Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scary stuff: ghosts, zombies, and rogue citrus fruit.

Finally, 10 minutes spare for blogging. It's been another action-packed week in the Grant household. (For action-packed, read chaotic; bite-off-more-than-you-chew should be our family motto.) I spent last weekend camping with the girl guides again. When we camped at Grobbendonk in May, we had two days of solid rain, so I did wonder whether I needed my head examined for signing up again. "Are you mad?" asked one of my FB friends. In the event, I had the last laugh; we had gorgeous warm sunshine and we adults spent the evenings around the campfire drinking red wine and eating tortilla chips, basking in the satisfaction of having got 36 children to bed on time. I bet my doubting friends were horribly envious. Well, actually, they weren't...but they OUGHT to have been.
They might have been a bit more envious had I not told them about the Orange Incident. I went to the loo block on clean-up morning and found half an orange floating in the toilet; worse, someone - or possibly several someones, judging by the colour of the water - had pee'd on it. Flushing would probably have resulted in a blockage, so there was only one thing to do. I sighed and rolled my sleeves up, thanking Providence that I had put some disinfectant hand gel in my luggage. I disinfected my hands up to the elbows afterwards but I'll still be off finger food for a while.
This week was Book Week at the local British school, the BSB, so I went along to talk about The Glass Demon and run some workshops about writing ghost stories. I was nervous about running the workshops since I'd never done one before, but actually it was much more fun than talking about my own books! We had a great session at which I produced a carved wooden cat and asked the group to brainstorm possible ghost stories featuring it. I was thinking of M.R.James' "Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" and amazingly, a lot of the ideas which came up could have come directly from that story, even though none of the students had read it....full marks to the boy who suggested the wood from which the cat was carved might have an influence on the story.
I've also left Year 10 with a writing task inspired by a brilliant ghost story called "The Accident", by Ann Bridge; it appeared in the 4th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories back in 1967. In the story, someone receives a postcard postmarked Stresa, and is almost sent mad with terror. Why? I'm not telling... I mocked-up the postcard as exactly as I could (Swiss stamp from 1949 etc etc), gave out copies and asked the students to write a ghost story about the card. I'm planning to publish the best ones on my blog in due course.
Finally, the biggest thrill of the week for me was finally being able to see Lalla Merlin's short zombie film Virus for the first time! Lalla (who runs Lumiere Productions UK) made the book trailer for The Vanishing of Katharina Linden for me, and is currently working on a trailer for The Glass Demon. Lalla says "don't expect Shaun of the Dead" but I think she's selling herself short! The film is the result of a three day film making workshop for kids. None of the cast are professional actors and most of them didn't know each other beforehand, but the end result is great fun and there are some very funny moments as well as some very gruesome ones! You can see part one of the film here:
"Play with us, Fred...for ever...and ever..." Classic.