Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Yes, well.

I was actually looking forward to reading this. I thought it sounded clever and funny. From a quick browse through the illustrations -- Elizabeth kicking zombies in the head, Lady Catherine keeping legions of ninjas etc -- it sounded vastly entertaining.

It's not.

In fact, I'm not sure I can finish it. For one thing, at its heart the novel is an abridged version of P&P. Abridged = BAD. I feel as though the abridgement has been done by someone with little respect for Austen and the essence of the novel. It has slashed scenes to the bare minimum -- to the point that the BBC six-part TV series actually features more of the story and original dialogue.

Worse -- far far worse -- it has actually changed some of the dialogue tags. For example, instead of having Caroline Bingley expound on the various attributes of the truly accomplished lady, it gives this speech to Darcy. Oh, so wrong. Nor do I like the snide remarks inserted into the mouths of various characters. In the same Caroline/Darcy conversation, Darcy actually says all these rude things to Caroline, which she blithely ignores, keeping to her original dialogue. And in another scene Mr Bennett verbally abuses Mrs Bennett to her face, in a once-again one-sided edit.

And this is before I even get to the zombies.

Actually, I can forgive the zombie insertions more easily. They are, after all, the premise of the book. It's quite interesting to read the diversions in the story to accommodate zombie attacks etc. My main problem with them is an insurmountable one: they are simply too ancillary to the main storyline. Without tampering with the overall storyline (in the manner of Lost in Austen for example) the zombies cannot actually influence anything. They become nothing more than a backdrop to the main story of P&P.

I think I would have liked the whole book better had it started off in the true P&P manner, introduced zombies, and then diverged, more and more as the zombies actually had impact, caused characters to make different choices etc. I think it would have been more fun to write as well. As it is, it's little more than a editing job. Glimmers of creativity hidden like flecks of gold in a chunk of rock. Or maybe the reverse (pockets of impurities in a gold nugget).

This is actually our Page Turners book for this month. I don't think it'll matter if I don't finish it, although I would like to make it up to the Lady Catherine scenes with her ninjas. And I may skip ahead to read key scenes like proposal #1 and the delicious scenes at Pemberley. Hmmm.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Trailwalker update

Team Footsloggers leaped to the head of the fundraising leaderboard for the first few weeks, raising $800 without even really trying, thanks to the donations of kind friends and family; but now we have slipped back to 3rd overall with some impressive fundraising action from "Twisted Sisters" and "Iron Ladies". (It's nice to see the all-girl teams setting the pace in any event!)

We might nevertheless pat ourselves on the back for providing incentive to others to get into action! But we're not finished yet, with some fundraising ideas in their infancy and still heaps of time to make it to our planned $5K.

On the training front, we've been doing it solo for the past couple of weeks as well as next weekend, with a team weekend planned at Phillip Island 7-8 November. I find it easy enough to accumulate km in short bursts, but going out for longer walks on my own is not so fun and I've managed to find all sorts of reasons to avoid doing so. It will be good to have a weekend away with the girls.

We are blogging about Trailwalker in more detail at our Footslogger site, so check in regularly for all the insight from not just me, but Lisa and Emma also (so far . . .).

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Immersion (part 2)

I'm back from my immersion weekend and so far so good. I admit there was a fair degree of procrastination on Saturday in the form of a walk into town to get coffee and groceries, then I spent 3.5 hours reading the previous 13 chapters (37,000 words) aloud to myself -- just to get in the mood and remember what I was on about, you understand! (Ended up hoarse . . . )

So at about 6:30pm on Saturday evening I was finally ready to actually start writing something. Which I did. And then again this morning. All I need to do now is keep plugging away, a little a day. The key is maintaining momentum.

The good news: I actually enjoyed reading though chapters 15 to 27. Maybe there's hope for the story yet.
The bad news: I am stupidly behind the self-imposed schedule I concocted in around May. According to that I should be writing chapter 43 this week, rather than chapter 28. Hmmm.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


This coming weekend I am going down to the island for a period of writing immersion. The very thought of it makes me smile. And feel relieved. It has been too long since I've spent time with my characters in their world, and they feel like shadow creatures, rather than the flesh and blood they once were.

I have let my life get out of control a little bit. I allowed a natural distance from the story to form while I prepared my Hachette submission, but failed to regain the ground, and instead let it slip further and further away like a boat that has slipped its mooring. It is too far away now for a simple tug, and I will have to haul and haul and haul on a water-logged rope to get it back again.

It may happen that I spend hours reading back over what I have previously written, and simply thinking. I may need to pick up a pen and try to tap into the creative part of my brain using free writing techniques. But whatever it takes, I will be spending time in that world and that story -- something that has not happened in a few months.

I admit that for the past 6 weeks, I have been fairly obsessed with Trailwalker. Between that and dabbling with voluntary communications for Aussiecon 4, I have had little brain space left for anything else. And while I will probably spend a little time this weekend on both these things -- going for one or two purposeful walks, and developing up some copy for a promotional flyer -- I intend to spend the great majority of time on my novel.

I certainly do not regret taking on these additional activities. I believe both will be enlivening experiences, and Trailwalker in particular is for such a worthwhile cause. But I do want to get some balance back. Writing is key element of my overall character, and I feel that when I'm not writing there is something missing. I'm not quite whole. This weekend is about finding my way again.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Brighton to Beaumaris

Well, Footsloggers team training is now officially underway. For the first time since the adventure began, all four of us donned runners and daypacks on Sunday for a stroll along the picturesque beach path from Brighton to Beaumaris. Dodging numerous cyclists and the occasional jogger, we soaked up the gorgeous spring sunshine and started to put ourselves through our paces. The only notable absentee was Orinoco, our womble team mascot, who slept in.

For my part, I was wearing my new trailrunners and camelbak hydration pack, and both proved comfortable with no sore spots. The fact that I am prone to blisters and was walking in new-ish shoes, might go some way to prove the worth of the expensive thorlo socks!

Our specific destination was the Ricketts Point cafe, where we met our support crew teamleader for lunch. It was a lovely reward after the morning’s exertions, and great that we can start to get our support crew involved. Yes, OK, it was also a convenient way of getting back to our starting point!

In total, we walked about 15km in 3h 12 mins, which is a speed of 4.7kph. Next team training will hopefully be a weekend down at Philip Island in early November. The plan is to spend a day at Wilson’s Prom doing “hills” and a day/night walking around the island. In the meantime, I’m thinking it might be good to go check out the 1000 steps . . .

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Tonight I have relived on DVD one of my old favourites -- the 1982 British TV version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen.

The first time I saw this movie I was a teenager, trusted by my parents to keep all in order with my siblings while they went out. This movie was on TV, and finished waaaay past my bed time (~11pm vs ~9pm). Stupidly, I worried that if mum and dad had come home to find me still up watching TV, there would be hell to pay. So I watched almost the entire movie from my bedroom door (which was in view of the TV, if remotely), intending to scurry off to bed if I heard them come home.

Of course, this was in the days before remote controls, and I daresay had they arrived home to find the TV still on, they might have twigged. Assuming, that is, they hadn't already spotted my hasty retreat.

As it happened, they didn't come home until after the movie had finished, meaning that I could have watched the entire movie from the comfort of the sofa. I still cannot believe how hen-hearted I was! This incident is one I will never ever forget.

Anyway, I recorded the movie onto video the next time it was on TV, and have watched it many many times. A few years ago I tracked it down on DVD. It's amazing how many of the lines I still remember. I put it on tonight because I thought I had seen it so many times that it would be a good background movie, while I carried on about the house doing various domestic bits and pieces. Nope! It had been a couple of years and it still had the power to glue me to the screen.

The movie has dated of course, and now I can spot soooo many plot holes that were I watching it for the first time today I daresay I would consider it worse than bad. But it's an old favourite, and it always will be. It has adventure, costume, romance . . . everything!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Had some nice feedback from the Queensland Writers Centre this week. Although I still have not been accepted into the manuscript development workshop, I did discover that I made the 'long list', which has been published on the QWC web site. This is definitely better than nothing, although since they only took 8 in the end, I can assume that I am still somewhat off the mark. But this is progress!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Book: Necropolis

The October Page Turners book for discussion was Necropolis (Book four of The Power of Five), by Anthony Horowitz. It's unashamedly YA (or younger) and targeted at boys. This is a relief, because if it were an adult novel with women as an intended audience, it failed dismally!

For my part, I found it a trifle dull. The characters were not that engaging, and the action not that exciting. Moreover, the YA writing style, which over-explained everything, as well as the omniscient point of view irritated me excessively.

I don't believe anyone in our reading group was particularly enthralled by it, and about the most interesting discussion topic was the difference between this, which clearly doesn't translate well for the adult reader, and other YA novels (such as Harry Potter, for example -- but there are many others), which do.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Introducing Footsloggers

Registrations for Trailwalker opened today and I stayed up past midnight last night to ensure we were registered first thing. So now I can reveal our team name: Footsloggers.

Our Trailwalker team space, where we will be blogging as a team about our experiences, can be found here. Online donations to Oxfam at this site will be gratefully accepted.

We have pledged to raise $5000 for Oxfam, owing to the crafty Oxfam people setting this as the minimum for the first round of registrations. We have been far too excited and keyed up to wait until the end of the month (when those pledging $1000 can register), so there will be a massive fundraising effort in the months to come . . .

We have also set ourselves an ambitious target time of 30 hours to complete the event. Not sure about that one yet!

First team training is next weekend (11 Oct), when we will attempt a ~14km walk along the beach from Elwood to Beaumaris, with the reward being lunch at Ricketts Point. I am really looking forward to that, because then it will really feel as though we're on our way!