LADY BETH, The Novel

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I’ve been away from the blog for a bit, but delighted to announce that I have finally sent the manuscript of my novel, LADY BETH off to my editor. Very, very excited about this one, and the beautiful cover will be revealed soon.

Now the waiting game begins…wish me luck!!

On Writing: Breathing through the white space…

Breathing through the white space

Memory makes history, and with time, the past becomes a collection of stories, some perhaps, better than others.

The bad ones – if you find a way to exorcise them – lose their power over you. Writing them down is one such way, breathing through that white space between the words.

Detachment – just enough to write in the third person – is looking outside of the experience, and hopefully, through a fresh pair of eyes, further embeds that stripping of power; seeing it play out from another perspective. Releasing.

Appreciate the white space – where you, your characters and your readers can breathe…

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post on Writers and Authors: Fictional Characters are anything but…

On Writing

Many thanks to Writers and Authors for featuring my guest post.

Fictional Characters are anything but…

To write fictional characters, we must know them, inside and out, before we can feel empathy for them, and before we can understand why and how they will do the things that we will make them do, and say the words that we will make them say. In other words, we must believe that they are real flesh and blood, with all of the wonders and foibles that go along with that. Only then, can we really write them in any meaningful way. This is nothing new to any writer worth their salt, right? And of these knowing writers, who does he/she choose to analyze the most? The writer’s self: as Confucius say – no matter where you go, there you are.

We are not just students of the human condition. We are our own subject matter. How we operate. How we relate, articulate, disseminate the world, our lives, our wants, our needs. And what of our secret selves? The histories, the pain, the faded and vivid memories, the disappointments, the yearnings, the unchartered dreams, the joys? The stuff that shapes us, the stuff that we never show and tell? Our interior lives – where the most fascinating secrets dwell to influence how we choose to live and the paths we take.

Stories of self can come to life in three-dimensional worlds that make meaning of experience, and hopefully generate empathy and connection with others. Removing the shield of author, and stripping away the mechanisms that hide the fragility of a human being alone, we know what we experienced, and we know how it felt. How we looked out at the world and the people in it, how we continue to do that. The difference between being a child as opposed to being an adult is that, as the former, we are powerless to our fate, and powerless to change anything. Becoming the latter enables empowerment to not only steer our own course, but more importantly, to change our ways of thinking, reacting and of just being. The fictional life is no different. And it is the challenge for the writer to pick away at those layers of being until exposing that space between what is seen in the character’s exterior life, and what is hidden in their interior one. The secret place of the human condition that exposes the reasoning behind our every action, and towards those surprises and discoveries that will lead us to chart a compelling arc for our character.

The self-indulgent writer: Label me not!

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Brad Meltzer. “When you’re more creatively fulfilled, you’re going to produce better work across the board. And you might find more crossover in your readerships than you might think.”

Writers, just like the stories they tell, don’t always fall neatly into one category. For me, the joy of writing is in the imagining, discovery and creation of narrative. Whether it be a short story, a short or feature screenplay, right through to a full-on novel, it is all about the process of actually pulling together all of the components that make for an interesting, entertaining yarn. The genre of the work is something that happens organically. If it is forced, it fails.

The more traditional road, particularly from a publishing and marketing point of view, seems to be that a writer pick a niche and stick with it. So much easier to market a writer of romance, or horror or crime or fantasy, or westerns or whatever! However, I think I would find it difficult to restrain myself to write in one particular genre. I like to create supernatural worlds, but I also like to write straight drama, and children’s fantasy – and – I like to write for film. So why label me one way or another? Do I have to compartmentalise each of the areas of my creative work? Can’t I be all these things? And if I can, what should I call myself? Something that is inclusive of all the crossovers?

Yes, I could consider launching pseudonyms for different genres. Successful authors seem to manage this quite well, (J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith, Anne Rice aka A.N. Roquelaure, John Banville aka Benjamin Black, Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb) but without the massive spin machine of a major publisher/agent at the helm, that would seem exhaustive – writers are already marketing themselves more and more – managing those multiple creative personality platforms might be taking it too far for most of us!

In the separate and yet converging worlds of traditional publishing, indie-publishing, self-publishing and assisted-publishing, building an online [and off ] platform for your work is quite the humungous task – and finding your audience is just as gargantuan as the discerning Reader – thank goodness – has more choice and access than ever about what genre and format they choose to spend their hard-earned cash.

So, can I be a self-indulgent writer, writing what I love, and still expect to find a place in an already swamped marketplace? Or do I need a niche/label to succeed?

Answers on a postcard…or a poem…or an essay…or a short story…or…I think you get the drift.

 

Caroline’s debut novel, Arkyne, Story of a Vampire is available as an ebook and in paperback format. Her new novel, LADY BETH will be released shortly, and she is currently working on a children’s book.

Sticking with it…

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In the same week that In Ribbons won the JURY PRIZE at the Worcestershire Film Festival, UK, I am also very honoured to be chosen as Author of the Month  by the lovely people at Author Shout.

Sometimes this writing journey is hard as hell. Sometimes it is cushioned by the occasional sprinkle of magic. Whatever…as long as truth seeps out from the words that I choose to make meaning from, I’m sticking with it!

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A Solitary Fantasy…

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My love of writing is turning me into an unsocial being. I am slowly growing to accept this, but what a dilemma!

On so many levels, we need to connect with the people and the world we live it, and yet, when the muse comes, we also need to be able to shut the world out, even to the point of missing precious time spent with our friends and loved ones.

Of course, if these relationships are solid, the support of our aspirations will be securely at our backs, but it is still a ruthless and yes, sometimes selfish line that writers must balance between the need for solitary writing time, and the need to feed the inspirational requirements to write something of truth and meaning.

And even when in the midst of a crowd, are we really ever in the moment? Or we are sponges, soaking up, what Gabriel Garcia Marquez describes as, the interpretation…

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Lady Beth and I…

Lady Beth

I’ve been working on and off on this novel project for some years now, and it’s time to finish it. Based on a screenplay, the story has excited, infuriated and intrigued me in equal measures, not least because the script has been so close to production in the past – but alas, the Lady waits. So, I owe it to all the people who have loved it, praised it, critiqued it, questioned it and wished me well with it. The novel will be done. And blessed be.

And here is the original piece of writing that inspired it all, with some slight modifications:

LADY

The night that Jesse died, we’d had a terrible row. Actually, the final confrontation wasn’t so much of a row; that had come earlier, when I picked him up from the police station. My son, my only boy, charged with possession of drugs.

I tore into him, a rage I never knew I had in me. A rage he never knew I had in me. I wanted to know where he got the pills from. He wouldn’t tell me.

But, for the first time ever, he mentioned her. 

Later, when he tried in his awkward, adolescent way to apologize, to swear that it was the first and only time, and that it would never happen again, I saw right through him.

And he saw right through me, hitting me with his best shot; the Daddy question.

Of course I couldn’t tell him who his father was, so I did the only thing I could. I ran from his frustrated rage against me. Hid in the bathroom and covered my ears while my son screamed at me from the other side of the door.

Ma, please Ma! Talk to me!

I still hear him now, his pleading voice echoing in my head when all is dark and quiet and he whispers to me from the white noise. Ma?

And I never could repair the hole he put through the wall with his angry fist.

He took those fucking pills that night, with her. He told me that he loved her, and he ran out on me. And he died, at her feet, wreathing in agony as his heart burst with the pressure; the last face he saw, hers.

My boy died on a dirty floor while I sat alone, miserable and slumped across my kitchen table. As I watched the clock, waiting to hear the key in the door, his return to me, that filthy poison, laced with what only that scum dealer knows, coursed through his clean and healthy body with immediate and lethal force.

When I kissed him goodbye in the morgue, they hadn’t even wiped the blood that pumped from his nose. I like to think that they were too busy trying to revive him, but in my heart I know that they never even got that far.

And so I buried my baby. And the pain dug deep into my heart and took up residence there, so deep I could barely breathe.

But I am still breathing. 

People look at me now, sideways glances. She’s a strange one, she is. Why isn’t she crying? I hear them from my silent world, but they can’t hear the screaming inside my brain. The real me is trapped in there you see, looking out, while the new me itches inside my veins. She wants from me, more than I can ever give her.

I don’t like her, though I can’t shake her off. She is relentless. She is determined. I do understand her though. She has a purpose now, with her different face, and she is stronger. The real me has no purpose.

Extract from LADY BETH. All Rights Reserved. 2015. Reproduced in Time Standing Still, a collection of short stories and other musings