THE GREAT OUROBORUS BOOKS TREASURE HUNT!

Here’s your first clue!

 

Look for me! Find me! I’m on my way!

I’ll meet you at this place on a Saturday

It’s colourful and large and a holder of books

I’ll be somewhere outside, so you’ll really need to look

It’s a garden of benches, giant baubles and trees

It’s got places for your cravings for coffee and tea

It’s wide and well-loved and it’s not too bare

But most importantly, it’s a great big square!

Where Am I?

 

Know the answer? Be at the above place on Saturday Dec 1 2012 11am-2pm

and you might just find a free book waiting for you!

 

Good luck, book lovers and happy hunting!

Advertisements
Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

OUROBORUS BOOKS TREASURE HUNT

OUROBORUS BOOKS TREASURE HUNT

Hi Book Fiends!

This December Ouroborus books invites you to join The Great Ouroborus Books Treasure Hunt!

Three free signed copies of Everdark Realms – Book 1: The Darkening are going to be left in 3 separate locations somewhere in Brisbane. It could be anywhere! It could be a park, or a bench, or a beach or a unicorn. Okay, maybe not a unicorn, an alpaca sure, just not a unicorn. They’re busy.

The first person who finds a book gets to keep it. Yep, a free signed copy of our latest release. It’s that easy!

Clues about where the books will be left will be put up on our site, on Twitter and on Facebook and also in some bookstores. Just look out for the above Ouroborus Books logo!

And just because we’re super excited about our treasure hunt and can’t wait to get excited – the first super awesome signed book will be released on Saturday Dec 1, 2012.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Take a Number and Get in Line

As I was coming up to the end of one book, I was thinking – which book will I write next? And did I actually have one to write? I do, in fact. I have many on the list to write, but it doesn’t work like that. If I count all the books that have some sort of story line, and all the books that have characters and that I’ve started because I was excited and stopped because it wasn’t time, I might have around four or five started books.

I can’t write a book on one idea, I need a few to meld together, and I can’t write a book with only one or two characters, I need a few to get started. This is where most of my books are at. I also can’t get started on writing a new book until it has a name. Weird as that sounds, it’s just something I have to wait for. The next book I was going to write was going to be called The Guardians of Unhow. I was a little sick of writing YA books where the characters travel into a different ‘worlds’ and have to get back. I had just finished one and have another yet to write, so I wanted to stay away from that. Unhow had some characters, a basic plot that could be fleshed out later but not a lot of magnetism that was drawing me to it. Next was a book that didn’t have a name. It was an idea I had a few years ago where kids band together to rid their street of witches. First it was going to be vampires, but as we all are, I’m over vampires for now. I had the characters, a basic setting and story line and it was ready to go, but I couldn’t come up with a cool name for it. I juggled some ideas around, but nothing sounded cool and would stick, so that got pushed to the side. I had started a book which had an awful, ‘for now,’ title of The Travelling Performers. I had decided that its story line and characters would be morphed with Unhow to create one book. So there were about three books floating around and I’m trying to jam them all together in one pot to have enough oomph to start writing. I think I may have been in panic mode.

So I left it alone. I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have the next book lined up. I’d never taken an intentional week off from writing, unless I was away somewhere and couldn’t get to my computer, or moving, or someone was visiting. It’s like reading, I know what book I’m going to read next, if I have a few, and I do, I’ll start picking one about a week before I finish reading my current one. Should I read JG Bollards Concrete Island? Should I read the new Pratchett or King? What about the Spooks book? But then again, there is that autobiography by Zak Bagans? So many options. I have this mindset where I feel like I have to choose a book I can read fast, so I can get to other books. Which is the same way I’m currently thinking about writing. I have an epic book I know I have to write and it’ll take up a lot of time and energy, and I want it to be right, so I’ll just wait. For what exactly, I don’t know. I guess I’m waiting for the right time, if that exists at all. I had just come off the back of writing Monster Detention, which was about a year, maybe more and about 500 pages long, so I wasn’t ready to write another mammoth book. My next book I gave a 120 page limit, even though I knew this would be too short if it ever went to publication, but I could add to it later. I finished that and started on Everdark Realms Aquillians book II, which has an even shorter page limit. But even though I haven’t written an epic book in a while, I feel like I couldn’t commit to another one just now, so that leaves The Lost Book of the Blood Baron out for the time being.

Nothing was tapping me on the shoulder, like The Magnificent Mr. Harlow, nothing had excited me and I was starting to think maybe I had written too much in the last two years? I did two NaNoWriMo’s and a few other books and the Everdark books. I had written quite a few blogs and a few short stories – maybe my tank was finally running on low. Then this happened…

I was sitting at work, doing a very long data-entry task when two words appeared like a vision in front of my eyes – Elephant Stone. I must have read a word quickly, or got something jumbled up, but it appeared for just a brief moment. I could see its font, the white background and the general look of the book, then the flood gates opened. For nearly three days I wrote notes for this book. Each day I would type them up in the rough draft. I hadn’t been this excited to write something new for a while. It had all the good pieces from the other books that were already established but had nowhere to go.

Although, sometimes I feel like I’m writing for nothing because I spend my time writing and not concentrating on getting my finished manuscripts out there. I think, what’s the point of having ten books on the computer that no one will read? I always hope that each book is slightly better than the one before, in writing, grammar and style, that I grow as a writer one page at a time. But then I think, what if my big break does come and a publisher wants to see my stuff? Or if they ask me what types of books I have, I’ll have a range for them to choose from. I did think once, what if I stop writing? Just lose interest and take up another hobby? I don’t think I could do that now, looking through my files and files of books and stories, I’ve come too far and dug too deep to get out.

Mitchell Tierney

The Gift

This year for Christmas, my true love gave to me a conundrum. Not only did I have to figure out:

a) how a partridge managed to lodge itself in my pear-tree; but also

b) how exactly I came to be the owner of a pear-tree; and furthermore

c) how to deal with the disdainful present of … well, a book. (Bookworms around the world pass out).

Okay, clearly, I’m exaggerating.  It wasn’t my true love. And of the above, only part c) is in fact accurate. Clearly if I owned a partridge I would not be sitting here at present. I’d be teaching it to play fetch.

The book was given to me by a family friend who was surprisingly thoughtful and put two (I love books) and two (I love books) together and came up with books. And I’m afraid I haven’t been this disappointed in a long time. I haven’t wished for socks so bad in my life. And I feel really bad!

I was touched by her thoughtfulness. And I was over the moon to discover it was a book. I don’t want to seem ungrateful but it’s just not a book I’m into. Despite this, I really tried to read it. And sincerely wished I hadn’t.

It’s not just the genre. This book is in short, well trash. It’s the sort of story they turn into a midday movie that you’re further afflicted with when you’re home sick because clearly you haven’t suffered enough.

Still, I did try and oh how I tried to read this, out of respect for the gift, out of respect for the simple fact that it is a book. And I just could not do it. One page was mindless stupidity involving the two main protagonists calling each other “darling” whilst sipping champagne and discussing their engagement. It reeked of superficial, rich, Manhattan nothing. No A5 sheet of dialogue should have the word “darling” in it 7 times, unless it’s a comedy pointing out the obvious fact that the protagonists are calling each other darling through gritted teeth. I hope the writer got a thesaurus for Christmas. In short it was bollocks. Complete bollocks, and I feel for the forest that was ripped to shreds to make copies of this pure crap that was eventually sold to the masses who actually buy this pure crap. If you need fertilizer, hit up the hardware stores, people!

Oh the torment that pulsated through my being when the protagonist had to decide between fish and chicken for their wedding reception! Nail-biting moments, simply nail-biting. I had an alternative suggestion – big bowls of plastic to go with the rest of that fake bollocks. These characters could not have been more dense and plastic and fake if they had been manufactured by Mattel.

This was one of those books that made me want to take the ‘author’ out with a pea-shooter full of pellets made from her book.

I’m sorry to say, this wasn’t a book, it was embarrassing and unfortunately it’s opened me up to the hideous truth that I can no longer dream of reading and devouring all the books in the world. Because some are so painfully damaged I’m surprised they’re not in therapy.

It pains me to think of it. I love books. Love them. And yet, I’ve come across a book I just can’t stand. There was no story, no real characters, nothing. There was no point to this thick mass of nothing. And it breaks my heart that there are truly talented writers, yet to be discovered who haven’t had their work published, yet there is this crap out there.

I know, it sounds like I’ve done a complete about-face since my blog about ‘at least it’s got them reading’. Here’s the thing. I love anything that introduces people to the world of reading and books and makes it more enjoyable for them. But it’s like that midday movie, it’s like that trashy magazine. Yeah, sure, sometimes it’s great to hang out and enjoy something entertaining and slightly mindless. We all have that moment. But I am advocate for the story. And I’m a big advocate for a good character. You know this; you’ve read my blogs about it.

I suppose the reason I write this is to be honest here. The main goal for any writer, I would imagine would be to write a story well. When I get together with other writer friends of mine, we sometimes read each other’s work and give critiques. Not bad ones, just feedback from an audience and writer point of view. It’s great, because there is a lot that we can sometimes miss. And there are things out there that we need fresh eyes and fresh perspectives on. It’s happened with my work a bit, and I’ve done it with other people’s work. It’s important not to get so wrapped up that you can’t see the story for all the words. And I think that’s what’s happened here. Either this author’s editor was too scared to tell her that this needs to be tweaked, or there was no editing process at all. No one was on hand to read this beforehand and mention that the characters need…character. They can’t be cut out of a cereal box and stuck in a book.

And yet, when stories like this are published, it throws some of my beliefs out the window. If the goal is to get your work published, and to do this by writing really well, then how is it possible for this kind of trash to exist in the public forum? I think the answer is democracy. We’re lucky to have the freedom to write whatever we choose and because we’re this lucky, some hideously written work will get out into the world. It’s up to the discerning public on whether they choose to read this or not.

My only advice to writers is, though it is disheartening when you see something that’s just painful to read, and as a published work makes a mockery of all things writing, keep going. Yes. It hurts. I know I’ve been there, I’m designing the shirt. But keep going. Personally, I use these sorts of books as a reminder of what not to do. I don’t want my characters to turn out like this, and it’s a great way to keep that in the back of my mind when I’m writing. A brilliant teacher of mine once told me, you only fail if you give up. Never think that you’re a failed writer, because your work hasn’t been published. It will happen, if you keep going. Among a lot of my writing friends it seems to be the consensus that if you’ve received a few rejection letters from publishers, you’re onto a good thing and your work is probably pretty damn good. Hey look, it’s so good it’s been rejected a few times.

So my point here is keep going.

Oh, the book? Yeah, I’m giving it Lifeline. I figure they might get a few bucks for it at their amazing bookfest.

 By Sandy Sharma

The Baseball Theory

I should have called this blog the Onion theory, but it didn’t have the same ring to it. There’s a band called Will Haven who I used to listen to who had a song called Baseball Theory about how a baseball has many layers, and as you unravel it, there are different types of fillings. I believe the singer was talking about his relationship, but I’m here to talk about books and writing.

I’ve struggled with being able to write to a certain level. I don’t want to be on the same level as the thousand other writers out there trying to make it in the publishing world. I want to be deeper, or higher, or whatever the analogy would be. I want someone to read my work and know I’ve practised, put effort into honing my skills and that my ideas are unique and my characters are real and might actually be your neighbours or friends. I used to call these layers 2D and 3D, (this is a little insight to how my brain works when writing and it might sound crazy, but I can’t help it). If I write a character that is bland, with no discernable features and has no background and my story is lacklustre, I think to myself ‘that was too 2D.’ I need it to be more 3D. I need it to have layers, sides, depth and be realistic. It’s not enough to make a ‘father’ an alcoholic, or a ‘mother’ overbearing. It’s too clichéd and predictable. In my NaNo (National Novel Writers Month) I made the daughter deaf. She’s in one scene that goes for about two sentences, but I was able to make her more 3D. I wanted to add a character that was a late teen goth, but dreaded the thought of what stereotypical template I would write about a teen goth, so I tried really hard to try and unravel her ‘baseball.’ I didn’t want her to have black eyeliner or fingerless gloves or listen to Marilyn Manson. She writes a weekly blog, listens to Norwegian black metal and I made her talk about a boy she dated who was severely into the Occult and that he got a little too close to the supernatural and had disappeared.

I don’t want to overdo it and make every single character have a rich and meaningful/heartbreaking back story. Sometimes you can add a few layers by indicating things like smoking when they’re stressed, looking at junkies and being disgusted because their sister/brother died of an overdose. You don’t need to go in deep and reveal layer after layer, two or three is more than enough. Often, and I’m guilty of this too, I’m read entire books where the main character hasn’t the slightest depth at all. This happens in fantasy books often because the writer is too distracted with cool secondary characters and environments.  Take X-Men for example, who is the coolest, most badass x-men? Wolverine. Then who? Beast, Gambit, Jean Grey? Now look at the leader, Cyclops? All leaders are straight forward, square jawed with a simple power who has no flaws and are more annoying then enjoyable. This also happens with Images Cyberforce, Ripclaw was cool, Ballistic was cool and their leader, Stryker? Who cares? He has three arms on one side and a long blonde pony tail. Wolverine had a back story a mile long, he had several different comics going at the same time, but did they ever release a Cyclops comic? Nope. And if he did, would anyone have bought it?

When it came to team dynamics, there was always that formula of having one really, really large guy, example, (the Thing in Fantastic Four, Beast, Maul from WildC.A.T.s). The cool offsider  (Human Torch, Grifter), the slim and sexy female (Storm, Invisible Woman, Zealot). I say break this mould because it’s becoming tiresome and predictable, it stays two dimensional. I understand in the comic realm if you mirror something successful, you may get readers to come to your side for a carbon copy and then they’ll have two comics to read a month, instead of one.

Anyway, I’m getting off the point. Some characters always surprise me, and it’s always unintentional. I’ll write a side character needed for one chapter and I’ll like them so much I’ll bring them back into the story later on and give them a bigger role. Other characters that I try to build too much on become a struggle to write and I leave them. In the NaNo I’m writing now I have a character called Wickham who picks up one of the main characters (Fella Jack)  to drive him out to this massive hole they found. His whole purpose was to just have somebody tell him what they had done the night before when they were drunk and Fella Jack woke up on the front lawn. Wickham is stick thin with shoulder length blonde hair and he smokes and has an old car. That’s all the depth I gave him. He didn’t have any other purpose, but for some reason, I don’t know what it is, I like him. I want something to happen to him, get him involved. I gave Fella Jack’s wife a drinking problem (breaking my own rules, I know), she hates her daughter and leaves to go to bars to pick up other men. I thought her character was deep enough, but I haven’t been back to her since the first chapter and I’m 12 chapters in!

Sometimes unrevealing the baseball works, and other times just having it the way it is works too. You can never tell.

Mitchell Tierney

Resurfacing

 

The past few months I haven’t written. Not a word, not a sausage, not a damn thing. And at first I went a little stir-crazy and now, I’m just a bit lost.  Is this what happens when a village loses its chief idiot?

So why have I been sans-writing? Has there been a writing strike? Have I lost my marbles? Have I lost my pen? Have I crashed a laptop? For the love of all things decent, what, Sandy, what?

Nope. I’ve just not had the time. The last few months I’ve been a part-time student, full-time worker ant, and I’ve been in a play which has gone from intense to better start focussing and sorting yourself out, now! To the point where I’ve skipped some good opportunities to do many things in the public forum. My blogs stand neglected and abandoned with cobwebs growing all around them. And to be honest, it’s a little disheartening that there isn’t a regular audience clamouring for the next episode of my work…awkward.

So now, here is my challenge and the point to this, my first blog in months (how lucky do you feel right now) –how do I get back? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I want to get back to writing…sort of. And I have a lot of work I want to write. My biggest motivator for one of my novels was NaNoWriMo. The challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days is amazing. I won’t go into details, because there’s already a blog all about it, but damn it gets the blood pumping, doesn’t it? I even kept going with my work last year, after the due date, because I was enjoying writing it so much. Admittedly I wasn’t a part-time student, nor had many other art jobs going at the time, but still, there it was. And now, I see writing as my old friend. One I’m keen to be reacquainted with. I want to sit down, like I am right now, and have a cup of tea and maybe a warm cholesterol-inducing creamy scone and just get the words out of my heart, out of my mind, out through my fingers and onto something a bit more tangible. I want to do this. But right now, I’m just a little tired. I’m a little lost. I know where I want to go, but it’s just about trying to follow the path in the forest to my destination.

So, I’m going with the tried and true method. I’m putting on the music, I’m taking time out and I’m sitting down and writing. I think this time though, instead of jumping back into my stories like I used to do, I’m going to have to start a tiny bit slower. It’s like trying to move the rusty handle of something. You’ll need a little oil, and you’ll need to let it take it’s time. But wait, just wait a second and she’ll be back to her former glory in no time.

I’ve also had some personal things that have happened since I last wrote and it’s definitely coloured my experience of life in general. So right now, as much as I would like to write and forget all the hideous, grotesque bollocks that’s happened recently, I just need to relax and go with the flow.

And I think that’s what it’s about for me, at the moment. Different writers work differently. And depending where you are in life and in the world, your writing will be different. Right now, it’s reflective, so I can deal with everything. But when I’m feeling strong and awake enough I look forward to going back to some good old fashioned gothic action. It’s sort of like recovering from an illness. The fever has broken and I’m starting to get my appetite back. It’s going to be a little while before I feel like a rich meal, but right now, I’m getting my appetite back and it’s a good thing. I’m reconnecting.

I suppose the reason I’m writing this, is just to say that as writers we get impatient with ourselves. I especially do. When I have the time, but not the inspiration. When I have inspiration coming out of my ears and no time to write. When I have no idea what the hell I’m doing, but I’m doing it and loving it and racing along with it, not sure if I’ll land or crash and burn. But sometimes, just sometimes, whatever is out there, whatever life hauls at us, torsion catapult style, whatever hits the fan and whatever you’re left cleaning up afterwards, the thing with words is that they’re these beautiful things that don’t just entertain or amuse us, they sort us out. They help us deal. They help us cope. Sometimes they help us understand and sometimes they leave us questioning what the hell the author was smoking. But sometimes, just sometimes, instead of demanding that they do our bidding, instead of insisting that inspiration get its butt down here and help us because it’s the only day we will have in a long time, sometimes, it just pays to sit back, relax and go with the flow.

Believe me, as much as I have a tree-hugging hippie side to me and I love the ‘go with the flow’ notion, I’ve never really done it with my actual work. I’ve always had an agenda. I’ve always had somewhere I’ve wanted to go or something I’ve wanted to get out there. For instance, the genre, the type of story, the beginning of something. Sometimes even just one line. One line that starts that story for me, whether it’s beginning, middle or end. And the only time I’ve been reflective is when I’ve journalled and kept my thoughts to myself. But these days, I think I need to let the intense agenda go. I just need to go with the flow. I just need to write and see what happens. And maybe I’ll keep it and use it, maybe I’ll change it, and maybe I’ll keep it hidden for now and see when I’m ready to share it, if I ever am. The other thing that keeps cropping up for me is to let someone else into this world of mine. I’m a very private person when it comes to certain things in my life, most of us are. And there are a lot of people who wouldn’t believe that about me, because I come across as the warmest, friendliest, outgoing person who isn’t shy to talk to someone. But my closest friends who have known me much longer and have seen me at my worst and for some reason have still stuck around know this about me. I’m exceptionally shy. I’m terrified of letting someone into my most sacred world. And every day I slide into my little customer service mask, and pretend that I’m not shy. And every day it requires effort. But there are days when I just can’t deal with people. And there are days when I can’t be bothered trying, because I’m exhausted. Keeping up your defences every day does that to you. So why don’t I just relax and ‘go with the flow’ and let everyone in? Easy – because not everyone is respectful or tolerant. And lately I’ve had that reconfirmed. Writing for me isn’t just about slipping into different worlds, putting something completely fictional out there, entertaining myself and the world and leaving it be. It’s much more than that.

When I write, I’m letting you into a sacred area of my world, powered by the one thing I prize more than anything in the universe – imagination. I’m letting you into my world. I’m showing you what I see, what I feel, what I hear, what I think. And I’m trusting you with it. Sometimes it’s an exceptional risk and sometimes I don’t get involved in thinking about the type of person reading it. It’s too much to deal with, I don’t need that kind of pressure. Because at the end of the day this is my world. These are my characters. And you are a guest in my world. So, I write for me. But there is my world, and when I write I invite you into it. Because I’m curious, because I want to connect. I want you to see something. I want to show you something. On some level I hope we can understand each other. You don’t have to love it, you don’t ever have to read another thing I write, ever again. You don’t even have to finish reading what I’ve written.  And today, just today, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m not going to try and shape anything. I’m not going to try and impress you. I’m not going to try and entertain you. We’re not going to pretend that I’m not shy and I’m not unsure. Today, we’re just going to be honest with each other. Respectful, but honest. I’m not sure. I’m unbelievably shy. I’m doing something different and I’m trying something new. So here I am. My castle is unguarded and my defences are down around you. And I’m just going to sit back and see what happens.

So I tell you what. I’ll invite you in for a cup of tea and a few words, and in return I’ll let go. I’ll relax and I’ll go with the flow. And let’s just see where the evening takes us.

If this works, then all right. We’ve achieved something. If not, then screw it. It was a good experiment. But right now, while I’m trying to find my way back through the forest and the thickets, let’s just stop, check out the scenery, let it go and go with the flow.

 

~Sandy Sharma

 

 

 

Under the Influence

Whenever I read Chuck Palahniuk, my writing takes on his style; the minimalist writing with short chapters and grotesque subject matter. If I read Stephen King I feel like writing a long book, with deep characters with horror elements as well as supernatural themes. I get too influenced by what I read. A couple of Blogs back I was reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac and it had a profound impact on how that blog was written. It was disjointed, strange and had to be edited about five times before it made any sense. My girlfriend edited it and said it was hard to read and not my usual style, I told her I was harnessing the energy of Hunter S Thompson, Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs.

I’ve always found it hard to find my own style of writing. I don’t really believe I’ve found my true, unique, style yet, strange as that sounds. Even though I have been writing for years and years, I am easily influenced by the book I read at that moment. I think this can be equal bad and good. A few of my books are heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy; the way he describes things in great detail, heavy on the weather descriptions with a loose storyline and minimal characters. I like that way of writing, I love his books and find it very easy to write like that. Even if I’m not reading a book of his, I can sit down to one of my books that I’m working on, read a few lines and the style will flow right out. I can pick up exactly where I left off. With Chuck Palahniuk’s style, it’s a lot harder. I have to get one of his books from the book shelf, skim through it, remember the way he describes things, situations, people, environments and go ‘ah yes, that’s right,’ and sit down immediately to write. That should not be the way to write, I know.

The only way to figure out your own style, for me anyway, is to not read anything for a while. I’ve done it before, but it doesn’t happen very often as I’m always reading. I’ve sat at the computer raw, with no inspiration from other writers, no influence and I’ve written. What came out was my own style, uninhibited. Looking back at it now, I can see all the areas I need to work on. I can see where I faultier and where other peoples work was evident. It was clear that moving the character through settings, such as down a hallway, or into a haunted house was happening too quickly. I would describe it briefly and move as fast as I could. In my book S.P.O.O.K.S II – The Ghastly Ghost Train, I had the young brother and sister moving through a museum, down towards the basement to check on a mummy that had escaped. I remember them getting from the front of the museum to the basement in only a paragraph or two. I barely stopped to explain their surroundings, their feelings, or anything. It was pretty much walking along a corridor, looking at a specimen in a glass tube, getting in the elevator and heading down to the basement. Thinking back now, if, or when, I do a rewrite, I would try and build suspense up a little more than I did. I would take longer describing the scenery, and this I think I have learned from Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy. You could say it was a technique learnt, rather than imitating someone else’s style. On a rewrite I would have them sit in the car, at night, looking up at the museum with wide eyes, a full moon overhead, the caretaker shaking by the front stairs, holding a flashlight and stumbling over his words. I would make them walk to the basement, rather than get in an elevator, every step would echo and it would be dark, wherever they flash their torches they would see teeth and eyes of the museums exhibits.

Just recently I was writing Everdark Reals book two for the Aquillians and one of my characters is locked in a prison. He is told to look down the hallway at a large window (it makes more sense once you get to read it). And when I wrote it, I did exactly that, made him look down the corridor at the window. After thinking about it after a day or two, that one scene drew me back to the computer because I knew I had fallen into that same trap. I made it too simple, too uninteresting and boring and it was only one sentence. On the rewrite, I described the darkness of the hallway, the way the ground was made from cobblestones, the other cells along the walls and I made a rat with one ear scamper across the hallway and disappear through a hole. I could have said just a rat, but giving it only one ear, makes it a little more interesting. Giving the hallway mist and dripping moisture from the roof tiles gives you more of a clear picture, even if you only picture that one scene for three seconds.

I don’t think a writer can develop their own style without being influenced by what they read. I mean, that’s why we start writing in the first place. We read books that we love and think ‘I’d really like to do that,’ and once you start writing, you can’t stop. You could look at writers like Clive Barker’s writing and think that there is nothing overly unique about his writing. His words flow freely and it’s easy to read. You don’t get snagged on each sentence, like some writers. But the one thing that make Barker unique are his Monsters and settings. And this is his style. You read a Clive Cussler book  or Mathew Riley book, you know what you’re in for. You know their style, you know what to expect. When Stephen King tried to write under a pseudonym, everyone knew it was him, he couldn’t hide his style.

I tend to like writing kids/YA books because I thought they were more fun to write and they were something I would have liked to read as a kid. But now, I just think it’s closer to my style of writing than anything else.

Mitchell Tierney

WWSD (What Would Shakespeare Do)

I must admit I’m a bit of a Shakespeare nerd. I remember walking around at high school lugging around the school library’s only copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare in my school bag. It was a monstrously sized, hard cover volume, bigger than a dictionary and I’m pretty sure if anyone tried to rob me I could have easily knocked them out with the weight of it. So when I was posed the question of what Shakespeare would think of Twilight, it got me thinking. The idea evolved even past that question and into what would Shakespeare do in today’s literary market.

 As for the original question, I’m sure Shakespeare would be amazed at how such sub standard rubbish could make so much money but, and if pains me to say it, Shakespeare could, if he were a modern writer, be churning out similar books himself.  His works would go one of three ways: amazing books, in depth television shows or tacky paperbacks.

 His tragic love stories would either be brilliant, heartrending tales like a Bryce Courtenay novel or, most likely, be mills and boon romances or turned into Neighbours or one of the cookie cutter dramas common on tv today. He was known as a writer for the masses and from emo poet to romance writer, I fear his work would most likely to the way of the supermarket paperback or television soap.

 Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly hope that if the bard were alive today the works he penned would be merely modern retellings of his works. Prose for the masses; his poetic nature being encapsulated in epics akin to Mr Courtenay’s extensive catalogue. We already see many of Shakespeare’s works being retold in contemporary settings so could we perhaps see a sparkly vampire ridden version of the Taming of the Shrew.

 I hope that if we ever get the ability to bring the past back to life and have Shakespeare able to fill our bookshelves with new works it will be more of the classic works. A Midsummer Nights Dream would work as an urban fantasy or even a True Blood-esqe tale for tv. But if we return to his probably best known and much misquoted work Romeo and Juliet you know this would end up being a teen romance or a Mills and Boon. Sure it could end up being a wistful saga akin to a Colleen McCullough but would marketing hold up for a relative new comer to this genre.

 But returning to the original question, Shakespeare, if writing classic tales would probably think Twilight is the badly written panty-wetting, tween market rubbish… either that or he’d be the author or adapting it for the small screen.

 

 

~Sabrina

Magnum Opus

I get this feeling that every writer has that craving deep inside to write their grand opera. Something that, not specifically stands out amongst their other works, but has been deemed the writers most adventurous work. Classically, a magnum opus would be work that is longer than the author’s previous works, and most likely any future works. It’s normally more involved, with more characters and settings. The work usually stands out as that writer’s greatest masterpiece in their writing career.

Neil Gaiman has The Sandman. Stephen King has The Dark Tower. Alan Moore has The Watchmen. Joseph Delaney has The Spooks Apprentice. Philip Pullman has His Dark Materials. D.M Cornish has Monster Blood Tattoo.

A magnum opus can come in two forms. Writers that write just one line of books, for example – JK Rowling, Joseph Delaney, D.M Cornish, Lemony Snicket; and writers that write a varied range of books and have one single book, or series, that stands out from the rest, example – JRR Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Clive Barker.

Terry Pratchett writes the discworld books, (and if you haven’t read one, I suggest you do), all his characters are based on the discworld, but he has many different characters that he has written several books about. Going Postal was about a thief who was hung and turned into an Angel to help out the struggling Postal Company on the Disc. Pratchett then went on to write a sequel – Making Money, where the protagonist is moved from the Postal Service to the Mint. There is even a third book being written called Raising Taxes. You would think a trilogy of books about one character in a long career of writing would be considered his opus, but Pratchett does this all the time. The Tiffany Aching series has four books – Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, The Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight. Is that Pratchett’s Opus? No. He has done it before with his first two books set on the Discworld – The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. These are the books that introduce the Discworld to the reader and many characters that are still present in the series years later. When people started telling me about the Discworld and all the different satire, comical and scientific elements, not to mention fantasy, they were telling me to read his young adult trilogy called The Bromeliad Trilogy, also known as Truckers, Diggers, Wings, the titles of the three books. So, does Pratchett have an opus, I would say his entire collection of Discworld books would be considered his magnum opus.

I was flying to Darwin last week and I wanted to download some interviews with authors to listen to on the plane. I was reading Swamp Thing by Alan Moore and Sandman by Neil Gaiman. So I searched Youtube and downloaded various interviews and noticed that almost all questions during the interviews will lead back to their greatest, known work. One Interview with Neil Gaiman, he was invited to a university lecture hall, sat in front of a thousand people and all questions were led back to the Sandman graphic novels. I didn’t really mind, I liked finding out more about it, but I thought – is that what happens when you write your masterpiece? Neil Gaiman has written many books and comics, poetry and some of his books were made into movies, but everyone wants to know the inspiration behind Sandman and how it came about. Alan Moore’s opus Watchmen has now become a sore point in interviews, as Moore hates the fact that his creations are being destroyed by Hollywood. The comics are amazingly written and wonderfully illustrated, grand and vast with thought and depth, then you get the two hour long splash, CGI, computer enhanced version that skips through every detail worth mentioning and ruins it. They said Watchmen was an impossible movie to make, and after reading it, I would agree, but Zack Snyder did his  best and the movie was very good, just missing a few story lines. After the debacle of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell, Alan Moore now insists his name be taken off the credits for the movies and all monies to go to the illustrator.

I’ve had a few ideas for my own Magnum Opus. A few years ago I was writing a series of children’s/young adult books called S.P.O.O.K.S. (Special Protection Of Ordinary Kids against the Supernatural), I wrote the first book and it just wasn’t what I had pictured in my head. I thought it was good, but not what I had intentionally set out to do. Then I wrote number two – S.P.O.O.K.S – The Ghastly Ghost Train. Through books 1 and 2 I had hidden little seeds for book 3 and 4. I knew where the story was going; I knew characters that would be coming into it and what would eventually happen at the end. I sent it to a few publishers thinking, ‘I have an entire series planned, why wouldn’t they want this?’ But no one did, so I put book 3 on hold and continued writing other things. About a year ago I started thinking about S.P.O.O.K.S again and how I should have done it, how I wanted it to be written, and started again. I wrote about twenty pages, excited to know I was heading in the right direction and stopped. It had been about five years since I wrote the first S.P.O.O.K.S book and I had new characters and a new setting and new story lines, but something was amiss. I think I had grown past that series, maybe it was too fresh still and I had moved on to other ideas. Why stick in the past trying to pump life into something that was happily resting in peace? I will go back to the S.P.O.O.K.S series one day, just not now, as I had another idea…

The idea was two brothers, who come from a broken home, whose mother is an alcoholic, are forced to walk to school one day in the pouring rain. One brother is in a wheel chair while the older brother pushes him. On the way to school they get lost and take shelter in an old book store. While bunkering down in one of the corners of the dusty, cobwebbed, corners of the store the older brother finds a hidden book, bound by thick metal clasps and leather. He opens it and they get transported into another world known as Diass the Mass. I am calling it The Lost Book of the Blood Baron. The premise isn’t original, I know, but it’s what happens there that I was more interested in, and getting them back, if at all. I’ve dealt with writing these books before, in fact I’m writing one right now, but with Blood Baron, I wanted to make it grander, more elaborate and extreme. I had written about two chapters of it a few years ago and stopped, leaving it for a better time when I could concentrate on it, and only it. Since then, I’ve decided to keep note pads and books with ideas in it to flesh out the world of the Diass. I want there to be multilevel dimensions to each city they visit, not just make it up at the time of writing. I wanted each character to be already built and diverse. I want them to mention past wars and people and places, and actually talk like they are real. Sometimes when I write I will invent a city, select some characteristics – non magical city, vast towers, desert encampments etc – and leave it at that. But with the Lands of the Diass, I want it to be more. I’ve created a war called the Triage War against three joining colonies who have agreed to war in 100 years time over the land they occupy. I thought, why not 100 years? Why not a war set for a specific date or time in the future? They’ll be busy getting ready and preparing. Great Walls will have been built between the three cities with mini wars happening already. I thought about a water city built around the snowy peaks of a mountain, peaceful people where the Lost Book of the Blood Baron was once found in the mud. I figured these water people would be peaceful and wouldn’t allow warriors or assassins into their city. They travel by cart and sell water to neighbouring cities. Nothing much to it, probably won’t get mentioned much, but there is already depth there, already building layers and characters. Even if it gets mentioned once or twice, it still builds a greater picture.

I can’t think of Blood Baron as a trilogy yet, it would make my brain fold in on itself. I don’t want to look at a bigger picture because the scale of the first book is enough to look at. I don’t want it to be overly huge, just big enough. The depth I’m looking for would be in the pages, the descriptions and thought and background. Sometimes I’ll spend an hour thinking of mystical creatures, Elves that are addicted to a certain gas – a fantastical drug addiction, or a sort of Elephant-Ram creature that travels great distances to die in a certain area, then I’ll think of where the brothers came from, what would their mother be doing? I wrote an epilogue not long ago where it showed the mother attending counselling meetings with other stricken parents who had lost their children to kidnappings or accidental deaths. She leaves the group one night, this being about a year after they went missing, and is walking down the dimly lit streets of their home town when something starts following her. She panics and runs down the winding streets, getting lost, the thing behind her getting closer and closer. An unhuman shadow, creeping and sneaking between bins and lamp posts. She yells for help but no one hears her, she tries every house and shop door on this empty street, but no one is coming to her aid. Just when the stalker gets close, she tries a door knob and it opens, she bursts inside and watches the silhouette pass the window. She trembles and sits on the ground, curls up in a ball and finds a hidden book. She opens it and a hand reaches towards her and pulls her into the Diass through the pages. I figured that would be a good bit to end on. There are a few other twists already written down, one of the brothers becomes a Witch Hunter, one becomes King. One brother wants to get back, one doesn’t. The actual ‘Lost Book’ contents wouldn’t be revealed until the end, hopefully surprising everyone. I hope The Lost Book of the Blood Baron does become my Magnum Opus, because I’d love to put massive amounts of time into it, build it up and have it layered. Even if it never sees the light of day or the shelf of bookstores, at least I’ll know I would have tested myself as a writer, creatively and experimentally.

Mitchell Tierney

Judging a Book by its Cover

“No!” Screams a friend of mine in disdain as she stares despairingly at the cover of a book I’ve just slid to her, across the table.

“Look just read it, it’s actually quite good,” I tell her, soothingly.

“No!” she cries out, a bit louder now, as the people in the cafe we’re at, turn around curiously, trying to get some tidbit of gossip to pass onto their friends. “I already know, by the cover, I’m going to hate it.”

I scowl. I wish I’d painted the damn cover black. I try telling her that the cover does not accurately reflect the contents of the story it’s wrapped around, but to no avail. She points out that she’s lent me good books and this is what I give her in return. I try not to throw the book at a passing cyclist, in frustration. As people start whispering excitedly at the unfolding action, I push it towards her and manage through gritted teeth, “Just read the damn thing, it’s good!”

She reluctantly takes the book, like a child being made to eat a piece of spinach, with an unhappy, “Fine.” I doubt she’s even looked at it since.

We all know the famous adage. Never judge a book by its cover. And we all know that it is, really, about how we treat other people. But, I do find it interesting that the majority of us are guilty of not adhering to its more literal meaning.

I’ve done it. I’m sure you have. Whenever I browse bookstores, libraries, look over at what someone else is reading while they wait for the bus, I do it. I have to see what the cover will tell me. Because, as much as we would like to be creatures who are not easily swayed by suggestion, the cover of a book gives us a glimpse into what we can expect to find in the pages of the stories we are promised.

It is often the cover of a book that gets our attention, and makes us stop and look at the book before us. Does this make us shallow? Does it make us visual creatures, brought up as television generations who have lost our ability to see past a cover to the “personality” of a book? I think it just makes us human.

Every writer works, among other things, with a very important element – imagination. The stories we write, and tales we tell, the yarns we spin, if you will, they all need to be able to engage the imagination. Even, the non-fiction works out there, get us, not just by fact, but by the way they are written. At least the good ones do. And so it follows, that if we can visualise the world of a character through the words on a page, the cover that holds the book takes it just a step further.

A good cover will get our attention because it works to engage our imaginations. It kicks our belief in possibilities into a sort of over-drive. When I pick up a book beholding its magical cover, I get a small rush of excitement, because the cover looks great. It tells me that this book is about a dark story, or a funny story, or an independent character just trying to make things work. The teaser to the book has done its job and grabbed my attention.

Having said this I have also picked up books, with seemingly simple covers and felt the same little rush of intrigue. Whether it’s a leather-bound book, with just the title of the story and the author’s name or book with the jacket fallen off, it does the same thing. It captures my imagination. I pick up leather bound books, and am immediately taken to the 18th century, where I imagine this book has come from and wonder at the sort of people who picked it up and read it. I wonder at the world it’s come from, what the people looked like, what the done thing was in those days. And in the case of jacket-less books, I just enjoy the curiosity as to what this book might be about. Surely it’s a special, chosen book. I’ve read about tomes like this. They are discovered, their contents breathlessly poured over until they reveal astounding secrets. And sometimes they’re not.

And yes, I do enjoy penguin classics, but even those famous orange and off-white covers promise me something. They promise me a story that has been assessed by many people before me and has been chosen to be part of the all-time literary greats. They are the Penguin Classics. We know them and some of us love them.

Promises, intrigue, curiosity and above all else, imagination. That’s what these covers show us. A small preview of what to expect from these stories. I don’t think it makes us shallow to get a little excited about a book, because the cover looks so good. I think it just makes us human.

 

~Sandy