The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Thackeray Poem

I wasted some time making this little graphic of Thackeray's 'Commanders of the Faithful.' His poetry is overlooked somewhat these days. Perhaps it always was, in comparison to his novels, but it appeals to me. I suppose some might consider this a tad politically incorrect by today's standards. I can't speak for any Turks but the Catholic in me certainly doesn't mind (nor the lover of wine!).



Monday, February 11, 2019

The Tenants, a poem

The Tenants

The Landlord’s come, we’re long overdue,
our debts are great, our assets few.
We can not pay, He’ll send us away —
our time here is thoroughly through.

That He has cause, never doubt;
He’s seen what mischief we’ve been about.
We cut the trees, we poisoned the seas,
and now He’s come to turn us out.

We’ve nothing left to pay the rent;
our capital has all been spent.
Yes, all our cash, on gaudy trash —
what we received as quickly went.

Oh, He’s been lenient, not strict,
and ever urged peace when we conflict,
but we made a mess and now I guess
there is no choice but to evict.

We’ve been the worst of tenants, it’s true,
a thankless and disreputable crew.
We broke the glass and killed the grass;
the Landlord’s come — we’re thoroughly through.

Stephen Brooke ©2019

Pretty much of a throwaway so I'm throwing it here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Wilk and the White Russians

Spending time (maybe too much time) researching the Russian Revolution and, in particular, the retreat of the White Army in Siberia. Why? For a future Wilk novel (probably the first, chronologically) that I am unlikely to write anytime soon. That's okay, the ideas I pick up now will work away in my head until I am ready to tackle the writing. I've already realized that the basic scenario I had worked out, Wilk passing through Siberia to China, is not going to be as smooth as I had envisioned, at least not if I set it in summer of 1919! But that may add more interest and adventure to the whole thing.

I am also looking into the aircraft involved, as Wilk was a pilot who served with Germany in WW1 (coming from the German-ruled part of Poland) and then with the Reds in the immediate post-war period. My first thought was that he would accompany a couple airplanes to China via railway but I see now that the lines through Siberia were still White-controlled during that time-frame. So he will have to fly at least part of the way, perhaps through the Turkestan area. All that will be worked out eventually and we can get to the main adventure...China!

Singularity, a poem

Singularity

The black hole at the center
of my galaxy
pulls in tomorrow, pulls
in the light of every
promised dawn. I spiral
inward, countless stars
drawn cascading in
my wake, all meaning, all
being, following.
It can not be seen.
It can not be named,.
It
but abides; it is.
The black hole swallows me.

Stephen Brooke ©2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

EBooks

I do not own a Kindle nor any other proprietary ebook reader. My ebook library is not in the ‘cloud’ but on my computer, where it belongs. I read them there or on a generic e-reader, in EPUB format.

The bulk of those electronic books are free ones I downloaded from Project Gutenberg. There are enough classics there to keep me busy the rest of my life, even if I did nothing but read all day. I admit that I have never purchased an ebook. If I have money for books, it will go to buying ones on paper.

And although I avoid doing business with Amazon, sometimes that is the only place to find a particular printed book. So be it; I am really too far from any bookstores to go browsing through them as I might once have. I like real printed books. That is why all my own titles are available in the form.

Of course, they may also be purchased as ebooks. Most of them; a few are simply not suited to the medium (such as my children’s picture book, ‘A Mouse is in the House’). My poetry titles are being withdrawn from sale as ebooks also, as I have mentioned before. The intention is to make them free, while continuing to offer print versions for those who desire them. I’ll get the links up when I’ve finished the process. That process includes creating new, better looked EPUBs myself, rather than relying on the online converter at my distributors site.

The problems with their conversion software helped bring me to this decision. I had to learn how to home-brew my own ebooks and now I’ve got it pretty well figured out. Not that I probably won’t take the easy way and convert my next novel online, if they get the new system working!

Addendum: Before I got around to posting this, I finished the transfer of the poetry ebooks to my site. They may be found and freely read and/or downloaded at http://insolentlad.com/ebooks/

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Montellano

There is a long tradition of placing fictional locations in novels that are otherwise realistic. This has been done across a wide range of genres. Towns, lakes, mountains have been created and dropped into areas that are otherwise real. Even countries, such as the Graustark of ‘The Prisoner of Zenda.’ There are — as with most things — advantages and drawbacks to this.

The greatest drawback is that the places are obviously unreal (unless they are recognizable as actual spots that have been renamed and disguised). This can strain belief for some readers. But then, the characters are not real people, as well, so why shouldn’t locations be the same? I have littered the Florida of my fiction with towns and such that do not actually exist. Many, admittedly, are based (however loosely) on real places. You are not going to find Cully Beach or Tamarind on any map. This was done primarily to give me some leeway in depicting the characters who live in those places.

I was faced with a decision on this sort of thing in my latest, “The Dictator’s Children” (out in May). Although I strove for authenticity through most of the novel, depicting Florida and Cuba in 1948, I chose to create a completely fictional Central American nation as the origin of the deposed (and dead) dictator of the title. If I had placed him in a real country it would have been historically inaccurate. Does this make the whole thing less realistic? Yes, of course it does — but it serves the story.

I do not actually name the nation in the book, though the capital city, ‘Montellano,’ pops up in a few places. The description of the countryside is fairly generic Central American; there are resemblances to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras. But it is none of these. Naturally, I did name it in my notes, even if I did not share that name. It is a good writing practice to know such things.

This was a major decision because it affects any future novels featuring my ‘Wilk’ protagonist, a Polish ex-pat who adventures through the Twentieth Century. Most of the projects I have envisioned for him are grounded in historical fact, but now I feel less need to set them amid completely real locations and events. I am aiming for authenticity, not historical accuracy.

So Montellano exists in the temperate central plateau of my fictional nation, and Wilk does visit the city, drinks the fine coffee grown in the lands that lie around it, visits the mines in the surrounding mountains. I have striven to make it as real a fictional location as possible, just as I would in my fantasy novels. I shall leave it to my readers to believe or disbelieve.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Naples

When Florida and the town of Naples appear in my latest novel, “The Dictator’s Children,” it is the ‘real’ Florida, not one of the fictional Floridas in which I set my other contemporary realistic work. Cully Beach, Ruby, Tamarind are all fictional towns, existing in versions of the state I created.

However, I attempted to make the Naples and Miami of “Dictator” as authentic as I could — as they existed in 1948. I grew up in Naples (largely) and knew some about its early days, when it was a unique place. Now, it is much like everywhere else in Florida.

The writing team of Mary and Jean James (my niece, ‘Mean Mary,’ and my sister) put out an action tale set in Naples a while back, “Sea Red, Sea Blue.” It was inevitable that a bit of that was in the back of my mind as I plotted my own book, and also that I would consciously try to avoid any similarities. It is the same town, even if set an half-century earlier, so there are bound to be some.

Will I ever return to Naples, the real Naples, in my fiction? I have no reason to set any other Wilk books there. “The Dictator’s Children” only passes through the town, so to speak, with the bulk of the story taking place in Havana, Miami, and Central America.

But Naples is a part of who I am. It is found in my poems. It exists, unnamed, in my other fiction. It is with me, even if it is nearly thirty years since I last saw the town or walked its beach. And it is probably better as a memory, revisited only in the words I write.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Murder in the Campground, a song

While coming up with ways to murder someone at a musical festival for a novel-in-development, I also came up with this song.

Murder in the Campground

verse 1:
It must be nearly midnight,
into your tent you creep,
with nothing on your mind
but a good night’s sleep.
But around each campfire
folks are carrying on;
you fear the way they’re going
they’ll keep it up till dawn.

verse 2:
They sure are mighty loud,
how can they make so much sound?
They’re keeping us all awake,
throughout the whole campground.
Isn’t there a lake over there?
Maybe they could be drowned —
if we weight them down
they might never be found!

chorus:
They could be...
bludgeoned with a banjo,
strangled with a string;
firewood is handy,
or just whatever you bring!
Each one could be fatal
and they’ll no longer sing;
they’ll not sit up all night
to make the banjo ring!

verse 3:
The saw mill and cane crusher
can dispose of a body;
they’re ’sposed to be educational,
so learn to think like John Gotti.
Or maybe we could stuff ’em
down the porta-potty;
plan the perfect murder in the campground —
don’t let your crimes be shoddy!

Stephen Brooke ©2019