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Thriller, Suspense and Mystery Writers and Readers Group

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Posted on May 24, 2011 10:36:16 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
How much did place enter into the way the story was shaped? I know you make things up as you go along (me too)--but do you think you wanted to write a book about Africa? The continent is a big character in this.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:37:19 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
re a Colonial writer, yes, in terms of severe restraint when writing or convey things. A certain, neo-Victorian precision comes into play - at least in this book, which I like to think has a kind of dispassionate passion and coldness to it. Think of Smilla's Sense of Snow, the icy passion that surfaces precisely because the writer 'withholds' the emotion that the reader expects. So yes, I do have a certain precision and approach that I think is more borne from the British influences I had growing up.

re the character. he is a profoundly foreign person to a number of things, which, in some ways, makes his loss even worse for the reader in context.

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:43:12 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
Well, I also think withdrawal--from ourselves--is a rather common approach to painful moments. When someone close to you dies, you find yourself staring at the wall. You don't sit around telling yourself how much it hurts. Yet I do see writers take that approach sometimes.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:44:41 AM PDT
Now I'm even more intrigued! Well I for one would love to see your opening line/section, if you anyone else does as well...


In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:45:11 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
I don't think I consciously decided to have the character 'go into Africa' as much as he did, but I guess as a writer, coming from there, it felt right that if any place were likely to cast a spell on someone, it would be there - given also, the main character's background and 'survivalist' tendencies. There aren't many wild places left in the Northern Hemisphere. I also, once I realized we were in Africa, wanted to do it justice. Step away from the 'white man in Africa observing the funny natives' approach which often mars outsiders views of the continent, and show how the land affects everyone living there. Both the good people and the bad.
The incidents mentioned, for instance earlier involving the police - again, I'm trying not to spoiler - are completely true. That's history, not fiction (the barbecue, the plane) But it doesn't matter whether or not people know this, for the story to work, hopefully. I did go toward that 'write what you know' when showing the character's growing love for the continent...

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:45:59 AM PDT
I am out for a while now, guys, but look forward to more of Ian's book and your comments when I return...


In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:46:52 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
@Jenny I'd be happy to give the opening section, if anyone would like...? Ted is the boss :)

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:47:04 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
Now don't tell me you went to Antarctica to research that section of the book!

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:47:53 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
I'm nobody's boss. I'm just starting us up. If you want to post it and Jenny wants to see it, let's have it!

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:51:11 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
re the withdrawal, absolutely. I find grief and pain can be conveyed by not conveying it. less is more. Like in real life, when something vile happens - a dog gets run over, for instance - we walk on, go home, perhaps catch a glance at ourselves in a mirror, do sundry chores, watch TV, and later in silence, there's a single solitary grimace. That's the way I like to try capture emotion, demonstrate the sometimes self-delusion that humans do about their own feelings. On the other hand, our reactions will be different if someone is watching us. How much is theatre for other people, and how much is honestly from the heart? Sometimes its interesting to me to delve into that territory quietly...

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:53:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2011 10:54:05 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
@ Ted, been trying to get to Antarctica for years, believe it or not... re another section - should I do the opening one, or I have a piece talking about emotional wounds, while describing physical locations of a wound - deliberately playing with misdirection. Unsure if you've got there yet - the 'deep wounds' section...?

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:54:23 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
I think Jenny wants the opening-Jenny?

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:56:39 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
You're a better man than me, Gunga Din. I write stories mostly in warm places because if I'm doing research, I'd rather it be in places I can wear shorts and drink pina colada's. That's my idea of research!
(kidding, somewhat)...

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:57:31 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
Having grown in year round summer and sweat - I find the cold to be totally exotic :)

Posted on May 24, 2011 10:58:00 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
opening it is... I was just suggesting something that wasn't easily available in the sample... But here's the start:

Atlantic Ocean, 20xx.
I woke in darkness and for a moment, my dreams of premature burial seemed real. My eyes adjusted to the dimness. I recognized the underside of the bunk above me. Beyond the closed curtain, I heard soft murmurs as crewmen made their way along the aisle. You made it. You're on board. The bunk was soft. The thin mattress felt luxurious. Initially I'd had trouble falling asleep, knowing I was finally here. My fingers twitched becoming claws. I relaxed, shut my eyes and let my hand explore the bulkhead beside the bunk, my fingertips tracing the rivets, feeling the curve of the hull. Shouldn't there be switches? My fingers found the semi-circular depression containing the controls. It had been a while since I was last on a submarine.

Early mariners couldn't have imagined the intricate conveniences that I had at my fingertips. There was the data coupling for laptops, next to it was the USB port, below that was a low-power electrical outlet, and running horizontally beside them were the numerous other pushbuttons. I felt along the row. That's the light. I prodded it and overhead, a dim florescent tube hummed into life, just bright enough to read by. The light felt sharp. I knew without looking that on the wall beside my head there'd be a piece of reflective metal: a notional mirror. Do I want to see myself again? Shall I pretend to know me? I turned my head, opening my eyes. In the mirror, my distorted cheekbone swam into view like some asteroid in space slowly rolling, revealing flaws and features. A bloodshot eye regarded me. Every time I looked in a mirror, awkwardness descended, as if my reflection and I were former friends with nothing to say, both of us co-existing in an uneasy silence.

You're me.

I told myself I wasn't lying. My eye observed me and I returned the stare, searching for traces of judgment or disapproval. But the reflected eye was neutral, answering me with an impassive gaze. I watched the flesh around the eye crinkle, as if its owner was smiling. I didn't think I was smiling. But I knew the eye had seen everything I had done, and intended to do, and, for whatever reason, it seemed content to convey nothing of substance about its opinions. I turned the light off; darkness returned; the pressure diminished. I need sleep. I shut my eyes.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 10:59:57 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
I grew up around New York City. Alaska in the winter and Alabama in the summer. You don't burn out on any one thing--you burn out on everything!

Posted on May 24, 2011 11:01:56 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
The 'dreams of premature burial' is great. I felt like I knew what kind of book I was dealing with right then and there.

Posted on May 24, 2011 11:05:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2011 11:06:05 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
Speaking of the 'less is more' - note the inference. 'I was finally here.' and immediately in the subsequent sentence. ' My fingers twitched becoming claws.'
I didn't know what was going on or why yet, but the character was clearly hellbent on something. But he deliberately exercises control. How much is the character and how much is me deciding that would make him more interesting, I don't know. By paragraph two I had some sense of the 'why' he has the problem with the mirror. By paragraph three, I knew he was hiding guilt over something he was going to do - but what it was, I didn't know yet...

Posted on May 24, 2011 11:08:04 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
Guilt, angst, fear, self-delusion, 'deception' :) As you keep reading, you'll see there're multiple 'deceptions' in the book, literal and figurative. The reader is being deceived as well, as times. It struck me as a useful title.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 11:10:01 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
Well, again, speaking of 'less is more'--don't tell me too much, I'm still reading.
But if he turns out to be a vampire and that's why he has a problem with the mirror, I'm going to murder you in your sleep. Especially if he's got a teenage girlfriend and she can't decide...well, anyway...

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 11:14:04 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
don't worry, no vampires. (Although I have a play I did about a decade ago about a vampire that one day I must write out). But 'deception' is kind of a thriller/mystery. I like to blur genres and try put more into the genre than might be usual...

Posted on May 24, 2011 11:22:13 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
I've written several books that sound like romances when you describe the storyline. One of them is a Monty Python routine, as silly as could be. One of them is a very serious comedy about sex and love and friendship and how different they all are. The other is my first book, which is my first book and no more need be said. It's got a couple of good scenes. And then I have my thriller, which is also a magical realism book. If a book is about life instead of about genre, it'll end up straddling the lines, I think.

Posted on May 24, 2011 11:22:33 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
here's a section dealing with the character's emotional wounds, although the piece deliberately gives the impression of being about physical wounds. Don't read it if you get 'icky'd' out by graphic description of wounds.

I spent the first few months healing: discovering the extent and layout of my wounds.
Deep wounds are an educational process. It begins with the realization that a piece of flesh is gone and will never return. The body knows it has been disfigured; the conscious mind must be restrained from self-disgust, and the continual pain must be perceived as merely signals from torn nerve receptors. The jagged perimeter of the wound and its exposed tufts of severed muscles flex perpetually - an internal forest of scratching claws. The nostrils enter the picture; one becomes accustomed to the metallic tang of an open wound.

Deep wounds require daily attention; their owner becomes intimate with its crevices. Few wounds are symmetrical, each has unique features. Lubricated with saline, the fingertips must slide into the wound and pat it with dressings to dry the exposed layers. From doing this, a familiarity comes. The glistening flesh becomes a landscape of points and indicators on a map. Here is blissful nothingness; there a stabbing pain makes the world darken. The secret artwork of the body's interior is displayed in the wound: vermillion streaks of raw flesh, the tempura brilliance of exposed muscles and tendons.

The owner of a deep wound learns that skin itself is a liquid as the body attempts to seal deep holes with viscous fluid. But when too much flesh has been lost, the body gives up trying to use the seeping liquid. Dark-brown purple clots start gathering like barnacles around the wound's perimeter. The slowly-shrinking wound resembles the iris of a camera lens, or a dark clotting sphincter. Finally, once this growth is complete, the body abandons the interior crater, a pocket of liquid hidden by a thin veneer. Some catastrophic wounds can never heal.

These are my scars. This is my blood. This is my body.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 11:27:15 AM PDT
Ted Krever says:
What's wonderful about this to me is that I can read it--and did--as about the physical wounds until 'Some catastrophic wounds can never heal.' At that point, the bigger import becomes clear. It's the physical wound and the emotional. And because it's both at once and it's happening in our heads rather than you telling us, it becomes something bigger. This is where writing becomes something more than the words.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 11:28:18 AM PDT
Ian Fraser says:
the ones I have in the pipeline, one is a deranged fantasy genre: Terry Pratchett on acid - another is what appears to be 'detective Noir' (operative word is 'appears') - then there's a massive 1200 page thing that spans bodice-ripper and sci-fi, another collection of novellas is apocalyptic meets WWII+Lovecraft...
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Discussion in:  Meet Our Authors forum
Participants:  323
Total posts:  8316
Initial post:  May 24, 2011
Latest post:  1 day ago

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