Geekery

I’ve Got a Theory: musical theatre and writing

 

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You could argue that one of the reasons I’ve neglected the blog so long is because I fell down the “Hamilton Heavy Rotation” hole. Yes, that’s a thing. “Guns and Ships” on my headphones, over and over and over. However, I’m also pretty certain that repeat listening to two of the cleverest musicals out there – in the shape of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s HAMILTON, and Tim Minchin & Dennis Kelly’s MATILDA – has given me some new ideas about writing fiction. (And this, kids, is why musical theatre is dangerous. It Makes People Think.)

I’m not going to be exhaustive, partly because I’m not clever enough and partly because I don’t want to get bogged down in the specifics of each musical – I’ll either spoil them for you or you already know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t know anything about either musical (or have no interest in either) then I’m sorry but you’re probably going to come out of this hating me because I am very musical theatre people. Regardless, I’m going to stick with the two big points I think I’ve found and which I know stand up for me, at least.

The basics: HAMILTON is the unlikely smash inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of American founding father, Alexander Hamilton. Written, scored & led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, its musical numbers are mostly pop, rap and R&B and its Broadway cast of BAME actors is tremendous. It’s a juggernaut. It’s wonderful – I promise.

MATILDA is, of course, the musical developed by the RSC based on Roald Dahl’s novel – especially notable for the fact its songs & lyrics are by Tim Minchin (which means any actors brave enough to audition for the formidable role of Miss Trunchbull are required to demonstrate absolute precision in their vocal performances).

The most obvious link between these two and writing fiction is that both involve storytellers or writers. Hamilton is concerned with writing his own narrative and that of his new nation; creating a legacy that will outlive him. Words are his weapons and they are both his making and his undoing. It’s also, as my friend Louie Stowell pointed out in a conversation we had, very clearly a musical by a writer – that is, somebody embedded in the specific process of writing, rather than composing. (There’s more to unpack here, but again… not clever enough and I’ll just tie myself up in knots in the process.)

Meanwhile, stories and books are so deeply threaded through MATILDA that you can’t unpick them – however, an important addition to the musical  from the book is a subplot in which Matilda tells a story about an escapologist and an acrobat to her friendly local librarian [shout-out to librarians here] and in the process uncovers the life stories of Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull.

With me so far, maggots?

74388Jolly good.

There’s definitely enough material for a couple of serious and learned academic essays looking at the way stories are used in the narratives of these musicals (just as Hamilton is obsessed with framing his own story, so Matilda says the stories she tells just come to her: “… these stories delivered to me ready-written” [Quiet] and yet somehow they turn out to be true) that’s another blog post or twelve.

What’s struck me about both Matilda and Hamilton is that both contain lessons for fiction writers.

The first one is theme – or rather, layers of themes. Listen carefully to the cast recording of HAMILTON. Then listen to it again, specifically for repetition. Once you start hearing it, it’s everywhere: a musical phrase dropped in, a line from a song repeated with a different inflection or by a different character. (Because the ensemble pieces can be incredibly dense – in a good way – it’s easiest to pick up in Angelica & Eliza’s parts, their voices and personalities threading through the whole narrative.) It’s used to particularly poignant effect in Hamilton’s last song, too.

Miranda has specifically referred to another musicalLES MISERABLES as having been influential in this, but it’s a technique that easily transfers to fiction. Repeated phrases, images, foreshadowing, callbacks – not just in plot but in character. Think about the way a film score often assigns a musical phrase or theme to a major character, and finds ways to bring the individual themes together in harmony. So does HAMILTON, layering musical phrases and lyrics together to create new patterns with every new interaction.

Yes, it sounds like I’ve lost my mind. I know. Bear with me.

If you take this idea and apply it to fiction, you’re already losing one of the major components: music. However, the same principle still applies. It’s about the words, the phrases, the repetition (both foreshadowing and calling back); even the movements and facial expressions of a character. The pauses. The gaps in what they say. The words associated with them, the mood they create. If each character has their own colour thread in the tapestry – just as HAMILTON’s Angelica Schuyler has “Satisfied”, for example – then it weaves through the whole cloth, sometimes visible, sometimes not… but always identifiable.

Lin-Manuel Miranda might be is a bit of a genius.

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Then there’s the other thing.

Vocabulary.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen and heard author friends complain about their “crutch phrases” during the editing process. We all have them: usually, they’re verbs like “looked” or “turned” or “reached for”. I’m particularly guilty of people grinning and frowning. There’s a lot of grinning and frowning, often done by the same person at opposite ends of a sentence.

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Being in one of my books is AN EMOTIONAL JOURNEY. Often in several directions, all at once.

Everyone falls back on crutch phrases – whether we’re writing or not. They’re the deeper grooves worn in our brain; the easy grab when we need to explain something. We’re all human; we all do it. And we know it.

Do me a quick favour: have a quick listen to “The Smell of Rebellion” from MATILDA.

Go on.

I’ll wait.

Done?

Not only is that quite possibly the most Tim Minchin-y Tim Minchin song (see where the “precision” thing comes in?) but the range of vocabulary is astonishing. Alright, so some of it would be a bit… iffy in the middle of a sentence: “Charlie caught a whiff of the odour of toast” might be a stretch – the rule about singing in musicals is, after all, that characters reach a level of emotion which cannot be contained by mere speech (or a glass case) leaving them no choice but to break into song – but you listen to that and tell me you honestly can’t think of another word for “looked”.

There’s a lot more to be said, I think, in terms of lessons fiction writers can learn from musicals – but I also think there’s very little worse than someone standing there with their hands on their hips and their glasses halfway down their nose, declaiming their writing tips to live by. All I’m saying is that it’s very easy to give into the temptation to put “fiction” in one box and “musical theatre” (as an example) in another, and never think to look elsewhere for tools we can use. Writing is stealing borrowing, so borrow from everywhere, if there’s something that sets your mind and soul alight. Cross-pollination is what art is about, and it makes us all richer.

Maybe you’ve read this and thought “Well, duh…” because all this was desperately obvious to you already. In that case, awesome, wow; you’re ahead of me, so good on you. But to me, this clicking into place was a revelation (not a revolution) and I’m hoping I can hang onto it.

Maybe it’s all just bunnies after all – but who knows: maybe musical theatre might even make me a better writer?

I could certainly drink to that.

Toast

Strange Days (or why Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell deserved better than we gave it)

We’re only just past the solstice, and yet the internet is already awash with “Best of 2015” posts, listicles (Christ) and countdowns. And as I am an easily-herded nerf, I thought I might as well get in on the act – but with one slight difference. I’m not going to talk about the 10 Best Things I Watched (one of those would almost certainly start a fight. I’ve already come to near blows with one friend about it, and I can probably do without setting myself up for a scuffle with the entire online world…). I’m going to talk about the one thing that really stuck, and to suggest that – if you haven’t already – you give it a look.

Yes, I’m going to bang on about the TV adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL.

Sorry, but as I’m the one with the metaphorical microphone here and it’s my name on the url… my rules.

To come entirely clean: when this was announced, I was… shall we say, cautious? It’s my favourite book. I remember buying the book when it came out (on the day it came out, if memory serves. In Waterstones on Gower Street. What an oddly specific thing to remember) and loving it – but I also remember that it took me months to get through, partly because I was afraid if I fell asleep reading in bed at night, the hardback would fall on my face and break my nose.

I mean, I’ve not got a great nose, but I’m kind of used to it by now.

To summarise: it’s a big book.

And it’s not just big, it’s dense. It’s a whole world, intricately bound up in real and borrowed history and its own mythology… and its footnotes.*

How the hell do you turn that into a television series?

I dodged all the promo I could: the interviews, the trailers, the production stills. Everything. I think I saw one teaser for it and then shut my eyes and stuck my fingers in my metaphorical ears and sat there shouting “LalalalalaI’mnotlisteningIcan’thearyoulalalala” until the first episode.

Whooof.

I say again: whooof.

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Somehow, writer Peter Harness managed to take this enormous, complicated, footnote-heavy** beast of a thing and unspool it, line by line. Somehow (and I can only assume this was by Actual Magic) he gave us a story which felt like being inside the novel to watch – even with the cuts and shuffles and conflations that have to happen in the process of an adaptation.

The experience was the same, even without the pineapples or Jonathan Strange’s hallucinated candles-inside-heads (which you’ll just have to read the book to understand. But when you do, know those candles are the most perfect depiction of living with manic depression I have ever come across.) It looked wonderful, too: the fairy ballroom at Lost Hope was as desperate and menacing as anyone could have hoped, and Hurtfew Abbey’s library was the library I’d always dreamed of.

Could anyone have made Vinculus as wild and as wily as Paul Kaye did? Would Childermass have been a more businesslike man-of-business, bound more tightly to his cards than to his master, in the hands of someone other than Enzo Cilenti (whose Yorkshire-ninja eyerolling was an utter, utter joy)? Doubtful.

Lord & Lady Pole, Lascelles, Drawlight, Arabella, Wellington, Stephen, Major Grant (a character drastically different from his novel-self… and yet somehow still *right*) – all felt as though they had simply strolled off the page, complete in themselves. How much work must that have taken, somewhere in the background, to make it look so easy?

Then, to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Where do you even start? Perhaps by noting that Mr Norrell seemed a lot… nicer, in his own way (sympathetic, perhaps? Although he still had his moments…) than book-Norrell***. But in the hands of Eddie Marsan, his journey from the solitary last magician in England to the wild-wigged Norrell of the final episode was a joy. The same was even more true of Bertie Carvel’s Jonathan Strange, who became – through war and loss and madness and magic – who he was always capable of being. I’ve always had a lot of time for the Strange of the novel, and so he was the one I was most nervous about. And yet… this Strange? What a Strange he was. I could go on about him, and how right he was, for days, but I shan’t. Ask me sometime over a drink.

This tremendous, sprawlingly neat (neatly sprawling?) adaptation deserved better than it got. I’ve seen a handful of award nominations, particularly in design and effects categories – and there’s another thing. It wasn’t awash with effects, but when they were there, they were good. Really good – but it should have found a wider audience. Was it because there was magic (and therefore must be one of those “fantasy things” – insert a Childermassian eye-roll here)? Was it because it was period (and therefore must involve Mr Darcy-alikes sitting around discussing a maiden aunt’s health and copious subtext)? Was it because it built, rather like the novel, enveloping you and wrapping its raven-winged world around you?

Maybe the scheduling had something to do with it: it ran through the late spring, despite feeling like it really should be something to watch in the winter, when the wind was howling outside and the rain was lashing against the windows****. I can only assume it ended up where it did so that the episode featuring (an absolutely immense take on) the Battle of Waterloo ran the same week as the anniversary of the battle itself – which is a lovely nod to the history, true, but perhaps served the endeavour a little less well.

Whatever the reason, it feels like JSAMN should have had more. More coverage, more viewers, more love. It certainly earned it. It felt like it was a labour of love – the feeling that is stitched into certain books and films and shows; a feeling that can’t be faked. I wish that had been better repaid – or perhaps I should say, more widely repaid, because as far as I can see, the people like me who loved it really loved it.

So, I’ll hang my fangirl hat back on the peg for now – as I say, ask me about everything this adaptation did right sometime, and make sure you’ve not got anywhere to be for a while. In the meantime, in this endless, grey, wind and rain-lashed winter, do yourself a favour: whether you’ve read the book or not (and I can’t urge you strongly enough to do that, if you haven’t) find the box set of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, either on DVD or Blu-Ray or from the BBC Store or wherever else you buy your media. Turn off your phone. Draw the curtains and light a candle… and watch.

And I’ll see you on the other side of the rain.

 

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*It seems pretty apt to include footnotes on a JSAMN post, so here’s something I discovered when I was re-reading the novel on a never-ending train journey through Yorkshire this autumn: if you want to find the women in the novel, look for them in the footnotes and they’re everywhere. Women as magicians, women as pupils of the Raven King himself. Women of importance; women who matter. Because, for the most part, where do women throughout history end up? In the footnotes.

** So. Many. Footnotes.

*** I suspect the hand of the author: in this case, Peter Harness. I rather wonder if he doesn’t have a soft spot for Mr Norrell and his books. Don’t we all?

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****Rather like today, come to think of it

High Standards

I went to see some Romans at the weekend. Look! Actual Romans!

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Well, alright. Sort-of Romans. (They are, in fact, the Ermine Street Guard, who were lovely and friendly and actually quite intimidating when they marched right at you in formation… If you get the chance to go and see them at an event, do.)

While I took far too many photos, had a brilliant day and got slightly sunburned into the bargain (pale post-winter skin, meet early May sunshine… sigh), this photo is the one I wanted to talk about.

Every now and again, I get asked about the Fallen in BLOOD AND FEATHERS – why they fell, how they function, what they do… and about hell.

One of my favourite things about the battle on the plains of hell was the fact I got to bring two armies together: one, the angels, was a mix of Earthbounds, Descendeds and Archangels – each with their own distinct fighting style, depending on the status and their Choir.

The other, the army of Fallen, was an entirely different proposition.

This was the home army, defending their turf. We’d not seen them en masse before this, and there they were, lined up and ready to take on their enemies. The angels used to be their brothers – they know them, they’ve fought beside them and against them for endless, endless years (because these guys are old). Most of them have grudges. Most of them have scores to be settled. All of them are scary. All of them are scared of Lucifer and his generals. All the sensible ones are at least as scared of Michael – and every last one of them is scared of Mallory.

How do you bring that many disparate parts together into an army?

You give them a flag.

(more…)

It’s Aaaalive!

I’ve been away. I know. There was Nine Worlds (which was brilliant, by the way, and if you weren’t there, why weren’t you?) and then I went on holiday and then I Just. Needed. A. Break. Which is fine. Because – let’s face it – I do go on a fair bit.

So. Hello. Still alive.

And what is it, you might ask, that has roused me from my rubbishness? Is it some fantastic piece of news?

Well, no.

It’s this.

 

The trailer for I, Frankenstein.

Right.

I’m conflicted.

There’s no two ways about this. I just don’t know what to feel.

We’ll get the obvious bit out of the way. I adore Aaron Eckhart. I really, really do. I love him in basically everything (even The Core. Yes. Especially The Core. My love of terrible disaster movies knows no bounds, so hush now). He also happens to be in Possession, which is one of my very favourite films, and an adaptation of one of my very favourite books – so we’re going into this with a hell of a lot of Eckhart-shaped credit.

I do also love my monsters: be they Dracula, mummies or Frankenstein’s monster himself. So, again, lots of credit going in.

On top of that, there’s what look to be a few strong fight scenes going by this trailer (punch-up in a cathedral! Lots of fire! Eckhart carrying some really shiny looking weapons! Also: flying mid-air punch. I love a deeply impractical mid-air punch)  and it could be fun…

But.

I cannot possibly be the only person looking at this and thinking: “Oh. Van Helsing.” Because, boy, did we all get burned by that one.

I want to like it: I really do. But… are those angels? Not that I’m a hard sell on angels and fighting and stuff because *cough*, but… seriously?

I mean… seriously?

So there you go. Conflicted.

Still. Monsters. Plus Aaron Eckhart. How can that be a bad thing?

 

(Yes. This entire post was, basically, just an excuse to talk about Aaron Eckhart. My blog. My rules. Innit?)

As you were, chaps. As you were.

Nine Worlds

6a00d8345295c269e201901e93506c970b-800wiNext weekend (this weekend? I always come unstuck at the start of the week. Unstuck in time, unstuck in reality… all of that. Anyway. Moving on) I’ll be at the new Nine Worlds convention near Heathrow, along with many, many awesome people.

The convention runs from Friday afternoon through to Sunday, with pretty much everything you could think of on the programming somewhere: books, games, TV, film, cosplay… the works.

There are also live-gaming streams happening and – somewhere – I’m sure I saw mention of a gin appreciation session. Now, I don’t need anyone to teach me to appreciate gin (can do that quite well myself, actually) but I may well pop in there just in case they need a professional, as it were…

The full programme’s online here.

Uh… wow.

In terms of what I’m actually going to be doing, you can find me here:

Friday, 10.15pm: NEW VOICES SLAM SESSION, in the Lobby room. I’ll be doing a short reading, along with other writers like Adam Christopher, Emma Newman and my Agency Group stablemates Liz de Jager and Jennifer Williams. It’ll be fun. Bring a drink, bring a friend.

Saturday, 3.15pm, NEW VOICES, OLD GHOSTS: REINVENTING MYTHOLOGY AND THE SUPERNATURAL panel along with Kate Griffin, Ben Aaronovitch, Barry Nugent and Jo Fletcher.

Saturday, 5 – 6pm: SIGNING at the Forbidden Planet table, along with Ben Aaronovitch. I know. You may have to nudge me…

If you’re around, come and say hi. It looks like a brilliant line-up, and it would be fantastic to see a new convention get off to a flying start.

So. Nine Worlds.

Come for the programme…

… Stay for the Loki.

 

 

 

All Un-Quiet on the Western Front

The last time I was heard from, I was about to venture up to EdgeLit 2 in Derby, wasn’t I? Did you think you’d lost me? No such luck…

EdgeLit was fun and very, very hot indeed. I got to hang out with some of my lovely writer-friends, which was brilliant, and I really enjoyed the panel on urban fantasy’s popularity, which covered everything from Buffy as the archetypal “kick-ass” female character (and the fact that she works as such because she has flaws: she may be able to put a vampire through a wall, but she still gets grounded…) to the perception that urban fantasy and paranormal romance are the same thing – and where that came from. For what it’s worth, I strongly believe that they are separate sub-genres with a hefty amount of cross-over in both directions – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to contain the other. But maybe that’s just me. Moving on.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook will probably know about the racing. As I’ve mentioned on here before (and whinge about at length anywhere I can possibly get the words out) my husband is the proud owner (and driver) of a race car, which is running in the UK Time Attack series. This means I spend a lot of weekends in the paddock at racetracks, and last weekend was no exception: that was Oulton Park in Cheshire.

This time didn’t go entirely to plan, as you’ll see from the video…

It might not look like much from inside the car – and he was absolutely fine, thankfully – but standing on the other side of the track and knowing that not only has there been a crash but that your husband’s is the only car not back in the pits (and watching the track doctors go screeching off in their car…) is a deeply, deeply unpleasant thing.

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(Photo: Togethia Media / James Young)

Still, driver fine. Car not so much, but there’s a few weeks before the next race – at which the car will have some shiny new livery.

BFR new car livery

Isn’t he pretty? Yet again, that’s the work of my fantastic cover artist, Pye Parr. (The large blank space, in case you’re wondering, is for the series sponsor stickers which have to be applied to the door of every car competing.)

Minor catastrophe aside, the highlight of the event was watching the vintage F1 cars on the track – one an old Schumacher car, and one an old Senna one. Because I’m part of the race team, I get a pit wall pass meaning I’m free to come and go in the garages and pits as well as out onto the safety wall dividing the pits and the track – and for a long-time F1 fan, being able to watch (and hear) them go past from there was something else.

F1 car

Away from motor racing, I popped in to Kim Curran and Bryony Pearce’s launch for their new Strange Chemistry books, CONTROL and THE WEIGHT OF SOULS at Forbidden Planet. It was enormous fun, and it was fantastic to see so many people turn out to support them – including a big group of teen readers. I was lucky enough to read a draft of Kim’s book, “Control” a little while ago, and thoroughly recommend it. She’s one of the most exciting new YA authors working in genre, and I hope there are many more books to come.

Speaking of new books, I’ve been popping up here and there to talk about REBELLION a little more. You can find me lurking at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds, talking about the challenges of REBELLION (and my favourite paragraph) as well as talking about angels at Winged Reviews. And if you’re interested in the “story behind the story”, pop over to Upcoming4me to find out about REBELLION’s history.

I’ll also be doing a couple of things at the upcoming Nine Worlds convention in London in a few weeks – but I’ll post on that separately. I’m not sure I can compete with the car…

The Ocean at the End of the Queue

OceanNeil Gaiman has long been one of my favourite authors. In a funny way, he’ll be – in my mind, at least – forever entwined with my actually starting to write seriously again (well. I say “seriously”. I do very few things seriously, but you get my drift).

It was after a Neil Gaiman signing somewhere around 2007 that I wrote “The Cloth of Heaven” – the first proper short story I’d ever done, and the first thing of mine that was published.

And when I say “after a signing”, I mean it fairly literally. I woke up at 7am the next day with the whole story in my head and wrote it longhand, while lying on the first floor landing of our house in London.

It was at that same signing that I really came to understand the real purpose of queuing for an event. I’d been to plenty of gigs which involved queueing (including a Rammstein show in Berlin where the queue wasn’t so much a queue as a random collection of picnics. I’m telling you, that was a queue.) but this was different. I’d got there hours early and was one of the first six or seven people there.

It was cold. It rained. We huddled in the back doorway of Forbidden Planet and talked – at length – about Sandman and about “Neverwhere” and about… all things Neil. At one point, someone appeared from inside the shop and said: “Neil thinks you’re all entirely mad, waiting so long to see him – and he’d like to know if you want a cup of tea?”

And that was the day Neil Gaiman sent me tea. And when I finally got to the front of the queue, I did what I have done a couple of times now and lost the ability to speak (I know. Me. Quiet. Imagine!) and beamed like a lunatic and that was that. He was  lovely; I was daft. So it goes.

It was that queue, though, which meant I was undaunted by the prospect of the lengthy wait after last Friday’s event, run by Toppings & Co of Bath, which saw the very same Neil Gaiman talk for a little while about his new (and apparently entirely unexpected) novel, “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane“, read a little and sign a lot. A LOT.

Three hours after we started queueing, we were still queueing. But more importantly, three afters after he started signing and talking to people and smiling and being lovely… he was still doing it. And this was after pre-signing a teetering pile of books for people who couldn’t wait as long as we did. And on top of a full day of promotional work. And after it, both he and the team from Headline were staring down the barrel of a journey back to London before they could finally get to bed. It’s beyond admirable.

I say “we” there, when I talk about the queue because this time, I had a friend for company. Having met up with several people for drinks beforehand, including Cav Scott, Gav Pugh, Jonathan Howard, Desiree Fischer and Emma Newman, by midnight all but Cav and myself had fallen by the wayside: lured by the siren songs of their spouses or the last train home. In the meantime, Cav and I had come up with what can only be described as a mild hysteria-induced plan.

X-MEN: THE MUSICAL.

Heavy on effects, and a tad light on anything you’d call “plot”, it’ll involve a finale set in ancient Rome, with elephants, Spartans and Wolverine running beneath waves of red silk, shredding them with his claws. Oh, and Magneto with jazz hands. Yes. I’m telling you, it’s got “hit” written all over it. Well. Something that sounds a bit like “hit”, anyway.

And all the while we were mucking around, Neil Gaiman was still signing. And signing. And smiling. And signing.

He even smiled when I asked him to dedicate my book in the most baffling manner imaginable, because I’d had time to think about it.

“The Ocean At The End Of The Lane” is partly about childhood and looking back at it, and I wanted to be able to pass the book on. My son’s not nearly old enough for it – nor will he be for quite some time, and this gave me an idea. I didn’t want to just hand him a copy of it when he’s older – a book by one of my favourite authors, and one he already loves (having heard plenty of his stories from the time he was in a cot…). I wanted it to feel like a thing. Like it was special. And now, thanks to a still-smiling but no doubt exhausted author, it will be, because the book is dedicated not to me, and not to my little boy – but to both of us, to me – and then “and after her” to him. It feels like passing something on. Like the book is more than a book. Like it’s alive. Like it’s a life.

And that’s something worth queueing for.

That, and X-Men: The Musical.

 

You Know His Name…?

Because it’s Tuesday and (here, at least) it’s raining – and because I know how much you enjoyed the last Hawkeye mash-up video… have another one.

That Barton certainly gets around, doesn’t he?

 

Alias Hawkeye

I like back-story. I believe all characters should have one: whether it ends up on the page or the screen, or whether it stays in a notebook or in their creator’s head. Our past makes us what we are, and I tend to believe the same is true of people who are completely made-up too. (And I have the Notebooks Full Of Crazy to prove this when it comes to my own writing. Mallory had a back-story before he got anywhere near his guns…)

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying some of the fanficesque character mash-ups I’ve found on Youtube lately.

The rules seem to be pretty simple: take a character in a film, and use other films featuring the same actor to build a backstory for your choice.

Some of them are mental. Some of them are nothing short of brilliant.

Ages ago, I posted the “David’s Initiation” video I found, which sets up STAND BY ME as a prequel to THE LOST BOYS (what did I say? Brilliant) and now I’ve got a new favourite:

Everyone is Clint Barton Undercover:

 

How cool is that? They’re all Hawkeye!

The sound’s a bit of a shambles, but frankly, I don’t care. Bonus points for the clever use of Samuel L. Jackson there. Seriously.

So cool.

Ink-redible

I had a teacher at school who would refuse to mark anything not written in blue ink. Fountain pen, mind: never ballpoint. Biros were banished – I can still remember trying to get to grips with changing the cartridge in my first fountain pen during my first week there. I was six years old, and it did not end well.

Likewise, at university we had a lecturer who was philosophically opposed to black ink; it reminded him, he said, of a “geriatric spider, crawling to its death”. He may or may not have been the lecturer who took charge of the “Gothic literature” part of the course. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Green ink, of course, is famously connected with MI6, and particularly “C”, and is also regarded as the favourite of nutty-letter writers the world over.

There’s Dragon’s Blood ink, Stark’s ink (no, not that one) and soy ink, but the one I’ve most recently discovered (and of which I’m almost certain my various teachers and lecturers would have approved) is pact ink.

Because, after all, if you’re going to make a deal with the Devil, you might as well do it right. And make sure you use a fountain pen, while you’re at it….