Happy NaNoWriMo!

It's that time of year again - beloved by some, feared by others, and irritating to a few. Yes, it's NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month.

If this is the month you decide to get that project started, good for you! Everyone's got a load of advice to give (including me; several years ago I posted daily NaNo advice over on Hodderscape; you can find (some) of the archives here.) but today I'd like to share a few important takeaway points:

  1. The most important rule when it comes to writing is to just do it. Don't feel that you can't start simply because you don't have a full outline or know how the book will end. This is the 'butt in chair' principle and it's really, really important. NaNo is all about teaching you the importance of discipline, of writing a bit every single day. It doesn't have to be much and it doesn't have to go anywhere. Just write!
  2. This is your first draft, so treat it as such: don't sweat the small stuff. Don't agonise over your word-choice, your grammar, your punctuation, your spelling. Don't get caught up in details. Leave notes to yourself (eg "what would Henry VIII eat for breakfast?") rather than get distracted while you're writing and start researching. Internet wormholes are fun, but they'll tear you away from what you should be doing: getting things down on paper. Your second draft is when you get to go back and, you know, start filling in details and sorting out the dodgy bits.
  3. Line up a beta-reader. It can be agonising to share something as personal as a fiction project with a friend or family member, but it's very important that you get solid, honest feedback on your work. Find someone you trust who'll tell you what you've done well but who will be honest with you when something isn't working. It's best if they are a fan of the kind of book you're writing, so that they can feed back to you as a reader of that genre as well as your loving and supportive friend.

Good luck, and we hope to see some of your NaNo projects in our submissions inboxes soon!



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Halloween Film Recommendations

We here at Ki love a good horror movie! Here's what we'll be watching this weekend...


PAPERHOUSE (1988) - One of my all-time favourite movies, because it's got the psychological depth as well as genuinely scary stuff.  First love, first experience of death, and reconciling with dad.

INHERITANCE (2020) - Although the 'monster' is a bit lame when you think about it, this is a horribly scary movie that I had to watch through my fingers.  Several times.

The ADDAMS FAMILY (Raul Julia/Angelica Huston) movies (1991, 1993) - What I wish my family were like. I know these by heart.

HEATHERS (1988) - Just like my high school. I still shudder when I think back...

THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) - Al l those children singing - and they're blond. No chainsaws? Get me out of here!




I hate having to limit myself to only five! But here we go:

TREMORS (1989)  - I love a horror/comedy, and Tremors is right up there with the best of them. The monsters are fantastic, the banter is excellent, and the film is endlessly quotable. Which is why I've been quoting it for... decades.

READY OR NOT (2019) - Despite having a title I simply cannot ever remember, Ready or Not is one of my favourite new horror/comedies: there's a creepy house, a creepy family, a totally memorable premise and an awesome heroine who wears sensible shoes throughout the entire movie (despite also wearing a wedding dress).

THE THING (1982) - My parents were pretty liberal with what I could and couldn't watch while I was growing up, so I definitely saw The Thing too young. But holy cow, what a movie. The absolutely visceral horror of it all (those creature effects!), plus the isolated and terrifying otherness of the arctic landscape, and the nihilistic ending... and, of course, a lead character who spends the entire film basically yelling "WTF!?!" at the top of his lungs, as any reasonable person would do. It all adds up to a truly powerful film.

HORROR EXPRESS (1972) - It's The Thing (Well, correctly The Thing from Another World) set on a train, starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas. Do I need to say any more? Yes? Well, Horror Express is a schlocky delight and includes a scene where they analyse a drop of blood from the monster's eye and see... what the monster last saw. Which was a dinosaur. YES.

THE X-FILES: "HOME" (1996) - Maybe it's cheating to include an episode of a tv show on this list, but I can't help myself. The first episode I ever saw was of The X-Files was "Darkness Falls" (aka the man-eating green bugs episode), and I was hooked. But nothing could have prepared me for the brutal horror of "Home". So violent and disturbing is the episode that it wasn't reaired for years, meaning that if you missed seeing it the night it originally aired, back in 1996, that was it (until the DVDs were released, anyway).



My top five favourite horror films that I can (aapart from TCM) easily watch repeatedly and never tire of their brilliance to keep shocking me:

POSSESSION (1981) - early 80s cult classic emotional roller-coaster horror thriller about one woman's bizarre relationship with her even stranger secret lover... Starring a very young Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neil and directed by Andrzej Zulawski. Adjani's meltdown with her shopping in a tunnel is a corker.

CARRIE (1976) - Sissy Spacek on top form as a tormented schoolgirl with a crazy mother and evil class "mates" - it's not surprising how much of an impression this film made on me as I saw it (Glasgow Odeon) as a 15-year-old girl!

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) - This horror classic freaked me out so much upon first viewing (1981, late-night and alone!) in Fulham's Paris Pullman cinema that to this day I cannot bear to see old Leatherface and his crazy shenanigans. Even more terrifying to learn that this film was based on a real person/family.

THE EVIL DEAD (1981) - Yes, another horror classic - wildly exciting and equally scary. I was honoured as a young film publicist in 1987 to promote the fantastic sequel, EVIL DEAD 2, in the UK, with the. ever-charing director Sam Raimi and his star, Bruce Campbell.

PSYCHO (1960) - Another horror classic from the master himself, Alfred Hitchcock - I love the audacity of killing off your leading lady in the first half hour! No wonder audiences were so traumatised - even now it looks magnificent, and even scarier than ever.



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