What's it about

This blog exists to promote the writing of David Payne, an enthusiatic but as yet unrecognised writer who has traded crunching computer code in the early hours of each day , for the incredible pleasure of writing stories. He is not planning to give up his day job as a Compliance Consultant in the UK Financial Services industry but rather sees the two things as broadly similar. Both exist to satisfy certain human needs and both seem to involve a certain level of imagination, if not fantasy. In this blog you will find samples of different writing projects that are being worked on or are already complete. Some are available to purchase in the Amazon Kindle store and all support is welcome! Others writings are included for interest and hopefully a modicum of entertainment. All feedback and comments are welcome.

If you are looking for David's Compliance Blog instead, please head off here...


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Writing for the Andropause

Ok, so I don't recognise the andropause but then I'm not a doctor. (If you're still in the dark, think menopause for men.) On the other hand I do recognise from a non-empirical, personal experience sense of self point-of-view that something is and has changed in me. I'm sure that it is hormones - after all everything is chemistry in the human body isn't it - and I assume that it has something to do with testosterone and oestrogen levels. Beyond that I can only explain the evidence. I refrain from using the word, symptoms, deliberately because I don't want to imply any form of medical condition.
Whilst staying with my daughter and her family recently, I happened to notice a particular book in a bookcase. It was entitled, The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine, which is apparently the sequel to another book obviously named The Female Brain. I spent a rainy afternoon looking through it with obvious intent. I found the chapters on the aging male brain particularly interesting and, it is sad but true, pertinent to me.
I knew for example that I no longer had either the desire or the inclination to rush around in order to further my career - at least in the mad self deluding manner that I had done over the past thirty years or so. I have never been one for stepping on other people or for politicking excessively as a means of career progression so at least I didn't need to lose that. I knew also that I didn't move around as fast but was - at least in my view - more sedate and perhaps even methodical in my approach to the world and perhaps, at least in some respects, delivered more consistent results.
It was a bit of a surprise to read the stuff about relationships but I have no intention of documenting my thoughts or observations on the vexed subject of sex for all the world to read. If you want to read that stuff, read my books where I have expressed it quite clearly for those that want to take the time.
On the matter of what I would call sensitivity, I can see that I am more aware of the feelings that other people give off and these days I find the expressions in peoples faces a veritable book of knowledge about them. How is it I missed that for so long? I think the answer is obvious with regard to women - you have to be focused above the shoulders rather than below it. Of course, that must be why we are taught about body language - we don't actually spend enough time looking at people's faces when we are younger.
Did the book help me in any way? Well I guess it did, even though it did go on about the andropause a bit. For one it reaffirmed what I thought was happening to me and made me feel less isolated. On the other hand it made me face a few facts that perhaps I had left hovering around in my peripheral vision.
I could also see from what was written why I tended to feel more vulnerable on occasions, a vulnerability that I had also seen develop in my father. On a more sinister note, it also kind of showed me that I seemed to be trying to recreate parts of my adolescence (leave it off about the sex part). Perhaps that was why I had started listening to Jethro Tull! Is this a prelude for a further regression perhaps later on in my age, I wonder?
This all made me wonder about the target audience for my series on The Collector of Tales. It helped me understand , at least in part, why I had chosen to start writing fiction after so many years of abstinence. The Collector of Tales is really a story for those of us over fifty who are facing changes that we only guess at really and don't necessarily take the time to see the significance even though we see or have seen it happen with parents.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What is happening to story telling?

As anyone who has written a novel will know, it is almost impossible to obtain any recognition unless you are lucky enough to stumble upon a literary critic who is prepared to take a risk on the next new thing or unless you are writing in a recognised, current and popular genre, or unless you are an established writer already.

Like a demoralisingly large number of other persons, I do not fall into any of those categories and so I am consigned to that great slush pile of works, good and bad that litter cyber-space. At least I can take comfort in the fact that I don't also litter the offices and cupboards of literary agents with my discarded and unspent paper manuscripts because I , presumably like many writers, won't waste the time and planetary resources printing off an infinite number of paper copies. Well, who am I really kidding - I don't want to afford the cost of paper, printing ink and postage.

Of course that last fact brings out one of the big issues in the world of story telling today. With the internet, anyone with two fingers (or perhaps even one if used rapidly) can hammer out a series of letters on a keyboard, look up a couple of dozen email addresses and whack out submissions with relative ease. This veritable effluvia of output from a seemingly infinite number of large primates will, no doubt, in time throw out another William Shakespeare but what does it do for the rest of us in the meantime? Well it does nothing, of course and all those seminal possibilities litter the hard drives of ISP servers with the same lack of regard for waste as is demonstrated by the reproductive process.

In simple terms, the barriers to creative entry in story telling are pretty much non-existent in the more economically developed countries and with the flood gates agape, anything and everything gets through. The result, a superabundance of text, some very good, some so-so and some not bad: some not so good at all and some pretty damned awful. As a prospective reader, how do you tell the difference?

Traditionally, the endorsement of the publisher gives an indication that the tale is at least worthy; that the text is accurate and relatively free from error. A well written blurb on the back of the book or somewhere on Amazon, especially if drafted by someone whose name and or credentials are recognised also take the prosepctive reader further in on the seduction.  It doesn't guarantee a good tale and it certainly doesn't offer good quality literature. It offers, in truth that which is seen to be saleable: that which offers a good possibility of the publisher making a turn (if they are lucky in many cases I suspect).

This is not available to the great unpublished - or perhaps I should say the great self-published ( and I place myself amongst these). How many wonderful tales are lost in the darkness?

Perhaps it is time to take a new look at story telling. After all, no matter what anyone says, the printed book is going the way of the illuminated manuscript - soon to be  consigned to the halls of history with just a few skilled specialists who consider it worthwhile to craft new works in paper, ink and card. Don't get me wrong here. My home is stocked with all manner of  books ( I refuse to classify these further as 'paper' books or 'printed' books) that I have  lovingly collected to read over the past years (and I will continue to do this until they nail down the lid on my coffin - might even slip in a few when I go). I do truly like the look , feel and the smell of books but as a medium for story telling, the paper sheet is becoming as archaic as the oral tradition of story telling.

The  model is broken and we need to find a new model. I don't have an answer: I was perhaps hoping that you might. Well, maybe? Maybe not. I'll return to this another time.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A bit of a spring clean

Even though we have more snow predicted and we are well into March, I have decided to have a look at this blog and carry out a bit of a spring tidy up. I have been looking at it over the past few days (as well as the one I produce for my day job!) and have come to realise that it is not very useful just posting stories in as blog posts.

So now I have made some changes. On the right of the post there are a set of pages where you can select and read either the entire text  or extracts from some of the stories. This way I hope that the blog will be  more meaningful and informative. I'll keep posts to simpler matters, comments and overviews about the works.

There are links to the Kindle store also for ebook purchases also on the right.

I am also planning to include some other general interest things in the blog that I had started to do early on but never actually got around to. Let's see if I can keep the thing current at reasonable intervals!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Seagrum


Here is a short story to introduce a new character : the dwarf, Seagrum, a mercenary and slightly dodgy trader with a penchant for the macabre.
In the darkest corner of the Mud Witch Tavern, a red patch of light glowed suddenly vermillion dulling to a subdued crimson. This was followed by a puff of grey acrid smoke that wafted casually across the table and the two chairs that were barely visible in that sombre space of darkness. The smoke had been despatched from a mouth of variable size containing an irregular collection of teeth and a wet and pinkish tongue. It should be noted that to those of a more discerning eye, that pinkness had a distinct tendency towards purple on account of the claret. The mouth then spat into the blackness that was the slate floor beneath the table and a badly illuminated hand placed a pipe carefully down upon the sticky surface of the table alongside a battered leather tankard. The hand and the mouth as well as the tongue and the spit belonged to Seagrum, a dwarf of significant stature (for a dwarf) and of a fearsome reputation both as a mercenary and more recently, as a bounty hunter. The pipe was also his, although it had begun that particular day in the possession of somebody else. 

This however is the story  of the dwarf and not of the pipe and so, for our purposes and irrespective of the former owner whose life blood had ceased to flow some hours before and whose corpse now lay abandoned in an alleyway somewhere not far from the place now described, we shall give it  little further thought. Suffice it to say that its final contribution at this particular time is to offer a modicum of pale luminescence – for it could not really be called light – to a character sitting opposite the dwarf and who at this very moment seemed unwilling to move, speak or indeed, even to breathe.

“You ‘ave it then?” growled the dwarf, his eyes suddenly visible in a faint dragon-light that seemed suddenly to pervade the corner.

“Mn...”

The other appeared to be caught in the act of swallowing something unpalatable and ended its attempt at higher language with a grunt or some other indistinguishable offering.

“Do I take that as assent?” hissed Seagrum with a disdain that was almost palpable.

“Whuh?” came the reply.

“How much you askin’ for it, laddie?”

“Fufty...” muttered the other in what has to be taken as a kind of response.

“Beaks!” muttered the dwarf to himself. He decided to speak to the only person present at the table who seemed capable of understanding him or indeed of making sensible sounds.

“Let’s start again. You listen and ...” he paused and offered a nod to the darkness, “... nod.... I’ll talk.”

He waited a sufficient time to allow the words to soak in to the dampness that was sitting opposite and then he began again.

“You have the ...”

He paused as if he was unwilling to speak the name of the item out loud.

“...merchandise.”

He waited a further moment before continuing.

“You have a delivery note for me and it says that it...” the pronoun replacing the distasteful word, merchandise, “is stored...”

He paused again. This time he was considering the location of the...merchandise.

“...in a ramshackle warehouse barely a stone’s throw from here and down by the waterside.”

There was an awkward quiet. That is the silence opposite continued but at the same time it seemed somehow to be more uncomfortable.

“You may nod or otherwise confirm all of this now. It would help to speed things along a bit.” said Seagrum with moderately exaggerated contempt.

“Mn...” the other nodded although the movement in the darkness was almost as unnoticeable as the sound was clear.

“Mn!” repeated the dwarf. “There’s a little more, isn’t there?... No don’t speak, let me guess.”

He picked up his pipe from the table and took a few rapid puffs to get the leaf smouldering again. Once more vermillion luminescence  appeared in the bowl, this time giving a gentle red glow to the tip of a large nose that sat, slightly off centre above the dwarf’s mouth.  Perhaps off centre was a little off the mark as the saying goes. It was more accurate to say that is was skewed significantly out of normal by a severe break that had occurred late one night a few years ago in a brawl in this same tavern.

“The warehouse is secured with a large and heavy looking padlock that is sadly broken. The chain is rusty looking but sturdy. The kind of chain that looks like it hasn’t been used in years. Inside this highly pregnable fortress there were two hooded shapes lurking in the shadows: both carry long knives and one has a cudgel, the other a hooked stick of some sort.”

He paused to draw another puff on his pipe and to give his inversely garrulous friend the opportunity to consider his use of the past tense.

“How does that sound so far? No don’t answer, let me tell you a bit more.”

He continued.

“Both men look sort of shifty. One is short and fat, the other also short and not so fat. Both are poor runts from bad litters. Their clothes have seen better days and better owners, more likely.  They, on the other hand, don’t know what a better day is. Nor will they ever, now.”

The hooded man opposite him had not said anything; had not made a sound in fact. To anyone who might have been sitting nearby, there was nothing coming from him but a faintly damp smell, rather like that of a wet dog that has lived on the streets for a while.

“Outside in the alleyway leading to the warehouse - you know, the place where the lamp has been broken and it gets really difficult to see – there is a large shape. I imagine that the stench coming off it would fell an ox but no matter. It holds in one paw a large wooden club – about the span of your arms I would estimate. Its oak or yew, it’s always difficult to tell in the darkness or until it comes into contact with something. I always find that oak seems to resonate better – that is, if the item that it strikes permits it to do so. Obviously bio-organic material  from the animal kingdom doesn’t usually offer that luxury unless it’s a hyperborean elk – not that you’d get one into that alleyway – so I imagine that we are never going to know what type of wooden club your tame troll is actually holding.”

Seagrum took another puff at his pipe and once more placed it back on the table.

“Beaks, I know that I’m doing all the talking so just you feel free to chip in.” He paused and seemed to sigh, “God’s ear, I’d welcome some change from the monotony. You know, it is possible to get sick of the sound of your own voice.”

“Mn...” said the nameless one.

“Well, perhaps not in your case, my loquacious friend.” Seagrum continued with a half laugh more to himself than anyone else present.

“Sadly, and more is the point, your troll is never going to know what type of wood he was holding either,” said the dwarf with a tone of relative finality.

“What d’ya mean?” vocalised the shape, lurching out of its hitherto inarticulate trance.

“Well, see. That wasn’t so difficult was it?” countered Seagrum with a smile that failed to rise to his eyes.

“Of course it’s all in the detail really, isn’t it?”

There was a long pause during which time the dwarf’s heart beat with that rhythmically slow thump of, well, a dwarf’s heart and the human’s thumped to a beat that betrayed the growing anxiety that he felt.

“I suppose that I neglected to mention the three feet of poor quality steel that is lying at an obtuse angle through the entrails of our troll. I always find penetration so difficult with these lads.”

He made a strange sweeping gesture with the flat of his hand.

“I guess it’s the hide that gives greatest problem. After all once you’re in, you’re in, as it were. Still,” he mused, more to himself than anyone else present, “once the job’s done...”

He was quiet once more.

“Of course there’s always the risk that the wretched creature won’t work out it’s dead until after it has pounded it’s assailant and half its immediate environment into dust, rocks, squishy bits and what not. Fortunately this particular troll was a bit smarter than most and so he worked it out pretty fast. He barely had the time to roar a challenge.”

He stopped talking suddenly and seemed to stiffen slightly before leaning forward and reaching under the table as if to rub his knee.

“You’re listening, aren’t you?” he asked with a slightly sinister tone. “I’d hate to waste this time explaining if you weren’t actually interested.”

He retrieved his pipe from the table.

“Mn...” was about as much as he could expect for an answer and that, in all fairness, was what he got.

“Ok,” the dwarf continued, puffing a large quantity of acrid smoke into the face of his monosyllabic companion. “So your tame troll is now out of the picture as it were and into it, for the last opportunity, steps another figure.  This one has curves though and I have to say that for a witch she is a pretty good looker, despite the complete lack of fashion sense and sadly lacking sense of personal hygiene. Long voluptuous curls of rich black hair with not too much movement amongst it. I like black hair when it’s thick and coarse. Shame about the beard though, I like a woman with a bit of facial hair but she had skin that was as smooth as a baby’s arse. Still you can’t have everything, can you?”

He paused again and looked for a while in silence at the creature opposite.

“Why do I get the impression that you’re not listening?” he asked, a slightly more significant hint of menace in his tone.

“Mn...” came the reply, sounding perhaps a little more strained than was normal.

Seagrum continued to stare into the darkness that was the shape opposite and for more than a long period of time no sounds were heard from either of them. All around in the other hearts of darkness and doubtful recesses of the tavern, other noises could be heard.  There were of course some casual or light hearted conversations running sotto voce in the background and, occasionally,  some laughter or perhaps a vocal disagreement. Then there were the other noises, the pretty much unmistakeable sounds of couples rutting: a gasp here; a guttural grunt or two there; some rhythmic pounding of knees on wood and the urgent slapping of flesh on flesh. A gasp, a moan, perhaps even a fart, a grunt and then silence; at least relative silence as another set of similar sounds stepped up into the dark arena or picked up half-way on the same rocky road to relieve the hormone fuelled reproductive urge.

The sounds gave the lie to the sense of quiet respectability that seemed to settle on the tavern ‘s gentle and perhaps too unassuming exterior , opening up a whole new can of worms and other less savoury plagues that were the consequence of the ancillary business that was transacted under licence within.

“Mn...” said the dwarf with the appearance of a temporary reversal of roles. “Was your woman, was she?”

The other person was silent now; a frisson of almost palpable anxiety hanging above him like a succubus.

“Mn...” said the dwarf once more. “You did realise that dwarves are pretty impervious to magic, wizardry and all that kind of stuff, didn’t you?”

More silence and palpating misery seemed to flow from opposite; the cold fog of growing angst slipping silently from his thoughts into the cool air and condensing just above the table surface.

“Anyway, I don’t know what she said but it sounded kind of dirty. I could feel the hairs on the back of my hands lifting, “he sniggered almost childishly, “and that wasn’t all that was rising, I can tell you. Beaks! She sounded hot!”

A moment of unhurried recollection flowed gently into his thoughts, dispersing itself amongst all the other stuff that was in there and making him feel somehow a little lighter, a little less angry.

“You see, I’ve got this thing that I carry around with me. Got it from another...” he paused as if to pluck just the right word from his mental lexicon but then with a short grunt settled with “client. It’s some kind of talisman. Not to save me from the magic, you know, it’s more to get my own back. You see I don’t like people whispering stuff at me with a view to giving me grief, even if it sounds as sexy as hell and gives me a boner that needs a week to settle back down again. It makes me feel that I have been taken advantage of.”

He permitted himself a short chuckle in the absence of any sounds whatsoever from across the table.

“That made her gasp, and no mistaking. Her eyes and mouth popped open like someone had banged her in the darkness, if you get my drift. Gone, it was. Just like that. One minute whispering words or wizardry at me, the next minute just another skirt in the street. That is one good talisman, I can tell you. Magic goes in and it never comes back out. She ain’t a witch any more.”

He leaned across the table and gave  the shape that was sitting opposite a shove. The head lolled back, dribbling a little black liquid at the corners of his mouth. In contrast his face was white; bleached bone white. His eyes were wide open, staring into sights that no one could guess at; the pupils huge, dilated and deep.

“Ah, there you have it my friend.”
He curled his hand behind the back of the corpse’s neck and pulled him towards the table. The body  lolled heavily forward, hitting the table hard and knocking over a tankard ,  it’s greasy black hair mingling with the sticky muck that glazed the surface.

“You need to be a bit more careful about what you drink. You never know who’s been messing with it.”

Seagrum looked appraisingly at the delivery note that he still held in one hand.

“So, I guess you’ll just have to take that learning point with you into the next life, if you have one, you sad bastard. In the meantime, I’ll just have to arrange for collection of the merchandise from your warehouse before some other piece of vermin attempts to make off with it.”

He stood up, pushing the table away from him rather than moving the chair. It was as though the thing was distasteful to him, even though the whole mess was technically his own handiwork. He noticed, as he stood, a slightly unsavoury stink rising up from the vicinity of the dead trader.

“Ah yes, I forgot,” he said possibly to himself, possibly to the corpse and possibly to no one in particular, “the poison does have that effect on the subject.”

He stomped, rather than walked the distance from his alcove to the bar. This was the physiological influence of his slightly short legs on his rather large and actually quite muscular, body. His iron-capped boots cracked crisply on the flags, announcing his approach to the inn keeper even before the  dwarf managed to emerge from the darkness and the subsequent disentanglement  from  two pairs of semi-naked legs. His eyes followed one pair down to the breeches that were gathered unceremoniously around the booted feet and then the other upwards towards... well you might get the picture with a meaty male hand massaging the soft flesh of pale white thigh – with or without the subcutaneous mites.

“I’ll be in my room,” he said to the man behind the bar as he flipped a small gold coin towards him. “There’s a bit of a mess in the corner over there but that should cover the cost of removal and a bit of sawdust or straw to cover the floor – and a decent profit to you...my friend.”

The man behind the bar caught the coin, even though he was looking in the other direction. Whether the second pair of arms had anything to do with it was anybody’s guess but it was a good catch. The coin went to mouth; was bitten and then flipped into a purse around his neck. The string was drawn tight before he grunted acknowledgement.

“Oh, ah!”said the dwarf almost as an afterthought, “there’ll be a woman along in a while; dark hair good curves – looks a bit like a witch if you know what I mean!” he permitted himself a short laugh, almost a grunt himself. “Send her up, I’m kind of expecting ...”

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Is it really that long ago!

I can't believe that my last post was in 2011. What happened to the idea of posting on a more-or-less-daily basis. I guess that went the way of many other thoughts.
 
Still, all is not lost. I have been busy with a number of projects, only one of which has now completed - more of that later.... I am also working on a numberof short stories that may themselves turn vaguely into a novel once the idea is out.
 
A post of one of them is due to follow shortly.
 
Also , for my own benefit more than anyone elses, a list of current writing projects, just in case I forget in the cut and trust of ordinary living and dying.

The Prawns of Lebowa
-The  painting is my proposed part cover.  This is the third and final in the Collector of Tales Trilogy. 20k words or so written but the thing is proving a little difficult as I am shifting narrative styles between threads and I have to kill off a much loved character.
The Dreamweavers
- This is now finished subject to a few very final edits. A story about two boys and a two different worlds. Its aimed at young people (to me that is 10 - 15) but it's good for any age really. It focuses on a boy called Tom who has a few learning problems that are not made easier by his ability to move in and pout of two very differnet worlds. I wrote it for two of my boys , Tom and Sam, and naturally enough they are the prinicipal characters.
 
Out of Mongolia (working title)
- This is a story about  a virus epidemic. It was started two years ago and has three chapters only so far. Not sure if I have an appetite to finish it or not right now. I didn't actually plan the tale and so it stalled. One day, when I am grown up, perhaps I continue. I don't think that it is necessarily a genre that I want to write.
 
Achilles ( working title)
-Another tale about Achilles! I had an idea on a camping holiday with my boys and wote the outline for the whole book down over three days. I have handwritten four of the sixteen chapters - didn't take a lap-top - I like the tale and will continue it after the Prawns have finished.
 
Seagrum's Army (working title)
-A tale about a mercenary dwarf. It's just a thought at the moment andI have written a short story to give me a view. I might write a few more before I decide if this is going anywhere. I like the idea and I want to write a fantasy of the more traditional kind - unlike the Collector Series , which is definitely not of the traditional kind.
 
Fantasy (working title)
- an fairly old piece of about 30k words that I may pick up some time. I like some of the ideas in it but it is a bit Tolkein - which is good if you are JRRT but bad if you are someone else! Don't really know about this one. Again one day....

 

The Xandrian Quarters
- Finished swork. Part Two of the Collector of Tales Trilogy. Set in a classical Mediterranean world, a large part of it set against a trip to Cyprus a couple of years ago.
The Collector of Tales
-If ever I want to be  remembered for writing, it is for this story. The first real piece of writing that I have really put together and something that I am immensely proud of. It's out there on Lulu and Kindle and it is selling a few. Nothing to make me a wealthy man, but am I bothered?

 

Friday, 8 July 2011

2-Minute Interview



After several days of self-sustained purgatory, I now find myself in the situation that I have finished The Collector of Tales. Finished that is in the sense that I have now edited it for the last time ; put in some notes to help those who struggle with the dialect; and, added a Forward to explain why I have even put in a dialect in parts of the book at all. I have given up on a change to the cover as somehow everything that I tried felt wrong. Yes I know it's not very sexy and some stark colours, black and blood red on white would have been more arresting but no matter. It's there now on Kindle and on Lulu.com for those who want to look.

I thought that to mark the launch of the book, I would interview The Collector about it and find out what it meant to him.

I finally caught up with him in a noisy and oddly rather sunny cafe in his home town of Breyford: a funny little town on the outskirts of nowhere. Here for the price of a chai latte and a bobbin ( that's a curious little cold crust pie-like thing with shredded vegetables and some kind of cheese in it - if you need to know) I managed to coax him into giving me a few words. Actually, quite a few words were offered and here is a small selection.

David: So what's the book all about then?

Collector: You know, it's odd but I damned if I really know. I seem to spend a lot of time wandering about and being picked on by a few curious characters who are clearly intent on making my life even more difficult than it really is. There's also this odd activity that keeps happening off stage as it were. Being followed by people in dark cloaks is bad enough. Poor old Welcome having his head caved in in the marketplace is pretty grim and those two beggars at the Sun Inn dumping me for dead on the road to nowhere more or less takes the biscuit.

David:
Well could you give me an idea of the plot?

Collector: Oh, sorry, I thought I had. Well, it goes like this. I'm looking for a tale to add to my collection and I have headed off into the northern lands to hear it in the raw. In this rather strange village, I find a storyteller who is actually pretty good even though he is a bit of a head case. He tells me all about it, you see. But it's no good just relying on one source and so I head up to Trellsheim - that's the only urban centre up that way for more miles than I would bother to count. There's a lot going on up there and whilst I find a few bits of extra stuff about them, I don't actually get ot the heart of it until those two .... shall we say 'characters' .... dump me in the snow outside the town. That's when I meet the real Fire Dancers - that's what the tale I'm looking for is about - did I mention that?


David: Er, no.

Collector: Ah, well that's what it's about. In fact it was going to be called The Fire Dancers you know, originally that is. Somehow it seemed a bit too much like a fantasy story though - you know Tolkein that sort of thing. Still we took a knife to that and cut out a lot of the damage.

David: So you are not a fan of Tolkein?

Collector: Did I say that? No I didn't. I am very fond of Tolkein and I've read the book [LOTR- ed] more times than I can recall. It's just that, well Tolkein belongs in Tolkein and not in the Collector of Tales.

David: So if it's not fantasy, how would you label the story?

Collector: Now why on earth would I want to label it at all? It has a title (and a pretty good one, I don't mind saying) and there's nearly 80,000 words to tell you all about it. What else do you need?

David: Well, I mean what genre is it?

Collector: Ah, why didn't you say! Simple. It's Literary Soap.

David: I'm sorry, I've never heard of that.

Collector: Well of course you haven't. That's because it's not been written before.

David: Do you think that you could expand on this?

Collector: Well of course I can, my boy but I'm afraid that it will have to wait for another day.

With that, The Collector stood up, spilling as he did so, my untouched (and now cold) cup of coffee. He flung his day sack over his shoulder and headed off with just the briefest of nods of his head in my direction. I watched, slightly baffled as his retreating form shuffled off down towards the main road. Here, he stepped over the stream that ran down the centre of the alley - don't ask - and was gone.

Somehow he had managed to leave me feeling slightly breathless. I was just glad that I hadn't tried to interview Grendel's Mother but if you want to know why, you'll have to read the book.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Challenge of Dialect

OK, here's the problem. If you have read the previous blog you will see that I have developed a form of dialect for use in my novel, The Collector of Tales. Now it is meant to be a form of English believe it or not, and it is there to add to the overall look and feel of The Collector's World. Firstly, there is the brutishness of the language. I refer to it as Bruta Speke. If you can, picture the English language as it developed out of Chaucer's Middle English through people like Sir Philip Sidey and others on into the world and categorisation of the language say with Samuel Johnson. During that time spelling was inconsistent and no doubt pronunciation was also substantially varied.

Such is Bruta Speke. Read it as it sounds as it is phonetic. There is no particular grammar or syntax to it as it is not that clever. Add in a touch of regional dialect too. Kegs for trousers for example. Someone once asked me if it was Cockney...for the avoidance of doubt, though my mother was born within the sound of Bow Bells, no it is not Cockney - not even close.

The second aspect of the dialect is that of understanding. When we travel to places where we do not fully grasp the local language, we find a lot of gaps in our understanding. It is an uncomfortable feeling for some, tending towards paranoia in others. Are they talkng about us! That is the feel that I am trying to generate in the Collector of Tales. Much of the dialogue can be inferred from both context and from repetition or rephrasing by the Collector himself. Some of it may seem unintelligible but if it is, that's because it is unimportant. Much of communication is pointless and if it is not understood, it doesn't matter. It's just noise. I'm talking here about human intercourse not just the dialogue in my book. That is what I want to achieve in the story.

However, some people perfer to undertsand it all and so I have resorted in paper versions to icnluding notes on the dialogue at the end of each chapter. It is not ideal and for online versions I have popped some code in to bring up the translation when you mouse over the offending text. That works better. Sadly, I cannot currently include that on Kindle but no doubt it will come in time.

Ok that's my rant about dialogue... I say that becuase I have just spent several days re-writing bits of it to make it more readily understandable and in adding in notes. I guess I should leave the last words to The Collector, for after all it is he who is the man on the ground as it were.

"Although I understood the language quite well, the dialect was a bit of a challenge and I have to say that a lot of the noise that I heard was pretty unintelligible at first. Fortunately, most conversations had few words of substance or meaning in them but every now and then I would hear a word or phrase that would give the sense to what was being said. Words, context, gestures and repetition - these would be the things that would allow me to glean understanding."

From The Collector of Tales Chapter One - The Infernal Village