Saturday, 3 September 2011

Stuart Hill. Second Blog

I wanted to ask all my fellow writers out there if they’ve experienced a particular phenomenon closely linked with their written work. I’ll explain: A friend of mine who’s a published crime writer, has noticed that whenever she writes a novel in which she despatches a character in a particularly gruesome and graphic way, then very often an item will appear on the news reporting a murder that has very similar or even identical modus operandi. She even reached the point where she felt constrained in her work, feeling she was, in some weird way, having an effect on the criminal world and its activities. It should be pointed out, that this has always happened before the novel in question has been published, so there can be no copy-cat element at work.

I’ve noticed this odd synchronicity happening with my writing too, but on a slightly different level. In my fantasy novels, the Icemark Chronicles, I wrote about a cat called Primplepuss who belonged to King Redrought Athelstan Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield. Her chief characteristic was farting. She produced the most rancid fishy flatulence which just about floored everyone around her, and oddly, within months of writing about her, I’d acquired a cat with an identical problem. I must admit fishy cat farts were something I naively believed belonged in the realms of fantasy, but sadly I was to find this wasn’t the case. Many peaceful evenings were shattered by fearsome silent emissions that scorched nostril hairs and caused otherwise healthy lungs to wheeze and rattle. Some of the stronger outbursts even added an unpleasant coating to teeth. And just like Primplepuss, my cat Fairfax (named after my favourite Civil War General) sat in the eye of the fart storm he’d created in a state of Zen-like calm while the entire household scrambled retching for safety.

(Reading through the previous paragraph I realise I’ve made my Fantasy novels sound truly vile. In their defence I’d like to point out that they did win several awards, from a leading high street bookshop, amongst others, so they can’t be all that bad!)

Unfortunately Fairfax is no longer with us; his musical and pungent ring has fallen forever silent. But I now have two more cats named Jack, and, -rather sinisterly-, ‘Mr Mittens’. I might add I’m not responsible for their names, we got them from the RSPCA and they were already christened. But once again synchronicity has struck. I’m writing a prequel to the Icemark Chronicles at the moment, and there’s a cat character, named Cadwalader. In the novel he’s a warrior, fighting vampires and werewolves and generally allowing his author to have a great time. But Mr Mittens seems to have taken on this characteristic!

Despite being a small, neutered tom he’s taken to doing battle with a very large ‘intact’ tomcat who’s been terrorising the local moggy population for over a year now. This particular cat is a total bully that seems to work on the premise that if he can’t do what un-neutered toms normally do with their victims (and in this case I don’t think it involves much in the way of flowers, fine-dining and the recitation of poetry) , then he’ll beat them up. Well, Mr Mittens is having none of that, and several battles have been joined, all of which have been won by our small unassuming little runt. He’s even taken to chasing the bully back to his own garden and practicing all out war there. I might add he returns from each clash completely unmarked, with his tail up and chirping a happy greeting. Because of his fighting prowess he’s now known as Mr Genghis Mittens.

Jack, our other cat, in the meantime has also recently succumbed to synchronicity and he too has now joined the ranks of the fabled cat farters. But being a true artist, he’s added his own personal interpretation to the craft and there’s less fish and more something-dead-in-the-cellar sort of odour to his productions. So far his proudest moment has been sending my partner’s parents gagging in the desperate search for fresh air and safety.

I have to say I’m really rather proud.

P.S. My first ebook was published just a couple of weeks ago and is a collection of ghost stories called ‘Tales From Moonshiny Hall’. I’m just waiting to see if synchronicity strikes again and I end up with the most haunted house in the Lost City of Leicester.

P.P.S. Those who read my first blog last month will have been left in no doubt about my computing abilities I.E. I have none. I spent most of the blog explaining why I have no website, blog site (is that the term?) or twitter account (again, is that the correct terminology?). But I’ve just remembered that I do actually have a website! It was set up by a friend who took pity on my computer illiteracy, and has nothing to do with my writing. As well as being an author, I’m also an artist and the site shows examples of my work. Anyone interested enough to have a look can find it on: . Don’t forget the all-important ‘r’ between stuart and hill otherwise it won’t work.

The site’s become a bit slow for some reason that is quite beyond my limited technical knowledge to explain, but if you’re prepared to wait for a short while it will open. I think my friend has done a lovely job; I can’t comment on the art.

Anyway, I’d better go, I’ve probably bored you all enough. See you in a month.


Linda Gillard said...

Yes, Stuart, I have had this experience of "prophetic" writing and it even stopped me writing one novel. I gather it's a common phenomenon, if unexplained. (Clare Francis has talked about creating characters, then meeting their uncanny real life counterparts. That's happened to me too.)

A more disturbing instance was when I based a novel's character physically on an actor. (I like to find visual equivalents for my characters. I used to make scrapbooks. These days it's photo collages on the desktop.)

Anyway, the character in my novel was HIV positive and destined to die of AIDS. I had planned the novel and written quite a bit when it was announced that the actor on whom I'd physically based my sick character was HIV positive. The actor went on to die very publicly of AIDS.

I stopped writing my novel.

Soon afterwards I started writing a novel about a author who has this experience once too often and finds herself so crippled artistically, she ends up writing harmless tales of woodland creatures - a sylvan soap, like NEIGHBOURS.

I abandoned that book too, determined not to give in to paranoia.

Now I'm just careful what I write about. Dead husbands and children have to die before the novel opens.

stuart said...

perhaps all of this just proves that our characters are simply spirits waiting in the ether for us to give them access to the physical world!

Linda Gillard said...

Funny you should say that. That's always how it feels to me - as if the stories are out there, complete, just waiting to be let in...

Michelangelo apparently believed a statue lived enclosed within a block of marble. His role was to chip away until it was set free. So he would go to the quarry and examine blocks of marble, trying to sense what lay within.

That's how writing fiction feels to me - possibly because I don't plan very much and just try to attune to "the story"(which seems to write itself without a a great deal of help from me.)

Katherine Roberts said...

Wow, Stuart! Love the artwork. Can I employ you to do my Kindle covers...?

madwippitt said...

Get a wippitt, they have much sweeter smelling farts!
Or you could of course, try writing about a cat that stops farting and see if real life once more follows suit ...

Stuart said...

Thank you Katherine. Getting feedback on artwork is even more difficult than getting it for writing! Much appreciated.

Madwippitt; my uncle kept whippets and though they were the sweetest of animals, they were assuredly not sweet when it came to wind. Perhaps yours have a nicer diet

Becky said...

Hi Stuart,
*Fan girl moment* I love your Icemark Series. It's brilliant.

P.S. Join Twitter. Download Nicola Morgan's Tweet Right book. It will teach you all you need to know.

Stuart said...

Hi Becky,

Thanks for leaving a comment, it's always great to hear from fans. Actually, I'm writing a prequel to the Icemark books at the moment. I don't know how detailed your knowledge of the books is, but its about how King Redrought came to the throne and how he met the mother of Thirrin, the heroine of the 'Cry of the Icemark'. It's 'work in progress' at the moment, but hopefully it'll be available in the nearish future.


Susan Price said...

Hilarious blog, Stuart! I think it just sold you some more books!
I've not had this synchrynocity with characters, but I have found that, often, when I need to research something, suddenly every magazine I pick up, every programme I turn on, seems to offer me some piece of information I need. Books fall off shelves, open to the right place.
Extra strokes to Jack and - especially - to the heroic Mr. Ghengis Mittens.

stuart said...

Mr Ghengis Mittens has actually been battling this morning, but is now sleeping the sleep of the victorious. Jack has made his usual pungent comment!

I must say you're very fortunate to have the spirits of research so firmly on your side! I wish books would fall off shelves for me!


Becky said...

Hi again Stuart,

I'm delighted to hear you're writing a prequel. Exciting news! I look forward to the nearish future.

Pauline Fisk said...

I know just what you're talking about, Stuart. It's happened in my writing life too - not often but pretty dramatically each time. The tale's too long to go in here, but I did a blog entry on it once and if you're interested this is the link:

If you look it up, you'll find more in the 'Comments' section too.