Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Brook Cottage Books has a very special guest post today. Please give a big warm welcome to the lovely Will MacMillan Jones. Take it away Will!
A nice bit of Wensleydale, Gromit.
Most of JB’s authors get invited on here to talk about their books. The blood that has poured from their fingers as they hammer frantically on their abused computer keyboards, the rivers of tears and sweat (yuk!) that have dripped from their faces as they reveal their tortured souls on screen: the agony and ecstasy of rejections, acceptances, and seeing their work in print… You are probably all bored to tears with that, so I’m here today to talk about cheese.
You see, I’m a fantasy author. Not a fantastic author, but a fantasy author. Stop panting there at the back, I didn’t mean *that* sort of fantasy either: JB doesn’t have that sort of thing on here. Or so I’ve been led to believe. You regular readers might know better. In fact, I’ve seen some of the pictures she puts up on Facebook, so maybe I should know better. Sorry, back to the subject.* I know it’s a bit of a confession, but there we are. My teenage daughter (in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm) set me up on one of those internet dating sites last year. I turned it on: ‘what do you do?’ it asked. ‘Fantasy writer’ I typed in, making sure that I had spelt it properly since the site was run by Americans, and you can never be too careful with their spellcheckers. Down the page was a list of things not to talk about with ladies you might meet: Fantasy was on top of the list, so I turned the thing off and have never been back. Honestly, what use was it to me? “What do you do?” someone would ask. “The site says I’m not supposed to tell you.” I’d sound like a notorious serial killer out on license with a new identity; or maybe a hired assassin, rather than an author no one has ever heard of.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, cheese. I like cheese, and I’ve tried many of the varieties on offer. I’ve even tried the ‘Stinking Bishop’ variety that achieved notoriety when used in one of the brilliant Wallace and Gromit films. It didn’t float my boat, to be honest: although in fairness cheese is rarely used as a floatation device, even in these times of stringent economy. I keep several different varieties of cheese in the fridge. Blue Stilton, White Stilton with Lemon, Oakwood and, yes, Wensleydale. Probably the only good thing to come out of Yorkshire.***
Why? Well I’ve found, like many authors, that three in the morning is a time when I am visited by strange ideas - many of which become fiction. A bad dream about cats ended up in an anthology called ‘Felinity’ for Grimbold Books. A very strange dream about zombies dancing to ‘Johnny B Goode’ became a short story that won last years’ Northampton Literary Group Flash Fiction competition. Three others have formed the basis of novels that will be released, or in one case re released (after the publisher absconded with all the monies) in a few weeks time. Most of the authors reading this will be nodding, and thinking about the discomfort they cause their partners by sitting up in bed at three in the morning (or four in the morning, if it was a long dream) and frantically scribbling notes on the pad they keep besides the bed. One of the best things about being single is that I can put on the lights properly to make notes, without fear of either recriminations, abuse or a well-aimed pillow…
So the principle is this: you have a dream, make notes, the dream serves as the basic inspiration for the book, or helps break the writers block, or provides the plot twist to free the hero from the frankly impossible situation the poor benighted author has just created for his/her Main Character before going to sleep in the knowledge that they aren’t the one about to get maimed/injured/killed in the next chapter. This is where the cheese comes in. With a judicious choice of the flavour/variety to be eaten late at night, the author can avail themselves of a choice of solutions. I find that Blue Cheese, possibly because it is technically already rotting -that’s true by the way, Google it - helps provide dark and moody scenarios or stories. Zombies and the Undead are heavily featured here. Should you be after a scene in which the hero/heroine needs to smoulder to attract a partner, than a smoked cheese works wonders, if eaten with herb flavoured crackers. I normally go for the stilton with lemon if I need an action scene, as the lemon adds a sharpness to the dream sequence.
Wensleydale is for those times I want to stand a character on a crumbling cliff top, or down a mine, or on an expose hillside, and need to help them escape.
I could go on, but there’s a risk this blog post could turn into a commercial for cheese, when really it’s supposed to be a commercial for me so I’d better stop there. But you get the idea, I’m sure. Ladies and Gentlemen, I offer you the essential literary aid that is cheese. A very present friend and helpmeet to the author in a hurry or a quandary.
*Sorry, I do digress sometimes, it’s a bad habit I’m trying to break.**
**Like using footnotes.
*** I’m from Lancashire you see, and have an inherited prejudice.
About Will Macmillan Jones
Will Macmillan Jones is the author of the underground hit comic fantasy collection, The Banned Underground (www.thebannedunderground.com)
His first book for 5-8 year olds, Snort and Wobbles, is now on ebook with the paperback version out at the end of the month.