Monday, March 30, 2009

Mack captures social networking

Mack Lundy, who blogs as Mack Captures Crime, is running a series on the way authors use social networking and the internet in general. He's written a piece about my efforts. I'm pleased to say that Mack is one of those who is enjoying my twitterisation of A Gentle Axe.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Digitalist digs twitterisation

The digitalist is a blog by the digital team at Pan Macmillan and they were kind enough to mention my twitter experiment in a favourable way: "Reading it in my twitter feed each day is a fantastic experience."

I've also noticed a brief mention in the influential galleycat blog. I was very flattered to discover that my "link-filled look at Twitter writing can help guide us as we march into the microblogging future". Ha!

Less enthusiastic is Ian Hocking, who found my sentences "curiously ordinary". Ian makes some good points about the importance of context in storytelling. I suppose in my defence, what I would say is that I am not really expecting this to deliver the same level of satisfaction as reading a traditional narrative. You could say that receiving tweets about what people you've never met had for lunch, or from celebrities waiting for their next shoot to begin, is not as satisfying as a night out with your mates. As a means of communication, twittering is necessarily disrupted and disconnected. That's part of its charm - or its irritation, depending on your point of view.

I suppose the interesting question might be not how my tweets compare to the traditional way of publishing a novel, but how they compare to other tweets. I was contacted by one person who said that for them tweets have to be personal, and therefore their use as a narrative vehicle is not effective. But I have had others contact me telling me how much they are enjoying the tweets - and that they like them because they are different to most other tweets. One person at least has bought a copy, albeit of the Kindle edition! A sign of the times maybe.

Despite Ian's and others' misgivings, I am going to stick with the experiment. I'm not really sure what I'm doing or why, but now that I have begun it seems important to see it through to the end!

View the latest epitweet (or should that be tweetisode?) here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New audiotrack for the trailer

Voiceover provided by John Curless, taken from the audiobook of A Vengeful Longing:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adventures in Twit Lit

Okay, I admit it. It's a mad idea. Serialising a whole novel on twitter. But there is something about the experiment that appeals to me on a creative/communicative level. Inevitably it has led to a fair bit of head shaking of the 'what is the world coming to' variety.

There was this in a Miami Herald blog. "Oh the temptation to start raging about the idiocy of new technology is strong..." Well, rage if you like. But what about print newspapers with online bloggers attached? Couldn't that be seen as another way that new technology is changing the way we receive information. Far be it from me to decry that as 'idiocy'.

Blogbook dismisses it as a publicity stunt, and a failed one at that. I admit that part of my motivation was to try and attract new readers to my books. Guilty as charged. We writers do not have the massive budgets spent on advertising that a new blockbuster film has, for example. So we have to do what we can. That said, I was interested in how this way of receiving text differs as a reading experience from sitting down and reading a book.

It's true, getting a sentence or a fragment every hour - that's how I am now scheduling my tweets - is not like sitting down and reading an extended section of the book through. You won't necessarily remember what went before. The text will work on the reader in a different way - but I am interested to see just how.

I like the way my sentences pop up every hour. It's interesting for me, as the writer, to see them like that in isolation. They take on, if not a different meaning, then a different power - stranger, more enigmatic.

Not all the coverage has been negative. Hannah Rudman seems to talk a lot of sense about twitter here. Whilst the Daily Beast includes me in a round-up of something it calls Twit Lit in a discussion on the Future of Publishing. Twit Lit, hmmm. Not sure I like that, but I suppose it was too hard to resist.

And not all of the coverage has been in English either. I even made the literary news in France.

Meanwhile, the twitterisation continues. New followers join here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let the twitterisation begin

Well, it has actually. Here. Please follow, if you feel so inclined.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The twitterisation of A Gentle Axe

I am planning to serialise my first Porfiry Petrovich novel on the social networking site twitter, starting tomorrow.

I'm not the first writer to use twitter to publish fiction. I've been very much enjoying Sarah Fox's unfolding story, Circus. Someone, I assume it's the author Laurie R. King, is tweeting quotes from the Mary Russell books, The Beekeeper's Apprentice and The Language of Bees.

And perhaps my favourite fictional twittering exercise is RealRaskolnikov, which purports to be tweets from Dostoevsky's double-axe-murderer. And very funny it is too.

As far as I know, I will be the first person to serialise (or twitterise, as I prefer to say) an already published novel. It will be an interesting exercise!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crime writers who turn to opera

It seems I'm not the first crime writer to turn his hand to writing a libretto. Apparently, Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith have also had a go, as I discovered from this article in The Times.

Is there something about writing crime fiction that makes us especially qualified for the task, I wonder?

Without wanting to appear either pretentious or glib - though aware that I will probably come across as both - I wonder if it is something to do with a preoccupation with death. I sometimes feel when I'm writing my Porfiry books that the whole thing is really a way of confronting death, facing up to it. This happens literally, of course, when the detective, and the reader, is presented with a corpse. And I, as the writer, have to look that corpse in the face and try to describe what I see - or rather imagine.

I also have the sense that I'm trying to beguile death with my writing, or win her over. I want to show her that I'm on her side. Up to a point of course. In the hope, perhaps, that she will spare me, though I know she never will.

Yes, I give death a feminine aspect, following Cocteau. She is the Princess, the mysterious visitor who steps through the mirror in Orphee.

Death is present in all the best operas too. But maybe in a different way. Many are structured around the death of the central character. Death is still beguiled, but this time by song. And rather than being a confrontation, they are a distraction - for her and for us.

The drama both brings about the heroine's death, and keeps it at bay, at least until the final act. And in the meantime the opera says to death: Wait a while before you do your work, and listen to the song.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cocteau in the Underworld

That's the trailer for the opera I'm working on with composer Ed Hughes. We're starting rehearsals next week for another workshop performance, this time at the Brighton Festival on May 4. It's very exciting. We have kept a number of the original cast, but other commitments, and an imminent baby, meant we had to make some changes.

On a slightly different note, Mack Captures Crime published a great review of A Vengeful Longing.

My thanks to Crime Fic Reader for bringing it to my attention.

Our trailer for the opera has inspired me to create a trailer for A Vengeful Longing. I hope to be able to reveal it soon.

Monday, March 02, 2009

before and after the shave

In response to popular demand - well, Colin M requested them anyhow - here are the before and after photos.



Sunday, March 01, 2009

Whatever possessed me?

Today I shaved. The beard is gone. The kids didn't want me to shave it off, but it's my face, after all, not theirs. If they want a beard, they can grow one themselves. That's the problem with kids these days. They expect everything to be done for them.

It was the soup at lunchtime that decided it. Too much got filtered out on the way to my mouth. Also, I hated the feeling of moisture on my moustache when I had a drink of water in the night. Somehow it was worse in the night. In the darkness. I could feel the water sitting their on my whiskers, tempting me to lap it. Like some animal licking its fur.

I hated the smell of my beard. Even when clean, it smelled. It smelled of whiskers. Whiskers have a smell all their own. I can't describe it but I hate it. I have always hated the smell of whiskers.

I didn't like the way it felt either. Though I did spend an inordinate amount of time, stroking and twirling it.

Then there was the fact that the beard made me look about fifteen years older than I did without it. At first - perversely - that was my main reason for keeping it, as I actually liked looking older, although I have to say it was older in a shabby rather than a distinguised way.

And, naturally, I was more determined to hang on to it the more people told me to get rid of it. Though my wife never once asked me to shave it off. I suspect she was using reverse psychology all along and is now mightily pleased that I have succumbed to the razor.

But now, it's gone. And I'm glad to see the back of it. God knows what possessed me to grow the thing in the first place.