Saturday 2 December 2017

True Liar

In between finishing a draft of the latest novel, and planning two more, I took some time out to write a new short story. It features Detective Harland (albeit briefly) and I can't deny that it was fun to spend some time in the company of familiar characters once more.
For a limited time, the e-book is available free. Simply CLICK HERE and get your copy.
I really hope you enjoy it, and do please let me know what you think.

Friday 22 September 2017

Twin Peaks

From the moment I heard that Showtime was reviving Twin Peaks, I had mixed feelings. Like any return to a beloved story, I wanted it to be great but I dreaded it being bad. News that David Lynch would be directing the whole show raised my hopes, and made me more anxious. I waited until all 18 episodes had aired, so I could binge through the whole series and, just before I started watching, I asked a friend what he’d thought of the show. He sent me a text message that read: It’s bloomin’ hard work, but I think it pays off. Episode 8 is a proper WTF! So at least I knew it wasn’t going to be a complete disaster. Armed with that knowledge, I began watching.

(fair warning: spoilers)

The first couple of episodes did seem slow. My friend had said that, where the original Twin Peaks series felt as though it needed more David Lynch, this series almost felt as though it had too much.
We’ve all seen what can happen when a director becomes too revered to be questioned. Ridley Scott and George Lucas did their finest work when they had to fight for their creative vision, but with nobody daring to challenge them, their later films suffered. Was it happening again?
I found myself becoming unhappy with the pacing – I was so eager for the story and wanted more things to happen, but I started to worry that there wouldn’t be enough time (even in 18 episodes) because of those long lingering shots that seemed unable to cut away. The Dougie character was particularly frustrating, as I was impatient for him to snap back into classic FBI Cooper.
Episode 3 did encourage me a bit – the combination of editing and sound design, when Cooper falls onto the island and goes inside to meet the faceless woman, was wonderfully eerie and strange.
But there was still a lot that I didn’t really like. With so many new characters, and plotlines snaking off at tangents, I began to realize that the series would leave me with a host of unresolved issues. And seeing beloved familiar faces now ravaged by age was also rather gloomy – less so with Kyle Maclachlan, though I suppose seeing more of him on screen in the intervening years may have softened that particular blow. The Horne brothers seemed so old, and not very relevant, while the bands at The Roadhouse burned away precious moments of screen-time.

And then I hit episode 8, which was one of the most unsettling things I’ve seen on TV since… well, since Leland killed Madeline all those years ago. The bearded men were a stroke of genius – from that first glimpse of one sitting in the prison cell, they completely freaked me out. The explosion in New Mexico and the intense black-and-white sequence that followed left me wondering how to process what I’d just watched.

In the end, however, it was seeing James Hurley singing at The Roadhouse… that’s when I began to figure out what was troubling me. This new Twin Peaks wasn’t comparing unfavourably with old Twin Peaks. It just wasn’t quite as good as the rose-tinted Twin Peaks in my memory.
In my memory, I’ve edited the series considerably. I’ve fast-forwarded through some of the slower sequences, and I’ve weeded out agoraphobic Harold Smith with his orchids. I’ve completely erased James and his angsty sing-songs, and that daft sabbatical with the wealthy wife and her psychotic chauffeur.

So I kept going, all the way to the finale. And when the real Cooper woke up so perfectly, the Dougie character finally made sense to me. Over all those weeks, he’d raised the stakes, exerting a gentle yet powerful influence on other characters’ lives (especially his family) and in the process making me care deeply about them. I found myself leaning forward in my seat, silently begging David Lynch for a happy ending… and I got one.

Well, kind of.

I also got what felt like the opening to another season of new Twin Peaks. I wasn’t sure about Laura’s plastic-wrapped body disappearing from the shore, and the thought of undoing so much story felt risky. Bringing Laura home to her mother (and, presumably father?) could have been very powerful but I knew it was the final episode… I’d prefer to have seen that at the start of another series. I found myself resenting the cliff-hanger, as well as being unsettled by the deliberate difference in Cooper once he’d crossed over.

But, when I think about it honestly, that’s all just so Twin Peaks.

I know people will disagree with my thoughts on the show, but that’s all these are: my thoughts. Am I glad I watched it? Definitely. There were so many moments that made it all feel worthwhile, even if there were times when I wanted it to get there faster. Like other David Lynch projects, I found it properly disturbing and, like other Twin Peaks projects, I learned a lot but came away with many unanswered questions. But I’m glad I watched it. I’m glad we got to say farewell to Albert, the Log Lady, and Carl. And who knows… maybe in a few years, I’ll look back with my rose-tinted glasses and remember this latest series as being the best Twin Peaks of all.

Monday 13 February 2017

The End. Again.

Today's a day of mixed emotions. I'm simultaneously relieved and nervous, excited and weary... because, late last night, I completed the first draft of another book. I've been working on this story (a historical thriller, set in Switzerland and America during the 40s and 50s) for almost a year now, and it's been a lot of fun to write... even if I didn't have the ending fully worked out until a few weeks ago!
So now I have a draft manuscript, littered with mistakes and notes about things I have to change. Normally, I'd take a few weeks off, then go back to it and start reworking the text. However, this time, I have a dilemma: there's another manuscript!
Some of you may know that I completed the first draft of a psychological thriller last year, a contemporary story set in London. As I said at the time, I found that book particularly difficult to write and, rather than continuing straight on into a cycle of edits and redrafts, I decided to take a break from it, and write something else. The idea was to give myself some distance, some perspective, so that I could return to it with fresh eyes...
So, now I'm faced with an unusual choice. Which book do I work on? Both stories are important to me, but I'm really not sure which one I should take forward first...
That was the thought that started nagging at me when I woke this morning. And then it occurred to me that maybe this isn't the moment to choose. Maybe I'll take a week or two away from both of them, and immerse myself in some different stories for a while. My pile of books-to-be-read is getting out of control and, after all those late nights and uncertain endings, I think I've earned some quality reading time!