Claire King

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Archive for May, 2012

You Are What You Meet

Posted on: May 17th, 2012 by Claire - 2 Comments

This week there were various articles published reporting the results of a survey which suggests that we ‘become similar to’ the characters that we read about in books.*

This spawned a series of remarks such as “So this makes me a bonnet-wearing, blood-sucking, 30-something, single, serial-killing hobbit sharing my summer holidays backpacking through Thailand with three other children and a dog called Timmy.”

Yes, the idea itself is intriguing, but can quickly be dumbed down so much as to be ridiculous, and to allow conclusions like the above.

The attention grabbing headline, though, You are what you read is interesting: a play on words linking consumption of literature to consumption of food. The parallel is useful because the same rules apply. When we eat a prawn we do not become a prawn. When we eat cheese, we do not become cheese. When we eat radishes we do not become radishes or indeed ‘like’ radishes. But we do take on some of the constituent parts; we nourish ourselves with the energy, the calcium, the fats and vitamins and proteins.

Nourishing…another word that is often used to describe reading matter, with its antonym being ‘trashy’. We often class reading matter into things that are ‘good for you’ to read, and others we describe as trashy in the manner of junk food – often tasty but largely unhealthy.

As a society we are quick to draw conclusions about what fits where. Graphic novels – nourishing or trashy? Science Fiction? What about ‘Women’s Fiction’?

I think that whatever literature we consume, from The Beano to Dostoyevsky, there is usually some goodness in it for us. We may find some characters inspiring or aspirational, where we lack role models around us. We may learn from their actions. We might feel a sense of injustice on their behalf or be compelled into hopefulness. Perhaps we will find the humour in their situation which helps us to find the humour in our own. This, I think, is the essence of reading. Not that we become the characters themselves, but that we experience them and their stories and learn from that experience.

Just as though we had met them in real life.

Here is an excellent article on the neuroscience of reading fiction which takes that thought further, suggesting that our brains assimilate the books we read as though we had actually had those experiences ourselves.

 

* Here is the MSNBC take on it and Here is the Daily Mail’s take on it

 

America Writers

Posted on: May 17th, 2012 by Claire - 18 Comments

Every day a few people land on this blog looking for information about Brit Writers. It’s easy to find my posts, as well as the comments made by many readers on the posts and links to other discussions on the internet.

However, since the last post, things have evolved. So here’s a summary (please let me know if any of this is factually incorrect, obviously):

The Brit Writers’ offers include (or have included):

  • An annual writing competition, with a fee and a prize.
  • A scheme to help people get published, with a fee.
  • A scheme to help people set up ‘lucrative’ consultancies to help people get published. For a fee.
  • A publishing service, with a fee.
  • I am not yet aware of a scheme to help people set up ‘lucrative’ publishing services, for a fee or otherwise.
  • An agents and publishers referral service. Initially free, thereafter for a fee.
  • A schools programme, with a fee (in some cases – some schools join for free).
  • A scheme to help people take part in running the schools programme, for a fee and a percentage of the revenue from the schools.

And in latest news, these things are now all available in the new (bigger) USA market. For a fee.

This has been a public service announcement. You can find more information on the Brit Writers and America Writers websites.

 

 

 

 

A Collaborative Flash

Posted on: May 14th, 2012 by Claire - 2 Comments

A couple of months ago, New Zealand based writer and editor Michelle Elvy had the idea to celebrate International Women’s Day by having women writers across different countries collaborate on a piece of short fiction.

You can read the first of these stories here – a collaboration between Michelle, Martha Williams and Sarah Hilary in the UK and myself.

A different ending? Try the second story here, where Margot McCuaig joins in!

The third story has Jane Prinsep’s ending

And the fourth has jumped many borders, involving Kate Brown, Peggy Riley, Judith Teitelman and Beth Gignac.

Here are the final stories #5 & #6 and  #7 & #8  featuring new blood in the shape of Anita Chapman, Toby Cogswell, Jules Archer, Beate Sigriddaughter, Myra King, Marit Meredith and Christine Nedahl.

I’ve found it really interesting reading where each writer took the story, and seeing how writing styles can blend together. Thanks, Michelle for a fun experiment!

Housewife with a Half-Life by A.B.Wells

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Claire - 4 Comments

Today’s post  is a blatant promotion for my lovely friend Alison and her newly published novel!

One of the things that goes on behind the scenes of novel writing is ‘Beta-reading.’ This is where you get a writer whose work you admire to read all or part of your work in progress and ask them for specific and honest critique of what you’ve written. These trusted souls are worth their weight in gold, and Alison, who I met via Twitter, was one of the lovely people who took the time and care to read part of an early draft of The Night Rainbow and tell me her thoughts.

In the same spirit I’ve also read extracts from her work, including her brilliant novel Housewife with a Half-Life. When I read it, it made me think immediately of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers books. It’s funny, it’s bizarre…in fact it’s a space romp. Can I call it that, A?

Alison is a superb writer, and has now developed a split personality, keeping her more literary (in genre terms) fiction under her own name, whilst her science-fictiony self is now going by the name of A.B. Wells. She has decided to self-publish this novel, and the paperback will be out in June. Meanwhile for ebook readers, you can find links below and read it right now!

About the book:

Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are alive and dangerous, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.

In this lively space comedy, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

About A.B. Wells, also known as @AlisonWells on Twitter

What is a housewife to do when she becomes 42? Write a book about life, the universe and everything. A.B.Wells is the mother of four children age 11 and under, three of whom are that particularly alien species called boys. As Alison Wells her more literary writing has been shortlisted in the prestigious Bridport, Fish and Hennessy Awards and she’s been published or is about to be in a wide variety of anthologies and e-zines, including the Higgs Boson Anthology by Year Zero, Metazen, The View from HereVoices of Angels by Bridgehouse and National Flash Fiction day’s Jawbreakers. She recently one the fiction category of the Big Book of Hope ebook with a flash fiction medley and has a litfic novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities on submission. She blogs for writing.ie in the guest blog: Random Acts of Optimism. One of the as yet unsolved mysteries of the universe is whether the B in A. B. Wells stands for barmy or brilliant.

In her former life she worked, among other things, as a clerk like Albert Einstein, as a technical writer (and a HR. Manager) and before that studied psychology and communications where, in the college library James Gleick’s book Chaos fell on her head. Her ambitions include a desire to travel to see the Northern Lights and to really travel with Dr Who’s David Tennant in a Tardis.

Download Housewife with a Half-Life…!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords

And if you are waiting for the paperback, or if you are just nosy, stalk the author here: www.abwells.com and here www.facebook.com/abwellswriter or her alter ego blogging on Head Above Water here: www.alisonwells.wordpress.com

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