Author Will Self, photographed by Karen Robinson for The Guardian
Again, someone who recommends writing in the morning. I’ve only written in the morning twice. Both times were to record lucid dreams before I forgot them. I keep saying I’m going to try it for my fiction writing. Maybe tomorrow.
When I’m working on a novel I type the initial draft first thing in the morning. Really: first thing. For preference, I have a cigarette ready-rolled and a coffee percolator loaded the night before; then I simply roll out of bed, fuel up and set to it. I believe the dreaming and imagining faculties are closely related, such that wreathed in night-time visions I find it possible to suspend disbelief in the very act of making stuff up, which, in the cold light of day would seem utterly preposterous. I’ve always been a morning writer, and frankly I believe 99% of the difficulties novices experience are as a result of their unwillingness to do the same. Narrative structure, mise en scene, characterisation − you can’t get to grips with these problems unless you’ve put the words on the page.
Another fun website that reviews and analyzes genre films is Braineater, created and maintained by Will Laughlin. In this installment he reviews the French film La Chambre ardente (1962), “a movie that sits somewhere between an art film and a Gothic thriller,” directed by Julien Duvivier, based on a classic novel by the American author John Dickson Carr.
Here’s an excerpt from Laughlin’s review:
Carr, after a slow start in the late 1920’s, came into his own in the early 1930’s. He was soon recognized as one of the finest mystery writers of the so-called Golden Age. In 1937, he published what many consider his greatest novel, The Burning Court. However, his work — while always professional — was sometimes uneven; and after the Second World War, his career began to falter. A new generation had come to maturity, and they considered Carr and the writers of the Golden Age too old fashioned, too academic… a remnant of the old order that had been destroyed by the war. Nevertheless, Carr continued to write Golden Age-style detective stories well into the late 60’s and early 70’s. Though there have been periodic revivals of his work, and though he has always had supporters in fellow writers like Kingsley Amis and Anthony Boucher, Carr has never recaptured the recognition his admirers consider he deserves. If you think about it, there’s an obvious reason Duvivier chose to turn The Burning Court into La Chambre ardente…
Author John Shirley has written an essay on why he likes “dark” literature – those genres that deal with the supernatural, horror, and so forth. The essay appears on Literati Literature Lovers. Here’s an excerpt:
It may be that the appeal of dark beauty is that it bridges these fearful gaps in existence: it brings symmetry to the asymmetrical; it brings liveliness to the symbols of death. In some paradoxical way it shows us how death isn’t the end. The scent of leaves decaying is not unpleasant—yet it’s a smell of decomposition. The glow from a jack-o-lantern is cheerful, though the carved face on the pumpkin may leer wickedly. A moonlit landscape seems to brood, to hint of dark secrets—yet it’s a glorious sight. What’s prettier, really, than an old graveyard with ornate headstones and mossy tombs? We weep at a funeral but we’re celebrating someone’s life.