Nicola Monaghan's news, events and general thoughts about life and writing.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner the play, 2012

Not the play of the blog (what would that be like, I wonder?) but the short story that inspired its title.

I went to see the latest version of the Alan Sillitoe classic from his first collection, which has recently been adapted for the stage and was on at the Nottingham Playhouse. The playwright, Roy Williams, has brought the story bang up to date. It's set in London and the main character is still Colin but this time, Co-lin (like Powell) is black. The play encapsulates the riots, soundbites from David Cameron, the crackdown on petty crime and brings the story bang up to date. As with so much of what Sillitoe wrote, the issues he explpres feel just as relevant today as they ever were.

The production was very ambitious. This is the second performance I've been to recently at the Playhouse and I'm impressed with the way they are using new technology, particularly projection, to enhance the action on stage. It works really well. The set was fantastic, with huge screen as the back drop, and a working treadmill. Actors worked like memories behind the screen then joined the foreground at key moments. The script too was incredibly well written, managing to remain true to the original and yet become its own thing.

One minor gripe was that an electrical fault caused problems with the sound of the treadmill from time to time, but this seemed to be sorted out later in the evening. There was also no interval, which made it a long time to sit and watch, although I could see the sense of that because of the nature of the story.

The acting was great throughout, so good that I found myself getting lost in the characters and forgetting they were not real, a feat I usually find very difficult in the contrived situation of a theatre. I was particularly impressed with the lead actor, though, Elliot Barnes-Worrell. Not only was his acting flawless but he had the added difficulty of spending half the play on the treadmill, properly running, as well as projecting his voice over the audience as he ran. It was a part that he would have needed to train for, as well as learn his lines and rehearse. He did brilliantly.

Overall, I really loved it. Alan Sillitoe mentioned more than once, when I saw him speak at events, that the long distance running was a metaphor for the life of a writer. (Which is another thing that inspired this blog.) I think I felt that more than ever at the end of this play and it felt very inspiring. Lots of good words about not letting other people carve out the path they want for you, going your own way. Sillitoe's story and themes were there throughout but, at the end, as Colin stood and told us to be sure to go our own way, and that you are the one person you can rely on, in the end, it was almost as if the man himself was back in the room with us.

There are more reviews online here  and here. And you can find out about the production at the Playhouse here.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Emma Shortt: A Book in a Week

Since my blog tour, I've been pretty blogged out, and I'm just finding time to do anything at all after the return of my students from the holiday. Meanwhile, I'm actually hosting a guest today. Emma Shortt, who writes romance of all kinds. Including the currently very hot erotic romance, in more ways than one...

Here, Emma writes about writing quickly, something you may remember I talked about here. It's a very interesting topic area, especially with November just around the corner. 

Emma's new book is called Paying her Debt, and is available on amazon here.  Over to Emma....

A Book in a Week

I wrote Paying her Debt, my erotic, contemporary romance, in a week. Yep, a week.

It came to me in a flash of inspiration and I knew I had to get the story down as soon as possible. So I sat at my computer and I just did not stop writing. Well, okay there were food and toilet breaks but other than that the family were ignored, the house fell apart around my ears and even whilst I slept the plot invaded my dreams.  

Now I’m quite a prolific writer, less than 25,000 words a week and I feel like I’ve slacked off, but this was something else altogether. If I could bottle the energy I felt in that week I’d be well...writing a book a week!

Paying her Debt has been described as an old fashioned romance with some pretty modern erotic elements and I hoped that it would be my first bestseller for Evernight (one of my two publishers). Up until then I’d had a few paranormal romances published but whilst they’d done okay they weren’t setting anything on fire. Paying her Debt did.

It sold more books than anything I’d published before combined and as I watched the sales figures tally up I couldn’t help but think that yes! I would write a book a week.  Goodbye evil day job, hello full time writing.

Only it doesn’t work like that.

I’ve never again been able to create an entire, fully edited book in such a short time. I’ve come close. On one very memorable day I wrote 15,763 words. Those words were the ending for my post-apocalyptic romance, Waking up Dead (coming late 2013 from Entangled Publishing), and I was ill for days afterwards. But a book in a week – nope it has never happened. I’ve thought about this a lot and tried to work out why I can’t recreate the energy I had in that week and I’ve come to two conclusions. Firstly at that point in my career I was so desperate for something to sell well that I was spurred on to the point of madness, secondly I had a storyline come to me from nowhere - fully formed - and I sort of wanted to write it so I could read it...does that make sense? Of course these reasons don’t help me to do the whole thing over again, but it is fun to wonder! I’d love to hear from anyone else who has managed to write a book in such a short space of time. Where did you get your energy? Can you recreate the process?

And if you’d like to read the product of my week of madness it is on sale right now for just 99 cents at I’d be thrilled if you’d check it out. Just imagine if I made the Amazon best seller lists with it! It might even spur me on to try for a five day never know!

Happy reading,

Emma x