BOOK FILM

What’s your favourite book?

Has it been made into a film or TV show?

If it has, did you think that the version on the screen did the  book justice?

The reason I ask is I’ve seen a picture doing he rounds on Facebook which depicts a castle as the story, only a very small fraction of which is above the water line. The rest of the once majestic citadel is submerged and therefore, lost from view. The point of the image is that the film of a story is what lies above the water whereas the book includes that which is below as well.

In a book you have so many chances to explore and embellish any and all details that take the authors fancy. You can pour words all over any single point and bring every possible level of understanding you could ever need so the reader takes each and every facet away that the author intended. The film will often miss out on this kind of attention to detail, instead having to rely on the actors and the director to convey all the unsaid stuff that pops up on the page. You end up relying on glances, music and added dialogue to keep up with the narrative.

So the book is always better, right?

Potentially, only if the story that did so well on the page is brought well to the screen rather than just having the faintest link to the source material. When the Dresden Files TV show hit our screens, the Blue Beetle, Harry’s stalwart car which was an ever present in the books, was changed to be a old army style jeep. On the face of it, sacrilege but the reasoning became that they wouldn’t have been able to film the scenes because of limitations of space. They still had a vehicle which they could fit happily into the hole left by the beetle in terms of relevance to the story but which would allow them to do the business.

This just shows we can’t automatically assume that the book can’t be amended or changed without ruining the whole.

When my wife and I discuss books we’ve read, it sometimes happens that we pick up different things which then leads on to a discussion of what we think. Themes and meanings get mulled over and we dissect what we thought. But we do the same thing with film and TV. How do characters react together? What power was coming from certain words? But on the screen we’re treated to different images and our conversations go on anyway. “Was that a deliberately placed explosion? Symbolizing the characters loss of self?””Do you think the colours of costume show that the people are dealing with specific issues?”

I like film and books. They’re both different mediums for getting a story across, explaining what those who made the piece wanted to say. Why shouldn’t they be seen as different and not just assume one is better. I’m sure that should someone want to put my story on the big screen, I wouldn’t just say no for fear of the source material being corrupted.

It all just boils down to connecting with people and getting the story heard.

DYSPROSIUM 2015

We’ve had a hell of a weekend at Dysprosium in London. A huge extravaganza of all things wordy and we had an absolute blast.

Trader stands, author panels and a gathering of all manner of people who wanted to immerse themselves in the fun and games of their favourite books and characters.

This was our second convention of the year and very different to the first.

We were first and foremost going for the chance to meet Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and The Codex Alera series, and listen to what he had to say about the writing world he inhabits.

The usual convention atmosphere of inclusion was certainly in place and everyone we spoke with was more than happy to chat and mingle. The convention allowed us to grab arm fulls of books which now we’ll have to try and find the time to actually read, a Hitchhikers Guide inspired teddy bear and I even managed to pick up a Dragon topped swagger stick – perfect for my author persona.

But, unlike every other convention I’ve attended, I was able to start looking at what was taking place with my author persona very much to the fore.

Listening to the likes of Jim Butcher, Charlie Stross, Sam Stone and Danie Ware talk about the details surrounding their genres, their planning and so many other nuggets of information, allowed me to look beyond the details of what I’ve been doing so far. Now I was starting to examine the reality of what I’d have to do when I step behind the table selling my books at one of these events.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak with one of the authors who was attending and running a launch for her latest novel. We discussed some of the more functional bits and pieces about what needs to take place at an event like that. Francesca Barbini was launching her latest book (check them out) and we did have a good chat about all kinds of things. She’s also involved in The Sci-fi & Fantasy Network and she and her partner even interviewed me about my book for the network. I’m going to send them a signed copy of my book for a giveaway.

All in all, this was a great convention which not only allowed us to investigate all the details of our fandom but it also gave me so very much more. As I’ve said previously, everyone really should give these events a try.

Right then, off to get my business cards ordered.

FIGHT!

Who’s better?

Han Solo or Captain Mal Reynolds?

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Buffy or Twilight?

Everyone is a fan of something and if we really get drawn into a specific book / film / fandom, there really is no stopping us as we’ll be happy to shout from the rooftops, extolling the many and varied virtues of said obsession.

A well written book is a dangerous thing indeed. One minute you’re relaxing at home and the next, you’re in deep space, at the bottom of the sea or even at the dawn of the universe. Action, adventure, intrigue and romance. Political machinations and philosophical debate, childish humor and horrific violence. All of these things lurk inside a book and when we find that perfect fit for us there really is nothing to do but spread the word far and wide that this is the greatest story ever told.

But there’s always that one person who wants to start trouble isn’t there? That absurdly misguided soul who somehow doesn’t agree with what you’re saying. You think that Buffy is worlds ahead of that sparkling fool from Twilight and they just look at you like you’ve just insulted them, their family, their country and their goldfish.

How can feelings differ so much?

We all have our obsessions. We all have that particular ‘thing’ which is ours. I’m a huge fan of my thing. I’m more than willing to explain to anyone that my thing is the greatest thing ever and they really need to give my thing a try, their life will never be the same again, all thanks to the power of my thing. Just ask my wife, she loves my thing.

My thing is The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

But I know there will be people who don’t feel the same way as me. Some may even dislike that which I find to be perfect, but, you must always hold as sacred that, you know what, some people may not like what you do.

We all know of times when we’ve practically had an argument when someone dares disagree about the subject of our fan love. Factions have soon sprung up and soon they were known as ‘Those Bloody Mutant X Nutters’ and the glares of the sci-fi fan cold war began.

But that is the issue.

Why the hell would we alienate ourselves from people who may enjoy other things we do just not the big one (back to my thing again). All of the times we spend involved in the communities etc. we love is about having a great time. By all means share the love but if people don’t want to know, don’t ram your thing down their throat. Just ask them to give it a try and if they don’t fancy it, such is life.

I want everyone to spread the word about my book, The Circle of Fire, but lets not start any fights about it.

Well, not until the Hollywood movie anyway.

WHO’S THE JUDGE?

When I started writing my first novel, all I could see was the need to finish the story. I was quickly consumed by the ever evolving story in my head, with the tiny details of character and location, of the long narrative to be told over the entire series. But recently, the need to look beyond the core project of the story has appeared.

How do you choose the cover for your book?

My story is based on Dragons and magic with the title ‘The Circle of Fire’. My first idea centred around an image which represents the title. The problem that this gave was the unfortunate similarity with The Hunger Games, both books and films. The last thing I need would be to have my book dismissed as nothing more than a knock off of the popular series.

The next avenue for me was something specifically around Dragons. My story has elements of humour but the Dragons are still meant to be powerful and potentially scary so looking at a huge number of the images out there, there seemed to be far too many comedic pictures of smiling pot bellied kids fare to give the correct image. Add to this all of the pictures of Dragons battling knights in armour or generally being portrayed as the baddies of the piece and the pool of options dwindles even further.

So what to do?

I have found a couple of decent possibilities (thank you Shutterstock) but I’m looking for advice.

All of you out there reading this have the chance to give me some ideas. Can you all give a comment with what you think would be a good cover for my debut novel.

Just think of a story with a flavour of The Dresden Files and Rivers of London. The more the merrier. Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovitch have a lot to answer for.

Just think Dragons, fire and magic and let’s see what we can see.

DEATH

Time for a morbid post again but not in the same way as ‘True Love’, honest. The image I included on my Facebook page (if you haven’t been to the page yet, drop by and give it a ‘like’) for this post is a photo of my very own Bob the Skull. I’m a massive Dresden Files fan and have my very own bony adviser sitting on my desk, staring at me as I work. And like Bob helping Harry Dresden, my skull ornament made me think.

When you read any story, the greatest risk to the characters is always death.

Death has been rendered as, almost since the beginning of time, the looming black threat with the bone face who is always there, waiting for the hands of the clock to tick round for each and every one of us. We all know that whatever narrative is taking place, whatever action is unfolding, the possibility of the characters succumbing to the bony finger of doom gives us the most tension. We all know that the threat makes the action more believable, more relevant. Superman, a God amongst men, impervious to anything the Earth and the human race can throw at him, is a pretty boring character without the threat of kryptonite.

Death is the ultimate booby prize but take it away and all you’re left with is just the characters moving through the story until they get to the end without there being any real risk.

None of us like death. It robs us of loved ones and gives us nothing but sadness but it makes everything in life so much more valuable. An immortal would ultimately find little of value in life as there would be no risk to the time coming to an end. Completely without an end, you could do anything, any number of times. You would be able to experience everything, achieve anything, which can only lead to there being no further surprises. You’d know everything so all you’d be able to do was repeat until everyone else is gone. You imagine there only being one song you could ever listen to. After a while, not a great experience. Dull. Meaningless. All been done before.

Death creates value. Death means that you have to make the most of the time you have available before your turn comes round. When I write, I’m aware that I have to have the characters I’m dealing with go through the same situation. That fact will make them more real to the reader. I want to make the reader feel that everyone is always at risk just like the rest of us, even if they do have super powers.

The hope will always be that I get a good balance of risk and then empathy for the characters from the reader that should there be the need for any of them to make the ultimate sacrifice everyone will see the value of what they have done. I’m aiming to always create the ultimate connection so should a character die, the reader will feel the loss. I doubt I’ll be able to be this good but it’s always good to have a target.

Welcome

How do?

Welcome to the opening salvo from the fevered mind of Owen Elgie. My intentions are to spread my view of things, no doubt trundle through a raft of strange ideas but also to unleash the stories which have been banging on my mind trying to get out for far too long.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d always known that ‘they’ say everyone has a book in them. It just seems to have developed into a well known truth without anyone really making a great deal of follow up to the statement. Everyone has a book in them? Everyone?

I’d always had some very peculiar story ideas bouncing around my head involving space travel, magic, monsters and anything in between but they’d always just sat there as being something that was just a daydream and nothing more. I always viewed myself as someone who just let his mind meander rather than someone who could actually put sentences together into coherent enough form to constitute something serious. Books were written by other people.

Well, things are different now. Ish.

A few years ago my wife introduced me to the writing of Jim Butcher. For those who don’t know, Jim Butcher is the author of The Codex Alera series of books and The Dresden Files novels. One is a series of books dealing with a magical land of knights and fantastical warfare and the other is a tale of a wizard / PI and the adventures he experiences.

When I read the first Dresden Files book, Storm Front, I realised that I was reading a book almost exactly tailored to me as a reader. All of the characters and the action, the humour and excitement left me utterly hooked and I’ve munched through all of the stories in super fast time. These were books that ticked all of my boxes for what should go into a story. They were mega page turners and I flew through them, all the time thinking that maybe my own journeys through the landscape of my imagination weren’t quite so ridiculous after all.

The decision to do something myself was driven by those stories.

I picked the creatures and ideas that had been burning the brightest and the longest and set about writing my own novel.

I tried to plan out a route for the story to take which would make it both exciting but also give me a chance to give weight to the arguments of what they were trying to say. The success of this is still truly to be seen. As we speak, I am currently re-doing a few points and then it will be off to my beta team so they can have a run through it.

All things being equal, I’m aiming to have the first novel in the series of five I have planned, out on Kindle before the end of the year.

Fingers crossed eh?