Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ian Bone

Today I'm going to learn about the author Ian Bone.

I have one of his books on my bookshelf. It's a middle reader thing called Fast Forward: A Dangerous Secret. I don't remember reading it, but I guess I did.

Then there's another Ian Bone book that I do remember reading. The Song of an Innocent Bystander. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember liking it a lot. I also remembered vaguely that it had something to do with a hostage situation.

This morning I decided to search through my blog for Ian Bone's name— see if I blogged about reading the book.

I did. I found a post from November 14, 2011.  I wrote:

The villain in the story is arrogant and violent bully. I hate that I could relate to some of his feelings early on in the book. I guess we all have a dark side. And all humans, even the worst ones, have aspects of themselves that are relatable. I can't relate to wanting to bully people. But I can relate to being angry at people, and angry at society. Instead of holding people hostage at fast food restaurants, I bitch on my blog.

Yeah. I can sometimes relate to alienated, ostracized villains. It's not their feelings that separate me from them. It's their actions.

Later, in the same post, I talk about relating to the victim of the hostage-taker. He's verbally abused, and it reminded me of the time that people in the blogging community treated me in an awful way. I went on a rant about that.

Then I finished reading the book and went to Ian Bone's website. I liked what Ian Bone looked like, because he reminded me of Buster Baxter from Arthur.  I'll probably go back to that website today. I wonder if I'll still see the Buster Baxter resemblance.

For now, I'm going to pay a visit to Lord Wiki.

Well, I see there's another Ian Bone. He's an anarchist from the UK.

Lord Wiki says the Australian Ian Bone was born in Geelong in 1956.  Next year, he'll be sixty.

The Song of an Innocent Bystander might be turned into a film. That would be nice. Probably.

Besides writing, Ian Bone also works in the television industry. He helps with making children shows.

Lord Wiki says Bone lives in Adelaide. He's married and has three kids. I wonder if they're adult kids by now.

Anyway, that's it for Lord Wiki.

Where should I go next?

Lord Wiki has a link to Ian Bone's website, but it doesn't seem to be working.  He does have a blog, though. Maybe he replaced the website with the blog.

I made an author website, but I got rid of it a few weeks ago. I felt there was no point in it.  I have my Amazon page, my Goodreads page, this blog, etc. I didn't really need a whole other website. And besides, I found it hard to work with it. It wasn't easy to update. It's much easier to update a blog.

That being said, I sell about one book a month. If I'm lucky. So I can't say that what I'm doing (or not doing) has brought me much success.

From what I see on Ian Bone's blog, he didn't stick with it long. It looks like there are only four posts, and he posted them all in November 2008.        

The introductory post says: After ten years of writing books for young readers and young adults, and almost as long teaching creative writing in workshops and at university, I wanted to offer something back to the writing community. So this blog will not be about what I’m thinking or doing on the weekend… This blog is for anyone who wants to write fiction. I will post regular (as much as I can) articles and exercises that look at the craft of writing fiction, and hopefully there will be something in these blogs for you to try. 

That sounds a bit pretentious to me. Is that the right word?  I don't know. But I feel like he's saying Hey, the world is blessed now because I'm going to provide it with my invaluable advice.

I'd say if a writer wants to give back to the writing community, they should just continue with their writing. Then they're giving back to the writing AND reading community, which in some cases is one and the same. They can also give back by reading. When anyone takes the time to read what someone else has written...that's HUGE. Anytime, someone reads my blog posts, they're doing me a gigantic favor. Because if no one reads what I've written, writing it feels a bit pointless.

As for writing advice, there's a lot out there in the world. Does that mean there's no room for anymore?  No. But I'm having doubts that Bone's website is going to offer something shockingly wonderful and new.

Maybe I'm wrong, though.

I'll read through it.

There's a post about editing and re-writing. What I do like about it is that it talks about how the definition of draft is confusing these days. Back in the typewriter days, the definition was more exact. I guess you'd actually have to literally rewrite the book. But these days, it's more about going over what you've written with your word processing program.

So maybe draft these days would be defined as how many times you read over your manuscript and make changes.

In the rest of the post, Bone talks about what us writers should be looking for when we do our reading and editing. I won't say it's unhelpful, but I feel it's somewhat conveyed in a condescending way.

One of the things he mentions is expositional dialogue. I remember learning about that in my past-writing learning, but I had forgotten the term for it. This is when information about the characters and their lives are revealed through dialogue. Often it sounds very unnatural and realistic.

I'm trying to think of an example.

I can't.

Bone has one in the post, though. I'll go with that. It says, There’s a man wearing a green trench-coat with a brown stain on the sleeve and an ugly scar on his face at the door sir. Shall I let him in?

It's silly, because people usually don't talk that way. They'd probably say something more simplistic like, There's an ugly man at the door. And that dialogue would only work if you have a character that's upfront about their feelings and judgmental about how people look.

I don't often see physical description provided in that way, but I do run across dialogue in which characters talk about things they probably both already know, and it doesn't seem natural for it to be mentioned.

I wish I could think of a good example.

Oh! Here's one.

Mother: How was your three week trip to Australia? Did you enjoy seeing Sydney, Canberra, and The Great Barrier reef? And are you glad to be back to your geriatric nursing job?

Daughter: Yes, it was wonderful. How have you been feeling since your divorce from dad six months ago?  How's your arthritis in your wrist?  Are you still having the feud with the neighbor who cut down your grape vines last summer?

That's probably a bit too exaggerated. Though, I've come across stuff that seems somewhat close to it.

Bone talks a bit about grammar, which is unfortunately an important part of writing and editing. As for commas, he says, Please don’t overuse these. Read your work out loud and deliberately give the comma more pause to accentuate them. Are they necessary? At the same time, if a sentence calls for a comma then use it. There are rules for the use of commas and a whole host of very pernickety people have written them. Seek them out!

That is so not helpful. Commas are a pain in the ass. And yes, I sought out advice when writing and editing. I don't know if it did me much good. I was often very confused by the whole thing. Still, I hope I got it right most of the time.

Really. If Ian Bone wanted to give back to the writing community, he should help us all with our commas. Or at least help those of us who are pathetic about the whole thing.

I started to read Bone's post about characters, and he says, In this exercise, you’ll write a short snippet of fiction – around a page. If you are inspired, or you find yourself writing voluminously, DO NOT go over 1000 words. We need time to read everyone’s exercise.

So maybe this was for a class? And then he put it on his blog, so people not taking the class could see?

OR is the blog itself the class?

Maybe writers were supposed to put their writing sample in the comment section.

No one did.

In the post, Bone says it's assumed by non-writers that authors base their characters off of real people. He says this is true sometimes, but that many writers do not base their characters off of real people.

I don't know.

I guess it would depend on how you define basing a character off of a real person. If we're talking an exact replica or even a character that matches a real person 75-99.%, I'd agree with Bone. But most writers write about what they know, and they know real people.

I think my characters are mostly based on myself, along with some other stuff thrown in. Other people, I guess.

Or maybe Bone is right, and most of my characters just come from my imagination. But where does my imagination come from?

It's like my dreams. Lately I dream about people I don't know. Where do they come from?

Can we create people out of thin air?

I guess so, but it seems unlikely to me.

I think it might seem we're creating things out of thin air, but in reality we're creating people by remembering...things.

For example, years from now I will likely forget I wrote this post. And let's say I decide to write another novel. What if it feels like I've created a character out of thin air but, in reality, I'm writing about Ian Bone?

Now I'm reading the last post on Bone's blog. It talks about writers loving to write. He has five questions you're supposed to answer and if you answer yes to them, that means you love writing enough to be writer.

I answered yes to only one of them: Have you ever found it hard to go to sleep because you have a plotline or idea running through your head?

As for the other questions....

If I had to stop writing, I don't think I'd miss it at all. And I definitely don't get excited about starting a new story. I hate it. I hate when I have an idea, because then I worry I'll feel compelled to actually do something with it.

I'm talking about fiction, though. I've grown to hate fiction writing. Blogging is different. I'd probably be sad if I was forced to quit my blog and never blog again.

When I was a teenager and young adult, I would have answered yes to all of Bone's questions. Back then, writing was an addiction for me.

Now I prefer to leave it to my subconscious to create the fiction. It does a fantastic job...last night, especially.  It gave me the power of teleportation, which I surprisingly did not use to visit Australia. Instead I went to Manhattan and the Bronx.  Later I tried to watch the elevator scene from House on Haunted Hill by cutting open a large TV screen with a kitchen knife.  I guess I forgot about the whole on-switch button thing.

Yeah the sad thing is, I hope the last book I wrote is the LAST book I ever write.

It's not that I hated the whole thing. I loved the story, and I loved the characters. But I didn't like the stress of having to be the one to write it. And I really despite the whole editing process, especially the grammar part. Then it's dreadful to go through all the hell and have no one read it. Well, very few people read it.

I would rather someone else do all the work, and then I get to watch/read it.  When it comes to fiction, I much prefer to be the consumer.

Back to the character thing. I just thought of that song from The Sound of Music. Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could. So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.

But how about changing the last bit of the lyrics to: So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have come across someone like this character.  

That doesn't sound very good. I'm horrible at songwriting.

Now I'm going to look at Ian Bone's page on Goodreads. There's a picture of him there, and it does still remind me of Buster Baxter. There was also a picture of him on the blog. I guess I saw it, but didn't pay much attention to it. I didn't think of Buster Baxter when I saw it.

On his author profile, Bone mentions The Song of an Innocent Bystander being turned into a movie.  I Googled that earlier and couldn't find any more information about it. I just tried again. I'm still not seeing anything. I wonder if the project has been dropped. Or maybe it's still happening, and not many folks know about it.

I'm kind of surprised by Bone's book list on Goodreads. His books don't have many ratings/reviews.  The Song of an Innocent Bystander has the most, and that's only 205.  In comparison, the book I'm reading now (The Matchmaker by Elin Hinderbrand) has 9,515 ratings. novel The Dead Are Online has only 21 ratings. Actually, that's more than I thought I had. For some reason I thought I had only 9-10.  I'm kind of impressed with 21; though, it is much less than 205.

My other available novel, Thirty Cats has only 7 ratings.

That doesn't mean only 205 people have read The Song of an Innocent Bystander and only seven people have read Thirty Cats.  Not everyone who reads a book rates the book on Goodreads. Some people don't rate or review books anywhere. But I do think the number of ratings a book has does somewhat correlate with the level it's popularity.

What really surprises me is that The Song of An Innocent Bystander has pretty a pretty low average. It's 3.25.  Most books I've read have higher ratings than that.  The Matchmaker is 3.78.  I usually find books around that range. I usually see a score between 3.5 and less than 4.0.

Thirty Cats is above 4.0, but that's only because so few people have read it. If it became more popular, it would meet up with more people who dislike it.

Out of the 205 people who rated The Song of an Innocent Bystander, only 16 wrote reviews.
One person gave the book two stars and says, Interesting point of view on a tragic event that changed a group of people's lives..

I guess the reader didn't like that interesting point of view. OR he's a harsh grader.

I'm glad I don't usually read reviews before choosing to read a book. Because after reading some of these reviews, I would have probably stayed away from the book. I'm glad I didn't, because according to my 2011 blog post, I liked the book a lot.

There's a long review here—a positive one. I'm going to read it and see if it jogs my memory at all.

The hostage-situation is told through flashbacks. The main character was nine-years-old when it happened, and now she's an adult. I don't remember any of that!

Two of the other reviewers talk about the book being more appropriate for adults than the intended young adult audience.  I read it as an adult. I wonder if I would have had less appreciation and understanding of it if I had read it as a teen.

I wonder if I'd like any of Ian Bone's other books. I'm a bit hesitant to look, because my to-read list is already too long.

Maybe I'll just do a quick glance.

One of the books listed on Goodreads is about the anarchist Ian Bone. I'm guessing it was placed in the wrong author's section. It would be pretty cool though if the author Ian Bone wrote about the anarchist Ian Bone.  You know, it could happen. What if he was curious to learn about the man who shared his name, and that curiosity became strong enough that he wanted to write a whole book about the other Ian Bone.

I don't think that's the case here. I Googled to be sure. Well, and I'm still not sure. But at least Amazon doesn't match the book with the Australian Ian Bone.

Fat Boy Saves the World sounds kind of interesting. It's about a boy who is fat, and he doesn't talk. But then later he does talk. It sounds kind of fun and quirky.

The Puppet's Eye sounds fun.  A puppet master treats his puppet like a real boy. It reminds me of Neil Patrick Harris and Jamie Brewer's story on American Horror Story. I guess it's also like Pinocchio.

While trying to find more stuff about the Australian Ian Bone, I found another Australian Ian Bone. He's a ship captain.—into yachts. That kind of thing.

I can't find much else about Ian Bone, unfortunately. I feel this post is sort of a failure.  Who knows though. Maybe I'll look back at it years later, and find value in it.

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