Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What does post-modern mean?

Well, it means that a book is not written in the usual way.  In the case of 'The Search for Gabriella' the story is revealed in the usual prose, but also in screenplay form.  As below:


Tancred walks along the quay leading away from Gonzaga's palazzo.

Several berthed gondolas line the quay wall, side by side. Tancred steps into one.

A crossbow bolt thuds into the wood of the gondola.

Two masked men appear, swords drawn. They leap into the gondola, attack Tancred.

Tancred retreats to the next one, drawing his sword. They press him and he jumps to the next gondola. The gondolas sway and dip, sword blades flash in the dark, Tancred keeps his balance, holds them off. He sees Guido watching from a corner.

Two more masked men run up, one has a crossbow.

A GONDOLIER jumps into the gondola alongside Tancred's.

Jump aboard, Captain, and we'll
leave 'em behind.

Tancred lunges (his characteristic lunge) at his two assailants, they retreat, he quickly joins the gondolier.

The gondolier expertly shoves off, rapidly leaves the quay.

The four masked men jump into two other gondolas and begin the chase. The gondolas race alongside quays, through narrow walls, under low bridges.

Tancred's gondola makes good speed, but the others won't give up. The crossbowman fires again and again but it is too dark to be accurate.

They near the Bridge of Sighs.

Come back and pick me up.

As his gondola passes under the bridge, Tancred grasps the iron under-structure and heaves himself up.

He drops onto the first of the pursuing gondolas as it passes under the bridge, knocks the men into the canal.

His gondolier has expertly turned back. Tancred jumps aboard. The gondola races off. The assailants follow close, they won't give up.

The racing gondolas approach a junction with another canal.

Madonna just around the corner.

He swings the gondola round the corner, hugging a high wall. In the wall is a niche with a Madonna statue above a narrow shelf.

Tancred leaps onto the shelf. The enemy swing round the corner.

Tancred leaps onto their gondola, wounds the crossbowman, and punches the second man into the canal with the hilt of his sword.

His gondolier is back again and Tancred jumps aboard.

I'm almighty grateful.

Glad to be of help, Captain.
Where shall I drop you off?

Here. Thanks.

He gets out, hands him a small purse.

No need, Captain. It's already
taken care of.

What do you mean?

The client has already paid.

What client?

The one who sent me to find you.

Someone sent you to find me? Who
was it?

The gondolier shoves off.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

John Problem Interviewed.

Incho Blink interviews John Problem about 'The Search for Gabriella'.

IB:         You've said your book is a post-modern-novel.  
              What is the definition of post-modern in connection with a novel?

JP:          It means the author doesnt have to stick to the old ways of writing novels - with a hero, 
               a heroine, narrative and a clear-cut beginning and end.

IB:          So your new novel doesnt have any of those? 

JP:          Yes and no.  It has four or five heroes all of whom act independently, and it has four 

IB:          Does it have a narrative?

JP:          Actually, it has five narratives.

IB:          Five.  Right.  And where is it set?

JP:          In London, Venice, Prague and Abyssinia.

IB:          Abyssinia?

JP:          Yes, Abyssinia plays one of the seven key locations in the plot.

IB:          I forgot to ask you what type of novel it is - what genre?

JP:        Well. Its a mystery story.  And also an action/adventure story.  Its historical, but also      contemporary.  Its a romance - well, there are three romances in it.  And it jumps back and forth in time.  And it contains two screenplays. 

IB:         It certainly is unusual!

Monday, June 15, 2015

In Gin Lane, London

Opposite the stone cross, Forland and the girl turn into a large, glittering gin-shop. The bar, elegantly carved, extends the whole width of the long wall and on each side there are great casks, painted green and gold, enclosed within a brass rail and labelled for the different varieties of gin, 'Old Tom 549', 'Young Tom 360', 'Samson 1421'.  Beyond the bar, is a lofty and spacious saloon.  On a counter in the middle are little baskets of cakes and biscuits, continuously renewed by a garishly dressed woman wearing a faded feather hat. 
Forlan looks around admiringly.  One wall of the saloon is hung with a jumbled collection of bric-a-brac and military paraphernalia.  Swords and lances (all firmly secured), breast-plates, shakoes, copper pans and pots, a few small paintings in dirty wooden frames, pieces of textile with Arabic writing, a saddle bag and, proudly situated in the middle, a poor but colourful painting of a mounted soldier. 
Forlan and the girl sit at a table and he orders a half-quartern of gin and peppermint. 
Forlan says "Art hungry?"  She nods.  Forlan orders soft biscuits.  When the gin arrives, the girl dips her fingers in it and wipes her face clean. She sips from her pot.
"Ugh!" she says. "I don't like that!"  Forlan sighs and beckons the waiting-woman. 
"Does your Old Tom have all the right herbs in it?" he asks.
"Oh yes, sir. All of 'em is present." 
"Then bring us a pot," says Forlan.
"What 'erbs is that, then," asks the girl.
"Juniper, angelica, coriander, cardomon and orange peel," Forlan tells her.  "You will like that, I warrant." 
"I dunno," she says, dubiously. "Still. 'Tis a frolick, mister.  Bein' with you, 'ere."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Are modern novels different from older novels?

One of the the big literary questions is - is there much of a difference between novels today and those of the past?  Maybe.  In the past the great writers kept to a limited number of locales.  Dickens in London, Wharton in New York and Boston, James in London and Paris, Joyce in Dublin, Dumas in Paris, and so on.  Well, mostly... 
If a novel has many locales, does that make it more interesting?   'The Search for Gabriella' is located in several different places;  the Abyssinian hills, two of Venice's palaces, a hotel in Liberech (that's a small town in the Czech Republic), Old Prague, The Rivoli Bar in the Ritz, and Gin Lane in London, an art gallery, two restaurants, an army camp....  

In fact, in addition to all these settings, 'The Search for Gabriella' is a novel with a difference in that it includes two screenplays.  So it's not too much in the old style and that's probably why it's been called a post-modern novel.  Does including two screen-plays ennoble it with such a fancy title?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A brief commercial....

...... with reviews of 'The Search for Gabriella':

"This book is unusual - set in different time periods with different sets of characters, but the theme that runs through it is really clever and keeps you hooked til the end. I liked it because it isn't just one thing - it's a mystery, there's adventure and quite a bit of romance too.

I found it very entertaining. It has a happy ending - I thought perhaps it might not! I love all the characters that pop up - especially Shakespeare and Ben Johnson - how did they elbow their way in?! And all that fighting - reminded me of The Musketeers! Like Dr Who's Tardis,the book ranges over many lands and centuries but brings us safely home at the end. Very ingenious.

Do you like to run, take part in a race? then this book will feed your energy. The quest to find a Venetian picture marked with a Z runs from Venice to London, in time from 1470 to modern day via a writing style bubbling with vigour. Flick the early pages, rest occasionally with longer sentences, but dash through subtle humour to arrive back at the beginning with a taste of art hunting, enjoy John Problem's distinct style.

The Search for Gabriella is indeed a good read. It is fast paced, well rooted in its subject, with very good descriptions, colourful, keeps the tension right through to the dénouement and leaves the reader with a happy ending.
Humour is sometimes overt but never far from the surface. The author seems to be enjoying the story as much as the reader and adds twists and turns into the plot without losing the thread of the story.
Most enjoyable for the mind and the imagination without being too challenging.

Romp of a story - covering many interesting periods and styles of writing.
Good background information - doesn't patronise the reader.
A quick read - would be equally good if specialist areas were amplified - though I imagine Mr. Problem would not want to hold the action and tension up.
Hitchcock would have loved to direct this."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Bit About Captain Speedy - Who Helped Save Gabriella.

 Captain Charles Tristram Speedy was actually a well-known explorer, adventurer and army officer.  A big fellow, 6 foot 6 inches tall, red-haired and 'built like Hercules.' 
Before they married, Captain Speedy had played an important part in the British government's expedition to Abyssinia of 1868. This expedition was sent to rescue the British Consul who had been imprisoned by the Abyssinian Emperor Theodorus. The Emperor considered himself insulted because a letter he sent to Queen Victoria had not been answered. 
Captain Speedy never wrote anything about Abyssinia, although he gave a speech to a girls' school in London which was written up by one of the girls present.
 "A certain Captain Speedy has just returned from Abyssinia and gave us an amusing talk about it. He won our gratitude when he ended by saying, 'I understand that you girls have to write an account of my talk to you. Well, the very word Abyssinia means confusion, because the races are confused, the religion is confused, the mountains and valleys are confused and I know that I am confused in addressing so many girls.  So the more confused your accounts are, the better they will represent the country and the lecture."
He was also a bit of a poet and wrote some lines for his intended, Cornelia, entitled, 'The Inventory of a Captain's Room': 
'A large battered sofa, four feet at the head,
By day made a couch, by night is a bed,
A mould to cast bullets, a couple of flutes,
The bowl of a pipe and an old pair of boots.
Three swords and one scabbard, a box of cigars,
Some Lundy Foote's snuff and Brown Windsor in bars,
A letter from home and a library book,
An old hat and a powder-horn hung on a hook.
A fine cambric glove, a lock of dark hair,
Both highly prized gifts of some lady fair.'