I skipped a couple of days due to trip to Sydney to watch my parents’ home be auctioned. Not quite my childhood home, but almost. Very odd experience; savouring the ‘lasts’. Last time in this house. Last time swimming in the pool. Last time walking through the door.
At close to 700 pages, this book is a real study of Australian horror writing, from “Fisher’s Ghost” by John Lang (1836) to stories from the last five years from writers such as Kyla Ward, Martin Livings, and Gary Kemble (recently awarded an Australia Council Grant). There’s a story from Bob Franklin, the comedian, who read two minutes of his story along with a bunch of others at the launch.
My story in the book is “A Positive”, the one which inspired the recently-award winning short movie of the same name. I showed this at a seminar at the Uni of Canberra. Screenwriter Michael Cove, director Chris Bamford and I talked about translating the story to film, including the choice of location.
The film was shot in a country setting rather than a suburban one, which added to the sense of isolation and meant that a certain story element was added.
Michael and I talked about the differences between writing visually and writing on the page. Things like setting the scene; in film, you can set the scene with a single shot lasting a couple of seconds. You can layer the scene with artwork, furniture, wall colour; all of which adds to the mood, and to our impression of the characters. In a written story, you have to make a point of the things you show, and this can interrupt the flow of the narrative. It also can make the point laboured. If you say, ‘the painting on the wall had a gold-edged frame and was a dusty copy of a Victorian Impressionist painting’, you’ve lost the reader at ‘the painting’. So you have to be pretty sure you want to describe that painting. There’s more room in a novel, of course, and that’s part of what I love about novel-writing – the room to move.