Sunday, 31 July 2011

Four for Forty: 1970s

Love is in the air. I just had to explain to the five year old why the Sea Monkeys were 'wrestling'. We may have to get a bigger tank. Sea Monkeys were one of the impossibly cool things from America we used to read about in the classifieds in DC Comics in the '70s. Devon at that time was anything but cool, and there was no hope of getting them, X-ray specs or Twinkies, whatever they were.

Imagine a time before ebay or Amazon - unthinkable now. I'm finishing up the research for my next book, and just had a rare copy of the 'Jeu de Marseille' the Surrealists created during the war delivered from Paris via London to the desert in under a week. It's insane how much has changed in forty years.

One of the things I love about this place is how it's such a bizarre cultural melting pot. I was in Daiso last week, (like a brilliant Japanese dollar store/pound shop), and bought a genuine Life cover: 'The Year in Pictures 1971', which I'm going to frame in honour of this - ah- special birthday. The cover lists: hot pants, Sinatra, ski bums, Ali & Frazier etc. (The flip side is a very hip cigarette advert 'Sounds & Kent!' of some dude with a combover smoking and listening to his vinyl with huge headphones a jackhammer operator would be proud of).

With finishing the edits on the Spanish book, and research, and *y'know* the two and a half month long school summer holidays, my idea of forty posts for forty years was a bit optimistic. How does four posts - one for each of the decades sound? Today, let's kick off with the 70s, and enjoy today's clip x

TODAY'S PROMPT: Assuming you are old enough to remember them, what did the 1970s mean to you? What are your memories of that time? Take five minutes and write a stream of consciousness list - anything that comes to mind. You can mine this list for a story, set way back when women were wonderful, men were bionic, and there was enough static from all those nylon flares to supplement the National Grid.

It might go something like this: Saturday Night Fever, Farah Fawcett posters, Sesame Street, sneakers, The Three Investigators, Pop Rocks, Spangles, Tiswas, Stevie Wonder, tank tops, polo necks, Hair, Brut, Denim, Hi Karate, Charlie ... Why not see what else you can come up with?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Home Sweet Home?

How are you all? At the start of the *two and a half month long* school holiday, it's either panic at the thought of filling all those weeks with activities for the children, or post-edit wipe-out but I succumbed to the flu. The new book is off to the copy editor, the pilot's been in Shanghai, so for the last few days the children have been making the most of non-stop Disney XD and the finest junk food the compound shop can offer while I've been poleaxed in bed. What is it about finishing a book that wipes you out? Maybe it's the same reason you can guarantee getting a cold at the weekend, or when you have some vacation from work? Anyway, bouncing back now and it's been a busy month writing. I've been here:

If you ever get the chance to write at the Arvon centre in Moniack Mhor, near Loch Ness, jump at it. It was a blissful week of perfect peace - think workshops, visiting authors, log fires, and so much laughter. So good, in fact, that we're all meeting up again next year. Then, after flying back to the desert to pick up the family, the pilot and I took the children 'home' to Valencia. It was wonderful, and emotional, seeing a place we'd lived in and loved after ten years. So much had changed - our lovely, isolated little house in the orange groves is now surrounded by new builds. So another 'home' no longer felt like home at all.

It was amazing seeing the streets and countryside I've been writing about for the last year - almost expected to see my characters dancing in the village square, or relaxing over a glass of wine in one of the plazas. It helped, I think, to draw a line under the end of the story - and maybe it drew a line under part of our story too.

Back 'home' now, and feeling revived by everything we've seen and done this month. Just really simple things were such a pleasure - lighting the woodburner at night, walking through dew-laden grass, rain, getting off the plane in Madrid and seeing serrano ham bocadillos and cava for sale in the airport cafe ... I've had a wonderful dose of 'normal' - which is in short supply here. Back home, and back to work, so here's a writing prompt for you today - enjoy x

TODAY'S PROMPT: How many homes have you lived in? Which of these homes really stand out in your memory? Why? Have you ever gone back to a place, a house, you lived in and found it changed beyond recognition? Or have you gone 'home' and found it exactly the same? Today, why not dig out a photo of somewhere that means a lot to you, and free-write for a few pages about how it shaped you, or tell us about it in the comments?
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