Monday, 30 April 2012

Relationships: 'Last Night'

When I started writing I always thought I was going to become a fantasy writer. I think, even now, I have a few fantasy novels still in me but not enough that will define me as a fantasy writer, not as many as Terry Pratchett or Terry Brooks have. I think my writing changes with what is going on in my life. When I was a teenager I was engrossed in fantasy, loved everything about it, new worlds, new creatures - I still love that now - but my head is always in the love-relationship-human emotion zone. My short stories were initially inspired by no-one. I hadn't read many short stories - the ones I had, however, were from Edgar Allan Poe so I did my own kind of thing. What my short stories resemble are human emotion and decisions. 

Relationships are a huge part of life. Relationships between your parents, your pet and, of course, your love. I watched a film called Last Night a few weeks ago and not only is it a brilliant film, it says a lot about relationships and fidelity. 

A great quote: "Do you think you'll tell your husband about tonight?"
"I don't know, tonight's not over yet." 

The film follows the events of one night when a married couple are a part. Joanna bumps into an old flame and Michael, her husband, goes on a business trip with a woman he is attracted to and has already been accused of having an affair with. It's slow and gritty and there's enough material for you to think about the world and the history surrounding.

I sided with Joanna but I don't think you're supposed to side with anyone in this film as everyone has their part to blame in the events. The film is a question of love and fidelity and is a brilliant film on the subject. It's one of those pieces of art you think "why didn't I write this first?" 

If this were a novel you would think Raymond Carver had written it - it's dark and goes into realms that would make many people uncomfortable... but that's the brilliance of it. It tells us that love is not always enough and that relationships are very, very complicated and don't always end happily. 

Last Night

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Sundays in the Stewart household are something out of a either an Eastenders scene or a comedy sketch. As I sit around and observe or argue with my sister or mock my mother I think about how I can use Sundays for my writing. I recently watched a family saga film called Fireflies in the Garden and I really enjoyed the idea of family secrets and complex relationships. Families are strange, they harbor secrets, they keep things buried in the past, they have their own quirks and differences. Sundays show this entirely. 

My mother takes the role of the Caretaker. She cooks the dinner and socalises with everyone. "Tea?" "Drink?" "Anything?" Then she tells people dinner is ready and they need to take their places. When I say take their places she gets the food ready, holds it in one hand and enters the dining room to shout "Tom, dinner!" "Jen, food!" to which, one by one, we get up and take our places at the table. People sit in their places and eat. We usually eat in shifts - my sister and her fiance, my grandparents, me and then when somebody is done there is the next person. A bit like a relay - we all take over after one another. My mother and father always argue about their dinner. "Do you want to go in next Gord?" "No. You go." "No, it's OK, you have yours." "No, Carol, you have yours now. I'll wait. I'm going to have a cigarette anyway." She always cracks first. Before she sits down however she rushes around the table: "everyone OK? Hot enough? Mum? Dad? OK? There's loads more. Anyone want any? There's more gravy." We all decline and then she sits down.

My sister and I take the roles of the Bystanders - we're there if my mum needs us, otherwise we keep ourselves out of the bustle of the kitchen. We sit in the living room and occasionally hear the faint plop of a roast potato hitting the floor, followed by a loud "BUGGER!" from my mother. 

My father comes into the house in the midst of the frenzy of people. Either before the grandparents or after. He'll come in, go over to the TV and put the horses on where the monotone voice of a commentator whizzes around the house. With a beer in one hand and a cigarette burning in the kitchen he goes from room to room checking whether his horse has won or lost. 

My grandparents sit and observe the scene. My grandmother reads the paper before dinner. My grandfather watches the horse pretending he cares, eager to talk to his child or grandchildren. Usually he will pull me aside and we will talk about books. "That fella who you like...I'm reading his new book," he will say. "Stephen King, gramps?" "That's the one. The language he uses is foul!" I have to nod in agreement.

Then we sit down and we all munch on our food. Conversation ranges from the people we hate to "is it hot enough?" from my mother - a phrase that booms around the dining table and we all nod in agreement. 

My sister and I usually bicker in the kitchen. "Nice hair Oasis," she'll say. "Nice one, looking very orange today," I retort back. As it continues and I call her a bint and that she needs to brush her teeth my father will do the whole "hey! stop being so mean you two." "She started it," I'll say, childishly. He'll grumble, "I can't take this," and retreat to his horses, shaking his head at our childishness. 

By the time the dinner is over and we have one by one taken our plates into the kitchen, scrapping the leftovers into the bin and then putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher the "get your nan a cup of tea" is forced upon me or my sister. After dinner, is when my mother relaxes and sits down to talk with her parents. Finally everyone leaves and my parents lounge around, letting our gasps of relief with the departure of each member of the house. 

It's this kind of stuff that makes me want to write a story of such a family only, knowing me, it would have to be much darker and not as comical. Perhaps a short story or a snippet of the dining table where my grandfather eats the fat of everybody's food, my mother looks around worried that the food is hot enough and my grandmother burps and blames it on the dog...alas we don't have a dog. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Random 1

The Catcher In The Rye

Why do I hate this book? I have had many arguments over J.D. Salinger's infamous novel. I read it when I was about fifteen years old, picking it off the shelf in ASDA for only £4. I picked it up not because I had read much about it - and definitely not because of the front cover - but because I had heard it was a classic, a book you should read. So, naturally, I did. The story of Holden Caulfield being a whiny, self-deluded youth didn't appeal to me in the least. I kept telling myself I had to like it, that others had loved it, hell, it played a huge part in John Lennon's death but as I turned the pages I didn't feel anything for the book, the words or the character of Holden.

A few years later I walked into Waterstones in Cardiff and right in front of me was a novel called The Suicide Club by Rhys Thomas. I saw the front cover, was intrigued, picked it up and read the blurb. Then I bought it. Then I went home and spent a week devouring each word. It immediately became one of my favourite books. Years later I handed it over to my roommate, Dom, and told him to read it. He got through a hundred pages or so and said that he couldn't read it, that he found it a bit young for him, that he wasn't in the right mind set to read and enjoy. This got me thinking.                                                                                                                                                                                        


My other roommate, Joe, calls The Cather in the Rye one of his favourite books. What Catcher and Suicide have in common is that they're both coming-of-age stories, Surely, therefore, it matters only to the reader about what mindset they're in. I love The Suicide Club but it captures the essence of adolescence - not all of it, of course - but a lot of it screams "this is what teenagers get up to." There's a wonderful section in which the narrator recalls the time he lost his virginity but he doesn't talk about it in crude detail, he merely mentions it and tells us it's none of our business.  

I think all of us have the one book that is our coming-of-age novel. For a lot of people it's The Catcher in the Rye, Holden's story but for others it's To Kill a Mockingbird or Harry Potter or, in my case, the wonderful The Suicide Club. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter which novel is your favourite or which one you will always cherish and keep a copy of. Just because I've read Crime and Punishment doesn't make me a well-read person or a better reader. A well-read person is someone who has read a lot and, therefore, has opinions. The Catcher in the Rye was not for me and for others The Suicide Club may not be either but, in the end, you have to find that one book that will change your reading and your life forever. 

Friday, 27 April 2012


Growing Up

As children we don't know what growing up really is. We don't realise that one day we will have to pay bills or that we will have to fill out a form about our medical history or that one day we may fall in love or that somebody we love may die, we don't know any of this because we haven't grown up yet. Through life we all have to grow up. Even forty-year-olds have to grow up sometimes, 'step up to the occasion' as it were. Writing is a form of growing up. We start off writing mini stories in school, then a few of us from the class start imitating our favourite writers, then we start writing our epics, our masterpieces, but we realise that they're shit, stuff them in a drawer and start again. The beginning of writing, whether it be physical or mental, is a series of attempts, failures and experiments. When I started writing 'seriously' I used to clutter my work with descriptions - every character had to be described, every room, every object. In fantasy, of course, but in the realistic and horror stuff I am writing, of course not. I grew up - and am still growing up - but found what I'm good at doing. 

Just like life, with writing you never know what's around the corner. I follow writers like J.K. Rowling and like to plan every scene, every chapter, like to know my character's inside out before I write them. Others do as Stephen King does and write it and see what happens, by writing their story they are hearing one too. But with any type of writing - planned or unplanned - we never know what will happen, what characters we're going to encounter, what worlds, what situations and that is part of growing up. When we grow we learn and with growing in our writing worlds we learn more things, experience it all. 

Only short one today, folks, but lots more to come on literature. It's been sparse on here but I've been writing reviews - you may want to check out my latest one, published tomorrow on - and have been writing this damned script so my second year of University is over. See, growing up. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

How I Know I Love You

I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading on love - the main theme in Cupid's Obsession. A book that I have to review for Bookgeeks and has helped is The Paradox of Love (an apt title!) Here's something that came out of it, it's a kind of poem called 'How I Know I Love You': 

I know I love you because you loved me just because I was me. 
I know I love you because I loved you for being you. 
I know I love you because you found out I like books and tried to read some of my favourites. 
I know I love you because I hated musicals before I met you and know I enjoy them. 
I know I love you because I love everything about you - your hair, your enormous eyes, your perfections and your imperfections, your voice, your hands, the way you show your naive side only to me, the way you called my name in the morning, the way you knew had an idea of what I would order in the restaurant and still thought I could surprise you. 
I know I love you because you made me laugh and allowed me to cry in front of you, you allowed me to be the person I wanted to be and it was only with you. 
I know I love you because I waited for you on your staircase. 
I know I love you because I wait for you now. 
I know I love you because you love mayonnaise and I hate mayonnaise. 
I know I love you because you taught me things and I taught you things. 
I know I love you because I was happy when I was with you, even when we were cruel to each other. 
I know I love you because you know what a flicker of my eye means, as I do with you.
I know I love you because we went on adventures together.
I know I love you because we made memories together.
I know I love you because you're my soul mate, without you I'm broken. 
I know I love you because the idea of losing you again scares me.
I know I love you because I love you. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

I Love This


I love what you do to me
what you allow me to be
who I can be.

I love what we do together
how our minds become one
how you inspire me.

I love how I can read your expression
I know what you’re thinking.

You read my stories
stories you helped write
stories you nursed
and your expression tells me what you think.

You love
you hate
but you’re honest
because you’re my muse.

You’re my love
my true love
you’re my muse
my one and only freedom.

(A rushed and yet personal poem that I wrote after watching the trailer for Ruby Sparks.)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

We All Have A Muse

Others Writers

I believe you become a writer when you write. You become a published writer when you publish. A failed writer when you fail. And so on. Not five minutes ago I was looking at my friend Vicky's blog: and was going over her poetry for her for her submission to a magazine called Agenda that has just said they would publish my poem 'Junk Box'. Good news! Wow! 

But going over her poem made me think of the writers I talk to on a regular basis. You have Vicky who has just discovered her talent for poetry - my favourite of her poems being 'Cardigan' (which I'm sure she wrote for me deep down). Joe - my roommate, who has his own blog ( - writes poems and stories, one of his stories, he told me, chronicles a man's sex life from woman-to-woman. Dom is the poet also - the poet guru as we call him as we all go to him for advice - and he also writes short stories. Sam writes novels, his focus being fantasy novels, epics, "money's in the series" as he said to me one day while we argued about children's literature and the 'business' of it. 

Of course there are other writers I am associated with - I do creative writing in Uni - but they are the four writers I talk to the most and talk about writing and literature with. Joe and I, for example, usually bump into one another at 3am in the morning (usually the kitchen) and we both begin bitching about our lives, then we ponder over love, delve into literature and writing an before I know it it's 5am and I have to get up in 3 hours for work. 

What I love the most is the sense of community I have. I was reading about a writer's retreat the other day and it sounded fascinating. Being around other writers - different writers especially, those that have their own style, their own way of work, their own regime - is a very appealing atmosphere. My friend Elly was saying how she loves the sense of community in Cathays - the land of the students - and I agree but what I enjoy most is that I live with two writers - soon to be three writers! - and talk to many of them about writing.

Writing is our lives and we love it. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012


I love movie montages. I love how they can convey so many emotions in so many genres. 

My Favourite Characters I

Quite possibly, the two best characters ever created.
They compliment each other so well!
The best of friends. 


I went to my parents house the other day and started looking around my old room. While I was there I started looking through my old books, books I read when I was a teenager and wanted nothing more than to read fantasy and enter other worlds. I looked past the wonders of Paul Stewart's The Edge Chronicles, glanced over bad books I had reviewed on, longed to read the Penguin Classics I had bought with the intention of reading, flicked through Harry Potter and Darren Shan and many other wonderful writers. And as I looked through them I remembered where I was at the time, what my life was like. 

I remember reading Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak when I was holiday in Turkey with my parents. It was a slim novel and I read it in two days, immediately wanting to read the next novel. I picked up Perry Moore's Hero and recalled how I had stayed in my attic office, sprawled out on my sister's futon - I remember rearranging the office that day - and allowing the sun to come through the skylight as I spent the entire day reading it from cover to cover. 

Books - as you write them and read them - are like memory capsules. The minute you pick them up you are thrown into the memories that come with them. Inside the pages and the lines and the words are parts of your life and times you would want to forget or want to relive. While I was in the attic, surrounded by boxes of my papers and old notebooks I picked up a 'novel', for want of a better word, I wrote when I was fifteen. It was a post-apocalyptic novel entitled Shifter that I wrote when I was fifteen - influenced, mainly, by Steven Gould's Jumper. I remember writing it around the same time my prom was coming up and I was banging on the keyboard on a winter's night. I remember beginning the story around the same time my mother was calling me for dinner - which was annoying - and still writing it when I was introduced to The End of Mr. Y and The Gargoyle which my mum brought home from work with her one evening as I was writing said novel.

It's a wonderful thing to be able to open a book and not read the words but merely glance over them, see the black blur and recall the events of your life and the memories that are stored within the page. 

Right Up My Alley...


Thursday, 12 April 2012

I Love This Scene

The Green Fairy

I'm no poet. But last night after drinking some absinthe I wrote a poem about it:

Today we drink
the green
the green fairy,
yes we shall drink absinthe.

The poets did,
the tortured writers
and that’s what we are,
what we’re destined to be,

We’re a house of writers
and poets
and dreams,
three young men trying to make their way in the world
becoming it
understanding it.

We join around the table
pour the glasses.

A shot?
Let’s get wasted
let’s forget the world
the world we write about

The green fairy, come to us.
Free us.
Let us break away.
Take me away. 

The poem was deeply inspired by a poem my friend Hannah Barry wrote and pinned up on our crude poetry wall in our house. It shall be our introduction:

There was a house of men.
They lived as a trio of poets, writers and creators of crude love and romance.
They live like creations of fantasy in their own enchanted castle, waiting for beauty to come and break the spell of the beasts...

I do love those four lines. Powerful and brilliant. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Among the Nightmares, There's Magic.

'The Sword In The Stone', 1963


Nightmares, like my fears, feed my writing. I've already talked about what I fear and I guess my fears are incorporated into my nightmares. I'm lucky, I rarely have nightmares but when I do they're...bizarre for want of a better word. As a child I had a recurring nightmare of a tiny Indian man in a cupboard, after this drawers would launch themselves around my room. I used to wake up screaming and my mum would have to sit with me as I went back to sleep (on reflection that must have been a very boring job.)

One nightmare I will always remember was one that took place in my first job, the shop I used to work in. This nightmare helped me with my novella Bury the Hatchet and will come in handy for Cupid's Obsession. In the dream I was walking through an empty shop where everything seemed to sparkle. Suddenly, there was a flash and golden balloons were falling from the sky. Then I was standing in a long corridor where an elevator was at the end. I was closer and a girl - a girl I knew - was standing in front of me. Her head was bowed. Then she looked up. She screamed. Then she drew a knife to her throat and cut it. Then I woke up.

Weird, eh? 

That was the worst nightmare I ever had. I did the whole cliche jump out of bed thing and lay there pondering the horrific dream I had had. But, of course, this nightmare helped with many ideas that bubbled away in my mind. Of course this was a very The Shiningesque dream but Cupid's Obsession may be a homage to King's book and Kubrick's film - two very different things, I know. 

Just today, in fact, I was pondering over horror stories and how I'd only really like to write two novel sized horror stories and today I came to the three ones I would write. They will all be unrelated. I'm editing the first, the theme of which is madness. The second will be Cupid's Obsession - the theme of which will be love and obsession. And the third - the one that came to me today - will be about guilt. The story has been banging around in my head for a while but as I was watching the trailer for Prometheus again and was listening to Silent Melody as I walked down the street the story came to me. I won't tell you what it's about yet, only that it will have five main characters - four of which are based on four of my closest friends.

A Song Of Inspiration

It’s very Fincher. Which I love. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

New Worlds, New Adventures

Where will you end up?

'Little Lucifer'

My grandfather loves books. He's an old and wonderful man. When I lived with my parents and my office was up in the attic I would hear him shut the living room door and climb up the stairs to the attic, slowly and cautiously. He would do this long, exhausting exercise to come and talk to me about books, my life and tell me stories of his own. So, one day, I thought I'd write him a story for his birthday. I called it Little Lucifer and was a story of a young boy named Lucifer who meets a Snowdemon in the woods. It's a children's, fantasy tale. Something I knew my grandfather would love. Here's the opening:

"In the large house that stood in complete solitude there sat a boy. The little boy looked out of the window, allowing his eyes to be set on the forest surrounding him and the small road. His house was the only one for miles, buried beneath a cobbled road that led into town and a wonderful forest that he was forbid to enter. How he loved the forest, how he loved the tall trees, so high that you could climb them for days and never reach the top. He loved the different animals, from annoying, buzzing bugs to large, wide birds. He loved the different bushes, whether they be hurtful or soft and sweet. Everything about the forest was magical.
            But his parents forbid him to go inside.  And yet he still did.  He knew it was wrong, disobeying his parents was, of course, wrong but there was nothing else to do. He had heard the other boys talking about a park they went to after school. He imagined them playing football, falling over and collecting grass stains, laughing in joy and happiness. He imagined the happiness that came with being with your friends but on such days, on the days when the other boys played, he sat in the large house, alone. The only people in the house would be the suspicious butler and maids, the Demons, his grandmother called them. His parents would be out, his father at work, his mother shopping and his sister would be somewhere in town with her friends."

Sunday, 8 April 2012



Here's a completed story I did that came third in a competition where we had to do something creative about books. It's what I came up with...

Consider me, if you will, as a box. A box where all your ideas and wonders come from. A box which you can fall into and forget everything. A box that is completely you. Now this box, like everything, has a maker and this maker has a story also, just as I do. My story, before I was, for want of a better word, a box, began all those years ago when I was born into this world, a world of questions and very little answers. It’s not a fun thing to talk about yourself in the past tense but it is something I must do for I am no longer living, for my soul moved on and I now reside in something that I had little consideration for when I was living, in the beginning of course. In fact the thing to which I speak occurred to me on the most grief-filled of days when I staggered up the snowy hill, my footprints were marks on my heart and soul, and cried.
            I stood on the hill top, my black hair fraying across my face, my coat billowing behind me, my hands dug in my pockets and my chin deep in my scarf. As my eyes sparkled, bleeding with tears of destruction, of hate and sadness I thought I was lost. In my drunken state, as I looked down at the waters below, I thought all was gone, that I had reached my inevitable end. But as pathetic and idiotic as it sounds, as supreme and wonderful it could to others, I saw something, that glimmer of hope. I turned to see a man standing opposite me, a man dressed in his own black coat, with a hat tilted, casting a shadow across his hazel eyes. The man was elderly, with wrinkles showing his age and secrets and scars informing me of his crazy life.
            With a pair of spectacles hooked across his nose he said the words: “Has it really come to this, Monty?”
            That was me back then – Montgomery Fleming, nearing thirty, recently broken up with his girlfriend, failure filmmaker, failure writer, failure boyfriend, failure everything, ready to reach the end. My life up to this day had been one of little importance, one of questioning and little answers, one of laborious exercises and then the pivotal moment – meeting Lucy. Hopelessly falling in love with her, a woman I would later despise, the woman who revealed me to be pathetic and lonely and stupid, a woman that broke my heart, I wished for it all to be gone, for the pain and resentment to melt like an ice cube under the strong beaming sun.
            “Who – Who are you?” I had half stuttered and snapped to the elderly man.
            “I’m Grady...Grady Irving.”
            I looked at him blankly.
            “You probably haven’t heard of me,” he said, edging towards me.
            I continued to stare at him, oblivious to whom this man was.
            “I am a writer,” he said, smiling, “I am a very famous writer if I’m not blowing my trumpet. But you wouldn’t have heard of me, Mr. Fleming, because you do not read, correct?”
            “I read the newspaper,” I grumbled.
            He shook his head. “You read the news but you don’t read anything else.”
            This man had begun to irk me. “Yeah, could you leave me alone? I’m sort of in the middle of something here.”
            “You’re in the middle of contemplation, in the middle of ending everything, all pain, all worry and, in turn, all hope. By jumping, Mr. Fleming, you are breaking all chance of hope, all chance of happiness.”
            “Who are you?” I barked. “How do you know me and what...what ARE YOU ON ABOUT?”
            “I am on about the only thing you are blind to, Mr. Fleming. You witnessed many things, you have experienced many things and yet you are blind to the true escape that is there to offer. You have tried drugs, alcohol, anything but you miss the easiest form, you miss the thing that people talk about, that children love, that you used to love.”
            Grady smirked. “You are now filled with questions and I must leave you. You have some thinking to do.”
            “No, wait I -”
            I stopped, for a minute I called after him he was gone, vanished, just like that. I turned back to the edge and looked down at the crashing waves. I looked back up and frowned. What had he been on about? Who was he? Nevertheless I turned, giving the cliff one last look and proceeded back into my life.
            I remember it to be three days later when I walked into a library, a library I had never known was there let alone been in and picked up a book by one Grady Irving. The book was called Pandemonium and as I turned the pages, as I tore my fingers and stayed up all night I devoured the book in one great sitting on that snowy night in the bleak city. With the never-ending lights blazing in on me, in my small, dingy flat, a flat Lucy had never liked, I completely forgot everything. There was no Lucy, there was no dingy flat, there was no failed job, no failed everything, everything was gone, everything was now my own.
            I looked up from the book, my head rummaging with ideas, my fingers ready to zap and I placed it down and looked out of the window. I can’t explain, dear friends, what I felt. I wanted to scream, I wanted to sigh, I wanted to do everything and yet was not able to. The next day I returned to the library and by the end of the week read every single Grady Irving book that was in print. The following week I moved onto Dickens, then King, then Hemingway, then Yates, then Tolkien, then Bronte. I read everything, everything I was given and simply because I could, because the books were there at my fingertips because all the knowledge, all the joy that is needed was there.
            Now I cannot blind you, possess you even into believing that my problems were solved simply by reading of Oliver or Frodo or Carrie, no, I cannot make you believe that. But what I can make you believe, what I can tell you, is that it helped, is that when I finished those novels, those works of genius I managed to understand what I had to do. And so my life changed. Now I am not going to go in the ins and outs of my up and down life, and it was up and down, just because I read a book doesn’t mean everything was hunky dory, oh no, far from it. But each time I argued with my wife, my third and last love, I would reside to my office and read, fall into the words and imagination of others.
            When I found out that my son had been expelled I managed to settle the problem and then forget by use of a book. The legal drug. Reading the book did not blind me of the problems I had to face, oh no, it cleared my mind, it emptied all of the rubbish that lay attacked to my brains, my tissue, my heart, and helped me become who I am today. It helped me become Montgomery Fleming, loving husband, caring father and helpful filmmaker. Sure I made a few films, none of them successful, none of them were the next Godfather or Jaws but they were quirky in their own respect.
            And, as nature does, I became ill, my body succumb to cancer and I died with the weeping family around me in my bed with nothing but the last petals of kisses coming from my beautiful wife’s mouth. The soft kisses led me into death, led me into the long tunnel of white light, of wind, of happiness, of the end. I walked it, like many before me, and as I died, as I saw the light I expected it to be that. That final explosion of light would lead me into oblivion. But no. No, after the light I opened my eyes and was reborn.
            I was something else.
            An animal? No. A statue? No. I was something nobody would expect me to be. I had a voice, a voice that people listened to and got happiness and enjoyment out of. I was something that touched people, that made them who they were. And now, as I say this to you, I shall explain what exactly I am, what Montgomery Fleming finally became. What me, that boy that wanted to end it all, that miserable man, became in his later life.
            As the people walk past me, as they make quick glances and make their selection I rest on the shelf, with all the others like me, waiting to be heard. Waiting for that correct person to choose me, out of all the others, take me somewhere and open me up. On this day a small girl, a girl I would later understand to be Amelia, used her tip-toes to grip me and walk with me over to the desk. I looked up at her, at her bright blue eyes, at her sweeping hair, at her innocent face and spoke my words and she read them.
            For she, like all of us in the end, was reading. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Blue Valentine

The End.

I was told a few weeks ago that I had to watch Blue Valentine by a number of people, one of them being my friend Elly who said "you'll love it, it's right up your alley." Now, after just finished watching it, I am both exhausted, sad, drained, pensive, too many emotions really. But this is a good thing, as Elly said - this film would be right up my alley and indeed it was. It reminded me of a few other great films about relationships - realistic relationships, not this Hollywood crap. I thought of (500) Days of Summer - rather a post-break-up film and a kind of looking back way of going about it, Weekend - a beautiful film about two men who have a one night stand and only have a weekend together in the end and Revolutionary Road - for obvious reasons. What all of these wonderful films have in common is the end of a relationship. In Blue Valentine it's the idea of growing a part - drifting a part as they say. In (500) Days of Summer it's realising you aren't really meant to be. In Weekend it's time and place (perhaps the most tragic) and in Revolutionary Road it's growing to hate the person you love, wanting different things. 

As teenagers - and now students - my friends and I have had a lot of drama in our love lives (I will write a soap opera one day about the stories I've heard) so we can all relate to a tragic love, no? The end. The inevitable end. Relationships and love seem to have corrupted my writing right now. I write about the things that happen around me and these things come about every day so why not write about it? I guess writing about it is my way of understanding it, understanding why the hell two people would join together and possibly hate or hurt each other? Understand why you'd put yourself through that if it's going to end anyway?

There are so many questions, are there not? What happens if you simply no longer like the person you used to? What happens if you grow a part? What happens if you make a mistake? What happens if your lives go in separate directions and time picks at you? What happens if you realise you made a huge mistake? What happens if the things you loved about this person turn into the things you hate? Their smile that you thought was cute now becomes twisted. Their hair that was thick is now tangled. Their quirks that were fun now become weird. 

It's bleak, a very bleak blog today but this film is right up my alley, right? It is. I loved it but god does it make you think "what is the point?" I understand that one film can't have a Hollywood ending - which is sometimes nice, mostly annoying - and a realistic one. Joe, my roommate, said I write bleak stories with bleak endings. My teacher once said to me "Thomas, why don't you write happy endings? Why can't people just fall in love and stay together?" I like to think of myself as a romantic - deep, deep down anyway - but this film breaks romance. It's great but horrific. Go and watch it. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

'The Money Tree' Snippet

This is a short story that got very mixed reviews from those that read it. I've only enclosed the opening but, let's just say, some loved it and some really, really, really hated it.

"People trust me with their secrets. I guess it’s because they think I could never tell anyone, that I am a being of ears and no tongue. Of course such a notion is laughable – who cannot tell the woes and lies of others, if not it just you telling yourself over and over again? I must admit I came close to accepting the idea I was merely the secret keeper but as time passed and my ears became more accustomed to the things around me I finally knew that I was able to tell these tales – whether it be to myself or to the winds that whistled around me or even to leaves that would warn the humans of their lives. I am the secret keeper but who is to say I keep them only to myself?
            I first set eyes on the Edens on a summer afternoon. I heard the screech of breaks coming from the front of the house and my ears twitched with the new, distant sound. The sun glazed upon the windows as I made out three people – a young, blonde woman wrapped in a shawl, with beautiful, blue eyes and silken cheeks; from behind her came a tall, broad man with thick black hair and the most devilishly handsome face but it was the child who came running after them that caught my attention. Among the beaming expressions of happiness that forbade the husband and wife’s face the little girl, who came sprinting into the kitchen, showed me what true happiness looked like. With the battered toy dog in her hand and the golden hair that was flashing around her, the small, four-year-old child was the perfect picture of happiness."

The Joker's Final Speech

Children's Literature

We all remember certain books we read when we were kids, or more the books that were read to us: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Jill Murphy's books, Dr. Seuss (which I still read now), Roald Dahl, the list goes on and on. But what did they really do to us as kids? What, looking back, do we really think of them? What books, if we all turned writers, would we turn to and remember to help us? 

I was a very peculiar child and one of my favourite past times was sitting out in the garden copying passages from Dahl's The Witches. Unfortunately I left the book outside and the rain turned my precious copy into a crinkled mess. But it was the horrific witches, the terrifying rules and the sinister experiences that made me love this book. It was so dark, so scary that I couldn't help but turn each page with trembling hands. 

Now, looking back, these types of books affected me greatly - not in a traumatic way - but in a "I want to write a creepy story sometime!" kind of way. When people read my children's stories they'd ask the classic question: "what messed you up to make you write what you write?" Stephen King gets asked the very same question - for obvious reasons - but the answer is not the books I read, not some traumatic incident that happened to me it's just the way I am. I like creepy stories. Get over it!

Neil Gaiman's Coraline, which I wrote a review for ( and expresses my views on my love of twisted tales that are on the edge of acceptable. Children love weird stories, they love it when they read things that are deemed naughty and un-allowed (if that is a word). But most importantly children can take scary stories, they understand there is a boogeyman outside, they understand all of these things.

Children are perceptive creatures - as well as evil ones sometimes - and they learn. I believe children should learn about the cruelty of life when they're children but they learn it through evil Queens and bloodthirsty Kings, they'll find out that the real boogeyman is the man around the corner with a knife, that the nasty people are the ones who betray you and hurt you. They will learn all of this, in the end, but right now let them learn it through magic and wonder.

Here's a mini list of some great children's books out there: The Red Tree by Shaun Tan, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Coraline and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Varmints by Helen Ward, The Spider and the Fly and The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi, A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket and Cirque De Freak by Darren Shan. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A Delay Equals Extracts

I did say I was going to write my thoughts on children's literature, I will do that Thursday, so instead I've given another extract of my work - just so you guys don't think I'm talking about writing but not actually writing. This is a story that has been on the back-burner for a while and called 'Untitled Romance'. I'm working on a short story called The Cobweb House right now and brainstorming for Cupid's Obsession so this will remain on the back-burner but I've put it here to show I can write other stuff too, well, experimental anyway...


I don’t believe in much. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell or the Inbetween. I don’t believe in good or evil. But there is one thing I do believe in: that there is one person out there for all of us. Your life is basically on hold until you find that one person, until you meet him or her and you can start your life of blissful happiness. Of course I’m not too stupid to believe that everything is great when you meet Mr. Right, I mean he could be a complete wanker but you still love him because you know he’s for you, that he completes you. That’s what I believe. One of the very few things I believe. My mother once told me that believing in something is putting your faith into it, putting everything you find important on this one thing, this one belief.
            I believe in Love. I’m a hopeless romantic, so romantic I believe Love deserves a capital letter. I remember being six years old and overheard Roxanne Brown talking with her friend of how much she loved her boyfriend and wanted to marry him – she was six at the time also – and I found it so romantic. Romance is the key to life, without romance, without Love we are nothing, have nothing. That’s another thing I believe. It’s a fact that all humans Love, all humans feel it and give it, it’s what completes us. It’s part of us.
            That’s what I believe. 


When my girlfriend of six months told me she loved me I freaked out. I choked. I remember it to be the most uncomfortable, most excruciatingly horrible moment of my eighteen years of life. What could I have done? Lied and told her I loved her back? Whispered into her ear “me too” or do the dreadful “I love spending time with you too”? I was gobsmacked, shaken and bewildered. It goes without saying she dumped me an hour after that, after a loud argument of her saying I was a heartless pig and me trying to defend myself by calling her a girl who walked around with her heart on her sleeve.
            That’s one thing I hate – the person that wears their heart on their sleeve, the person that falls in love with anyone that pays them a little bit of attention. I mean come on, get a life and man the fuck up a little bit. Before that girlfriend, Sarah her name was, I had entered a life of sex and very little commitment. In eighteen years I have shagged – let me think – fifteen girls, the sixteenth didn’t count because we didn’t go the whole way. I’ve been described as heartless, as confused, as cold, soulless, emotionless, basically anything with ‘less’ on the end of it I’ve been called. I try...Kinda.
            I’m just not the guy who falls in love, OK?
            That’s what I said to Sarah during our argument which caused her to end it there and storm out of my house. Ten of the fifteen girls have said they had feelings for me, two said they love me, the first girl was called Anna and was completely off her face at the time so I managed to wriggle my way out of that one, the other was Sarah and the dreaded confrontation that came with it. I’ve liked people, I guess. Yeah, yeah, I’ve liked people just not love.
            I don’t even know what love is.
            How can you believe in something you don’t understand?

A Wonderful Song

Monday, 2 April 2012

Quirk In Odd Places

A few weeks ago I wrote a picture book called Andy's Drawer which my friend Sophie Darmanin illustrated. Last night I watched the film Mary and Max. These are not two isolated incidents. These events connect - through thought at least. 

For the past couple of months I have been doing a course called Writing For Children. My thoughts on children's literature shall be discussed in my next blog but when I write for children I like it to be a bit controversial and scary. Mary and Max - from what I could gather - is not a children's film but could appeal to them - it would certainly have appealed to me if I was younger, not just because of the quirkiness of the film but because how 'on the line' it was. In one scene Max talks about a fish's anus to a young girl. My older self was a bit like "hmm this is a bit odd" when my younger self would have laughed and continued with the strangeness of the tale. 

But when I watched it all I could think of was "wow this is really inspiring." I had already previously toyed with the idea of writing some more children's books - picture books to be exact with my friend Sophie illustrating them - but after watching this I was defiantly keen to begin. I think the mood I want to portray in the next picture books is the same uncertainty as the last but make it more steam-punk. Listening to Vivaldi will give me the thought process I want. 

Andy's Drawer was about a boy who is bullied so to become "sharper" he decides to sleep in a knife drawer which makes him stand up to his bullies. (This idea came from my friend Dom who said I had been sleeping in the knife drawer because I was being very sharper - a phrase I had never heard of until then.) Now, however, I think I will write one about a friendship - inspired by Mary and Max, of course, but have a different feel to it. 

Now I'm more typing my thoughts as oppose to actually saying what I am going to write but all in good time. In my next two blogs I'll talk about my thoughts on children's literature and I'll put some snippets of the picture book up. My next picture book, however, will have to be floating around in my mind for a while as I have an essay on nineteenth century literature - oh the joy. 

Mary & Max

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Giant Pile of Poo and The Upside Down Lamp: A Nonsense Poem

Written by myself and illustrated by my good friend Sophie Darmanin. 


“People can’t see me,” said the Giant Pile of Poo, “they will step on me.”
“Do you need some light?” asked the Upside Down Lamp. “For those people to not step on you.”
“If you don’t mind,” replied the Giant Pile of Poo.
And so their friendship began.


Some days the Giant Pile of Poo
and the Upside Down Lamp
toyed with the idea of having someone step on the Poo
and the people would have poo under their shoes
and they would laugh.
But they thought against it
because they didn’t want to be parted
because they were friends
best friends. 


One day it rained
and the Giant Pile of Poo thought it might die
but the Upside Down Lamp shined upon it
and saved it
but the Lamp didn’t mind
because they were best friends.


Some days they talked about literature
other days they talked about their surroundings
but they never talked of how they got there
they never said anything of importance
because they were best friends
and they didn’t have to.


One day the Upside Down Lamp got distracted
and was seduced by a desk lamp passing in a car
the Lamp looked at the desk lamp and forgot about his friend
his best friend.


The Giant Pile of Poo was enjoying his silence
he did not need to talk to his best friend
they understood the importance of silence
but this was the day The Upside Down Lamp was seduced
and at the same time a woman walked down the street
and the woman was in a rush
and before she knew it she stepped in the Giant Pile of Poo
and wrecked her shoes
and the Upside Down Lamp turned around
and found that the Giant Pile of Poo was gone
because it was under the woman’s shoe
and now he did mind
because they were best friends
but no longer together.