Creating Timelessness with setting – Neil Jordan’s Shade

Creating Timelessness with setting – Neil Jordan’s Shade.


Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love. But men have killed for love, endlessly


Neil Jordan creates timelessness by weaving mythology into his novel, Shade. In this quote Jordan states the idea that similar murders happen over and over. This isn’t a new story we’re reading; it’s just the same one we’ve already heard. […]

Putting your own experiences into fiction without writing an autobiography



We can’t help but write about ourselves. It can be incredibly cathartic to do this- being a writer has helped me though many tough periods of my life. But it can be distressing trying to write something painful directly from your own viewpoint. I’ve sometimes felt frozen, or caught up in the bad feelings that I couldn’t write a thing!
I once wrote a character and situation during a particularly troubled time in my life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the character was saying everything I couldn’t say with my own voice. What happened is that I’d started speaking through my character, lulled into a false sense of security by my focus on her fictional life. I’ve deliberately employed this technique ever since.


The bottom line is that you will always put yourself into your writing and that is a good thing. You can use it to enrich your characters. No-one else has your personality, your life experience or your way of seeing the world. Mix this with a character with completely different life experiences to your own and you’ll create something magical.


Poppy (WIP)

I’ve never liked to be in complete darkness, so when I first saw the Milky Way in 1910, I thought, I could sleep soundly if I was in the middle of all of those stars.
The 1920s were dark until I was allowed to come back into the light of civilised drawing rooms. I’d been ill they said, to explain my gaunt cheeks, and shadows; were love had been, curled under my eyes and refused to go.

I travelled into the future and light spread before me. I watched candlelight replaced by Edison’s electric bulb. Some said electricity was witchcraft and full of dangerous vapours, and I thought if it was, then I was intoxicated. I watched the Industrial Revolution with as much fervour as a nation being set free from beneath a shadow.
I followed it to Chicago, 1933, where crowded in the Hall of Science courtyard, the crowd was so electric that I believed that we could light a star. Arcturus had travelled from 1893, a time traveller like me, and when they pointed their photocells at him, he obliged by producing a great white beam that cut across like sky like hope.
I came to London in 1984. 24 hour laundrettes and cafes. I stood at Piccadilly Circus at midnight. Neon signs and illuminated playhouses fed me like dining at the Ritz every night. All the lights burned in the big cities, where street lamps, scattered by dust and gas molecules made the sky glow and kept darkness at bay 365 days a year.
The BBC national anthem in 1994 was like saying goodbye to a friend, to the light, to people, every night. I felt abandoned. I went further out.
In 2050, people shut lights off because of light pollution, then in 2060, people went all the way out to live in the darkness of space. The lights went out on Earth one by one and I was alone again. I tried floodlight therapy but felt like a fragile sea creature having submarine lights shone on it for the first time.
When Sanderson regulated time travelling, I chose to be anchored in 2009. I found a job as a nurse and took the nightshift. The hospital, lit up in fluorescent lights like an all year round Christmas tree, protected me until each morning arrived as pink and wondrous as a newborn.




Homework 3 part 1- fake memoir

My MA class this week was led by the wonderful Hannah Lowe. Hannah is a poet and her recent book ‘Chick’ was published by Bloodaxe.

She helped us to explore confessional poetry and particularly, the elements that make our work seem real. She brought up an interesting point about poetry and truth; we naturally assume poetry is truthful, but she helped us see that it can be embellished or just plain made up like prose.

Homework 2 – Scepter’d isle

This week’s MA homework was to pick any world nation, then pick a national monument, and have a character become lost in the vision of an ideal version of their country… then be brought back down to earth with a bump. I went a bit left field again.



The house has a lonely grandness about it as it looms like a chalk cliff against the grey sky. A red, white and blue flag snaps loudly in the wind.

I tug my wool coat around me; but the chill penetrates my stocking clad legs. A man apologises in a southern drawl as he leans over me to take a photo. I wish I could wrap myself in his warm Tennessee vowels. […]

Homework 1 – I’m a writer

The written assignment on my MA this week was a piece exploring ourselves as writers and I went a bit left field. I don’t like writing from my own voice- I find I can be more honest from a fictional perspective. ‘Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth,’ said Oscar Wilde. (So… blogging will be fun! I’m currently writing a non fiction book with memoir elements, so it’s something I’m working up to.)

I’m a writer; which for me means that I pretend to be other people. I don’t have my own ‘voice’. So, I put some of my characters to work and had them do my homework for me. Here are a few of them discussing me as a writer, or omipresent God character intruding on their worlds. It was interesting hearing what they thought of me as a writer/person/diety- I’d recommend it as a writing exercise.

How *not* to write dialogue: Into the Storm (2014)

  So I watched Into the Storm this week. I’m morbidly interested in tornados- I have a life plan that includes if I’m ever terminally ill, I’d like to go become a storm chaser. What a way to die. I was so excited to see this at the cinema as I’ve missed watching other great Read more about How *not* to write dialogue: Into the Storm (2014)[…]

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof analysis

I’m currently working on my series of Tennessee Williams alternative book covers. As I was plotting out the imagery for the cover of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, I’ve ended up putting Paul Newman, my favourite and a classic Brick, front and centre. As I sat there looking at my scanned drawing it occurred to me that normally it’s Elizabeth Taylor, or Maggie, that’s front stage on the book cover. (I’d argue that this is partly because she’s a woman, and her partly dressed body sells theatre & film tickets, and books.)  Also, we assume Maggie is the cat- she herself says she feels like a cat on a hot tin roof, and her victory is staying on as long as she can. […]

Order ‘Teeth of a Lock & The Art of Losing’

Plume Storytellers are delighted to announce the release of ‘Teeth of a Lock’, a collection of works by Klara Piechocki. ‘Teeth of a Lock’ is a sequin heavy and thoughtful collection of 5 stories that explore themes of gender and identity;- ‘Teeth of a Lock’ is the story of a woman accepting her life as Read more about Order ‘Teeth of a Lock & The Art of Losing’[…]

The Art of Losing (short story)

Copyright Klara Piechocki 2010 * “I want to change my act,” she tells me. My lover is a performer. Her feet grip the leather saddle, round tan toes curling for balance, live skin clutching long dead skin. Her hands come down, calloused fingers splayed like octopus tentacles and the audience is like the noise of Read more about The Art of Losing (short story)[…]

A Deeper Understanding (Short story)

She’d shuffled self consciously in the queue for the technical help desk, conscious of what three weeks of heartbreak had done to her. A young technician had waved her forward and she hoped she’d wiped off all the ice-cream on her cheek. They sat down at a chipped little white desk and he’d given her a lopsided smile that made her heart dip a little in her chest. An hour later, her laptop was declared utterly fine and the technician had pressed a small business card into her hand and whispered, “Valerie can help.”

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