Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Rock Music, Stage Diving and a Fire Crew - It's the Clash Launch Party

Thursday 3rd March was one of the craziest nights of my life. Rather than launch the book in a shop or library, I booked a theatre and got local teen rock band, Hell's Marauders, to play.

There were a few surprises during the night. The first was the cake Paula had made, with the full clash cover printed on the icing. The second was the fire engine in the car park.The third was being dragged up on stage to sing Anarchy in the UK with the band.

I think I might be the first author to do a stage dive at a launch party.

The fire crew were there thanks to Nev. Nev gave me some help on a few technical details in the novel. He was on call on Thursday night but wanted to come along, so he turned up in a fire engine with the whole crew.

Catnip editor Non Pratt got up to do a truly wonderful introduction, then I jumped up, grabbed the mike and screamed out, "HELLO FATFIELD!" - proper rockstar style!

I calmed down enough to do a short talk about YA fiction and a reading of chapter one. The band played punk and metal tracks while I signed books. When the books sold out, the band (Cai, Lewis, Mich & Simon) came over to tell me their suprise idea of getting me up to sing a Sex Pistols track with them - a childhood dream come true!

Many thanks to everyone who turned up: workmates, friends and family - some I haven't seen for years. All in all, the launch night of legend.


has landed!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bloody Mary

I was hit with a real sense of nostalgia today when a few of the boys in Year 5 (9-10 year olds) told me of their fab new game.

‘It’s called Bloody Mary,’ one boy said. ‘We do it in the toilets. You stand in front of the mirror, then turn three times and say “Bloody Mary,” for each turn. If you do it right, you see Bloody Mary in the mirror and get scratches right down your back.’

‘Have any of you done it?’

One replied, ‘Yeah! I did.’

‘Did it work?’

He checked his mates’ faces before answering. ‘Not yet.’

The reason for my nostalgia was twofold. When I was at school we had a game just like this. We told each other that if we said the Lord’s Prayer backwards, while looking in a mirror, we’d see the face of the devil. It was a kind of a rite of passage. Most of us of were too scared to do it. Those who did... well, we never knew whether to believe what they said they saw, but the plain fact that they had done it made them somehow different. Not just a little bit braver, but wiser. They’d gone through something and come out the other side. And it felt like they had the upper hand.

Twenty six years later, I wrote that all down. That seed of an idea, the idea that boys need to face their own fears to gain maturity, grew into my very first novel: CLASH.

So if people ever ask where ideas come from, in my case, it’s the daft things I did - or was too scared to do - as a kid.

Colin Mulhern

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Child Snatchers and White Vans

Lock your doors. Shut your windows. Turn out the lights.

No matter what, don’t... DON’T... leave the house.

This was the advice of a Year 5 girl yesterday morning, backed up by a group of friends, because... (cue haunting music) There is a man driving a white van, with blacked out windows, who is abducting kids from the streets around our school!!!!

Not true, of course. It’s an Urban Legend: the kind of story that sounds real, usually because the teller says something like: ‘It happened to a friend of my mam!’ hence their other name, Friend-of-a-Friend stories. Usually, the more macabre, the better.

When I was a kid I knew loads of these stories, and took great pleasure in scaring the hell out of kids bigger than me. Once, on a school trip away, when we were all supposed to be tucked up in bed, I reduced the hardest kid in the school to tears with a series of ghost stories that I swore were true. (Years later, this inspired a scene in CLASH).

I think the reason Urban Legends work so well is that because they are word of mouth, they come across as a shared secret, and in being told as, ‘it’s true – this definitely, definitely happened, honest!’ they have a stronger affect our imagination and natural fear of the unknown. You’re left thinking that if it happened to the kid in the story, it could happen to you.

And Urban Legends don’t just freak kids out. I’ve heard many, many stories told to me by adults, convinced they are true; convinced they have happened to a friend of a sister at college, or an Aunty out shopping, including such classics as:

  • The escaped lunatic hiding in the car

  • The axe under the driver’s seat

  • The flat mate’s scarf

  • The babysitters and the killer upstairs.

The internet has created new versions: Michael Jackson’s ghost on YouTube is a big hit (in the eighties it was the ghost in Three Men and a Baby, and further back there is the ghost in The Wizard of Oz, later debunked when the DVD showed it to be nothing more than a bird stretching its wings!). The April Fool’s Day virus is an annual event, and 9/11 resulted in hundreds of urban legends of terror plots and government conspiracy.

Basically, if there’s something you can gossip about that makes someone else look first in disbelief and then horror, then you’re halfway there.

Of course, this didn’t help the year 5 girls with their fear of the white van. One girl was in tears at the prospect of going home that day. Telling her it was just a story wasn’t enough. Luckily, I found an Australian newspaper reporting the very same story back in May. I showed her the most important line in the report:

Two days later, police informed the media that the attempted abduction report was false, that the young girl had made it up.

‘See how stories spread? It’s taken 5 months for that story to get from Australia to here.’

She finally nodded and agreed not to spend any more time worrying.

But there is another side to that story; the real curse of the Urban Legend...

If there is someone in our local area, driving a with a white van with blacked out windows, the poor bloke is probably wondering why groups of kids are pointing and screaming whenever he drives past.

colin mulhern