Open Book Blog Hop – Pleased to Meet You!

I really enjoyed taking part in last week’s Open Book Blog Hop. It’s an opportunity to offer a little more of an insight into my interests and thoughts while tackling a different subject each week.

Today is a little less creative, but an interesting subject: What historical or public figure would you most like to learn more about? Would you ever write about them?

And remember to pay a visit to my fellow writers to see what they have come up with. You can find their works here!

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

I am going to treat this as two distinct questions as I think I’d answer it best in that fashion. And I will take the second part first. Would I ever write about a historic or public figure? I did. Or I tried at least. Chasing Shadows is my first completed, published novel, but it isn’t my first attempt at a novel. The first had a working title of Our Boy Jack. It was a historical fiction about Jack the Ripper. I wanted to imagine who he might have been. Who was behind the notorious London murders? I tried a few drafts, with a couple of ideas on that score to see what would fit. Sadly, nothing really worked. I found myself mired in a world of constant research. I was looking up the known facts about the case, all manner of details to ensure they were era-correct, or as much as possible. Unfortunately I found this a real creative drain. Who knows, one day I might revisit it in some way, shape or form.

As for a historic or public figure I’d love the chance to learn more about, I like to consider these sort of questions in the frame of “who would I love to chat to over a coffee?” Well I think I’ve covered the historic element in my previous question. So for this one, I am going with a public figure, someone famous. Someone that has actually been a big influence on my reading, and to some extent, my writing too. The person in question is Stephen King. I’ve been reading his books for years. Possibly longer than I should be considering the age I was when I read a few of his books! I’ve loved his horror novels. From IT to The Shining, and Pet Semetary to Insomnia, they have captivated me with his vividly described worlds and creatures. And then there are some of his more epic novels like The Stand and the incredible series, The Dark Tower.

His highly descriptive style really resonates with me, and has to a degree influenced some of my writing style. The worlds and the characters are vibrant and colourful. I’d love to sit and discuss with him how he came up with some of his most iconic and terrifying creations. The opportunity to talk with him about his process would be fascinating. I know he has been plagued by his demons, demons that took him into some dark places, but ones he managed to overcome. A man with such an impressive back catalogue of novels who still continues to be so prolific would make for fascinating conversation.

Given an opportunity to throw a second name into the ring, I would have to go with Sir Terry Pratchett. I was a late arrival to his immense Discworld series, but was immediately hooked. Here was a man with an incredible mind to create such a rich world filled with myriad characters and locales. The humour and satire that filled his books is something to behold. He managed to discuss various real life topics without ever directly commenting on them. To share a small slice of space and time with both of these fantastic authors and just talk shop would be fantastic.

28 thoughts on “Open Book Blog Hop – Pleased to Meet You!

    1. Oh, definitely Bradbury and Asimov. I’m not a fan of Pratchett, but I acknowledge he’s a good writer. I just can’t seemto connect to his characters. Probably it’s me.
      CS Lewis and Tolkein would definitely go onto that list if I were considering writers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that is a sensible attitude. You don’t have to like an author to appreciate their talent and their work. Each to their own. I am in no way a fan of Shakespeare, but I fully respect the importance of his work.

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  1. We’re going on a Jack the Ripper tour around Whitechapel in a fortnight or so, so perhaps I might be able to enlighten you a bit more as to who he was. There was a TV programme last year where a man claimed to have whittled it down to one person after 30 years of research, but as I remember the name he came up with wasn’t Queen Victoria’s son (who some thought was Jack) but somebody ordinary but I can’t remember his name now.

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  2. That could be a fascinating story- trying to figure out what happened to Jack in his youth that led him into becoming a killer.

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  3. Serial killers are hard, even when their identity is known. Here in Fairbanks, some military guy killed four women and an 11-year-old girl before he rotated out of state and stopped killing. He finally was caught in Texas where he gave a lovely and informative interview to Alaska State Troopers who couldn’t get the Texas staties to arrest him. Turns out one of his victims’ dad (who became a friend of mine a couple of decades later and swears he had nothing to do with it) was a former Texas sheriff’s deputy. Somehow Bill Bundy (no relation to the Green River Killer, Ted Bundy) ended up running his motorcycle under a tracker-trailer truck the night before the warrant arrived from Alaska. Go figure, right?

    Anyway, I’ve tried to write that story a few times. I know one of the detectives who broke the case. I know the parents of two of the victims (small town) and the daughter of one of them. But it’s too hard to write — not the least of which because the living might be hurt by some of my speculations. If I write it, it’ll be highly fictionalized to not upset the innocent.

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    1. I can only imagine how tough it would be when people connected to the case are still around. I was going down a highly fictionalised route, too. My issue was that I felt compelled to get all of the known facts about him, the killings, London at that time, the structure of the Met Police and even customs and traditions of the time as accurate as I could. I became mired in the detail and lost my creative flow.

      It is why my debut novel ended up being steampunk. It’s a genre/aesthetic I love, and could make everything up. Who knows, maybe I could involve a Jack the Ripper like character in my steampunk world.

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      1. I think fictionalising real events and characters is a great option. It opens up doors that allow you to bend the truth.

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      2. That may be the case, but much of it was research to get things correct rather than piling detail in the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In your case as historical certain detail is an imperative. In most fiction it’s a choice. I subscribe to the Elmore Leonard theory of not spending a lot of time describing people and places, letting them belong to the reader. The either/or to that is Baldacci gets hammered for not knowing his guns but can describe the dashboard of a BMW while Burke could write a gulf coast gardening and botany book (and frequently does). Lawrence Block loads up on fine art and stamp collecting. It’s not unknown to add niche interest detail, but for me the whole travelogue / science class concept is a yawn.

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      4. Yeah I get that. I have read some historical fiction where the author conveys the feel of the time without needing to labour the details. It can be done, for sure.

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  4. I’ve got news for you about “talking shop” with creatives. They might give you insight, but even they don’t know what makes them tick, can’t explain their gift. Because it is a gift, regardless of medium. They can talk technique and practice and offer advice all day long, but you’ll never get that gem you’re after. Study their work, because that’s who they are. I have a long time good friend, a $50 guitar in his hands becomes magical. Without a guitar in his hands he’s a womanizing pain in the ass skirt hound with a deep reservoir of off-color jokes. Be grateful you have ears when you share crappy nachos with genius and listen to their stories.

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    1. I work with and know many creatives. Just because the gift is different for everyone doesn’t mean it isn’t still interesting or worthwhile.

      And as mentioned in my comments about King, I am fully aware he has had his demons, he has made no effort to hide them. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a conversation or learning from their experiences.

      As this post was about who I would like to meet/learn more about, it is reasonable to assume everyone else has a different preference. With that in mind, we are all allowed to dream of meeting people for our own reasons.

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      1. Man all I was doing was suggesting you expand your pop culture horizons, not demean your choices. I think this episode of feelings on the sleeve is the death knell of my participation in this little exercise that has become touchy social media and nothing to do with improving craft. Enjoy the ride.

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      2. No feelings on the sleeve here, justy opinion. And I agree with expanding horizons. It’s why I started book reviewing in 2015. I read a lot of the same stuff and wanted to try some new authors. It panned out well and I’ve come accross way more new material than I otherwise would have.

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  5. Hi Steve, I enjoyed your post. Jack the Ripper interests me too, but I would write about him as he is to well covered. I do write historical novels so I know the research rabbit hole/s you mean. I also loved Stephen King and started reading his books when I was 10 years old. That was the year I moved to all adult books. I have never jelled with Terry Pratchett although I do have first edition copies of a few of his books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Roberta, pleased to meet you! 🙂 I think what I may do with Jack the Ripper is weave him in to my steampunk universe. That way I could make him more of a ‘based on’ character, fictionalising him. It would remove the risk of descending down that rabbit hole of research. King is a favourite, someone I read early like you. Pratchett on the other hand, I was in my 20s when I discovered. I love the way his worlds feel so alive.

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