August was a supremely atypical month for me, really. It involved lots of reading, exam results, very little writing, lots of TV, lots of travel, some kissing, far too much plotting, and Charley. Let’s go through those things in approximately that order.
This wonderful picture of Charley and me is my favourite thing because I don’t look too much shorter than her – primarily because I’m standing on the curb and she’s not. I’d recently acquired that waistcoat and had something of an obsession with it.
I guess that gives you a strong clue as to what happened later in the month, but that’s not until the last item on the list, so let’s go back to the beginning. Books. Reading. That sort of thing.
My hands, at this point, were at their worst, and I took a break from writing entirely throughout the month of August. As a result, I read quite a few books – thirteen in total, it would seem. Most of them were by Cassandra Clare and I’m pretty sure after a while Goodreads was judging the hell out of my reading choices.
Of this eclectic combination of books, two (“The Dream Life Of Sukhanov” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”) were for school; two were recommendations (“Divergent” and “Cloud Atlas”); one I picked up on a whim and hated (“Carnival Of Souls”) and the others were sheer unadulterated escapism.
After I got the results for my AS exams, a single sheet of paper that basically informed me which universities I could feasibly apply to, I needed that escapism. And what better than a series of books about angsty teenage demon hunters where everybody has other things on their minds than exam results? Right. I raced through those Cassie Clare books in about a day each and it was amazing.
As for TV, I’ve managed to establish that it was actually in August that I saw the end of Dance Academy series two, and I was certainly not okay, or as I phrased it on Facebook: “I can’t. I just can’t. I’m not okay. I can’t stop crying. The last time I sobbed this hard at a TV show it was the Merlin finale THIS IS NOT OKAY I AM NOT OKAY somebody hold me.”
In other words, pain. Pain, pain and more pain.
I also went to Ireland. I’ve wanted to go to Ireland since I was very young and it was bizarre to finally have that dream realised. While we were there I met Kate Thompson – one of whose books is pictured above – and spent an hour talking to her and it was amazing, truly amazing.
The Sunday that we were there, the first full day, we went to the Cliffs of Moher and then on to the Burren, where we visited a Neolithic monument known as the Poulnabrone Dolmen. We then drove around the coast through the Burren to a town called Lisdoonvarna, where after a while of looking for the ‘fairy fort’ where my character was born (long story) we found a pub where we could buy a meal and listen to traditional music played by young, local musicians.
The above photograph was taken at one of the happiest moments in my life. While driving around the coast we stopped here, the meeting place of the Burren and the sea, and clambered all over the limestone pavement. Every time we thought we were getting near the edge, it kept going, and so did I. I don’t remember another time that I’ve felt so complete and peaceful and happy in my entire life.
Amusingly, the final climactic scene of City Of Lost Souls – one of the Cassie Clare books I read later in the month – takes place here in the Burren, next to the Poulnabrone Dolmen. While reading, all I could think was, “Hey, I’ve been there! (But wouldn’t their feet get caught in the cracks in the ground while they fought?)”
Later in the week that peace and happiness seemed to leave me and I had some incredibly low moments, but I won’t forget how I felt that day, up on the Cliffs of Moher and in the Burren. It’s funny that I should have chosen to set my NaNo novel at Moher, even though it’s not a happy book at all and I have very positive associations with that place, but it made such an imprint on my mind and inspired the characters that walked straight in to fill out my existing concept, so it was worth it.
I’ve mentioned that there was kissing in August too. I’m not going to go into detail there, partly because there’s such a thing as oversharing, and partly because that’s not my story to tell – it involves another person, right? So I’m telling you nothing other than that the friend who broke my heart in February kind of glued it back together again and then some kissing happened and then we decided that we worked way better as friends and that was that. I count it as “experience that will help me write better kissing scenes in novels” rather than “outstanding experiences in their own right”, to be perfectly honest; no offence meant to the friend in question. I think I’m only telling you because I’ve never discussed relationships on my blog and I kind of feel like you probably imagine me dating my books or something. Which I totally do. Shh.
I may not have been writing in August, but I was plotting like crazy. Discussing my ‘prequel’ with Charley, and the various characters within it, was how I ended up turning my trilogy into a series. I originally said it as a joke, like, “I could have a series, wouldn’t that be funny?” and then it happened. It’s all Charley’s fault.
We also worked a lot on the plot for St Mall’s 2 which is progressing slowly, still, but at least we had some ideas. I’m pretty sure we came up with entire storylines for numerous crossovers between her characters and mine, most of them entirely bizarre and potentially lethal for all involved, and originating at one in the morning when we were severely sleep-deprived.
Ah yes, Charley. So as well as going to Ireland, I went to Germany to hang out with Charley. We went sailing and I accidentally joined the Army Sailing Association without being affiliated with the army. We visited a schloss. We saw the dam that was destroyed by the bouncing bombs, a story I was only familiar with from Dambusters which I’d watched on the coach on music tour. Things like that.
In this picture we’re plotting. That face suggests we’re discussing my character Fergal, or perhaps Irial. I’m fond enough of both of them to start smiling like an idiot while discussing them; for the record, neither of them are nice people, or at least, they’ve both done terrible things. But I just love them so much…
So, that was August. While September meant back to school, this time without hands, it also involved a lot of reading, and I’ll discuss that tomorrow. In the meantime, if you thought I wasn’t blogging enough (sarcasm) you can read my thoughts on Merlin as I rewatch the show from the beginning by visiting my Tumblr!