Saturday, December 20, 2008


Just realised, never posted bout finishing the evil book project. It's finished, done, over with and smells like a big pile of horsy apples. It is crap, but I did enjoy writing it, and achieved the desired effect of having written my first ever book. Woohoo!

Writing another one might take a slightly longer time though.

Prague again

Been about four years since we were here, but still a nice city. Not quite as cheap as it used to be. The conversions work out at something like:

Previous: ~30 Kč = €1
Current: 24.5 Kč = €1

Value for money - dinner for two (mid range Chinese restaurant):

Previous: ~€20
Current: ~€35

So while the currency exchange hasn't changed a lot in the intervening time, the actual worth of the Czech currency has definitely improved.
I especially saw this in two examples: Taxi from airport to hotel - €28, two English books (Roald Dahl, nothing overly special about them) - €30.

Not quite the treasure trove of cheapness that it used to be. However, beer is still ridiculously cheap, averaging about €2 for .5 litre in restaurant/pub.

Ambiance: Christmas markets are pretty and festive and so on, but couldn't really see a hell of a lot worth buying. My money stayed in my pocket, only reappearing when beer was in the offing.

We've been here a few times by this stage, and have always had fond memories of the place, but I'd say this may be the last one for a while...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Novel writing

Day 11 of NaNoWriMo project and all's going reasonably well. Missed two days last week, but divvied up the work between remaining days of this week, so all going ok. Came across great site, very simple idea - Write or Die - gives you changing colours and countdowns till your alloted writing time is up. Really handy - got 2000 words written today using it in just under an hour, whereas yesterday was closer to 2 hours for a lower number due to faffing around.

Amazing what a deadline can do to your concentration. See NaNo widget on right for current word count.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Meeting the Man

Neil Gaiman Graveyard Book 20081003_7151Image by kwc via FlickrWent to the launch of Mr. Gaiman's newest, The Graveyard Book, last night. Great experience. Was initially worried I wouldn't get in because it was a ticket event, but turned out I needn't have worried (or turned up quite so early...) as tickets were just to get a seat for the reading.

Listened to the Master read from his new piece (unfortunately I'd already read the book while in the que, got bored waiting), and he then did a Q&A. Some other git got my question in - Neil spent a month recently in China on a research trip, and wanted to ask was this for his latest work and what type of effort would it be - and he stated that it will be a non-fiction book revolving around mtyh, 7th (I think) century Chinese legend, and various such things. He has a very distinctive sense of humour, warm and dry at the same time, almost giving the impression of being a big kid who's delighted that people came to see his latest fun and games. ( The picture here is not mine, but was similar enough that I thought it added to the post, thanks to original photographer linked at photo)

He told several funny stories, my favourite of which revolved around the two versions of the book, one illustrated by Dave McKean, long time collaborator, and one by Chris Riddell. Story goes like so (as far as my caffeine addled wits can recall):
Neil and Dave standing talking at the official launch of The Grveyard Book when Dave's young son comes barrelling up: "Daddy Daddy!! Guess what!! Look, the book was illustrated by Chris Riddell, he's like my favourite illustrator ever!!". Silence from Dave, the kind of silence that can only be produced when horribly embarassed by a well meaning loved one. "Can we go and get him to sign my book daddy, please please please??". "um, yeah, sure.." says Dave , and allows him to tugged away by his wide-eyed little boy, presumably glowing beetroot red. If I was Neil at this point I would have been rolling on the floor, struggling to breathe as the tears of laughter course down my face...

Someone also asked will he ever go back to comics, to which he replied that he was currently extremely behind schedule working on 2 part Batman story, apparently on page 25 of 32. Of part 1. Something to look forward to....

Neil very generously agreed to sign anything bought in store last night, plus 2 other items people had brought along, which suited me perfectly as I had bought the book, plus brough my copy of Absolute Sandman Vol. 1, and my copy of 1602. Signed all 3, and did little sketches in Sandman and Graveyard Book, see pictures below.

A very fun event, and massive thank you to Neil for taking the time out to talk to everyone, and spend so much time signing and personalising sketches/messages for everyone.

I am a happy fan-boy.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Perception projection

Thought struck me today while waiting for the train - I had, as usual, my head buried in a book, and when I looked up to check if the train had arrived I got a strange sensation of disconnection, almost as if seeing the world for the frist time...

It made me wonder: if we spend some much of our day - buried in computer screen, reading, watching tv - in scenarios where we are effectively projecting our perceptions outside of the body, does it affect your perception overall? It seems to me that this phenomenon could give rise to people feeling disconnected to the real world, and unable to experience the world from an internal point of view, rather than the one we are currently absorbed in.

It was an odd thought, and I dont know if it has any merit so would be glad to hear someone elses opinion on it...

Monday, September 8, 2008

The scary

V for VendettaImage via Wikipedia Its getting frightening now. More so because I'm starting the course in November and still think I can pull off the 50,000 word book. On the bright side the plot is starting to flesh out a little bit, which, on the down side, only gives me a deeper insight into how much more work there is to be done.

Thought I'd start off the day with a little comic talk. Recently bought (had bought for me :) ) a copy of V for Vendetta, and it was the first time I'd read it. Shameful, I know. I saw the movie when it came out a few years ago, and was a big fan, but couldn't understand why people kept telling me it wasn't as good as the book, and why the inestimable Mr. Moore wanted nothing to do with it. I finally get it.

While the film could well have been a decent stand up piece on its own, when compared to the book it was a poor shadow. It lacked the depth and insight into the characters that were the heart of the book, for example, there was next to nothing about the Leader in the film, and Evey's character wasn't correctly intereprated as the terrified child-woman that is depicted through the dialogue and images. All through the book you get a real feel for her character, from the first clumsy frightened attempts to make money selling her body, which dives into not only her despair at her life and all thats been taken away from her, but also the state of the society as a whole. Its the ultimate dog eat dog, survival of the fittest world with the just the faintest veneer of order and civilisation thrown over it.

Coming back to finish this post after a few days of hiatus and hangovers. Its amazing the extra insights into someone's work you can gain given extra time and re-reading. One thing that struck me this morning is the relationship between Cain and Abel in Sandman. Cain is the elder domineering, generally assholey dude who murders his brother on a regular basis. But wha tyo've got to consider there is the vicious cycle that he finds himself in. Back in the dawn days he killed his brother in a fit of rage and so became branded for all time as the first muderer. This then plays out over and over again in the dream. But, and this is the important bit, you get occassional flashes of insight into the character that speak of an unholy amount of pain caused by this recurring action, and the odd flash of tenderness towards his half-wit fluffiness and light brother, who basically just wants them to be friends. At times it seems like he wants to break out of it but, knowing that he can't, it just serves to make him all the more bitter and enraged. I've re-read it a couple of time and, as I say, this just came to me this morning. Amazing what careful thought can give you.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

New project

Decided to sign up to NaNoWriMo, a novel writing competition type thing. Its an interesting idea, and something I've wanted to do for a long time. Basically the idea is to produce a 50K work in one month, November, without editing, rewriting etc., just get the words out.

Should be fun and extremely painful, specially considering thats the month I start my Masters as well. Ah well, they say the best thing to do is pile on the work, helps motivate you to get going at it. also, posting my intention publicly is an added incentive to actually write the damned thing, as terrible embarassment would ensue otherwise...

Thinking of a fantasty type thing, because I have this strange idea that it would be easier than writing a Sci-Fi novel. It will be fun coming up with the ideas and plots anyway. Blogger has very nicely provided me with links to various book writing tools I see... Fun...
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