So, I just visited America, for an hour, to do a school visit, by Skype.
The photo shows students from Gilbert H Hood Middle School, in Derry, New Hampshire.
This is the first time I've done an event by Skype - it was the idea of librarian Kathy Lane, and it was enormous fun. As I sat in my writing shed as dusk fell in England, I spoke to the students in Derry, about writing in general and about Revolver in particular.
The picture was great throughout, and with the aid of a roving mic I was able to hear the students' questions. Though I would normally use powerpoint to do an event, I was able to wave various things at the students that related to their questions - my notebook, the shell case that inspired Revolver in the first place, and so on. It was a very different, exciting kind of event, and I got to speak to students I would normally never be able to.
A taste of the future, and a very enjoyable one at that. Thanks to Kathy Lane, Mr Keeley, and all the students of the PACE group at Gilbert H Hood Middle School. Great fun to talk to you.
The only sad thing, maybe, was that I couldn't sign a book for anyone :-(
(Though there's even a machine that can do that now - they have one Waterstones Bookshop, Picadilly, London...)
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
So, I just visited America, for an hour, to do a school visit, by Skype.
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
In attendance, and in conversation afterwards with Neil Norman, was Peake's eldest child, Sebastian, who explained how after the death of their mother, he came into the possession of a suitcase of his father's effects. Understandably sorrowful after losing his mother, he didn't feel like rummaging around in the case. It was therefore over ten years later that he properly investigated its contents, and discovered bundles of unpublished writing by his father, including ten plays.
The Cave is the first of these plays to receive a production, selected as much as anything we were told, because it would suit the forces of the Blue Elephant Theatre. It's a short but powerful piece about a family across thousands of years, and deals with many things - conformity, rebellion, belief, love, I could go on here. I won't.
I really enjoyed it, the end in particular was genuinely chilling, and it's exciting to think there is more 'new' Peake material coming, for all the plays will be published by Methuen over the next three years. What was as fascinating for me, however, was the discussion afterwards.
Peake has always remained something of an acquired taste, on the fringes, a cult writer perhaps, maybe a writer's writer. I've got my own ideas why this may be, but last night I got the chance to ask Sebastian if he had an explanation for why his father, unlike his contemporary Tolkein say, never achieved the fame, success and to be blunt, money, that his work deserved. Sebastian's answer was the one his father's publisher once gave to the same question; he was too good.
He finished with a lovely quote I would like to reproduce here: It was once said that the difference between Tolkein and Peake is this: Tolkein stood on the top of the mountain, and he directed his forces from there. Peake was down in the valley, alongside his troops.
If you think of the difference between the Lord of the Rings and Gormenghast, I think that's true, and that unsettling, uncomfortable feeling you sometimes get when reading Peake is maybe another explanation for why he never fully entered the mainstream.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
Friday, 24 September 2010
Yesterday I had the enormously wonderful privilege of speaking at Eltham College. This was not only because it is a very nice school to visit, but also because it happens to be where Mervyn Peake went to school.
That's him, second from the left in the back row of the 1928/1929 Rugby team. I was told he didn't make much of a player, well not compared to Eric Liddell who had recently passed through the school too, but that even then he was drawing drawing drawing all the time, even all over his English books.
I don't tend to lean towards hero worshipping generally, but yesterday I ignored that fact, and became the teenager I once was, obsessed by his writing: it reminded me how wonderfully strange Gormenghast was the first time I read it, and it reminded me why to be strange and unusual is a good thing in writing, much more fascinating than the mundane and the commonplace. Well, for my money anyway.
Thanks to my Dad for introducing me to Peake in the first place, and thanks to Stephanie Fearn of Eltham College for the invitation to visit the home of, yes, a hero.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
That was at the front end of the summer I think, and back then, it was all going along really well. I'd done ten thousand words fairly speedily (and it's aways been my belief that fast writing is good writing, because it shows that it's all flowing properly) so I was quite content.
Then, this thing happened. Namely, I went off to Sweden for a month or so, in order to finish the book. In fact, two things happened. Firstly, I wrote not a single word of the book while I was away. Secondly, and of even greater concern to my and my editor's sanity, was that I didn't want to write any more of it either.
I'm not entirely sure why this was, but let's just say that I didn't feel it. Not really. So I threw away the ten thousand words. That will teach me to blog about word counts...
And hence the long silence about the book.
However, thanks to the gods of writing, another idea popped into my head one day as I cycled round the island I was living on, an idea so exciting and weird that I knew I wanted that to be my next book. And the idea was not only almost fully formed, I knew I could write it very quickly.
So after a few weeks home, I went back to the island, and started to write. 37 days later, I have it. Pretty much done.
To say I'm relieved is an understatement of the highest order, but I'm also excited. I know there will be LOTS to do in rewriting, since it's all happened so fast, but I'm excited about it, and that has to be the main thing.
And if I'm wrong about that, well, somebody show me the exit...
Friday, 3 September 2010
"I said last year that Marcus needs to show more ambition. The remark still stands."
Well, today, I wrote six thousand words of my new novel, yesterday I wrote a three thousand word early reader, tomorrow I'm flying to New York to finish writing a contracted screenplay with my brother, so reaching out across the years to 1986, I have only one (printable) thing to say to Howell Griffiths, and that is this....
Actually, that's unprintable too.
Sigh. There were somemore favourable comments to be found, way back at the end of Easter term, 1986, such as this from my lovely form tutor, Mr Burgoyne: "He seems to have a sound analytical mind." Note the use of the word 'seems' in there. Mr Burgoyne was the teacher I wanted to have for all subjects, not just History, but he's probably the reason there's so much historical stuff in my novels.
And not so many Maths-based plot lines: Some accurate comments from Mr Neeve: "Marcus is not a gifted Mathematician." Shame I was doing two Maths A-levels, then.
Still, my other Maths teacher had this to say "His written work, although not always neat, is well documented, and it is easy to follow his train of thought." As one would that of any simple creature of the forest, perhaps.
Why am I telling you this? Because I just found the offending article in a drawer while looking for my passport and it made me chuckle.
In an almost entirely good way.
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
I have just slept for three and a half days. This may be an exaggeration but it certainly feels like it. Having had a delayed flight back from Sweden, I got two hours' sleep before flying to Edinburgh for the book festival. After four events in three days there, I then came home to organize a small but fun film festival in the village where I live.
All good fun, and three successful things; words written in Sweden, events went well in Edinburgh, with Mal Peet, Ian Beck and Philip Reeve, and a small but satisfied crowd for each of the two nights of our film festival.
On the first night we showed the wonderful A Matter of Life and Death, which was timely because it's providing inspiration for the screenplay my brother and I are writing just now. This is another project which is going well at the moment, and brings me to my next trip: we're off to NYC on Saturday to scout some locations for some scenes of the film.
Including this one, the only active cemetery left in Manhattan.
New York is one of those cities that cemeteries don't seem to belong in to me. I know this is illogical but maybe it's because it's just so full of life...
New York, that is, not the cemetery.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
Sunday, 22 August 2010
It's not out till next year, but the cover seems to be fixed on, or rather the title, since the cover is the wonderful UK one.
The titles translates as 'Those who walk again.'
Heh heh heh...
*I've checked with people who know; it's actually the thirteenth :-)
Sunday, 1 August 2010
I'm really excited to say that White Crow is now available as an enhanced e-reader. Not only that, but it has the honour of being the very first enhanced e-reader that Orion have published. For a pound more than the physical book, punters can buy it for iPad, Kindle and Sony e-reader, and get a bunch of extra material, for example, a photo gallery, which not only contains photos of the village of Dunwich which inspired the book, but also things like pages from my notebook, an example of which is shown here.
The main reason for buying it I suppose, would be the addition of a short story, called Dreams of the White Crow, which gives a little vignette into Ferelith's world...
Being Orion's first, it was a steep learning curve for everyone, including me, but I'm pleased with the results, and impressed with the speed with which the project came about.
And this morning it enabled me to do the slightly perverse thing of buying my own book online, just for the fun of doing so. Not the best idea financially perhaps, but, yes, fun, nevertheless.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
A few short weeks ago, the lovely "Louise from marketing", Miles "he can do anything with Final Cut" and I took a day out by the sea, to film a short video piece to promote White Crow.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
P!nk – I'm Not Dead
Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) – Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (1976 Digital Remaster): I. Dawn (Lento e tranquillo)
London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) – Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (1976 Digital Remaster): II. Sunday Morning (Allegro spiritoso)
Andre Previn – Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (1976 Digital Remaster): III. Moonlight (Andante comodo e rubato)
Andre Previn – Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (1976 Digital Remaster): IV. Storm (Presto con fuoco)
Adam & The Ants – Catholic Day
Kylesa – The Warning
Gustav Mahler – Kindertotenlieder: Nun Will Die Sonn' So Hell Aufgeh'n
Gustav Mahler – Kindertotenlieder: Nun Seh' Ich Wohl, Warum So Dunkle Flammen
Gustav Mahler – Kindertotenlieder: Wenn Dein Mutterlein
Gustav Mahler – Kindertotenlieder: Oft Denk' Ich, Sie Sind Nur Ausgegangen
Gustav Mahler – Kindertotenlieder: In Diesem Wetter
Julie London – Cry Me A River
My Chemical Romance – This Is How I Disappear
Gillan – Dead Of Night
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – What Must Be Done
Bauhaus – The Passion Of Lovers
Sonic Youth – Pattern Recognition
Skinny Puppy – Candle
Porcupine Tree – Kneel and Disconnect
Sonic Youth – 'Cross The Breeze
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Nope, not a fat Gaul but the new arrival in my garden; thanks to the help of three hefty neighbours and some swearing, I now have a small menhir standing outside my writing shed.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
New covers a-go-go, at the moment! This is how Revolver is going to look in paperback when it comes out in May. Although most people seemed to like the smoking match thing on the hardback, we're going for a more commercial look now.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010
Friday, 22 January 2010
I've just got back from my first day at Bath Spa University as Author in Residence.
Monday, 11 January 2010
I've just finished what I hope will be the final edits on White Crow, published in July. Of course there's bound to be some tweaking to do, but I think it's ready, by and large.