Telling You About My WIP!

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The Murdstone Trilogy By Mal Peet – Review

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What does every writer want, more than anything? More than a book deal, along with a movie adaption deal?

Someone to write the book for them, that’s what. And don’t try to tell me you don’t, every writer has, at least¬†once¬†in their writing life, wished the book would either write itself, or for someone to do it for them.

That’s exactly what Philip Murdstone gets.

Murdstone starts this book as an established writer, but he hasn’t published anything in years, and his sales are going through the floor. He usually writes books for ‘sensitive boys,’ overcoming some sort of trial in their lives, and that kind of thing just isn’t selling anymore.

What is selling, though, is fantasy. Fantasy is selling by the bucket loads. Every literary agent, publishing house, and writer, is looking to create the next Harry Potter.

There’s one problem. Murdstone¬†hates¬†fantasy, abhors it, wants it banished from the world. He’d rather¬†die¬†than write a fantasy.

‚ÄúI hate Tolkien. I mean. Bloody pretentious escapist nonsense, isn‚Äôt it?‚ÄĚ

His agent doesn’t like the genre very much either, but it sells, so who cares?

But when he is faced with no other choice, he gives in, and that’s where this story starts.

Murdstone ends up meeting Pocket, a swearing, uncouth, yet strangely likeable, Greme from another land, who agrees to tell him about Morl, a dark necromancer trying expand his Thule. The book becomes an instant classic, Murdstone soars to J.K Rowelling levels of fame.

It all comes at a price, though. And that price is Morl trying to use a sacred Amulet to get into this world, an Amulet that Murdstone possesses, and uses, to translate Pocket’s stories into our language.

Every writer’s dream, and worst nightmare, wrapped into one.

But, for a reader, it’s brilliant.

For a reader, who also happens to be a writer, or knowledgeable in the publishing industry, it is dream, to read.

Full of sass, snark, and just about every insult to Tolkien, Rowelling, and the fantasy genre as a whole, The Murdstone Trilogy is an unrelenting, yet hilarious, story, with twists and turns galore. Nothing is safe from Murdstone and his ire.

‚ÄúWriters no longer work in solitude, crafting meaningful and elegant prose. No. They have to spend most of their time selling themselves on the fucking internet. Blogging and tweeting and updating their bloody Facebook pages and their wretched narcissistic websites.‚ÄĚ

In between the Hamlet-esque ‘is he mad, or is this actually happening,’ diatribes against just about everything, and the fear for Murdstone’s life, there are moments where the audience can really sympathise with Murdstone’s plight.

Every writer has thought that they couldn’t finish the book, or face huge deadlines that loom overhead, or have been so unbelievably stuck, they didn’t think they could ever get out of it.

Every writer has wished that they were as successful as J K Rowelling.

Every writer has definitely wished for someone to take the story away and magically complete it for them.

And that’s the magic of this book. It’s wacky, and insane, but it speaks to the authors, the publishers, the editors. It creates a story focused around the world of publishing, while keeping the most fantastical elements flowing.

I loved every second of this book. It was truly a wonderful read, that had me laughing throughout, and half wishing I could have my own Murdstone-style adventure.

Witty, uncompromising, definitely not for the faint of heart, but, an absolute must read for anyone who loves books.

Westworld Goes Down Fighting

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Last night, Westworld’s season finale aired in the UK, and showed every other show of a similar nature exactly how to end a season. With plot twists, a lot of questions answered, and more brought forward, the hour and a half long episode had me hooked from the opening second, right to the very end of the credits.

I’ve been a fan of the show since the start, and in fact wrote a piece on the opening episode on this very blog a few weeks ago. After every episode I was looking up fan theories, trying to figure out what The Maze was, who The Man In Black was, and just what the¬†hell¬†was going on. Last night explained it all. It explained, tied everything together, and created mystery for the next season, all in one go.

In many TV shows like Westworld, the writers generally like to keep you guessing constantly, and use season finale’s to create more questions than answers (I’m looking at you, Lost). Sometimes, TV shows like this don’t give you any answers at all, and it’s up to the audience to interpret everything for themselves. This show though, the writers actually answered¬†almost¬†everything¬†the audience wanted to know.

The Man In Black’s identity was revealed, in a plot twist that had me screaming, even after seeing many internet theories which predicted it. The Maze was explained. Robert’s new narrative was revealed. Some characters got what they wanted, others not so much. Everything tied together¬†beautifully,¬†which really speaks to how well the show was plotted by JJ Abrams and his writing team.

But, can things continue on, if everything has been revealed? Where’s the mystery? What’s to keep the audience coming back?

Simple, with Robert’s new narrative. I won’t give away too many spoilers for those who have not seen the episode yet, but let’s just say that The Man In Black got what he wanted, Wyatt is loose, and there’s a lot more Hosts with a thirst for bloodshed running around.

That, and the new subtly-hinted-at plot points dotted throughout. Who messed with Thandie Newton’s Maeve’s programming, to make her wake up in the first place? Has Dolores gone completely psycho? Why are the Japanese fighter hosts ‘complicated?’ And possibly most importantly, does this mean that there are more parks than just Westworld? Are there more parks, more hosts, more robots waking up and deciding to revolt?

So many questions, so much more to explore in this captivating world. Things I can’t wait to puzzle over and watch unfold. Westworld was a brilliant series, but the finale was a masterpiece in story telling. Other TV shows, take note.

Fantastical Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

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Harry Potter is back! Well, at least his world is back, in this brilliant new prequel, which weirdly, has barely anything to do with Harry Potter himself.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them follows the story of Newt Scamander, a young wizard who loves, and studies, animals, travelling to 1920’s New York. It would be a simple trip too, if it wasn’t for the fact that his magical animals kept on escaping and causing havoc in the city, which coincides with a dark force threatening to reveal the wizarding world to the Muggles (or No-Maj, as they’re called in America).

Now, I know I say this a lot, but I wasn’t sure about this film at first. Prequels can often be slightly painful to watch, and come across like studios trying desperately to get more money from a franchise. But this didn’t this came across a lot better than I was expecting to be honest. Fantastic Beasts felt more like a film set in the universe of Harry Potter, while being extremely removed from the story of Harry and Voldemort. Setting the film in the 20’s was a great idea, as it meant that there was no way to mention Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, or anybody really related to them, because none of them had been born yet. Their troubles hadn’t even begun.

This really helped to create an almost new universe, where this story could be set. It allowed Newt and his friends to be completely separate and new, there was no need to compare anybody to any previous character in this massive franchise. Everything was new, with just little points of conversation which reminded the audience exactly what they were watching.

And what they were watching was, if you’ll excuse the pun, rather magical. Newt’s shy, bumbling, animal-obsessed nature was actually quite sweet in places. From the clips I had seen previously, I was half expecting to hate Newt, but when the clips are given context, and the rest of the film allows his character to unfold, he’s actually quite lovable, and nothing we’ve really seen before in a Harry Potter film. The creatures he was trying to help were nothing short of extraordinary, and nothing like any of the things Harry ever encountered. His interactions with them spoke of true affection, which in some ways reminded me of Steve Irwin.

Newt’s friends were also great additions to the team, none of them even hinting at falling into the same slots as Harry’s gang. Not once did I look at one of the characters and say to myself ‘that’s the Ron/Hermione/Neville etc,’ all of them were entirely new, and still entirely part of the team. Even the No-Maj proved to be more than just comic relief for the other characters.

The story itself is also really all-encompassing. There’s hints of what’s going on in the wizarding world, specifying Grindelward and his terrible attacks, more information on those what happens to the magical children who slip through the cracks, and so much on the differences between the English and the American wizarding way. None of it is ‘info dumped’ either, it’s all revealed in timely places, and will doubt please every Harry Potter fan desperate for more information about the world of wizards.

The only thing that slightly¬†disappointed me in this film was the effects. Not that the CGI wasn’t amazing, because it was truly amazing, but because there seemed to be very little practical effects. With the original Harry Potter movies, creatures like Buckbeak were robots, or puppets, or actors with make up on. In this film, all of it is CGI, which was slightly disappointing. Of course, I understand that with some of these creatures, it just was not possible to make a puppet, or whatever else, that would look realistic. But some scenes I thought would have been greatly improved by some real life effects, to really ground the film in reality.

Other than that though, this film is brilliant, and perfect for every Harry Potter fan out there. With some very fantastic beasts, great characters, subtle grounding in the original world, and some whip-lash inducing plot twists, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a wonderful film. Between this and the Cursed Child play, Harry Potter is proving to be more than just The Boy Who Lived, his entire universe is slowly turning into The World That Stops Surprising. And I for one, am incredibly excited for what’s coming next.

Peculiar Children, Peculiar Film

This week has been absolutely manic – concerts, replacement bus journeys, starting my third and final year of university, and a cinema trip. I was knackered by Thursday, but I recently read the Ransom Riggs book Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children, and really wanted to see the film, so I decided to go, despite how tired I was.

In the end, I’m really glad I went to see this film, because I did enjoy myself a lot. Admittedly, there were a few things that annoyed me – mostly to do with changes with character’s, or changing scenes from the book – but when the film is looked at without comparing it to the book, it’s very good.

All the children are suitably creepy, the Hollows are scary, and the universe of the Peculiar’s is incredibly captivating. The all star cast, including of Samuel L Jackson, Asa Butterfield and Judi Dench, are brilliant and compelling. Tim Burton’s directing gives off the right amount of creepiness, which is exactly what this film needed. Something would have been deeply missing if everything didn’t feel slightly¬†wrong¬†and out of place.

Audiences going into this film blind and no prior knowledge will thoroughly enjoy themselves. Fans of the book may leave a bit annoyed, especially if their sticklers for accuracy in adaptions.

Some characters are different ages to their book counterparts, a lot of scenes are taken out (though some of this was for run time, which is understandable), and the final fight against the Hollows is¬†completely¬†different. I can see why the final fight was different, as it gave the more minor characters the opportunity to shine, but to me it still felt a bit jarring. After a few more watches, I’ll probably be able to move past it, but right now I’m not sure whether I’m annoyed by it or not.

On the whole though, Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children is very enjoyable, and highly entertaining. It sticks to the book for the most part, the cast are great, and it has a brilliant mix of creepiness and wonder, which was exactly what I had been expecting. Book changes are jarring, but as a stand alone film, it’s quite solid and stands by itself well enough.

 

 

Star Trek Is Beyond Good

First of all, let me apologise for the header, my only excuse is punny titles on blog posts and that’s the best one I could think of in this head.

Now, onto the review.

Star Trek Beyond is the third installment in the Star Trek reboot series, and it does not disappoint. The story follows Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk and team crash landed on an unexplored world, separated and facing a dangerous new enemy – Krall.

I, for one, was slightly worried about how this film would turn out. Previous director JJ Abrams was only producing this film, the directors chair now filled by Justin Lin from the Fast And Furious franchise, and I was worried about how that would turn out. Would it still retain the previous film’s charm, the lens flares, anything that made the films feel distinctive? Trust me when I saw that the film feels¬†different,¬†but it’s not too bad a difference. It still feels like Star Trek, the characters are the same, the story line is still good, and there’s definitely enough Trek in there to satisfy fans.

One thing that is rather different from the previous films, is that there is a lot of humour in this one. This would be because Simon Pegg has co-written the film, and has added his sense of humour. But it’s not out of place, it actually works quite well. Most lines go to either Pegg’s character Scottie or Karl Urban’s Bones, though Kirk and Spock also get a few lines in too.

Another difference is that Chekov plays a a larger part than usual in this film. Chekov is usually a slightly more background character, but in this one he’s more at the forefront of the action, having a lot of screen time with Kirk. It’s a lovely thing to see, though still slightly sad, due to the recent passing of Anton Yelchin. His bigger role, and his dedication at the end, really made the film feel like it truly was ‘for Anton.’

The tribute to Leonard Nimoy is also a beautiful touch to the film. I won’t spoil what is done in tribute to him, but I will say that it will make classic Trek fans cry. My best friend and I, who have only ever watched these new films, welled up at his tribute. It was written in brilliantly, and while plays a key role in two scenes, is not completely ‘in your face’ or too over the top. It’s just right, stated well, and straight forward, sort of like Spock in that respect.

There is only two things that bugged me about this film. One was that the camera work during fight scenes was a bit too shaky to see what was going on, which spoiled them slightly for me. And the second was that I felt like Krall’s reasonings for his actions, along with his weapon, could have been explained just a bit more. I was left guessing for most of the film as to why he was so against Star Fleet, and never really understood what his weapon did, or why he needed the artifact to make it work.

But all in all, Star Trek Beyond is a great bit of film. It’s funny, witty, with a good plot line. The cast is great, the fight scenes are good, and it was great to see the affect of five years in space on the crew. They seemed stronger and closer together than in the first two. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Writing Through The Noise

Writing Through The Noise

So, you want to write. You’ve got your story line sorted, you have scenes planned, and you’re inspired. In fact, you’re raring to go, itching to get started. But, there’s a problem. A very big problem in fact. You’re surrounded by people who won’t stop talking to you, or have put the TV/radio on, or are doing noisy things. And now you can’t concentrate, and therefore can’t write. So what do you do?

I’m afraid I can’t help with that, because I don’t know, because I haven’t figured it out myself. Since I moved three weeks ago, I have so far only managed to have one good day of uninterrupted writing, the rest I have been plagued with non-stop noise. That’s the problem with moving in with other relatives who don’t yet understand how you work, and don’t go out often – they want to talk all the time, and continue in their normal routine, without realising that they’re disturbing yours.

For years, I have had about 40 hours a week of uninterrupted time to myself, while my Mum was at work, which I used to write and read to my hearts content. Now I’m down to 8 at most, and the rest of the time I’m in the company of someone who talks a¬†lot,¬†and has the TV on for most of the day. It’s something I am definitely not used to, and it’s something I am now struggling to adjust to.

You see, I find it very difficult to write while there’s any sort of distraction. I can deal with writing with musical accompaniment, as that can be inspiring, but everything else is pure distraction. If someone is talking to me, that means I have to reply and think about the conversation, therefore I cannot concentrate on my story line.

If the TV is on, I get distracted, even when it’s a show I’m not interested in. I end up getting sucked into watching whatever is on, or find myself wanting to work whatever is going on on the TV into the story I’m writing, which is obviously not a good idea.

It’s a nightmare, and one I’ve been living in for the past three weeks. I’ve yet to come up with a solution to the problem. The only thing I can try and do is crank up the volume on my headphones, and hope to God it drowns out the TV/puts people off talking to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s all I’ve currently got. Until I can sort out my own ‘writing space’ I am stuck in with the noise. The noise that doesn’t seem to let up for a minute. Even with the new space, I don’t know how well it’s going to work. I’ll be away from the TV, but it doesn’t stop people coming in to talk to me.

I’m praying it will help my productivity a bit, but really, there is no catch all solution to the problem. If there was, that would be what this blog’s subject. But there isn’t. So the only advice I can give is to crank up the volume on the music if you’re in a similar situation. Crank up the volume and try to adjust the best you can.

If not, well, there’s always waiting for everybody to leave or go to sleep, and writing then.

Though if you have any ideas, leave me a comment and tell me, I’m dying to figure this out and stop the distractions!