Tag Archives: fear

Torn

The roses in the garden were wilting, as though they were nodding their approval of your ignorance towards me. So I tugged them from the earth, removed their mocking heads, and threw them into the sad September breeze. The stalks they cried. The thorns they hailed. And the embers of petals floated back to me, and melded to my sweating body like greedy leeches. The embers still remain there, burning into my soul, like a wild and sorry tattoo.

@alittlebirdtweets2015

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz

Hello Readers,

This week, I finished reading the suspense-thriller/horror novel, ‘Life Expectancy’, by Dean Koontz.

The following review is written from a writing perspective. Rather than describe the plot-line in detail, I will be highlighting key areas of the book that particularly drew my attention as a writer. Please note that there will be spoilers.

A brief blurb of the book goes something like this; Jimmy Tock is born on the same night (in the same hospital) that his Grandfather dies. In his dying words (over a thunder and lightning storm) the Grandfather leaves his own son (Jimmy’s Father) five bad predictions that will occur on particular dates in Jimmy’s life.

When we read the blurb on the back of the book, we are told that there will be five predictions, but not what they are. This is a perfect example of ‘the power of a hook in a blurb’. When we discover that there are five predictions but not what they are, our curiosity is sparked and we are held in a grip wanting to know more. The main reason for a hook is to raise questions inside a readers mind (the what, where, why) and to push them on to read further. The blurb’s hook leaves us asking several questions that we want answers to, for instance; What are the five predictions? Where do these predictions occur? Why does it happen, and why does it happen to Jimmy Tock? And ultimately, will Jimmy survive these five terrible predictions?

The book is written in first person, from the viewpoint of Jimmy Tock. The first person tense has an immediate connection with the reader; enabling us to step into the protagonist’s shoes and experience their world through the five senses. I personally loved the ‘voice’ of Jimmy – a guy who has a slight complex about his physical appearance (and talks about it to us) yet is strong-minded – in general. I have often read that a main character (hero or villain) should be capable of dealing with all of the obstacles that you place in his path – that they should be able to fight all conflicts to the bitter end – even if in the end they win or lose. I have also read that a main character should not be completely perfect and that they should have at least one flaw – one that he has to face and fight on a more personal level. If we analyse the profile of Jimmy Tock, we get a real-life, everyday guy with an unusual, personal flaw -but one that is used for a very different reason in this book (I won’t give the flaw away!).

Jimmy is capable of battling out his conflicts both internally and externally, and he changes and gets strongers as the book progresses. Of course, although he ultimately gets stronger, we do have to see his efforts waver along the plot line in order to keep the reader tense – and guessing. It is essential that we see him fall and rise at his own efforts – and that he used all he had to reach the end. We should adopt this process with every character we design.

I also think that Jimmy ‘shined’ as a character because of his impeccable sense of humour. When I look more closely at the entire chemistry of the book, I see a strong fusion of horror and humour. This dark/light is a fantastic combination because it ensures that we are not trodden down in darkness and depression for pages on end. The humour brings us to laugh (even in the darkness moments) with the characters.

It is often said that it is a crime for the author to ‘step into a narrative with his own opinions’, and I agree. But should an author want to air an opinion in their novel (politics, religion, law etc) then they can learn a lot from Dean Koontz and his method. I am not saying that all of the views in his books are ones that he believes and airs, but as a reader I have analysed that it often seems to be the case in places. I think that this can be a good thing when done correctly because it adds a personal touch without spelling it out. So how does Dean do this? Well his views get injected through his characters and their dialogue. The dialogue of one character may contain an author’s personal view of something happening in the world – or it may contain a humorous line that the author has always told in his own life. This is where we get into the territory of ‘how real or fictional are your characters?’ I believe that most authors, when sketching out characters, will use a mixture of both real and imagined personalities in order to create new and unique characters. I have often wondered how much of the author is in a character – in the many of the characters I have come to meet in books. In the case of Jimmy Tock, I believe that he contains a lot of Dean Koontz’s sense of humour – which I must say is impeccable!

I am not sure if any of you have heard of the quote ‘all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl’ by Jean Luc-Godard (a French Film Director) but I believe this quote rings true for almost any film and any horror/thriller book. It certainly rings true for this book, where there are numerous guns and gunshots – which also occur around an attractive female character, that later becomes the wife of Jimmy Tock. I suppose what the gun and girl quote is really saying to us is that a story isn’t a story without a gun (symbol for conflict) and a girl (symbol of romance) as such. That without conflict we have no story, that without love we are missing a key part of our souls – that together they fuse a Universal idea. Both these elements combine love, excitement, danger and romance – and what is more exciting than that? Nothing. Knowing that this book contains what I consider to be two essential themes in fiction, tells me that Dean is a master of his craft – that he has studied and mastered the mechanics of writing and his specific genres. This allows him to go that extra mile with his trade-mark sense of humour.

Lastly, even though this book was made up of many pages, the tightness and suspense of plot, the interesting characters, and those five predictions made me read on to the end! I am usually a medium-paced reader, but with this book I was flying through! That’s a good sign.

I recommend this book to readers who love a fast-paced suspense thriller/horror – and those who like a dry and wicked sense of humour mixed in. When I read the last page I was sad that I would never live with these characters again – that their journey’s had ended. If a writer can inject a character or two into a reader for life then they have done their job well. That’s why we remember and love the classics – it’s all about the characters. I still find myself repeating some of Dean’s creative character names from this book, just because they sound so good on the tongue! Punchinello, Konrad Beezo… Amazing!

Until next time,

Thanks for reading!

Donna x

@alittlebirdtweets2015

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Hello Readers,

Today, I finished reading the haunting, magical and suspenseful novel, ‘The Miniaturist’, by Jessie Burton (her debut novel). The review below contains my thoughts of the book from a writing perspective. Please be warned, this may contain spoilers! This review was originally posted on Goodreads.com.

In the first chapter we are introduced to Petronella, the book’s main protagonist, who is entering a new house, a new world, to be with her new husband; Johannes. I find this to be an interesting beginning in novel writing; usually, plots in novels will begin with a character living out there daily lives, when suddenly, they are thrown off path for whatever reason. Here the author has placed the trigger in the past, and has planted Nella in the result of the trigger. In the beginning we want and need to know where Nella is, why she is there, and what she will be facing – this creates that essential initial suspense in writing.

On the title header of the chapter, the author states the place and date (seventeenth century) of where the book begins. This helps the reader visualise the period. This method is also good when we don’t want to place the time, date and era in the actual story for whatever reason – it allows the author to focus on description and story of that time period – which also hints at the ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’ rule in the narrative.

We meet some of the other character’s of the Brandt household in the hallway. This is a perfect setting and stage for their interaction. The setting helps to build the claustrophobic and haunting overtones and themes of the story to come – in fact the setting is a character in itself!

The characters are given clear physical descriptions and unique traits from the outset – which are all essential elements in ensuring the reader gets an instant ‘early’ image in their mind of the characters; which will stay with them throughout the book. It is also through physical description, action and dialogue that we begin to understand the relationships and chemistry between the characters – the differences in the character’s personalities helps to build the conflict in the story.

The author had undertaken considersble research of Amsterdam and it’s history in order to write the book. After I finished reading it, I felt I had come away with a good understanding of Amsterdam’s history – and it is always great to learn something new through fiction! I learned about seventeenth century Dutch houses, Churches, laws, trials, religions, food, currency and professions. I loved how the author had initally visited The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; where she had viewed real-life Petronella Oortman’s miniature house. She had walked away inspired, wondering who would have owned such a beautiful thing. I guess this really does tell us that some of the best inspirations come to us when we question something,  and want to know more about it. It’s the ever magical why, what, where and when of fiction – and that wonderful trigger of when research begins.

I can only guess that the author wanted to keep the miniaturist character as mysterious as possible, because this mirrored the author’s mysterious feeling’s towards the miniature cabinet. I felt that the miniaturist character did have her own story to tell far away from this book – I would still love to know what she looked like, how she acquired these foretelling skills, and (in more detail than this book explained) why she chose to impact other’s lives by using these skills. A new book from this character’s viewpoint would also be amazing.

There are some strong themes in the book; love, obsession, jealousy, secrets, lies, superstitions, violence, fear, regret, death, decay, among many other’s – and they all entwine into a fantastic carefully woven plot – which has several twists!

I thought the ending was carefully wrapped up with all of the loose ends tied. Although the very last event was inevitable, I still wondered whether something magical was going to happen to save the day – and that process is ‘suspense working the reader’ at it’s best. The fact that no magic happened in the end made the story very raw and real.

Finally, one thing that really blew me away was when I visited the author’s Pinterest page (a collection of research images that she used as inspiration for the novel). I had clear visions in my mind of the character images, based on the author’s descriptions; but it was only when I visited the author’s Pinterest page that my visions were confirmed to be almost identical! This itself was a magical experience, and can only highlight the author’s excellent eye for detail. I also recommend creating storyboards for your writing’s – they become great inspiration and prompts when needed.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy a haunting, suspense-thriller. This book is a truly amazing read by a brilliant debut writer. I will look forward to Jessie’s next book called ‘Belonging’ – set in Spain and London in the 1960’s.

Until next time,

Donna x

@alittlebirdtweets2015

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What made me become a writer?

The writing seed was planted inside me one rainy Sunday in 2004, while I was relaxing and reading in my ridiculously-small-rented-room in South-East London. I had been browsing the book section of a Croydon charity shop the day before, and had been instantly grabbed by a beautifully dreary front cover, and a sinister title. The book was called ‘Beneath the Skin’ by Nicci French. I had read the premise, test-read a random page (as I always do after plucking a book from the shelf), and had carried it straight to the till.

That Sunday afternoon I had downed numerous cups of tea – the heat of the liquid had fused with the irresistible chill that the pages were breathing into me. I turned page, after page, after page, until I reached the end. My instant thought upon closing the cover was ‘I wish I had written this book.’ Actually, I might have even whispered it aloud into those four walls.

I had fallen asleep that night with the book, the characters whirling around in my mind. The fear, darkness, reality, and loneliness that the book had aroused in me, had had even more effect in the darkness of the night, under the glow of the moon. I knew I would never forget this book. It had created an itch in my heart.

The following day I had been at work. I had clicked Google in my lunch hour. And in the search bar I clicked ‘How to write a novel’.

My obsession had begun.

©2014.alittlebirdtweets

– – – –

An excerpt from Goodreads;

“When she laughs, she makes a pealing sound, like a doorbell. If I told her I loved her, she would laugh at me like that. She would think I was not serious. That is what women do. They turn what is serious and big into a small thing, a joke. Love is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. One day, soon, she will understand that.”

578564(2)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whitechapel

‘Whitechapel in winter does make me quiver.’ She said, pulling her shawl around her shoulders.

Fog curled lavishly around streetlamps; like smoke from coal-fires had done, in the Victorian era.

‘It’s been said that the ghost of Jack the Ripper prowls these streets.’ He teased.

‘Oh, stop it!’ She grinned, thrusting her elbow into his side.

They walked along cobbled Commercial Road; which was once a market where the rich and poor intermingled and traded.

‘Hey, what’s that?’ She shrieked, pointing ahead into a doorway.

Their mouths fell, as they watched the grim shadow of a knife magnify over them.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reflections of Lady Abigail

I yearn for the pucker of youth that I once relished,

I ache for the shimmering face that could arrest the eyes of others,

A pursing of my lips only discloses the sunken contours of my face,

A wild flaring of my eyes only exudes bleakness,

My soul is dim,

I’m a shattered rose,

I’m crumbling,

I’m withering,

I crave the fragrance of light musk, summer dresses, flower picking, the lightness of step.

Time, you wait for nobody!

Time, you are not my friend!

I close my eyes in fear of my knowledge,

Inside I cry,

I fly,

I die.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Half a World Away

He staggers up the path to the front door and bellows an incoherent song into the dark silent streets; and she listens to him from their bed. Her body is tense and her mouth is dry from the dread of him bringing home the fighting spirit of the pub. Her mind races with memories of drunken insults, of stings of pain inflicted upon her from the fury of his hand, of bruised skin, of being knocked into unconsciousness.

Shall I pretend I am sleeping? Shall I confront him with the little strength I have left? She thinks.

He ascends the stairs to the top landing where he stops, sways and hiccups; and she observes him through the gap in the door.

I will confront him. I will no longer be afraid of him. I will tell him that I don’t fear him, that I no longer love him. I will tell him I am leaving tomorrow, that it’s over.

He enters the bedroom and switches on the light. She observes his face, his hollow cheeks, his enflamed eyes, and her thoughts and intentions dissipate, and her mouth fails to communicate the words she longs to speak.

He approaches the bed and raises his hand, as he finishes off the violence he began eight hours earlier. She closes her eyes, blanks out the pain and pushes her thoughts away from her sunken life into one that is half a world away.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Raven

That day had been notorious. I had strolled across the tribe-island where I had glimpsed a raven perched sternly upon a birch branch. I had gazed at it but had not met its eyes. My grandma had warned me over again as a young boy to never look, not even in a time of weak curiosity. I would question why and she would reply, ‘Danton, it will bring with you much danger and bad luck. The red gleam of light that comes from a ravens’ eyes will weaken the soul of any that look into them; just like the sun is danger to eyes on a searing day.’ I had gazed at the black plumage of the raven perched there as I recalled her words, and my feet had become unsteady with terror. It had begun to squawk, to make a racket with its heavy wings; then it had flown from the branch, over the bank towards me; the shadow of its span had buried me into darkness, and my legs had begun to crumble beneath me. Its sharp beak had struck my head many times. I had fallen to the ground in pain, in silence, frozen with fear. Then it stopped, and as I looked at it I had witnessed my own blood stains drenched in its feathers; red on black luminous plumage; so beautiful, so ugly. Then it had flown into the sunset horizon, leaving me marred with its violence. I was twelve years of age on that notorious day, and there has been no day pass since, when I haven’t looked a raven in its eyes.

©2013.alittlebirdtweets

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
burninskyblog

My Truths

tarun81

fiction, poetry and inspiration

❣Emotional Queen👑

🎭दो चेहरें हैं,दो लहज़े हैं मेरे...और हर सवाल के दो जवाब "एक मैं जो लिखती हूँ दूजा तुम जो जानते हो"!! 👑Queen Of My Own Thought❣ #MyBlogMyFeeling

Words can't fathom

Exploring all perspectives in a blogosphere! :)

Unsaid but Written

Releasing this flood of words from my soul into this empty page.

simplisticInsights

Simple made easy! psychology love feeling emotion thought behaviour success strategy

When I' m With You... Whitney Ibe Blog!

Inspirational,Motivational, Lifestyle, Daily Living, Positivity, Religion

London Wlogger

Walking blogger exploring London's hidden gems, sights and history!

GINGERSHOUTS

Set your thoughts free

LIFEFUN

Go ahead, fall down cause the world looks different from the ground-Oprah Winfrey

J.F.

Cats, Coffee, and Queer Things.

The Mixing Wheel.

..all the colours of life...

Shine On!

Read on.

Flash 365

"Oh! Take a shit, read a story" - My Mother on Flash Fiction

Rhythm

Music Is Heart, Words Are Beats.

18Megapixel

© Michael Soriano Photography

Lowe Country

Ex-Cop. Ex-Con. Don't judge me.

Everybody Dies At the Masquerade

A Transgressive Fiction Blog

Randoms by a Random

Blogging away with random thoughts in form of poetry, stories and more...

About a Book

Book reviews and thoughts on literature

fashion mom blog

Life is a big journey that I want to share with you...

Orchid's Lantern

Shedding light on how we live, what we think, and why we care.

The Comic Vault

Unlock your inner geek and step inside!

Gwen Caradec Writing.

writing and reading with you

The Wordsy

Curated Language and Images

The Fiction Site

A website for new short fiction

Angelique Grey

writing, finding my voice, and telling stories

Rambling and Wallowing

Science Fiction, Flash Fiction, and the occasional Poem by Angela Kempe

%d bloggers like this: