Thursday, 27 August 2009

Spiders – What’s the point?

Anyone who knows me will understand my fear of spiders – particularly big hairy spiders with massive legs that scuttle across house floors throughout the autumn. I therefore thought that I would make the most of one such bout of fear by documenting my subsequent inertia. I apologise for my appalling state of appearance – the bags under my eyes are due to one late night too many and the angle of the camera has made it look like I’m some sort of heroin addict with a baggy chin.. it's just a feeble phobia (stress induced - normally I have the features of a chiselled king)

Anyway, I know people prefer to see me looking ridiculous rather than scholarly, so here you are...

Masking the truth

With football it used to be Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, Division 4. Simples, as the Meerkat would say. Calling it The Premiership was purely a marketing decision, but to then promote every subsequent level (Championship, League 1, etc) was post-modern pomposity of the highest order. Doesn’t make football any better – in fact, with diving, cheating, spitting, and £150,000 per week wages, It’s clear to me that it is WORSE.

So you’ll excuse me if I don’t offer my congratulations to anyone receiving GCSE or A Level results this month, because they are, in real terms, WORTHLESS. Can anybody from this pathetic excuse for a Government, honestly tell me that the grades have improved purely on merit each and every year since they have been in power? NO! Stop patronising everyone! They are getting easier and easier and easier. It doesn’t matter if you call it an A Star, an A, or a Merit – the standards are lower and the support is ridiculous. Whatever happened to the love of learning? Of finding out how for yourself? Is everything prescribed now? Can nobody do things on their own back? Is no achievement unique?

Come on Labour – there’s a chance you might not be in power this time next year (fingers crossed), so why don’t you just go the whole hog by scrapping exams completely and giving everyone straight A Stars?

Monday, 24 August 2009

Jack Templeman

I will not attempt to reinvent the wheel here and indeed there is an interview on the subject of The Silver Knight on my website. One must consider, however, the hardship that Jack has had to endure beyond that of what would typically be expected. Firstly, both his mother and father having died in quick succession, leaving him homeless and destitute. Secondly, being unfortunate in his acquaintances (I’m thinking Katherine and, to a lesser extent, Sir William Dallingridge). Thirdly,having found himself immersed in the genesis of a conflict that would ultimately last over thirty years and almost bring the country to its knees. Pretty unfortunate for him really!

The key point on the issue of Jack, as I have already stated, is his tender age - being between eleven and fifteen during book one. I am currently writing about his exploits at the age of seventeen, so his progress of character will be closely aligned to the development in narrative. In other words, nothing is set in stone and we'll see how he fares as the books progress!

Anyway, readers are the best judge of these matters and I always look forward to receiving comments back on the book as there is always a new slant that I hadn't perhaps considered - makes it all worthwhile. Remember, you can
purchase The Silver Knight at Lulu

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Terrible Dream

I had the most disturbing dream last night. It seemed to start at a wedding over in the Caribbean area (I think) with an Irish theme. Odd combination, I know. Then, I was invited to an England football match, in which I played a part and we won 4-0, albeit with the help of some former teachers of mine. I then played golf with some old school friends, before disappearing into a room in which lots of people were being hacked up and their mutilated limbs nailed to the walls (incidentally by the teachers who had made an appearance in the football match).

Can anyone interpret this, other than the fact that I need help?

Shocking stuff...

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Video - Boring Research

I haven't been able to do as much writing as I would have otherwise hoped to have done of late. Things happen, problems arise, etc...

Part of the challenge is getting back into one's stride; however, there is also the added complexity of historical research. This is something I have been asked about on many occasions and so I thought Id upload a very brief sample of "me at work" on the sequel to The Silver Knight...

So here we are - a snippet of some intricate medieval historical research, in this case, the Battle of Blore Heath that took place during the Wars of the Roses in 1459. Surprisingly, it was a rare warm day that I filmed this, hence the sunglasses...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Historical Romance Novels & The Silver Knight

It was only recently that I actually considered the fact that I am an author of at least one novel that falls under the category of historical romance. Despite my intentions of high art and historical accuracy that ultimately led to the first novelistory, The Silver Knight, I never once possessed the deliberate intention to create a story based around a romantic theme or classical chivalric romance. However, it would appear that such a premiss is ultimately endemic to any storyline that entrenches itself either in the middle ages or action-based drama of any genre.

Historical romance is, of course, a style of prose belonging to high culture that itself was formed during the High Middle Ages – a period that took place shortly before that in which The Silver Knight was set. The general themes of fantasy and adventure often featured a chivalrous and usually heroic knight who would be assigned a quest that conflicted or at least entwined with a tale of courtly love and romance. Perhaps the first (and best known) example to be recorded in the written form of what we now know to be a novel was Thomas Malory’s historical romance Le Morte d'Arthur. (this being a re-working of the Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table).

For those of you who have read The Silver Knight, you will know that Malory himself features (albeit briefly and insignificantly) in The Silver Knight, during a scene at court. As I have mentioned, the primary objective of the novel was to be historically accurate and resist (as far as possible) the temptation to embellish and fictionalise fact. The fictional characters are not re-workings of actual characters – only those of whom there is precious little knowledge are fashioned into something more substantial – the best example of this being Sir John Fastolf. It is interesting, though, that the characters of Katherine and Elizabeth formed through the classical and almost typical guise of romance. Whilst Elizabeth’s position follows the template of courtly love, Katherine is a more modern femme fatale; and yet they both contribute to the element of historical romance that allows comparison with more traditional examples of the genre. Jack Templeman, on the other hand, is a real character. He does not possess super-powers or magical ability. He is flesh and blood and therefore finds the challenges and tasks his faces of great burden. Perhaps that is where The Silver Knight differs vastly from the likes of Le Morte d'Arthur.

And that, I imagine, is the very point about subjective and retrospective classifications of literature (in my case, speculative historical fiction). Whilst genres are lose and ever interweaving, the core elements of classic narratives will always remain. I can’t foresee that changing with The Silver Knight series!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Health Warnings on Alcohol

It was only a matter of time. Drunken violence in the high streets on a Friday and Saturday night, a rise in liver disease and more kids in parks sprawling around. Coupled with the latest “research” on oral based cancers and the fact that the current Labour government have done almost nothing but ban things during the past decade, it is hardly surprising that this latest measure is being touted.

Well, of course, we’re all equal now under New Labour, so it stands to reason that we should ALL suffer. Of course, Arthur and Connie having a quiet glass of Chablis with their mid-week jigsaw puzzle are just as much to blame as Jay down in Camberwell with his bottle of vodka in a brown bag. Yes, of course they are...

It’s little surprise that almost every quarter the price of beer and wine seems to increase (I don’t know about spirits as I now get prescribed whiskey on the NHS to help cope with the fact that Gordon Brown is still in power) with the constant stealth rise in taxation. Quite how this is supposed to deter the social detritus from vomiting all over each other on a weekly basis, I fail to guess, but at least we all get to share the punishment. It’s rather like being at school when someone has lost the scissors in the last lesson of the day and the teacher calls, “Now none of you are going until it turns up.” Everyone sits there, gradually melting with the sheer frustrating, indignity and injustice of being blamed for someone else’s sins.

When they started putting the labels on cigarette packets banned smoking in public, it made me want to start smoking, just to spite them. That’s the problem with this government. They can’t govern; they only ever miss the point and control. I would have thought a slightly more creative solution would be to instigate obligatory health insurance for alcoholics and put people in jail who get drunk and break the law.

I remain convinced that if this lot had been in power when Fred West was arrested, they would have banned patios. Let's have an election now, please.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Video - Cinema Problems

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about why I often dread going to the cinema. The other day, I finally went to see the new Harry Potter film and lo and behold, my worst fears were founded when a couple of idiots began to shout and shriek to each other (yes they were adults - two women).

Rather than to repeat the sentiments of my previous posting, I thought Id simply just upload this video that I shot in the wake of my angst...

Incidentally, I did want to post something on the subtleties of the cinematic medium. Perhaps when I feel slightly more constructive I will make the effort. For now, annoyance is preferable...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Video - How I Write (part two)

As promised - part two of How I Write...

For further information, there are interviews about my writing on the official website...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Video - How I Write (part one)

Well, I finally managed it! Overcoming the complexities of a modern Sony Handycam, not to mention video conversion charts, editing software, Movie Maker, file conversions, upload sizes, plague, pestilence, famine and general irritating rubbish was a task of biblical proportions, never mind medieval...and yet, here I am - finally ready to unleash the spectrum of video upon you poor souls.

As means of a starter, I thought Id commence with a brief bit about how I go about writing - not so much the formulation of ideas, but more the things I surround myself with - typically drink and ink! Owing to the limitations of technology, this video is in two parts - I shall upload part two very shortly.

I hope it is of interest - if not then you live and learn...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Technology, who invents the rules?

I was going to have a nice video blog for you to read. It was really very good - very interesting and brilliantly filmed. However, it would appear that it is about 1 minute too long to upload.

I then tried to upload a different one I recorded. That was 27 seconds too long. Critically, I only found out this rule, after I took the steps to upload it.

As you can imagine, I am a little vexed at present. Who invents these stupid bloody rules? Which geek is responsible for this latest preposterous regulation? Come on, show yourself - I have a small hammer and some nails Id like to inset into your fleshy bits.

In the meantime, back to the drawing board...