I decided to get back to the basics with this week’s writing links. Articles about how to write, what inspires us as writers and other similar subjects are the focus this week on No Wasted Ink. Enjoy!
My name is Natasha Jones, I’m from Portsmouth, Southern England and I’ve by the seaside my whole life. I love nature and travelling. I have a fondness for astronomy. I obsessively watch TV shows. I love a good musical. Period literature has, I think, the most fascinating language. I make silly jokes – ALL THE TIME.
When and why did you begin writing?
I used to parody pop songs and before that I used to make up my own magazine and write the articles for it (on lined paper – I still have the magazine). I took writing seriously when I was 18 and I started to pen this novel.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Does one ever? Don’t we all create stories in our minds on a regular basis? I can call myself an author soon though, which is pretty cool.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
It’s a tragedy with a little romance. It’s historical fiction set in London in the late 1800s. The story revolves around Alexander Vile and is retold through his Journal entries. There’s some ambiguity, so that hopefully different readers take different things from it.
What inspired you to write this book?
I read a lot of Gothic fiction and that spurred me on to conclude the novel. I mainly started out of boredom on my work lunch breaks – I didn’t know this would become such a passion for me.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I like a lot of imagery. It’s a very self-reflexive language style, declarative I’d also say. I’m trying different styles for my future novels though.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
We were studying Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway‘ at University and my lecturer described Clarissa (the lead character) as having these Luminous moments, luminous thoughts – that phrase stuck with me.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would like people to not take things at face value and question more (even if silently). Too many people will read something on a social networking site, in a newspaper or on a celebrities blog and will just accept that as fact. In general I think people should think more before they start arguments and debates too.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the thoughts expressed are my own ponderings. It is entirely fictional thought. I’ve started writing a second book which features a character who is very similar to me.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
Jane Austen – she really opened my mind and made me interested in history – I was stuck in the modern world before I discovered her. Jeff Lindsay and Stieg Larrsson got me heavily into Crime Fiction – which is now my favourite genre of Television. Oscar Wilde is the main reason I wanted to write and release this book. His intellectual words were something I desired to be able to replicate. Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ fuelled my love of poetry and Jonathan Safran Foer first opened my eyes to intercultural fiction.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
The two that are alive from that list – Lindsay and Safran Foer, I would love to meet them and quiz them on their novels.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I initially approached two illustrators. The first design turned out to convey the wrong theme, it was a little dated. The second really took my instructions and made it his own. His name is Colin Strain.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I don’t think advising on the writing process is entirely essential – if you love writing, you’ll write anyway! Editing (though can be repetitive and tedious) is probably more important than the execution of the writing. In this market, I think networking is equally, if not more important than the editing and writing put together. If you want to build as a writer, network – the more varied people you talk to, who advise, review your work, the better the product you release will be.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m one of those annoying optimists – so – I think everyone should smile now, it’ll make you feel better.
I’m sucker for romance and metaphors. I like to leave things to the readers interpretation so an element of ambiguity features in my work. I like writing the nasty nasty characters the most.
The Luminous Memories of Alexander Vile
Cover Designer: Colin Strain
Book Name: The Call of the Wild
Author: Jack London
First Published: 1903
Jack London (John Griffith) was born in 1876. An illegitimate child, Jack lived his early years in the slums of Oakland, California. He was forced to leave school at an early age to help support his mother and step-father. His early jobs were in pickle factories on Cannery Row, as an “Oyster Pirate” stealing oysters in the night and selling them early in the Bay Area markets, shoveling coal and later working on a seal hunter schooner as an able-bodied seaman. Through all of his labors, Jack held on to the dream of being a writer. He was self-educated for the most part, reading books at the local library in Oakland, California instead of enjoying a formal education. London was mentored by one of the librarians, Ina Coolbrith, who later became California’s first poet laureate and an important figure in the San Francisco literary community in her own right. London’s years in the Klondike searching for gold proved to be fodder for his novels, The Call of the Wild and White Fang.
The Call of the Wild was extremely popular from the moment it was in print. The first 10,000 copies sold out immediately and it is still one of the best known stories written by an American author. The book was London’s first success and it secured him his place in American literature. The book has been published in 47 languages and has been made into several movies one starring Clark Gable and the other starring Charleton Heston.
Jack London was married twice. He had two children with his first wife, Elizabeth “Bessie” Maddern, but they separated due to irreconcilable differences. He found his soul mate in his second wife, Charmian Kittredge, but while they traveled the world together and lived happily, they were unable to have children together. Jack London retired to his ranch near Sonoma, California, where he died at the age of forty of complications related to kidney stones and a morphine overdose. It is unknown if his death was an accident or suicide.
The Call of the Wild begins when a St. Bernard-Scotch Collie mix named Buck is stolen from his comfortable life as the pet of Judge Miller of California’s Santa Clara Valley. Manuel, the judge’s gardener, steals Buck and sells him in order to pay his gambling debts. Buck is crated and shipped to Seattle. There he is purchased by a pair of French-Canadian dispatchers who transport him to the Klondike and train him to be a sled dog. Buck learns to survive by observing his teammates and develops a rivalry with the vicious lead dog Spitz. Buck and Spitz have a fight to the death and Buck emerges victorious and takes his place as the leader of the sled dog team.
The sled dog team is sold to a Scottish mail carrier and the dogs are forced to haul heavy loads for their new master. Over time, the dogs are abused and become tired. When they can no longer work, they are either shot by the Scotsman or eaten by wolves.
Buck is next sold to a trio of greenhorns known as stampeders. They know little about survival in the Northern wilderness and struggle not only to control the sled that Buck and his team pulls, but provide poor care to the dogs in general. As they attempt travel during the dangerous spring melt, they are met on the trail by experienced outdoorsman John Thornton. Thornton warns the three greenhorns against crossing a frozen river, but they refuse his advice and order Buck forward. Exhausted and starving, Buck refuses their orders and lies unmoving in the snow. As Buck is beaten by his owners, Thornton becomes disgusted and cuts Buck free from his harness. Thornton tells the trio that he is keeping the dog, much to the trio’s displeasure. Buck’s previous owners continue across the frozen river. True to Thornton’s warnings, the ice gives way and they fall into the icy river along with the neglected dogs and sled.
Thornton nurses Buck back to health and the sled dog comes to love him. Buck saves Thornton when he falls into a river and the bond of love and devotion between them grows. Thornton takes Buck with him into the Yukon gold fields. Buck begins to roam and socialize with the wild wolves in the area. After returning from one such trip, the dog discovers that Thornton and his miner friends have all been killed by a group of Yeehat Indians. Buck avenges Thornton’s death by killing the Indians, before following the wolf into the forest to answer the call of the wild.
The Call of the Wild is often a favorite of young readers because it belongs to the genre of fiction where an animal, in this case a dog, is anthropomorphized with human emotions and traits. In the novel, London give Buck human thoughts and insights as the dog shifts from a civilized pet into a wild animal running with the wolves. While we see many examples of similar stories today, when this novel was written the concept was not as commonplace.
I am a late comer to the work of Jack London. I had heard of his books and had come close to reading them as a child, but because they were not required reading in my public school curriculum, I passed over these stories. It was not until I decided to make an effort to read more of the classics, after I had graduated from college, that I picked up a few of London’s novels. I also was intrigued by London because of what I learned about him, as I visited Cannery Row in the California Bay Area, and saw all the plaques dedicated to him. I discovered a wonderful author who has lived a life as interesting as the characters he developed. I can understand why The Call of the Wild has remained popular a hundred years after its creation.
You can find The Call of the Wild at your local library or download it for free at Project Gutenberg.
Jack London’s Credo:
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
I am a huge Jane Austen fan, so when I discovered this vblog based on her novel “Pride and Prejudice”, I had to share a link. I also found many great Scrivener tutorials to add to the list here at No Wasted Ink.