The website of David F Porteous
I’ve rushed from the other side of town; still I’m the first one there in the red-walled restaurant on the Royal Mile. I’ve never been to Wedgewood’s before, but it was my choice for lunch. I settle into the corner seat at our table and experience the moment of anxiety, wondering if I’m the only one who’ll show.
The hostess gives me the lunch menu. It’s a set price of £10 for two courses, £14 for three and three choices for each course. I haven’t had time to read it before my companions arrive.
L moves to my right and declares her intention to sit next to me. She’s worn the low cut summer dress she just found on eBay and mentioned yesterday. But she’s put a t-shirt on underneath and I can’t help but feel cheated.
M sits opposite and seizes the menu.
“I’m so hungry,” L says and relates details of blood sugar and youthful fainting. She’s one of these people who drink the recommended amount of water every day and run without being late; without a pursuing pack of wolves. I already suspect her hunger will translate into only two courses of nouvelle-cuisine-sized portions.
By the time our starters arrive, the conversation has moved to paedophilia. (Nobody is recommending it).
A Channel 4 documentary the previous evening entitled ‘Breaking of a Female Paedophile Ring’ prompts L to ask the question, “How do rings form? How do these people make contact with each other?”
“Conversations about their own child abuse,” M surmises. “I think
that’s how it starts”.
She may be right. Though I imagine that it’s more of an auction, where men express mutual sexual attraction to younger women and gradually increase the age difference to include teenagers – and so on. I don’t share my thought because it seems too much like a Bangkok backstreet version of The Price Is Right.
Everyone has the black pudding. It’s delicious.
There’s a window into the galley kitchen and we watch the sensuous display of hands composing the food on plates. L points out the lobster – which it turns out is not for me.
“It looks like a taco,” I observe. The hollowed-out head of the lobster is being used to store salad. I think it’s very a neat display piece, but we wait some time before my lobster and the other mains arrive. At one point the waitress asks if we’re done with our bread; I suggest we trade her the bread for our main courses.
“Lobster is high in cholesterol,” L says as the first piece reaches my mouth. What with this and the t-shirt, it’s like she’s out to ruin my whole lunch.
M makes the mistake of asking what cholesterol actually is and I take my chance to use words I learned only a few weeks before: Low-Density Lipoprotein and High-Density Lipoprotein. I explain the difference. She conceals how impressed she is with my cleverness by changing the subject.
Despite the lipoproteins my lobster is so succulent I wish I’d ordered two and its tempting me to buy one of those frozen supermarket lobsters they have now. I’m resisting, because I need more cholesterol like I need several vertebrae removed.
M looks at me with arched eyebrows and declares her intention to have desert. It is a triumphant thing, desert – like the ambrosia of Olympus, or toast made from a loaf of Hovis that a Yorkshire boy has carried up a steep hill.
L declines, citing palpitations from having eaten so much already. M and I have the sticky toffee pudding, after a circuitous debate about cold fruit soup, but discover that the toffee sauce is a little overdone – matching M’s previous visit here.
I’d go back, though. My arteries can take it.
You can read about L's account of the lunch on her blog.
Stop two on Singular's virtual tour - guest blogging at Been There, Read That.
"I never give advice. Or at least I never give advice I don’t regret later, when an older, wiser me looks at my advice, shakes his head and chuckles. But I’m going to opine in this case and with the full knowledge that I’ll regret it later..."
Continue reading here: http://bit.ly/meItLD
Things happen with bloggers. They're not the kind of people you'd trust to show up at exactly the right time to save the day. Not showered and shaved at any rate.
It's two days after the first stop on the Singular Virtual Book Tour should have happened but nothing's been done and my emails aren't being answered. So I'm posting the guest blog that should have gone up on that website here. Enjoy.
There’s a quote – there’s always a quote. “Every author portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will”.
When I gave a draft of Singular to my beta readers, the most common feedback I received was that the main character was obviously me. It was feedback I’d been expecting. The initial events in Singular are based substantially on my own experience surrounding misdiagnosis and treatment for cancer in late 2009. I started writing the book while I was in the examination room waiting to speak to the consultant for the first time.
If Patrick Clark is anyone, he is me.
What surprised me was nobody said that any of the other characters reminded them of me. After all, they are. Greg Calame, the embittered and hard-bitten journalist. Katherine Valentine, the vain and ambitious systems engineer. The unnamed ‘it’: the creature within the machine struggling to connect with the real world. If these characters – all of whom are fairly unpleasant – are anyone, they are me.
I’ve never heard a writer say otherwise.
To make a character credible, you have to understand them. Every good and noble act, every wicked and perverse deed comes from the writer’s mind.
There was, in Bram Stoker, a few drops of vampire blood. There was, in Victor Hugo, the seed frustration of the martinet. There is, in Thomas Harris, a little bit of a cannibal – no more than a mouthful, I expect.
The great villains of fiction have a capacity to make us love them because they reflect the dark thoughts we never voice; not because they are different to us, because they are, in aspect, the same as we are. I believe the most desirably quality of the monster is freedom – and this is a theme I’m exploring in the novel I’m writing at the moment.
It’s not necessary to like all of our characters, as we recognise that there are many aspects to our nature, some of which we value and others we wish we could change. If a writer is to produce the being we call a character, that facsimile of life will always be traced in some faint way from the writer.
When I reflect now, some eight months after my first feedback on Singular, I think the reason why Patrick was seen as being me and the other characters weren’t is an issue of relatability. Within pages of meeting them we learn that Greg wants revenge, Katherine wants power, ‘it’ wants the most ephemeral concept of all: freedom. What Patrick wants is to live.
Those other struggles, which we may find difficult to articulate in our own lives, are less visceral than the first, primal want. And rather than saying “Patrick Clark is you”, I think the identification was deeper; that what people felt was closer to “Patrick Clark is me”.
You can follow the tour’s progress on my website www.dfpiii.com or follow me on Twitter @dfpiii or using the hashtag #SVBT. Also, at the end of the book tour, one lucky person who “likes” Singular on Facebook will receive the signed proof copy of the US print edition of Singular – a one-of-a-kind, never-be-another prize.
The full details of the Singular Virtual Book Tour have been posted online - along with my bio and the book's summary - at the Virtual Book Tour Cafe.
Links to all the events will be posted on this blog and in oodles of other places.
How can you get involved? I'm glad you asked. Well if you want to drop by any of the participating websites, read the posts and ask some questions that would be great.
There's also going to be a giveaway at the end of the tour: the proof copy of the US print edition of Singular, signed and with a special message from me inside. It's the only copy there will ever be - I couldn't give this prize again even if I wanted to.
How can you win this prize (whose value is $7.95 + postage + priceless)? I'm glad you asked that too. All you need to do is go to the Facebook page of Singular and click "like". That's it. If it could be simpler I don't know how.
At the end of the tour I'll randomly select one person from all the "like"rs and I'll contact them to let them know.
Hope to see you out on the tour.
There’s a Community Chest card in the board game Monopoly that congratulates you on winning second prize in a beauty contest. Just after midnight this morning, I drew that card.
I got an email from the organisers of the west coast book festival announcing the grand prize winner – who received a $1,500 prize and a trip to the city by the bay (the city that rocks, the city that never stops). It wasn’t me.
But right there, after a long scroll, was the science fiction category and Singular was the runner-up.
I’m enormously pleased by the result and the recognition.
And if you haven’t bought a copy of the book already, and you’re in the UK, you can get 20% off from LULU until May 16th using the code LUCKYUK305. See the Singular page for links.
The virtual book tour for Singular has been arranged. Twenty dates from 16 May to 30 June 2011 including 7 interviews with me, 8 guest blogs, 3 reviews and at least 5 prize giveaways (including a one-of-a-kind prize to be announced on the 16th). I'm very excited to be working with the Virtual Book Tour Cafe and with all the other bloggers and reviewers involved.
I'll be using the Twitter hashtag #svbt (Singular Virtual Book Tour) and I'll use the SVBT tag on my blog so you can keep track of all the latest posts and updating the Singular's page on Facebook.