About Me

Writing, Reading, Creating.


Friday, 15 November 2013

The Window Back





I write a lot. My little black leather notebook is choc-full of stories and poems and doodles, as you can see below:
My faithful notebook


My Doodling


My awful handwriting



Playdough stains from the stop motion animation trailer I made e
 
Anyway this is one particular story that  I thought I would share it. Normally I am very secretive about my stories when it comes to the Internet, but I thought I would share this one.

Anyway I hope you enjoy it!

It is called The Window Back

Please do not use this story without my permission


                        
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The Window Back
It isn’t the best picture. The lighting is bad, there isn’t well thought out composition and the tip of my index finger looms blurry and massive in the top right hand corner. But I suppose that is what makes it so precious. It is a real memory. No one poses or plasters on a smile that isn’t genuine. It’s a real memory, a window looking straight out into what I used to see.
The background features an ordinary park. Grass shorn close to the ground, sandy pathways flanked by trees all packed together like tinned fish with dark green leaves.
A tiny jogger with a ponytail and a vibrant fuchsia t-shirt is frozen mid- stride in the distance, her face shadowed by the lip of a white baseball cap. It’s strange to think that wherever she is, she has no idea that she was caught in this little snapshot. I wonder what she is doing, if she is still alive, what her life was like. It doesn’t matter really. She isn’t the focus.
The focus of the photograph is a young man, his broad shouldered figure and toned forearms picked out by the streams of hazy gold sunlight illuminating the scene. He was twenty when this was taken...maybe twenty one. He dressed in a way that didn’t go out of fashion, in faded jeans and a charcoal button down shirt with a few brown leather bands knotted around each wrist.
He his sitting on a tartan picnic rug, with his legs in an awkward criss-crossed position, which I remember he insisted was comfortable. His warm brown eyes aren’t focused down the lens of the camera, but up the neck of a beautifully carved, polished guitar, his fingers pressed against the strings in the shape of an E minor chord. At a cursory glance his face is expressionless, but a closer look lets you know that he loved what he was doing, he was so happy, so relaxed...that there wasn’t really a need to see it on his face.
His chin length brown hair is tucked behind his ears, but a few thick strands have escaped and were pointing towards the top of his nose. Shadows are cast underneath his cheekbones and his collar bone. There is a small puckered scar over the eyebrow facing the camera, but it's barely visible. To me, he was the most handsome man in the world, taking the place of every Disney Prince Charming and air brushed Hollywood star.
A few moments before the photo was taken he had finished a rendition of Nick Drake’s, Pink Moon, to the approving applause of various dog walkers, students and runners. He’d had an irresistible voice. The type you could bathe in, that after you had heard it once  was branded forever on the front of your brain.
I could only describe the girl on the other side of the camera by memory. The camera would have been held in slim, blemish free hands, poorly represented by the engorged portion of finger at the top of the photograph. Her skin would have been fair and unwrinkled, with two bright hazel eyes peering down the lens.
 At this time her black hair would have been cut in a choppy style up to the middle of the neck and drawn back with coloured head scarves to show off a pair of heavy dangley earrings hung with faux crystal beads or looped up chains.
It was hard to believe she was me. Now I was old. My skin was shrivelled and speckled, my grey hair was styled neater and closer to my head and my eyes had lost their sparkle a long time ago. Tiered and ill nesting in a bed of plastic tubes, IV's and beeping heart monitors.
The young man in the photo wasn’t in the hospital with me...in fact he wasn’t with me at all. He’d left me young, “Burning too bright for this world” as it said on his head stone. I should have anticipated it. I was too happy, too deliriously happy for it to last and stay real.
I hadn’t been up to see him in a long time. I would if  I could. Sometimes I felt as if my heart was straining at my rib cage and towards the memorial wood where he was lying, but hearts can’t walk on their own and my legs weren’t strong enough to aid mine anymore.
If the doctors and nurses were to be believed, soon my heart wouldn’t have to strain at all. Soon I was going to join him. I’ll spare you the intense medical jargon but here’s the long and the short of it...anytime I close my eyes could be the last time.
I don’t mind. Well...not really. I’ve had a good life. I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve gone, I’ve stayed, laughed, cried etcetera etcetera. I’ve done everything I was supposed to...I’ve done some things I wasn’t supposed to...but everything I ever did, every single thing...I wish I had done with him.
The nurse has come in, a short quiet girl with straight blonde hair scraped back into a practical knot, and starts to clear away the brightly coloured trays of unsatisfying plasticised food. The sad thing is that when the trays leave the room it will become completely depressing.
I let my head drop back onto the pillow and close my eyes. The radio crackles off the voice of some whining politician and on to a song...but it isn’t just any song.
I start and bring my head back up, a lump forming in the back of my throat. It’s Pink Moon.
I feel my eyes start to grow hot as the guitar strings gently pluck away at the first few chords. The nurse shifts the trays onto her hip and reaches out to spin the dial to off.
“No!” I croak so suddenly that she jumps and almost drops her trays. If I was healthy enough I would flush, “No.” I say a little more gently, “Leave it please.”
She shrugs and marches out of the room, shutting the door behind her.
I let my head drop again, the photograph clutched to my chest in my wizened hands.. I close my eyes as the lump in my throat hardens and the rest of me dissolves into tears.
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Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

One Signed Bookplate!!

As some of you know I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel to Maggie Stiefvater's 'The Raven Boys'. (published by Scholastic)

Well look what arrived in the post today....




And inside it was....







A signed bookplate by the authour herself!

There was much jumping around the living room and the kitchen as younger family members looked on in bemusement as I proudly showed the bookplate off to everyone available!

As much as I want to crack this book open straight away I am still mid way through the fourth installment of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, A Feast for Crows (fantastic by the way) and I have a list of about seventeen books to read.

However the Dream Thieves has been bumped up to the next spot so expect something soon.

For more info on Maggie Stiefvater and her amazing Raven Boys Cycle go to:

http://maggiestiefvater.com/

Or just go straight to the Raven Cycle site:

 http://maggiestiefvater.com/the-raven-boys/







Sunday, 8 September 2013

Returned



Well hello there. It has certainly been a while since I have written anything because I have been off having adventures in France. I actually got back a long time ago but have been so busy I have been unable to post this.

I have been going to France ever since I was a baby, to our second (extremely rustic) home in a little village which looks like it is still in the forties, despite the fact it has changed quite a lot.
We have done so much. You see we don’t have a television or Wi-Fi, so I read so many books that I cannot keep up. I have managed to finish both volumes of A Storm of Swords, The Great Gatsby and Atonement in the space of three weeks


Normally, I read more, but  there was more to do out there this year than just read. 
In the first week of our holiday we visited a nearby village, because they were having a ‘Nuit Roman’ by the church. They had the most fantastic singer, who sang in a made up language and whose style very closely matched that of Lisa Gerard from Dead Can Dance. The whole night was themed around a local legend.
The legend says that a woman was about to be married to the owner of the Chateau in the village had brought along a chest of magnificent jewels which were put away in the lady’s room by the sixteen year old chamber maid. 
The next morning, the jewels were gone. Unbeknownst to the owners of the Chateau the jewels had been stolen away by ‘a bird of black and white’. Since the chamber maid was the only one with access to the room, she was blamed for the theft and was burnt alive.
As she burned, the girl cast a curse on the villagers who had wronged her with her dying breath that the village would be enveloped in a mist until her persecutors admitted to their crime.
In the morning there was no sign of the bonfire, but a thin mist clung to the hill. Only years later, when the jewels were found and and the dead girl was pardoned did the mist clear.
Church lit up for the Nuit Roman


Pretty chilling right?

So now onto what I read. I first finished off both volumes of A Storm of Swords.

It takes a lot, to get me to shed a tear in front of my family or take a toy light-sabre and repeatedly strike a book in vain, but A Storm of Swords made me do both of those things. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I am telling you that that is how it will make you feel.

Now I love, A Song Of Ice and Fire, but I do have one problem. I wouldn't call it a problem, just something that irritates me a little.

Most of the women are viewed first and foremost as sexual objects by the men and only a handful of the female characters prove them wrong! Now I know this is done for a reason and that it is crucial to the storyline (I hope) but it doesn't change the fact that sometimes I just want to shout at some of the supporting women, "PICK UP THAT BOW FOR GOODNESS SAKE!"

I'm guessing that that is what Martin wants us to feel. 

Gradually through out the series more strong women have been emerging and (as unlikely as it will be) I think it would be quite nice if eventually women across the universe Martin has created, could hold their own. But I would also like a good deal of the dead characters to come back healthy and happy and for a state of utter peace to fall over the land of Westeros, which I don't see being written into the story anytime soon. *sigh*

Oh well, I still love them. Read them...so long as you have to stomach for it.

I also read the Great Gatsby, which is of course 'The Great American Novel'. It does give you a hazy, glittery view of what it might have been like in the twenties. The delirious after war years. Parties, affairs, motorcars. Against this backdrop there is a story that people will be able to relate to for years and years to come.

Atonement was wonderful. A very emotional and character driven story. Ian McEwan, writes in a way that made me feel guilty for reading, because I felt like I was intruding on a real persons thoughts and feelings.  In High School History, all you seem to study is the World Wars (and for good reason) and I find myself wishing that I had read Atonement before my final History exam. It may have provided some real inspiration.

                                                                                                                           





Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Raven Boys Review

Maggie Stiefvater, is one of my favourite authors and the first book in her most recent series, the Raven Cycle, has certainly not disappointed me.

The Raven Boys centres around the search for the lost Welsh King Glendower. Factor in a family of psychics, a ley line, a group of beautifully created teenage characters and a 1973 Camaro and you have an awesome novel!

Leading lady, Blue Sargent, is realistic and easy to relate to (in my eyes at least) despite the other worldly situations she finds herself in, and her relationships with members of the Raven Boys 'gang' (in the 'Friends' sense of the word) are well crafted and endearing.

When it comes to the Raven Boys themselves it is impossible not to get drawn into their quest. They are each irresistible in their own way. They each have their own flaws and virtues and such varying, convincingly displayed thought processes that it takes a second to realise that you are not reading in first person.

With twists that will make your jaw drop down to shoe level, scenes that will chill your bones and scenes that will warm them until your marrow is soft and gooey, the Raven Boys is the perfect summer read.

And one of the best things about it? If you have only started getting into the Raven Boys  now there isn't long at all to wait for the upcoming sequel, the Dream Thieves. The countdown begins to
 17. 9. 13, I can't wait!

Until then, check out Maggie Stiefvater's animated trailer for The Raven Boys:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWzaJrJUP-w

And her Dream Thieves inspired transformation of her Mitsubishi Evo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_7WQS_tofu

And  for Raven Cycle art, Music, Teaser Chapters and updates go to:

http://maggiestiefvater.com/the-raven-boys/

Or Maggie Stiefvater's main website

http://maggiestiefvater.com/

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Fairy Tales


Recently I have become fascinated by a book called Katharine Brigg's Dictionary of Faeries. Now I know what you are thinking. Faeries. Really? But these aren't the types faerie you are thinking of. You are probably thinking of the faeries you saw in picture books as a child. The leaf clad, rosy cheeked, golden haired children no bigger than your thumb with wings that shimmered like water but looked like skeleton leaves. The Faeries in this book are nothing like those faeries. These are 'real' faeries if you take my meaning. Not toned down for picture books, real scary, mythological faeries!
 
This book is out of print and so it cost me a fair bit to get hold of, but I bought it after listening to an interview with Maggie Stiefvater, one of my favourite authors. In this interview she had said that she had read this book quite a lot when she was young and she had also used it researching her books Lament and Ballad. I loved Lament and Ballad and was keen to know more about the mythology that was the background for the stories.

Katharine Brigg's Dictionary of Faeries is so wonderfully researched and entertainingly presented that it could be read for enjoyment or be used as reference book if you were studying mythology.

Some of the stories and creatures recorded are quite sinister and if I was a Celtic villager who had grown up with these tales and honestly believed these things were out there then I would probably never would have left house!

Fairy Tales and Mythology have become so watered down over the years. Early versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are terrifying in places. We forget what fairy tales were for nowadays. Today, reading your child a bedtime story is a way of chasing the nightmares away but when they were first written they were designed for the sole purpose of inviting the nightmares in. Fairy tales there to frighten children into obeying the rules and learning their morals. 'Don't trust strangers' (Little Red Riding Hood), 'Don't marry unless the proper rules have been obeyed' (Bluebeard) 'Don't be vain' (the Red Shoes). 

Now these watered down versions that we tell children today focus more on magic, happy endings and good triumphing over evil. That's great, I think that growing up all children should have this, but
if we look back at original fairy tales they stress that the happy ending doesn't always happen and when it does happen it takes hard work and strength of character to get through the bad times.

Strength of character, hard work, positivity, they all sound like pretty important things to give a child to me. So is it the right thing to get rid of some grizzly ideas and sacrifice the morals in the story? Personally, I think not. Children are a lot tougher than people think and life itself is full of way more grizzly details than fairy tales ever will be, so why not prepare children in the best way possible. With stories.


Cover of Penguin edition of Katharine Brigg's Dictionary of Faeries

Bluebeard

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Return of the Blog

Been rubbish at posting recently and great apologies. Of course I'm not sure who I am apologising to, but I apologise anyway.
To catch you up, I finished Great Expectations and Stardust. Great Expectations I liked, Stardust I loved!
Great Expectations was a wonderful book, and the ending surprised me but also left me a little disappointed. However, I was relived that Pip finally got over all his nonsense and stopped being so horrid to Joe and I did like Miss Havishams dramatic finale.

Stardust was fantastic. I saw the film when it came out all that time ago and loved it then so when I found the book in Waterstones I snagged it off the shelf. I really enjoyed it. Gaiman creates a deep and exciting world and I loved every word. It is a short book, but action packed and full of battles, witchcraft, lust, love, talking trees and magic stones.
 A great read!

I have now moved on to A Game of Thrones which has placed me under its spell. There are some very disturbing and tantalising scenes and it is not a book for the faint hearted or people who are new to the fantasy genre.

 I hope to provide more frequent updates soon and stop being so useless :P Well, happy reading!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Books

As many of you will know, it most towns and cities, there is a magical place known as Waterstones.

In this magical place there are ebony coloured shelves stretching up to the ceiling, so tall that you have to stretch through from your toes to your finger tips to reach the top (or ask a tall guy to help you).

There are also tables, stacked with with scores of books that are a labyrinth of hard backs and dust-paper jackets.There are plains of biographies, swamps of thrillers, meadows full of romances, seas of classics and forests of fantasy.

Now that I am finished turning Waterstones into the new Narnia, I will explain why. Last Saturday I took a break from the mess of homoeostasis and mitosis that was my Biology revision (although I didn't need the book to get those terms so I must be doing something right) and finally spent the gift cards I got for Christmas in Waterstones.

Buying books always makes me happy, the smell of new paper and an uncreased cover. A little box full of an undiscovered world. Call me sentimental, but that's how I think about it. I have travelled to India, America, Germany, Italy,19th century England, Middle-Earth and Shangri-La,to name a few,without leaving my bedroom.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying books supplement real life, I have actually been to a few of these places and more.

But still my view stands.

I bought Les Miserables in an attempt to uphold my book before film rule and also A Game of Thrones, which I was told by a good friend that I had to read! Expect to see these titles vet soon!