Month: July 2011

The Lost-Word Saloon

Where do the words go?

No, really. Where?

Granted, it’s a slightly metaphysical question. Blame Will Hill, author of the genuinely glorious Department 19 (what do you mean, you’ve not read it? What’s wrong with you? It’s got vampires in it – proper ones; scary ones – and guns. Why haven’t you read it?) who mentioned on Twitter that he’s just cut 45,000 words from a draft of the sequel.

And this got me to thinking: just where do those words go? You see, once, they were part of a story. They belonged to something… and suddenly, they don’t belong any longer. Back in ye olden days, when writers actually had to write things out (as opposed to being blessed with the golden “delete” key), words had to be crossed out. Maybe… maybe, you’d lose a complete page or two, and tear it up. But otherwise, edits remained part of that first, original text. Just ones with a line through (or, in the case of Tim Powers manuscripts, as I recall, sometimes rendered utterly illegible). The point is, they’re still there. Somehow.

But now everyone works virtually, and even what is held up as a “first draft” it isn’t usually a first draft in the truest sense of the word: already, an author will have been through it, deleting and adding and subtly shifting… and the hungry backspace key devours its victims without a second thought.

So where do they go to, these once-words? Do they sit in some kind of cosmic waiting room, hoping to be called by another writer? Do the words culled by literary authors sit at a different table to those cut from genre books? Do the edits from academic textbooks complain about the noise, and the YA offcuts have to see if they can persuade a couple of deletions from a biography to buy their drinks?

And – more importantly – where will they go next?


Heart Burials

Here’s an interesting thing: the last heir of the Habsburg Empire (who relinquished his claim in 1961) has been buried in Vienna.

At least, most of him has.

In line with Habsburg family tradition, his heart will be buried in an abbey just outside Budapest.

Burials in which the heart is interred separately from the body (or “heart burials”) aren’t all that unusual, historically-speaking. The Ancient Egyptians yanked all sorts of squishy bits out of bodies post-mortem and packed them into canopic jars–albeit for very different reasons. Medieval monarchs also received heart burials: supposedly, Richard and Henry I; Robert the Bruce and Eleanor I all rest in pieces.

From the 12th Century, the separate burial of a corpse’s heart and viscera (or intestines) was remarkably common for English & French aristocracy. As the medieval period progressed, heart burials increasingly ignored the intestines.

Often, hearts were buried at the place of death: a practical solution to the challenge of preserving a body, or were destined to be carried to a place of significance (as was often the case for Crusader Knights: some, who died in battle, asked for their hearts to return home. Others, dying at home many years later, might ask for their hearts to be buried in Jerusalem).

Special heart sepulchres would mark the burial place, while the hearts were buried inside visceral urns engraved with their own epitaphs, such as this play on Luke 12:34:

‘Ubi thesaurus meus, ibi cor meum’

Where my treasure is, there is my heart.

Aside from practical or sentimental reasons, medieval heart burials may be an expression of benefaction to a religious order – the case of a founder of an abbey or monastery, for example, may have donated their heart for burial. More than being a spiritual act, the creation of a bond between the order and the founder’s direct descendants helped to ensure their continued patronage.

But the best story about heart burials involves Thomas Hardy, whose body is interred as ashes in Westminster Abbey – but whose heart is buried in Dorset. Or possibly not. The story goes that following Hardy’s death, his doctor removed the heart and took it for safe-keeping until burial… but there is another version, in which the doctor puts the heart down for a moment… and it disappears. Suspicion falls (as it always does) on the cat. After a thorough search, the heart is nowhere to be found and instead, a pig’s heart is substituted for symbolic burial.

While it’s unlikely to be true, “The Cat Who Ate Hardy’s Heart” would make quite a story…

The Lost Boys: David’s Initiation

Here’s a nifty thing I came across on youtube this morning – a fan-made mash-up of “Stand By Me” and “The Lost Boys“. It’s clever, because it works on the premise that Ace from “Stand By Me” grew up (or not, as the case may be) to become David, leader of the Lost Boys.

(Some of the audio samples make this a touch NSFW, by the way. Unless you have headphones…)


Alright, so there’s a slightly wiggy bit in the middle where the films don’t quite mesh, and it does totally disregard everything we know about Ace as a character in his own right, but I like this. Actually, given the enormous crush I’ve had on David (and Ace, now I come to think about it) since I was about 13, it would be very difficult for me to actively dislike it.

In all fairness, I like most things Lost Boys-related… although while I’m sure I’ve seen the second one (The Tribe), I don’t remember a thing about it – and I still can’t decide whether this means I should give it another chance, or take this as a warning to be heeded.

Either way, this little mash-up trailer works for me: I did always wonder where David came from, and this seems as good a match for his character as any I’ve ever thought up!

“Womanthology” all-female comics anthology

I saw this mentioned on Twitter this morning: an anthology “showcasing the works of women in comics. It is created entirely by over 140 women of all experience levels, including top industry professionals.”

The Graphic Novel will majorly consist of many short stories interpreting our theme for this volume; “Heroic”. We’ll also have interviews and how-to’s with some of the industry’s top female pros, as well as talks with young girls who someday want a career in comics.

As I’ve banged on in the past about women in the comics industry, this seems like a perfect opportunity to do something about it. So I’ve backed it. And you should too.

The full list of contributors can be found here.

There’s more information on the website here, and you can get involved in funding it on the Kickstarter site. You can pledge anything from $1… so please, please do. The backing page went live yesterday, and as of this lunchtime, they’re already 65% funded.

So get involved, support the anthology and show the world just what women in comics can really do.

Bring the Noise

I realise I’ve posted quite a lot of music-y entries lately, so I thought it might be a good time to do something which is both largely the same and completely different.

I’ve been forced – forced, I tell you – to upgrade to itunes v. 10, and so I’ve been faffing around in my music library and playlists and quite by accident selected the playlist that I’ve used for my last WIP (what’s the past tense of work-in-progress, I wonder?).

These are the songs I listened to while I was first writing, then editing, shredding and weeping over it, then piecing it all back together. I’ve seen a few “Writing Playlist” blogs recently, and I always find them interesting… so apropos of nothing, here’s mine.

It might well not mean much (other than to my lovely, lovely beta readers and the other exceptionally brave souls who’ve asked to read the manuscript, and to be honest, it might well not mean much to them, either!) but you know I always enjoy an opportunity to bang on about my favourite noises. And you never know, you might find something new in there. So, in no particular order…

OneRepublic: All the Right Moves

The Pretty Reckless: Make Me Wanna Die

Fort Minor: Believe Me

Fort Minor: Slip Out the Back

LostProphets: It’s Not the End of the World

Audio Bullys: Only Man (Jakwob remix)

Linkin Park: Burning in the Skies

Linkin Park: When They Come For Me

Linkin Park: New Divide

Unicorn Kid: Dreamcatcher

Pendulum: The Island, Part I & II

Pendulum: Watercolour (Rob Swire’s Drumstep remix)

Rammstein: Ich Tut Dir Weh

My Chemical Romance: Bulletproof Heart

My Chemical Romance: The Only Hope for Me is You

Lady Gaga: Teeth

Dead by Sunrise: Walking in Circles

Clint Mansell: Dead Reckoning

Chase & Status feat. Plan B: End Credits

Yeah. It turned into that kind of story.