Schools, Souls, and Stories

So today has been spent doing a little reading, currently reading The Queen Of The Damned, by Anne Rice. I’ve been listening to The Long Dark Tea-Time Of the Soul, by Douglas Adams on audiobook. I’ve written around fourteen sides of my new novel, all about not being listened to, schools, and written in black ink.

The Queen of the Damned has that strange little quality to it that I have come love Anne Rice for. The varying voices and pace of the story, coupled with the dark history of vampirism. I know there is a lot of vampire literature out there, but Anne Rice is a cut above, weaving stories and concepts with the force of marble draped in velvet.

These are stories about vampires, but that’s only on the surface, that’s just to draw you in. The series conjures up philosophy, history, all in a way that leaves you laughing and wanting more. You don’t have to worry about not liking this type of literature, because there isn’t anything out there quite like it.

TLDTOTS, by Douglas Adams is the second Dirk Gently novel, and if you’re a fan of the American or British adaptation I recommend you at least give it a try. This is a novel that can’t help but bleed everything that is wonderful about Douglas Adams. It could easily exist in the same universe as The Hitchhiker’s Guide, but in a way that leaves you feeling a little hollow when you realise that Douglas hadn’t written more.

If you love Norse mythology, the powers of chance, and spiteful refusals to open a fridge full of rotten food, then this is a story for you. It’s a dark comedy, wrapped in a anorak, that defends the reasoning that funny and serious can be mutually exclusive. It leaves you thinking about the power of phrases, how to explain the plausibility of fate, and the significance of which when considering an act of god.

I’m writing a novel, which is either a adult’s book for children, or a children’s book for adults, either way it’s something fun. I have just finished a scene about getting people to listen to you, and it made me think about how it was for me being a child, largely invisible in the eyes of adults, who wanted to spend as little time as possible acknowledging I was there.

The story is about growing up, and the fears that surround such an idea. It’s about masks, and the significance of people not knowing who you are. It’s also about friendship, community, and magic. These are themes that were as important to me as a child, as they are now as a curly-haired adult.

When I decided that I wanted to write a children’s story, I knew I wanted to write one that I would have liked as a child. Something which could let me know that it wasn’t just me who felt like an outsider, taught me to stick by convictions, and do so in a way that wasn’t belittling.

Some of the best stories I read growing up have left me stopping halfway through, looking up new words, which I would then proudly use in conversations the day afterwards. It made me feel like I was learning something, but in a way that made me feel like my time and attention was valued.

I’ve been doing some doodles of the story which include: A ghost-like book called Tatty, Two witches that run a coffee shop, The Trash Trolls that clean the bridges along the canals of Manchester, Glass bees, and a whole bunch of odd masks.

I’ve been spending time researching the history of masks across the world, festivals involving masked rituals, and all sorts of superstition and folklore. The book is set in Manchester, but I wanted to talk about the city in the way I think of it, as a place that welcomes all of the worlds culture. Everyone is a tourist in Manchester, and those that stay do so because they can offer the city something only they can give.






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