Sunday 29 September 2013

Are writers a danger to other road users?

My car has had to go into a local garage for repairs and as part of the deal I was to be supplied with a replacement vehicle for a week or so.

All was going swimmingly with the hire car arrangements until this happened...

HIRE CAR AGENT: Oh, I see, sir, that you are a writer. What sort of writer?

ME: Well, I write screenplays and books, mostly.

HCA: Mmm. That could be a problem, sir. We are not sure that we can get insurance for a writer.

ME: Are you joking?

HCA: No, sir, I will have to get this cleared.

ME: That's ridiculous. I've been driving for decades and no insurance company has ever raised this as an issue before. After all, I am not a stunt driver. I just sit in front of a computer most of the day trying to write and go out in the car from time to time like any other ordinary person.

HCA: Are you a "mainstream writer" sir?

ME: I'm not sure I know what you mean by that, but if you mean "am I a best-selling author?", then I have to admit that I'm not -- not yet anyway!

HCA: Well, sir, I'm afraid I will have to get you cleared before we can release the replacement car.

Three hours passed by before I learned that the insurance company was willing to let me have the car, but I was unable to get any explanation why my employment had been an issue.

Have other writers or any sort had a similar experience with car insurance? I'd be interested to know.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Does God's Triangle make readers uncomfortable?

Earlier this week I met a friend I hadn't seen for a few months. We got discussing my book God's Triangle and he confessed that he hadn't been able to read all of it. The reason, he told me, was that he thought it was intrusive.

I was interested, rather than offended, by his admission and wanted to know more. My friend, who is approaching his 80th birthday, said he felt uncomfortable about the sexual element of the story -- particularly because he knew that what I was recounting was true.

My friend's wife said he was rather naive and embarrassed about sexual matters, despite having been married twice and having had several long-term relationships.

It is always interesting to see how people react to sex. My friend's comments, although providing me with useful feedback, are fortunately very much a minority view, as far as I can tell. The overwhelmingly number of people who have contacted me have expressed sadness and understanding about what happened in my Great Aunt Florence "Florrie" Cox's marriage. That was my intention when I wrote the book. Here is a selection of reader comments and newspaper reviews.

If after scanning these comments, you would like to read God's Triangle, a Kindle version is currently available at a special reduced rate here.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

The making of the film Wicker Man

The film Wicker Man was a truly astonishing film, although it was clearly not to everyone's taste. Indeed, the first time I saw it I thought it was seriously weird. Now it is being re-released on its 40th anniversary.

The London Daily Telegraph has his report that is worth reading. Go here.


Here, the Guardian examines how remarkable story of how the film was made:

How we made The Wicker Man

Director Robin Hardy and musical director Gary Carpenter remember a descent into paganism that started in a Manhattan hotel room and ended up with the film company rubbishing their own work

Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man

Incantations to the gods … Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man. Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

Robin Hardy, director

I was making commercials in the US and doing very well. Then a film company sent the writer Anthony Shaffer out to lure me back to the UK. When I opened my door in Manhattan, he said: "I am with the FBI and we are investigating you to see if you have communist sympathies." It was the first of many jokes.

We spent a weekend devising the plot, about a policeman called Howie who is lured to a Scottish island to investigate a missing girl; he is ultimately sacrificed by the pagan locals to save their apple crop. Paganism gave us lots of ideas, like the little girl being given a frog to put in her throat to stop it hurting. Essentially, one must think of The Wicker Man, as a game, with clues gradually suggesting Summerisle is not run in accordance with Christian values of Howie. Setting it in Scotland was crucial: in the early 1970s, Christanity was still widely practised, and it had a very puritan aspect. It might not have been as believable set in Woolwich.

Read the full story here