Friday, 20 December 2013

Scott Westerfield, more Animals in Stories, Editing, and a Secret Photograph of the JD Field Writing Process

What's your favourite Potter animal? What would be your Patronus? Or your Daemon? What's your favourite Scott Westerfield animal?

I've talked about the appeal of animals in kids books before. It's interesting that it doesn't seem to cross over to YA books that I've seen. There's something about the play of imagination necessary to see the world through the eyes of an animal that maybe stops as we grow up.

Westerfield is my latest discovery. I've just read leviathan.

It's BRILLIANT. Recommended to everybody. It's a re-imagining of the events at the start of the First World War, seen through the eyes of a teenage girl and a teenage boy who get caught up in events. It's fast-paced and action packed, but that's not the best bit.

The best bit is that the Germans have armies of gigantic, walking war machines, while the British have fabricated animals by blending their DNA together. There are enormous, armoured elephantines, and ferocious wolf-tigers. There are jellyfish filled with helium that float into the sky. Best of all is a whale as big as a village, that produces hydrogen in its guts, and floats through the sky like a gigantic airship. This is the best thing ever.

If you've read The Water Book you'll understand why. If you haven't, then read the Water Book. It's free at BARNES AND NOBLE. That's got a whale, and imaginatively depicted animals, as well.

Fortunately Westerfield's work is such compulsive reading that it won't be keeping from my editing for much longer. I've printed Levels 4 onto 70 A3 pages.

Here it is, with the corner of my new noticeboard. The corner has a note about the stories I'm going to write AFTER Levels... I'm currently on page 35 of the edit, scrawling arrows all over everything, and crossing stuff out. Crossing tons out. Lucky I've got plenty more to add, so when it finally gets to you you're not going to feel short changed...

Monday, 2 December 2013

Thors v. City of Bones, why YA movies fail, and a FREE EBOOK.

I'd been looking forward to City of Bones for a year. Thor, not so much, though I like the character. He's got a lot in common with my character, Eddy Moon. I imagine they talk in the same stilted, regal kind of way and they share a connection with ancient myths. Probably some of the people Eddy came across believed in Thor. Here he is, a bit. If you've read the Levels books you'll get what I mean.

Coming into this City of Bones had more advantages than being anticipated. I bought both DVDs in downtown Amman, which looks like this.

My copy of Thor had bonus audience coughing and head-scratching silhouettes in front of the camera.

But still I preferred it. Thor is silly, operatic, but it's lots of fun and it's straightforward. City of Bones  - as a movie - is just so tortuous, and at the same time differs from the book in little, annoying ways. And what's wrong with the light? Why can nobody in New York get a 100 watt lightbulb? I think it's a bad sign if the only way you can make a film dark is to - literally - turn off the lights.

If you're into YA books or movies and want to read a bit more about this, there's an interesting article here: YA books into movies don't go, HERE.

I felt bad about my bargain basement DVDs, and so have decided to even out my karma a bit, by giving a book away. It's a novel aimed at teens, probably more suitable for boys - though bright, curious girls will like it too. If you know somebody who has an interest in - or a love for - wildlife and might like an imaginative story, in the tradition of Willard Price and Watership Down, then please point them in the direction of a free ebook. It's about a rebellious, imaginative teenage boy who gets embroiled in marine biology adventures.

It's called THE WATER BOOK and it's HERE.