Tag Archives: audio

A history of Fast Food

If you found the magical centre of the world, what would you do?

Fast Food at the Centre of the World first existed as a small number of instalments written and drawn by Tom Brown. It was part of the work he was doing, alongside New England Gothic back when we first ran into each other online. The second title I took on writing and that became our joint creation, Hopeless Maine. Fast Food languished in the background because there’s only so many pages of comic a person can draw in a week. (7, if you were wondering, but fewer than 7 if you also want to have a life and stay passably sane.)

The second time I flew to America, I took a big notepad with me. I spent the long hours of flight, and the dull hours at airports, scribbling frantically into it, much to the amusement/bemusement of the people sat next to me on the plane. I wrote sat on Tom’s porch, with him drawing, and we decided this was a way we could be and that we liked it. Most of my work now happens with me typing at one end of a table and him drawing at the other, and this is good, and suits us both well. In Portland, I read Tom what I had so far – because these were his characters in his setting. I had previously been very wary of sharing work in progress, but since then, Tom has listened to everything as I’ve been developing it. I find his insight and feedback invaluable.

Life threw us a lot of challenges, and the novel took a back seat. I eventually finished the first handwritten draft, and then, when I could get enough electricity to run a notepad computer, I typed it up on the narrowboat, and then it languished again. Last year I got it out and polished it up.

Since rejoining the land of electric, I’ve done a number of short audio stories over at www.nerdbong.com and decided to offer them Fast Food at the Centre of the World as an audio serialisation. I recorded it myself, at home, with limited technical gear such that I could do very little editing. Most of it went down in one take, and I did not find that easy. It wasn’t written for audio so there were a lot of voices to find, and as I can’t pull of the New Jersey accent that was in my head when I wrote some of the characters, alternative solutions had to be found for my jazz gangstas. I had to work out what Gary sounded like. That’s Gary, in the picture. He’s voiced entirely on the inbreath, which was tough on the throat, but gives him a distinct sound. I’ve never done any serious acting – only mumming, which is largely about shouting your lines, not nuance. Apparently I have scope for using my voice.

The first two episodes are now up, and more will be along, and hopefully they will amuse you… http://nerdbong.com/category/podcast/fast-food-at-the-centre-of-the-world/

Music by Cormac Brown – Tom’s awesome son, who has been with Fast Food since the beginning.

Novel forms of insanity

During the last few months, I’ve put the current novel to one side, in order to work on writing and recording the secret audio project. There are ten new short stories, and they will be happening in a way you can hear later this year. (More information when it’s happening!) I wrote those in response to a request, with some sense of an intended audience, and a desire to get some of my own eccentricities into the mix. The result seems to involve a lot of very dark humour.

There’s a practical limit to how many things I can do with my brain at a given time. Normal life involves this blog, plus other Pagan content at Patheos.com http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/category/columns/druid-thoughts/ and Pagan Square http://witchesandpagans.com/Nimue-s-Wheel/Blogger/Listings/nimue-brown.html. Most days I spend time working as a Press Officer for the Green Party – blogs and press releases, some of them requiring a lot of research. These things normally leave me enough time for some creative work, but if anything else turns up, it doesn’t take long for me to reach capacity. Frequently other things turn up. Books to review, requests for articles, and in the last couple of months, a book in edits as well.

It is undoubtedly easier to write a novel when the only thing you really need to focus on from one day to the next, is the novel. All the thinking time goes on characters, plots, interactions and world building. In an ideal world once you’re in the flow, you stay there, writing through the night if needs be, free to sleep when it fits the call of the muse. In practice, it is not usually like this, and the life of the writer does not actually allow a person to work in a way that most serves the next piece of creativity. Perhaps with a first book you can do this, but once you’re out in the world, or if you have to think about paying the bills, writing is not directed purely by ‘the muse’ but by when you can grab half an hour of thinking space.

Then what happens? Yesterday, the picking up of a novel I had barely thought about, much less worked on in the last six weeks. Trying to remember what I was doing and where I was going, and to find the same voice and the same flow. A half an hour dash of putting words onto the page, hoping they fit with the other words. While I’m doing it, novel writing is a high like no other. It absorbs me entirely, and I pour heart and soul into it. This is not to say that I love it more than other forms of creativity, but that each one is a very different process. Novel writing is a special form of insanity, involving the devotion of lots of time to things that do not exist but need to be plausible. Long conversations with imaginary people about things that did not happen. Deep emotional investment in that which never was and never will be.

That in itself is enough to do odd things to the mind, but then there’s the other process, of going from words written to a book manifest in the world. The need to shift gears, grab a business hat, study contracts, consider marketing, and get out there and sell the work: To an agent, a publisher, and then anyone who might read it. Dealing with the people who do not like it, trying to work out which bits of criticism are valid and which are best ignored. Performing the strange dance that is ticking boxes for commercial success and creating something that does not look as though it was made simply to tick all the boxes.

When I am writing, all else is forgotten. When I surface, all kinds of other things creep in. The doubts and questions. What is the point of all this? What good does it do? Is it merely delusion and self-indulgence? When you’ve just spent an hour talking to pretend people, it is not difficult to imagine that the idea of putting a book into the world is just as make-believe.

I know how much richer my life is for there being fiction in it. I have loved novels ever since I was capable of reading them. I have valued those other lives and imaginary worlds that other people’s writing has allowed me to enter. I’ve also seen how the joy of creating catches other people, and the effects of dealing with the non-writing side of the process too. Write, and go a bit mad, with the industry, the economics of it, the juggling. Do not write, and also go mad, with the not writing. If there’s a way round either, I have yet to find it.