Authors Answer 79 & 80


I don’t know why I still pretend that I write a post every Monday. How many have I missed in the past year? And here I’ve gone and missed two in a row… Okay, I have (as always) excuses. Two weeks ago something happened on Monday (can’t remember what), and since it was both Eurovision week and Masterchef finals week, there wasn’t a cat in hell’s chance of me catching up on any day after that. Last week I missed Monday because I was catching up with a friend who’d been on holiday for a week, and then I couldn’t catch up after that because my cat had developed a limp. Overnight. I went to bed and he was perfectly fine, I woke up and he was hobbling around like he only had three legs. He’s fine now, but it took three vet visits in total.

So yeah, here I am. I’m going to catch up on two AAs today, then another two next week (if nothing else happens, of course…)

Actually, let’s dwell one moment on Eurovision week. For any of my readers across the pond, the Eurovision Song Contest is this magnificent annual spectacle where most countries in Europe (and a few outside Europe) send in a song in the hope that it’ll beat all the other 40-odd countries. Each participating country has a professional vote and a telephone vote, with the only rule being that you can’t vote for your own country. The reward for winning is that your country gets to host it the next year. Back when it first started, in 1956, I think there were about six participating countries, but these days there’s so many that they need semi-finals to decide which songs will make it to the final 26. Well, final 20 really – the host for that year gains automatic entry, and five more are always Great Britain, Spain, France, Germany and Italy, by virtue of those five countries contributing the most money to keeping it running.

So, Eurovision is a love-it-or-hate-it thing. Haters will say it has terrible songs with gimmicky shit, and the winner is chosen not by which is the best song, but purely by each country voting only for their neighbours. This is a little bit true, but not nearly as much as it used to be, and aside from that it’s amazing entertainment. Yes, there are usually a few dreadful songs that only got through on the amount of boobs on display (the Polish milkmaids of 2014, anyone?) and there are quite often some gimmicks that seemingly have nothing to do with the song but serve mainly to make the song stand out to you. And let’s face it, when you listen to 26 of them, you can understand why it’s done.

However, Eurovision also often has a few absolute gems, and it is great simply because it is gimmicky and tacky and as gay as a spring parade. Have a look at Verka Serduchka’s Dancing Lasha Tumbai for a quintessential Eurovision trash song. Listen to the Common Linnets’ Calm After the Storm for a beautiful, mellow country song that absolutely should have won that year (and would have if the winner hadn’t been a bearded transvestite).

My absolute favourite ever song? This one:

Go Greece for sending in an upbeat, bouncy Ska song. Do listen to past the first 30 seconds, please.

My favourite of this year? This one:

I didn’t like the song that won this year at all. This is quite normal – my taste in music is clearly not the same as that of mainstream Europe, but it’s not the point anyway. The point is to have an evening of costume changes, inexplicable themes (this year it appeared to be brides) and wide eyed ‘wtf??’ moments. I heartily recommend it.

Anyway, AA question 79: What are the worst things that can break your concentration when writing?

Heh, as anything these days, it depends on how inspired I am in general. If I’m motoring on and can’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts, virtually nothing can break my concentration. If I’m struggling, virtually anything can. Well, can distract, anyway. The only thing I really need when I’m writing (on my computer at least) is music in the background. I can’t work in silence.

Short answer, but hey, there’s not much more I can say about it. Funnily enough, as you can see from the original post on Jay Dee’s blog, my friend Hillary has the opposite – she needs silence to write.  Just goes to show we’re all unique!

On to AA question 80: Are there any TV shows or films that have influenced your writing?

I cannot categorically say no to this, but I don’t think so. My writing is influenced far more by other books than by visual media. At the moment I’m devouring C J Cherryh’s Foreigner series, and I can already see its influence in the few things I’ve managed to churn out in the past couple of weeks. It’s never intentional, but I’m not consciously trying to block those influences either.

A quick thank you to my partner in crime Hillary anyway for introducing me to this series, as it’s (so far at least) absolutely awesome. It’s science-fiction, which has never been my first love, but this is a rollercoaster ride of political intrigue, some nail-biting action, the odd spot of bone-dry humour and (best of all) with a linguist protagonist. Every time Bren has an inner monologue about some grammatical point, the linguist inside me goes ‘squeeeee!’.

(Please, don’t let that stop you from trying this series – it will not bore non-linguists, I promise.)

Anyway, that’s it for this week. See the original post on AA 80 here, and who knows? I might actually post again next week.


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