Flying Towards Reality

When I was a kid, I could fly. I remember this very clearly. It wasn’t how you imagine it, not like Superman, but if I placed my foot just right, I could step onto the air.

Gradually I was able to move forward. The sensation was not like I was zooming down the street but that I was still and the houses were moving past me. I could travel far and wide in this way at speeds that would make an astronaut sick.

This memory is as clear and as real as when I learned to ride a bike, or the first time I fell off a skateboard.

Of course really it was just a recurring dream, I wasn’t actually able to fly, I think, but I’ve always had difficulties keeping the dreaming world out of the real world.

There are two ways to go with this problem. Your can either spiral into madness or become an author. Writing, after all, is nothing more than applied daydreaming.

That harnessed flight of fancy has been tamed over the years, chained to the page by grammar and story structure. it has now been enclosed in a paperback which you can purchase, if you wish.

Jack’s Game is more than a novel. It is the culmination of years of keeping my feet on the ground and my dreams on the page.

Breaking Out Of Your Echo Chamber To Write Believable Characters

Okay, so this is basically an escuse to react to a mad video that I think you will enjoy…

I made a video reacting to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Republican campaign video.

Here’s a picture of the tags I set for this post. I think they speak for themselves –

I talk about the need to break out of your own echo chamber in order to create believable non-stereotypical characters in your novels, but really I just wanted to share the madness of a the far right conspiracy believing politician.

“WIN THIS 50 CAL GUN!” if only politicians in the UK had incentives like that…

Ignore me. I’m sick.

What is this art form? This theatre of words moving across a page? The trade of building images out of symbols? Carving literary statues with grammatical chisels? Writing is so much and so little. A bad sentence is almost indistinguishable from a good one. It takes a person with a degree to know what is good and what is not. They will tell you Dan Brown paints his words with turds and shake their fists at the pages of The Bookseller magazine which dares to print sales figures that contradict their assessment.

The average reader has no idea. Nor do they care.

You can have a novel, 120,000 words long, and find nothing of meaning within its pages. Heroes running the same course as many before them. A save-the-cat journey of write-by-numbers plots designed to move and thrill. The same story sold bought and read again and again and again.

Another book. Which follows no particular pattern. Does not follow the rules of grammar exactly. And does not dance around a story circle. Filled with depth and aphorisms and wit. Is never read.

If a genre book is considered literary is it no longer genre? If a literary book is blandly written is it still art? Is storytelling itself art, regardless of the prominence or not of adjectives in its prose?

I always wanted to write whatever the British equivalent of The Great American Novel is. In wanting to learn how to do this I have become more and more interested in turning a collection of words on a page into a continuous moving image in the reader’s mind. I write westerns now. The goal of the books is not to blow you away with a skilful display of my vocabulary and the wrangling of obscure and rarefied words, but to put the words out of your mind entirely. I want my stories to grab you by the hair and drag you through the dirt. I want you to read them in one sitting and turn that last page with your heart racing and your eyes raw with fatigue and belly hungry. But instead of eating, or sleeping, I want you to turn right back to the start and read it again. Is that art?

To do that, maybe I have not created art. I have created entertainment.
Will that do? Is that enough?
I still want to write The Great British Novel, but writing pulp is too much fun.

Right now I am sick. I’m sat on the couch amidst a snowstorm of crumpled tissue. My nose is red. I’m sniffling. I have a tickle at the back of my throat that I have been refusing to turn into a cough since I started writing this incoherent nonsense. I should be writing the next chapter in my book but instead I am rambling about, what? Whether or not writing is art? I have no idea. I have lost the thread of my original thought. The cold that has turned my brain into a red hot storm of snot has forced my imagination into some kind of fevered spasm of bollocks.

I have the urge to write but not the clarity to do so usefully. So now I have done this. I started writing with no plan and have ended up here, and you’re right here with me, wondering what the point of any of this is.
We are conjoined in an existential crises of blog gibberish. I will set you free so I can go and sneeze.

Let me leave you then. I am going to drink coffee, cough up some lung-butter (as Rachel so juicily calls it), take some Sudafed, and try again to write what I opened my laptop to write in the first place. Some good old fashioned gun-slinging pulp fiction.

The Wild West Is Coming Back…

Who loves westerns? Everybody? Great. Come and join the Elwood Flynn group. I will be releasing four westerns next year and if you want an early insight into the world of Robin Castle, as he travels a path of vengeance and violence, this is the place to be. Get in early.

I will be releasing a short story soon. A taster of what is to come.

All my stories come with Elwood Flynn’s Solemn Promise – This book will contain scenes of extreme violence and themes of loss and vengeance.

Be warned. Be thrilled.

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5am Writing Blues

Getting up at 5am to write stopped being fun this week. It was hard. The words came out like stone toothpaste.

Next week will be different. I will get up with that same verve that I started with. The excitement of being amongst gunslingers while the house slept.

This week was difficult because the story stopped being a western. It was always meant to start in New York and wind its way west. I’m halfway through and can’t find my way out of the city. Gritting a 6’9″ pissed off lawman and a percheron horse halfway across a country is harder than it sounds, especially when you’re trying to maintain a certain level of pulp action.

I should have picked a city closer the the lawless frontier.

This is Robin Castle’s origin story. He’s a marshal in New York. Something terrible happens to his family and the guy who did it flees. Castle gives up his badge and the rule of the law to take after him.

He finds himself in a dry unforgiving land with vengeance in his heart and a gun on his hip.

Sounded simple when I came up with it.

Author Interview with Elwood Flynn

It is no secret that Elwood Flynn and I are the same person, which makes interviewing him slightly tricky. I write literary horror and he writes pulp westerns. He is my penname, but our styles are different. I wanted to sit down and talk with him about his process.

I met him on set of his first novel, Hell’s Ridge. A small frontier town near the Colorado River. It was 1875. I found him in a dark corner of the saloon. He had a typewriter on the table with a page loaded. He had stopped mid-sentence. Loose tobacco littered a short stack of typed pages.

He was fishing a tooth out of his whiskey. I took the seat opposite him. He didn’t look up or acknowledge me. He let out a sigh. His shoulders sagged. He stared at the elusive molar.

I knew his temperament. I waited for him to initiate the conversation. I looked around at my surroundings. I felt out of place in my t-shirt. A piano played by the bar. I thought maybe I’d go and get a drink. Then Elwood came to a decision. He put the glass to his lips and drank, tooth and all. He put his fingers back to the keys on the typewriter and noticed me.

“What do you want?”

“It’s time we talked.”

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

ELWOOD: No.

ANDREW: It won’t take long.

ELWOOD. No.

He started to type.

I waited.

ANDREW: What are you writing?

ELWOOD: You know what I’m writing.

I decided to get a drink. When I came back he was smoking a badly rolled cigarette.

ELWOOD: I don’t like your books.

ANDREW: Why not?

ELWOOD: You try too hard.

ANDREW: What do you mean?

ELWOOD: You write “literary” horror. That’s how you describe it.

ANDREW: Yes.

ELWOOD: Do you know how pretentious it is that you feel the need to include the word “literary”? Carpenters don’t describe a table as being “wooderary”.

ANDREW: We write in different styles. I write long form horror that adheres to literary convention, you write pulp fiction. I spend hours labouring over the language, ensuring there’s no repetition or-

ELWOOD: Repetition? If your “literary sensibilities” are shaken because you had to read the word “gun” twice on the same page you don’t deserve to be entertained by me. I don’t care if you read it three times. All I care about is the story, which, if I’ve done it right, will be dragging you along by the hair so fast you won’t have time to count the words.

ANDREW: So you don’t care about good writing?

He ignored the question.

ELWOOD: You want long descriptive passages? Tough luck. Use your imagination. All you need to know is Robin Castle has a gun and a bad guy is about to die. And I do care about the writing. I just have different opinions about it to you.

ANDREW: Robin Castle is a great character, how did you come up with-

ELWOOD: Don’t brown-nose me. I’ve read that horror book you wrote, Jack’s Game, is that what it was called? You know you don’t need to describe the curtains, right?

ANDREW: I’m sure I didn’t describe the curtains.

ELWOOD: Nobody ever read a Jack Reacher book and said, “Do you remember the curtains in that one scene? They were great curtains.”

ANDREW: I don’t describe curtains in my books.

ELWOOD: You’re stopping me from writing.

ANDREW: Can I ask one more question?
He didn’t answer.

ANDREW: Is this where you normally write.

ELWOOD: No. I normally get up at 5am. I write for two hours. And then I go to work.

ANDREW: I write in the evenings, when I get the chance.

ELWOOD: You’re lazy.

ANDREW: I’m you. I guess I’m just grumpier in the mornings. That might explain your attitude.

He pulled a gun on me. It was an old six-shooter.

ELWOOD: I will shoot you if you keep speaking.

ANDREW: This is ridiculous. We’re the same person. I just thought it would be good to get inside your head a bit. Try and understand how you think. Why you write the way you do? What made you decide to pair the language down? To write novellas instead of proper boo-

ELWOOD: Proper books? There’s no such thing as a proper book. Long novels are just indulgent. All I did was get rid of all the boring bits. Rip the curtains down. It’s all about movement and dialogue.

ANDREW: I’m not trying to offend you.

Elwood pulled the hammer back.

ANDREW: You can’t kill me.

He pulled the trigger. I felt the bullet smash through my ribcage and lodge in my lung.

He fired again.

Everything went dark.

END OF INTERVIEW

Join the Elwood Flynn Facebook group for news about his upcoming series of Westerns starring Robin Castle, the 6’9″ lawman turned feared bounty hunter.

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