Friday, 22 July 2011

The Eagle, the truck driver and Plato*

In the ‘About’ wording on the right of your screen, we say that the members of Severn Valley Authors share a commitment to being published. So we always greet the news that one of us has had a success with huge enthusiasm. Aquila the magazine of ‘fun, challenge and inspiration’ for youngster of 8-13 is publishing Tony Gillam’s short story Times Wing’d Chariot in its summer double issue. Well done, Tony. (And he’s paid for it too!) 

We settled down to the main event of the meeting which was to workshop a rewrite of an extract from Chris’s meisterwerk. Chris Smith is not your usual truck driver. In Karl Marx and Careful Driving, the book he is writing (the act itself makes him unusual), Chris describes one of the great migrations of the truck-driving fraternity and weaves into his story the history of world politics and philosophy. It’s an odyssey of the body and the mind. His plan is to write this in such a way that your every-day, currant-bun reading truck driver can make sense of it. This looks like a crack-pot scheme and originally I doubted Chris’s sanity for trying but, if the extract he read at our meeting is anything to go by, he’s going to pull it off.

The thoughts of Plato, who was absent in the original extract (a shameful omission, I think you’ll agree), have now been added to those of the other philosophers and political thinkers in Chris’s repertoire. He has seamlessly woven this content into his expert travel writing that describes the night drive from Kidderminster to Dover which is the first stage of Chris’s bodily odyssey. He does it in such a way (now that the extracts from heavy tomes are confined to the footnotes) that even I find it accessible and riveting. We all agreed that this is a winner.

*Aquila is Latin for eagle – but you knew that.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Accomplished Writing

Our meeting was diverted to Rob's house this week because Tony had some limp excuse about flies in his chimney. I think he was afraid that we might ask to meet the elusive Mrs Gillam who he claims is kept in the attic. Do you know, I'm sure I've heard the rattle of chains during our meetings there. He says that the flies come from a decaying squirrel that is stuck behind the gas fire. What I want to know, Tony, is where is your wife? At least he had the decency to bring the chocolate biscuits.

Any business: We have to congratulate Rob on his budding modelling career - he is the new face of HPB and we have decided not to renew our membership of NAWG. Sorry, NAWG, you were great but at the same price as a Chinese take-away, we have decided to opt for the latter. Annie has entered her excellent story The Ninth Step for the Bridport prize and Tony has also entered with his engaging story Paper Thin. Good luck to you both.

Rob takes us to Spring 1932 in Berlin. We all agreed that this was a seriously accomplished piece of writing. The characters were compelling, the dialogue excellent and Rob had done a really good job with the research into Berlin during the 30's, including all the authentic place names. He wrote about homosexuality in a very convincing way and with some great 'dark' humour. We all loved the image of 'two stately homos of England flouncing ahead of me in their open-toed sandals (Chris hid his feet under the table at this point) and Besides my valise, which was large enough for me to have smuggled in a boy for my gratification. I am looking forward to reading the finished book. I think this could be a winner, Rob.