Flash Fiction – and it turned out to be Raspberry Jam

September 23, 2018


 

 

 

Derek put down his trumpet and asked, “What do you think of that?”

“Far out, Man, “whispered Clive.  “It were great.”

“It was certainly the best piece of improvised Jazz I’ve heard in a long time,” agreed Clare.  “But I don’t understand why you made that vulgar noise in the middle.”

“It sort of went with the mood,” said Derek.

Clive nodded his approval and murmured, “Cool.”

“Well, I think it spoils it and should be taken out.”

Derek studied the three members of his trio carefully.  Clare, the clarinettist was the most recent addition and had classical training, but he had known the drummer, Clive, since childhood.  “It stays in,” he said.  After all this was a democracy.

The remainder of the rehearsal centred on what the piece should be called and it turned out to be Raspberry Jam.

 

 

 

 

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Fictional Scientists

September 12, 2018

There have been many celebrated scientists in fiction.  A disproportionate number of these have been depicted as mad, working on outlandish experiments to change the world and often nearly destroying it in the process.  They usually end up destroying themselves.  I often wonder if it is because of these fictional caricatures that people regard scientists and the science they produce with suspicion.  However, the real reason is almost certainly because of their inability to communicate properly with the public.

I have spent most of my working life as a biological scientist while writing fiction in my spare time.  Up until a few years ago I have been reluctant to publish any fictional science.  I know how much effort goes into researching real science and getting it to work.  Fictionalising it, by making it up goes against the grain.  But what in the past has been regarded simply as science fiction is often now becoming science fact and so  this form of fiction is now a real force in driving fact.

My novel Magic Bullets at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

 

Keith Jahans


Music in Fiction

August 29, 2018

Conveying music in fiction is hard to do.  I have read novels where an author has written an original song and printed the lyrics on the page.  A good example of this can be found in the works of Tolkien where his penned “folk” songs are sung by his heroic characters.  But when reading these stories I find it hard to visualise these songs without a tune to put them to.  This is of course where film and audio adaptations have the advantage over the written word where the producer is able to hire musicians to write a fitting melody.  I suppose the author could add a short piece of sheet music to fit the lyrics but the musically illiterate such as myself and even those among my readers might find this a distraction.

Instead, I have merely opted to describe the sound without going deeply into its substance.  In my first novel, Cogrill’s Mill, I have simply suggested that my fictional characters were listening to local folk music or when they were listening to contemporary country music I chose a well known song, namely Dolly Parton’s Jolene.  My latest novel features a young female singer who becomes a star and I applied the same technique here.  In this way I hope to show my readers that her singing and the sound of her voice are essential ingredients to the plot.

Copyright: Dmitriy Cherevko / 123RF Stock Photo
Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

Keith Jahans


Killing Fictional Characters

August 24, 2018

Killing fictional characters is good fun for the novelist.  But it can be difficult for the reader to take so it must not be undertaken likely.  Dickens was chastised by his readers for the death of Little Nell and fans of Sherlock Holmes were so incensed when the hero fell to his death at the Reichenbach Falls that the Author, Conan Doyle, was compelled to bring him back.

I myself have been approached by readers who were upset by the demise of a favourite character I had created.  But I am afraid it was too late.  The stories in question were completed and the books published.  Even if I could go back and alter it, the death was such an integral part of the plot, the purpose of the story would have irrevocably been changed.

It would be like inventing a Time Machine and going back in history and killing an evil historical figure like Hitler.  I remember hearing a comedian saying that killing babies is what a time machine should be used for.  The bible states that King Herod, on hearing a prophecy about the birth of Jesus, ordered the massacre of the innocents, but that did not work.  Altering the course of history, whether factual or fictional, does not seem to be a good idea.

The odd death around a central character in fiction gives them a sense of vulnerability and helps the reader care about them.  It is a reader’s empathy and concern for the protagonist is what keeps him or her reading.  In the prologue of my novel, Magic Bullets, I introduce a killer with an automatic rifle in the hope that in the minds of my readers he hovers in the background like an Angel of Death.  It is a device that has probably been used before and I hope it works.

Magic Bullets “angel of death”
Copyright: tiero / 123RF Stock Photo

My novel Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

Keith Jahans


Bullets in Fiction

August 21, 2018

There are numerous references to bullets in literature.  Silver bullets have been used by the fictional masked western hero, The Lone Ranger, to shoot his armed adversaries without harming them, and by others to kill supernatural werewolves.  Other examples can be found in detective novels where forensic ballistic reports often lead to the undoing of many a criminal mastermind.

The German Scientist and physician, Paul Ehrlich, coined the concept of a magic bullet to describe the perfect drug that could selectively target a disease-causing organism without harming the patient.  I worked as a professional microbiologist for forty years and had experience of working with different bacteria and antibiotics so I thought it might be an idea to write a story about a scientist who discovered a fictional drug and the effect this had on his life.

Despite the endeavours of scientists such as Ehrlich, drugs are not perfect medicines.  I cannot think of one that does not have harmful side effects.  Given the fact that some have hallucinatory properties and are addictive, I decided to throw that into the mix as well.  There are a lot of references to bullets in literature so as the narrative progressed I thought it might be an idea to link the story with bullets that came from guns and are specifically designed to kill.  Whether I succeeded enough in creating an entertaining read is up to the reader to decide.

My novel Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

 

Keith Jahans


Medicine in literature

August 15, 2018

I was surprised when Amazon classified my new novel Magic Bullets as Medical Fiction.  But then I read an article I saw on the Wellcome Book Prize webpage (see https://tinyurl.com/yaf3hb7c) where judges and former winners picked their all-time favourite fiction books that touch on this topic and it seemed that their links to medicine appeared rather vague.  So I decided to list three books that I felt could be similarly classified.

The first one on my list is Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham.  This is about two biochemists who extracted and anti-aging drug from an unusual strain of lichen only to find that it could induce harmful side effects.  My memories of the book are rather vague as I read it a long time ago.  I do remember it as being rather heavy reading but I kept going as I found the plot most intriguing.

The second on the list is The Invisible Man by H G Wells.  In this book Wells goes into great detail about how to change a body’s refractive index and become invisible.  What I liked about the story was that Wells skill in explaining the science behind the plot makes it seem entirely plausible.  I have read this book several times and still enjoy it as an absorbing read

But my favourite has to be The Double Helix by James D Watson.  It is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  It is controversial due to Watson’s willingness to appropriate data surreptitiously from others and his sexist attitude towards scientist Rosalind Franklin who, because of the harmful nature of the X-rays she worked with, died early and therefore could not share the Nobel Prize.  Despite these flaws, I found the story fascinating.  It is probably the greatest medical discovery of all time which has lead and is still leading to momentous breakthroughs in modern medicine.  It is the best detective story I have read and is the main reason why I followed a career in biological science.

 

Keith Jahans


Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback,
as an ebook and audiobook.


Engaging with Fellow Writers

April 30, 2018

During the past few weeks myself and fellow authors of The Watford Writers group have been engaging with other writers and readers as part of Watford’s Big Word Fest.  On the Friday evening of 20th April some of us read at an “Open Mike” event at Watford Museum and on Saturday 28th April a few of us exhibited some of our books and took part in a self publishing workshop at Watford Central Library.  Thanks to the staff at both venues and to those who took part, I had an amazing time.  I recommend that anyone visiting Watford should visit both venues which are open most days and are outstanding examples of their type.

Keith Jahans

 


Watford Museum

 

Watford Central Library

 

Self Publishing Workshop

 

More photographs can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/watfordwriters