A bit about myself:
I had some success writing television drama in the 1970’s but that stopped when I crossed over to sit behind a desk as a script editor (on Play For Today – flagship dramas) and then became a producer of television drama. Award-winning productions included PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE and AMONGST WOMEN. I then retired from producing and switched to teaching at the London Film School while continuing to work as a script advisor, running workshops throughout Europe for SOURCES, part of the EU Media Programme.
I’d never written prose, but always wanted to so a couple of years ago I did the Creative Writing MA at Royal Holloway. Since then I have written two novels, DAR (unpublished) and – just completed – DOUGLAS BROWN, RUNNING DOWN. A short story THE GOAT won a Global Short Story competition earlier this year.
I’ve started this blog, among other reasons, to explore my prose writing, to try to define what it is that makes me want to write prose in a particular way. I realise that I’m inevitably a prisoner of my own past in the world of film and television drama; I cannot escape the consequences of this long immersion in what is a radically different form of expression. One simple point to illustrate this difference: the screenwriter doesn’t need to describe locations in much detail since the look of the film will depend on what the location manager comes up with, on how the director wants to use the location, and above all on what the production designer’s vision is. One or two brief notes outlining the general mise-en-scene will suffice.
For me this became a struggle when I started to write prose. DAR (the familiar name for the Tanzanian seaport Dar-Es-Salaam), attempted to do this and was I think reasonably successful. But to some extent DAR was an exercise in writing a fairly traditional novel. It was in the third person, with occasional drifts into free indirect style, and it tried to describe the place and the people in reasonable depth. But it wasn’t somehow me. Nevertheless it achieved one excellent result: Britt Pfluger took me on as a client.
DOUGLAS BROWN is much looser, a freewheeling journey in the company of a chaotic mind. I’ve thrown in a few hints, suggestions of place, but mostly I’ve attempted to let them emerge only when necessary, out of the demands of the story. The result is I think more immediate, edgier, pacier. It’s much more me. Britt now has it with several publishers.
I carried this a stage further with THE GOAT. This has two locations; the central character’s flat gets a few nods to indicate what it probably looks like, but the other location, a pub, isn’t described at all. Nor are the six characters Trevor encounters there described in any way. The reader has to work it out. If you want to read it go to:
Maybe this is pure perversity. I’m currently reading a very good novel, Poppy Adams’ THE BEHAVIOUR OF MOTHS, and it’s saturated with the most detailed, and brilliant, descriptions. Is it that I fear I can’t compete?