Works-in-Progress: Lionskin

LidaBlogPhotoThe Brussels Writers’ Circle features members who are hard at work chipping away at various monumental and epoch-making pieces of literature. Or so we would hope. In this continuing segment, we interview member Lida Papasokrati about her current masterpiece-in-progress.

 

 

First off, what is it, novel/short story/non-fiction and what is it called?

It’s a short story called Lionskin, and it’s a fantasy retelling of the myth of Hercules.

Lionskin wearing his eponymous coat

Lionskin wearing his eponymous coat

Where and when does the action take place?

All the action takes place in a ”faraway kingdom, a long time ago”. Even though in the myth the adventures of Hercules take place in ancient Greece, I wanted to give my version a bit of a fairy tale feel by being vague about the time and place.

Which, if any, of Christopher Booker’s ‘Seven Basic Plots’ are you following?

I’d say it’s a cross between ‘The Quest’ and ‘Rags to Riches’. Lionskin, the protagonist, is a just a boy from a village at the beginning of the story, but if he completes the twelve tasks he could become the next king, so I think there are elements of both plot types present.

 

Why a myth retelling, and why Hercules in particular?

LidaBlogGeryonI’m Greek and spent most of my childhood in Athens, so Greek mythology was all around me growing up. The myth of Hercules was never my favourite, though – I guess I just wasn’t impressed by a big strong man going around hitting things with a club!

But then, a few years ago, I read the myth again, and I realised that there were a lot of little details that weren’t that well known – such as the fact that the goddess Athena had helped Hercules in several of his labours. I thought, what if she wasn’t a goddess, but an actual human girl?

How long have you been working on it?

The story has been sitting in my head for about a year and a half and I would occasionally write down a scene or make notes, but I only started writing it ”for real” three months ago.

A work of great length?

For a short story, it’s actually on the long side – it’ll be over 12,000 words when it’s finished.

And where are you at now? Where are you going with it?

I’m about halfway through and I’m reading out to the group as I write. This is technically a second draft I’m working on, but the first draft was much shorter, so I’m adding to it as a rewrite. Then, when it’s finished – I’m going to rewrite it again!

How did the BWC help you in the course of your work?

I don’t think I would have written the story if it hadn’t been for the BWC – not for a long time, at least! When I first joined the group back in January, I had a lot of story ideas (and a lot of notebooks filled with outlines, character names and first chapters!) but very little experience in actually writing – and finishing – a story. Reading and commenting on other people’s work has taught me a lot about the actual process of writing. And of course, getting feedback while I’m working on the story has been tremendous help!

This is Lida doing the rounds of the wards in her day job

This is Lida doing the rounds of the wards in her day job

What was the best feedback you got from the group?

I’ve received so many great tips and ideas from BWC members that it’s impossible to single out a particular one!

We assume that it will one day be published to universal acclaim and that a Hollywood blockbuster will be made from it. Which actors will play the principal roles?

I think Elizabeth Henstridge or Gemma Arterton would be great for the part of the princess. As for Lionskin, for some reason in my head I’ve always pictured him as Eddie Redmayne!

Thanks and good luck!

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Works-in-Progress: In Search of Y

DavidEllard1The Brussels Writers’ Circle features members who are hard at work chipping away at various monumental and epoch-making pieces of literature. Or so we would hope. In this new segment, we interview chairperson David Ellard about his current masterpiece-in-progress.

First off, what is it, novel/short story/non-fiction and what is it called?

It’s an epic (and epic-sized) science fiction novel called ‘In Search of Y’.

Where and when does the action take place?

On the fictional planet Nile in the star system epsilon Eridani, about five hundred years in the future.

The_Seven_Basic_PlotsWhich, if any, of Christopher Booker’s ‘Seven Basic Plots’ are you following?

Oh number three, ‘The Quest’, without a doubt. My hero Jen Zo is searching for a bank of frozen sperm which (when unthawed I hasten to add) will allow an all-female space colony to have boy babies (Y-chromosome sperm, hence the Y of the title).

OK, pretend we’re a prospective agent or publisher and you have one sentence to sell us your work-in-progress. Give us that sentence.

The basic bouillon consists of sci-fi opera classic ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert mixed in with French feminist erotic thriller ‘Baise-moi’, then lightly seasoned with touches of ‘Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien and ‘Don Quijote’ by Miguel Cervantes.

How long have you been working on it?

Since November 2011 so not quite four years

A work of great length?

Yep. When I started I was worried it wouldn’t be long enough for a proper novel. Now that the completed first draft weighs in at 183,000 words I rather think I have the opposite problem.

And where are you at now? Where are you going with it?

As I said, the first draft is done but now I have to take the voluminous feedback from the group, twist and tweak the plot, reinvent the start of the novel in particular to make it more exciting and immediate, and go rewrite.

Accumulated BWC members' feedback on my first draft in repose on my sofa

Accumulated BWC members’ feedback on my first draft in repose on my sofa

How did the BWC help you in the course of your work?

I got tremendous motivation from the pressure of having to present the chapters as I wrote them. Lots of great suggestions and ideas, and technical advice – my novel is very dialoguey but I learnt loads about how to try and break that up into more digestible sections.

What was the best feedback you got from the group?

Two examples stand out for me. One member told me a certain chapter reminded her of the ‘Three Witches’ scene from the play Macbeth. I liked the idea so much I am going to rewrite the chapter in the second draft with various direct references to that scene.

Secondly, several people told me to reimagine the swearwords current on my fictional planet to give greater authenticity. This I did and now my characters have an argot all of their own. Sadly, this is a family website and I am not at liberty to discuss what those terms are, but readers of my second draft will hopefully raise an eyebrow or two when the time comes.

Who will (the final version of) your novel definitely not be suitable for?

Children. The novel contains various scenes containing sex possibly not in the context of a warm and loving relationship. Oh and lashings of violence to boot.

epsilonEridaniWe assume that it will one day be published to universal acclaim and that a Hollywood blockbuster will be made from it. Which actors will play the principal roles?

I can see Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker from the 90s/2000s ‘Rush Hour’ action comedy series playing the hero Jen Zo and his side-kick Olifah Tambo. For the Grand Mother, I was thinking Meryl Streep might like the part if I can give her a weird and challenging enough accent to master.

Thanks and good luck with the second draft!