Friendship in Fiction

IMG_4382

One of the main threads in my current novel is the friendship between Joseph Ventre (protagonist) and the young Bella Moretta. As much as I enjoy the research and the historical elements when writing this book, developing Joseph and Bella’s friendship has been and will continue to be my most favourite part!

I remember, as a child, reading books such as The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and the friendships within those stories made me want to jump right into the pages and be with Mary, Dicken, and Colin as they discovered the garden, or ramble through the fields of Avonlea with Anne Shirley and Diane. Similar to these examples of famous literary friendships, Joseph and Bella are two very different personalities; Joseph being timid and sensible, whereas Bella has a feisty, mischievous streak to her character. As the author, this is the fun part for me, balancing the two and ensuring that the reader will feel their relationship develop in, hopefully, a beautiful way, particularly as they navigate the war-torn streets of Liverpool together.

The ultimate goal for me is to keep their internal threads connected so the reader wills them both on, to succeed, to win. I want people to root for these two young characters and although it’s fictional, maybe real-life friendships could be strengthened along the way too.

N.

Hawk-eye on the Prize

It’s been Wimbledon overload the past week or so on my social media and I was lucky enough to be on Centre Court last Friday (in the stands that is… only in my dreams do I don fresh whites and play a 5-setter!)

I went along with my Dad who got me interested in the game a few years ago, although he’s been playing for many, many years. However, there was a period of time when he didn’t play at all. Life happened. But about six years ago he joined our local club and rekindled his love for the game.

Whilst enjoying our strawberries and cream in the sunshine of SW19, I thought about how we go through life awakening different skills and passions within us, perhaps allowing said things to dwindle. But, when the time comes, there’s something so joyful about reigniting the flame and remembering how good it makes you feel. Whether it’s a physical skill, like Dad and his tennis, or drawing, painting, or picking up that jigsaw that’s collected dust, you feel better for it don’t you?! I feel great every time I finish another draft of my novel, pen a new poem, or take a photo worthy of a place on the mantel piece.

I felt this feeling from the professional players  we watched at Wimbers. One player is in a ‘comeback’ phase of his career, so even though he trains with the best of the best, it was  clear to see that feeling of joy ooze from him, he fanned the growing flame, the excitement of winning one more point…

IMG_4121
SW19

A simple thought really, but one for me to hold on to – dive back in your passion and keep your eye on the prize.

N.

WoW! A Finalist.

Image

Last month I entered a competition for first chapters in the Liverpool based literary festival, Writing on The Wall. I gave it a go for the experience of reading my own work aloud, which as I experienced is much more nerve-wracking than reading someone else’s. You also get to read in front of a panel of established writers who ask you questions regarding your novel. This was particularly useful for me as it got me thinking even further about where my novel could potentially go and where it would fit. It was a brilliant evening and I felt encouraged by the judges’ comments. Cormorano has some weight behind it and I am now more excited for its possibilities. I even found myself going through to the final, which will be held on the 25th May. An all round great experience.

N.

From Flaubert to Forrester

ForresterA couple of weeks ago, my MA class were asked to choose a paragraph of prose that we admired, from a writer’s point of view. Each person’s choice was different from the rest which made for a very interesting session; we went from the works of Virginia Woolf to Jack Kerouac to Raymond Carver, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Orwell. I chose a piece from Helen Forrester’s Two Pence to Cross The Mersey:

‘It was a moment of terrifying revelation and I started to run away from myself, pushing the pram recklessly through groups of irate pedestrians, nearly running down a neatly gaitered bishop. Every instinct demanded that I run away and hide, and for a few minutes my feet were winged. Halfway up the hill, back in the shadow of St. Luke’s, however, under-nourishment had its say, and I sank exhausted on the church steps, while Avril giggled contentedly in the pram after her rapid transit up the street. I was disgusted with myself. I felt I could have done more. I was old enough to know that I should wash myself; at least with cold water. And if I could wash garments through for the children, I could have put some of my own through the same water. I realised, with some astonishment, that I had always been told what to do. The lives of all the children had until recently been strictly regulated by a whole hierarchy of domestics, some of them heavy-handed, and a father who had, at times, used a cane with sharp effect. I washed when told to do so, went to school when told to go, however irksome it seemed, got out my playthings when permission was given. Disobedience was a crime and to query or object to adult orders, which were given without any supporting explanation or reason for them, was quite unthinkable.’

I decided on this particular passage because, not only do I admire Forrester as a writer, I believe she represents space and time brilliantly. Her technique for characterisation is admirable and as a writer I like to emulate her style, and this is particularly appropriate for my present novel idea. We read all our passages out to the rest of our class and discussed each one.

flaubertHowever, this was not the end of it. Our tutor handed out a passage from Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, then another, and another, and one more final handout. You can imagine what we were all thinking, that is a lot of handouts. One thing…they were all written in a different style to Flaubert’s original piece. Again, we discussed each text and fronted our ideas.

The final part of the exercise was to re-write Flaubert’s piece in the style of the writer we had originally chosen. At first I thought this was quite a daunting task because a writer’s style is their own and powerful it may be. However after I brought a bit of Forrester to Flaubert it turned out to be a very useful task, and it can be done with any piece of work. So this is a writerly technique that I will absolutely use in the future to recreate ideas and improve on my own writer’s style.

N.