Monday, October 08, 2007


Despite having numerous ideas for novels blatting around my psyche already, a new one has elbowed its way in - a fairytale in fact, that matches the present day against the past (or rather the perceived past of a fairytale setting).

I guess that it's serendipitous that MJ mentioned he'd bought the Brothers Grimm collection (which one, I don't know) whilst I was already in possession of the Hans Christian Anderson collection (slightly less violent me thinks, and yet, so very... violent!). I felt the need to go out in search of the Brothers Grimm also - If I'm to write a semi-pastiche then I need to understand the machinations and standard themes (note, I've decided not to pursue a pastiche, but a completely new idea).

My initial idea was sparked whilst at the Police concert, listening to Wrapped Around Your Finger and the wonderful lyrics that I'd always associated with a magician and his apprentice and the powerplay between them - suddenly I felt the urge to write about it (nope, I've not written a thing yet). Over the course of the past month (has it been a month already?) I've toyed with that same idea - trying to make it work in a fictional novel context without it being entirely Sting's idea - it's not, I can assure you.

So, over the month I've stretched it out, drawing on previous story ideas and reworking the mythology of Sting's song to a secondary level that I'm not prepared to discuss here.

So it was that I bought a copy of the Grimms, and with it came a free copy of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber (short story collection based upon fairytales), which includes the original version of the film Company of Wolves. Why is this suddenly important?

Well, having read the title story I realise that it's the kind of style I want my novel-fairytale to include. Admittedly it's bleak, and I'd want to include some humour in my story, but her choice of words are as sublime as any Solvejg has ever used in his narratives:

His wedding gift, clasped round my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat.

After the Terror, in the early days of the Directory, the aristos who'd escaped the guillotine had an ironic fad of tying a red ribbon round their necks at just the point where the blade would have sliced it through, a red ribbon like the memory of a wound. And his grandmother, taken with the notion, had her ribbon made up in rubies; such a gesture of luxurious defiance! That night at the opera comes back to me even now... the white dress; the frail child within it; and the flashing crimson jewels round her throat, bright as arterial blood.

And that singular item, the ruby choker, wreaths the entire first story of the Bloody Chamber like a soiled bandage, such is Carter's well-planned imagery.

Now then, how might I copy?


solv said...

Lol, I can see Angela's style all over my own :o)
Okay, begin with WHAT?
What do you describe?
And then the HOW?
How do you describe it?
Angela and I share the desire to make the gruesome seem beautiful. Blood is likened to rubies, etc.
In my new piece, The Maggot Tree, I strung corpses from a tree and then impregnated the narrative with lovely foody words. What a cool contrast! Make the reader hungry whilst describing maggots and puckered flesh!
So that's at the heart of our style, and possibly somewhere near the heart of those fairytales: the innocent is defiled; the peaceful disturbed; the safe violated; the untouchable touched.
Note the exclamation marks/superlatives in Angela's style!
How's that for you old chum? Any use?

solv said...

If you fancied warming up, you could try describing an autopsy. Imagine that it's the coolest thing you've ever seen! It's beautiful, amazing, incredible! Nothing would tear you away from the scene! You could kiss those organs and wrap yourself in those blissful entrails!
What happens is that your wonder becomes infectious and makes the reader feel good about life. However, at the same time, the reader is rather disturbed at this love affair. It's a unique sensation and extremely powerful - maybe even primordial.

R1X said...

Which I gues is why, more than often (these days), those far-right religioso's want to burn all asunder simply because of how they've felt it defile them.

Thanks for that Solvey.

solv said...

There'll always be somebody eager to burn you old chum, just as there'll always be somebody ready to kiss your feet.

R1X said...

Well, they do smell a fair bit at the moment! Anyhoo, I'm going to forgo the rest of my course material and read Angela Carter :)

Now then, where's your latest that you want me to peruse?