Archives: September 2012

He may have strangled her or there again…

He doesn’t remember what happened… He may have strangled her, or there again, maybe he didn’t…

For a long time he’s been confused between reality and what’s in his head…

This much we know… But who is he..? Who is the man who may have killed the girl… Who is it who may have left her for dead, up in the clearing at the top of the hill overlooking Butler’s Farm? The same clearing teenager Billy considers his own – his place of refuge from the ‘other’ world where adults and teachers, girls and priests cause him so much annoyance.

So who has ruined his special place? Who killed the girl with blonde hair – the same girl who splashed him with cold water and embarrassed him at the fun fair and worse… the girl who kissed him and touched him, well… there…!

Michael Cameron reads the opening of BILLY CHRIST in this short video.

Click  below for a glimpse of Billy’s world…

 

Learning To Write Under Joe Orton’s Bed…

Here’s the cover of my next book..

In a few days time I’m going to clear the decks and begin editing the last draft of my new book ‘The Brinkmeyers’ – I think it was Joe Orton who said that when he wrote a play, he put it away under his bed for six months before he took it out again to edit because by then it had ‘matured.’ Well I reckon ‘The Brinkmeyers’ ought to have got fairly ripe by now as I wrote the very first draft of it back at the end of 2007. I liked it then but I got distracted by something else, (three years of illness actually, but I prefer to forget that) and when I went back to it at the start of this year I hated it when I re-read it, but I finally pulled it out of a box a month or so ago and decided I did like it after all – in fact some of it made me laugh. As it’s partly a comedy that was quite a good thing. I think the problem was the funny bits lost their freshness for me when I was working on them and there’s nothing worse than a joke when you already know the punchline. Anway, I pushed on with it and used what I could of the original draft and re-wrote what had to be re-written and so it’s going to be published… and I’m rather pleased with it. I guess it just shows that you should always re-visit and re-write. In this writing game nothing gets wasted, at least that’s what I reckon. I don’t believe in the waste-bin – I’m much more a re-cycling man, if you follow me…

So, the book is the story of Hymie Brinkmeyer and his family – he’s an American New Yorker who came to England to marry his British sweetheart – he’s done well over the years and made a fortune in oil and he’s got two lovely kids – Ah, what a lovely family saga you might think – er, well, not quite – his ‘sweetheart’ hasn’t got any time for him and is having an affair with her psychiatrist, his daughter had a baby at sixteen and now has another on the way and his son is either a dangerous fantasist or quite possibly a mass-murderer – or maybe both, and the oil Hymie made his fortune in isn’t quite what it seems either… oh, and everyone knows he’s madly in love with his sexy Irish secretary – everyone that is except for him – it’s a blind spot, like the lump on his scrotum, that he won’t show the doctor…

So, thank you to Deana Riddle at Liberwriter who designed the  cover – you kind of caught the flavour of it, I think…

 

 

Mr Golding And Me…

A very long time ago – when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old – (according to my son that would be about the time Dinosaurs walked the Earth, but actually it was when trousers were judged by the width of their flares and hair by how long you could get away with it) – a very, very far sighted English teacher (he was Irish and dangerously mad and would later become a character in my book Billy Christ)  gave us a great novel to read by William Golding. And it wasn’t Lord Of The Flies.

Not that there is anything wrong with Lord Of The Flies -  I mean it is one of the greatest books of the twentieth century (or of any century come to that) but at the time everyone was reading Lord Of The Flies and had been for some years – my older brother had done it for O level and I would do so in my turn a year or two later. What that far-sighted teacher did was introduce us to Golding with his book ‘The Spire’, which in  my opinion is one of the most dramatic, sensual, thought provoking and powerful books ever written.

I was hooked from the very first lines: ‘ He was laughing, chin up, and shaking his head. God the Father was exploding in his face with a glory of sunlight through painted glass….’

What?! I had never read anything so vivid, so powerful. So visual… and later this: ‘The most solid thing was the light. It smashed through the rows of windows in the south aisle, so that they exploded with colour…’

It takes a great, great writer to make light solid and colour become so vivid on the page of a book – to me it was like  film and I was there pressed up against the screen, immersed in that ancient light – light that beat against me, dragged me into the dusty, stained-glass coloured world of the cathedral and thrust me into the recesses of Jocelin’s mind, wrapped me in his vanity, immersed me in his vision and warmed my back by the same angel that warmed his back (an angel I have mildly, and with deep respect resurrected in the story of Billy – mea culpa Mr Golding).

From then on I was obsessed. I read all of Golding’s books in  less than a month or two (he hadn’t written all of his work at this time)  and I decided there and then that English literature was my subject, what  I wanted to do. I was lucky – the passion for words Golding had given me got me a place at Cambridge university but there I rather drifted away from reading literature to pursue another love, that of theatre. But then in my last year I was told I could choose any author to write about – what was known then as ‘the long dissertation’ – a part of the finals to be written over the course of a year and marked for the tripos.

It was an easy choice – my author could only be William Golding. This was 1974. This was in one of the greatest universities in the world, this was where the finest critics of English literature, the greatest professors of their art plied their trade and (this may come as a surprise, it did to me) not one of them wanted to supervise me. My director of studies explained that he and his colleagues considered Golding a ‘minor’ author and wouldn’t I rather write on Dickens (who at least according to Leavis had written one great book) or preferably Chaucer..?

I didn’t want to. I wouldn’t… I wasn’t going to. I was going to write about William Golding and I did so, largely unsupervised and more from passion than with any  academic ability – and as a result I got a lousy mark – I did what you weren’t supposed to do in the English faculty – I had ploughed my own lonely and unappreciated furrow! And as result I was regarded as rather foolish and rather odd – I might as well have chosen to write about Iain Flemming or Enid Blyton and there was a lot of looking down academic noses at this silly and head-strong student and this ‘slight’ author, Golding.

I’d like to think that nine years later when wiser men awarded Golding the Nobel Prize for literature that a few of those old Cambridge establishment-farts felt embarrassed – but, of course,  you can bet your bottom dollar they didn’t – they probably thought the world had gone madder than they had already assumed it was…

I can’t get Mr Golding out of my head. His work haunts me still. I am not ashamed, as I say, to admit  that my new book Billy Christ has a little of his influence. I like to think that one day I might be able to persuade the Golding estate to let me write the project I have always wanted to do  – a musical based on The Spire – don’t laugh, use the word opera if it makes you happier, and I would like to think that one day I will complete my collection of Golding First editions – but Lordy! That Lord Of The Flies costs a bob or two in the fine book markets nowadays.

So thank you Mr Golding – you opened up my imagination, you fired me up for reading and you turned me into a writer, for which I am grateful – and you created a canon of work equal to any in the history of literature at its very best – not bad for a man the university of Cambridge ignored even when he was at his peak. Glad you got the last laugh…