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Thursday, 20 February 2014

My Annotated Workspace

I was just thinking about all the different projects I'm trying to juggle at the moment, and looking at my workspace, when I thought it might make an interesting topic for a blog post, for those who are curious about how and where writers write. (People like me, in other words.)

Before anyone makes any snide remarks about how tidy everything looks in the picture below, I should point out that I don't have an office at the moment. I don't even have a desk I can call my own and so I work at the dining table (hence the strange choice of table covering). Everything I get out at the start of the day has to go away again at the end of the day, to make room for dinner plates and homework, and the like. (And I knew I was going to take a photo, so I tidied up.)

So, with those excuses out of the way, here is my annotated workspace...


1) Notes and notes and notes about YOU ARE THE HERO. If you don't know what YOU ARE THE HERO is already, or why it's taking up so much of my time, click this link.

2) The printed manuscript of YOU ARE THE HERO with comments by Ian Livingstone added in red pen. I've been working through 207 pages of this.

3) This is the space where my iPhone would go, if it wasn't for the fact that I used the phone to take the photograph.

4) Shadows Over Sylvania - my Warhammer Vampire Counts gamebook. I had this out to remind myself how I had written the opening. And even if I do say so myself, it's a damn good book. Whether you're a fan of Warhammer, vampires or gamebooks, you should secure yourself a copy now!

5) My laptop - currently open on Outlook. You know the movie Her? Well my wife thinks they got the idea from me and my laptop. The only difference is my laptop doesn't speak with the voice of Scarlett Johansson (more's the pity).

6) The Vampire in Lore and Legend, by Montague Summers - research for a story I hope to be able to write for Josh Reynolds in the not too distant future.

7) Research material for a story I hope to write for Ian Whates sometime soon. I hadn't watched The Company of Wolves for at least 20 years until last night. Watching it again I realised how much of an impact it has had on my work over the last two decades, and Stephen Rea's transformation is still one of the most chilling I've ever seen depicted in a werewolf movie. (Maybe it's the fact that the children witness the whole thing.) And I'd never realised until last night's viewing how sympathetic George Fenton's score makes you feel towards the werewolves and all that their strange curse has to offer.

8) More research, this time for a possible future gamebook project. (You can see I've got a dark fairytale vibe going on at the moment.) Snow White and the Huntsman is a strange film. Putting aside Kristen Stewart's much commented upon woodenness and lack of different facial expressions, Charlize Theron's ham-acting, Chris Hemsworth's Scottish accent, and using CGI to turn full height actors into dwarfs (and not in a Lord of the Rings kind of way) there is much that is very effective in the film and visually stunning. I particularly like the glass army and the troll bridge. But where the film really falls down for me is in the fact that the director couldn't decide at the start whether the magic in the movie was real or not. Of course, by the end there are spells being cast left, right and centre, but there are also occasions where it is implied that the magic might be the result of something else, hallucinogens in the case of Snow escaping into the forest and madness in the case of the Queen talking to her mirror. Both are equally valid for a movie like this, but not in the same movie! It's not clever - it just makes the director come across as inconsistent and indecisive. Anyway, rant over.

9) Outlines for stories for an anthology (the one of the top is by Toby Frost), but more on that another time...

10) And back to YOU ARE THE HERO again. More notes, and a copy of Arion Games' Beyond the Pit for good measure.

So, there you have it. That's what's occupying my days at the moment. How about you? What are you working on, and how is it reflected in your workspace?

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