I'm off tomorrow on my research trip for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels so this Musical Monday had an L.A and an airport theme. Here first of all a very retro classic.
I love this Michelle Shocked song but I couldn't find the original...this will have to suffice.
I suspect my blogging might be hit and miss over the next few weeks...I'll try and pop in whenever I can. Happy reading!
This week I was talking to mum about a specific incident from my childhood which made me remember how much of a daily issue my dog phobia used to be.
It's less of an issue now because my phobia is less acute partly because we have better leash laws in Australia than we did in the '70's and 80's so one doesn't get chased by random dogs the way one did then.
Anyway, on this particular afternoon I arrived home to see a fire truck at the end of our driveway. The house was set back from the road at the end of a long drive that was shaded by an avenue of trees. You really couldn't see the house from the street so all I could see was a fire truck. I knew my mother an sister were home so you can imagine I was a little bit panicked. (They were fine it was just a fuse box that caught fire!)
As we reflected on the events of that afternoon my mum said she had run up the drive several times to head me off, so I wouldn't be worried but I took forever to get home from the station. That we concluded was because I was probably bailed up by a dog and sitting on the bonnet of a car until the dog went away....just like Allegra in Mr Right and Other Mongrels.
That happened to me an awful lot. There were two routes home from the station. One had two dogs and one had one but the one dog was more vicious than either of the other two but statistics were against you if you took that path. My sister and I deliberated the route often. If I was alone I ran the gauntlet without support.
You can see how a phobia can escalate under those circumstances can't you? (If you were scared of snakes and had to face them every day I'm not sure you'd just get over it either!)
I had coffee with an old school friend of mine who always had dogs and we were discussing this. Sometimes you think you're memory is exaggerated but she was able to reassure me that my phobia was as bad as I remember and that I regularly had a panic attack when her dog met me at their front door (good times).
My dog phobia was pretty crippling by my twenties. When I met my husband I would only picnic in two places in Sydney because they were dog free - on a sandy beach or in a National Park.
Luckily for me improved leash laws mean I no longer get chased down suburban streets and I can move about more freely.
If you'd like to read about how Allegra deals with a similar phobia in Mr Right and Other Mongrels it is free right now
I've written about my love of minor characters before because I often find them to be some of the0 most interesting people in books.
Of course their role is often to operate as sounding boards or opportunities for the main character to let the reader know how they feel - tell the best friend and tell the reader at the same time - or even as a way to get independent information about the main players - hello two old women gossiping in the hairdresser about the main character.
In my own writing I love the minor characters. My books are riddled with friends, relatives and colleagues of the protagonists. I enjoy creating people who I would like to have in my own life and I especially enjoy writing those fun characters that it's good to spend a few pages with but I wouldn't want around for Christmas dinner each year.
My most recent novel Alphabet Dating features many male characters who only show up for one date - to play gold, see a movie or maybe take in an art gallery.
I don't enjoy books where the characters seem to have existed in a bubble before page one. Everyone has connections in their life, positive or negative, that impact who they are and how they react - a weird neighbour, an office nemesis or a best friend.
Maybe its like real life where I don't like to imagine anyone sitting alone on their birthday I like characters who have full lives. I don't mind if they're running away from the mob, falling in love or facing the zombie apocalypse I would like to think someone was worrying about how it turned out for them.
What about you? How important are minor characters to you in fiction?
Alphabet Dating is available on Amazon
It's musical Monday again and here in Australia it's a public holiday to celebrate the Queen's Birthday. It's not really her birthday of course, but we're very happy to have a long weekend for any reason at all. Even the die-hard Republicans like me will take it. (In Australia a Republican is a person who wishes the country was a republic and not part of the Commonwealth it is not a person who votes for the US Republican party. Don't say I never teach you anything on this blog!)
In honour of the occaission I have chosen two songs by the band Queen. They certainly did love a rock ballad.
The first Give me Somebody to Love, seems an apt choice for this blog. The second is a classic piece of modern rock and storytelling. Have a great day.
I've noticed an interesting trend lately that lots of writers of fiction are reverting to the term story-tellers to describe themselves. It's has a very folkloric feel to for me at least, that expression.
I do think fiction is essentially about telling a good story. Of course there is plenty of fiction that isn't about that at all. Some books are all about the words.
A good book is of course about both the story and the words. Some writers get that beautifully, some not so much.
I read something today that had me thinking about words and word choice....well maybe it had me pondering. I love interesting words and the way certain words feel when they roll around on your tongue. I love a bit of onamatopeia.
Don't you love how some words some up the way you feel? Wretched. Bereft. Forlorn. Effervesccent. Spent. Bilious.
Or words that sound like they smell - fecund - and words that make your face form the expression that matches the word like rancid or sound like they look such as plump.
Of course that doesn't mean that you should use those words in your writing. "Put that plump persimmon in the bin it's rancid smell is making me bilious." That might be over kill.
As much as I love words- and I do wish more people would use interesting words in everyday conversation, not only so I don't look like such a weirdo but so that our language doesn't continute to shrink they way it seems to be these days - if I have to choose between a cracking yarn or beautiful prose that meanders no where, I will choose the former.
Despite the beauty of the language in some books there are very few that have sentences and phrases that stay with you days or weeks later. A good story that touches your heart and takes you on a journey, the memory of that can linger for years.
Don't you hate it when you get a song stuck in your head...even a song you like?
This happens to me a lot. This year this song was used to promote theUAstralian version of show The Voice for months.
This song has played in my head on a loop since February. I wake up and it's there. I go to sleep it's there. I do the laundry...take a shower...you get the idea.
Now I actually think it's a good song and these artists can sing but....enough....
And then because I said that - because one word 'enough' is all takes to trigger another of my earworm songs...so you can have it too..an old favourite from Dido and the Love Actually Soundtrack.
If you have your own ear worm let me know what it is.
Today I'm pondering the question how does the weather affect your writing? Not just the quantity and desire to write but the mood and the tone of what one writes.
Why has this question sprung to mind? Simple - it's a cold wet Sunday morning and I need to write. One would think the weather would be perfect excuse to snuggle up to my laptop and get my word-count rising. Still it's also excellent weather to bake a cake, take a nap and read one of the many books on my 'to be read' pile.
Also because I tend to write quite 'sunny' books this rain and the overall sepia tones of my surrounds today don't exactly suit my style. Then again every book has moments of monotony or times when a character feels grim or bored so perhaps today is the day to write those scenes.
You can see that my yard is covered in Autumn leaves. Yesterday you could run through them listening to them crackle beneath your feet but today they slippery and slimy and all can think about is what lurks beneath them - snugs and snails and worms. The wind out there is swirling and tree branches keep banging against the roof, almost taunting me. It's the sort of weather that makes the news for flash flooding, and trees through roof tops and I hope that doesn't happen but already having jumped across a curb side river this morning I that's inevitable.
I'm not sure how my writing would be affected if I was sent to an icy tundra but I expect I'd do less there than on a tropical island. I wonder how the weather affects other writers...