Monday, November 27, 2006

Originality: in the eye of the beholder

Originality ... Bartlett got the jump on Romero
One of the worst things that can happen to a writer is to have what you think is an amazingly original idea, only to find it has already been done.

It has happened to me on numerous occasions. Maybe I should get out more... or less, given that one theory is that in the always-connected society, we're all being exposed to pretty much the same information, so therefore we're more likely to come up with the same ideas.

Rob Hood had these words of consolation for me, which I'm sure he won't mind me sharing with you...

"Originality comes from the way an individual author reworks the ideas and plot elements, and, most importantly, the characters he/she creates to carry the action. In Shakespeare's time the idea of writing a 'new' story in the modern sense was considered ridiculous and worthless. Stories carried tradition; the beauty and significance was found in the way the old ideas were filtered through a contemporary sensibility. Shakespeare never wrote a single 'original' story, yet he was and is one of the most original authors ever to have put pen to paper!"

Luckily for British director Michael Bartlett, he got the jump on horror-meister George Romero: The Zombie Diaries is finished, while Romero's Diary of the Dead has only just gone into production.

You can read what Bartlett had to say about the Romero link here, and the full feature here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

'Summit' published by Bright Light Multimedia

I've just discovered that my short story "Summit" - about a climber who has to deal with the anguish of almost climbing Mt Everest - was featured in the August edition of Brilliant! (newsletter of Bright Light Multimedia and the Bright Light Cafe).

Publishers Barbara Llewellyn and Rod Kirkham write: "Gary's story is inspiring and heart-warming and we feel sure many people will relate to it on a very personal level even if you, like us, have never climbed Mount Everest."

Click here to read "Summit".

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I've been to London to visit the King!

I've just returned from a visit to London to see Stephen King! It was a good night, maybe a little bit more stage-managed than I'd hoped it would be (but not really more stage-managed than I'd expected).

It would have been good to get a book signed but it was totally feral. People were lining up before King had even finished speaking, which I reckon was pretty rude. My friend Derek and I were saying King should've asked people in the queue 'What was the last thing I said?' and if they couldn't answer, send them to the back of the queue! Besides, it's really just a scribble, it's not as though an autographed edition means you're King's best buddy or anything.

You can read about it at Articulate, but there were also a few tidbits I didn't have room for...

On sobriety...

"I think I feel more creative. You know, I don't want to sound like a Drug Free America ad or anything, but I think that it's taken some time for me to get entirely in the clear but it's like you go through a period of [inaudible] after everything's out of your system where you're feeling a little bit flat, you know like a glass of seltzer water where all the bubbles have departed, but now I feel like myself again, only with wrinkles added, but the ideas come when the ideas come and when they don't come I don't worry about it because I've got some stored away. I don't use a notebook, I feel like the good ones will stick around and the bad ones will go away on their own, if I had a bad notebook it would be full of bad ideas for the most part."

How 'Misery' started...

"That story was begun long-hand, 'The Annie Wilkes 1st Edition', on a trip to England. My wife and I were staying at Brown's Hotel at that time and jetlag got to me and I couldn't sleep and I went downstairs and I said to the guy, the night manager, 'Is there a place where I could write?' and he said, 'Yeah', and there was a desk between the ground floor and the first floor. Nice, beautiful desk. And I said 'Could I have a pot of tea?' and he said 'Right with you sir' and I started to write and I had a great time, it was like old times.

"I had a notebook, writing, drinking tea, smoking cigarettes because you could in that day - and in those days people smoked in hospital waiting rooms, what the hell, what ho, have another butt, have another lager, what the hell - so I'm writing away and when I finished about six hours had gone and so had the night, I'd written the whole night away and the night manager said 'That's a famous desk you've been writing on, Rudyard Kipling died at that desk', and I said, 'Whoa, get me outta here'. But apparently he stayed at Brown's Hotel and they found him there, writing face down on the wood."

On Tom Clancy...

"There's no sense writing about the same thing the same way twice. When you've got one book on that subject you don't need another one - that's Tom Clancy's job not mine. (crowd laughs) That was bitchy, wasn't it? (King makes hissing cat noise) What the hell, he'll survive. He's out there in Connecticut in his estate, behind the Sherman tank. Everybody thinks it's just a dummy, but nobody's really sure."

You can listen to an edited version of the night's events at The Times website.

I'm also going to post my own recording, which is unedited. (I'm not sure how much they cut - but I know they cut the stuff where King was talking about the prospect of a plane crashing on the building, probably because it wouldn't have made much sense).

[Interview - MP3]

[Q & A session - MP3]