Fletchski has a new site!

Greetings all you wonderful Lobsterites.

I’ve a lovely new blog over at http://fletchski.wordpress.com Why don’t you pop over and have a look at all the stuff I’ve been up to lately?

Cheers.

10 to 1 Survival of the Lit(est)

Pigeon Park Press have set themselves a challenge: to produce a novel using ten authors over a year. Starting in May 2013 each of the ten authors will write a 1000 words on their character and each month a character will be voted off until only one is left.

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This sounds like a very interesting project indeed, Big Brother meets Pulp Fiction (the cheap fiction magazines of the early 20th century not the Tarantino movie,) something that could be great fun and quite manageable, at only a 1000 words a month, the trick will be not getting voted off. So its a popularity contest for writers? Maybe not writers but definitely for writing. I imagine who ever writes the most engaging prose, with the most intriguing character, will win, although organisers have said that ‘cliff-hanger’ endings, to get readers voting for the next instalment, will not be allowed.

pigeon Park Press tested the water with this idea when they produced Full Fathom Five another collaborative novel that should be out early this year.

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I think I’m going to throw my hat into the ring for this one, it sounds like fun and you never know I could be last writer standing?

Check out the Pigeon Park Press site for details and give it a go.

The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.

20121214-161656.jpg

1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Riding fame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possibly not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a butt clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.

20121214-161656.jpg

1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Riding fame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possibly not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a but clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.

20121214-161656.jpg

1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Ridingfame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possible not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a but clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

Free Writing Workshops in Birmingham

I’ve just booked myself a place on a series of free writing workshops based at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham. The workshops are to be run by Andrew Killeen a local author who writes historical fiction. Andrew has just had his second book published and you can find more information about that and him here.

I have it on good authority, from Karen, Andrew’s wife, that there are still a number of places left. This is an ideal opportunity to hone your writing skills with the help of a published author, to read your work, or have your work read, at the Birmingham Book Festival and to possibly have you work published in  a book linked to the project. I for one think those are three excellent reasons for signing up, oh, and its free! so there’s four.

The Barber Institute situated in the grounds of Birmingham University.

I attended a writing course at the Barber a few years ago when Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript for ‘On the Road’ was on display. It’s a wonderful venue, Birmingham’s finest Art Deco building that the Observer described as “one of the finest small art galleries in Europe.” I’m not going to argue with that. Here’s the info I received with my booking confirmation.

Calling All Writers!

Andrew Killeen. Writer in residence at the Barber Institute.


Would you like your story to be read at the Birmingham Book Festival? Or even published?

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts invites aspiring writers to join a series of free writing workshops exploring the theme of ‘The City in Art’. These 3 workshops will be led by novelist Andrew Killeen; this year’s Barber writer-in-residence.

Participants will write and develop stories inspired by the fascinating exhibition Cityscapes: Panoramic Views on European Coins and Medals as well as other city-themed works in the collection. A selection of stories will then be read out at a live event during the Birmingham Book Festival, on Thursday 11 October, at the Barber, and may be published in a book produced as part of the project.

Workshop dates (all workshops 1pm to 4pm):

Sunday 12 August Exploring exhibitions/collections and developing ideas

Sunday 2 September Sharing and discussing drafts

Sunday 16 September Reading and celebrating finished stories

Participants must commit to attending all three workshops.

For further information and to reserve your place, please contact the Learning and Access Team on: Tel. 0121 414 2261 / 7335 or Email education@barber.org.uk

Top Ten Tolkien

Another great article I’ve found today. This one is from the Bestseller Labs blog written by Jonathan Gunson. Whilst the piece focuses on Tolkien the writing tips are universal. Once again I’ll post a link to the original blog at the end of a short extract.

J.R.R Tolkien’s vast, sweeping stories have captured readers’ imaginations for decades. What are the secrets of his craft?

The answer to this question is the subject of today’s guest post by Roger Colby, author and English teacher. Roger imagined what it would have been like to have met Tolkien, sat down with the master and learned from him.

Over to Roger…

Roger Colby ‘meets’ J J R Tolkien
I have long been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. Every year, when school dismisses for summer break, I read The Lord of the Rings. This year I will read it to my children and do all the voices for them. Tolkien was a brilliant writer, but what if we could sit down with him and ask him any question we wanted? What if he could give writers advice about their own writing from his years of experience as an incredible storyteller?

This is possible if we read his letters. I have a musty old book entitled ‘The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien’, edited by Humphrey Carpenter. I once spent the better part of a month reading it cover to cover and underlining every instance where the master of Middle Earth wrote about his process.

What follows are the best of those notes – Tolkien’s Top Ten Tips For Writers

1. Vanity Is Useless

Tolkien writes in a letter to Sir Stanley Unwin on 31 July 1947

“…I certainly hope to leave behind me the whole thing [LOTR] revised and in final form, for the world to throw into the waste-paper basket. All books come there in the end, in this world, anyway” (121).

The Lord of the Rings has a worldwide following, has inspired films, video games, animated features, songs, poetry, fan fiction and countless other things, yet its author felt that in reality it may not be that important to the world.

There are several other instances where he writes to people about how humble he feels about the things he writes and that they are not really life changing at all, but simply imaginings “from my head”. In Tolkien’s opinion, The Hobbit was published out of sheer “accident”, as he had passed it around to a few close friends, one of them being C.S. Lewis.

Finally (and lucky for us) an Oxford graduate, Susan Dagnall, who worked for the London publishing house of Allen & Unwin, encouraged him to submit it for publication. He did, and there are pages of letters where he struggles with the process of publication. He was not, in any way, a vain man, especially about his writing.

2. Keep a Stiff Upper Lip

In another letter to Sir Stanley Unwin dated July 21, 1946, Tolkien lists a mound of personal struggles he was facing: being ill, being overworked and missing his son Christopher who was away in the Royal Navy. He put many of his struggles aside, though, and went to writing.

He had to balance his day job with his desire to write epic stories set in Middle Earth. He found time. He made time. It took him 7 years to write The Hobbit. (117) The thing that he writes about most in this period is his struggle to get the work finished on his novels and to balance teaching and his many duties at Oxford College. Apparently he found a way.

The rest of this article can be found here.