Tag Archives: Elizabeth George

Some Bookish Television

Ward’s away on his trip to Okinawa, and if anyone had asked what I would be doing while he was away, I would have said, “Why, reading, of course.”

I even stocked up on a few audiobooks: Gambit, by Rex Stout (a reread), A Trick of the Light, by Louise Penny (I’ve been SO looking forward to this new Inspector Gamache mystery) and Outlander, by Diana Gibaldon (another reread, and an unexpected purchase – Audible had it on sale for two days for $4.95 so I snapped it up).

(Nothing in print or ebook, though – I also have a handful of deadlines coming due this week, and I find that when I spend my days staring at PDF proofs, I don’t feel much like staring at a page when I’m done for the day.)

I did get into Gambit – I find both Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Stout’s Nero Wolfe to be excellent companions during kitchen clean-up time.

But surprisingly, I’ve been watching TV series at night!

I’m not really one for television or movies, although when I sit down to watch something, I do usually enjoy it. We made the decision back when my two older kids were young to not do the cable or satellite thing; television time for us meant DVDs and VHS, and nowadays, a lot of online content, too.

The weekend started out, strangely enough, with X Factor auditions on YouTube. Earlier this year my daughter introduced me to The X Factor – we followed along on YouTube – and I really enjoyed them. The new season has just started, and the auditions are actually my favourite part of the series.

Once I’d watched the latest batch of auditions, though, I found myself wanting to watch other things. (This is probably how television addiction starts …)

So I fired up Netflix, something I almost never do. Netflix is Ward’s territory – he loves being able to watch all those reality cooking shows, and of course his action/adventure movies and chick flicks (which he enjoys even more than I do).

Guess what I found on Netflix? BBC’s Inspector Lynley series! I’m a fan of Elizabeth George’s Lynley books, and I ended up watching all four episodes of the show that Netflix had on offer.

And that’s when my eye was caught by Sherlock, also from the BBC. I remembered, vaguely, some Twitter conversation I’d seen last year about this series and how good it was. So last night, I watched the first two episodes.

imageSherlock (Photo credit)

Wow. I loved it! The whole idea of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson solving modern-day crimes is so much fun. I found both the characters and the mysteries very enjoyable.

On tonight’s agenda? More Sherlock – there are two is one more episodes episode right now on Netflix. And I’m hoping Netflix will be adding new episodes soon after they get broadcast. (Netflix for Canada doesn’t have quite the selection that Netflix in the States has, unfortunately).

What am I planning to watch after I finish the two one remaining episodes episode? Miss Marple, of course!

Can you tell? I’m really enjoying my bookish TV.

Fabulous Reading Streak – Ending, or Just Beginning?

image Last night I finished This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George, and breathed a happy little sigh. I realized I’ve been on a wonderful reading streak, during which I’ve read one enjoyable book after another.

True, This Body of Death wasn’t quite as good as earlier George mysteries, but it was still a lovely read, and very nice to really have Inspector Lynley back, if you know what I mean.

My reading streak began when I picked up The Passage, by Justin Cronin, last month. (This is one of my “best books I’ve read this year”, by the way, and I highly, highly recommend it – you can read my review here.)

image What drove me to pick this 784-page book as the first book to read on the iPhone (the first non-reread, that is) is beyond me. All I know is, I downloaded the first two chapters as a free preview and before I knew it, I had bought and was deep into the full ebook itself.

I call this a reading streak, but I did have a few clunkers here and there. But the beauty of my reading method is that I have very low tolerance for a book that doesn’t hold my interest really early on (and by that, I mean by the end of the first chapter), so when I come across a clunker, I end up not having to spend that much of my reading time on it.

In other words: next!

So let’s just say that, for all intents and purposes, I moved, albeit not absolutely smoothly, from The Passage to Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy.

As it turned out, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest was my favorite of the three Larsson books, with its government conspiracy angle.

image Which may have been why I enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother so much. That link is to Amazon, but if you like reading ebooks, you can download it for free at Doctorow’s site. The free download comes in all flavors – I chose Epub, and read the book on my iPhone (of course).

I moved from Little Brother to Elizabeth George’s This Body of Death, another read on my iPhone.

In case you’re wondering who’s responsible for my decision to read both these last books, the blame falls to Jill of Rhapsody in Books, who posted wonderful reviews of both these books here (Little Brother) and here (This Body of Death); I would have read This Body of Death sooner or later – her review just made it sooner – but I’d forgotten about Little Brother until I read her review.

So now I’m asking myself, is this the end of a lovely reading streak? Or just the beginning? I’m hoping it’s just the beginning, as I’m now gathering together books to take with me camping (yes, that camping trip is coming up soon, very soon), and I think I’m off to a good start already.

In fact, I began reading Marisa de Los Santo’s Belong to Me the other day, and I’ve been loving it so far. (You can blame this one on Jill, too.)

Any recommendations on your end, to help me continue this marvelous reading streak?

Review: Write Away, by Elizabeth George

Write AwayIn Write Away, mystery novelist Elizabeth George writes about her “approach to fiction and the writing life”. I am always on the lookout for books about writing written by authors I know and love, and this is one of my favorites.

I am a big fan of George’s Inspector Lynley novels; I’ve read all of them with the exception of one (I couldn’t bear to read What Came Before He Shot Her because I’m still in grief over With No One As Witness, although I was able to jump right back in with Careless in Red), so it was also a lovely treat to read about how George came to write A Great Deliverance, her first book and the first in the Inspector Lynley series.

For those interested in the writing of the type of mystery/suspense novels that George writes, Write Away distills the author’s entire process. If you’ve read her works, you’ll not be surprised to learn that she is very disciplined with her writing; what I’ve taken away most from her process, though, are the ways she consciously makes the effort to tap into her right-brained self:

“I am strongly left-brained, as you can probably tell from my having such an intricate process in the first place, and I must do whatever I can to get the right side of my brain up and operational. Present-tense stream of consciousness does this for me. Writing in this fashion, I’m not worried about typographical errors, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, figurative language or anything else that might make me stop, consider, and thus get derailed. I just start firing away at the computer keys, writing down what I see happening in each scene on my step outline.”

Because I don’t work from an outline, I haven’t applied her stream-of-consciousness approach to what she calls a step outline. I have, however, used it to create character analyses, something I’d never done before reading this book, and I’ve been amazed at the amount of detail that flows onto the page about my characters – things that I would never have thought of, but which feel so right once I’ve set them down on paper. George has this to say about her character analyses:

“This may come as something of a surprise, especially if you tend to think of crime novels – or any novels, for that matter – as all about plot. I don’t see novels in that manner, however, and for that reason when I’m writing one, I hammer down the idea and the expanded idea and turn at once to character in order to learn more about my story.”

There are detailed examples throughout the book, both from George’s own writing (including her character analysis of Eve Bowen from Missing Joseph, warts and all, so to speak, which clearly illustrates how the stream of consciousness process works), as well as from the works of other authors. She also writes about outlines, structuring scenes, dialogue, voice and the importance of setting.

Just as valuable are her sections on persistence. I am in awe that she wrote the first rough draft of A Great Deliverance over three and a half weeks one summer, and had the finished draft completed not too long after:

“A Great Deliverance more than any of my novels serves as a shining example of what high-quality bum glue can do for a writer. When I began it upon returning from a trip to Yorkshire, England, I had only forty-two days before I had to go back to El Toro High School and teach English for another year. I wanted to get the novel done in that time, so I wrote from eight to sixteen hours a day in order to accomplish it.”

I first came across Write Away a year ago; it made an incredible impression on me the first time I read it, and I continue to take it off my shelf to dip into when I’m finding myself in need of motivation. It’s a book that talks about one writer’s approach to her craft, and whether you’re looking for an entire process to guide you step-by-step, or bits and pieces to fill in gaps in your own process, or simply motivation and inspiration, I highly recommend it.

Where to buy Write Away:

U.S. (Amazon.com) or IndieBound

Canada (Chapters)

UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by HarperCollins, 2004, Hardcover, 257 pages