Category Archives: Setting

Friday Writing Prompt

Inspired by my talk last weekend, and thinking about the close interaction between fact and fiction, here’s a prompt for you.

Take a key moment in history; so something that ‘literally’ stopped the world, not just your world, so let’s say, as is the case in my novel, the death of a president, maybe 911, Diana’s death, Elvis… ? and then write a short piece of ‘alternative history’ as if it never happened. So you will need to use fictitious characters perhaps or make it a memoir piece where the event affected you, but now let us see what happened if something else happened instead… So, for example, JFK Airport used to be called Idlewild and, in fact, this is the name of Mark Lawson’s alternative history novel, if Kennedy had not died as he did and make him the icon he is, would the airport still be called that? In fact, that is the case in this novel; Kennedy is still alive years later. Perhaps juxtapose what might have happened with what did happen, so some of you might even want to write two versions…? I will leave that to you! Allow your imaginations to run wild… and not be idle! See what I did there 🙂 Groan!

Happy Writing!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Being YOU!

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Getting into Character

I find myself this week back in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco and then climbing the dizzying heights of Pacific Heights and down to Pier 39. Contrasting neighbourhoods. No I have not jetted off to the states again (more’s the pity) but am back in the minds of Frank and Richard in the next novel. It’s already had a fair polish but needs some overhauling and the ending is in my head but not on a page. So here I am back there. What these characters are telling me is I know Frank’s voice really well (ex con, hard but soft) and Rich is more of a challenge as he is a bit of a bumbling prof recovering from a mental breakdown.

So for me to be suddenly back with these guys feels like a real treat. I have done a lot of work on this one but now I think it’s time to get to sorted. It’s pacey and psychological this one, darker too.

Because I’ve been to San Francisco a few times, one in particular on a fact-finding mission for this book, I feel more comfortable than perhaps I Am Wolf where I have never been to Alaska or Moscow. One of things we did in San Francisco five years ago (see I said I had been working on this for a while) was walk in Golden Gate Park, ride the amazing carousel that is in the novel and wonder where a body might be found near the carousel. Yep really. But what you can’t capture from Google earth are smells and the feel of the place. So I also had my notebook and asked what scents I could pick up on — get a feel for the place in the early morning. What I love about San Francisco is the fog, very atmospheric, right?

So I must leave you now to get back into character. While Frank has his issues — and so does Rich although I think your sympathies are with him from the get-go, Frank is the likeable rogue  and so I hope all of that comes across. Well — I will have to make sure it does. Being a writer is like being a character actor.

 

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Have a great Wednesday, y’all!

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Being lost in another world … the role of the fiction writer

Many writing books talk about the need to find a fictive dream state and to become lost in the pages of a book.

That’s what reading is all about for me, the entrancement, the total immersion into it. And while a good movie does that in all its glory, the difference with a novel is the immersion is more active. By this I mean your own mind creates the details that colour it, based on how effectively the writer has worked to create it. I tend to think of it as the interplay between what the writer creates and how the reader imagines it.

Ever wondered if the world you see in your head is the same as another person reading the same book?

Stephen King talks about this in his book On Writing, in his description (that I have also talked about here before) of telling the reader to imagine a kitchen. Now we all have different kitchens in our head. Now he tells you there is a table in the centre. We all have different tables. But now he says there is a cage on the table (different cages?) but it’s when he says there is a while adult rabbit in the cage with a number 8 on the side in royal blue lettering, we all see the same thing. It’s about drawing the reader to see the relevant part, the rest is only detail and if you want the reader to know it’s a big country kitchen, then you use a line or two to set it up — but only if it’s relevant.

It’s the skill of the writer alongside the reader’s own interpretation and experience that I think must feed into the image that comes into the mind. So it seems likely the extraneous details we see will be different, but the relevant parts will be the same.  So writers take heed — don’t give too many extraneous details or you are entering the world of fillers. Sure we need colour, but overdo it and we’re not moving plot.

I rarely seem to find myself in that being so lost in a good book I don’t want to climb out of it state,  but when I do find that, wow I love it!

In my writing while I don’t set out specifically to make that happen, I certainly hope it does. For me it’s about creating something that really captures people, characters people can love and a plot that keeps them gripped. I hope I have achieved this with my novel — the feedback so far says just that, people not wanting to put it down. Phew. I hope that continues to happen as I will know all the hard work did something special. In the end.

I have a busy week of normal writerly things before the trip to Essex and Bath  at the end of next week and the big 50th Kennedy anniversary. So this morning it’s all about getting back to the writing.

Have a good week y’all!

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Ps I am now available for a blog tour if anyone wants me in the spotlight?

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Head Space

It’s been an odd time for me when, unusually, I have not been quite as upbeat as usual, odd given all the exciting things coming. Some of this has been the things beyond my control but looks like we have a cover to reveal really soon. Some of it has been the time of year — some financial and some I guess just that the freelancer like me never really stops and I could do with a good break away and some pamper time. But all that will come in good time I don’t doubt.

The last few days have been very wet and while I do love to be cosy inside and there is something aesthetic about the tap-tap-tap of rain on glass as I work, it has also meant less fresh air. Rosie the pooch does not like to walk in the rain and so not only has she had all this energy to play off, I haven’t given my head space to breathe.

This morning we managed a walk before the rain comes (if it does) and I feel so much better for that. I also realised as I walked how much thinking I do in that important time. Some of it is plans for the coming months, some dreaming about what it will be like to have my little house near the family when I eventually find a buyer for my house. And some was thinking about the important changes I am currently making to the new novel. While it’s a complete draft it needed more and now somehow I find myself a traveller in a foreign land. While I am having to write about Moscow, having never been, my protagonist now finds herself in a ghost town outside Moscow and that brings me new and exciting challenges. This is when pennies to travel to these places would help! But I am writing these scenes and making some needed changes.

So maybe a walk does really give us that head space we all need.

What do you think?

The cover is coming … reveal here VERY soon … give in to the muse and see where it takes you …

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Never Stop Believing in YOU

 

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On the outside looking in …

There was a sense of detachment as I walked this morning; of being connected to everything and nothing at the same time. Of looking in on myself.

It’s a still September morning and a mist scarfed the mountains of Snowdonia. I could hear every footstep as I walked along the lane, every voice carried in the cool air, every car somewhere on the top road.

And I could hear the soft  jangle of Rosie’s lead as we walked. Me and my little dog.

And as if all sound dropped I had this thought — what if I am the only person left in the world? Imagine if no one else is here. If I open my eyes and everything I know is gone.

I have these odd thoughts and lately a few have come, all dully noted in my book. I am running my workshop on How to Write A Psychological Thriller in November, and in much the same way a new story will percolate, drip slowly into being while I’m not thinking about it, so the ideas that will form the basis of this workshop will do the same. I am setting an exercise and so these scenarios are all part of that. All to be explained later.

But as I rounded the corner of the lane, in the odd but beautiful silence, I knew what was missing from the new scene I’m writing for I Am Wolf when our protagonist goes back to the village north of Moscow where the feral child was found; now nothing more than a ghost town, every person long left for the city — something that happened a lot in Russia in the 90s. I need this same sense of peace and disquiet. That is how I imagine such a place would feel.

Even in the peace, we find answers.

And I will leave you with that thought.

My Country Garden ... looks like it just happened.

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Sweet Land of Liberty …

A US flavour for the 4th of July!

I am very much an all or nothing kind of person — I mean if I love it I don’t just love it — I’m obsessed with it! And there are many US things in that list — beginning of course with Mr Manilow! (There she goes again!)

I first visited California at the tender age of 9. Having grown up hugely influenced by US TV shows and films and a dad who worked for Disney, also a film buff who’d travelled around the states extensively, I very much followed in his footsteps — literally! As you’ll see later.

I remember that amazing trip to California in 1978 and I recall how hard it was to adjust after I came home. This whole other exciting place was happening the other side of the world and I wanted to be a part of it. It took me ages to change my watch back to UK time 😦 It’s true of course on holiday we see a different side, there’s money to burn, you eat out, visit theme parks (and they can do them better than us for sure) so it’s not hard to see why I felt that way.

It was however little over a decade before I went back and that time it was to see Barry Manilow — a 2 week trip with the fan club and before you laugh — just remember this is one of the best memories I have — truly. You wouldn’t want to tread on that now, would you?  What a trip and I remember wondering why I’d left it so long to go back. We hired a super stretch limo twice, both times driving to Bel Air where Mr Manilow then presided — and I recall opening a bottle of champers out of the sun roof when Barry’s neighbour, Ringo Starr saluted our decadence and spoke to us! I guess I was being teased by a celebrity life style and one I have to say I don’t actually crave — I love my simple little life —  but it was fun never the less. Maybe the 20-year-old me craved it — a little!

Because I have some great friends in the US — friends my dad met all those years ago when he worked for Disney and travelled around, I went back often after that and stayed with my lovely friend Jan. In fact I am planning a trip to see her next March when I will have a book launch out there too!

While I don’t dream of a house in LA so much now, there is still part of me that does hold onto that dream  (now it’s a second home I crave not a forever home) and it’s now connected with seeing my novel made into a movie — why not? It’s good to dream once in a while.

When I said how I followed in my dad’s footsteps (literally) I meant it because a few years ago, after a break-up and seeking direction in my life, I spent a few months out there. I was based in the San Fernando Valley in Sherman Oaks with Jan but travelled all over the county on the Greyhound bus. This is something my dad did in the 70s and I almost followed the same route. In fact he helped me plan it and since they still did the 5-day Ameripass like Dad had bought all those years before — I hopped on and off and travelled all over. I read a book before I went about a woman’s experience on the Greyhound and I recall how she said (paraphrased) if you’ve ever woken up on a bus, hours spent crammed into a small space, legs and everything hurt and then you look out of the window and watch the sun rise over the Nevada desert — you discover there is a fine line between heaven and hell.  And I felt that exactly. What a trip!

The states is a HUGE place and there is so much variation between states — so much beauty! It really is America the Beautiful for its mountain ranges, forests, lakes, truly breathtaking landscapes as well as the cities and the US we see depicted on film. And yes there are great riches and great poverty side by side but then again, it’s like that most places. It has so much to offer and that trip took me from New York to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, Chicago, St Louis, Texas, Memphis … in fact too many places to list here to possibly to justice to the magnitude of that trip and the wonderful people I met along the way. I have been bowled over the generosity and kindness of just about everyone I met. I get rather angry when people who’ve never been or have been to one part, say derogatory things — plain narrow-mindedness I guess.

After that trip I was happy to come home but needless to say I missed the place and tried to go back every year after that. In fact after Lee died Jan insisted she pay for me to go to be close to her. I think it’s the only time I went when I didn’t have the usual excitement and I remember crying behind Lee’s sunglasses (his favourite designer ones I later lost on the trip!) on the plane because I always hoped the next time I went he’d have been with me. He was crazy about films and had the best home cinema and knew every director and everything in fact there was to know about films. I promised him a trip to Hollywood. I guess he was there with me — in fact I’m sure while I was sleeping it was him who took back his sunglasses — somewhere in the clouds.

Anyhow that was a trip that was just about hanging out — a change of scenery after 10 weeks at a bedside and 6 weeks grieving at Lee’s parents’ house. I didn’t know if I wanted to go — but I am so glad I did. So I guess the US has seen me at my best and at my saddest. And thanks to Jan I feel I have another family over there. Can’t wait to go back.

So why am I telling you all of this — apart from it being Independence Day — well because the US has also had a great influence on my writing and my reading. While many of my short stories have been based here in the UK, certainly all my novels (and I have written 5!) have been set in the US. I don’t really know why, it just feels like home.

So I am thrilled that While No One Was Watching, my débuthas such a US flavour — you can’t get a whole lot more USA than John F Kennedy. I have been following various Twitter sites as you may know that are recounting on this day 50 years ago as we edge closer to the 50th anniversary of the assassination and the release of my novel. I wasn’t born when Kennedy was assassinated but it is still a moment that silenced the world then and leaves its echoes still. Why it touched me I don’t quite know but I like to think a part of me is American. When I was regressed for a past life (research for a future novel) I was probably many things but I was (although it sounds like a cliché) a native American. Real or not, cliché or not,I like to think it’s true.

It explains a lot. Including my obsession with Barry Manilow and Jon Bon Jovi and why there’s a stars and stripes bandanna in my sock drawer!

I think  will leave it there — suffice it to say HAPPY 4th of JULY to my US friends (that includes my followers!) and everyone else … enjoy the fireworks wherever you are!

My hero ...

My hero … (no groaning!)

LA Land of Dreams ...

LA Land of Dreams …

Come on over and Like my Author page on Facebook if you haven’t to follow the countdown to my novel and lots of facts about Kennedy! https://www.facebook.com/DebzHobbsWyattAuthor

And follow me on Twitter too for other insights! @DebzHobbsWyatt

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Satisfaction …

There’s a really lovely sense of achievement when you finish a project, and as you’ll all know, those writers out there; sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever finish when you consider how many rewrites and edits are needed to produce what you hope looks like something written without effort, the words gliding onto the page as if they just came out that way.

Yesterday I sent back my novel with one or two small additions at the end, sentences really but one does mean something significant — waiting on a reaction as to whether this needs to be there or not. But then I think we can say, apart from the proofing by someone else for errors we missed — we are about there. So today I will finally be back to the other novel. And I woke up with this odd idea buzzing in my head and some really interesting characters and oddly for the first time ever the story is set where I grew up. Now maybe it’s because I am wanting to move back there, who knows, but it’s a story now percolating and most likely will be a new short story. But I love it when that happens and even as I stood in the shower all I could hear was this little boy and his sister talking to me. Or maybe I have been hanging out with clairvoyant friends too long! The voices will get you — beware.

What I love is how one project ends (although at the same time is just beginning!), another comes and they line up one after the other. I don’t really believe in writer’s block — they’re just there 🙂

So what next? Well we’ll see what the editor thinks and hopefully sign off on the edits. I hope to see the cover soon.

In the meantime it’s onwards and upwards and I love it.

How about you? What are people enjoying at the moment book wise?

Happy Wednesday from lush green wet Wales 🙂

Write On

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