Sunday, 5 February 2012

Marsha and Flowers


It's cold, dark, and damp.  Furthermore, my employer's have moved location to a bigger, better building, but alas, it is a bigger, better building that is in the middle of nowhere.  I now have a fifteen-minute walk up a path that, on dark, frosty mornings, looks like a place from which anything could leap out on you and tear you apart.  Further along the path and there's a lake edged with tall reeds.  I'm sure it's beautiful in the summer, but here in the winter, the wind whips off that lake like it's trying to peel your face off!

At the moment, however, I'm home and in the warm.  So I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you on Marsha's Bag, moreover, on the main character, Marsha Dunbar.  I realise now how annoying she is.  But that doesn't mean, if I could go back, that I would change her.  I wouldn't.  You have to settle on a plot, if you don't, there's no story.  And a certain plot needs a certain character.  I couldn't have a woman who just wanders off, hoping somewhere along the way to finally get a signal into her phone, or maybe come across an angler somewhere upriver to help her out.  I needed someone out of the ordinary…and Marsha Dunbar was that someone.  She speaks to herself, and a lot.  At one point she even looks at herself in the car's rear-view mirror, to check her face is still intact, when her wrecked car could burst into flames at any moment.  And, ultimately, she makes a decision to cross the river and have a good snoop around, even though the sight of Raymond Gilroy would scare anyone else to death.  But Marsha defies all logic and does what she does, including impersonating a police-officer.  But does that mean that a character like her doesn't exist? I don't think so.  In fact, I think it would be an impossibility in this weird and wonderful world ours for a character like her to not exist.

Still, Marsha remains a  contentious character, which can only be good, I think.  Samuel Johnson said: "It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised.  Fame is a shuttlecock.  If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground.  To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends."

Well, there are writers out there who truly deserve their fame.  Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" is wonderful, as is SJ Watson's "Before I Go To Sleep".  Then there is Scott G. Mariani and Ben Aaronovitch, two excellent writers, no argument there.  But I wonder if writing is about fame, anyhow.  After all, it's a pretty difficult way to go about getting fame, that's for sure, and the facts are, the majority of writers will almost certainly fail no matter what.  Therefore, surely it's about the compulsion, the obsessive need to write, in spite of it all.  I have always written.  I would write even if no one read my stuff.  The only reason I got published was because I could.  The facility was there, and it cost me nothing but my time.  It didn't even cost me in hard work because I enjoy writing.  Love it, in truth!

My new novel "Flowers From A Different Summer"  is coming along nicely, although, at the moment, the word count is 150.000, which is a little bigger than I wanted it to be.  So I'm not sure when it'll  see the light of day.  Hopefully sometime during the summer.  I really like the two main characters, Michael Jepson and Phil Hayward.  I'm enjoying how their relationship, so light and breezy before the death of Michael's wife and son, soon darkens as secrets are revealed, and then, moving forward, how they hatch a plan to kill Jeffery Doyle.  Doyle killed Michael's sister, Shelly Rae, 30 years back, when Michael was just 12 years old.  Not that the story is dark.  There are many moments of humour and poignancy within.  And of course, there is horror.  Has to be. 

Sometime soon I'll put the first few pages of "Flowers From A different Summer" on the blog.  Until then, thanks for reading this.  And keep warm, eh? You'll catch your death otherwise! Kind regards, Martin.