Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

The Great Things: 

My book got published – Yay! And did really well (what?) Sunday Times best seller, #1 in the Kindle charts – I have been encouraging nearly everyone I know to start writing a book. Having found out the secret to getting published and making all your publishing dreams come true is actually working really hard at it for years and years (who knew?) Seriously though, if you think you want to write a book – write the damn book!

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My second book got published! and also is doing well #1 Kindle – it has a super awesome cover. I’m hoping for a less food based cover for book number three as I just want cake whenever I look at the cover for ‘The Secret’ (funny the apple on the cover of the Teacher did not have this affect on me!)

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SO MUCH great TV – Between  Netflix exclusive ‘Stranger Things’, HBO’s ‘The Night Of’ and ‘Westworld’ – which are probably my three top favourites of the year – If you haven’t seen them – do!  Even the DC (CW) offerings of Arrow, Supergirl,  The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow have been good, (although not perfect through my hypercritical eye). As excited as i was for Luke Cage (Marvel) it just didn’t deliver for me for a multitude of reasons, most of all being that it should have been a great deal shorter because it was long and tedious. Some great performances but ultimately very disappointing.

The Night of was just phenomenal though, so so good. I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of spoilers – but John Turturro and Riz Ahmed both give fantastic performances.

I met so many great people, I got invited to go and see Michael Buble play at the Camden roundhouse as a treat from iBooks (he was SO good) – where I also met the lovely Lisa Hall and Louise Jensen. I must admit to avoiding most social gatherings as I hate ‘the outside’ (said in a similar tone to ‘the upside down’ for those of you that have seen Stranger things).

 

I run a tiny writing group locally and that’s pretty much my entire social life. I shall be doing a new one this year as well locally. Anything that gets me out of the house is a bonus, I must keep battling my inner agoraphobic.

I have booked Crimefest & Harrogate – and will be going to Bloody Scotland as well this year so I really need to get over myself!

The not so Great things:

Lets not forget the sleepwalking. Turns out that in the run up to publication I get really stressed and experience some bizarre side effects like doing weird shit in my sleep.  before The Teacher was released I took my new Karin Slaughter paperback book and ripped the first few pages home out and chucked it across the room in my sleep. I woke up in the morning slightly confused but vaguely remembering doing it. (it was a great book by the way – Pretty Girls). The weekend before The Secret was released I moved house. I had previously had some cream velvet curtains made up and they were folded nicely in a bag and in a crate, under another crate. In the morning all my covers were on the floor and I was wrapped in my brand new 7 foot long velvet curtains. Very strange.

I was invited out for drinks in London – to the Groucho club – so I planned on going into London for a few hours before to do some research. I got dressed up in the morning and did my hair, put my best make up on and going out clothes but my friend asked me to stop with her at the surgery and she would drop me off at the train station. I went with her to to docs and then as we were walking back to her car a young policeman kept staring at me, he was on a bike and kept circling back. I imagined I must either look pretty amazing or he knew I who I was (its happened, its a small town) ‘Can I help you?’ I asked  – ‘Whats your name?’ he asked me – ‘Katerina Diamond’ I responded ‘Why?’ – ‘Because you match the description of a lady who has escaped from a secure facility and is a danger to herself and others.’ –  Yeah. That really happened.

 

Whats next? 

Be more organised, be better at admin generally (so so bad at that) Drink more (no really) Read more! I have read 2 books this week and it feels amazing – but its not something I usually give myself time for. Write more – and be more organised about that as well. Work hard and play harder! Blog more!

Well silly things inspire me. Sometimes it can be a music video, sometimes it can be a movie, or a tiny bit of dialogue. The mood of things is often inspirational to me. Trying to recreate a mood or a feeling for other people.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a little dark, for this reason I tend to gravitate towards slightly darker themes, both in music and films. I am also quite inspired by romance, not big gestures but small intimate romantic moments. I am a hopeless romantic trapped inside the mind of a slightly disturbed and over-active imagination.

I was asked to write a blog on music that inspired me while I was writing my book.I do listen to music when I write, a lot of other writers I have spoken to were horrified by this notion. How can you listen to lyrics? I also explained I sometimes watch TV while i am writing. Sometimes I do need to switch everything off but usually have something going on in the background.

So each one of my characters usually has a song that fits them, for me – usually based on mood – lyrics – feelings etc.

Between the Bars – Madeleine Peyroux

This song has always been a favourite of mine, moreover this particular cover of it. The original recording was by Elliott smith. I always thought of it as purely a love song until I met one of my main characters then it took on a whole new meaning. suddenly the lyrics were sung from the point of view of that destructive voice in your head that constantly reminds you who you are, deep down; coaxing you to stay the same as you have always been, never to improve yourself because you cant escape who you really are. That the only thing you can really trust is that you will fail at some point, its inescapable.

 

Pretty when you cry – VAST

Well this is a tricky song, but its beautiful in its own way. For me it explores the idea that somehow someone elses actions towards you can be your fault, as though you are forcing them to behave a certain way just because of who you are. Of course we all know this is nonsense, but that’s the delusion some predatory people have. It also makes me think of the overwhelming urge in some people to possess, violate and control something pure and innocent, because of their inability to be a human being. Of course by doing that you lose interest in them, you take away the thing you wanted and suddenly you don’t want them anymore. The hypnotic beat and monotone matter-of-factness of the vocalist adds to the mood of the predator – “This is all your fault you know, if you weren’t so vulnerable then I wouldn’t be forced to take advantage of that…”

 

Change (in the house of flies) – Deftones 

Possibly my favourite song ever anyway. But the theme of this is what gets me – again – the compulsion to make something ugly, to take away that which makes it beautiful. The need to witness that destruction. To essentially make something as ugly as you. Both physically and metaphorically.  Also a part of yourself hating that you have this inside you. Then replaying the guilt of your actions and waiting for the repercussions; wanting them. For me this fits several of my “victims” who have created the “ugly fly”.

 

Say it Right – Nelly Furtado 

I don’t know what the official meaning of this song is but for me it speaks to one of the most important relationships in this book. Which is two broken people who need each other, but are afraid to admit it. Its more of a feeling than the lyrics. The hesitant building of a relationship and that knowledge that this could be IT, the big one, the forever relationship. Also the understanding that if you both accept this is really happening that everything will change. That you can save each other. Also I think its about laying it all out there and saying “Look – I’m fucked up – are you SURE you want some of this? Because once you do there is no going back…”

 

Made of Scars – Stonesour

scar tissue is stronger than regular skin. This makes me think of a  survivor, someone who has been scarred in lots of different ways but still refuses to be a victim. Remember your past, use it to become a stronger person. Also the idea that everything that happens in our life shapes who we become.

 

46&2 – Tool 

OK, without going into the Jungian 46&2 theory  (look it up, its interesting) For me this song perfectly sums up the need to move on and the willingness to do whatever it takes to get there. Its sinister and sexy in the way it sounds (to me anyway) and that adds to the drama of it. The idea of picking your scabs (obviously these are mental scabs) but it has to be done in order to “shed the skin”. Rebirth through cleansing, confronting the things about yourself that need to be addressed before you can have a new life. Its about making the decision to move forward with your life but knowing there is no easy way to do that, that in order to do that you have to clean out the darkness and sometimes that means becoming the darkness. Being aware of every part of you so that you can get rid of the parts you don’t want anymore.

 

Exile – Show of Hands 

A beautiful song written by Steve Knightley. I spent a lot of time at folk festivals when I was a teenager, I saw this band a few times although this is not my video. This song was one of my favourites. It took on a new meaning for me after writing this book. Metaphorically it represents the loss of an important relationship  within the book. How one event that takes place immediately estranges one of the female protagonists and that suddenly she’s all alone. For me its about the father/daughter relationship that is suddenly impossible.

 

 

Bring me to Life – Evanescence

To be really seen by someone, to realise that as lost and alone you are that there is someone else who can reach you and accepting that you can come back from the brink of darkness. That your whole life is a prelude to meeting this person and that when you connect you will both be alive again. Even though that’s almost a literal interpretation of the lyrics   its a passionate song – begging to be saved – from yourself and the choices you have made, from staying hidden, from making yourself invisible. There are a couple of invisibles in the book and in a way the book is largely about when they ‘wake up’

 

How to disappear completely – Radiohead 

Firstly, the amount of Radiohead songs I could have included in this list isnt even funny. I personally find their music very evocative and moody, not just lyrically but melodically too. I picked this one because its just lovely. I think the lyrics speak for themselves and require no explanation. To me it sounds like a mantra you would say when you close your eyes, when something so terrible is happening that you need to take yourself out of that situation at least mentally.

 

Animal I have become –  Three Days Grace 

Again this idea that who you are is inevitable, that you have become something so vile that you are beyond saving, but so desperate for someone to save you and make you better even if you don’t believe its possible. Compulsion to do bad things because you are filled with rage and hate ; knowing what you are doing is wrong but being unable to do anything differently.  “Help me believe its not the real me” is probably one of the most important lyrics in the song for me – because thats the last link to humanity, the wanting to be better, just needing that validation is the reason  you aren’t totally bad, the moment you stop needing it is the moment you are lost.

 

Prosthetics – Slipknot (Explicit Lyrics)

Ok this is a dark one. Its heavy too. The first time I heard this it made me feel a bit sick (so naturally I love it!). From the perspective of a predator/stalker. I think its the collaborative nature of the lyrics that get me in this song. As though this stalking behaviour is somehow an agreement between two people. I feel as though this ‘relationship’ is something I have tried to recreate within the novel. As though Predator and Prey are both in it together, they know their roles. Also that sense of blame, as though the victim has created this scenario “You brought it outta me” – Aside from the lyrics I find the music itself quite desperate and harrowing.

 

Uninvited – Alanis Morissette

Falling in love is hard, especially when you are happy in your little bubble of loneliness, when you have written yourself off as someone who is unlovable. This song probably has more relevance to my second novel, although after reading the second novel certain things in the first novel will take on more significance (confused?!)  As someone who has read both I can tell you that this is happening in the first one although we don’t know that yet… Falling in love with someone unsuitable is also hard – it reinforces for me the idea that you just cant control that stuff!

 

 

 

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That’ll do for now I think but there are plenty more – maybe I’ll add more description after the book is released – struggling not to give you spoilers!

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

Subtext is a tricky thing, unless you know how to do it, its hard to do, and when you do know, its simple.

Subtext is important because thats how people are, people are full of things they don’t say. If you think of it like this, you have a secret you want to tell someone, but you have absolutely been forbidden to tell them, or you are terrified to tell them – you really want them to know though, so you tell them without telling, you imply or infer, or you avoid it altogether. To me subtext is basically the secret conversation going on inside the conversation.

When writing a novel you only have the thoughts of one character (usually – depending on perspective) and so some of your subtext can be explained through that, but often, you don’t want it to be explained, you want it to subtly creep up on the reader or punch them in the face. In screen-writing of course you don’t have the luxury of being able to read peoples thoughts and so you have to work a little harder for your subtext (although in some ways this makes it easier).

Possibly one of the reasons i love the book Rebecca so much is because no one is ever saying what they are thinking! the tension and frustration shines through in this subtext rich novel. From the protagonists relationship with her husband, to creepy housekeeper Mrs Danvers bizarrely homoerotic fixation with her dead employer. the subtext also comes through in the actions of the characters. If you only ever read one book – make it that one.

Another story that is rich in subtext is CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF,  My favourite movie, also a fantastic play although different to the movie in many ways, including the “happy” ending. The best conversations in that movie are the ones that don’t happen. The rare moments when there is some honesty Brick has to drink himself into oblivion.

Just remember when you are writing to leave out the obvious things and try not to write on the nose. Write the conversation as you would have it, then change it so its all a little less in your face. If someone asks a question, rather than answer it have your character do something to show how they feel. For instance in that clip of cat on a hot tin roof when she drinks from the glass he wont take it from her to continue his drink, he doesn’t say to her “I don’t want that now you’ve drunk from it” but the way he looks at her and the way he goes and pours himself another one tells us all we need to know about how he feels about her. – although later we realise that his disgust isn’t with her but with himself (subtext with subtext – hot!) make your story multi-layered and make your audience work for the truth. no one wants it all laid out on a plate for them, thats just boring.

I have by no means mastered this myself, but at least i know this is something to strive for. i find it easier in screen-writing than in writing a novel where i am privvy to thoughts and feelings of characters, not to say its impossible, it really isn’t.

Subtext is what makes stories sexy to me.

Until next time

I watch a lot of television. I try at least to watch any drama show that has been renewed for a second season – my reasoning is this – these shows must have something that keeps the audience coming back.

I don’t know about you but when i do anything I am analysing it from the perspective of how it would work in a book or a screenplay, every. single. interaction. I am no more critical than when i read (or watch) other peoples work. Not to pull it apart to find the flaws, but to find the gems in it, the things that make me FEEL something.

It occurs to me in life that I am a voyeur, constantly evaluating and interpreting life in a way that I can translate what I have learned to other people, through my writing.

Sometimes if i am honest I just don’t get it, some TV shows have me baffled, without naming any names, I just don’t understand the appeal.

I like action movies, I like the simplicity of them (although I could never write one, i would be out of my depth) – and sometimes the things that look the simplest are actually the hardest things to pull off. Its a true talent that, making something look simple – and i don’t mean making something look like you wrote it in one go and then made it in one go, I’m talking about something so well put together that you don’t even really notice how its put together. (I know what i mean)

What i like the most is the subtlety of thought that is brought out in me – something that challenges what i believe about myself – something that i think i have always believed – to be forced to question myself.

Something else I like is revenge, revenge is sexy, no matter how long it takes, to see the balance restored is something that’s very appealing to me. One of my favourite Tv shows of all time is OZ – I faced a lot of personal moral dilemmas when watching that one. To feel sorry for the bad guys, to see a hierarchy of bad guys and wondering who is the worst, and realising how easy it is to forgive and empathise with someone who you once hated. my favourite character in this series was Ryan O Reilly, played by dean winters, who , aside from having the sexiest voice in the history of voices, is a truly excellent actor as the manipulative addict  in this scene that im about to show you Ryan is talking to Patrick, a fellow irishman in prison – he knows that patrick has raped the prison doctor, a woman that ryan is absolutely obsessed with, because its something to do, but he does it wholeheartedly and without condition, she is seriously creeped out by him. Ryan doesnt get his hands dirty he manipulates until he gets what he wants, thats why this scene was so striking and sexy – and why its probably one of my favourite tv moments ever. (link below)

Ill talk more in other posts about other tv moments i like – but that one gets me every time.

Until next time

For me what can make or break a novel is the feeling that the author has a firm grasp on the underlying facts, its not necessary for them to impart every single fact they know to me, but the ones relevant to the story.

In crime this is particularly true (as with historical fiction, although i personally wouldn’t attempt to write historical fiction without getting a degree in the era of my choosing).

The way it works for me is that i get an idea, and then i think – hmmm I should look into that, then probably spend a few days looking into it, until I have a fairly rounded idea of the basics of it – in UNKINDNESS i came across plenty of ideas that needed to be researched, as I had a slight historical element to the story. You can get by like this for most things that you are merely touching on. i had to do a lot of research into instruments of torture, from various countries – the unpleasantness of looking at photos and really understanding the devices before i could write about them. youtube is also a great resource when it comes to research, as often a documentary is easier to go in than reading articles, although i tend to flood myself with information from various source – in this day and age there really is no excuse for not knowing you stuff.

Then there is the Police procedure of the crime novel, as usually thats an element that needs to be touched upon, you can blag it to a certain extent, but only after you have done a serious amount of research – I purchased a book on police procedure, written by a former police officer specifically for crime writers (link below) . I then read the book cover to cover – even after I had read it i felt like I needed a more tangible idea of what was going on – so i watched a lot of british police shows, it helped me really get my head around the structure of the departments and the hierarchy and where my characters fitted in. It takes a while for me to “get” things but once i do its in there.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crime-Writers-Police-Practice-Procedure/dp/0709086318/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_y

The other thing watching the shows did for me was make me realise how much i wanted to include in the actual story, I read a fair amount of crime novels too and sometimes I find I get bogged down in the intricacies of the police force, and some things I really didn’t need to know.

The thing about research is not just knowing what to include, its knowing as well what you don’t need in there.

I probably spend at least the same amount of time researching as i do writing.

Well, I haven’t touched this Blog for quite some time and I have been completely immersed in my own world. To say i have been writing would be a lie, I had some intense writers block almost since christmas. Stopping for any kind of prolonged break seems to pull me out of the moment and I have to force myself back into it.

To get back into it i read my own words, over and over until something sparks and I see a change i need to make, after the first 10 or so ideas it starts to come easier, but I must keep the momentum going or i lose the thread again.

It seems ridiculous to be able to write 45,000 words of a crime fiction novel, not only without any significant deaths, but also without any real idea about the killer or the motivations of the killer. I guess there is maybe some part of me that feels if it comes easy to me then it will be easy to figure out for any crime reader. Although my primary goal is to fool the characters in the book and not my audience, but there does indeed need to be some mystery there. So finally i worked out who my murderer is, and its a good feeling because everything else is falling into place, the words I have already said have taken on new meaning, which is also exciting (for me at least). As i have said before many times – I like my men like I like my biscuits : broken.

I create a spreadsheet and divide the cells into chapters, protagonist for each chapter, what they need to learn and what the audience needs to learn that they dont. I also suggest things to myself that maybe need to be included, hints at things to come etc. I also have a predicted wordcount for each chapter and actual wordcount, all tallied at the bottom and against each other so that i can see what needs fleshing out, what needs trimming down and how much I have left to do. My bizarre mathematical way of writing seems to help, my inability to finish  ANYTHING is hampered by the system I have engaged. a complex excel spreadsheet and lots of maths – which would seem to have no place in creative writing, but seeing the numbers go down , not only helps me when it comes to knowing how long each chapter should be, but how long i have to impart certain information and which phases go where. I guess I need to be organised in my mind or nothing works. Its possible this comes from my brief (not so brief) foray into screenwriting, where scenes and sequences are everything.

I have a few minor adjustments to make to my first novel UNKINDNESS and then i can continue with this next novel, about human trafficking, a subject which horrifies and disgusts me. I guess thats a part of the key too, find something you feel passionate about, something you want to relay your thoughts on.

until next time

Kat 🙂