Friday, 31 October 2014

Out of Bounds: First Review in French

My first review in French, courtesy of Léa Touch Book. Thank you, Léa.

French Touch : A very good thriller, an endearing main character, a fierce humor, an intriguing investigation and end on a high note ! All the ingredients for a great reading !

Chronique : J'avais une légère appréhension à relire en anglais après quelques mois d'abstinence mais cela c'était sans compter la  plume efficace et le récit porteur d'Out of Bounds.

J'ai tout de suite plongé dans ce polar, notamment grâce à son protagoniste principale Kyle. C'est un être très touchant, qui représente une véritable antithèse entre ce qu'il est et ce qu'il fait parfois mais c'est avant tout au travers de son humour que je me suis attachée. J'aime sincèrement l'ironie des pensées du héros, son sens du sarcasme parfois qui nous permet dans des moments de tension romanesque, de continuer à voir la petite lueur d'espoir. On ressent une vraie empathie pour ce personnage du fait de ses motivations humaines voire altruistes, celles du quotidien : subvenir aux besoins de sa famille.

Au-delà de Kyle, l'auteur nous présente un autre protagoniste : Bornholm, le flic. Un être intègre, qui va au fur et à mesure analyser en enquêter sur les événements dans lesquels est impliqué Kyle. L'auteur mélange savamment le point de vue, les doutes, les peurs de Kyle avec les investigations externes du policier.

Autre point que j'ai aimé, ce sont les flashbacks, plus particulièrement celui de la rencontre entre Kyle et sa femme, Simon Duke va au-delà du simple policier, il écrit un authentique roman avec une enquête mais aussi des émotions. Ma lecture m'a fait penser d'ailleurs à La Défense Lincoln de Michael Connelly : livre que j'ai adoré !

L'écriture est à l'image du livre : efficace, sensible, bien menée. Out of bounds est peut-être un premier roman mais certainement pas le dernier ! La fin est vraiment parfaite et conclue très bien l'ensemble.

En définitive, si vous souhaitez lire en V.O., si vous adorez les polars efficaces avec une pointe d'émotions : Out of bounds est fait pour vous !

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Gone Girl: Book vs Movie. The winner is…

When it comes to comparing a book and a movie based on a book, the book nearly always prevails. When talking about emotional experiences, I can’t think of many instances where a movie is superior to a book. You have blatant examples which showcase the fact that books can be infinitely better than their on-screen adaptations ('Da Vinci Code' comes to mind). Now one may argue that books and movies are inherently different mediums and shouldn’t be intended to convey the same experience, but let me expose a few ideas anyway.

The simple reason why books prevail over movies is because if you read the book first, you’ve already created the picture in your mind. After all, you’ve spent time reading the book (days, perhaps weeks even) and it was more than a mere 90-minute popcorn-eating commitment. You are convinced that your picture is the right picture. And no matter how talented a movie director can be, his vision of what the picture looks like, is nothing like yours. In your mind he gets it all wrong. That’s what makes reading a truly unique and personal experience. Not one reader shares the same vision.

This is also the feedback I’m picking up for ‘Out of Bounds’. People who have read my book are marked by different scenes and read different meanings. A friend once said if my book should be made into a movie, he’d see Colin Farrell as Kyle. Others would certainly disagree and would cast a less ‘manly’ actor for the part.

The multiple reading experiences make books exciting. And this applies to you too. You may read a book today, love it, and then return to it ten years later. You might continue to love it but for different reasons or simply due to a change of context in your own life; or not like it as much because you have read other books in the meantime which you’d qualify as superior.

There is also the issue of character depth and plot complexity. Naturally you cannot convey all the book’s twist and turns, huge cast, and characters’ thoughts and actions into a 90-120 minute motion picture. Cuts have to be made, screenplays have to be tweaked, and plots simplified to a certain extent. That’s part of the game, and you can’t really dislike movie adaptations for that reason alone.

After having read and really enjoyed the book by Gillian Flynn about a year or so ago, yesterday I saw ‘Gone Girl’ at the local cinema. And this is what inspired me to pen down the above.

Here, I will not discuss the differences between the book and the movie, as this has been done by other reviewers and bloggers already. However, I noted one serious flaw: Nick's first-person narrative in the movie is gone, and so we lose much of his complexity and equally twisted nature. I saw Amy as the most evil of the two and her transformation into a monster peaked when she “disposed of” former boyfriend, the obsessive Desi.

I wouldn’t say ‘Gone Girl’ is a woman-hating movie (that would be taking things too far) but the result is that the movie seems to be on Nick's side from the start, thus sort of making the case for him. Thanks to Nick's first-person narrative in the book, a status-quo dynamic is maintained and the reader doesn’t really know whom to root for.

‘Gone Girl’ is not a bad movie by any means. Had I not read the novel, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. What is there not to like? Fincher is a brilliant director (remember Alien 3, Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, The Social Network?…). The cinematography is slick and a feast for the eye. The score by the always great Trent Reznor was weaved in pretty neatly. Ben Affleck as Nick was a good choice and he played the part convincingly well. Rosamund Pike's turn as the sadistic, calculating and often-whispering Amy was spot on too.

The overall result was good and I’d recommend it. Furthermore, I liked it despite previously knowing about the twists and turns. So if you too have read the book, you might be of the same opinion. If you haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s novel, then your experience should be even more rewarding. But bear this in mind: Fincher's film is like a well-polished and stylish synopsis: informative and engaging. But Flynn's novel is the whole psychologist's case study, the full picture in some way.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Building Castles and Shit-Scrubbing

The ball is no longer in my court. I have passed on the manuscript to my trusted proof-reader as well as to a dear friend with whom I bounced off ideas and storyline progression during the whole writing process. I have finally shared my newborn creative offspring with a closed circle of people.

After the necessary cosmetic and structural changes to the book I anticipate carrying over in the coming month or two, I will be able to share my work beyond this closed circle and test the waters with literary agents, or why not with publishers who invite authors to submit their manuscripts directly to them. I say necessary, because no matter how many times you read your own work, there are always corrections to be made. After the third read, your eyes are blinded and less critical of what's written. As Ernest Hemingway elegantly put it, "the first draft of anything is shit." So with the editing work and shit-scrubbing ahead of us, I'm going to be realistic and aim for January-February 2015 for the novel's submission. Quite annoyed with myself, I actually missed the boat with a recent HarperCollins initiative entitled "Killer Reads". My manuscript was 90% complete, but it was too late to meet their deadline! All is not lost, though. Apparently they will be opening their doors for submissions again. I may have another opportunity further down the line.

Needless to say my approach with agents this time will be different. This is my second book and I have learnt lessons with the first one. I know where many of my strengths and weaknesses lie, and I've taken into account a lot of the feedback with regard to 'Out of Bounds'. Furthermore, I can demonstrate that I've been through the whole process before and that I oversaw everything a publication entails. I can even prove it by sending the agents to the weblinks for 'Out of Bounds'. This time I enter the fray with more confidence and experience. I also have more of a social media presence than before I published 'Out of Bounds', and I have a larger network of contacts than before. All bodes well.

Naturally my work doesn't stop here. To ensure I get a proper chance with the agents and publishers, I have to pen down a cover-letter as well as a plot synopsis to hook the reader. The latter is especially difficult. It's like an administrative submission form: if everything isn't in order, the agent might not want to check your manuscript, and reject your enquiry. However, contrary to a bureaucratic submission form, the synopsis must be entertaining and well-written, while remaining short and sweet. It's an opportunity to showcase the strengths of your novel and direct the reader's attention to what you think makes the book so great.

Besides the synopsis and cover-letter, I'm planning a few short stories before I begin a third novel. Writers & Artists have another competition on the theme 'Joy' and their deadline is February 2015. I've also been asked to write a story for the Christmas edition of a local magazine. So I'll be busy writing and imagining, imagining stories and interesting characters or situations I want to write about, bringing some of these ideas to life, and hell, why not have one of those revelatory moments when I realise I have substance to commence a new book.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau