good news, an opportunity, and recommended reading

I got good news today.

Cabinet des Fées has bought my short story, “In the Woods”, and it will appear in the journal’s next edition.

So far 2006 has been positive on the writing front. I’ve set myself a tough series of goals and deadlines for the coming months, and thus far I’m on track.

I hope I can maintain the upbeat attitude and focused work ethic.

UK screenwriters might be interested in this opportunity: The London Film School is facilitating a free two day intensive workshop as part of SCENARIO3!, the annual weekend festival for UK and French screenwriting at the French Institute.

Called the Writer’s Gym, the two day workshop will be led by Ellis Freeman, LFS tutor and writer, and will take 15 participants through a series of fast, creativity-building writing and collaboration exercises.

Check out the web site for details on how to apply — the deadline is January 13th.

Over the weekend I finished reading Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, which is a delightful book, with fresh characters and situations.

The story revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a diner, who lives in small-town Louisiana with her Grandmother. Sookie appears like a pretty, but ordinary woman, except the townsfolk think she’s crazy due of Sookie’s “disability”: she can read minds. Being around people all the time is difficult for a telepath, so when she meets the town’s new resident, Bill Compton, and realises she can’t hear his thoughts, she’s already half-way in love — and he’s a vampire.

Harris is adept at building a believable world populated by real characters, while slowly divulging the unusual creatures, and the rules under which they operate. Vampires are not portrayed in a romantic, dippy fashion, and Harris gives them truly inhumane qualities, and drawbacks, that endlessly complicate Sookie’s burgeoning romance with Bill. Mixed in this is a mystery about a series of murders, in which Sookie’s own brother, Jason, is implicated.

Sookie is a great character: plucky, forthright, resourceful, and with her own share of problems and issues. She gets into trouble a lot. There is a particular frisson to the story because the Southern down-home setting and characters are a stark contrast to the darker, grimmer underworld of vampires. Harris is not afraid to write gripping scenes with elements of horror and serious violence, along with some rather fine sexy situations too. The book is not patronising to either element, and genres are mixed in a fun and interesting fashion.

I’m not the only person who’s a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series of books. Alan Ball, famous as the writer of American Beauty, and the creator behind Six Feet Under, has optioned the books and is developing them as a series for HBO.

Knowing Ball’s previous work I can see the attraction, and if the series makes it onto TV screens I suspect the result will be an entertaining and popular show.