Guest post: Ideas – The Beauty, Carnage, and Mayhem by Leigh Hunt

When Jamie asked me to write a wee guest post, I jumped at the chance. Why? Because that particular day I was brainstorming. The ideas were flowing like I was a unicorn farting magical glitter, and I just couldn’t stop them coming. It was glorious. I was on a creative high.

You see, I’m one of those people who have these huge, enormous ideas. I have zero problems generating the carnage, I just have a problem finding the time to write them. And when new shiny ideas hit me, there is nothing I like more than to immediately start exploring them. So I do. Even if I’m in the middle of something else – because if I leave them, I might lose them.

So the other day, while I was painting my loo room, I was listening to music. The lyrics starting fuelling my mind with creative strands, and the next thing I knew, I was standing there with a paintbrush drying in my hands, looking vacantly at my loo. Dreaming of a world not yet created. (Don’t judge me – at least I wasn’t USING the loo!)

I finished painting as quickly as I could, jotted some of the key themes down in my trusty notebook, and promptly forgot about it. The next day I was driving to work and the same song came on, and there I was again – thrown right back into this imaginary world. I don’t even remember the drive to work, because my mind was so busy living in this shiny unwritten place. It’s damn dangerous when I go into this mode while driving. (I’m pretty sure whatever excuse I gave to law enforcement would result in a straight jacket and padded room.)

I arrived at work, and boom. Out the trusty notebook, along with some post-it notes, and I started writing the ideas down. It was like throwing a deck of cards down, and picking them up in some semblance of order.

Meanwhile, a little voice inside of me was saying, ‘FFS woman, you’re in the midst of writing one of the greatest damn dystopian series you’ve ever come up with, and now you have ANOTHER one?’

Yep. My inner bitch was trying to tamp me down – squish the idea into nothingness so that I can focus on my current series. She’s quite ghastly once she gets her rant on. But then I started talking to my editor. And she was encouraging this shiny new idea, which forced me to manage that inner bitch, and get this sorted.

So, the idea of the world is now written. It’s just notes at this stage, and I’m letting it percolate for the next twelve months. I know the key characters. I know the world. I know what darkness resides in it. I know the situation. I know that I want to write this four book series.

But I also know that it still needs time.

Over the years of writing, I’ve discovered that I should not just jump at the new ideas. In order for me to find their depth, I need to let them rest, and develop like a photo in a dark room. Those ideas need love and nurture and thought. They need threads woven in, personalities introduced, and the story arc extrapolated.

Also, if I give in to my inner magpie and always write the shiny new things, I know that I will never finish writing anything of beautiful consequence… and isn’t that every writer’s goal?

It’s easy to chase ideas down rabbit holes in the midst of the creative chaos, but those ideas need time. If we let ideas percolate, it means that they get the space and attention they deserve, and will therefore be better for the reader. Hopefully.

Leigh K. Hunt is a reader, writer, mother, and designer from New Zealand. She has a weird obsession with books like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Pride & Prejudice, and adores Thrillers and Dystopian novels. To say that she lives in her own dreamy wonderland is an understatement.

Leigh has written a number of thrillers surrounding an assassination team, but has now turned her focus on producing a new thrilling dystopian trilogy. When she’s supposedly adulting, Leigh works full time, is a mother to a gorgeous but very lively five-year-old, and thinks she’s a DIY queen – with dreams of turning her cookie cutter 80s house into something that resembles French farmhouse.

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Terribly wonderful poetry

For the Kapcon flagship LARP me and Bryn played versions of Spike and Dru from Buffy. Bryn’s Isaac was supposed to have an obsession with writing terrible poetry about my Amelia and well, I love me some terrible writing, so I composed these for Bryn to write up on paper and age for props.

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More under the cut…

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Moose story

So last week I came second place in a story writing conversation to name the fake moose head the Trust and Safety team have in their section of the office.

Here it is, in all its moose-y glory!


California Joe was called that because he often told the other moose that he had spent a summer in California in his youth. The other moose weren’t entirely convinced the story was a true one, but the details Joe gave in his stories about the sun drenched beaches, the gentle crash and hush of the waves and the unsurpassable beauty of the girls he had seen there were diverting enough on a wintry New Brunswick afternoon.

To say California Joe lived in a dream world would not be entirely accurate. Joe was an avid walker and eater of deciduous plant matter, and there were legends about the time he had squared off against a wolf to protect Sally’s calf and dashed the wolf’s head in with his large hoof. There were naysayers who swore to each other that this was a fabrication but none ever said it to Joe’s face.

Besides California and the wolf, Joe was known for his wit. Not a moose in the province could match his quick tongue for quips, gibes and puns. Many a time an unsuspecting moose would walk away from a conversation with him and realise – too late – that he had been made fun of. There was one instance, on the birthday of the venerable old Cyril, fast approaching his last winters, when California Joe was called on to make a speech.

Moose in the area are still remembering that speech with fondness, the affection Joe had for the old moose was obvious but he painted a picture of Cyril both hilarious and accurate. Many a moose still laughed in recollection.

California Joe, of course, met his last winter sooner than anyone expected. One long walk through the wilderness in search of fresh aquatic greenery brought him to a beaver pond, where he stood and browsed for hours. While eating he became lost in a dream. Perhaps of his days surfing on the beaches of Santa Monica or perhaps of Sally, who once had been referred to as Joe’s true love but that was before a particularly nasty fight from which neither’s feelings truly recovered.

None can say exactly what Joe was dreaming of, as he was shot down by an opportunistic hunter who liked the look of his antlers. The hunter was a young Irish woman who had been taught how to hunt by her father and was overjoyed to have felled such a magnificent specimen.

Joe’s head was stuffed and mounted and placed in the house of the girl, but as she matured she started to find the idea of her kill distasteful and gave it away to her boyfriend – a government worker. Joe looked over the decision makers of Ireland before being stolen by a drunken intern from New Zealand. He was brought to that shore so distant from his homeland when she came home. After a year trapped in a garden shed California Joe has finally found another home in the offices of Trade Me.

Make a mess. Clean it up.

I was kind of blocked on what to do with this page. Make a Mess. Clean it up.

Then I realised I wanted to do writing, so I wrote down a bunch of scribbly words on one side (somewhat inspired by the movie Young at Heart which we were watching at the time), then I wrote a short story neatly, using the words.

Nothing is as it was before. The more I sing the less I feel like it sounds good, but I’m selling more records than ever before. The slings and arrows are still a part of life, of course, but the actual difficulty of day to day living has evaporated. I have an assistant who brings me noodles if I want them. She’s there for me every hour of the day.
“Would you mind going and getting me an ice cream sundae?” I can say, and she’ll do it.

The lights on the stage are bright. I feel them in my bones, reflecting, glowing inside of me hours after I’ve performed. “Can you run me a bath?” I’ll say.
“No worries, no worries,” she twinkles.

I’m meant to be writing a book. My agent, my editor is keen for it to be a tell all. “Young at heart,” she keeps saying. I can’t argue with that, for all it’s so cheesy. I traded my soul to a demon years ago.

“Forever young. I want to be forever young,” I said.
“I’ll do you one better,” the demon laughed. “I’ll give you some musical talent, success as well.” So the next day I woke up, “Today I become a star!” and it happened, easy as that. I guess it’s my own fault, I didn’t earn any of this, so why should I be allowed to enjoy any of it?

You are right, I said. You took my soul. You gave me this, and I feel wrong, blank, totally numb.

Published again!

My one sentence story is up on Nanoism.net! In fact, it was up a couple of days ago but I wasn’t looking for it because he initially said he’d post it on October 8th. Ha ha. Anyway, you should go and…

Read it!

Please ignore the listless, dull and vaguely embarrassing bio underneath it, I didn’t realise that it was ok to just link here so I panicked and wrote that.

Flash Fiction

I wrote this yesterday in Ripley Patton‘s flash fiction workshop at Au Contraire. She was very inspiring, I’ll do proper entries on the workshops later but for now, enjoy this 55 word story.

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“Imagine what you’ll say at the funeral,” he said. ‘What my parents will ask.”
I looked down at him, remorseless. “It was an accident.”
“But I thought you loved me.”
“Maybe once, now I’m in love with my life without you.”
The second after I pulled the trigger I realised he’d been right all along.

Incredibly purple prose

Weird little Writing Wednesday today, in that I only have one important link and then you get to sample some writing.

Link: The lovely Debbie Cowens is the featured author on Prinkipria and there’s an interview with her and everything. Nice one Deb!

What you are about to read was started in 2008 but mostly written much more recently. Here is the first chapter in an incredibly purple, Gothic, possibly Lovecraftian story. It is written by me and my workmate Rachel in turns. We have had fun breaking all the rules of ‘good’ writing and I hope you enjoy reading it, we’d love to have your feedback in the comments…

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Sanguine dawn fingered the sky…

Facing West, he sighed, the wind whipped his cloak about him. His jet black hair, wet from the mist, was slick against his forehead. His faithful manservant appeared beside him, panting hard. His breath billowed out in white steamy clouds which dissipated into the misty surrounds. If the black-haired man had noticed his manservant, he showed no sign of it. He stared into the mire with intense concentration glittering in his emerald eyes. The pale morning rays gave the mist a lambent quality as it slowly began to recede.

“What do you see, sir?” panted the servant.

The black-haired man said nothing for a long minute. The servant had managed to catch his breath and was just about to enquire of his master again when the black-haired man spoke, breaking the silence with his chocolate-rich voice.

“I do not see that which I would like to see,” is all he uttered.

“Then I suggest, Master Eohlaf, we return to the hall before your father recovers from last night’s banquet.”

The black-haired man’s shoulders drooped in resignation but he did not speak. He turned swiftly on his heel and followed the fleeing mist up the hill — away from the bog.

The light of the waking sun turned the brown water into a glowing mirror and the mire bubbled slightly. There was a muffled splash as some unknown aquatic entity fleetingly touched the surface and then all lay still.

Inside the Hall of Vanern Eohlaf turned to his manservant. “Lo, I am weary,” spake he. The thane took Eohlaf’s cloak off his drooping shoulders and shook out the dampness of the morning.

“Master Eohlaf, you did wassail late into the eve,” the thane suggested. The black haired man turned, suddenly possessed of a great rage.

“That is not what I mean!” he shouted, loudly.

The diminutive thane flinched. Eohlaf sighed as he beheld his tremulous servant.

“Thane, you are not the source of my anger. I have had ominous dreams.”

The servant spent an inordinate amount of time hanging the black haired man’s cloak on a hook near the door. The hook wasn’t so near the door that the rain from outside would land on garments hung on it, but it was not so far from the door as to be an inconvenience when garments needed to be hung. The hook had been hung earlier that year by the same man who built the Hall itself.

“Tell me of your dreams, Master,” the thane said, although he had misgivings about asking. His master’s dreams, frequently ominous, were always grim.

Dark-haired Eohlaf spoke grimly, “I see a pale maiden submerged, enveloped by dark tendrils. She does not speak, because she is underwater, yet I feel that she can help me just as I can help her. She is whisked from my sight and I see the land in chaos, our mighty hall crumbling and in disrepair and then, then I see him.”

The thane shuddered, his teeth rattling against each other. He tried to hide his reaction, but the silence of the great hall gave him away. Eohlaf was expecting this reaction.

“Yes, that’s right. HIM. As ever he stands astride the mountain which I have so oft viewed from the doorway of his very hall. He laughed and his teeth were like great stones, crumbled with time. I awoke then, and was much distressed by what I had seen.”

“Bad dreams again is it?” A woman had entered the hall, unnoticed by either of the men. She was as buxom and curvaceous as a woman should be, her hair fell like clouds of red fire.

“Please do not pry into the affairs of men Brynhilde my sister!” snapped, dark, tempestuous Eohlaf.

In a private chamber off the hall, Lord Hrothelwulf shrugged himself out of his mead-induced torpor and gingerly eased his corpulent form from the couch.

Your son is nought but trouble.

The rotund Lord groaned. The voice, that hissing voice in his head was back again.

You know it to be true

The voice hissed, sibilantly. Lord Hrothelwulf shook his head and instantly regretted it. A headache thrummed into his skull. “Be quiet!” he groaned.

“What is that? Father, have you awakened?” The lovely Brynhilde lingered in the doorway, peering in at her noble father with her large, forest green eyes. “Are you well today?” She peered around, “who is it you talk to?”

The still partially inebriated noble Lord waved his daughter away dismissively, “just myself woman! Where is your brother?”

***
Meanwhile, distant from the affairs of these men and deep beneath the earth, a malevolent sentience crouched wreathed in darkness upon a gilt chair.

Just myself woman! Where is your brother?

Hissing words spilled from its putrid lips, “you know the only solution – is death!”

“Another drink my Lord?” a tiny voice emitted from near the gilt chair the malevolent sentience crouched upon. The fearsome being whipped his head around, fixing a tiny gelatinous imp with a fearsome glare.

“Do not interrupt me!” the terrifying morass of evil snarled.

The imp chirruped in fear and scurried away, its jelly-like body leaving a trail of sulphur on the black flagstones.

The brooding fiend briefly considered inflicting salty, painful death upon his amorphous assistant before drawing his concentration once more to his mortal pawn. He clutched the grotesquely carved arm of his chair and writhed with malicious delight as he delved deep into the mind of his weak-minded victim. His influence was almost complete.

***
Aloft in the world of mortal men, the noble Lord Hrothelwulf was addressing his son.

“Son,” he did intone, “you know well that I am your father.”

“I do, father,” Eohlaf said. He was uncertain as to his father’s purpose, but contained his impatience. It was hard for him to do this, being as he was, so tempestuous.

“The time has come for you to explore further our lands. In particular I wish for you to venture to the hinterlands. I feel it is unsafe for you to remain here, thus you must go forth instead.”

“Nay father!” cried Eohlaf, “Whatever danger may threaten our house, I will face it here! Who better is there to protect this household and my sister?”

Eohlaf knew not what danger his father perceived but his ominous dreams had awakened a sense of foreboding in his own soul and he knew that it concerned his home and his kin.

“His sister can defend herself!” said Brynhilde from the doorway.

Tempestuous Eohlaf and his noble father wisely ignored the words of the female member of their family. Brynhilde was used to this, and lingered on in the portal to the room they inhabited.

“Oh Eohlaf, we do require your presence for protection. Elsewhere you would be of no use should we come under attack. And yet, my heart is full of foreboding should you stay.”

“Oh father, my own heart doth overflow with foreboding,” said the son.

And so it should!

Lord Hrothelwulf visibly winced and it did not go unnoticed.

“What ails you father?” asked Eohlaf.

The Lord’s eyes darkened and he turned from his son in shame.

“It is him,” said the astute but oft ignored Brynhilde, “I have sensed his presence here for some time!”

Eohlaf whirled around, his eyes blazing with anger as he beheld his sister. Unnoticed by either of them, Their Kingly father Lord Hrothelwulf sank once more onto his sleeping furs.

“Sister, I have told you many times never to mention that name!” Thundered the tempestuous, dark haired youth. Brynhilde stood fast in the doorway.

“I know what I have sensed, my brother,” said Brynhilde, lovely in her defiance. “His eye is ever upon this house and father grows weak under His influence.”

From the midst of his sleeping furs, Lord Hrothelwulf turned to face his offspring his eyes aglow with an unearthly fire and his face unnaturally flushed. Eohlaf blanched and staggered back as Brynhilde brushed past him into the room.

“Soon, mortals, soon you will all be my undead minions!” Hrothelwulf rose from his furs with all the grace of a spastic marionette and lurched toward his children, a dagger appearing in his hand.

Brynhilde, although she had expected her father’s possession by the evil power to worsen, had not anticipated full body possession to take a hold of him completely so she was surprised and froze in place while behind her Eohlaf, unhinged with fear, struggled to gain control of his faculties but was unable to as his father advanced with the dagger brandished in his upraised hand towards the two younger people in the room and he began to cackle with a maniacal glee as the demonic entity riding within him beheld the fear and horror reflected in their eyes, which were so like his own in colour and shape.