Thursday, 29 September 2011

Long synopsis of SMALL FREEDOMS

Spread over more than 9 decades, Small Freedoms is the family saga of a Dutch Burgher family from Ceylon, and takes the reader from Ceylon to Madras in India, to England and Australia. The story moves through the gracious living of colonial times in the tropics, to the soul destroying life in colder places, in a world of dashed dreams and faceless people, where reflections of yesterday are hard to see in the tarnished mirrors of the family’s lives.
Georgie, the principle character is the 3rd daughter to be born into the well to do Whittensledger family.  In the first chapter, set in London in 2005, she is murdered. The perpetrator is somebody she knows, but the reader doesn’t find out who it is until the pen-ultimate chapter.  To find out who Georgie was and who would kill a 90 year old woman, the book goes  back to 1914, the year before Georgie was born, and then travels forward, weaving together the fabric of this dysfunctional family’s characters.
At the age of 13, Georgie falls in love with her eldest sister’s fianc√©, Voan.  He rapes her, just a few day days before his marriage to her sister Eddy, and drags himself out of his world with Eddy and into Georgie’s, forever.  Much to Georgie’s surprise, she finds out that she is pregnant. Her father does not want to know the name of the person who has made her pregnant, for fear of killing him, and makes a decision that is to change the course of everybody’s lives, forever. He sends her off to Madras to have the baby, accompanied by Eddy and Voan.  The baby boy, named Dennis, is registered as the son of Voan and Eddy, and goes through most of his life unaware that Georgie is his biological mother.
George forces his daughter Georgie into a loveless marriage, which remains unconsummated until its dissolution many years later. Her husband, Lloyd is a womaniser, and makes his friend’s young daughter pregnant. He convinces Georgie to adopt the child, without telling her that he is the child’s father. They call her Penelope.
Georgie’s other sister, Charlie, marries the man she wants, but starts to develop signs of Munchausen’s Syndrome soon after the birth of her first child. She makes life very difficult for her daughter, Rochelle, who leaves home at fifteen, and is not heard from again.
George has a stroke brought on by Georgie telling him that Voan is Dennis’ father. He dies, leaving Emma to validate her own life without him. The wealth built up by George has been eroded by Voan. Eddy and Georgie’s homes are sold, and everyone moves in together into the family home. Georgie and Voan start a real love affair, condoned by Emma. The charmed life, now over, and Ceylon’s independence means the Burghers are no longer the favoured few. Charlie and her family had left to settle in Australia in 1951. Plans are now made for the rest of the family to move in their own directions, where, not being adroit at standing alone, they will stumble into the slipstream of life, and lose themselves, just trying to live in those worlds.
Georgie goes through her life, a lost soul in search of a requiem, Voan, the face imprinted on her heart, the silent voice in her head. That is until, at the age of 48, in London she meets Lewis, 13 years her junior, and falls passionately in love with him. When he finds somebody a lot younger than himself to be passionate with, Georgie rebuilds the bridges she had burned, and turns back to Voan.
Eddy dies. Georgie travels to Australia and marries Voan, but the memory of Lewis is forever in the way. Love and life with Voan is unlike the dream she had forgotten to forget. After Voan’s death, Georgie goes back to London, and lives in a state of suspended animation. Her senile dementia develops, and in her mind, she has the love affair of her life with her young priest.

Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

I have decided to omit the last 2 chapters in this synopsis!
That would give the whole game away!
Will castigate myself if necessary!

                                                                            

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Life Goes On.

On the soundtrack today
Peel Me a Grape by the wonderful Nancy Wilson with the great Ramsey Lewis on piano

Cooking today.
Thai (ish) fish curry with steamed rice.
(Recipe at bottom of the blog)

Life goes on, and I'm so happy that it does. I'm really happy with my lot!
Apart from starting on the 3rd edit of SMALL FREEDOMS, I have totally focused my mind on where I want to be 1 year from today. Where do I want to be?
I want to be at a place where I have 4, maybe 5 books out there!
Sounds like a lot to ask of myself, but it's not!
SMALL FREEDOMS is almost set to go. ALWAYS, NOT FOREVER, my 2nd novel, at 52,709 is halfway there. AND, I plan to turn 2 or 3 Filmscripts I have co-written with my son, into books. The ones where the original ideas were mine of course!
They are, THE COUNTING HOUSE, a psychological thriller; POLITICAL SCIENCE, the extreme politics of racism and ALMOST CRIMINAL, a comedy caper about some 1960's gangsters in London, but with a very dark side to it.
I'll be posting short synopses of of the 3 film scripts and ALWAYS, NOT FOREVER in my next blog.
Nearly forgot to mention that a few months ago I wrote 2 short poems. Not for any real reason, just felt like it. A few days ago I entered them both into a poetry competition! I don't think I stand an icecube's chance in hell of winning any of the prizes, because it is an International competition, and anyone can enter, which means published poets!  But, I've done it! Pleased with myself about it, too.
Unfortunately, I can't put them up here, because it is for unpublised poems, and even putting them on a blog is considered as 'published'.
For anybody interested in entering, you can find information about the competition on the Poetry Society website.
I'm going to post the full synopsis of SMALL FREEDOMS as a seperate blog, later today. It is quite lengthy, and would make this particular blog prohibitively long. Plus, I need to make a few amendments/changes. For example, should I give the game away and blog it as it actually is? Or leave everybody in suspense, as to 'who dunnit'?  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Recipe for my Thai (ish) fish curry follows. This is a firm family favourite, and my son's girlfriend's favourite food of all time! (Up 'til now, anyway!)
I have tried to put in quantities of ingriedients. I say 'tried' because I cook EVERYTHING by taste or judgement. A bit of this, and a bit more of that. And it works! I know what taste I am aiming at, and adjust accordingly.
It is actually a mixture of a Thai Green Curry and a Thai Yellow Curry.

Recipe


4 fillets of any white fish.
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 pieces each.
1 medium onion chopped.
2 cloves garlic chopped.
2 tbs Indian curry powder.
Up to ½ pint coconut milk (made from powdered coconut milk)
1 tspn cornstarch, slaked in a little water.
Handful chopped corriander (cilantro) roots.
Handful chopped corriander leaves.

2 Kaffir lime leaves or 2 teaspoons grated lime zest.
1 stalk lemon grass (tied into a knot and removed when food is cooked)
2 tbs chopped/grated ginger.
4 tbs Nampla (fish sauce). This is what adds the saltiness. Add more if you need to.
1 tbs palm sugar (any sugar if you don't have it!)
1 tbs oil.

Method

Fry the onion in the oil until translucent, fry the curry powder for a few minutes, stirring all the time. Add the garlic. Add the coconut milk and everything else, except the fish and potatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes.
The cornstarch will stabelize the coconut milk and stop it from 'splitting'.
Add the potatoes. When they are almost done, add the fish. Simmer for a few minutes, until fish is cooked.
Serve with rice. I prefer Basmati, but it's up to you what you use.
Please adjust this to your taste. You want more palm sugar/ corriander/curry powder? Add them at the appropriate time. You want it with a bit of a kick? Use Madras curry powder, or add a few chopped green chillies! You can add a few prawns or any other seafood as well. Add more cocnut milk if you feel like having lots of lovely soupy gravy for the rice to soak up.
This is a very flexible, forgiving recipe!
I have made this with pieces of mixed fish on more than one occasion. Salmon goes quite well in this curry.
Hope I haven't left anything out.
If any of you try this recipe, please get back to me and let me know how it went!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Why I wrote SMALL FREEDOMS

SMALL FREEDOMS, my first novel was a book waiting to be written. Needing to be written if you catch my drift.
I come from a dysfunctional family. Come to think of it, a highly dysfunctional family! I was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) By the way, I prefer the name Ceylon! As in the book, I am a Dutch Burgher, which basically means I am a mongrel! Bits and pieces of German, Dutch, Portugese and probably a lot more nationalities, but who cares? I am what I am!
From about the age of 7, I had given a lot of thought to what had been going on around me. At about the same age, I developed a love of reading and writing. I became a voracious horder of information about the family. Every useless bit was tucked away into my memory files, until a few years ago, when I knew the time was ripe to open up those files and do something with the information.
I have woven a story around what I knew. It is a roman √° clef novel,  which of course means that it is fiction based on fact.

SMALL FREEDOMS is spread over more than 9 decades. It is a family saga of a Dutch Burgher family, and takes the reader from Ceylon to Madras in India, to England and Australia.
The story moves through the gracious living of colonial times in the tropics, to the soul destroying life in colder places, to a world of dashed dreams and faceless people, where reflections of yesterday are hard to see in the tarnished mirrors of the family's lives.
How much is fact and how much of the book is fiction?
Even I am now finding hard to draw any lines!
There are parts, that people who know me and my family will realise are figments of my writer's pen. There are people in the family whom I don't care for, and therefore, I have not given them any life in my world of SMALL FREEDOMS!
Others that I don't care for, have been given a bad press within the pages of the novel. They were an integral part of the family life, so couldn't be omitted!
Writing and researching this book has taken me more than 5 years!
BUT, I have written several film scripts during that period.
Have just finished my 2nd edit. Going for at least one more! But at 145,931 words, it takes time!
I'm going to put a long synopsis of the book on here within the next few days
Wish me luck people!