – that the acting dream was a convoluted springboard in itself. That’s when I started to write. However, it took me another 30-odd years before I attempted to write prose, a novel. I'd never thought I would. Now, of course, I can't stop. I'm on number 4, and my latest might very well turn into a trilogy.
Who is your best villain, and why do you like them?
I'm not too keen on super villains per se, or superheroes, for that matter. The characters we root for and those we root against should have a bit of the former as well as the latter. Of course, you might say the stronger the villain, the bigger the suspense, but that again depends on the strength of the 'good guys'. For me, ambivalence is an important feature in a villain (or a hero). Somebody like Thomas Harris' 'Hannibal' jumps to mind, or Swearengen from the TV series 'Deadwood', and of course Tony Soprano. In 'Time Lies', my second book, the protagonist is a 'reluctant serial killer'. He kills people but you always understand why he does it... How do you plot out your stories, or do you prefer to free-write?
Personally I couldn't free-write a novel. Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors does work like that (I believe), but then again he's a genius, and the free-wheeling quality suits his eerily narratives beautifully, though I have to be careful how I phrase this. I once got into trouble for suggesting that musicians can ‘get together to jam’ without putting due stress on the fact that I greatly admire and respect that ability, and that it takes a lot of hard work to be in that position. I certainly couldn’t do it. Instead, I spend a lot of time plotting before I write the first word of prose. The book I'm writing at the moment is mostly set in 1920s Germany so I had to do a lot of research to create a world that's credible, though fictional. It doesn't contradict history in a way where I'd lose the reader's suspension of disbelief.
Having said that, he's been most active on Instagram lately, if only to share the amazing film posters from the Roaring 20's he's been unearthing in the process of his research for a new book. Check them out at https://www.instagram.com/magnusstanke/ I hope you can take a moment to support him by taking a look at his work, and I extend my thanks to Magnus for being interviewed!
Dayal is a modern poet and a great thinker. In a first for my blog, I got to ask lots of questions about his genre of poetry, and how he works with his art. Here is what he had to say:
What inspires your poetry?
Love, in all it's shapes and forms. But there's so much more to it. I think as we grow as an artist, you realize that there's something more to everything you've created. A couple of years down to writing, I realized that everything I've written came from a deep isolation within me, like it is me, in my books, telling the story or reciting the poems. And it's difficult sometimes, to realize where your original or unique aesthetic comes from. Sometimes you know and understand it right away and sometimes it takes time.
As a modern poet, what do you find is the most challenging component of your art?
I believe writing or any kind of art is like a free fall because there's nothing holding you but you're only acting on the force of your creativity, which is empty, by the way. You start from scratch. You build something out of empty space. The process is not the same every time. And so that is the challenging part, to figure out how to outdo yourself in the sense like......the process of writing, the internal process. I know that there are the drafts, compiling and stuff but how does it start from the within, that's still a mystery for me.
What is your favorite line of poetry (either your own or another poet’s) and why?
I have two favorite lines from different poets. First is "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. The final stanza of the poetry. I think it can touch anyone."The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." I think it sums up the entire piece really well. It means so much to me and depicts what life is in real, like we know how much we always want to live in the moment for it is beautiful and all but one has to keep going on and on in life, 'cause there's so much more in life than one rigid moment.
My second favorite line is from Lord Byron's "When We Two Parted". The entire piece is about the disillusionment of a relationship and for such reasons, they are forced to part and leave each other. The line goes: "When we two parted, In silence and tears, Half broken-heartedTo sever for years, "The phrase "in silence and tears" speaks volumes to me. It doesn't just mean in the literal sense, I believe it represents melancholy, like in terms that there was so much of heaviness and tension between them that it was just silence that accompanied their separation.
How often do you write and what is your favorite place to do it?
My writing process is weird. I cannot write something until and unless something really hits me in the head, so I basically write anywhere on my phone. I write it straight away on this app called "mirakee". It's like Instagram for poetry. But then again, it's not constant. Sometimes I end up writing 5-6 pieces in a day but then there are times when I'm not able to write anything at all for like a week or so.
Dayal loves to engage with his readers. You can check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/amaranthinepoetry/ or via Twitter on https://twitter.com/u_rogue I hope you can take a moment to support him by contacting him, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
This month's book challenge - To win yourself a $10 Amazon gift card, this month I would like you to send in a review of a book you have read recently that you enjoyed. Each month our winner will have their review published in my next month's blog and get the gift card information emailed to them. So send me your review - any book, any genre, let's see what you love to read! I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler