In common with many, I ‘blogged-off’ for most of August having made a promise to myself to have a ‘proper’ break. I caught up with friends and family, walked a fair bit, grabbed some sea air and, on my agent’s recommendation, read a couple of novels, one I particularly loved and more of this in a tick.
As the saying goes, promises are made to be broken. When an idea flits into your head, becomes a fully conceived story overnight – trust me, this has never happened to me before – you just have to go with it. In fact, I had little choice in the matter. The story was and is like a force of nature. So in between rising at stupid o’clock and hammering away until day checked out and turned into night, I enjoyed some magical moments. They are these:
‘Me Before You’ by Jo-Jo Moyes. As mentioned before, I’ve wide tastes in reading but it’s been a long time since I picked up what could loosely be described as romantic fiction. I say ‘loosely’ because, although this is definitely a heart-breaking love story, (I had to reach for the tissues) it’s so much more because it tackles the contentious theme of assisted dying. It takes a brave writer to pen this kind of novel and, in less skilled hands, it could be a disaster but Moyes pulls it off with flair and passion. One minute you’re laughing out loud, the next sobbing your heart out. An absolute page-turner, it was pure joy and I’ll be buying and reading more of her work.
While on the subject of passion and tears, the best film of the month (and we watched a few) was, without doubt, ‘Lone Survivor’. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of four Navy SEALS tasked to eliminate a senior al-Qaeda leader. The mission goes wrong, largely because of faulty communications, and the men are left stranded and isolated against dozens of Taliban. The clue is in the title, but again, this is no ordinary ‘shoot ‘em up, Stars and Stripes, naff good guys versus bad guys’ movie.
The early part of the film is devoted to the perilous nature of carrying out surveillance in enemy territory. Direction and camera shots ensure that the viewer is intimately caught up in the terror of believing that at any moment one false step and hell will be unleashed. Compelling and deeply involving, the film tells a tale of heroism and honour, of tough men honed by hours of brutal training, fighting for each other as much as fighting for their lives. Extraordinary courage is not simply the preserve of the Americans as aid comes from a surprising quarter; not all Afghans are fans of the Taliban. I haven’t always been that keen on Mark Wahlberg’s choice of roles, but in this film he, in common with Taylor Kitsch, Emilie Hirsch and Ben Foster, are superb.
Best box set of the month goes to Braquo Season 3 and I’ll be covering this in more detail next week.
Surprise of the month: the Pet Shop Boys’ cameo appearance on the Archers. I’m an intermittent listener and nearly fell over when I heard Neil Tennant talking to Lizzie Archer and the gloriously gauche Linda Snell at Loxfest!
On a personal note, the highlight of my month was a two-book deal with the US publisher Midnight Ink. ‘Beautiful Losers,’ the first in the Kim Slade series, will be released early 2016. As mentioned on Facebook recently, this is a novel close to my heart. It’s been a long time in gestation and proves the point that patience is a virtue even if it’s not something I possess in spades. More on the novel and its creation in future blogs.
So it’s back to September with a bang. I’ve another little gem to disclose, which should materialise in a couple of weeks. Until then, I’ll keep you guessing…