From The Notebook Jan 2017

Welcome to my latest collection of notebook jottings, which I hope you may find to be of interest.

BAD language: Over the years, as society has allegedly become rather more enlightened, the use of bad language has sadly risen in popularity – be this on television, in books or in general conversation. As a child of the forties, I was used to hearing my father – a bank clerk and a vegetable hater – referring to “b” carrots – but he never used the word itself. To such an extent, I can remember one of my first school teachers explaining that there was no “b” in carrots, when I first started to write!

However, fast forward, and I have just finished reading a thriller (by an acclaimed author) where the “F” word makes far too many appearances. To my mind, the over-use of this word adds nothing to the story, but clearly it appeals to publishers – well, to one anyway! Of course, the expletive, when used in tense or dramatic scenarios, can carry the correct emotional force needed to highlight the situation. But, when seemingly used as a replacement for punctuation marks, it’s unacceptable – to me anyway.

Hidden Killers: I have just finished reading this excellent novel, written by the ever- skilful and popular Linda la Plante. For readers, unfamiliar with this author, the main character in this novel is her police detective Jane Tennison, who becomes involved with two cleverly interwoven story lines. I must admit, I’ve always found this author easy to “get on with,” as she writes fast-moving stories, supported by well researched detail and without bogging the reader down. At the same time, her characters are completely and utterly believable. A good read that I can thoroughly recommend.

Television Producers: Not my favourite people – not that I know any, I hasten to add. No. My reason for making the point is simply this. I am fed up with being asked to watch programmes filmed in a coal cellar at midnight! Top of my dislike list – as the moment – is the BBC Saturday evening story Taboo. Okay, a little bit of darkness can be used to ramp up the tension, but honestly, this series is just far too dark, and for most of the time. For me, what was shaping up to be a good story line has now become a “toil of a pleasure” to watch. Must I stay a loyal watcher – or change channels? Staying with the television theme, I also dislike loud music being played when people are talking on-screen. Turn up the sound – to hear them better – and the louder the music becomes. Funny old world, isn’t it? When I’m chatting with a neighbour, on my way to the shops, there’s not an orchestra in sight!

Walk the story: As part of my “exercise routine,” I go for a walk most mornings. During this hour or so, I allow my mind to focus on the background for suitable short–stories, and ideas for my next novel. This time, away from the phone and computer screen, is invaluable and very rewarding. One of my walking “routes” takes me down a country lane where, on one side, is a field and home to two lovely big horses. After several months of patiently trying to attract their attention – they now come trotting up to the gate, when they see me on the lane. I’d like to think it’s my charm that does it, but I know very well that it’s the odd carrot or peppermint in my pocket that does the trick. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to abandon my mental ramblings, in favour of being able to share some up-close and magical moments with two such amazing animals.

Short stories: At the time of writing I have completed seven short stories, and plan to write four or five more. These will build into a complete book that, when completed, will be added to this website, and then be available on Amazon. Each story contains between five and ten thousand words and, in most cases, offers the proverbial “twist in the tale” ending. When writing short stories, of necessity one is working within a confined space, as opposed to having the amount of room available when writing a novel. So, with short-stories, the mind must be focussed when it comes to the provision of concise detail but, equally important any attempts to over-supply must be avoided.  As we know, the great beauty of the written word is that it works in harmony with the imagination, whereas watching film and television can, so often, eliminate the need for imagination.

Happy reading.

Peter Warrilow