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Tuesday 27 August 2013

Who's the hero?

The scene is familiar, shelf after shelf of books, brand spanking new books, never opened and straight out of the box. Slowly working your way through the rank and file of literature laid out for your inspection and every one you pick up, you put it back; why?

The Blurb, I can't help it, as soon as I read the words ex-whatever, and it is usually one of the elite special forces familiar to us all I lose interest. Don't get me wrong, I have enormous respect for the standards and achievements of special forces, especially those serving with HM forces at home and overseas. I know they are special, very special.

When the manuscript of Iceline was handed back after the first reader had finished with it he said it read like a combination of Jack Higgins and John Buchan. I took that as a compliment, they are writers I have admired and enjoyed for many years. Buchan's "The Thirty Nine Steps" was on the edge of my mind while I was writing Iceline. I'm not sure how many times I have read it, it isn't a long book, but the action never stops from the moment Richard Hannay hears the tale of his unknown visitor.

Hannay is the key, both to the Thirty Nine Steps and to the way the Grange works, he is you and me! A mining engineer, bored out of his skull with the social whirl and on the brink of chucking the whole lot and heading off in search of another adventure, then adventure kicks open the door and crashes in - come and have a go!

He isn't a trained agent, anything but, but he's quick, intelligent, he has life experience and can handle himself. Richard Hannay is a sort of Everyman hero, you or I could reasonably slip into his shoes and take the journey he does.

That's where the idea of The Grange starts, any one of the team could be you or me, we all have our talents and given the chance to rise to the occasion would probably give it a go and discover something about ourselves we didn't know...

Steel, Langhers, Josie, even Hannah with her finger on the Morse key, none of them have a military background, but they all have that something Jardine spotted and brought out. He created the Grange to develop teamwork and individual thinking. Initiative or whatever you want to call it - he wouldn't call it blue-sky thinking;to him that's a vast blue emptiness with nothing going on. Bill Jardine would consider membership of the Cloud Appreciation Society, clouds are a sign of activity on a grand scale. Just what he's looking for, along with the necessity of paying his way.

A group of ordinary people working in an unusual situation, all it needs to bring out that something extra, and the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Teamwork, flexibility and initiative, looking for that edge to keep the show on the road. Check out the team at the Grange in the first three Grange Novels, Iceline, Control:Escape and What You Ask For ( WYAF is still in the raw draft stage, free to download.)

Friday 16 August 2013

You couldn't make it up

Pretty much an ordinary day really, plodding through the routine of the day job and fell into conversation, and a story unfolded. Ten minutes later after listening to the twist and turns, the scheming and shenanigans I'm shaking my head and wondering about the impossibility of writing fiction, searching for that elusive story that will grab the reader's attention from the first line and hold them the last full stop and The End.

How many times have I considered a plot line and decided that it was just too fanciful, lobbed the idea in the mental dustbin and then been handed a slice of reality that makes the fiction sound solid and mundane, boring even?

I really should take the words of Sherlock Holmes to heart, that life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man can invent. He pushed the idea further, strip away everything, peel back all the layers and what you have left, however strange it might seem will probably be the truth.

Coming up against that, should I worry that I might write a tale so strange it would be unbelievable?
That's definitely a NO, so let's bring Lewis Carroll into the picture as well, and start off with half a dozen impossible things before breakfast.

Kick off the day with that, check the batteries in my tape recorder, (I have a Pearlcorder stuffed in my bag, with the little micro-cassettes) and see where it goes.

Expect weirdness, was the excellent advice I had the other day, I'm going to take it; the material should be useful for any number of stories.