Let’s have a Blog or two…

Venus

V E N U S

I developed a short story following an exercise from Stephen King’s book “On Writing” I posted it on a short story website for comments.

In the book, King offers a writing exercise. He paints a scene where Dick’s escaped from jail and is stalking his ex-wife, Jane and their daughter, Nell. Jane drops Nell at a party and returns home. While enjoying a cup of tea in the kitchen, the news on TV announces the escape of three criminals with one still at large. Jane panics when she smells Dick’s aftershave. King then reverses the roles so that it’s Dick who hears news of the escape and believes that Jane’s after him.

In my version, John meets Ninako who he thinks is every man’s dream woman. They get married and have a daughter, Evie. When the marriage spirals into a living hell, they break up and John gets full custody. This sends Ninako further into unbridled fury. She attacks John and ends up in jail. While enjoying a beer in the Hare & Hound, the news on TV announces the escape of Ninako and two others. John panics, races home and smells Ninako’s perfume. He grabs some things for Evie and gets out. Unbeknownst to him, Ninako’s stalking them. The next day, he drops Evie to a birthday party. Ninako gets her revenge by kidnapping a reluctant Evie and leaving a blood-spattered trainer in the gutter.

Just to give you a taster, here are a couple of paragraphs from my story:

From the moment I saw her, I thought she was the one. It was on a packed platform at the station. Flying downstairs to catch the 17.57 before the doors closed, I couldn’t help but notice the way the sun lit her face. I made it to the bottom without taking my eyes off or crashing to the ground. She looked breathtakingly beautiful with curly locks bouncing around her shoulders, blacker than black almond eyes, and honey-kissed skin. By the time I regained my senses, the train pulled out.

As the days went by, I couldn’t think about much else. Returned from one of those events with dregs of the female persuasion, and went to drown my sorrows at the Hare & Hound. The door busted open and in she strutted. All eyes were on her, and it didn’t matter if they were single or married ones. My heart hammered in my chest. She oozed freedom – was bold in the way that excites most, if not, all men. Slurping froth on my beer, I secretly watched her roll hips in the middle of the room with her eyes shut. Mark went over for a dance, and she blanked him. It seldom happened with birds, but this one had me real saft. Alf saw me losing shape and come over.

‘Wakey, wakey, Gym Rat.’

‘What?’

‘Ya got life insurance?’

‘What you on about, guv?’

‘Screwball, that one! Y’know, ya work so ‘ard for that piece-a-piss-chewing-gum at the bottom and, after all ya ‘ard work, it tastes like shit.’

‘Give it a rest, will you. I’m Willy the Conqueror.’

‘Look, John,’ he said, ‘She ain’t ya usual.’

I smiled, ‘What do you know, Alf?’

‘Shout if ya need protectin’, he said, shaking his head from side-to-side.

‘Check out da guns.’ I said, flexing my biceps.

‘You’ll want propa… she’ll eat-cha-right-up,’ he said in a low voice. ‘Call me when ya just a bag-o-bones.’ He pushed the drinks to me. ‘Bones,’ he said, ‘Eat-cha-up.’

‘Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.’ I said.

‘Oh, Venus. Awww Venus–

‘OK, alright.’ I said, wishing he’d turn it in.

‘Out while ya can. Y’hear?’ Alf said, ‘NOW.’

VENUS


Comments:

‘Great first sentence which pulls you into the story. Good characterisation of Ninako and John. Liked the way he described himself as feeling ‘Trumpish’. The language is smart and snappy. The story moves from a lustful sex scene to a softer mood: lay in the crook of my arm — lovely description. Tension builds as the story changes from love to an abusive relationship. Ninako’s downward spiral is described in a tense, moving and quite frightening way. There are a few more twists and turns to keep the reader hooked: John’s arrest and Debbie letting the mother take Evie. A love story with a dark twist.’

‘I enjoyed the way the plot quickly takes you from the moment Ninako and John meet to when problems start to unravel. As a reader we can see that Ninako might not be all that she seems and when Alf warns  John about her, I immediately believed  every word he said.’

‘Loved the intro — hooked me solidly. And thank you for the twist, that peppermints could not conceal…’

‘Fast-moving narrative with an unusual storyline. The writer has effectively managed to condense an entire plot into a couple of thousand words.’

‘Lots going on here, very exuberant writing.’


Crime/Thriller Screenplays

“To make a great film you need three things: the script, the script and the script.”

-Alfred Hitchcock

After reading my stories in various places, people would often say they sounded like film. Naturally, I  thought I’d have a go at adapting them into screenplays. Through untold trial and error, and in keeping with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, you can see my progress through feedback received from contests and industry professionals. To date, I’ve written five features and four shorts.

THE GREAT ROCCO


LOGLINE:

Half-brothers pull off a big heist, but one kills his magician brother when the brother opts out of the business; unfortunately for the brother who did the killing, the dead brother and his magician girlfriend exact revenge from beyond the grave.

‘Everyone loves a good urban legend, some magic, a couple of feuding brothers and a cask filled with the blood and dismembered body of a murdered man. With the right director, such as an edgy auteur like Guy Ritchie this could be a violent but spooky romp with just the right amount of black humour.’

‘There is a certain satisfaction gained from a ne’er do well getting his comeuppance, and Jim and Charlie’s demise at the end of this script delivers just such a satisfying scratch of an itch. You have created some memorable characters. On the whole, this is an entertaining read and definitely the beginning of a fun and gory short film.’

‘You have a well-defined voice as a writer.  In reading The Great Rocco, I thought it felt like one of Martin McDonagh’s early short films crossed with an episode of Tales from the Crypt. I happen to be a fan of both, so I had a lot of fun reading it.’

‘The Great Rocco has some very vivid characterization and visuals. Jim’s dialogue is bloody fantastic. The end point of the story feels proper and fitting as a standalone plot point.’

‘There has always been something spooky about magic, and combining the world of a failing magician with that of a couple of two-bit criminals is an exciting beginning for an action-packed film that is not short on attitude nor edgy and gory grit. The opening scene depicting Ronnie’s complete ineptitude as a magician is very funny, and it is easy to visualize these kids laughing at Ronnie’s feeble attempts at tricks. The fate of poor Billy immediately sets the tone for what is to be a bloody and darkly comedic film, and the whole thing reads like a ghost story that one might tell around a campfire to get children scared.’

‘You have a knack for creating colourful characters, and you have done an especially good job in crafting Jim’s dialogue so that he sounds authentically of his region, and this adds a great deal of flavour to the film. This script is filled with graphic moments as well such as Jim shooting Ronnie and the severed arm showing up at the door at the end of the film, and you do a nice job nevertheless keeping the film in a wry and over-the-top darkly comedic tone so that the violence does not overpower the film.’

STRAWBERRY SUNSET

LOGLINE:

A homicidal parolee wrestles with the ghost of a woman he loved and killed as he attempts to love again.

“Are ya, like, a real blonde — all over?” ‘Meat is not helping his case here but it is funny. Well done!’

Meat’s dialogue is very engaging because it’s so lyrical in its own way. Because I can see that he’s smart, I’m a lot more afraid of him than if he were simply a dumb hulk. Moreover, the dialogue in general is riveting because it challenges the reader to mine it fully for meaning, which I really enjoyed.’


‘There is very little ‘fat’ on this script. In other words, you avoid unnecessary or repeated information and never over describe action. This is the sign of a lean writer-definitely a good reputation to develop.
Strawberry Sunset would be relatively cheap to produce, which is important to a lot of investors and producers of short films. It has a limited number of easily secured locations, and there isn’t a need for CGI or a lot of special effects.’

‘A good short film with a twist is always a great calling card for a filmmaker and a writer, and you have a strong script here. This is a good start to getting noticed in the world of short films.’

‘The dialogue here is very authentic dialect, although it is never made perfectly clear in what region this film takes place. Meat’s chilling repeated line, “So damn cunnin” is genius in its simplicity. You have done a nice job writing dialogue that reflects the level of intelligence (or lack thereof) of your characters, and you have written a script that is not overly wordy or loquacious, appropriate for the genre.’

‘You have a natural beginning, middle and end to your story here, which is something tricky to achieve in short films.’

‘This is a highly effective short film with a major twist at the end that is both chilling and graphic in nature, and is sure to please festival goers looking for a twisty, gory little glimpse into the mind of a homicidal maniac. From the warped mind of Meat to the helpless, pathetic brother Wes’ feeble attempts to prevent his brother from going back to jail, this is a portrait of madness, rage and revenge and is therefore at times both terrifying and sad. You have done a nice job constructing this little story for a maximum payoff at the end, and themes of recidivism in the penal system, mental health as it pertains to criminals, and violence against women are all explored here in a shockingly frank manner.’

‘ Meat is clearly the standout character here, and it is fascinating watching to see how his mind works. He is clearly a menace, and it is shocking he was ever let out of jail.’

‘There is definitely a build in tension here to the final, gory scene. A good short film with a twist is always a great calling card for a filmmaker and a writer, and you have a strong script here. This is a good start to getting noticed in the world of short films. If you do a pass at the script with a focus on not ruining your ending by dropping too many hints, you will likely be able to attract some attention on the festival circuit, although casting the roles of Meat and Strawberry will be paramount to your film’s success.’

‘There is a raw quality to this script that might make an audience uncomfortable, but it is never a bad thing to get a reaction out of your audience.’

‘Your story is almost twenty minutes, though, so it’s in three-acts: we meet Meat and Wes in the first act and come to understand them and their situation. The first-act break occurs when Meat asks Strawberry home. From there, I became more and more worried about what Meat was going to do to Strawberry—just how you want your audience to react.’

‘This rising action brings us to the final trip to Horsenden Hill and the third act. Here, we definitely have a climax, but it happens exactly as I imagine it would. This is a very powerful narrative choice.’

‘Once again, your lean writing style is helping to keep the pace of your script very brisk. In addition, Meat’s simmering craziness really had me wanting to find out what he was going to do next, which is another way to ramp up narrative tension.’

‘You’ve done an excellent job of developing Meat into a scary character that I’ve never quite met before—and in only 19 pages!’

‘I really appreciated Meat’s dialogue. It was almost poetic at times, but always unexpected, which really helped to elevate your script above others in the same genre.’

‘The other characters all sound very naturalistic, which is very appropriate for what you’ve written—and even better, they all have unique voices. I was never confused about who was speaking. Moreover, dialogue never becomes on-the-nose.’

‘Your tone is very regular throughout the script and is appropriate for the subject and genre. Moreover, your lean writing style reflects this well and helps to communicate your skill at storytelling.

HONEYDICKERS

LOGLINE:

In Ibiza, a teenage couple rob local crook (and fanatic self-proclaimed preacher) only to face his revenge which includes organ harvesting.

‘The story starts right in the middle of the action which is interesting. Trinity is a strong lead and Iron Dread is a classic villain. You have created an interesting alternate world with a new language and new rules. The heist aspect of the script and the pace are thrilling. The story sucks you in  and makes you care about the characters.’

‘Honeydickers uses its fascinating central characters to create a narrative filled with frantic tension. Iron Dread is potentially a brilliantly memorable villain, complicating the stakes for Trinity and Cage.’

‘HONEYDICKERS is a crime/thriller narrative with echoes of titles like IN BRUGES, LAYER CAKE and, given the focused narrative into which it evolves, mono-location narratives like BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE and RESERVOIR DOGS. The script’s real strength is its style. The dialogue is snappy, funny and dripping with character, which, coupled with a keen eye for visual description, does a fantastic job making the central players truly engaging. The story itself is effectively simple (helping those characters shine all the more), and the script proves particularly adept at using dramatic irony to build tension.’

‘The script is in a good place here. Though it has core genre elements we might expect to see in a typical crime/gangster narrative – most notably the twisted crime boss and the hapless leads who make the mistake of crossing him (anything from KILLING THEM SOFTLY to LOCK STOCK to IN BRUGES) – HONEYDICKERS does a whole lot to stand out. As above, a lot of this comes down to style. Despite how distinct it is in both location and character to their films, the script calls to mind writers like Tarantino or the Coen Brothers in its storytelling approach. Particularly the latter, in fact – just as they find this kind of exaggerated-but-effective poetry in the dialects of the American deep South, HONEYDICKERS does the same with the London dialect of its two (three if we count Migo) heroes.’

‘It’s complemented nicely by the premise itself, too. The script clearly recognises that this kind of stylistic approach functions best when the concept allows the characters room to play around in (again, titles like IN BRUGES and RESERVOIR DOGS are good comparison points). The core conceit here – our betrayed heroes, desperate for money, trying to play an insane criminal by, as the title implies, ingratiating themselves to him – does this perfectly.’


Feature – HONEYDICKERS

In Ibiza, a couple of teenage grifters rob a self-proclaimed preacher (and crook) only to face his vengeance which includes organ harvesting.

Feature - 120 min

Genre - Thriller/Horror

'A kinetic crime drama, "HONEYDICKERS" is a fast-moving, high-octane script with an individual voice that sets it immediately apart. The exotic location, distinctive dialogue, and eccentric characters all elevate what could be a conventional story of down-and-out thieves into something more unique. As in films like "Trainspotting", the characters speak in their own language, a blend of street slang and verbal tics that makes each of them pop off the page (it also provides a lot of unexpected humor). This is blended with the usual tropes of the crime drama - the crime boss, the tense confrontation between thieves, reversals, and betrayals, and a bloody final shootout. The first act has a strong opening with the energetic chase sequences that drops us right into the heart of the action and the film generally has a fast-paced, highly cinematic energy which rarely lets up.'

BBC SCRIPT ROOM DRAMA 2019 

HONEYDICKERS -- top 4% of all submissions received.

 

 

 

 


A Random Act of Kindness…

‘Being kind without expectation is the truest kind of kindness.’

– Zero Dean

So, the school came together to share good deeds for Kindness UK. Focusing on various acts of kindness within school, the children discussed what ‘kindness’ actually is, and debated what constituted an act of kindness.

Some people pretend to be kind because they have ulterior motives and want something in return, but that’s not kindness, that’s manipulation. Real kindness is always genuine. It could be smiling at a stranger on the way to work in the morning, holding a door open, letting someone have your seat on the train, paying someone a compliment etc.  

I am kind-spirited and compassionate by nature.  I volunteer on a regular basis, give my friends and neighbours cards containing money when they have a baby. It’s not five million pounds or anything, but a gesture, my way of blessing their entry into the world.

At times I let people into queues, I help people in need and sometimes when I’m blessed with boxes of chocolates (Easter/Christmas presents), I give them to my neighbours or people I meet along the way, as I know I’ll eat them.  I am also quite lucky for the sheer number of times I’ve been shown kindness. There’s a recent time that comes to mind that I’ll you about.

A few months ago, I met an author  at a workshop and we got talking about the writing life and thinking about ways to market our work. I showed him the three books I have on Amazon at the moment: Muddy Love, Soulless and Yellowest Orange. He asked me about Muddy Love and right away designed a cover. I was a little dumbstruck, which is a rarity for me because I can talk for England at the best of times!

I hadn’t hinted or asked him anything, and he’d finished it in about twenty minutes while we chatted over Messenger. I was so grateful.  I guess that any act of kindness is never wasted. You always get it back, so it’s good to pay it forward when you can.

Anyway, the draft is below. Please let me know what you think. Do you think it works? Is it better than the previous one with the wolf? How do you think it could be improved? Grateful for your thoughts.

Check out my short stories:


Muddy Love – http//www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4
Soulless – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008MZN3L8
Yellowest Orange – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AW257H2

 


Interview: M. Henningham, Quarter Finalist – Strawberry Sunset

Good afternoon, It’s Quain. Today I’m interviewing published author and screenwriter, Michele Henningham. After a long day at school, she discovered her name listed as a quarter finalist in a renown US screenplay competition!

  1. How did you feel when you found out?

–        Shocked! I had to scroll up and down over my name several times to be sure. 

  1. What is it called?

–        Strawberry Sunset.

  1. Do you mind saying a little bit about it?

–        Well, it was a short story I wrote for a creative writing workshop. It received great feedback. They said it sounded like a film so I decided to adapt it into a screenplay. 

  1. How did you know it would work as a screenplay? Did you take a course?

–        No, I couldn’t afford course fees. I swotted up on the recommended texts, examining good and bad screenplays and movies.

  1. I’ve heard about story arcs and 8 beats etc. Is this something you’re familiar with?

–        Yes, I’ve read about them and understand what they mean, but I don’t work that way. As long as my stories have a beginning, middle and end, I think it does the job. Also, the feedback I’ve received on screenplays suggest that I get this correct.

  1. Does this mean the next stop is Hollywood? 

–        I wish! I mean, it’s a great start and all that, but no, it just means I have to keep at it, improve skills, develop more screenplays and enter contests.

  1. You recommend contests, do you?

–        Yes, some, not all. But it’s the best way to gain exposure and useful notes, in some cases. Don’t take the nos to heart, hang on in there, as you may get that life-changing yes.

  1. What can you tell newbies about screenplay competitions?

–        Some screenplay competitions are just money-makers. A few actually ‘read’ your screenplay and give great notes. All readings are subjective.

  1. How many screenplays have you written so far?

–        I’d say about 7 at the moment. I’m working on a freaky feature as we speak.

  1. In closing, how would you summarise your screenplays?

–        My screenplays are based on my edgy stories and filled with credible characters and dialogue that jumps off the page!

Thank you and I wish you all the very best!!

A few comments from industry professionals:

  1. You have a real flair for character dialogue.
  2. I want to say, right off the bat – I LOVE YOUR STYLE!!!! ;))
  3. ‘Some very vivid characterization and visuals. Dialogue is bloody fantastic. The end point of the story feels proper and fitting as a stand alone plot point. Tons of potential here.’

Check out my short stories:

Muddy Love – http//www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4

Soulless – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008MZN3L8

Yellowest Orange – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AW257H2


10 Inspirational Love Quotes

 

So, what is LOVE? For me, it could be… Did you eat? Are you cold? Put on your seatbelt. How was your day? Anything along those lines. Here’s my top 10. What do you think? Do you have a favourite?

 1.    For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

        Judy Garland

 

2.    What are you doing for others?

        Martin Luther King.

 

3.    When you start falling for somebody and you can’t stop thinking about when you’re going to see them again. I love that. Women are beautiful. They deserve to be cherished and respected.

        Orlando Bloom.

 

 

4.    We’re all damaged in our own way. Nobody’s perfect. I think we’re all somewhat screwy. Every single one of us.

        Johnny Depp.

 

 

5.    The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

        Audrey Hepburn.

 

 

6.    The better you become, the better you attract.

        Young Minds.

 

 

7.    If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy. Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.

        Bob Marley.

 

 

8.    Love is a serious mental disease.

        Plato.

 

 

9.    Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.

        Loretta Young.

 

 

10.         Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.

        Paulo Coelho

 

Check out my short stories:
Muddy Love – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4
Soulless – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008MZN3L8
Yellowest Orange – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AW257H2

 


10 Success Quotes to Jumpstart Your Day

S U C C E S S

So, what is success?

In my humble opinion, success is a subjective term, meaning different things to different people. Some may view success in terms of mind and body health, relationships, winning medals and awards, or driving a Porsche 718 Boxster! These are all valid.

I often seek out success quotes to motivate me when my feet hit the floor each day!

Here’s my top 10. What do you think? Do you have a favourite?

 

1. Victory is sweet when you’ve known defeat.

– Malcolm S. Forbes

2. Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

– Winston Churchill

3. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

– Lucille Ball

4. You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

– Peter Drucker

5. Life is about creating yourself.

– George Bernard Shaw

6. To succeed in life you need two things; ignorance and confidence.

– Mark Twain

7. It’s better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation.

– Herman Melville

8. Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.

– John D. Rockefeller

9. Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.

– Jim Rohn

10. Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.

– Tony Hsieh

 

Check out my short stories:
Muddy Love – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4
Soulless – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008MZN3L8
Yellowest Orange – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AW257H2

 

 

 

 


A-Z of the most amazing places I’ve visited

A-Z of the most interesting places I’ve visited.

A = Agadir, Amsterdam, Andalucia, Atalaya, Athens
B = Barcelona, Barbados
C = California, Canada, Cuba
D = Dusseldorf
E = England – default 😉
F = Fuengirola, Florida, France
G = Germany, Greece
H = Holland
I = Ibiza
J = Jamaica – default 😉
K = Kos
L = Lanzarote
M = Madrid, Malaga, Manhattan, Marbella, Miami, Milan, Morocco
N = New York
O = Orlando
P = Paris, Philadelphia
Q = Queens
R = Rome
S = St Lucia, Skyros
T = Tenerife, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey
U = UK – Default 😉
V = Victoria – Default 😉
W = Wales, Washington DC
X = Got nothing 😉
Y = Yorkshire – Default 😉
Z = ???

Why don’t you have a go from A-Z! How many places have you visited? 😉


20 Random Q & As

Last month, I couldn’t decide what to blog about. I mean, nothing really grabbed me.  Today, the proverbial penny dropped. I thought I’d write about some burning questions people have asked me over the years! 

Here goes:

 

 

1.      That thing that happened in school that pretty much left its mark on you forever.

 

Well, some of you already know this, but it happened on a school trip to Burnham Beeches, we were learning about habitats etc., (I presume) and I nearly suffocated in quick mud. I have since made it into a ‘funny’ story that went on to win a prestigious prize, thus taking the bitter taste out of my mouth!

 

 

2.      Your favourite recipe, even if you’re the worst cook in the world.

 

Well, I cook a mean ackee and salt fish, which is Jamaica’s national dish. Put salt fish to soak in cold water for about 1 hour. Pour off water; add fresh water and boil until tender. Heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, scallions, tomatoes, scotch bonnet and sweet pepper until tender, about five to six minutes. Add flaked salt fish, canned ackee and black pepper. And, I add two fresh cho chos, chop them up and put them in the same pan to soak up the delicious juices. What a dish! Can be served as breakfast or dinner, alongside rice, breadfruit, green bananas and soft white yam.

 

3.      9 things you just can’t handle {gross things like ugly toes etc.

 

Well, can’t handle aesthetically beautiful people with ugly hearts, people who value things over people, selfish people, people who cannot control bodily functions in public, those who pick their noses and eat in broad daylight, worse if they’re adults, people who go to the gym and smell sweaty before they’ve even done anything, and people who make sounds when eating, really annoys me and people with black grime under their nails who are ‘not’ mechanics!

 

4.      One of my most excruciatingly embarrassing moments.

Well, like most of us in our twenties, I was so full of self-belief that I auditioned as a dancer for ‘Imagination’ (famous group in the day) … and I was rubbish! Hilarious!

 

A letter to your 16-year-old self. What advice would you give?

5. Dear Mich, you’re going to go through some harsh things, but they will strengthen you.

The day will come when you’ll realise you had to experience them in order to become who you are today.

 

 

 

6.      Your celebrity dinner party. Who would you invite?

Naturally, I would invite Oprah, Maya A, Denzel Washington, Charles Bukowski, Iceberg Slim and Marvin Gaye.

 

7.      Your first love/kiss, and don’t skip the awkward details.

Well, at school, I was day-old-chips-dry and not in the kiss chase rush. The boys shot right past me for more popular prey.

 

 

8.    7 things you’ve learned from 7 year-old children.

1. Be courageous

2. Every day is a new day.

3. Laugh a lot.

4. Enjoy your friends.

5. Don’t care what people think, speak your truth.

6. Try new things.

7. Get excited! Often…

 

9.     Your earliest childhood memory.

Sneaking in the kitchen cupboard to drink vinegar and undiluted squash. I had chronic asthma too.

 

10.    That thing that really gets your goat.

See 3. People who snore, eat loudly, eat while talking on the phone, picking noses and eating contents.

 

11.   What you’re addicted to, and why.

I’m addicted to creative expression, music and training.

       

12.   That time that you met a complete stranger

Well, the other night, I was meeting the girls for a funky night out uptown and running late. I wore a bowler hat, big black cape with tassels, short black dress, and thigh high suede boots (the flyer said dress funky, so I took them literally). I got to the platform and saw the train pulling in, I tried to get down the stairs while my dress decided to climb up to my waist. The ‘kind’ driver sat and waited, probably enjoying the spectacle. Finally made it down the stairs, onto the train and to Wimbledon. However, the district line was cancelled. I had to dash out to the main road for the bus replacement service. A guy on the bus told me he’d been watching me on the cctv. He thought I looked interesting. I wonder if it had anything to do with the dress?

 

13.   Fashion: Your top 5 favourite dresses/looks/shoes right now.

Well, I ‘ve been working hard at body sculpting and what with the weather being nice and sunny, I’ve got a thing for wearing white. Also, I have an unusual pair of boots from USA with a silver stiletto heel that I can’t wait to wear again! Worn only once… sitting down.

 

14.    What you’ve learned about life so far?

I’ve learnt that life is a series of lessons that force you to grow whether you want to or not. If you don’t make a decision about something, life will make it for you. Also, that people often tell you who they are without saying a word!

 

15.      Brain dump. What’s on your mind right now.

I am increasing marketing efforts with the current three short stories on Amazon. Also, screenplays are beastly!

 

16.      The most unusual job.

The Royal Opera House in Covent garden. I wore 9 inches and had a walk on part in Pelleas and Melisande for two weeks, every night at 8pm. It’s an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. It was first performed 30th April 1902.

 

17.      Bad habits. Share yours and why you won’t give it up. Ever.

I like a glass of wine, prosecco, merlot, and classic champagne cocktails every now and then.

                         

18.      Who people think you are, compared to who you really are.

People tend to think I’m Miss Confident but I can be really shy. I mean, revert to two!

 

19 .     A time when you had star treatment.

A production company sent a chauffeur to pick me up to feature in the first River Island advertisement in the 90s. They sent a Daimler to pick me up and drive me to a hangar in Essex. The advert took place on the steps of a plane. I had to come down them whilst controlling a seven foot Great Dane. It was meant to be a panther but  they couldn’t get the insurance.

20.     A time when you had the most fun on holiday!

I went to St Lucia and had the time of my life. I met some really funny people and did a bootcamp with the legendary Sharron Elizabeth Davies, MBE. A lovely, humble person.

Check out my short stories:
Muddy Love – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4
Soulless – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008MZN3L8
Yellowest Orange – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AW257H2


20 Killer Holiday Reads

 

‘If you have a story that seems worth telling, and you think you can tell it worthily, then the thing for you to do is to tell it, regardless of whether it has to do with sex, sailors or mounted policemen.’

–        Dashiell Hammett

       

20 Killer Holiday Reads

 

 

On holiday, I go for fast-paced, gripping and downright unputdownable books. Lounging by the pool (or on a secluded beach) with cocktail in hand and said book in the other is the best way to feel at one with the world! As the holiday season thrusts itself upon us, don’t wonder which books to take with you. See my 20 Killer Holiday Reads to help you make the right choice!

 

  1. Megan Abbott – The End of Everything, 2011.

Who remembers being thirteen? No doubt you had a best friend you saw every day. You shared everything with them, right down to core. Well, that’s part of what happened, but the most sinister part is that the friend disappeared! And how…

 

  1. Joanna Briscoe – Sleep with Me, 2005.

The thrill of the dreaded threesome.  A torrid extramarital affair. Not quite menage a trois but penetrative to the bitter end!

 

  1. Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist, 1988.

The quest of a Spanish shepherd boy, Santiago, on his adventure to discover the soul of the world. Basically, the universe listens and responds to our dreams. Wonderful!

 

  1. Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho, 1991.

Wall Street businessman and part-time serial killer, Patrick Bateman is a psychopath with a penchant for 80’s music. Thrilling!

 

  1. Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl, 2012.

The perfect marriage on the outside. One day the wife goes missing and all fingers point to husband, Nick. Where is she? Is he guilty? Fantastic twists and turns.

 

  1. James Herbert – The Rats, 1974.

It’s in 1970s London. Rats run amok in the wake of the Blitz. Most memorable scene is where Harry (art teacher) makes out in the bushes and ravenous rats participate!

 

  1. Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner, 2003.

The backdrop is Afghanistan. We chart the unforgettable bond between two boys from different walks of life. Amir, the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, and the other is Hazara, from a despised lowly caste. Extremely gripping!

 

  1. Marlon James – A Brief History of Seven Killings, 2015.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize, 2015. Masterful story crossing three decades. Original language, great rhythm with dark, challenging and engrossing moments.

 

  1. Mendal Johnson – Let’s Go Play at the Adams, 1974.

Barbara, the babysitter wakes to find she’s being held captive. Lovely, innocent children have chloroformed, gagged and abused her. She is totally at the mercy of their new found power. Ain’t no fun when rabbit’s got the gun!

 

  1. Yann Martel – Life of Pi, 2001.

The fantastical adventure of a young Tamil boy from Pondicherry and how he survives after 227 days after shipwreck on a boat with ‘Richard Parker’ a Bengal tiger. Wow!

 

  1. Terry McMillan – How Stella Got Her Groove Back. (Also read Disappearing Acts, 1989 & Mama, 1987).

After a failed marriage and a string of dead-end relationships, Stella takes herself off to sunnier climes, Negril in Jamaica. She meets a handsome young man, half her age… enough said!

 

  1. Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye, 1970.

Complex, thought-provoking emotional rollercoaster. Investigates ideas of beauty in its relation to black and white notions.  A social commentary very much relevant today and beyond.

 

  1. John Niven – Kill Your Friends, 2008.

Music industry A&R man, Steven Stelfox lives a life of reckless hedonism. Not dissimilar to American Psycho in pace or toxicity of character.

 

  1. George Orwell – 1984, 1949. (Also read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1932).

The original Big Brother that precedes our contemporary Big Brother!  Say no more!

 

  1. Chuck Palahniuk – Choke, 2001.

The story centres around the life of Victor, a sex addict whose mother is in a nursing home. He tries various ways to make money, one of which being to go to restaurants, choke, see who comes to ‘save’ his life by correct application of the Heimlich manoeuvre. Then he manipulates ‘Samaritans’ who ‘save his life.

 

  1. George Schulyer – Black No More, 1931.

Based on black lives in the Harlem Renaissance era. A time when scientific discovery became the solution to race relations. What if everyone was white? Magical writing for period…

 

  1. Lionel Shriver – We Need to Talk About Kevin, 2003.

Essentially about a high school massacre. Eva finally falls pregnant but finds that she struggles to breast feed, the baby doesn’t sleep well, he cries an awful lot. There’s a general lack of connection with the infant. The distance grows, it gets worse. AND worse!

 

  1. Alice Walker – The Color Purple, 1985.

Set in Georgia in early 20th century. A black woman, Celie, survives extreme abuse from her father who marries her off. We see her transformation over the next 30 years of gruelling life.

 

  1. Matt Whyman – Boy Kills Man, 2004.

Based in the gang ruled streets of Medellin, Columbia where young Sonny becomes a child assassin, making a good life for him and family. Unforgettable!

 

  1. Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890.

A rich, hip young man’s desire to stay young forever is granted. He has a portrait painted and, instead of him aging, the portrait ages showing the evils in his soul!

 

 

 

Check out short stories:
Muddy Lovehttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4
Soullesshttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008MZN3L8
Yellowest Orangehttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AW257H2