Sunday, 19 November 2017

Bingeing Fiction by Jan Edwards

My other half and I recently gave in to the wave of nothingness and repeats on Freeview TV and acquired Netflix.  A week on, and several evenings of watching we've only touched the surface the stuff that is available. 
When I say that I now have Netflix people often smile knowingly and utter dire warning of  binge-watching, but a week on I can’t say it has been any different to before.  Oh  I admit there is an awful lot more of it, and it is so very easy to access, but that Curate's egg conundrum of good versus bad in more or less equal measures remains. We’ve done a lot of sampling and/or catching up on things that we've missed. Watched random episodes of things that we’ve only ever heard about before.
My other half likes super-hero fiction whereas I am fairly indifferent to it so perhaps I have not really indulged in bingeing as such. Watching a whole series in a few days is not exactly new to us.  We have bought enough boxsets to prove that! 
So what constitutes binge watching?
That is not really a serious question. If somebody watches Strictly or MOTD or  any of the soaps X many times per week is it binging, or just enjoying the show? I've never missed an episode of Doctor Who but its taken me fifty plus years to do it. Not quite the same as viewing twenty episodes of the same show in a few days I will grant you, but why not follow up something you enjoy?
As I have just seen my script-writing efforts hit the shops as a part of a team in the Whovian oeuvre with White Witch of Devil’s End who am I to decry the completists? I’m one myself after all. 
I have just read another in Peter James's  excellent Roy Grace crime series, the thirteenth in the series? Now I have read those over several years but its not unusual for me to find an author new to me and go back to read their back catalogue is rapid succession. 
Binge reading?
I suspect many if not most of us have favourite fictional characters from our earliest reading onwards. Famous Five or Tracy Beaker eras. Paddington Bear or Horrid Henry.
The success of writers such as the late lamented Terry Pratchett's Discworld is one that also springs to mind. And of course it would be hard to ignore the J K Rowling phenomenon. Having worked as a bookseller I have seen the midnight queuing that occurred when the latest Harry Potter hit the shelves. But does it count as binge reading when there is often a year and more between volumes?
Crime and fantasy fiction are awash with such characters. I can see the attraction in writing them. When we invest so much time in developing characters and filling out the worlds they inhabit it makes sense to make use of them as far as we can.
I have had several short stories published about a diesel punk character by the name of Captain Georgianna Forsythe who investigates paranormal crimes for a secret government department and several more yet to find homes. I like Captain Georgi a lot. I know a lot about her; far more than appears on the written page. Likewise my1940s detective Rose Courtney feels very real to me. The difference between Rose and people in the real world is that I also know her future. I know her likes, dislikes, back history and state of mind through writing Winter Downs.

When we watch or read around familiar characters we are greeting them as virtual friends, and when we write about them we hope that our readers will enjoy their company as much as we do.

For what its worth, if binge-reading exists then for my money it’s not a bad thing.

You can read more about Jan on her blog site Here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When my daughter was 12, I scoured secondhand bookshops, jumble sales and fetes for Doctor Syn books. As they were seriously out of print and these were the days before Amazon and Abe Books (aargh, prehistoric times), chancing on secondhand paperbacks was my only way of supplying her need of Russell Thorndike's exciting tales of an 18th century smuggler who doubled as a country parson in Romney Marsh. Had I been able to find all the books at once, she'd undoubtedly have binge-read them - but the enforced gaps and treasure hunt aspect added to the excitement.

When you find a fabulous author/series it's tempting to binge read but the risk is too much too quick, lessening one's enjoyment... on the other hand, at least you can remember who people are more easily! I strongly recommend binge-reading for Jane Gardam's stupendous Old Filth trilogy, as the same story is told very differently by the 3 main characters and too long a gap leads one (er, me) to forget what was said about that particular event/person/deed before...