Well, I’m 5000 words into writing the Gozo-based fantasy novel, Xaghra’s Revenge, and I’m already in a quandry. (that’s what my wife called our house before she went out to work – or was it quagmire? I didn’t have my hearing aid in. She needs our house to be respectably tidy because we are going to my school friends’ reunion noshup in Cheltenham this weekend. I don’t mind telling you because IF you are considering nipping over to my house with a crowbar, you should be warned that we have a burglar alarm of the sensitive electronic variety and two of the organic canine loud bark type next door. Also, my daughter is having a little party – not in her house, note; there must be a good reason for that. We love her to bits and know she and her friends will respect our wood floor, our neighbours, and put my books back in their right place on the shelves – as if I’d notice. Hence why my wife said to unquagmire the house. I’m writing the blog instead.)
I wandered off the point – doing a Ronnie Corbett. The Xaghra’s Revenge is writing itself reasonably well except that I remain unsure how much the fantasy element should be like visible ogres and daemons as opposed to my usual soft horror approach to writing ghost stories. My work has been likened to that of M R James, and I suppose it is – particularly my No Way story that Jessie Lilley in Hollywood has transcribed to screenplay and touting around her film producer contacts. No Way is based on a real person who daily walks along a busy commuter country lane from his village into Chester city. He’s had a few accidents on his walk, and when he tried cycling it instead. My story conjures up a helpful soul who shows him a forgotten footpath the Romans used that runs parallel to the road. Of course the friend isn’t what he seems, and so it goes…
Should Xaghra’s Revenge be similarly engineered with the ghosts of the abducted Gozitans and their piratical slave-runners subtly working on the contemporary characters? Or should they leap around. I prefer the Magic Realism approach where everything seems normal, except for a sneaking feeling it isn’t. Then the strange happenings seem to influence normality until the main characters question what normal means. I’ve asked for some expert help on this from a fantasy member of the British Fantasy Society, James Barclay. Hopefully, he’ll reply before the FantasyCon in Nottingham on 22nd September where I’ll be chatting to other writerly friends.
In the meantime maybe I can get advice from a new writers forum and critique group. Bibliophilia is here. Several former members of the old BeWrite forum are there and new writers are welcome. Come along and have a look. It is free! Free crits and friendly banter.