Friday, April 6, 2012

Radio / Hopeless Eclectics / The Problem with the Novel

Radio What’s New?

It looks like my story ‘Another Language’ will be broadcast on Radio NZ National at 3.05am on Tuesday 10 April. You can listen online here if you're up at that time of day...

I presume this is the version recorded after the story won the novice category of the 2007 Katherine Mansfield short story competition. The dude who reads the story does a great job, if I remember correctly.

I have no idea where the five year old contract I signed with Radio NZ for this story is, but won’t hold my breath for any money to flow my way for this early morning revival. I only know about the broadcast because it was mentioned in the weekly email the NZ Society of Authors sends out. I wonder how many other times it has been broadcast?

[Aside: The timing is interesting, coming after I posted about an English class in Germany having to read ‘Another Language’ in an exam situation last week…]

Playlist for the hopeless eclectics

'Year of the Cat' - Al Stewart
'Sink Ships' - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals*
'Barricade' - Stars
'My Rights Versus Yours' - The New Pornographers*
'Mirror People' - Monster Magnet versus Adrian Young
'Land of a thousand dances' - Wilson Pickett
'Hold on, I'm Comin'' - Sam and Dave
'Atari Baby' - Sigue Sigue Sputnik
'Splendid Isolation' - Warren Zevon*
'Marooned' - David Gilmore*

*Kinda have some connection to the section of THE NOVEL I am currently working on.

The enemy called time (or American Idol)

The chief problem with the novel as a literary form is one of timeliness. You spend so long writing and revising (and then it takes so long for it to wend its way from manuscript to published book) that you will inevitably be trumped and/or stymied by the real world in some way.

An example: I recently learnt that my protagonist shares his uncommon first name with a bad-haircut-sporting, Christian-music-enthusiast on the latest season of American Idol. The sort of contestant that, if he’s not eliminated in the next week or two, will turn his first name into a by-word for teen entitlement and bad musical taste for the next two years. Anyone reading a book next year with a main character with the same first name will instantly think of this contemporary flash in the pan and wonder if I stole his name.

My options:

1) Change my character’s name (thereby kowtowing to the evil that is American Idol and its insidious cultural reach)

2) Stand firm and:
      a) hope all is forgotten by the time my book comes out
      b) front foot it and claim I am using the contestant’s name and come up with something pithy and apropos to say about it (and delete this blog post)
      c) claim complete ignorance (and delete this blog post)

Hmm. Let’s go with 2a) for now…

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