Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the tag “Stephen King”

Dark Half

Sometimes you really need to think through what you type into Google.

I was talking to my wife about a guy who failed a paternity test because his baby was actually born to his twin brother – who was still inside him. Searching for that article now, I found this:

Be careful what you search for.

Be careful what you search for.

What I was actually looking for was this article entitled: Guy fails paternity test because his unborn twin is the father.

This reminded me of Stephen King’s Dark Half – Tad Beaumont has an evil twin and…

OK, wait. This story is going to require me to be a bit spoilery. If you don’t want to have the story ruined, go and read it, and then come back and read this. Otherwise, read on.

dark half

So, when he was younger he started having visions of sparrows and heard them. It turned out he had a tumour in his head, which they removed. That tumour became his evil twin and tried to kill him when he brought it to life by creating an alter ego so he could write crime fiction.

Wow. That was MASSIVELY spoilery.

Shereen looked at me and said “Wow. That really would scare you, having an evil twin brought to life from being a writer.”

My response, in my best Arnie:

not a tumor“It’s NOT a tumah! It’s my evil twin.”

Which led to:

“Ah! Twins! I have Danny De Vito in my head!”

twins2

Sometimes my mind works in mysterious ways.

I want to publish Finding Damo. I can’t publish it while I’m teaching. I can’t really write under a pseudonym, as everyone already associated me with Finding Damo (especially you, reading this  blog).

So I’m safe for now, until I write something I have to publish under a different name.

Can you hear sparrows?

Sparrow_Silhouette.svg

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Must. Read.

asleepLast night, I did something I never thought I would ever do: I asked my step-daughter to put the book down and go to sleep already!

Now, before you lynch me or put me in the same category of book burners and fundamentalist christians, let me explain.

She’s 8. Her bedtime is 8.30. She loves to read. And her imagination doesn’t have an off-switch. So if we let her read until she’s tired, she’ll still be reading at midnight. And then we have to deal with the consequences. So when I saw the light shining from  under the door (again) at 10pm, I had to do the unthinkable.

Normally, I’d be quite happy for her to read all night. Let the stories invade her mind and set fire to her imagination. She is a voracious reader and, at 8 years old, she’s reading well beyond her years. She had to beg us to let her read the second Harry Potter book, and I think we’ll probably relent on the third book as well before she hits ten.

But her mum and I just can’t handle the almost-teenager-like reading hangover that results from a late night. So we have to limit her, like a crack addict, to small doses per night.

Her reading list at the moment:

1. Bridge To Terabithia – I’m reading this to her. I don’t think you ever get too old to have someone read to you, and it helps me bone up on my American accents.

2. The Hobbit – I started reading this to her, but she started making very clever “guesses” about what was going to happen next, and I found that she’d read the whole thing over a couple of nights of subversive torchlight reading.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She quotes from Philosopher’s Stone all of the time, so it was only a matter of time.

4. Brer Rabbit Tales by Enid Blyton. She read 15 Secret Seven books in two weeks and was re-reading the Faraway Tree, so I figured she was up for something new.

On top of these, she still reads the grade-two level readers her school gives her, which I agree with educationally (I was able to teach her how to read comics properly, for example) but wish that the school could challenge her a bit with reading.

We were pretty dismissive when we gave her Esio Trot to read and she returned to me in an hour saying it was great and could she have another one. Almost half-heartedly, I’d ask her a question about what happened in the book. She answered promptly. Surprised, I tried something a little more analytical. She had it down pat. From then, I’ve just watched in amazement as she worked her way through dozens of books over the past couple of years, making incredible comments on genre and comparisons to other books. My year 10s can’t do it, that’s for sure.

But I didn’t start this to rave about my step-daughter, who you don’t know and doesn’t enter into Finding Damo in the slightest. I was going to use it as an introductory stepping stone and got carried away.

So… Hop! Next stone.

I used to read in bed as a child. I utilised the torch for my own illicit reading. But I was often found, fast asleep with a book on my face. I’m pretty sure it still happens sometimes.

This is the version I read and still own.

I read The Hobbit in Grade 3. I read the Wizard of Earthsea in Grade 2 – Mum was studying it for school and we were travelling through Queensland and it was there so I read it.

I read Bridge to Terabithia in Grade 5 or 6 – the teacher was giving me and a couple of others books to challenge us as the regular reading was way below us. In primary school I found Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigaters, Biggles, Blyton, Asterix and Tintin. As I got older, I devoured all of the Doctor Who novelisations, Judy Blume (Forever was an experience, I can tell you!), Victor Kelleher and Douglas Adams.

Scarily enough, I didn’t discover Terry Pratchet until university. Dave and I had been introduced to a MUD (multi-user dungeon) on the Internet, and we were having problems with some of the quests. “Oh,” said a helpful player, “that one’s straight from the books.”

“There are books?” I asked, to the general hilarity of the online world. Soon after, Dave and I were annoying the crap out of a busload of people as we read Reaper Man and Small Gods on the way to Queensland. And now I’m on the organising committee for Nullus Anxietas IV.

There are a few novels that completely changed my life.

The first, I just finished again, this time on audio. 47 hours of unexpurgated Stephen King. The Stand. A work of genius that draws me in, over and over. I think I’ve read it at least once every two years since it was published. And yes, the re-release was better.

IT, I’ll lump in with The Stand. It is King’s mind at work. But these two, above all of the others, make me come back and read them for the sheer depth of the worlds he created. I also read Christine and Pet Sematary on a regular basis.

Ben Elton’s Stark was the first book I’d read that didn’t have a happy ending. It shocked me, but also opened me to the possibilities. It was incredibly well written, great characters and then… what the hell?

Tad Williams’ Otherland series blew me away. It’s slow going in places, but again, the story had a scope that I hadn’t seen in a novel or series for a long time. That one’s due to my aunty Joan, who put me onto them.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time gave me a new insight into magic. It was a world that touched on hundreds of different mythologies and wove them into an incredibly complex world. And then Jordan wrote books 7-10 (which were unnecessary). And then he died. Brandon Sanderson has revitalised the series, and I’m really looking forward to the last book.

Clive Barker was another writer who pushed boundary after boundary. Imajica redefined horror and fantasy for me. He wrote about things that I would never have the courage to write about under my own name.  He’s not for the weak hearted, but he is an incredibly good writer.

I could go on. I might. But as a youngster, these books changed the way I looked at the world. I still like to get back to them on occasion to revisit writing that makes everyone else look bad. Don’t attack me for the people I’ve left out. I could add at least 20 more books that have also changed my life, but this was meant to be an off-the-top-of-my-head account and these are the ones that came to mind.

Oh, by the way: I’ve written ten more pages of Finding Damo. Word count to come when I’m home.

Dwarves in Space.

I’m in the study of my new house, looking out at a magnificent garden and wondering why I’m not outside. At the moment, all that is stopping me is the deadline of sending my novel out to be published. And all that is stopping me there is the lack of a title.

For years, I have been calling it Dwarves in Space. And then a few people commented that it was a ridiculous title. So I changed it to “Don’t stop the world, I want to get back on.” which was very indicative of the story, but was, in the words of my friend and mentor, Danny Galvin, “a pun on a book from before you were born. Nobody will get it.”

After an incredibly long brainstorming session at Mum’s place, we ended up with the title Starstruck. Boring, but catchy. Not too punny. The problem is, you’d have to read it to get it.

And so, when I started farming it out to editors, I changed it back to Dwarves in Space!

And then I had Geoff Brown go over it – he did a great job of picking out the worst grammatical flaws and story faults, but didn’t notice that even though the Eagle was lying on the side of Mount Olympus, it was also flying King Roland back to the city for the end scene.

Oops. Minor spoilers.

My favourite quote from him was as follows: “I think the title leaves a lot to be desired, and doesn’t show the true richness of the story.”

So I’ve been madly trying to find a name that does show the true richness of the story.

Feel free to help. Here’s my brainstorm: https://bubbl.us/?h=14817/21f3cb/83C1g3DlojTJw

I’m trying to find a title that is epic, that links fantasy – with its elves, wizards, dwarves and magic – to spaceships and starcharts. It’s a comedy, so I’d hope the title demonstrated that somehow.

Not much to ask for, you must admit!

If nothing comes to me, I’ll have to hope that Penguin’s promise that “All manuscripts are carefully read and assessed,” is true, and they read it on its merit and maybe suggest something better. Who can tell?

I’m telling you, this has been an epic journey just in the writing. Let me tell you a story…

Many MANY years ago, I decided to go to a psychic. She was incredibly good at teasing out details and surprised me with a number of predictions that she couldn’t have known about. She is the reason why I didn’t get my motorcycle license. She also told me that I’d write a novel “something to do with the wizard necklace you are wearing” and get it  published. I’d been thinking of a novel about wizards and dwarves on a spaceship, and the havoc that would ensue as they tried to learn how to fly the ship. I got home and started writing.

The next phase of this story takes place in Japan. I was dating a girl named Kallie, who was a great reason not to be at home. I left early each morning and went to a cafe. I drank coffee, smoke cigarettes and wrote for four hours a day. In the ten months I lived in Japan, I knocked off ninety-five percent of the novel. And I was very happy with it.

 

And then I started reading books on publishing, and the first thing they said was “you won’t get published without having some short stories published first.”

And I met Sara Douglass. Well, I re-met her. She was my History lecturer at university, and she was an incredible writer and an incredible lecturer – full of life and humour. And I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but her advice to me was “You will never sell anything that’s a mish-mash of so many genres.” That put me right off.

So we fast-forward ten years. I’ve had a few short stories published, I’m well into my next novel, and I’m ready to go on … ahem… Dwarves in Space!

Pippa has been invaluable in this part, going through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb, telling me over and over to work on my female characters, and pointing out grammatical errors that make me ashamed to say that I teach English for a living.

And I’m sure that much of the reason that I haven’t tried to have it published before now is, I am deathly afraid that after spending more than a decade with my baby, it will be rejected. But that’s not enough of a reason any more. OK. Here we go people. I’m pressing the send button!

Fanboy

kiss me I'm IrishI’m writing this one on the team on the way into the city. I’m wearing a green shirt and a clover pin and should be quite inebriated by midday. The Pogues are broguing away on my iPhone and I feel like potatoes. It’s the one day I can match Dave in alcohol consumption without needing hospitalisation. The spirit of the Irish rises up within me.

Did the Pogues just sing the word puir? I think they did! I’m in green heaven.

If course, for a man who painted himself blue for a Discworld con, the green shirt and pin are a little mellow.

Various images of me being a fanboyD’you like what I did there? I neatly changed the topic from St Patrick’s Day to me being a little over the top when it comes to enjoying certain works of fiction.

My name is Damian, and I’m a fanboy!

But it’s not that bad. I’m a social fanboy. I don’t dress up by myself. I… I can stop whenever I want. Seriously.

Let’s analyse this.
Damo is a fanboy:
– I am on the organising committee for next year’s Nullus Anxietas convention (Discworld Down Under – I love a sunburnt turtle).
– I almost bankrupted our theatre group to put on a production of Terry Pratchett’s Mort.
– I painted Death Riding Binky o the back of my denim jacket and had it signed by Terry and embroidered by my friend Shereen (not my fiancé Shereen and NOT to be referred to as ‘the other Shereen’).
– I’ve been dressed – at varying times and amongst many others – as a feegle, the Cheshire Cat, Uncle Fester and Wolverine.
– I own a Stuffed Murloc that goes grlglgglglgl! When you squeeze his mouth.
– I own Red Dwarf on VHS, DVD and iTunes, all of the books and assorted badges and pins.
– I have photos riding a Nimbus, flashing a light saber, and of me trapped inside the Pandorica.
– I’ve been to 221B Baker St and platform 9 1/2. And indeed went to London with the specific aim of going to said places.

OK. Damo is not a fanboy because:
– There is not one sci-fi poster in the house… Hung up in the house. Of course, that will change in the new place.
– I’ve never worn a star trek uniform or forehead ridges. Hmm, that’s now on my bucket list.
– I’ve never spent more than I can afford on sci-fi merchandise. I’ve regularly spent more than a sane person would, but never more than I could afford.
– I don’t collect signatures. I’d much prefer to have the memory of talking to a personality than the physical bit of paper with a scribbled name on it. That’s not to say I don’t have signed books. And a couple of DVDs. And of course the jacket… OK, can I retract this statement? It’s not all my fault. You can’t be a fan of Terry Pratchett without signatures popping up all over your books. It’s like magic.
– Worst of all, I have no real feelings on Star Trek vs Star Wars. Or Star Trek DS9 vs Babylon 5. It seems sacrilegious. But there you go. Although if pushed – no. I won’t get that debate happening here.

Conclusion:
I’m a pop culture enthusiast with a penchant for dressing up and a borderline addictive nature that manifests in the collection of stuff.

I like to be involved in things because if I’m not there’s a chance I might miss out on something.

And my imagination leads me to immerse myself in worlds rather than just taking a quick dip.

But I think a true fanboy would laugh at me if I tried to call myself a fanboy of any particular genre or world.

Time for a Guinness. Begorrah!

Addendum: The morning after, wondering why Guinness always seems like such a good idea at the time, I realise that St Patrick’s Day has a lot to do with being a fanboy (or girl) as well. I’m not sure how many of the people at Dan O’Connell’s had even the slightest amount of Irish blood in them, but we all got together to celebrate the Irish – or we all got together to have a huge pissup and dress in ridiculous costumes. Sounds very much like a number of conventions I’ve been to. There was a girl in a Guinness suit, many many guys with fake sideburns, a lot of green hair and a few Vulcans… hang on, wrong convention. And you have to think, these people – even if they weren’t sober when I met them – were sober when they put the costume on in the morning.

Pfff. Fanboys.

To be sure, they're fanboys all roight!

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