#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 29: Questions 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26

This week was a valiant attempt to catch up on this writing challenge thing. Alas, due to the nature of question 29 — in which I was required to provide K.F. Goodacre with an answer for her weekly blog post — I fell a bit short. Nevertheless I did manage to hammer out answers to no less than five questions. Here we go!

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

22. What you find easiest / hardest about the writing process

Honestly, for me, it’s just getting the words down on the god damned page in the first place. I write soooooo slowly. It can be very disheartening seeing fellow writers brag about — or sometimes even lament — their word counts, effortlessly writing multiple thousands of words per day like it’s nothing/not enough and then there’s me, plodding along at barely 400 words per session… I wish I could write faster.

Continually comparing my writing progress to that of other writers is a problem I struggle with also. I am constantly battling feelings of inadequacy and impending failure… though I suppose that’s not necessarily writing-specific!

23. Top 5 quotes from your book

My book’s only in the first draft stages at the moment so I struggled to find ‘quotable’ lines. I’m quite fond of these ones though… enjoy!

1. “Melora Winship, I promise, when I am captain of my own ship, I will take you away from this miserable place. No more offices, no more ink-stained fingers — I would have you sail with me.”

2. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking Mr Winship ain’t cottoned on to you yet, Master Carson. Why else d’you think your[s and Melora’s] office is the only one that don’t have a lock on it?”

3. “You’re hardly one to scold me for getting a tattoo, Father.” said John, jabbing an accusing finger at Jeremiah’s right arm.

Jaspher could have sworn he saw his father’s lips twitch.

“Do as I say, Jonathan. Not as I do.”

4. A boy-shaped cloud of rum and stale sweat burst into the hall, looking tired, haggard and bruised.

5. His entire being was one raw nerve — inflamed and sore, beaten down by the necessity of living.

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

24. A minor character is now your protagonist. How do they fare?

Melora WinshipPart of Melora‘s characterisation is that she is ill-equipped to deal with everything that happens to her. She’s a young woman in the 18th century, brought up by a single father with little to no female influence in her life beyond her governess. She works alongside Jaspher — whom she’s known since childhood — at her father’s shipbuilding company; shipbuilding obviously being an incredibly male-dominated industry. Her best friend John, Jaspher’s brother, is a sailor, full of rough and ready manners. She is entirely surrounded by men who love, respect and protect her, and despite some arbitrary restrictions due to her gender, she’s used to getting her own way with little to no consequences.

Which is why she’s entirely unprepared for the arrival of a man like Kale who is manipulative, duplicitous and dangerous — the kind of man your mother warned you about. A minor character like Miss Lillith or Liz Moore— practical, sensible women who were born raised in New Hardway’s slums — would see through Kale straight away. They wouldn’t be taken in by his charms, nor dazzled by his wealth and good looks. They’d be entirely useless to him. Thus, there’d be no plot.

That’s what makes Melora interesting to me though; her experiences with Kale shape her, change her; she’s forced to learn fast. There are no other characters like her in the book. If Melora wasn’t Melora, she’d likely end up like another naive minor character of mine, Alice Dragan, whom Kale thoroughly chews up and spits out halfway through the book.

If a character like Roger Bellamy became the protagonist (LOL) I imagine he’d join forces with Kale for a little while for his own personal gain, then wind up horribly murdered once Kale was done with him. This is generally how it goes for most people who interact with Kale.

So that’s my answer to this question: not well. They’d end up either ignored, utterly ruined or dead.

25. Illustrations of three of your characters

I’ve peppered my posts throughout this challenge with illustrations of my characters, so today I thought I’d introduce you to three ~*~new~*~ illustrations never before seen! It’s my intention to add these to Meet The Characters once I have the full set. For the time being however, meet:


Renwick Jarvis

Crooked Town Magistrate, thief taker and all round skeeze.

Renwick Jarvis


Derrick Roper

Mayor to the Town of New Hardway and the person with whom Kale is staying when he arrives from Hilt.

Derrick Roper


Ada Lillith

Governess and glorified lady’s maid to Melora Winship. I’ve written a post about her before, which you can view by clicking here.

Miss Lillith


26. Your protagonist was born a different sex. Does your story change?

Pretty drastically, I’d say. The challenges Male!Melora would face would be completely different from those of the existing Female!Melora.

Female!Melora wishes to sail like her best friend John, but is forbidden from doing so because she’s a woman. Theoretically speaking, she could sail as a passenger, but it would be most unseemly for a young woman of her class to do so unchaperoned. Male!Melora wouldn’t have this problem. He might fall out with his father for choosing the lowly profession of sailing over shipbuilding, but there’d be nothing beyond his father’s disapproval to stop him from fulfilling his desires.

Assuming all the other characters retain their sex and sexualities, Male!Melora would also probably get along better with his colleague Jaspher, because the whole “unrequited love” thing wouldn’t be an issue. Jaspher is straight, so he wouldn’t be in love with Male!Melora. There’d no sexual tension, no angst, no problems. The pair would be a whole lot happier and comfortable around each other… or alternatively, they’d drive each other absolutely insane. Probably the latter to be honest. Melora is too stubborn and Jaspher too stuffy.

Again, assuming Male!Melora retained Female!Melora’s sexuality (straight), this would also mean he wouldn’t develop a crush on William Kale. Male!Melora would completely escape William Kale’s notice as a direct result of this (part of Female!Melora’s problem is she’s really bad at hiding how she feels) and thus is not open to being manipulated in this way. Male!Melora wouldn’t get in the way of Kale’s plans, and so they’d all go through without a hitch. This is absolutely terrible news for just about every other character in the book, but comparatively good news for Male!Melora. Thus endeth the plot. How dull.

S.E. Berrow

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#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 27: Question 21

Aha! You get a blog post early this week! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have another post for you on Wednesday… I’m still way behind but I’m determined to catch up. Soon.

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

21. An interview with your villain (See ‘Hot Seating’ for ideas or create your own)

As with my protagonist, this interview with my villain, William Kale, will take place at the beginning of The Mayor, hopefully spoiler free.

William KaleHow old are you/when were you born?
Now, wouldn’t you like to know?

Where were you born?
As you can probably tell from my accent, manner of dress and complexion, I am from Hilt, born and raised. I’m not at all certain what might lead you to conclude otherwise.

What’s your favourite food?
I am rather fond of almond biscuits, accompanied by a hot tea and lemon.

Are you allergic to anything?
Allergic? What does that mean? No. I am not allergic to anything, other than fire and blind stupidity.

Cats or dogs (preference)?
Neither.

Why?
I have no interest in animals. I certainly do not harbour any sort of affection for them. If anything, I would say I actively disliked them.

What has been the best day of your life so far?
That day — which I have been working towards for so long– is soon to come. I would hate to spoil the surprise…

And the worst?
The day I became an orphan, but it is rapidly shaping up to be today if you insist on asking such impertinent questions.

Do you have any habits you’re ashamed of?
None.

What would make you kill someone?
Killing is messy and a sure-fire way to scupper your own plans; there are other ways to remove people from the political chessboard. I find it best to avoid murder unless I am presented with no other choice, or success is one-hundred percent guaranteed.

Have you ever smoked/taken drugs?
No.

What would you do if I poked you in the eye right now?
I would remember it… and you would regret it.

Would you ever wear trainers without socks?
Judging by the disparaging tone of this question, I would presume this to be a rather uncouth manner of dress. I must therefore decline.

Who is your best friend?
I am best friends with everyone… and no one at all.

Where did you and your best friend meet?
Such tiresome questions…

Will you wear this pink dress?
[Distastefully] No.

Who is your favourite superhero?
Heroes? Heroes are fools. Aspiring to embody anyone other than yourself will lead only to bitter disappointment and inevitable failure.

What are you most afraid of?
I fear nothing. Given my past, one might be forgiven for assuming I fear fire, but on the contrary, I deliberately seek it out. Nothing is more cathartic than facing down the very thing that failed to kill you.

Are you romantic?
No. I’ve no need of it. My good looks and persuasive charm are all I need to lure a woman into bed, should I wish to. Which is not often. Some women, particularly those of a lower class, can be so forward…

Do you bite sellotape or cut it with scissors?
What is sellotape? It seems weak enough. I would bite it.

How often do you clean your teeth a day?
I scrub them meticulously with some warm water and a sponge after every meal.

Do you pick your nose?
Goodness, no. How disgusting.

If you could have one job, what would it be?
I am perfectly content within my current position as legate to this moral cesspit of a town.

Would you swim with sharks?
No.

Would you go into space?
Don’t be ridiculous.

You sneeze into your hand in public and don’t have a tissue. What do you do?
I would use my handkerchief. What is a tissue?

Your mother/brother/sister falls over. What do you do?
I’ve already told you that I have no family. Have you not been listening to a word I’ve said?

Do you dunk biscuits in your tea?
Sometimes, if it takes my fancy.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. Only fools would believe in something so trite.

Have you ever stolen anything?
Documents. Money. Secrets. Lives…

 

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 24: Question 19 & 20

I’m so behind… I’m so behind.

As alluded to in my last post, I’ve been extremely busy both inside work and outside of it; it’s taken up all of my brain space. Nevertheless, I am determined to post this week even if it is short, so here we go…

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

19. Which character is most likely to survive an apocalypse?

I actually think all four of my main characters would fare well quite well in an apocalypse situation. Over the course of The Mayor, Melora, Jaspher, Kale and John have all at some point experienced drastic, life-altering changes — a complete upheaval of their everyday existence — and yet manage to come out the other side alive… Great practise for an apocalypse situation! And if they teamed up and took on the end of the world together, there’d be absolutely no stopping them.

Here’s how I imagine it would go down in my head: John would rally the troops and lead a team of highly trained recruits to take on the zombie hoard; Melora would scrap and scrimp and sneak her way around our evil robot overlords, learning their weaknesses and taking them down from within; Kale would be completely immune to the killer bioweapon gone wrong spreading across the Taro Isles — likely because he caused it — remaining one step ahead of everyone else at all times; and Jaspher–

OK. Jaspher likely wouldn’t survive the apocalypse, but he’d do his absolute damnedest to ensure everyone around him was fed, watered and safe, and later sacrifice himself to save the Chosen Child i.e. the salvation of all humanity!

Or something to that effect.

20. Tell us about… religion in your book

As I mentioned in a previous post (here), religion is an aspect of my world building I consider to be significantly underdeveloped at present.

When I first started writing The Mayor, my characters made references to gods’ names I made up, but I stopped using them because I didn’t like them. To keep the first draft flowing, I let characters say things like, “By God!” and, “for God’s sake!”, but Christianity does not exist in my world, so this is a Problem.

I’m determined to straighten the theology of my world out during The Mayor‘s second draft.

S.E. Berrow

Milestones, Novellas and Ravens

Hello, Everyone! I imagine you were probably expecting another month’s worth of answers to the #AcresofInk Writing Challenge.

Surprise! It’s not… Sorry about that.

I confess I’ve been rather amiss with my blogging of late. It’s my aim to catch up eventually, but these last couple of months have been an absolute whirlwind of activity and, much to my chagrin, June looks even worse. So, without further ado…

I’m just stopping by the officially announce…

~*~ I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MAYOR ~*~

Huzzah

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Yes my friends, it has been A Struggle. After many, many years of trials, tribulations and tears, I finally have done it. I have written A Book. I’m so, so happy.

So what’s next?

Well, for the time being, I’ve put myself on an Enforced Break, fully endorsed by my writing partner K.F. Goodacre. This means I’m not even looking at my novel and actively trying not to think about it… which is much harder than it sounds. In the meantime, K.F. Goodacre has taken my book off my hands and is going to spend the next two months doing an initial edit for me. What a brave soul she is…

RavensTo distract myself, I’ve been catching up on some TV (Black Sails anyone?), reading 18th century books that aren’t mine (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee) and keeping myself away from computer screens as much as possible. A couple of weekends ago my work colleague and friend from Latvia visited, and we went to the Tower of London to see the ravens ♥ This weekend just gone, I pampered myself with various lotions and potions (‘Drops Of Light’ facial peel from The Body Shop), enjoyed the warm weather and spent quality time with my boyfriend and his family. Self-care and socialising was something I seriously neglected during the months of March and April, so it feels good to be connecting with myself and the world again.

I’ve also started outlining a novella about my character, Jonathan Carson, which I’m hoping will inform my writing for Book 2 and also serve as a nice way to blow off steam when I eventually get round to editing my book. It is an absolute monster of a novel, standing at well over 200,000 words. I need to get it down to somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 plus sort out the worldbuilding, plus tighten up the plot, plus build on certain characters, plus cut others completely, plus

What was that? Oh yes, sorry, I’m not meant to be thinking about this stuff at the moment.

Until next time, Lovelies x

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 18: Questions 16, 17 & 18

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

16. Your thoughts on… how to get the words down

There really is only one answer to this, and it’s the one no writer — wannabe, professional or otherwise — wants to hear:

Write.

Sit up at your desk, turn on your computer, open that document and write.

Grab a notebook, pull it over your lap, put the pen to the paper and write.

Grab your phone, turn it on, open that notepad app and write.

Most writers have day jobs, especially — but not limited to —those who aren’t published yet. The last thing we want to do when we get home from work is to sit back in front of the computer screen and do more work. I don’t have the time! you’ll hear us cry. I’m too busy! Too tired! I’m not in the mood! I don’t know what’s going to happen next! I’m not inspired!

Sadly, no amount of excuses is going to change this sad and sorry fact:

Writing is a verb. You can only achieve it by doing it.

Uninterrupted writing sessions are great, but they’re also super rare. I can’t afford to sit and wait for time to materialise (there are always cats to feed, meals to cook, clothes to wash etc.) so I have to carve time out for myself. I kid you not, I have legitimately produced approximately 100,000 words over the course of a single year just by forcing myself to write for at least half an hour every evening — not even every evening, just whenever I can. Sometimes that means going to bed a bit later than I’d like, or waiting to catch up on a favourite TV show. If I’m getting the words down and progressing through my story, then I’m one step closer to achieving my dreams. That makes it all worth it.

Terry Pratchett wrote whole books this way, forcing himself to write 400 words every day before he went to bed. I prefer to work by time rather than word count because I’m super slow, but whatever works for you.

At the same time it’s important to take days off when you burn yourself out. If the well runs dry to the point you actually hate your book and you are mere seconds away from pressing the delete button (been there, totally guilty)… take a break! Go for a walk. Watch some TV. Play a video game. Just make sure you do eventually go back to your book and continue from where you left off. Everything makes so much more sense after you’ve taken some time to recharge and refill your creative well.

17. Unseen Footage: Write a short scene that fits into your book but won’t make the final cut

The following scene is the opening of my planned John novella — something I want to write upon completion of The Mayor when I hand it over to K.F. Goodacre for preliminary editing and take a bit of a break. Though events that take place within this novella are key to the formation of John’s character (and thus important for me to know as a writer), it is not my intention to submit it for publication. Enjoy!

The pirates corralled John and the rest of the crew into a shivering, bloody huddle on the main deck, forcing them to their knees and trailing guns against their heads. Some, like John, had their hands bound behind their backs. Others less fortunate — men too wounded, weak or dazed to stand and fight — the pirates seemed content to let well alone. Where on earth would they go, surrounded and outnumbered as they were? The wooden planks of the deck were slippery and wet, scarlet and sodden with blood.

It took John a few moments to realise the insistent rhythmic clattering in his head was the sound of his own teeth. Chattering and shivering from the cold settling over his bones, he tugged  at his bonds and quailed at the sight of so many strangers — so many pitiless, colourfully-dressed men leering and jeering over the railings. One of the pirates made a show of tugging the rings off a dismembered, bloody hand, laughing as he threw it back at the original owner’s head, whose face had turned the colour of bilge water. Dark shadows bruised the skin beneath the man’s fever-bright eyes. John had no doubt the man would be dead within hours.

“Enough!” bellowed a voice from the quarterdeck, and immediately the pirates fell into ominous silence.

John’s bowels turned to water as the captain descended the stairs and appeared directly in front of him. Beetle-black eyes deep-set in a scarred and leathery face narrowed to pin-pricks, scrutinising his prize.

“Good afternoon, Gentlemen,” he grinned, baring an array of multicoloured teeth, few of which John imagined to be his own. “My name is Captain Rourke Marks of the Hoopoe, which is this rather fine looking vessel you see lashed to the side of your skiff here. Pray tell, which one of you gentlemen calls himself Captain? We have matters of great importance to discuss he and I, and I’ve no wish to dally. I’m afraid I’m in rather a hurry…”

John scrambled sideways as Marks reached down and grabbed one of his fellow sailors, hauling the man up by the scruff of the neck in front of the prize-crew and pressing a pistol to the back of his head.

“Three… two… one.”

Everyone jumped as the gun exploded, fresh blood and brains spraying all over the deck. John watched, horrified as the sailor crumpled to his knees, a ragged gaping wound where his eye had been. As the dead man’s body slumped sideways, Marks reached forward for another victim, and though he too struggled and protested, the pirate held him up before the crowd as though he were no more than a sack of potatoes. Drawing a second loaded pistol from his belt — John counted six in total — he pressed the barrel against the man’s brow and grinned that wicked grin.

“Three… two…one.”

Another explosion. More blood sprayed across the deck, and John flinched as this time some of it splashed across his face, hot and staining the corner his vision red. When Marks reached for him and near-yanked his arm out of its socket, he felt a sense of unreality sweep over, as though he’d stepped outside of his own body, watching everything unfold from a distance. He became aware of every sound and sensation; the broad expanse of the the pirate’s barrel chest against his back, the rotten-meat on his breath—

The cold metal promise of a gun pressed against his head.

“Three… two….”

“Wait!”

Every hair along the back of John’s neck rose as he felt Marks let out a breath of satisfaction behind his ear. His eyes widened at the sight of Reed pushing himself awkwardly to his feet, struggling under the weight of his leg, which was bloody and shaking, the material of his breeches soaked through from the slash of an errant pirate sword.

John gasped as Marks kicked out the back of his legs, taking all the weight off his feet. He hung limp at the pirate’s side, that iron-grip upon the crook of his arm not budging a single inch. Lowering the pistol, Marks kept it cocked, finger resting on the trigger.

“How nice of you to speak up, Captain…?”

“Reed, Sir. Hogarth Reed. Of the Mystic Rosa.”

“The Mystic Rosa? What the hell kind of shit name is that?”

“Well it weren’t me that named her—”

“Oh, nevermind, nevermind. The keys, Reed. Where are they? I seen what you’re carrying in your ledgers.”

“Keys? Keys to wh—?”

“To the cargo hold, you cretin, where else? Why? Do you think I meant keys to your God damned heart?”

“No, of course not, I—”

“Well? Speak up then! Quickly, quickly, I ain’t got all day.”

When Reed continued to hesitate, Marks growled, firing a single shot in the other captain’s direction, causing the him to yelp and throw his arms up above his head. The bullet ricocheted off the mast, narrowly missing a member of Marks’ own crew. One of the pirates up on the forecastle laughed.

Marks hauled John back up to his feet who struggled as he did so, shrinking away from the pirate’s foul breath, dizzy with the fear and stink of it. He froze as once again he felt the muzzle of a fourth gun against his temple, knowing it was all but a  hair’s breadth away from going off in the pirate’s hand if he so much as moved an inch.

“Next time, Captain Reed, I won’t miss. Now. Tell me. Where’re the God damned keys?”

~ ‘Rourke Marks’, extract from Untitled Novella (Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018)

18. Your writing habits

I’ve answered this question before in a previous challenge (click here to view). Not much has changed, except I now write in my parents’ study instead of my own (because I moved out of my flat).

I also now make use of the wonderful Forest app to track my output. Instead of simply timing 30 minute time slots on my phone, I grow trees instead, where each tree represents 30 minutes of uninterrupted time — the tree dies if you leave the Forest app i.e. if you check or use your phone! It’s a good way of eliminating distractions. Sadly it won’t stop cats from walking all over your keyboard…

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 17: Questions 14 & 15

Catching up with this challenge slowly but surely…

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

14. What (if anything) would you like to express through your writing?

It’s hard for me to explain what I’m trying to achieve through my writing when I don’t rightly know myself. I’m not actively trying to get a particular message across; I just want people to get swept up in my story and grow to love and loathe my characters in equal measure, hopefully enjoying themselves in the process.

Of course, it’s nigh on impossible to write completely objectively; my own thoughts, experiences and opinions are inevitably going to bleed into the pages somehow… I’m not comfortable with explicitly stating what these are. It’s much more fun for my readers to guess, or better yet, relate to it themselves without me forcing it down their throats.

Mostly, I just want to tell these characters’ stories so they’ll bloody go away and let me sleep!!!

15. Recipes in your book

I’ve spoken before (see here) about how my protagonist Melora absolutely loves ginger-nut biscuits and how I use them as a narrative tool.

In that vein, below is an 18th century gingerbread recipe taken from A New and Easy Method of Cookery by Elizabeth Cleland, 1755:

To make Ginger-bread.
TAKE half a Peck of Flour well dried, five Pounds of Treacle, half a Pound of Butter, two Ounces of beaten Ginger, an Ounce of Carraway Seed; boil the Treacle and Butter together, then mix it with the Flour and Seeds; You may put candied Orange, or Lemon-peel in it; If you please put three Eggs in it, bake them in little Cakes of butter’d Papers.

Simple, non?

If you can’t be bothered to bake but still want a taste of the past, there’s an English company called The Copper Pot who make and sell foodstuffs based on historical recipes (I can attest to their deliciousness). As far as the 18th century goes, they sell Hot Chocolate, Curry SpicesPink(!) Pancakes and, you guessed it, Gingerbread!

They even sell a herbal mix for you to enjoy a luxurious footbath, 18th century style. Enjoy!

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 16: Question 13

YES, I KNOW I’M BEHIND. I’M SORRY.

This question’s answer is kind of a long one so though so… that kinda makes up for it, I guess…?

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

13. Your book is now a film. What will work well? What won’t?

Authors notoriously have little power when it comes to adaptions of their books. Cassandra Clare, for example, is occasionally forced to explain how she has absolutely noting to do with the (IMO) terrible adaptions of her work, and I’ve heard some real horror stories from people inside the industry about writers signing away their film rights without financial reimbursement (Cecily von Ziegesar, author of Gossip Girl; L.J. Smith, author of the Vampire Diaries… the latter doesn’t even own the rights to her own book series). As such, I shall begin this blog post with a public service announcement:

Should you ever be lucky enough to get a book signed for publication, take a lawyer in with you when you sign the contract!

Now that’s out of the way…

One of my Beta readers  remarked they could envision The Mayor as a BBC drama quite easily. At its heart The Mayor is essentially an 18th century period drama played out in a fantasy equivalent of the West Indies. Small, seemingly inconsequential actions have a tendency to ripple outwards to large and devastating effect, with a heavy emphasis on political dialogue and interpersonal relationships. That kind of story always works much better on the small screen than in the cinema, and although Part Two abandons the claustrophobic confines of New Hardway in favour of adventure on the high seas, I imagine the small screen is probably where The Mayor would end up should anyone be mad enough to try and adapt it.

So, what do I think would work well?

Costume

Blue CoatBeing an 18th century period drama — one of the prettiest and most extravagant eras in terms of European fashion — there’d be lots of opportunity for lavish, colourful costumes. Hair and make-up would have an absolute field-day with my protagonist Melora’s ringlets, and I’d love to see what wardrobe could produce for my villain’s beautiful blue coat.

My characters also encounter other cultures as they travel further up the map which might be fun to play with, such as the Kintaronese who favour light, loose clothing — shifts and kaftans, made from linen in rich turquoise blues — and adorn themselves with vast arrays of gold-plated jewellery (gold is considered common in Kintaro and thus even the poor dress themselves in this way; they even make their fishing hooks from it!).

Mise En Scene

I have written New Hardway is an aesthetically European town situated in a fantastical West Indies-equivalent known as the Taro Isles. A tropical coastline peppered with rainforests and tortugas, the bright and colourful Taro Isles would stand in direct contrast to New Hardway’s grand and austere architecture. There’s opportunity also to make it look the flora and fauna appear even more fantastical through the use of models or CGI, or both. Then there’s the tall ships, the shipping yard, the marketplace… I can see it all now…

Port Royal

Set pieces

As mentioned above, there’s quite a bit of swashbuckling in Part Two of The Mayor with naval battles, piratical pursuits and life-threatening storms… all of which I imagine would look pretty spectacular on the silver screen. Given even television’s dramatic improvement in recent years (see Game of Thrones, Outlander, Black Sails etc.), I imagine it’d look pretty good on the small screen too.

Sea battle

What won’t work well?

Sexual Content

I’d be very concerned with how TV/film might treat some of the sexual aspects of my book, particularly when it comes to sexual assault. Neither TV nor film have a particularly good history when it comes to depicting such things on screen (especially within an historical or fantastical context, of which my book is both), opting for soft-lightning, inexplicable titillation and absolutely zero consideration for the aftermath such a traumatic event might have. I’d want the filmmakers to give this subject some serious consideration and treat it with the sensitivity it deserves. If that means a fade to black or panning away from the whole thing completely, I’d really rather that than whatever the hell HBO did to poor Daenarys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) and Lucrezia Borgia (The Borgias).

Future filmmakers, take notes from Seasons 1 & 2 of Stars’ Outlander please, both in its depictions of consensual and non-consensual sex. Both, IMO, were excellently done.

My Deutragonist

I asked my writing partner her opinion on this question and the first thing she said was, “Jaspher.” When I asked her to elaborate as I didn’t quite understand, she answered:

“A lot of his appeal comes from how clear it is that he means no harm from his thought process. Take that away and you’ve only got his acts.”

Jaspher CarsonJaspher is a conflicted soul; an undiagnosed melancholic who spends an awful lot of time in his head, turning over endless “what if” scenarios and rationalising them away in his head. He is constantly putting others before himself, including my protagonist, Melora, whom he is helplessly in love with. He puts an enormous amount of pressure on himself to keep his family afloat, and would sooner work himself to an early grave than admit he needs help.

He’s a good man, with the very best and most honourable of intentions. Every choice he makes is clearly driven — in the text — by factors listed above, but he makes mistakes along the way.

And when I say mistakes, I mean serious mistakes.

Big Mistakes.

HUGE.

Without being privy to any of Jaspher’s internal monologue, the audience might perceive Jaspher to be something he isn’t: purposefully controlling, abusive and cowardly. It’s pretty clear from the text that it’s not as black and white as that, but a film might struggle to convey such a thing.

S.E. Berrow