Tag Archives: Novel

In the Spotlight

Image by digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Darlings, I’m already famous you see…

No, not really, though Julian will certainly be one day.  He loves the spotlight, and I’ll just hide behind him (should be easy, he’s six feet tall.)

I’d like to thank the gracious Connor for giving me the chance to do this interview, it was great fun. His questions got me thinking about a few things so it’s all good. Be sure to check Connor’s blog as well!

Click photo below and you’ll be taken there…

A Musical Journey – 1988

There’s only one song that represents 1988 for me, but first, a bit of rock music history to set the scene…

After Bauhaus broke up, everyone wondered what Peter Murphy would do next.  After a bit of experimentation in Dali’s Car with the late Mick Karn, he did what he should have done to begin with and went solo.  Meanwhile, the other three Bauhaus blokes formed Love and Rockets, a band I must admit to have always disliked.

Peter’s first solo album, Should the World Fail to Fall Apart  contains a track that inspired the band name for my boy’s rock band. It also has a great cover of Pere Ubu’s Final Solution. Indirectly, there’s a line in that song that’s meaningful in relation to the origins of my boy, who is not a supernatural creature but human. (I suspect maybe one or two of my friends will get this cryptic clue…)

For my chosen track, we have to move to Peter’s second album, Love Hysteria,  my favourite of his.  All Night Long has always spoken of hope to me. It is the ONE song I listen to when I am down and/or struggling. It also reminds me of the journey I’ve been on, ever since a lost boy called Julian came to me wanting to tell me his story three years ago. He is the one constant in my life, and it’s him, as well as Peter’s music as inspiration that’s kept me going all this time.

I cannot think of a better post to start this new year…

Peter Murphy – All Night Long

A Musical Journey – 1982

Image by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1982 – In the Night – Bauhaus

1982 is a very pivotal year for me, as it is THE year my novel is set, at least part of it. It is when Brandon, Julian’s rock persona becomes famous.

If you have read my blog for a while, then you know how meaningful Bauhaus are to me. This particular song is from their brilliant The Sky’s Gone Out album, released in October 1982, the month the first part of my novel ends.

In the Night was the song I played for inspiration when writing a gig scene, where we first get a glimpse of Julian, as Brandon. It is also meaningful in other ways related to the novel, more on that, another time…

Musically speaking, it’s a great rock track, from that scratchy electric guitar riff played by Daniel Ash, to David J’s hypnotising bass line, whilst Kevin Haskins steers the song towards its punk-like crescendo ending, and through it all, Pete Murphy’s raw rock voice gives the song its dark decadent soul. Put it all together and you have the glittering darkness that was Bauhaus.

This is not one of their better known tracks but should be…

***

OOPS!

Next Monday: 1981 because in my excitement over wanting to post about 1982, I totally neglected to feature a track for 1981. Thanks to my friend Carrie for making me aware of that via Facebook ^_^

(Never been good with numbers you know…ha ha)

Spirit

Being that it’s Halloween weekend, I thought I’d share a short story written especially for this occasion. Narrated by none other than Julian himself.  A bit of his childhood, which will tell you a little of his background…

Spirit

Halloween has its origins in Samhain. A special time for us Celts. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a history lesson. I’m no historian and my memory isn’t the best. Being around for centuries does that to you…

There is only one Samhain I remember….I was a boy, living with my sister.  My father, our tribe’s chieftain despised me, for my mother had died giving birth to me. Something he never let me to forget. His beatings were brutal until Eoghan, one of our Druids, convinced him to allow my older sister care for me.  To this day, I do not know why my father agreed, but I’m glad, for I do not think I would have survived much longer in his care, I use that word with great irony…

On my tenth year, Eoghan told me it was time to go on a very special journey. The instructions were clear. At dusk, on Samhain, I was to go to our sacred grove and wait for him. The area was forbidden to us children, but I knew I had his permission and would be safe.

After traveling for over an hour, I sat under an oak tree to rest. Struggling to keep my eyes open, I dozed off, until rustling behind me, woke me.  My heart thumped loud in my ears as I looked around the forest.  There was total silence, no creatures scurrying through the undergrowth, no owls hooting, nothing.

I sensed someone standing behind me and turned, expecting Eoghan. When I spotted the woman, I gasped.  She smiled and moved closer, allowing me to get a better look at her.  She was tall and slim, and her skin was pale,  like alabaster. Long brown hair cascaded past her shoulders. Her movements were graceful, almost regal, but she was dressed in rags. I could tell her garment had once been like the tunics our women wore.  A deep gash on her throat made me cry out but in spite of that, I  didn’t fear her. There was something familiar about her face, with its high cheekbones, full lips and blue eyes. It was like looking in a mirror. I swallowed hard, my eyes stinging from tears as I gazed at her.

‘Help me…’ she said,  her voice just a whisper as she knelt by me, her hands reaching out to caress my face, but it was as if she was made of air, and I could not feel her touch. ‘ I cannot go past the sacred forest, it’s as if I fade away when I try…’ she said, her eyes filling with tears.  My shoulders shook, as I sobbed, wishing I could hug my mother who I’d never known. She showed me her death, at my father’s hand, and then, she was gone…

All sound returned to the forest,  I heard rustling again and spotted a flash of white, Eoghan’s robe.  As soon as I saw him,  I stood up and ran into his arms.

‘Child…’ was all he said as he held me.

I told him everything, but it was obvious to me he knew the story.

‘Only you can set her free…’ he said and took me by the hand.

We walked through the thickest part of the forest. The area beyond, was a wide open space, with mounds of earth that were man-made.  Each mound was circular, with a narrow entrance, tunnel-like, leading deeper into the structure where the bodies of our ancestors rested. Each one in its own separate chamber. I could see all burial mounds were cared for, with the exception of one, which was where we were headed.

I followed Eoghan down the narrow entrance. Soon, we were in darkness. The smell of the damp earth  was sickening, but I kept going, amazed an old man like him was able to see in such blackness. 

‘Can you see?’ I said, wondering if his eyes had nocturnal vision, like mine.

‘Yes, my night vision is as good as yours. One day, I shall explain why…’

Once in the deepest part of the mound, I saw there were no separate chambers inside, only one large circular room, in the middle of it, I spotted a pile of bones, in disarray, as if someone had purposely disturbed them.

‘No….’ I said, swallowing hard as I hesitated to go further.

‘You will free her tonight, be brave child.’ said Eoghan.

We knelt by the bones. He handed me a dagger, it was my father’s and I knew it had been the weapon that had killed her, for my mother had showed me that too.

‘Her blood runs through your veins, let it drip over her remains…’

My hands shaking, I took a deep breath and used the dagger on my right wrist, the cut was about an inch in length, the pain was nothing to me, if I had been asked to die for her, I would have. I let the blood drip onto her sad remains, whilst Eoghan chanted words I did not understand, then the cut healed. Another one of my special quirks.

Nothing happened…

I sighed and looked at Eoghan, who smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder, his blue eyes full of warmth. When I turned back to stare at the pile of bones, they looked the same, but the blood was gone.

‘Can we bury her please?’

‘We will, but not in the way you expect.’  said Eoghan closing his eyes. I felt a strong vibration all around, the ground trembled beneath me.

‘Go now…wait outside…’ he said, shouting over the sound that was growing in strength.

I rushed out, just in time as the mound collapsed onto itself. I covered my mouth to stifle a scream and jumped when I felt a hand touch my shoulder.

‘I’m safe, don’t worry.’ said Eoghan with a smile.

Once home, I could not sleep. After tossing and turning throughout the night, I dozed off, right before dawn. When I heard a sound inside the room, I opened my eyes and saw her standing by the fire burning in the middle of our room. My sister was asleep and didn’t stir. My mother moved closer, I ran towards her, noticing there was no gash on her throat.

‘Thank you.’ she said, her hands reaching out to touch me. I expected to feel nothing, like the first time, but I felt her warmth when she hugged me tight. How can I describe how it felt? There was such comfort, peace and love in that hug. I do not remember her leaving. I woke up hours later, knowing my mother’s spirit was finally at peace.

The Crow – A Haunting Dark Beauty

As you all know, I like to discuss what influences me as a writer.  I’ve talked about favourite novel HERE, but I have another book to discuss. This one is a graphic novel and features yet another dark troubled boy.

Eric Draven.

Before I continue, I must add the graphic novel only tells us his first name. It was the iconic film version of the novel, which I mentioned in my post here,  that gave us, the surname of Draven. Whether James O’Barr had a say in this, I do not know.

One day you are going to lose everything you have. Nothing will prepare you for that day.

So begins the introduction by John Bergin for The Crow, the haunting graphic novel by James O’Barr

It is a dark but powerful story about love, loss and revenge.

Eric and Shelly are madly in love, and plan to marry, but when their car breaks down, they are in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with devastating tragic consequences. Eric is shot dead, and Shelly is brutally raped, beaten and killed.

Eric is brought back from the dead to avenge his and Shelly’s death. James O’Barr’s drawings are a masterpiece. He shows us Eric’s pain, how his memories haunt him, and his deadly violent revenge against every single one of the thugs that are to blame for his sorrow. Eric is indiscriminate, nobody is spared, but you feel for him, and his agony at being unable to save the woman he loved and still loves so much.

In the end, in spite of the darkness and the tragic story, The Crow is a story about love, and how its power can transcend even death itself.

As John Bergin writes in the introduction to the novel:

James wrote a love letter called The Crow, the most beautiful love letter I have ever read.

I agree. It is a beautiful if tragic, love letter.

Another reason I adore the novel, is due to its strong rock influences.  O’Barr was deeply influenced by rock music when creating it. Specifically the music of Joy Division and The Cure, but rock musicians also played a part in the shaping of Eric’s looks. James saw Bauhaus perform, when he was stationed in Berlin, in 1981. I imagine he must have been struck by Peter Murphy’s features since Eric does bear a passing resemblance to him. However,  Eric’s movements are based on Iggy Pop. I find that rather fitting, as Peter Murphy himself, was influenced by Iggy as well.

Do you as a reader, or a writer, have a favourite novel that’s affected you deeply? If not, a film? or music?

Everlasting Beauty – The Picture of Dorian Gray

There are classics we have all heard of, but have never read.  Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray was one of those. In spite of being familiar with the story of the beautiful young man who never ages, I’d never read the actual novel. I think deep down, I always knew I would read it one day, it was as if it was just simply a matter of time…

Time made itself known, not too long ago, when I walked past a stall selling used books. A small paperback caught my eye, the cover captured the essence of the story, there was something about the expression on the face of that young man that drew me, so I bought the paperback, for only £1.70. Money well spent considering the fact it’s deeply affected me as a writer.

In the novel, Basil Hallward, a painter, shows his friend Lord Henry, a painting he’s working on. The extraordinary beauty of the model, makes an impression on Lord Henry. Basil, tells him the young man’s name is Dorian Gray and speaks very highly of him, even to the point of telling Lord Henry that  ‘He (Dorian) is all my art to me now.’

Whilst the men are gathered in Basil’s studio, Dorian stops by, to sit for Basil. Lord Henry wants to meet him, but Basil begs him not to: ‘Don’t spoil him’, ‘Don’t try to influence him’ but it is too late. One gets the feeling Basil somehow senses how bad this meeting will be for Dorian, little does he know, Dorian won’t be the only one affected. Even Dorian himself, appears to sense something when meeting Lord Henry as he replies ‘Yes, I am glad now, I wonder shall I always be glad?’ (in response to Lord Henry’s comment of: ‘You are glad to have met me.’)

It is during this fateful meeting, that Lord Henry begins to do exactly what Basil has begged him not to. Henry’s thoughts about ageing, and the power of youth, have a powerful effect on Dorian. We the readers, are witness to an inner change in him, and it is a disturbing one. What Dorian feels when looking at the finished painting, is not awe or happiness but pure horror as he is struck by the profound realisation his beauty will not only fade away but will also be forever captured in Basil’s painting to mock him in later years. It is during this moment of truth, that he utters words that change his destiny and that of others.

As the novel progresses, Dorian is further corrupted by a book Lord Henry lends him.  Later in the story,  Dorian says to him:  ‘You poisoned me with a book once.  I should not forgive that Harry, promise me that you will never lend that book to anyone. It does harm.’

Can a novel poison? Maybe, but the one thing I am certain of, is that a book can have a profound effect on a reader affecting them deeply. The Picture of Dorian Gray has done that. After just one reading, it became my favourite novel of all time, surpassing even Dracula. I’ve always been fascinated by duality, and inner conflict, something that is deeply embedded in my own novel. Dorian Gray is the perfect embodiment of that inner conflict. I have a soft spot for beautiful bad boys, there’s just something about them. As charming as Count Dracula can be is, pretty to look at he sure isn’t.  However, it’s not only Dorian’s beauty that captivates me, it is his inner struggle and the realisation he’s gone too far. You feel for him, in spite of it all.

Oscar Wilde’s only novel is filled with great images, actually, it is one of the most visual novels I’ve ever read. Wilde describes a London that no longer exists, and through his words, that London comes alive in paragraphs like these:

Where he went to he hardly knew. He remembered wandering through dimly lit streets, past gaunt, black-shadowed archways and evil-looking houses. Women with hoarse voices and harsh laughter had called after him. Drunkards had reeled by, cursing and chattering to themselves like monstrous apes. He had seen grotesque children huddled upon door-steps, and heard shrieks and oaths from gloomy courts.

As the dawn was just breaking, he found himself close to Covent Garden. The darkness lifted, and, flushed with faint fires, the sky hollowed itself into a perfect pearl. Huge carts filled with nodding lilies rumbled slowly down the polished empty street.

Wilde said of the novel: ‘Basil Hallward is what I think I am; Lord Henry what the world thinks of me; Dorian what I would like to be – in other ages, perhaps.’ (Oscar Wilde to Ralph Payne, 12 February 1894)

I recently made a wonderful discovery when I realised Wilde was the author of the one and only children’s story to make an impression on me as a child:  The Selfish Giant, so it is rather fitting that a story of his, was the first one to make an impression and that his one and only novel, changed me as a writer.  Me thinks I need to drink up a Guinness or two to toast his name.

What about you? Are there any novels that have made a huge impression on you, either as a reader or writer?