Category Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

Friday Quick Fic: Dead Men Don’t Make Toast

This is an experiment.  I don’t think its a poem, but its not prose either.  Its Post Reichenbach – Sherlock’s dogged determination to break down John’s resistance.  This fic will not be published elsewhere.  Please comment, I want to know what to do with this to polish it more.  Thanks

Dead Men Don’t Make Toast

I.

‘You’re dead!’  John shouted and slammed the front door.

Sherlock picked the lock.

II.

Sherlock made tea.

‘You’re dead,’ John snapped.

The tea sat there, and grew cold.

Sherlock made another one.

That grew cold too.

III.

John curled up under the covers.

Foetal.

Sherlock pulled the duvet up around John’s shoulder.

‘Go away, you’re dead,’ John muttered.

IV.

Sherlock made toast.

John said, ‘Dead men don’t make toast.’

Sherlock had to agree.

V.

They were running out of milk.

What with all the cold tea, and everything.

Sherlock went out and bought more.

And some other bits they needed.

John said, ‘Dead men don’t go food shopping.’

VI.

Sherlock made tea.

‘You’re dead, go away,’ said John.

But he drank the tea.

VII.

Sherlock warmed the pizza in the oven.

It was pepperoni, John’s favourite.

‘Dead men don’t make pizza,’ John said, as he chewed resentfully.

VIII.

That night was cold.

John shivered under the duvet.

Sherlock kicked off his shoes and climbed in.

Wrapped John in his long arms and his tweed overcoat.

John said, ‘I hate you.  Go away, you’re dead.’

IX.

In the morning, Sherlock made toast.

John said, ’You make a lot of toast for a dead man.’

X.

John made tea.

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Enjoy your weekend – I’m off on my writers retreat!  See you Monday xxx

EF

Friday Quick Fic

51989793_SHark_224346cBecause I’m still feeling unable to do much, I came up with a new feature, the Friday Quick Fic.  The idea is to share a short fanfic with you which has not been through my usual polishing process.  Just something off the top of my head which I think you might like.

Today’s Quick Fic is a ‘BBC Sherlock’ fanfic, something I knocked off this morning, between naps, and is inspired by my husband, who has a ‘shark bite’ of his own.

Shark

John first noticed it when Spring came, and Sherlock started swanning around the house in his sheet.  A ragged scallop of raised keloid tissue that scooped around Sherlock’s right elbow.

‘Shark bite,’ Sherlock said, with surprising nonchalance.

John examined it.  The scarring was deep, and he could even see the indentations of those cruel razor teeth.

‘Holiday in South Africa when I was in my teens.  I was swimming, and the next thing I knew this shark had my arm in its mouth.  I punched it on the nose, and it let go.’  He shrugged, as if it were an everyday occurrence, and then regaled John with details of the beast’s species, hunting habits and vulnerabilities – namely the aforesaid sensitive nose.

John found out the truth a few months later, during one of Mycroft’s little episodes of abduction.  The subject of Sherlock’s sojourn in South Africa came up, and Mycroft laughed.

‘Oh, God, he’s been telling that stupid shark story again!  Sherlock’s never been to South Africa!’

John scowled, but put his head on one side, curious about the truth.

‘It was one summer when he was about twelve.  He was told not to go playing in one of the woods on the estate because of the forestry going on there.  Felling trees and so on – it was dangerous.  But being Sherlock, he went anyway.  Typically, he didn’t get crushed by a falling tree.  He fell off his bike, and got his arm tangled up in some barbed wire in a hedge instead.  Cut it to ribbons, terrible mess.

‘Father was absolutely furious, wouldn’t even look at him because he had disobeyed, insisted it was just a graze and Sherlock was making a ridiculous fuss over nothing.  Wouldn’t take him to have it stitched either, and Mummy couldn’t drive, so she just had to bandage it up as best she could.  Of course, it healed badly, and left that dreadful scar.

‘When he went back to school after the vac, the other boys saw it and wanted to know how he got it.  So he made up that silly story about the shark.  It got him quite a lot of attention to begin with, but of course, being Sherlock, he overplayed his hand, and got too full of himself, and that was the end of his brief acclaim.’

Afterwards, John thought for a long time.  He thought about the barbed wire.  He thought about the spotted marks around the fat ribbon of raised, whitened flesh that looked like the marks from sharks teeth.  He was a doctor, and he knew about scarring and healing, and what kind of depth of wound would leave a mess like that.  He thought about the boys at the school.  And then he thought about the kind of father who, out of pique, would neglect the proper attention that a wound like that would require.

John never mentioned Sherlock’s fantasy visit to South Africa again to anyone.  But he always referred to Sherlock’s scar as a shark bite.  Because in his opinion, that was exactly what it was.

Happy weekend to you all,

EF

Gratuitous Birthday Post

Hi! Its my birthday today, and I promised myself I wouldn’t do any work.  Of course, I meant to prepare a lovely, informative and entertaining post that I could just upload in a trice, but it didn’t happen.  I am really struggling with the concept of preparing posts ahead of time.  It just doesn’t seem to work with my spontaneous side.  But never mind.  For today, I am not going to worry about it.  I’m just going to show you a little glimpse of my present haul – I’m a VERY lucky girl!

birthday prss 1Can you spot the theme?  I think you’d probably have to be a serious fangrrl like me to get the hedgehog socks connection!  (Oh, and the Benedict Cumberbatch card made by a friend says ‘Happy Birthday, Gorgeous Lady!’  in case you can’t see it in the photo.)

benny card

Anyway, I the spirit of celebrating what I have achieved in the last year, which is a lot, believe me, here is a link to my fanfiction.  If you haven’t read it before, happy reading.

Love, EF

New Fanfic Story: An Anatomy of Intimacy

john and sherlockI am struggling to avoid my brain leaking out of my right eyeball just now because of a migraine, but I felt I needed to post today to say ‘Hi!’, and so I thought I would draw your attention to a new story I have put up!

It’s called ‘An Anatomy of Intimacy’, and is a companion piece to my earlier work, ‘Personal Geography’.

I’ve been playing about with a little toy project, just a bit of fun to keep my brain working.  This involves writing short pieces exploring the reality of John and Sherlock’s life together in an established relationship.  The idea is to create a few little windows into life behind closed doors at 221B.  These aren’t supposed to be regular things, or part of an ongoing story, just an occasional morsel of something intended to illustrate the profound connection between them.

I hope you like them.

Happy reading,

EF

How to Write: Write what you know, or not…

writing books

Most books on how to write will tell you this:  write what you know.

If you have some major area of expertise, they say, you should use that as a background for your novels.  Dick Francis, a famous jockey, wrote crime novels set against the backdrop of the horse-racing world, with spectacular success.  John Grisham was a criminal lawyer and politician before publishing fabulously successful legal thrillers.  Agatha Christie drew on her war work as a hospital dispenser when writing her detective fiction.  All of these authors, and many more, have made huge successes of writing about what they know.

BUT –

(And the word BUT has a bit of fairy dust in it that magically negates everything that comes before it, have you noticed that?)

I once heard novelist Rachel Cusk at a reading on the subject.  She was stridently against the idea of writing about what you know.  She said words to the effect of:

‘You know, we write fiction, and the clue is in the name.  Fiction.  It means we make it up.’

Take a moment to think about this:  the genre of science fiction would never have been invented if we only wrote about what we know.  No one has travelled across the Universe of the star ship USSS Enterprise, after all.  Fancy a world without ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Game of Thrones’?  That would be the logical conclusion.

And what about crime?  Yes, I agree there are a number of very talented writers producing procedural crime novels who have a background in criminal pathology or forensics, but how many truly great crime writers have actually personally killed someone? (None, we hope.)

‘Write what you know’ does not, therefore, take account of the most wonderful asset we have, the thing that makes human beings extraordinary amongst all the myriad of life on this planet:

Imagination

Imagination enables us to fly beyond the stars at warp speed, fight dragons with broadswords, fall in love with Benedict Cumberbatch and have him love us back.  And all in our lunch break.  Think about it –who really wants to write about their day job when they can write about this stuff?

There is, of course, a caveat.  Sometimes you need to do research.  And research is a double-edged sword on which you fall at your own peril:

I wrote a book set in London.  I have not lived in London.  I gave it to a friend to read, and he was a Londoner, born and bred.  He asked me about the car chase – Where are they?  Where are they going?  What road are they on?  He was frustrated because he knew the city well and he could not orient himself within the action.  I had not done my research and I did not know the setting well enough to wing it.  The novel collapsed for the reader as a result.

The opposite is true.  I wrote this story, set partly in Oxford, a city I know well and visit often.  I was able to undertake the depicted walk myself, just to be sure I had the details and the route right.  The result was a story that was adored by readers who knew the city too.  I had a personal email from one who was delighted that memories of her student days had been rekindled by my work.

So, getting the details right is important.  If you don’t, you can look like an idiot who doesn’t know what he is talking about, and the credibility of your story collapses.

BUT

(Fairy dust again.)

There is such a thing as having too much detail.  The first novel I wrote was set in the Iron Age, around 230BC, on the Newbury Downs.  It is not an area I know well, though I have driven through it.  And I have no background in archaeology or prehistory, so I had to research it all myself.  It took me seven years to finish it, and I gave up doing word counts after 250,000.  I knew too much.  I had too much detail – there are things I know about Iron Age saddles that normal human beings really shouldn’t know.  It’s doubtful that any reader would care.

And yes, you always get the odd accuracy fiend who emails you to say (puts on squeaky voice) ‘Er, the spoon your hero was using in scene 23?  Well, those kinds of spoons were not invented till three hundred years after the date you posit…’ etc etc.  But those are not your average readers.  Unless you write sci-fi, in which case you had damn well know your warp cores from your improbability drives.

“The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.”

-Benjamin Disraeli

The point I am trying to make here is this:  Ignore the advice.

Write what you want to write.

Write what you need to write.

(And if you have to, do the research.)

I promise to talk more about research in a future post, but in the meantime, do this:

Write the novel you want to read.

Happy creating,

EF

Outflow: New FanFiction!

ginger catYou can now read daily portions of my new fanfic, ‘The Melted Man’, here at A03, or here at FF.net.

‘The Melted Man’ is my version of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, ‘The Crooked Man’, updated to take account of the Iraq war.  Its a bit of a new departure for me, effectively adapting a story, and its more of a mystery than a romance, which is what I am used to writing.

And yes, I am copping out of writing today’s Journal Friday post, partly because I have a cold, and partly because I think presenting new writing is just as important, if not more so.  I’ve got half a dozen story ideas rattling around my brain at the moment, plus a new novel idea forming, which is a bit scary. since I’ve already got two in process at the moment.  I am being drawn towards writing something about grief, but I probably need to get something finished and under my belt first.  A bird in the hand and all that.  I’ll let you know how I am getting on.

In the meantime, here is a little excerpt from ‘The Melted Man’ to tempt your appetite:

“‘Well, difficult one, this one,’ Professor James-not-Bunsen-Honeydew said, grinding his palms together awkwardly.  ‘I’d definitely say he died because his heart stopped.  Beyond that, it gets a little problematic.’

‘Everybody dies because their heart stops,’ Sherlock snapped.  ‘Can’t you be more specific?’  He shot John his ‘what am I doing out here in this godforsaken rustic backwater – you’d better be bloody grateful is all I can say’ glare.

‘First off, there are no marks on the body, no sign of disease, puncture wounds or congenital heart defects,’ James went on.  ‘I’ve run the standard tox screens, which have all come back negative.  I’ve sent off a second panel, more specific to poison indicators, but to be frank, I don’t expect any positive hits on those either.  Colonel Cornforth was as fit as a fiddle.  Possibly fitter.  And then, well, there’s this-‘

He pulled back the sheet, revealing the late Colonel Cornforth’s head and shoulders.

John had to look away.  He had seen far too many corpses that looked like that.  Frankly, even one was too many.

Jeffries gasped, ‘Jesus!’ under his breath.”

Happy reading,

EF

On Process: A Room of One’s Own

In this new series of posts, On Process, we will talk a little about discovering your own creativity cycles, and how best to optimise them.  We’ll start with the most basic requirement: space.

Virginia Woolf coined the term ‘A Room of One’s Own’ in her book of the same name, in which she explored creativity and feminism.  Her thesis is that in order to be a serious artist, you have to have dedicated private space in which to work.  While I don’t think this is entirely true – many great books have been written at kitchen tables, for instance – I think it is an important consideration, and it really does help.

These days I am lucky enough to have a room of my own.

My study 1As you can see, its a mess.  Currently, it has a very nasty case of piles. (Piles of paper and junk, that is.)  The fact that it has become such a dumping ground, to the extent that I am now doing most of my writing sitting downstairs on the sofa, and I’m not doing any painting at all, is an important barometer for how much value I am attaching to my own art and writing practise.  In other words, not much.

One of my goals is to revamp my study.  This is because I need a Room of My Own.  Psychologically, I need to recognise my right to my own creative independence, and that is what my study signifies to me.  I need to make a gift to my creative self of a loving and beautiful space in which to make my dreams happen.  Its hard to claim that right, but I’m working on it.

You may not have the luxury of your own space, in which case, I sympathise because I spent many years in the same position, sharing a desk in the corner of our dining room with my husband.  (Even though he had his own office at work – not that I’m bitter, you understand!)  Still, there are ways to mark out some territory that you can call your own, a space where you feel totally free to create as you want.  That may be a corner of a shared room, the luxury of an actual studio, garden shed or study, or if you are not so territorial as I am, maybe a favourite table at a local cafe where you go to write, think or journal.

Where ever you choose, consider this space as not only a private area, safe from others, but also as sacred to your art – whatever form that takes.  When you go there, it should signal to your Artist Brain  that it is time to create.

Light candles, perhaps, and if you are so inclined, make a little altar to attract creative energy.  Surround yourself with pretty, evocative things.  Get some nice stationary and writing instruments.  A few pebbles can be delicious to handle and look at.  Make some inspiring signs to stick up, to remind yourself that you are entitled to this, that your voice is unique and deserves to be heard.  A painting that you like, objects that have emotional value for you, some nice furniture if you can afford it (I would love a comfy armchair to read in for my study), a noticeboard with inspiring images on it, wll all help to make even a small corner your own.

My Study 2In this picture of my study, you can see some of the things I cherish as part of my creative process.  (Sorry for the small lettering, I haven’t quite got the hang of Paint yet!)

I got the lovely chair for my birthday last year.  I’d never had a special, proper chair for my home office before. It still feels like an outrageous luxury!  There are fairy lights in the shape of roses around the window, which are nice when I am writing at night, as I usually prefer to.  There is my collection of books about writing, and books for reference, my Image Box for inspiration, and of course, my much cherished Benedict Cumberbatch calendar, which my adored niece made by hand for me last year.  On my desk, I keep a framed photograph of Virginia Woolf herself, because she is such an inspiration to me, both as a writer and as a person.

Try to carve out some personal space within your home environment to dedicate to your creativity.  Even if you are only able to keep your journals in a favourite tote bag down the side of the sofa to use when you can, it still counts.  It will help to enhance your creative process, and enable you to battle those critical voices that tell you your work isn’t good enough.

I’ll keep you updated on my efforts to reclaim my study from the mess and make it a place to snuggle down in to create.