Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Book Review - Stardust....and what I gained from it

Sometimes you don't have to really enjoy a book to get something out of it. I picked up Neil Gaiman's Stardust in a charity shop because it looked interesting and he was someone whose books I'd never read. I soon realised that this wasn't my kind of book. I've found in the past that fantasy isn't really my genre and I hadn't realised quite who Neil Gaiman was (how awful!).

However, though not my cup of tea, the book is well written and I liked the twist and how he brought all the parts together in the end. This is the kind of thing I'd maybe watch on TV rather than read but I rarely give up on a book. Besides this had an interview with the author and extra material.....something a writer loves to read! This was when I realised who Neil Gaimen was and that I had watched Coraline (which he wrote) on TV and enjoyed it!

I was particularly interested in how Neil came to write this book Stardust and that he previously wrote a prologue to a book called Wall  set in the same location. He then abandoned it. He says he may or may not write that prequel. In the meantime Gaiman witnessed a falling star and suddenly Stardust was written. It's little things that this that make writing so interesting and what motivates an author to write. I find it utterly fascinating.

A little while ago I experienced writer's block with the novel I am writing. I was stuck with the next scene. I had ideas and an ending but I was stranded in no-mans land staring at the screen and nothing was coming. So I took a diversion. I have, I know, overthought the 'family tree' to my characters and have extensive extended family who do not feature in the novel and may not even get a mention. But there were a few there who interested me and I thought might be worthy of fleshing out and basing a story around. So I went back to my 'trees' and began to write. I now have two short stories. It was a nice diversion and I enjoyed finding out who these characters were. Meanwhile on one of those dreadful sleepless nights I get now and then I played through some scenes for my novel and things began to fall into place. The next day I wrote the next scene and the novel has been gathering pace ever since.

I am now into the last quarter of the novel. I know there will be a lot of editing to do and I don't relish that. I have no idea what happens after that - I guess I need someone to read it. For now I'm just enjoying the writing and don't want to think beyond that. I've spent a lot of time on it and if it's rubbish it will be like receiving a years worth of poetry rejections in one go!

I set out to write a novel as a challenge (I never thought I could string out a story to novel length). My methods for doing this have so far worked (my targets, breaking things down into chunks - that's the natural way I work). Suddenly after all these months I can see the end coming. It's rather scary.

So, there we go. Gaiman handles his genre well. I might not enjoy reading his stories in the way others do but we all have our preferences. There were, however, aspects of this book that I appreciated - the handling of two worlds. It was good to see how he did it (my novel is set in two times zones but is very different to this). So I did get something from the book. No read is ever wasted.

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