Monthly Archives: April 2014
I’m really pleased to have Emma Pass guesting on my blog today. She’s the author of two dystopian YA novels, ACID, which has been picking up some excellent reviews, and THE FEARLESS – out just a couple of days ago! Here, she writes about one of the books that inspires her.
The Post Apocalyptic Novel I Wish I’d Written by Emma Pass
I am a prolific reader – my husband tells people I’ve got a ‘reading habit’ – and every time I finish a book I really love, I find myself thinking, ‘I wish I’d written that!’ So choosing just one book for this post has not been an easy task.
After a lot of thought, however, and some time spent perusing my bookshelves, I think I’ve found one – The Stand by Stephen King. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the blurb from Amazon:
First came the days of the plague. Then came the dreams.
Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil.
His time is at hand. His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms.
When a man crashes his car into a petrol station, he brings with him the foul corpses of his wife and daughter. He dies and it doesn’t take long for the plague which killed him to spread across America and the world.
The story then follows the lives of a group of people who’ve managed to survive the deadly ‘superflu’, with a huge and multi-plotted narrative that in the wrong hands could become hugely overcomplicated. But in King’s hands, it never does. Despite its complexity, the story flows seamlessly and unlike some books, I don’t need a character glossary to remind me who everyone is.
I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen King since I was thirteen years old, which was also the age I realised I wanted to be a writer. Often sneered at by the critics, he is an incredible storyteller who has had a huge influence on me, and I think The Stand is by far and away my favourite novel of his. I love dark, ‘what if?’ scenarios – the more terrifying, the better, because you get to experience the horrors of these scenarios without, well, actually having to experience them (which needless to say, would not be fun at all).
Every time I read The Stand it makes me want to push myself ¬– to try harder and aim higher, and keep striving to improve my own writing. To me, that’s the sign of a truly great book!
I really like this blog post – agree with what he says about the importance of theme. I recognise the process he describes, moving from suspicion to appreciation, very well.
On my first novel writing course we were asked what we liked in books. I said, ‘Where things happen and people have sex; but they don’t have to have sex as long as things happen.’ Recently, I was delighted to hear that a friend’s child had explained her love of Downton Abbey as, ‘It’s olden times, and things happen.’ Exactly!
What I disliked most was the idea of theme. It sounded so writerly and Hampstead. I was once in a bookshop where there was a reading being given by new novelists. The first stood up and said, ‘There are three themes to this novel.’ I left.
But recently I’ve been wrestling with trying to put some shape to a novel I’ve been writing on-and-off for about two years. There are lots of little mini-stories, a main character, and fairly decent set-up. But it all feels a bit amorphous. Mostly, I…
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There are the books that everyone remembers. Whole generations grew up on Narnia or Harry Potter.
And then there are the books that no-one remembers. Except you. And unless you happen to have held onto a copy, you might end up thinking that you just imagined them, that they never really existed.
Such a book is Peter and the Plaguey Blight.
I guess this was what cutting edge cover art looked like in 1980. How a child could resist, I do not know.
I wasn’t that into it at first. Something about the gangrene-esque quality of the cover put me off. But I ended up reading it a lot, because it was – for some reason – the only children’s book lying around at my Granny’s house, where we spent the long summer holidays. The nearest library was a good bus ride away, Amazon didn’t exist and we wouldn’t have had money for it if it did. This was the 80s. And so I read it again and again. It was about a boy called Peter, striving to overcome some kind of mutant mould – the Plaguey Blight. There was adventure, as I remember, and humour, and a building sense of menace. It wasn’t bad. I got used to it. I got to quite like it. It was pretty good. I don’t know if can exactly call it a favourite after all – but I’ve certainly never forgotten it. Unlike, it appears, the rest of the world.
So, what’s your favourite forgotten book? And does anyone else remember Peter and the Plaguey Blight?