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I wrote the following story as flash fiction at a writing course I attended recently (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site). Unlike my recently-released collection, Seven Hotel Stories, it is not a comedy.
Taxi to London
I had my head down over my exam revision when the hospital called.
‘Is this Dave Ellingsworth?’ The girl’s voice was so calm I felt my adrenalin spike.
‘This is Dave.’
‘You are in a relationship with Joanne Jones, is that correct?’
‘JJ, yes, Joanne, I know her, yes.’
‘In a relationship? I can only speak to next of kin.’
I felt a sense of despair, and weightlessness. Was I in a relationship? JJ had said she thought we were. But I thought I had ended it last night.
‘Sure. In a relationship.’
‘She took some pills. She is out of danger now. She asked if you could come and see her.’ The woman on the phone sounded like she thought I should go. (more…)
I have finished reading from my book Seven Hotel Stories when a guy in the audience raises his hand.
‘How much of these stories is made up, and how much is real?’ he asks. ‘And in general, how do you use your real life to create fiction?’
This struck me as a great question. How much of fiction is the writer’s experience, and how much is made up? Suppose you work as a lawyer, or in an insurance office, and are not an astronaut, a detective, or an assassin? Can you still write about something thrilling?
Marilyn Monroe trained hard to become an actress
Here are five ways you can turn your experience into compelling fiction:
(i) anyone can write great stuff: don’t worry about who you are, or what you do. All you need is a paper and a pen, or a screen and a keyboard. The trick is to get started (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site);
(ii) do use what you know to help write your story: whatever you can do and however you live, you can draw on your life experience to create rich, multi-layered fiction. John Grisham started out repairing roads, then became a lawyer – he used his legal knowledge to write The Firm. Tom Clancy worked in insurance: his hero Jack Ryan is, like Clancy, of Irish Catholic stock; (more…)
Have you seen the classic 1949 British thriller The Third Man (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site)? If not, watch it immediately! Either way, consider the following nuggets I recently unearthed about possibly the best film of all time.
My review at the link above sets out 8 reasons The Third Man is movie magic. But did you know:
(i) The Third Man was nearly never made. In early discussions, producer David O Selznick said a film called “The Third Man” could never be a hit. You can find out more in Frederick Baker’s 2004 documentary Shadowing the Third Man;
(ii) the classic ending to the movie, which I shall not reveal here, was nearly changed. Graham Greene, who wrote the screenplay, initially planned for an upbeat final scene with Anna and Holly Martins forming a relationship. How this could have squared with the rest of the story, which leads inexorably to the magnificent ending as it was eventually released, I have no idea;
What do you think a reading with Robert Pimm looks like?
I was delighted on 18 October to read from my Berlin thriller Blood Summit in Innsbruck.
The reading took place at the magnificent Stadtbibliotek
Q&A afterwards with Andrew Milne-Skinner
Questions were incisive and challenging
Afterwards I signed copies of “Blood Summit” and “Seven Hotel Stories”
As I mentioned in my curtain-raising post (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site), the reading was organised by the excellent English Reading Circle in Innsbruck. I am particularly grateful to Maria Kandolf-Kühne, who brought the book to the Reading Circle and suggested I do a reading in Innsbruck; and to Andrew and Sandra Milne-Skinner, who were instrumental in setting things up.
If you want to know more about Blood Summit, see my blog Blood Summit: the US President in the killing chair. It is available from English language bookshop Shakespeare & Company at Sterngasse 2 in central Vienna, or from Amazon. If you have a book group, you may like to read my blog post Blood Summit: Reading Group Questions.
I also presented in Innsbruck my recently-published paperback of Seven Hotel Stories. It seemed to go down well.
P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, please follow me on Facebook. Or you can join my mailing list – I’ll be delighted to give you a free “Hotel Story” to say thanks. Check out the range of writing on this site via my 5 pleasure paths.
I wrote the following story as flash fiction at a writing course I attended recently (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site). Unlike my recently-released collection, Seven Hotel Stories, it is not a comedy. Comments welcome.
I was born in sadness. My mother, bless her soul, was not killed by my arrival on this world. But she was ruined, my father said.
The doctors agreed. My head was too big, they said. I ruined her.
Maybe the doctors in our village were not too great, either.
I never knew my father before I was born, of course. I never knew whether he hated my mother before I, as he thought, ruined her for him. I never knew if he wanted me, either, before I arrived.
What I did know is that after I arrived, he wanted neither me nor her.
Maybe my mother tried too hard to please him, after he said she was ruined. It made him angry that she could no longer climb the stairs of our small house, to where the bedrooms were. She made the front parlour sparkle and the kitchen smell of bread and herbs and put wine on the table for when he came home.
Still, my father was angry.
One of my first memories was of her dragging her poor broken body (more…)
The paperback version of Seven Hotel Stories is now out. It looks like this:
I’m pretty excited about this, so all shares, retweets etc welcome!
The text on the back reads:
“Funny, pacy and sexy” – Matthew Parris
You’ll never make a fuss at a hotel again. (more…)
Hello to all you readers out there.
I shall be reading from my Berlin thriller Blood Summit at the Stadtbibliotek (city library) in Innsbruck at 1900 on 18 October. Come along!
The reading has been organised by the English Reading Circle in Innsbruck at the magnificent Stadtbibliotek, whose rather good slogan is “Innsbruck’s biggest living room – a place for everyone”. This seems a splendid description of a library. You can read about the event at the site of the Stadtbibliotek. I shall read from Blood Summit and will be happy to answer questions, as well as signing copies. (more…)