Home > Discussion > Strange Affairs, Ginger Hairs, Neil Leigh

Strange Affairs, Ginger Hairs, Neil Leigh

From 8pm (UK time) today we’ll be talking about ‘Strange Affairs, Ginger Hairs’ by Neil Leigh.

This time, to give the discussion some structure, we’ve got some questions. Don’t feel you have to answer the questions – you can discuss any aspect you want to – but if you do answer one of them it would be great if you mention which question you’re answering in your comment. Hopefully this will help people who comment after the initial hour session.

A general reminder – the main idea is to discuss the book as a finished thing. We’re aiming to discuss what’s interesting about the books as they stand, rather than hold an online workshop or critiquing session. If the writer asks for critical feedback that’s fair enough, but bear in mind that the discussion is in the public domain and readable by anyone.

Some questions to get you started:

1. What’s the tone / genre of this book in your opinion?

2. Which character(s) did you like and can you say something about them?

3. What do you think the setting of the novel (geographical or otherwise) contributes to the story?

And for those who haven’t read the book:

4. On his blog, Neil asks how far writers can stretch the facts about a real place before it becomes a fictional place. What do you think?

Here are the first 100-odd words of the novel:

I awoke, and my first thought was (I‟m going to kill myself!).

It was not a desperate thought, just pragmatic – I couldn‟t be bothered to get out of bed.

 I stared at the ceiling and trailed my thoughts around a swirl of Artex. A minute passed, during which I did not die.

(Hmm, I guess this suicide thing requires a whole lot more effort.)

 I had no method for this rather random intention, other than a prerequisite of it being a painless and unnoticeable process.

Another minute passed, as did several.

You see, I had a general fear of death; a fancy for melodrama; and it was giro day.

See you at 8

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  1. 09/05/2011 at 7:55 pm

    Hi, I’m now online for an hour to moderate the discussion and will also live tweet any interesting comments – follow @siancummins and/or #yettobebooks if you want to see

  2. 09/05/2011 at 7:56 pm

    Say hi as you come online!

  3. 09/05/2011 at 7:59 pm

    Hi, I’m here along with a strong coffee!

  4. 09/05/2011 at 8:01 pm

    We’ve got some people who’ve said they’re going to comment after the initial hour, so check back for their comments in the next few days

  5. 09/05/2011 at 8:02 pm

    Ok cool, no probs.
    I feel strangely nervous!

    • 09/05/2011 at 8:03 pm

      Nothing to be nervous about – I’m always nervous that my wifi will slow everything down 😉

  6. 09/05/2011 at 8:03 pm

    I’m going to start with a comment that doesn’t answer any of the questions I’ve asked above (!) – I liked the ambiguity of the story Mum told, and I wondered what people thought of whether she was telling the truth or not? And did it matter?

  7. 09/05/2011 at 8:08 pm

    Answering Q1, (loved the book by the way!), fast paced thriller, also very funny. I got the impression this was set slightly in the past – Neil am I right?

  8. 09/05/2011 at 8:12 pm

    Yep dead right on setting, set early 2000s. Glad you got some of the funny bits – I often find it tricky to judge!

    • 09/05/2011 at 8:13 pm

      I think dark humour is a head scratcher for some people – I for one love it

      • 09/05/2011 at 8:15 pm

        I actually think crime lends itself well to humour for some reason – possibly in an ‘all fun and games til someone loses an eye’ way…?

        • 09/05/2011 at 8:18 pm

          Why did you pick the early 2000s as a time frame? I think it works very well…it was a particularly bland period in recent history and I can well visualise the characters scootering around a cultural wasteland…I also got the feeling that in another few years there might have been changes in the way the police worked, though not sure about that.

          • 09/05/2011 at 8:22 pm

            really just because i was closer to Ginger’s age at that time and found it more comfortable!

            • 09/05/2011 at 8:24 pm

              I was on the dole at about the same time and at a similar age and got the impression he’d have been wading through even more forms if it was set now! That’s probably for another novel! (Is there a sequel in the off….I got a feeling….?)

              • 09/05/2011 at 8:30 pm

                Yeh I am writing t sequel at the mo – it’s been suprisingly easly to slip back into writing as Ginger! And also strangely cathartic!

                (I’m getting the hang of posting these replies this now)

                • 09/05/2011 at 8:32 pm

                  Haha, just seems to be a chat between the two of us now, but others have promised comments at a later stage 🙂

                  Great – it did feel very possible that there would be a sequel at the end….is it set long after the end of this one (but don’t spoil if you don’t want to!)

                  • 09/05/2011 at 8:36 pm

                    It’s set a couple of years later – though I’ve been careful over who I bring back. I want Ginger to meet lots of new people!

                    • 09/05/2011 at 8:37 pm

                      Cool….I think anyone reading this one would be intrigued to see who comes back – there are hooks for all of them to return. but I think you’re right to be selective

  9. 09/05/2011 at 8:17 pm

    I know what you mean – I have the same sense of humour in real life – and when people don’t get it it can lead to some pretty sticky situations!

    my connection is going slkow by the way, so sorry for tardiness!!

    • 09/05/2011 at 8:18 pm

      mine too, don’t worry. We have thunder over Mcr!

  10. 09/05/2011 at 8:19 pm

    How did you find the length? It felt just about right to me – I didn’t want to pad it out with fluff just for the word count?

    • 09/05/2011 at 8:22 pm

      Just right – it felt a quick read, due to being a ‘page turner ‘ (even with me reading it on my phone!) and because of the snappy dialogue and fast pace – but not at all an ‘easy’ read in the sense of pulpy – there was complexity to it, in a good way

      • 09/05/2011 at 8:26 pm

        I’m really pleased because I was going for that kind of snappiness – though it took a lot longer to write!!!!

        • 09/05/2011 at 8:30 pm

          I thought the dialogue was great. I liked that a lot of it wasn’t tagged – that would have slowed things down

          • 09/05/2011 at 8:33 pm

            I always think it’s tricky to write natural dialogue that’s not bland and boring – often the stuff that flows really well takes yonks to write!

            • 09/05/2011 at 8:34 pm

              I’d agree – truly natural dialogue wouldn’t always work written down I don’t think – you have to fake it a bit!

  11. 09/05/2011 at 8:36 pm

    I thought the names were great – Ginger, Chas, Mr Fish…larger than life yet very believable, and in keeping with the cheeky humour

    • 09/05/2011 at 8:42 pm

      I think that’s made easier by writing in the first person too – it’s more how Ginger see’s those other people rather than me. And it’s great pretending to be someonelse!

      • 09/05/2011 at 8:45 pm

        Definitely – they are dipped in Ginger’s perception of them like fish in batter. Sorry.

        • 09/05/2011 at 8:48 pm

          I also liked the hyperreality (almost) of other people occasionally addressing Ginger as Ginger in the third person

          • 09/05/2011 at 8:54 pm

            Ha! It’s weird (and maybe a bit scarey!) how you can get so deeply into the mind of a person that’s not real. Probably the thing i love most about writing.

  12. 09/05/2011 at 8:43 pm

    Following what you said on your blog about real locations, was this set or based on somewhere real? I had a few theories but not of them fit 100%

  13. 09/05/2011 at 8:49 pm

    Well, it began in a real city, and I then made-up a few streets and buildings – I don’t name the city because of that (the river is real though!). I think it’s quite obviously in the north and that’s the main for me. But again, I’m still never sure how much you can bend a real place to suit the ideas in your head!!!

    • 09/05/2011 at 8:53 pm

      Personally I think you can bend it as much as you want – I’ve done a similar thing – I think the atmosphere of a place and the way it encloses your characters is more important than absolute accuracy. I think if you want to portray a place or capture something of the personality of a real place it will show itself regardless of any wrangling. If the reader knows the place that is. And if they don’t, it doesn’t matter.

      • 09/05/2011 at 8:59 pm

        I think you’re right. I mean, it’s not like we’re writing an A-Z!

        (connection’s playing-up again, sorry!)

  14. 09/05/2011 at 9:00 pm

    wow – time goes quickly!

  15. 09/05/2011 at 9:00 pm

    That’s pretty much the end of the hour, but I’m going to stay on for a bit to moderate any more comments that come and, obviously, the discussion stays open for ever if any latecomers want to comment. If you want to keep up to date with how the conversation’s progressing you might want to ask to be notified of new posts via email. Neil – it’s been lovely to talk to you!!

    • 09/05/2011 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks for taking time-out to read the novel! It’s been really encouraging!

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