To my great shame, and my almost certain loss, I have never read Thomas Hardy, but yesterday, feeling low, I took myself off to see "FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD" at the Phoenix cinema in East Finchley. This proved to be one of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen, its images of the English landscape like a Nineteenth Century Book of Hours. The actual plot is extraordinary, with its peak moment coming about three-quarters of the way through (well that's my analysis, but others may differ).
I have often meant to draw a plot graph of books that impress me, as I'm sure many of you have. The (sadly, late) Ruth Rendell orchestrated plot lines like a symphony. I often likened her novels to music, and even painting - Paul Klee 'taking a line for a walk' springs to mind. Very recently, I've taken on a brief for fifty word stories aimed at four/five year olds - the length of a medium-sized email (or, in musical terms, a VERY short exercise piece for the recorder). These things are really challenging, in the way poetry is challenging. Enforced discipline in writing, or indeed, any of the arts, is, but as far as a plot graph for the fifty-worders - well, the plot line IS there, but you might need a microscope!
Delighted to discover my book: "THE BIG PURPLE WONDER BOOK" currently featuring in ReadZone's Reading Pathway after dropping out of sight for far too long. This is a story based on the sheer magic of learning to read, which, surprisingly, was the main reason for it, initially, to be turned down by publishers - their logic being, I think, that if you're reading this story, you don't need to be told. However, many kids are still lucky enough to be read to, either by their parents or their teachers, so this might grab them. And for the ones who've already got there,well - it's quite a scary story.
I was one of the lucky kids who got read to. My mum had a collection of those wonderful children's anthologies from the Thirties - thin pages, fantastic illustrations and an eclectic mixture of stuff - no dumbing down for kids then. It was there I encountered my first Dickens (extracts), legends and fairytales, bits from Lewis Carroll, and all the funny stuff from Edward Lear complete with silly pictures. In my Purple Wonder Book story, a small boy called Tom discovers one of these dumped in a box in a charity shop, but this one has seriously magical properties (well, they always did...)
Talking anthologies, don't miss out on "A FLASH IN THE PEN", our own Authors Electric anthology launching on Midsummer's Day (June 21st, but I'm sure you knew that already). Dipping into an anthology is like going to a fantastic party full of interesting people. Some you may like, even love, and some may just not do it for you, but it's still a great party, so please come. My own short story: "GEMINI" is a fantasy based on hunger and famine - twins which are always with us even in the rich West.