About Me

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I was born in Surrey (England), brought up in Galicia (Spain) and currently reside in a small town in the North West of England... I've always enjoyed writing, scribbling away on scraps of paper and daydreaming whilst the world happens around me.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Name that tune in one

Music for writing

from rock'n'roll to mellow

also known as - what's your (writing) poison?

I'm the type of writer that uses music to get into the "zone". It gets my creative juices flowing, and I find it's better than waiting around for some "muse" to bring inspiration (though she's appreciated when she turns up out of the blue). Inspiration can often be a fleeting, elusive companion. So in moments when the well does run dry, I take a spin through my musical memory lane (also known as my music library). Some writers like silence to concentrate, I enjoy the good chaos of Fall Out Boy blaring out of my speakers...

Fall Out Boy are one of my favourite bands (yes I understand how that may be frowned upon, but to quote FOB "I Don't Care"...) They're my default "go listen to" when I'm feeling down in the dumps to help pick me up. They might not be everyone's cup of tea (that makes me sound very British, I don't even drink tea), but I can't get enough of their songs. Yes, my teenage years were spent listening to the likes of Blink 182, All American Rejects and Fall Out Boy, and I will openly admit to still listening to them. But, like them or not, lyrically speaking, Fall Out Boy have some of the best lines out there today (none of that aggressive weird sexist stuff modern music seems to love spewing out, oh, and they write their own stuff). So when it comes down to writing, more often than not, FOB is my poison.

Music is much like poetry, and songs have an insight into the soul much in the same way. Lyrics go straight to the point, each song tells a story, and they have to hit the target with just a few choice words. A simple line, a turn of phrase or sometimes just a beautiful visual. Fall Out Boy have a quirky style that suits me perfectly, because if nothing else, I am definitely quirky. Their music speaks to me in a way a lot of today's music doesn't (honestly, I've not properly listened to the radio in years as I find it infuriating, though there are still some great bands out there, you just have to dig for them).

From my all time favourite "Drop a heart and break a name", to the way I often feel as a writer "The hand behind this pen relives a failure everyday"... From the way bitter breakups feel "Say my name and his in the same breath, I dare you to say they taste the same. Let the leaves fall off in the summer and let December glow feel flames" to how vulnerable life can make me feel "I'm a stitch away from making it and a scar away from falling apart". These are just a few of the many lines I wish I'd written. They might not be in a classic novel or penned by a world famous writer, but they are elegant, insightful and most of all clever.

I do listen to a lot of different types of music, depending on what I'm writing, from Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley, to Bob Marley, Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Goo Goo Dolls, and my Spanish favourites Alejandro Sanz, Amaral, El canto del loco and Estopa. Estopa are a Spanish band and much like FOB their lyrics are original and always have a twist to them that's a delight to listen to. I like a band that's witty (and when I'm feeling homesick I listen to Estopa and my world returns to normality). Writers block can easily be cured in around three and a half minutes by listening to a truly good song, whatever your choice may be.

With the lyrical theme in mind,  I'm going to be writing a 99 word flash fiction for a competition this month. My only issue, for now, is topic. For short stories or flash fiction, you have to choose a simple scene or idea and make it go straight to the point, like a song. The aim is to express something that will stay with the reader in such a beautifully haunting way that it'll keep them coming back to read more! (the biggest problem is accomplishing that impossible dream of writing perfection, because we all now, something can always be re-edited). So over the next few weeks I'm going to start thinking like a song writer... fingers crossed that it works!

I'd love to hear other people's opinions on how they feel about writing with music. Rachel Caine always adds a list of her music playlist at the end of her books, so that readers can listen to what she did as she wrote, which I think is a lovely touch... So do you prefer complete silence, the sounds of nature (I used to have software on my computer that made everything from ocean and rain sounds to birds chirping to help me concentrate whilst writing essays at University) or like me do you like a good selection of music to choose from? In the meantime I leave you with FOB and Saturday (because it's Saturday and I can't sleep)... enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh!

Week 6 - Your favourite comedy movie

or what I would call "asking a parent to pick their favourite child"

also known as being stuck between a rock and a hard place

I live for comedy, there’s nothing like laughing. Comedy can cause you to burst out laughing at the most unexpected and inappropriate of times. That's probably why I like it the most, out of all film genres. Sometimes things can be so funny that they drag you out of the darkest of times. So in a time where I'm going through emotional turbulence, what could be better than talking about what makes me laugh?

Dark and tortured, awkward, quirky, 80's, with a romantic twist or full frontal no holds barred "this may offend some people". Comedy is hands down the best genre. To name some of my favourites....
Brat Pack films, with Will Ferrel, Owen and Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller ...
Kevin Smith films, Mallrats, Dogma, Clerks, Clerks II ... He's a brilliant writer and director. Funny is in his blood.
Hot shots, Ferris Bueller, Robin Hood men in tights ...
I could go on forever!

There are some comedies, however, which no matter how hard they try, just don't make me laugh. If a comedy is trying too hard, odds are it's not that funny. Most slapstick comedies fall in this category for me. (I could name a whole reel, but they don't need any more advertising than they already get)

But back to the funny... I've been waiting a few months for the release of TED in cinemas over here in the UK. Now this was a film that for me could do no wrong. Here's why - SPOILER ALERT -

1. Have Patrick Stewart (a Shakespearean actor who can definitely do funny) narrate the film.
Favourite quote from TED: "Now if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."
Favourite film appearance - King Arthur in Robin Hood Men in Tights

2. Written and Directed by Seth MacFarlane.

Seth is always taking things to that line where people question if it's acceptable to laugh or not. This film has many moments like that thanks to this man's sense of humour and comedy timing. This is something for which I will always be grateful, Ted was 106 minutes of constant in your face comedy. I haven't laughed this hard in years.

Favourite tv series: American Dad! 

3.  Mark Wahlberg, the Boston accent and the sex appeal.

When I think of Mark Wahlberg I think action movies (and I love action movies almost as much as I love comedy). But seeing him portray a clueless, loveable guy who hangs out with his teddy bear, now that was a brilliant bit of casting.

Best moment: seeing Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis doing a hilarious dance scene (in this film it's not the guy that lifts the girl up and spins her around)

4. Mila Kunis as the leading lady

Not only is she stunning, she has possibly the best sense of humour of any of the modern day actresses out there. She voices Meg on Family guy and stars in one of my favourite comedies Forgetting Sarah Marshall. 

Best scene: Vampire musical song.

5. Every kid wishes their toy would come to life. But take that toy and let it grow up, all childhood innocence gone, and you've got yourself a great character!
6.  Flash Gordon. THE REAL FLASH GORDON. (Savior of the Universe)

7. They make fun of everyone. And I do mean literally EVERYONE is made fun of in this movie. Taking yourself too seriously is bad for your funny bone. 

8. Add a touch of creepy. Played brilliantly by Giovanni Ribisi, Donny and his scary kid are the brilliant creep factor of this movie. Creepy can be funny too.

9. Throw some emotion in there (because sometimes a simple love story just isn't enough) - Ted's stuffing gets ripped out and I held my breath hoping he wouldn't die! After all, what makes a comedy great is if the story has some substance to it (unlike slapstick).

10. The final scene. (Don't watch if easily offended)

Comedy is different for each person, my brother, for instance, didn't enjoy watching Clerks, though I can't see why not... it's a great film. I have a high tolerance for inappropriate humour, but I guess we all have lines that we consider shouldn't be crossed! As a writer I always feel that (at least to a certain degree, because we can't all always agree on everything) I should take other people's views into consideration when it comes to something being funny or not. Even Seth MacFarlane cut some scenes and cut back on the amount of swearing in Ted from the initial shooting to the version we all saw at the theatres... As an avid comedy fan I find I will go and watch what appeals to me, regardless of anyone else's views... But is self censorship just about wanting your book/script/etc to sell and do well, or is it a necessary evil? I'd love to hear your opinions! (All in good humour of course!)