ABC, you and me…

A challenge I received from Mister Stephen Gallagher for the more bookish among us.

1. Go through the alphabet, and for each letter, think of a book you’ve read that starts with that letter (A, An, and The do not count).

2. You must write down the FIRST book you think of for any given letter.

3. You must have actually READ the book.

4. If you think of a more impressive-sounding book for a particular letter, you CANNOT change to the more impressive-sounding book.

American Gods
The Bitch
A Clash of Cymbals
Danny the Champion of the World
Empire of the Sun
The First Men in the Moon
Grey Lensman
Hunters of Gor
Kane and Abel
Lucky Jim
The Man in the High Castle
Oliver Twist
President Fu Manchu (Might have been The Princess Bride. Who knows? But Loli mentioned it to me, so it’s not the first one I thought of…)
The Queen of the Damned
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Skylark of Space
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Watership Down
The Young Visiters
Z for Zachariah

Damn. My roots are showing.

No taggery for this one, it’s strictly voluntary, but stick a link in the comments if you do so I can read yours.

Films I watch again and again

Tagged by Steve Turnbull, who recently made a list on his blog of films he keeps coming back to again and again. And tagged me to do the same.

My list isn’t particularly deep, or clever, and isn’t even necessarily a list of films I consider great. The Third Man is missing, as are Aliens, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and many other films I think are essential viewing.

But this isn’t a list of amazing films. It’s a list of films that I just keep going back to and watching again.

There’s no particular order to it; it’s just the order that I happened to think of them in. You may wish to read some significance into this, but I don’t personally.

Pitch Black
Star Wars: A New Hope
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan
Die Hard
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Frankenstein (1931)
The Bride of Frankenstein

The Princess Bride
The Spy Who Loved Me
The Terminator
Hard Boiled
The Thing
The Quiet Earth
Metropolis (usually the Moroder version, but with the sound off)

I shan’t perform any particular analysis on why I keep coming back to these above all others, but I will say I would consider every single one of these films, if you haven’t seen them, to be well worth your time.

Now, let’s see if I can remember how these meme things work. Oh, yes.

1. Provide a non-exhaustive list of films you’ll happily watch again and again;
2. There is no rule 2.
3. Reprint the rules.
4. Tag three others and ask them to do the same.

Tagged: Stephen Gallagher, Danny Stack, and Jason Arnopp

Grinding slow but exceedingly fine

There’s been no blog posting this week due to a combination of script revisions and working out of Elstree, travel to and from which took a big chunk out of my time for the last fortnight.

Instead, here’s something I was actually supposed to do almost a year ago, which is: list seven songs I’m into Right Now.

Of course, Right Now is Right Now Almost A Year Ago, but, hell, better late than never.

All the Strange, Strange Creatures – Murray Gold, Doctor Who Original Music from Series Three
Warm Sound – Zero 7, When It Falls
Knock ’em out – Lily Allen, Alright, Still
Oh My God – Mark Ronson feat. Lily Allen, Version
What We Need More Of Is Science – MC Hawking, A Brief History of Rhyme: MC Hawking’s Greatest Hits
The Dozens – MC Hawking, A Brief History of Rhyme: MC Hawking’s Greatest Hits
Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones, Come Away with Me
One Final Effort – Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, Halo 3

Tagses for Christine, William, Lara, and Stuart based on the fact a quick google didn’t turn up any evidence that they did this the first time round either.

Unimportant Things

Tagged by John Soanes.

1) Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog.
2) Write the rules.
3) Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you.
4) Tag 6 persons adding their links directly.
5) Alert the persons that you tagged them.

Two out of five ain’t bad. Let’s see if we can improve on that.

Thing The First

In my early twenties I contracted Bell’s Palsy. One of the nerves in my neck became inflamed, swelling and trapping the other, which resulted in complete paralysis of half of my face.

This led to such exciting symptoms as drooling and being unable to close one of my eyes properly (meaning I had to smush my face against the pillow to go to sleep).

The first symptom was a taste of iron in my mouth. The second was that, while out in a pub with an ex, she asked me if I was leering at her. After denying it, she told me to check my face in a mirror, which I promptly did, to discover half of it wasn’t working any more.

The diagnosis was that almost everyone gets completely better, and it just takes time. This proved to be true in my case, and the only remaining symptom is that when I eat spicy food, I cry – but only from one of my eyes.

Thing The Second

My first novel was written in a school exercise book, and went through several drafts.

(Well, I thought it was a novel at the time. It’s a novel in the same way that The Young Visiters is a novel. But I think Ms Ashford has a better style, if less ray guns.)

If you imagine the potboiling SF novels of the thirties with a dash of V, you’ll be in the right ballpark.

It came in six chapters, at the end of each our heroes were knocked unconscious.

I still have it somewhere.

No, you can’t read it.

Thing The Third

I’m cross-dominant.

Surprisingly, this isn’t a kinky sex thing, but means that while my dominant hand is my right (for throwing, catching, and so on), my dominant eye is my left.

This is not generally a problem in everyday life. However it’s a known problem in target shooting.

Should I ever wish to take up shooting – or alternatively, should I be forced to fight for survival in a terrifying post-apocalyptic world – I should try and shoulder the weapon on my left, rather than my right, in order to aim correctly.

Thing The Fourth

In primary school, I was in a school play.

Unfortunately, when I got onto stage, I was completely dry. Nothing. The line-thief had come and stolen everything from my brain.

I stumbled offstage very embarrassedly, and was so mortified I didn’t get on a stage again until university.

Which is a shame, because acting’s great. It’s fun, and as a writer you learn a lot.

And when you’re not a child, you know what? The other people working with you will help you out.

So it’s not scary at all.

Thing The Fifth

I adore cliffhangers.

This is probably a result of being raised on Doctor Who and 30s serials.

I love the way that they force you to wait for a resolution. How will our heroes escape? What’s going to happen next? Cliffhangers help your imagination to engage with a text in a way that a revelation ending doesn’t.

It makes me quite sad that no-one really does cliffhangers any more, except for the occasional two-parter in Doctor Who.

The first series of Alias was also notable for having a cliffhanger at the end of every episode.

Sadly, the Network made them stop it after the first series. Which made me sad.

Thing The Sixth

I dress to the left.

I tag, in alphabetical order by last name, Jason Arnopp, Phill Barron, Michelle Lipton, Christine Patton, Stuart Perry, and Danny Stack.

Good and Bad

Memed by the delightful Lara to answer the following question:

“When it comes to writing, what do you know you’re good at, and what aspect of writing are you worst at? (Procrastination is not permitted as either part of the answer.)”

What do I know I’m good at? Nothing, for sure yet. I’m still moving through my apprenticeship here, so there’s lots of work to do in all areas.

But I’ve just spent the last half-hour or so going through various bits of feedback over the last couple of years, and the answer right now seems to be:

Good at: set-pieces, high concept, story.
Less good at: creating characters. (I’m fine working with other people’s, but I get notes on characterisation for those I’ve created from scratch.)

So I guess that’s what I’ll be trying to improve in 2009.

Passing on the question to Gallagher, Smith, Arnopp, and Perry.