Monday, Monday..

TheOtherSideOfMorning_MEDIUM (2)

Yes I know, I blog on Sunday and I’m a day late.  The Promo Blitz kind of threw things off course but now I’m back into my routine.  Today I managed to kick start the manuscript.  With all the other stuff going on I’ve missed it and it’s good to get back to something you really enjoy.  The book’s about 85,000 words in and it was only having to shelve it and return that made me realise I needed to develop the story beyond the framework I had given it.  Because of  this we’re probably looking at two books now.  The Other Side of Morning was the largest  novel I’ve written and I don’t plan to travel this road again – small is definitely the new big.  Big books become so unwieldy – goodness knows how George R R Martin copes, but then like Terry Pratchett he’s probably working with multiple screens which makes life a whole lot easier.  I worked with two screens in my last job and loved it -think I’ll have to give it some serious consideration.

So what am I thinking about this evening?  Well how about James Bond?  The BBC, bless them, have wheeled out the Bond series for Sunday afternoon viewing.  I don’t watch them,  but we tend to catch the last half hour sometimes.  The Connery Bonds shot in the 1960s look so dated now.  Taken from a time which one of my friends refers to as  ‘When men were men and women were glad of it’, Sean Connery bedded and shot his way through Dr No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, Diamonds are Forever, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. Anyway, once Connery had gone off to do other things – disaster!  Ex-model George Lazenby stepped into his shoes.  Connery had sex appeal in spades full, George didn’t have a trowel’s worth.  That’s probably why he only lasted for one film.  You might think then that things would get better -WRONG.  The next Bond was Roger Moore chosen I think because of his connection to a drama he was in then with Tony Curtis called (I think) The Persuaders and also (again it’s a foggy memory) The Saint.  Anyway like it or not, we got Roger with his pale blue eyes and safari suits.  In The Man with the Golden Gun the villain was Scaramanger, a man with three nipples!  We had a car dealer in the village at one time called Julian Scaramanger and rumour had it that Fleming knew his father and liked the surname so used it for one of his novels.  Not sure how true this is so don’t quote me, it could be merely village folklore!  We caught the end of A View to a Kill last week.  Moore and Tanya Roberts were on the Golden Gate Bridge where he was in some sort of hand to hand combat with Christopher Walken.  Needless to say Walken suffered the usual villain’s death and ended up drowning in San Francisco Bay – here I’m hoping my geography is holding up, it was water anyway!

Currently we have the Timothy Dalton Bond.  This is where I actually begin to remember and I do know his films were shot at a time when the AIDS epidemic first broke.  Because of this (again this maybe hearsay so no quotes please!) Dalton’s Bond did not have the bed hopping  promiscuity of the others, he only ever slept with his main love interest.  He was a very quietly confident Bond too and very English.  Watching him yesterday I actually thought this was the beginning of the sensible Bond era but no, it was still quite silly in places.  I did love Dalton’s thick dark hair and as I said, he had that quiet confident air about him. So he ticked the boxes on two out of three of my ‘must haves’ where men are concerned.  He failed miserably in the eye department though as I do so love brown eyed men!  So what’s to come?  Well Pierce Brosnan’s films will follow on from Timothy Dalton and I guess he’s a fairly credible Bond.  And lastly we’ll get the reigning Bond Daniel Craig’s films.  He’s very much a 21st century man – sexy, deadly and very efficient at his job – all serious stuff with amazing special effects to  keep cinema goers happy.  And looking to the future who will be the next Bond?  Well your guess is as good as mine.  And talking of Who,  there is a parallel is there not between Bond and  Dr Who in that they all go through this regeneration process and this means there are many more to come!

 

So who is your favourite Bond?  And who would you nominate for Daniel Craig’s successor? When you read this Laurie, remember you can’t vote for yourself! LOL!

 

See you all next week.

 

Jo xx

 

The Other Side of Morning Promo Blitz…

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Writing a book provides as much escapism for the writer as it does for the reader who will eventually download it on their Kindle or purchase in Waterstones or some other high street book store.  It’s a world where you create the characters and events and are in total control.  You call the shots, you make things happen; it’s your vision, your dream.

Writing is also a very individual thing and a book can come together in many different ways. Some people plot extensively before beginning; others see the blank screen as the first step on an open road.  A journey they don’t have a map for.  For me writing is organic, there is a structure but within that everything else is very fluid.  When you start to write some things work, some don’t and you have to be prepared for that, go with a flexible and open mind and be willing to make changes if necessary.

Two aspects which are essential before you set out are backdrop and characters.  You need to be able to ‘see’ where you are and identify the people you are writing about.  I’m not sure I could simply make things up – I’m sure some people do – but for me there has to be a tie in with reality. The village of Meridan Cross which is central to all five of my novels is based loosely on the village where I live. Using a real village as a template made it much easier to visualise the geography of the whole place – similar to using Google Street View.   Of course Meridan Cross village is much smaller but what I created provided just the right framework for my fictional backdrop to make the whole thing feel very authentic as I wrote.

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Right, that’s the setting out of the way, now what about the characters?  Well for the main characters I tend to bring together different aspects of real people to incorporate into their indiviudal personalities.  I think to a certain extent you can dream up peripheral players straight off the top of your head because you don’t require depth for ‘walk on’ parts. However I find that scenario simply does not work if you try it with your main protagonists.  Central characters need substance.

With The Other Side of Morning, the fifth and  final book in the series (which can incidentally be read as a stand-alone novel), most of the familiar faces were making a comeback so this meant setting up the characters for the story was going to be easy – right?  Well no actually, there was more to it than that. For this new novel I had decided to move the family on six years and focus on the now twenty -something cousins Charlotte and Lucy. At the end of book four they had been 17 and 18 and there was a need to look at what had happened over that six years and write it into their character profiles to create the people they now were. However, one of the really important changes needed within the existing cast was to Christian Rosetti who had also  featured in the previous novel.  No longer Matt Benedict’s young protégé poised for stardom he was now a huge international rock star with an ego to match.  He still had his dark good looks now backed by an amazing on stage presence which has spawned a huge world-wide female following.  Sadly the warm, self-effacing 20 year old had now morphed into an arrogant and selfish womanising celebrity. As the story opens we find Christian in a gradually deteriorating relationship with Charlotte.  Caught between his need for freedom and the inability to let her go, his drug habit is making him angry, possessive and controlling.  With the arrival of new central character,  handsome Italian Marco D’Alesandro things are about to get much worse.

Now  I’ve always been resistant to creating male beauty in any of my novels; for me it simply doesn’t sit right in my virtual world.  Attractive men are not necessarily handsome, but on this occasion that is exactly what I wanted in my new central male character.  However if I was going to throw the rule book out of the window  for this novel and give Marco incredible looks I knew he had to have more than a just pretty face to appeal to readers.

After a lot of deliberation his character profile looked like this:

 

  • 26 years of age
  • Born in Milan
  • Mother died when he was 18 months old
  • Pre-university education in England
  • Speaks English, Italian and German
  • Has a business degree and a Masters in Food Management.
  • Is based in London, running the European restaurant chain for his father’s international hotel and leisure group.
  • Is successful, taking the D’Alesandro’s flagship restaurant San Raffaello’s from basic Italian bistro to three star Michelin eatery; one of the best dining experiences in the UK’s capital.
  • Is a team player, often turning up at San Raffaello’s and working alongside his staff.
  • Is hard working and committed, aware of his future role as head of D’Alesandro Hotels and Leisure..
  • Has great respect for his father and stepmother Thérèse, even though she does nothing to hide her dislike for him.
  • Is quietly confident and has great charm
  • Oh and of course he’s great in bed!

Well that’s all the positives sorted, but there had to be a sting in the tail, something that would humanise this perfect man.  The Achilles’ Heel was that despite having the looks and charm to guarantee him any woman he wants his love life has not been a great success.  Since arriving in London nine months ago he has made some bad choices and ended up with shallow, pretty women only interested in the places he can take them and how much money he is willing to spend on them.  So he’s currently taking a step back from relationships – until the evening he meets Charlotte and the scene is set for the tangle that is to become their lives.

Santiago CabreraRight! Back to the character creation; now he’s fully fleshed, whose shell will he inhabit while I write? Because you see  I always have a muse for my central male characters, someone I can pin onto the notice board in the office as general guide to their looks. For Christian I had already chosen Aidan Turner, who with those wonderfully arched eyebrows fitted the rock god image perfectly.  For Marco I didn’t have to do too much thinking either. I’ve been a fan of Chilean born actor Santiago Cabrera since his Isaac Mendez days in Heroes.  Not only did he look right with those amazing brown eyes, his BBC Merlin character Launcelot mirrored many of the characteristics in Marco’s profile.  Decision made, a picture of Santiago soon  joined Aidan on the office wall.   Perfect.

Ah but I know someone Antonio Cupo (2)is going to challenge me about this because leading up to the Promo Blitz I was asked to do a few interviews.  On two occasions one of the questions was ‘if the film rights were acquired for the book who would you choose to play your characters?’  Now when books become films those who make the decisions on casting rarely see the characters with the same eyes as the writer. Many a good book translated into film has been ruined by (in my opinion) the wrong casting.  The 1983 version of Colleen McCullough’s Thorn Birds and Richard Chamberlain as Ralph De Bricassart is one that comes to mind. Despite that  I decided if this was going to be a film then I’d dispense with the writer’s hat and  make my choice through the eyes of a casting director and as Marco is Italian, then maybe it would be more appropriate if an Italian took the role.  Not able to get involved in screen tests I simply Googled ‘Handsome Young Italian Actors’ and chose Antonio Cupo who more than all the rest seemed to have the qualities I was looking for in a screen version of Marco. That is the reason behind the two versions!

So, was I wrong to choose another actor for the film?  Should I have stayed with Santiago?  Or is Antonio a good choice?  Both very beautiful men.  Thoughts please!

And with that at 8.00 pm on a Friday evening I must leave you to get ready for the big day tomorrow.  Remember – dress code is glam! Right, now off to sort out that dress!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s just…a little Crush

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It’s Sunday, one twenty pm and I’m sitting here contemplating being creative.   Usually this is the one day of the week I think about posting something on my blog.   I say think as I have to admit to being a dreadful blogger – irregular, leaving it for weeks on end before I actually summon up the energy (or enthusiasm) to write anything. This sadly is reflected in my trickle of followers, although each post does go out on all my social media links. I do envy those whose blogs are total works of art,  have so much to say and always come up with entertaining stuff at the drop of a hat.  Unfortunately I’m not one of them.  Sure I get ideas I feel worthy of airing and then just as I’m about to spend an afternoon typing up my thoughts fate takes a hand.  It’s a difficult balance blogging regularly and being an author and more often than not the book  has to take priority,  it’s as simple as that. Oh and I have a social life too and all sorts of other people making demands on my time.  Am I complaining?  Certainly not, it’s merely a statement of fact and I would not have my life any other way – honestly!

6785807_e99dd60302_mSo what am I currently thinking about at this present moment in time? Well a few days ago I sent a shot of actor Aidan Turner via an e-mail to a writing friend who is a great fan of his.  She posted the photo on Facebook and Twitter and it caused an absolute flurry of activity.  That and something rather disturbing that happened to someone on Facebook/Twitter recently is pushing me in the direction of maybe putting some thoughts together about celebrities and the fans who follow them.

I’ve been a fan of someone or other for as long as I can remember, starting I guess with heroes from children’s TV programmes when I was a small girl.  But my first big adult crush, 36788one which actually ran on for many years, was all six-foot one and a half inches of rock god Justin Hayward, lead singer with The Moody Blues.  Not only did I think he was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, he was a wonderful songwriter.  I first became aware of Justin and ‘The Moodies’ in the late 1970s by which time the band was well established and the boys were taking time out on separate projects.  I was a regular at their UK concerts and bought their music.  I still have the vinyl versions of their albums here at home although I’ve since supplemented with CDs.  I think the Moody Blues and many other rock bands of the time had a different kind of following far removed from the more mid-stream pop acts which attracted screaming young girl fans.  OK in my eyes Justin was the best looking man around but like many others who followed the band it was also about the music.  I held onto my  fan worship for many years and when I started writing Justin naturally became the muse for singer/songwriter and eventually record producer Matt Benedict, one of the central characters in my trilogy and its sequel.

It all seems so far away now and the world we live in has become a totally different place.  Today the UK seems totally obsessed with celebrity, whether it’s becoming one and getting that fifteen minutes of fame, or simply following someone else.  And the definition of following?  Well it’s usually a 24/7 fly on the wall observation, fuelled by obliging paparazzi providing a succession of on-going photographs to fill an overabundance of celebrity magazines and newspapers. Phew what a mouthful!  It’s also a multi-million pound business; from teenage girls to aging matrons it seems we can’t get enough gossip or photos of our favourite stars.  Now I think if someone wants to open their life and are happy to be up for constant public scrutiny then that’s fine – it’s their choice.  What it should not mean is that those who do desire a private life are denied that all in the pursuit of public curiosity and the need for the media to make money.  It’s not fair and it’s not right.  This whole industry has developed at a huge pace too.  Back in the early nineties we had Hello and OK with their structured interviews and glossy shots.  Now they have been joined by others happy to delve into the more deeply personal side of celebrity lives.  Not sure I’d want my ‘weight agony’ or ‘love rat heartache’ in full view on the cover of something at the check-out in my local Sainsburys but sadly as long as the public have an appetite for it, like it or not, these magazines are here to stay.

And now the world wide web has opened things up even more. You can join Facebook or Twitter (or both) and follow any celebrity who decides they want a presence there.  A lot are merely fan sites but there are some celebs who are the real deal and are quite happy to respond to their fans.  That’s fine, but sometimes those who ‘follow’ or ‘friend’  take it a little too far and it can get out of hand and become an irritating intrusion or something far worse!  One young British actor’s Twitter account states he does not reply to tweets.  A sensible move as with 185,000 followers he’d soon be swamped – but I guess at the end of the day it’s down to the individual celebrity how much access they allow.

My take on all of this is that those who work in the entertainment industry do a job.  OK it’s not the regular nine to five like the rest of us, but at the end of the day it is a job.  Another part of that job is PR, to promote themselves and what they do and keep in the public eye. The fan thing is therefore something that goes with the territory.  However, I’m a firm believer that just as we have a private side to our lives so should they and we should recognise that.  Sadly in this media driven society we inhabit  it seems this is no longer an option – everyone it appears is considered fair game whether they are happy about it or not.  The current activity at the Old Bailey over phone hacking has certainly shown the lengths the media are prepared to go to in pursuit of what they judge is ‘in the public interest’.

Beyond Facebook and Twitter there can be a deeper, darker element to fan worship.  A well-known British actor ended up in court a few years back when things with a fan got badly out of hand.  She became so fanatical about him that she camped outside his house, poured petrol through his girlfriend’s letter box and made a thorough nuisance of herself.  In court she admitted her obsession had got out of control but seemed to have no conscience over her actions.  The judge slapped a restraining order on her; she’s not allowed anywhere near him but I would think after an experience like that his life will never be the same, poor guy.  This woman wasn’t just an over enthusiastic admirer, she had serious emotional issues.  Although incidents like these are few and far between it did demonstrate how some fans can become far more than simply annoying .  Thankfully the only brush with weird people I’ve ever encountered is some male Facebooker wanting to friend me and telling me ‘you look nice.’  Needless to say I immediately  blocked him from accessing my account. I have to say though, I’ve met many people on social media who have become great friends but you have to be so careful.

So that’s about it on my thoughts concerning celebs and fans and I’ll now climb off my soapbox and disappear. I have deadlines and the need to get back to my new fictional characters who are probably missing me as much as I’m missing them.  As a writer whose work is inspired by music  I’m leaving you in the company of my first big crush and his co-band member John Lodge.  As it’s Sunday I’m toning down the music, no rock today, something far gentler. BTW notice how terribly precise and old fashioned the introduction to this song is – LOL!  Enjoy the rest of your Easter Break!

Next week there will an an early post from me talking about The Other Side of Morning and the inspiration behind the wonderful Marco D’Alesandro – yes, it’s a promise, no slacking as it’s an important weekend.  Saturday 26th April is the Promo Blitz for The Other Side of Morning which is being hosted by Brook Cottage Books on Facebook  so feel free to join us.

 

 

Posted at 7.10pm Sunday 20th April 2014