It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll

For those who know me, you won’t be surprised at me listening to AC/DC at any hour of the day or night. In previous blogs I’ve extolled the virtues of Metallica and Soundgarden as audible writing companions, and today I found another, while scrolling through my iTunes library. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved AC/DC since I was a nipper, and enlisted the timeless help of Hell’s Bells and Back in Black to get inspiration for the bad characters in my books. But the track Its A Long Way…? It’s perhaps my fav AC/DC track of all time, it just always struck me as being not quite dark enough. But how wrong I was proven. It has that classic raw edge and the fantastic, gritty vocals of Bon Scott (RIP) to give it an urban streetwise feel. And bagpipes too. All in all a rythmn that suits tapping away at the keyboard. And though they are the biggest and most successful rock act ever to come out of Australia, this song tells of the woes of the early days, of gigging on the road, of the endless travel, of getting ripped off by managers and promoters. It is a hell of a long way to the top, but boy did they make it. They wanted it so very much, failure was not an option, and an unbending streetwise desire saw them over the line. Bon, Angus, Malcolm, Phil and Cliff, thank you for the music and endless inspiration. Now, how about I write a mopre personalised version – Its a long way to the top if you wanna write a book? Think its got legs? Adios for now.

Paws For Thought…

Hi Everyone. I hope you are all well. Just completed today’s 2000 word writing target, and the subject – dog sledding. Now this was an interesting one as I’ve never done it (not much need in South East London), and have never even been acquainted with a husky, so have zero knowledge of the fundamentals, except that sled dogs can go where motorised vehicles cannot due to their lighter weight, and that they can also test the strength of the ice cap ahead with their paws. Very impressive. I also know that they live to work and are pack dogs, so they won’t curl up next to you on the sofa while you’re watching the footie. Beyond that, I’m stuck, well almost. So, I contacted Jessica, my friend in Canada, and within a few minutes I not only had about three or four website recommendations, but also the email address of a top musher (dog sledder as they’re called) in Canada. Cheers Jess! I was then able to get to grips with the basics of harnessing up the dogs, where the strongest and smartest would be placed in the relevant formation, and how to start and stop the team. Fascinating! And I found a couple of great You Tube videos, complete with a howling dog chorus as they made their way out into the great beyond. That’s one of the things I love about writing, the introduction to new things and topics, to people from walks of life I just wouldn’t otherwise encounter, and also the warmth and willingness of people I’ve met along the way who are incrediblly generous with their time, and willing to help my latest project. Thank you all! The scenes I wrote are sketchy to be honest, though I am now fortunate to have a dog-sledding proofreader on standby to double check detail. So yes, its been a day of great discovery. I wonder what tomorrow will bring. Best wishes and catch up then. Dominic

Writing At Speed…

Hola Amigos! I hope you are all well. Reached the 2000 word target today, achieved over 3 stints, the last one finishing about ten mins ago, so 15.51 And today’s subject – another chase scene, this time in San Diego. I find the only way to capture the sheer panic of the pursued is to firstly study a potential route (Google maps helps), put on some appropriate music, and then write as fast as possible – with no stops, no time for thought, then once finished read back through the scrambled text and correct the many typos. Then repeat the exercise perhaps twice more, in the hope that each time a little variation or nugget will arise which will hopefully make the text sparkle. I live in hope! It’s the only way I can think to do it, and so would love to know how other authors try and harness that energy. Any one with any thoughts please drop me a line. Being an avid reader of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, I have noticed that when the action was quickest (a car chase/fight scene) he uses really short sentences which, for me, perfectly reflect the dramatic context. And I still think that Casino Royale is the best of all the Bond books. So thank you Mr Fleming, for not only the wonderful stories, but also for the education in action writing. You are, and always will be, a huge inspiration. Just before I end, I’d like to say thank you all for your nice messages and encouragement, it really means a lot. Have a nice evening, and catch up again tomorrow with more. Bye for now. Dominic

Out On The Road…

THURSDAY 7TH FEB 2013 has been an afternoon of driving (well, my friend at the wheel) and peering out car windows, taking notes of landmarks, timings, routes, for an action sequence that starts on the South Bank, London, then ends up heading out of London on the A40. Sitting at home at the keyboard, one can only imagine so much. But being out there on the road, I felt I really picked up on some useful detail which will hopefully bring the scene to life. Let’s hope it was worth the afternoon off my day job, the one that’s supposed to pay the bills, and the one I appreciate is often neglected as I strive to keep writing. As for the Daily Blog Challenge, well I’m still achieving (just about) the 2000 word a day target. And now coupled with even more words and relentless editting, book 2 is slowly taking shape. Hope you’re all well and having a good day. I’m off now to write up these notes. Until tomorrow… Dominic

The Spy Who Drank Latte By The Thames…

TUESDAY 5TH FEB 2013… Hi All! Today was about research of East Berlin, of life behind the Wall and, in particular, the workings of the Stasi, the infamous secret police. And it was the best kind of research, for I had an interview lined up. My subject, a friend of a friend, an elderly English gentleman, immaculately turned out in blazer, cravat and brogues, who proved hugely informative. In fact he painted such vivid pictures of food shortages and hardships endured that I began to feel decidely guilty at the luxurious grande lattes both he and I were supping amid the opulence of Hays Galleria. He went on to tell of how secrets were passed-on, of how people were smuggled out, and of his involvement with the Berlin Airlift. My friend who set up the meet claimed that Arthur had been a British spy in the Second World War, had worked with the French Resistance, had worked in post-war Germany (particularly Berlin) to infiltrate the Stasi, and that working behind enemy lines in general for British Intelligence had been his passion and specialty. He also went on to mention something about taking things with a pinch of salt. I beg to differ. I think Arthur knew more than enough to have certainly been associated with all the above. Naturally, any self-respecting spy would not confirm these claims of heroism, but I’d already made up my mind of one certainty: that he was clearly a wonderfully inspirational character, and one immensely worthy of mention (indirectly of course) in future books. Got back home and finished the 2000 word count quickly. T’was a good day. I feel I know Berlin much better now, and as with many of the wonderful things attached to the world of books and writing, I’ve had my eyes opened to a whole plethora of other interesting avenues in history. Thanks Arthur, and thanks all for reading. Catch up tomorrow. All the best Dominic

Daily Blog Challenge Still Going!

MONDAY 4TH FEB 2013 – with the musical assistance of Chris Cornell and Audioslave (thanks chaps) and numerous coffees, my writing day started at 3.30am. Ouch! Was productive, but it also brought a stark realisation that I need to further-increase my daily word count or I just won’t have the draft ready for stage-one edit on March 18. Yikes! The upside is that writing with increased urgency will hopefully flavour the plot with the same nervy edge. We’ll see! So blog-readers who are following my progress, I need you more than ever! I do want Book 2 to be a real barnstopper/show-stopper. Whilst I aim for it to be funny and entertaining, it also pulls no punches. It’s flat-out, 1000 mph espionage at its most edgy. Anyway, that’s the plan! Time management is everything. Anyhows, I finished today’s 2000 word target about an hour ago, so I’ll sign off now, eat, shower, chill and crack on again tomorrow. Hope you’ve all had a good day, and I look forward to catching up tomorrow. All the best, Dom PS Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ DominicCanty, and sign up for the e-newsletter on Adios for now

31st January 2013 – A tentative peak into the future!

Yep, a crack-of-dawn stint then a late afternoon charge, aided by the wonderful tones of Metallica’s Death Magnetic album, propelled me to my goal – the hallowed 2000 words. Listening to ‘End of the line’ (just one of the album’s awesome power tracks) it’s hard to write about young romantics skipping through fields of golden corn, hand-in-hand, disappearing towards a clear blue nightingale inhabited sky. And that’s fine, because book two is now getting darker. Its as if it has its own energy and path. The corn-fields have been ravaged, and the nightingales have fled to pasteurs new. For the landscape of book two is a descending whirlpool of decipt, revenge and continued betrayal, a huge powder-keg of bad energy, about to explode on the wrong side of one of the longest and most hotly contested borders in the world. Thank you again for your messages and encouragement. I’ve now written 18,000 words in two weeks. The blog challenge is working. Hope you’re all well. More tomorrow. Best wishes and bon soir. Dom

Day 8 Completed – Honest. Now for day Nine…

Bonjour! I did do 2000 words yesterday – honest! I just got home late, Match of the Day was literally starting on BBC1, and then the midnight hour was upon me and t’was too late to post. Yesterday’s writing went well (I think/hope). Concentrated on the bullet points of action in L.A. but again I’m conscious of not knowing the terrain, vibe and feeling of the streets. I must get out there. Today is all about fleshing-out the work of yesterday, and inserting those key trigger points to (I hope) make the storyline gripping. So who knows where today’s creativity will lead? Only my fingers, keyboard and imagination can decide. That’s the thing I love about writing, how it broadens the mind and takes me down paths I probably wouldn’t otherwise discover. So where was I last night? At the wonderful Bishopsgate Institute ( – check it out, its an awesome place, resource) for the launch of a book entitled Tales from the Two Puddings – about a guy named Eddie Johnson who owned and ran the above-named pub in Stratford for nigh-on 40 years. A wonderful look back to 1960s East End London and its characters (locals, dockers, actors, villains, boxers, gangsters) and yes, many brilliant tales. I love London, always have, always will, and last night had the pleasure of the company of a real London character. Thanks Eddie for a great night. Wish I could go to the Two Puddings now for a pint (well, its 09.51, so a tad early) but alas – The Puddings is no more. It’s now a Latino bar. How times change, but the memories will always remain. So, back to work for me, and I wish you all a great day. Thanks for reading, and I will post again later when today’s work is done. Bye for now, Dom ps you can follow me on twitter too if you want @DominicCanty

Day Seven – City of Angels Beckoning

2,000 words achieved, some first thing and the rest just now. It’s definitely easier very first thing, when its dark outside, the morning is still and silent and I feel I’m the only person awake in the whole world, the sun is still hitting the snooze button, and my mind is clear and eager to get creative. Sometimes, as today, I play music, ever so quietly as I’m a considerate neighbour 🙂 to help me envisage whatever place I need to. iTunes is also wonderful for that. This morning I needed to be the shadow of a streetwise LA narcotics agent and his world, so I played Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood. A great band, a classic album, and the title track’s lyrics really encapsulate that world. Now comes the tricky part – writing the next action when I have zero understanding of the diverse suburbs of LA, or the road that leads to San Diego. Anyone out there from those parts? Before I end, I promised Joe from Boston I’d answer his question in my blog, which was – why a Trabant as inspiration for my character? Thanks for your nice email and question Joe, and my answer: a) love at first sight, which was in ’91 when U2 played Wembley Stadium, London on their Zooropa Tour. 3 Trabis were suspended from the stage ceiling. I was smitten. b) I’m hugely inspired by the people of the German Democratic Republic (DDR) and the Soviet oppression they endured behind the Berlin Wall. To me, the Trabi symbolised that struggle, the making good against impossible odds. It also symbolised a changing world that ultimately led to the Wall coming down. There’s a huge amount of energy in that section of history that I wanted to harness for my character. There’s plenty more reasons too, hopefully obvious when you read the book, but for now I’ll end on the most important one, which is the fact that every secret agent deserves a super-cool car to save the world in, right? And if you still don’t know what a Trabi is, check out wikipedia’s page on Trabant 601. But be warned – they’re addictive 🙂 Thanks for reading and catch up tomorrow. All the best, Dominic

Mon 28 Jan 2013 Daily Blog Challenge Completed!

Yep, hit the target today, but hands-up I didn’t write over the weekend, which in hindsight is probably a good thing, to maintain one’s sanity and the ever-so important distance from one’s work. And it worked, back this morning revitalized, and managed the 2000 words by 11.37am-ish, sitting outside Cafe Rouge opposite the fab Riverside Bookshop (Hay’s Galleria, London Bridge whom I’m delighted to announce has agreed to stock Dead Men Should Know Better. Myself, Bristo and the gang are over the moon. Tomorrow’s target: write up the next phase of the journey: Winnipeg to L.A. Never been to City of Angels before so will look forward to that. Ok, the microwave’s just ‘dinged’ so that’s my cue. Have a great evening, thanks for reading and more tomorrow. All best, Dom

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