Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Hoodle Coming Soon

The Hoodle

Here is a sneak peek into the paranormal comedy novel AJ Burton has been writing for the past 18 months.

We hope you enjoy reading it half as much as we have enjoyed writing and editing it.

NB this work is sprinkled with malapropisms and is in NZ English. If the body of the text appears in caps it is a glitch in blogger, as it was not posted in caps.

The Hoodle:- 
Sometime after midnight tonight, I need to grow a pair. I must become a Gladiator, a Jedi Knight and Batman, all rolled into one. The Lycanthrope we face is immortal or even older and he is cunning, immensely strong and so, so deadly.
My name is Jake Fangle and I’m twenty three years old. Somewhere inside me there lurks a hero. Maybe he could cease lurking for just one night. This night!
The only glimmer of hope is that I too am a lycanthrope, of sorts. Sounds like some sort of parasitic tapeworm, doesn’t it? According to folklore, it is the correct terminology for a werewolf.
I swear upon my mother’s gin soaked corpse this story is completely true. Sorry mum, I didn’t really mean that. Guess there are some residual feelings which I haven’t dealt with yet.
This brief account is a confession of my failings, so you will understand what I have gone through and won’t judge me too harshly whatever the outcome. So here we go; I’ll try to be honest. There is no point in lying about where this all took place, except about the country, the town and the people in it. Remember this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, except for the parts which are a complete and utter fabrication.
I’m no writer, I’ll get things in the wrong order sometimes; say the wrong word, put it in the wrong context. This syndrome is real and is referred to as a malapropism or bushism so it’s not all my fault. If you are a grammar nazi now is the time to put down your marker pen, take off your jackboots and learn that even those of us with the grammar retard gene have a right to tell our stories.
My mother didn’t trust the New Zealand Education Department so she home schooled her only child. No blackboard and chalk for me, instead she put her faith in a bottle of gin and a carpet slipper. Sometimes mum rang the school bell for assembly at three in the morning. Try to remember your fourteen times tables then, I dare you! Many a lesson ended in a thump as mum hit the floor after a few lunch break gins. So I’m afraid my education is somewhat lacking.
Mum left me the house when she died, so I do okay. I’m single so I don’t need to earn much to make ends meet. I never knew my father. According to my mother he was a lazy, thick-headed arsehole; hopeless with money and he didn’t have a romantic bone in his body. I wonder under what circumstances they managed to conceive me.
But to get back to the present, the last 28 days have dictated that tonight my friends and I stand and fight. My survival depends on confronting and vanquishing a beast who intends to devour me. The werewolf will never give up until I am deceased or even dead.
Thank goodness I won’t have to face The Dog No One Ever Speaks About alone. But what chance do two cowardly dogs, a brave but clumsy idiot, the WWWC, and a Hu-oodle have to destroy a real Lycanthrope?
 Unless we can kill this hideous beast there is no hope for us. One by one he will track us down, each of our deaths too horrible to contemplate. My friends are precious to me and I don’t want any of them to die. Sometimes to my shame, I thought if the idiot got it, I could live with that. But even after all his screw-ups and systematic destruction of my home I wouldn’t wish that on him.
Should I fail, I shall be torn apart, ripped to pieces, eaten and once you are dead brother, life ain’t worth living. In the unlikely event I should be the victor I’ll become the local werewolf, so I must keep the real location of where this is all happening a secret. My home town could be a sleepy village in Hertfordshire, England, or an out the way town in the mid-west of the America’s or in the village of Sanyo in Japan. Or maybe it’s a country town called Wekawaka in the Wairarapa district of New Zealand.
Wekawaka is situated off State Highway Two but it also could be off Route 66 in California or the M1 motorway in England, or even the Hitachi yellow brick road in Japan.
It is a sleepy town with street lighting and shady trees lining the sidewalks. Generally everyone knows everyone else and their business. Think of Wekawaka as your everyday imaginary country town.
Wekawaka’s only distinction is that with alarming regularity tourists and trampers disappear in the rugged bush covered hills beyond the town. The rumour was that there was a sort of Bermuda Triangle effect going on and the local constable always seemed to be looking for someone. It didn’t bother us locals much; if the dopey tourists were too stupid to use a local guide that was their problem.
 One out of towner, an Australian no less, once said.
“If New Zealand was a constipated person you would insert the enema hose up the main street of Wekawaka to give him relief.” It’s a pity he never went missing.
We have a post office, a main street with hardware store, supermarket, garages, assorted small shops, cafes and two burger bars, one at either end of the town. There is one police constable, or sheriff, or ninja, or whatever they call cops in Japan but I shall refer to him as Constable Knowsley.
Knowsley considers himself a talented super-cop with a one hundred percent clearance of burglaries. Knowsley’s crime busting abilities must be taken with a grain of salt. We only had two burglaries in town last year, and criminal offender turned out to be the constable’s twelve year old son Sheldon.
Whenever our policeman spoke to you it was usually to ask “Have you seen this person?” and you would be shown a picture of a tourist standing smiling beside a hired camper van. Funny thing was he never seemed to find any of the missing persons, not that we heard about anyway. Once you disappear in the Wekawaka triangle you never return.
Ken Wilson my neighbour across the street was a keen tramper. He was middle aged and owned a miniature poodle. Yancy-boy was his name, I used to tease him and called him Nancy-boy, but he never got the joke. Why Ken would want a tramping companion who was no bigger than an obese albino rat, totally escapes me. He certainly wouldn’t have been much use as a hunting dog and was about as scary as a brightly coloured tea-cosy.

Suppose he was kind of cute, he’d see you coming and yap around your heels like a wind up squeaky toy. Yancy-boy must have done something real bad last month on that fateful full moon night. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sex in the City - A Pacific Island Tale

Sex in the City - A Pacific Island Tale

A satire based loosely on recent events in New Zealand's largest Pacific Island City. 
By A J Burton.


Mayor Marvin Paisley

His girlfriend: Wang Chung: (absent)

Paisley’s Lawyer: Mr Jonas Bent

PR Assistant to the Mayor: Ms Alofa Oi-no-lie

The Mayor walked into the plush rooms of the firm of Bent, Swindle and Contrivance.

“Ah Marvin, come in and take a seat.  You don’t mind me calling you Marvin, do you your Honour?” Jonas Bent guided Marvin into a spacious office.

“Well – ah - I prefer Mayor Paisley for formal occasions, Mr Bent. But as this conversation is off the record, Marvin will do fine. This is Alofa Oi-no-lie my Public Relations assistant.”

“Pleased to meet you Mr Oi-no-lie, I like your Lava-lava.”

“Talofa darling. It’s not a Lava-lava, Mr Bent - it’s a frock.”

“I must explain, Jonas. Ms Alofa Oi-no-lie is a Fa’afafine; a transgendered Samoan. When it comes to equal employment opportunities we of the Super City are totally committed to multicultural inclusion.”

“So, was having it off with a Chinese staff member also working to your equal opportunity employment policies, then Marvin?” Jonas eased his thousand dollar suit into the leather chair behind his ornate desk. Behind him there was a panoramic view of the sprawling city and harbour.

“Everyone sit down,” he intoned. “Remember everything you say in this meeting here in my office is sacrosanct.”

“Wait a minute - I thought you were the Mayor’s lawyer Mr Bent, are you a priest as well?” Alofa raised her plump hands in the air. “Praise the Lord we have God on our side.”

“No! Sacrosanct means nothing said at this meeting will ever leave this room. Everything we say today will not be recorded - in fact it will have never happened.”

“Oh, I see, so we not really here then.’ She sighed dramatically. “And I wore my special frock too. This is a strange palagi way to resolve Mayor Paisley’s problem.”

“It’s alright Alofa, it means we don’t want anyone else to hear and discuss what happened.” Marvin flashed a vote winning smile at Alofa.

“But it’s in all the newspapers. How you been caught giving your Chinese girlfriend a good fucking on your desk, in the council chambers. Even my auntie in Samoa knows about it.”

“She does? How did she know so quickly? The story only broke last night.” Jonas demanded as Marvin looked panicked. 
"I rang her up on da phone and told her.” Alofa leaned forward and patted Marvin’s hand. “Don’t worry boss, I told her it was a secret and not to tell too many peoples.” Bent and Marvin rolled their eyes and face palmed in unison. Bent came up smiling thinking, this is going to cost more than I first thought, what a wonderful ca-ching moment.

“You better start at the beginning Marvin, now is the time to be honest. Leave nothing out. I need all the details.” Bent’s smile resembled a Great White homing in on a lone fur seal.

“Awesome!” Alofa rifled through her handbag and pulled out a tapa decorated notebook and pencil. “Auntie wants more details as well.” She sat expectantly, the notebook on her knee. Bent and Marvin looked at each other for a moment then they looked at Alofa who had already started to write.

“Alofa, you must not take any notes. You must never repeat what you hear today.” Bent took off his glasses. “This is a secret meeting to discuss how we are going to defuse the situation and get things back to normal here at city hall.”

“Ok, good idea.” Alofa grinned. “You can go back to fucking your wife then, your Honour.”

“Please, Alofa. No notes. Let me get this off my chest. I have a heart condition and high blood pressure, this situation with Ms Wang Chung is not helping.”

“Ok boss, you get everything off your chest. I can keep secrets.” Alofa crossed her arms and knees revealing enormous green painted toenails bulging out of tight orange plastic sandals under her colourful frock.

“It all started at a function for a high ranking airline executive from China. Ms Wang Chung was part of the official greeting party. We chatted and I found myself attracted to her feminine pulchritude.”

“Is that a palagi word for pussy Mr Mayor?”

“No, it means I thought she was beautiful. Now if you don’t mind, I shall continue. I sent her some texts and the long and the short of it was she agreed to meet me for lunch.”

“She is a slut Mayor, you only ask her for lunch and she wanted to fuck you?” Alofa smiled.

“Well … yes she did flash her eyes at me but I am just as guilty as she is, Alofa. She is young and I am middle aged. I was flattered that she desired me, things went on from there.”

“Can you remember when you first had sexual intercourse?” Bent leaned forward his voice barely audible. Alofa threw her hands in the air.

“You want to go that many years back Mr Bent? We might be here all night.”

“No! I meant with Ms Chung. Carry on Marvin.”

“We first had coital relations in my office about five or six days later.”

“Oh, that is a big mistake Mayor. Even in Samoa we never bring the relations along to things like that! People talk you know.” Alofa was staring at Marvin reprovingly.

“Oh what’s the point? I am trying to be diplomatic. I can see it’s no good sugar coating everything. Alofa, I meant I had sex with her, I fucked her, gave her one, screwed the pants off her, and did the deed. All of those things OK?”

“Oiiieeee that many times eh? No wonder your heart is on the blink.”

Marvin and Bent face-palmed again. Bent’s sides began to heave. He took out a pack of tissues, usually used for comforting his clients after they heard his hourly rate, and began to wipe his eyes.

“I am sorry Marvin, I know it’s not funny but, look at this from my point of view. Now where did you find Ms Oi-no-lie?”

“Following national policy, council staff decided we needed to hire someone who was from an ethnic minority and also from the gay community. It is part of our multicultural policy; we must show we represent every community in our city, no matter how diverse. My PA Reginald told me he personally selected Ms Oi-no-lie after a vigorous recruitment program.

“Yes, Reginald and I held many vigorous interviews before I got the job.” Alofa volunteered.

This time only Bent face-palmed. He took a deep breath and said “Alright Marvin, so you had sex with Ms. Chung in your office. Now I need to know about the time you were caught by a security guard having sex in the Ngati Whatua Room.”

“It was late at night, my office was being cleaned. I didn’t mean to offend anyone by having sex in the Ngati Whatua room. It was just there, a big quiet room out of the way of the cleaners. I didn’t think...”

“It’s alright boss. Me and Reginald have had two interviews in the Ngati Whatua room. We used all the furniture but-” she giggled, “I fixed the broken chair up with duct tape.”

“O My God! Having sex is becoming endemic amongst your council’s employees.” Bent stood up, turning to look out the window. He felt left out, none of the employees at Bent, Swindle and Contrivance appealed to him.

“Oh, no chance of an epidemic Mr Bent. Reginald is a real gentleman; he brings his own condoms. We clean up after ourselves and I made sure I put the Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes in the rubbish bin. We like it like that.” Mr Bent tried unsuccessfully to relax into his seat once more. He was breathing heavily.

“Thank you for that insight Alofa.” Said Marvin firmly. ‘To get back to my story. In the Ngati Whatua room Wang and I were naked, having sex on the boardroom table, when I heard someone open the door. I froze; I just couldn’t move. I couldn't breathe and thought I was going to have a heart attack. Ms Chung told me to do something. I don’t remember what, but I couldn't move. I just stood there and the security guard walked in. It was my fault, I should have done something.”

“I agree,” said Bent. “We must do some damage control. This action was very disrespectful of our local Maori Iwi. Do you remember who the security guard was?” Marvin hung his head and shook it slowly.

“There, there Mr Marvin, don’t feel bad. Ms. Chung is a lying slut. She told the press that you can only fuck for two minutes and that she thinks you are only a four out of ten in the sack. Even the cleaning staff say youse are at least a five.”

Bent staggered to the window. “Stop, stop, I am sorry Marvin, I am not laughing, believe me.” He said leaning against the window frame gasping.

“You look like you laughing Mr. Bent.” Said Alofa sternly. “It’s not funny. The palagi press have made our Mayor look like a fool; making jokes about his little laititi and him cumming so quickly. Even my auntie say he is just like a boiled egg - finished in two minutes. Sorry Mayor, auntie Palamo has no class.”

“We need solutions,” Marvin stood up and began to pace the room. “Ideas. What are we going to do about the security guard for instance, how do we keep him quiet?”

“Pay him off of course,” Bent smiled. “It’s not rocket science. If he works for the council perhaps a small promotion, if he is on contract maybe a lengthy renewal clause?”

“What about the press? Most of them owe me a favor here and there but the others want their pound of flesh.”

“You are newly elected and you need an overseas trip Marvin. I hear the Los Angles’ city council is installing a new sewerage system. Maybe you could take the wife for a few weeks until this blows over.”

“How apt, I am so deep in the shit now I have to hold my nose to stop breathing it in.” Marvin flopped back into his chair.

“Good. Then that leaves Ms Wang Chung. Let me set up a meeting. Everyone wants something in these matters I find. Recognition, employment, a new reputation. Once she has been out in the cold for a while she will come round to our way of thinking. However, we will have to spend a little more than what it cost for black lingerie from the two dollar shop.” Marvin hung his head.

“I know I’m a cheap skate. But I feel better already.” Marvin took a deep breath. “Thank you, Jonas, I know I am in capable hands.” The Mayor held out his hand and shook Bent’s vigorously.

“The firm of Bent, Swindle and Contrivance is here to help you in every way possible. Naturally there will be considerable expenses, but I am sure the city ratepayers will be more than happy to pay to protect the good name of their Mayor from slurs.”

“Of course, the public have their uses.” Mayor Marvin stood. “Come Alofa, we have another meeting. Remember this meeting never took place. It never happened. Alofa? Where has she gone?

Alofa was already halfway down the stairs speaking into her cellphone.

“Hello Auntie, I have just finished a palagi meeting that never happened. I have heard of such things - you wouldn't believe that these palagi are so devious. Now I have to ring my cousin Sione, you know the one who walked in on the mayor screwing his Chinese girlfriend? I can tell him now that he is going to get a big pay rise. You know that 55 inch color TV you wanted? Well it’s coming auntie, almost as quick as the mayor.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Whitsunday’s and beyond.
The drive to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands was long and we passed numerous kangaroos dead on the side of the roadway hit the previous night as they sought the sweet grass by the side of the roads. It is sad but in a country this big, fencing the side of the roads would just be impracticable. Remember if you are thinking of coming to Australia and driving from city to city distances are huge! Even our GPS we named Doris seemed to have a sense of humor as she stated in her posh English voice. “Drive straight for 378 kilometers then make a right turn.”

On the way to Airlie beach we drove through Rockhampton and headed for Yeppoon. Due to lack of available accommodation we stayed for one night in an overpriced apartment tower called Bay-view Towers. We renamed them Faulty Towers. At $160 a night you would expect good facilities. Things like plates, knives and spoons; if you wanted these you were charged an additional $5. There were no cooking facilities except a microwave. The ranch slider to the balcony refused to open and there were so few plug outlets they had extension cords running around the room.
Determined to get some value for money we went looking for the spa and swimming pool complex advertised in the in-room information brochure. Mysteriously they had vanished. Maybe it was another add on? How a large apartment complex can advertise a facility that doesn’t exist leaves me speechless.
I passed a radio billboard on the way out of town advertising ‘NAG’ Radio not a very compelling call sign I thought.
While Hervey Bay seemed to be semi tropical, Airlie Beach seemed like a resort you would find in places like Fiji, complete with coconut trees. Tourism must be booming this far up the coast everything is bigger and brighter here. We found a nice motel apartment just a few hundred yards from the beach.
Up north they get those stinging jellyfish here from October to May so at Airlie beach they have a man made lagoon for swimming all year round. What a great idea!

On our last day at Airlie Beach we went on an island tour known as ‘the three island’ tour on a big wave piercing catamaran. Seeing skyscrapers on Hamilton Island kind of spoiled the view from the sea while the rest of the villas genuinely tried to blend in with the tropical forests. We never stopped at Hamilton Island which is a resort island for the rich and famous as well as the moderately well heeled.
The boat did stop and anchor on what surely must be one of the most pristine and unspoiled beaches on the planet. Whitehaven beach is miles of pure white silica sand and clear turquoise blue water. This beach has not been developed and is all the better for it. The water was a little cool but compared to New Zealand waters at this time of year it was. The longer you stayed in, the warmer it felt. There was a large sea turtle swimming about but he was just a little too far offshore for me as I didn’t have any swim fins.

After a dive on the reef at Hook Island and being surrounded by hundreds of reef fish we ended up with an hour and a half on Day Dream Island which is a resort destination. Another swim and a hot spa rounded off the day in facilities which were first class.
The next morning we left for Mission Beach with a stopover in Townsville to stretch or legs. It was a long drive but an easy drive on a good road clearly signed with plenty of places for a rest or refreshment break.
Mission Beach had taken a hammering in a cyclone earlier this year and reminded us that in the summer tropical storms can spring up at any time. Still it is a beautiful spot and is quickly recovering from the damage.

The next morning it was an easy drive to Cairns, mission accomplished!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Whales and Dingoes

I was keen to see if the hype about observing a humpback whale close up was worth it. Well it was! Seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild and being almost close enough to touch them is, infinitely better than seeing them on television. The first thing that strikes you is their size. They are huge, yet they have a serene majesty that makes them a true wonder of the animal kingdom. They pop their heads out of the water and simply observe you in the same way us curious humans observe them.
At no time are they frightening, or in any way threatening. The whales in Hervey bay are on holiday pausing before their long swim back to the Antarctic. I watched as a young calf breached the surface as it swum beside it mother. The mother feeds its calf by expressing milk straight into the water and its calf strains out the milk the same way as the older whales feed on the plankton and krill. Seems wasteful but a calf can put on over 80 kilos a day!
Whale watching is a relatively new phenomenon but I can understand why it has become so popular. These are not trained animals, or circus acts this is just how they are. The boat captain cuts the motors and you slip quietly beside them. The whales will either totally ignore you or they will decide to interact with you. Either way seems fine somehow.
New Zealand and Australia banned whaling in the early sixties. What took them so long! But that being said the whales in our waters are making a comeback. Numbers have gone from the hundreds to the thousands and long may their revival continue. So if you think whale watching might be an experience worth having, go for it!  In my humble opinion you will not be disappointed.

The next day it was time for some off-roading aussie style. Fraser Island is the world’s biggest sand dune island, 123 kilometers long and over 22 kilometers wide at its widest point. Covered in bush and tropical rain forest it was once a major logging site. Now it is a world heritage park and the bush has reverted back to its original state.
This trip is a true off road adventure. Nothing but a four wheel drive will cope with the rugged terrain and the deep rutted sandy tracks. You have seat belts in the bus and you need them on. Many times the driver shifted into the low box and with the engine screaming we crawled our way upward, branches and ferns scrapping the windows on both sides.
I swam in Lake McKenzie high in the sand dunes that is feed purely by rainwater. The water is crystal clear and covers about 130 hectares. It is surrounded by fine white silica sand. It was a highlight of the trip and if you go there take a swim; the water will get your heart pumping!
Back in the 4x4 bus and we ground our way back down the lower slopes to the rain forest.  What is truly remarkable is that the trees and the vegetation look so healthy and yet the whole island consists of just white sand.
After a bush walk we were herded back into the bus and we headed for lunch at a local resort. A quick lunch and we were off again down the beach. A wild dingo was digging up the remains of a fisherman’s catch and took no notice of the bus. Then it was off down the beach at what seemed to be about a 100 km an hour to an old shipwreck that washed ashore in 1937. You can’t swim at the beach because of the tiger sharks which patrol just out from the surf line. It seems a shame as the shoreline is nothing but miles of white sand and the water is crystal clear.
Six of us volunteered to go for a quick flight over the island on a 7 seat single engine aircraft that operated off the beach. We were told it was a 15 minute scenic flight over the coast to observe the whales and then a flight over the island.
The seven seat  was more of a five seat with two extra seats thrown in where the passengers legs should have been. I couldn't get the seat belt on and had to swap seats which involved some laughter due to the lack of room to maneuver. After breaking my sunglasses I managed to get the seat belt on but my legs needed to be in the isle for this to happen.
After the pilot was convinced none of the 4x4’s on the beach were headed our way, he gunned the engine and we were airborne in seconds and banking towards the ocean.
“Look two whales!” His voice crackled over the intercom and he did a hard left turn so we could all get a view of a mother and calf and our recently consumed lunch which was trying to come up from our stomachs.
“Look dolphin’s, a whole pod!”
Another quick bank and a shallow dive and we had two seconds to take pictures.
“Now for the island tour!” and we banked steeply then climbed through some turbulence for another turning and diving tour of the lakes, sand dunes and forest. Another quick turn and we dived down landing on the beach a few seconds later.
That was quickest 15 minutes of my life!
Later that afternoon we slogged back through the sand tracks to the ferry. If you have a bad back I suggest you miss this tour but if you like some adventure in your day then the tour will reinvigorate your adrenaline glands.

Well that’s all for now, next stop Airlie beach and the Whitsunday Islands.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cairns or bust.

Every journey needs planning and our holiday is no exception. when it comes to logistics I am afraid I am rather hopeless. I have a weakness in my left leg because of an old motor accident and I decided to buy one of those walking sticks that mountaineers use. They aren't cheap but as we planned to do lots of walking, it would come in very handy. It turns out, the walking stick wasn't that essential because I forgot to pack it and we flew out without it. Thank goodness my wife did most of the packing as the only thing I had to pack, I forgot. Apart from me dropping my mobile phone and having it splatter on the tiles at the airport restaurant and temporarily misplace my wallet at customs, the flight went smoothly. Seeing the sun come up at 36,000 feet was a glorious sight. The breakfast on the flight was very tasty but designed to appease the belly of a very small marsupial. Is it is me or are aircraft seats shrinking? I am 6ft 2in and 110 kg so my backside felt like it was sliding into a pair of shoes one size to small and the leg room wasn't all that flash either. Size and height discrimination by the airlines maybe?

After four days on the Gold Coast where we enjoyed some family time and a fun visit to Sea World, we left on our road trip to Cairns - a sign just out of Brisbane said "Cairns 1685 km" which looked pretty daunting. Our first leg was to  Australia Zoo, the journey was uneventful apart from the ever changing speed limits. How would you like to go from 60 km to 70 to 80 to 90 to 100 and then to 110 km and not necessarily in that order and all within a few miles. I was wearing my finger out on the cruise control! I passed the most unusual load I have ever seen - a full sized diesel train engine on a huge truck and trailer unit and I had to go over 110 km to pass it. It took us about an hour to get to Australia Zoo.

Our first stop was to meet a  Burmese python. In case you didn't know snakes are warm and smooth to the touch. This one kept moving its head around until it was comfortable then lay perfectly still. This one weighed seventeen kilos and was nearly nine feet long, so Jackie had the heavy part around her shoulders and I managed its head.

If you are ever planning to visit this zoo be prepared for lots of walking. It covers 100 acres and you can see animals from Australia, Asia and Africa. Definitely the most well kept zoo we have seen with lots of animals to see.  The Africa part was amazing.

We arrived in Maroochydore (Are there some crazy names in this country or what?) very late and the only accommodation we could find resembles a large concrete prison cell but we are too tired to care. Tomorrow we head for Hervey Bay and some whale watching. Watch this space for more updates.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Writing a comedy – How I Did It

Writing a comedy – How I Did It
My publisher and co-author Christine and I were having a coffee about 18 months ago and she commented on the huge amount of paranormal books being published. We thought a short story parody about a really ridiculous were-creature might be fun.
A white fluffy miniature poodle is attacked and infected with the werewolf virus. Before the virus has fully taken hold the poodle bites young Jake Fangle and he becomes infected with a poodle were-virus. 
Jake is a home schooled, virginal mummy’s boy; not very big, not all that bright, and certainly not brave or strong. Throughout the book he is trying desperately to change his virgin status to that of experienced lover. Fortunately his dog senses give him the edge over the rest of us mortals. Life becomes more fraught for Jake when Razor the resident werewolf discovers that Jake is a werewolf and is seeking to tear the man-poodle dog to shreds.
First problem was what tense to write in. Given Jake’s character I couldn't see any way around it. The story needed to be written in first person. Something I hadn't done before.
The second problem was how to make Jake Fangle funny. He must have a distinct voice: this is his story and told entirely (almost - the werewolf does get a couple of chapters) as he saw the world. I decided Jake would have the same problem as former President Bush who had a particularly funny way of butchering the English language. I have to admit that in real life I have problems with malapropisms, just like Jake.
This story was meant to be a novella but slowly took on a life of its own. I had to analyze how someone with dog like thoughts would handle things in day to day life. As I couldn't interview my own Labrador, I tried to look at life from a dog’s perspective. Six months later the short story had become a short novel and it still wasn't close to being finished.
I have watched many stand-up comics on both TV and YouTube and they either have their short routine for comedy festivals or longer routines for one man shows. They have to be constantly funny or at least highly amusing for anything from ten minutes to over an hour with several moments of real good belly laughs. The best comics tell short stories or anecdotes with a great punch line at the end with lots of laughs on the way.
So I tried to write each chapter as a scene. The whole story line is enclosed within one lunar month. I did make the werewolf the straight man - he is evil and scary.
I have tried to work at keeping the reader smiling between laughs for most of the whole book!
My advice is to anyone writing comedy for the first time, expect hard work! Strangely I found the whole process enjoyable and compelling. Full of laughter and I had no mercy – anyone who got in our faces was parodied in the novel. Movies, politicians, professions, actors and neighbours – no one has been ignored.
As with all my fiction writing I have no idea what will happen until it does. With each new scene, a movie begins to play in my head and I write what I see. On a good day even the words are provided. Sounds like cheating doesn't it? But I don’t know how else to write.
THE WEREWOLF AND THE WO-OODLE is now a full length novel of 94000 words and is in the final editing stages. The cover is being designed and the beta readers will be turned loose on it in the next week or two.
The proof of the pudding of course will be in what the beta readers think. Nervous times ahead.