Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

November 2011 Issue 134

Nicola's Editorial


I’ll start this Raw Meat off with a good old moan about this time of year, which I’ve always hated. It seems completely illogical to me to put the clocks back so that the days become even shorter than they are already - indeed, almost completely enveloped by darkness. This absence of light fills me with panic… without light, there’s nothing, nothing at all. Whoever thought up this insane idea in the first place - of putting the clocks back to start with? My Mum told me that it’s something to do with the war… but I always thought it was for the farmers, to make it lighter in the mornings. It’s a stupid idea anyway - one of the worst things about Britain.


But enough of this anyway - on to more interesting matters… such as Vampires, my Reluctant one that is. For those of you who haven’t already visited my webblog, you should do so at your next opportunity… for there you’ll find the first chapter of my early novel, The Reluctant Vampire. If you missed the introduction, that is also there… so just scroll back a bit. Although I don’t think this novel is one of my best, it certainly has it’s moments along with several rather wonderful, colourful characters. Please do leave your comments as I crave feedback, as you know. And also I’m still wondering whether this is the right way to present a novel, that is chapter by chapter… or if you find breaking, constantly infuriating and would like to read more at one go. Do leave your comments and be quite honest as I could put more chapters on each post. By the way, I had to rewrite page two from memory… which was actually not difficult at all, because I’ve got a pretty good memory thankfully!!


I’ve chosen to set the novel in the very un-gothic realms of Timperley - which has now become know to me as Vampire country. The house I’m using as Alison’s’ in the story actually belonged to my friend Sally’s Mum - that is, (in the story) she is looking after it since her grandfather died. I’ve even used the pub around the corner, though the name has changed along with it being converted from a catholic church. Alison’s college nearby is the sort of college where I myself spent some time studying - all the settings for the story remain extremely vivid to me even now, twenty odd years on. I don’t think Alison’s friends Cassandra and Joseph are based on anyone specifically, as indeed Alison herself isn’t really me - in fact she resembles most closely the heroine of Dry Rot, Francis. Here it’s pretty easy for me to date the writing of the novel as it was obviously influenced so much by Dry Rot, which I had only just written in the early eighties. Against this background of Timperley, I hoped to make the character of my Vampire, Thomas, stand out sharply - and also to tinge the entire novel with a humours edge, making it totally surreal. I wonder how far I have succeeded in doing this? I’m eagerly awaiting your comments.


If you remember, I mentioned earlier this year that I’d made contact with a very old friend from thirty years ago, Bill Mason. Bill told me about a reunion concert his band were doing in Wythenshawe - The Bill Mason Band used to be a sort of punk Christian band who were extremely popular amongst young Christians like myself, as I was in those days. Anyway, it was lovely to see my old friend Bill and the guitarist, Simon… the concert was actually for a charity, a section of which Simon is involved with, Life Association. There were two other bands playing at the gig - but the BMB were the best of course!! The most amazing part was meeting all my old friends afterwards - that’s one of the main advantages of loosing my sight I suppose - people never age, they will always remain as I last saw them in their thirties.


I’m still waiting expectantly for Andy’s promised chapter of the Raw Meat Novel, The light Fantastic… but I suspect he’s got distracted as usual, this time by a slightly more creative venture of his own. I believe Andy’s trying his hand at novel writing - I don’t know much about the substance, but apparently it features his old favourite character Doktir Nairobi. I’ll leave Andy to tell you more about this novel in his column, suffice to say it seems to be totally obsessing him… you see, I’m not the only one around here with obsessions.


I’ve just started reading the next part of the Inkheart Trilogy, which seems so far to pick up straight from where Inkheart left off - that is, with the old characters Dustfinger and Farid. There’s a new character though… the wonderfully named Orpheus, who also has the gift of silvertongue. The gift of silvertongue allows the person to bring the characters to life from any novel they choose to read aloud. Farid stepped out of Aladdin while Dustfinger came from the Inkheart book - though he obviously didn’t go back into it or else he wouldn’t be in this novel! I believe the Inkheart Trilogy has been made into a film, which I wish I’d seen… perhaps, like many wonderful novel ideas it works best on paper.


I have finally decided to take the plunge and go and see a homeopath. As you will probably know by now, I’m a great believer in natural medicine as opposed to talking conventional drugs which often have side effects. It’s particularly important to me as a method of dealing with symptoms for Ataxia. I really don’t want to have to start taking any medication which you can get addicted to so easily. Homeopathy has always seemed a more effective way to combat physical problems. The physical side is only half of any problem, there is the mental state and the attitude towards such problems. A friend once said to me when I told him what a doctor had said to me about homeopathy - “Homeopathy doesn’t make any physical change, it just makes you feel better”… “So what’s the difference” More and more people are coming to see his point of view, myself included.


I had slight feelings of discomfort as I wrote this piece as I found it difficult to imagine Jack choosing to go back to Ross’s house. In reality I don’t think he’d have wanted to have anything to do with either Robbie or Freddie, but I kept reminding myself that this is fiction… much more fun than reality because it allows such dramatic situations to occur. So then, it led on rather nicely to future meetings involving Charles and Jack , and also maybe Ross and Harriet. Then it came upon me suddenly, in a flash of light, that Shannon could also get involved in the drama, along with Kathleen. I got very excited and ideas kept popping into my head. The novel all seems to be coming together, approaching the end, which I’ve never been able to see clearly before.

I have to leave a little bit out of this piece, which I’ll just fill you in on. Ruth gently reminded me about the missing manuscript that Ross would be bound to ask Jack about… I’d forgotten all about it, so I had to add it in later, such is work in progress. Jack simply tells Ross all he knows, that it’s been taken to America by a sailor. He gives Ross his address so that Ross can ask Harriet himself. More potential dramatic scenes in the pipeline there, though I think that Harriet would certainly not want to meet Ross again, so I wouldn’t like to force the bounds of credibility too much.

All this should lead on quite naturally to the next book, which I’m now getting a more real idea of, though it still doesn’t have a title – ah well, that comes last, as Andy always tells me. but I’m quite sure it’s going to be more fragmented than The Space Between, being set partly in America, partly in the Antarctic and partly in London, with perhaps Harriet or Jack or Ricketts, perhaps not.

I’m still wondering what to do with Harriet now that she’s been saved from certain death, how can I possibly follow that? I was thinking of making her disappear back into Killing Time and Gustave to go back into The Turn of the Century Party… but I don’t know about that, as it would mean separating them forever, which would be really horrible, much worse than killing them off, which is an alternative, I suppose. Anyway, that was the whole point in introducing myself as a character in the book, so that my other fiction would be around, if in Manchester, not London. I’ve also made myself say that I’ve been inspired to write something, which is obviously The Space Between, so if Harriet and Gustave chose to they could disappear into that work together, even if they do have to travel up to Manchester to do so! I feel uncomfortable about using this idea, which has already been used before by Cornelia Funke in The Inkheart Trilogy, so I’m reluctant to rip off someone else’s idea so blatantly. So I’m still left with Harriet… what do I do with her? Any suggestions?


Copyright Nicola Batty © 2011


As 1907 begins, Wilde’s original manuscript of The Portrait of Mr WH has been taken overseas to America by Georges, and given to his wife in New Orleans. Another copy of the story remains in England, the book made by Charles Ricketts which his Partner, Shannon, has given as a gift to Kathleen Bruce. She’s promised to return it but has failed to do so as yet. Jack has decided to pay an unexpected call on an old acquaintance.


CHAPTER 7 - 1907

The miserable cold rain continued to fall from a dismal grey sky as Jack hunched his shoulders and sighed inside his sailors jacket as he hurried along the street, glancing at the address to make sure he was going in the right direction. He felt uncomfortable amidst these tall stately homes – he didn’t belong in Kensington. Pausing outside the house to which he had been directed, he stared blankly at the tall windows and ornate porch for some moments before approaching the door and knocking. He scratched his nose nervously as he waited and shifted from one docker’s boot to the other. He tried to remember the last time he had been to Kensington. He felt like an intruder, he had no place in these parts.

The door was opened suddenly by a vaguely familiar figure who stood there blinking at Jack but saying nothing. Finally the man cleared his throat.

“Jack?” It was definitely a question, even though he must surely have some memory, perhaps Mr Ross simply wanted confirmation that his eyes weren’t deceiving him. “Surely not… after all these years. I can’t believe it. How did you find us?”

Jack gave a little shrug, still unable to forget the hostility there had once been between them.

“Cook gave me your address,” he said shortly, without any wish to prolong this conversation. “So I came right over. I wanted to see you.”

“Well, alright.” Ross took a step back, gesturing Jack to come in to the hall. “I think Freddie’s upstairs… I’ll tell him, just a minute.”

“No… don’t.” Jack stepped into the hall, glad to have shelter from the rain. The boy glanced nervously towards the white staircase, shaking his head quickly to stop Ross in his tracks. “I didn’t come to see Freddie, it’s you I want to speak to. I just wanted an address, that’s all.”

“Oh.” Ross’s frown deepened as he stared at the boy, or rather young man as he was now, and Ross wondered what exactly had happened to cause him to change so much. “I’m sure Freddie would be only too glad to see you Jack, especially after you’ve come all this way.

“No.” Jack shook his head firmly. “I just want the address of a friend of yours… Mr Charles Ricketts.”

A sudden hush enveloped the two characters, that set them apart from the audience, standing static on the stage of life. “But why? Why should I give you the address of someone you don’t even know? Give me one good reason why I should do that?”

Jack looked away quickly, feeling himself reddening, he felt as though Ross had struck him physically and he wasn’t sure how to handle such a blow, trying to control himself.

“I do have some connection with Mr Ricketts… I suppose you could say we were old friend. Isn’t that enough for you?”

Ross shook his head suspiciously.

“Well, no it isn’t to be quite honest, I don’t trust you, Jack. I hardly know you after all.”

Jack thought quickly.

“Look, I’ll tell you what, can you ask Mr Ricketts next time you see him, if he’d like to see me? I’ll come back in a few weeks and if he would like to, you can give me his address. Could you do that?” he gave Ross a small smile, hoping it was as charming as people led him to believe. “Do you think you’ll see him in that time?”

Ross nodded, wondering where Jack could possibly know Charles from. It was intriguing, he would have to ask Charles.


Welcome to Andy's bit...
November is National Novel Writing Month in America. The idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It doesn't work for everybody but I decided to give it a whirl this year. When I say 50,000 words I am of course talking about a very rough first draft. If you want to check on my progress, you'll find my attempt HERE.
Wendy Naisa Reporting by Ian Biro. is the working title of, Andy's novel. Ian Biro is the pen name of Doktir Nairobi, Doktir Nairobi is the alter ego of, Andy Sewina. Naisa is Asian spelt backwards, Wendy Naisa is an anagram of, Danny A Wise. Danny A Wise is the stage name of, Andy Sewina. You can read his pub-poetry page, SweetTalkingGuy HERE. What else do you need to know? Hold on, did I tell you that Ian Biro is an anagram of Nairobi? Phew!

Many thanks for reading Raw Meat!!! We'll be back in December...
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