Julia Hughes - writing thrilling adventures - time after time after time.
Having left school at sixteen, I'm really conscious that there are holes the size of the M25 in my knowledge. Yep. The things I don't know would smother London. So when a programme randomly popped up on the telly the other night promising to reveal the real culture of the southern states of America, you can bet I sat up and paid attention. And the show delivered - books such as Tobacco Road, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof etc., were being discussed by the time I caught up.
The presenter was an American comedian whose caustic wit I'd admired on various chat & game shows. Tallish guy with a face that needs ironing, blue eyed, teeth bad enough to be an honorary Brit. He got going on the great music produced by the South, names such as Ray Charles and boy was he scathing about those who only found the great man's songs from films, saying something along the lines of 'If you can't be arsed to discover this talent by yourself, if you have to wait for the movie to come along, you're just a ruminant, a sheep. And fuck you.'
Which I thought a bit harsh, considering this was a BBC production for a British audience who were actively seeking to discover more about the 'Southern States'. But I admired his passion. One by one the great writers, composers and artists of Dixie Land were examined and compared to Hollywood's Treatment of their art. When the bloke complained that the rest of the world only knew the Southern States from Hollywood's version, I nodded in agreement. I was in this guy's pocket.
Until he came to my favourite novel of all time. It started well enough. The genius of this book he explained, is that it tells its story through the eyes of a child. I nodded eagerly, so far agreeing with every word. Then he broke the spell.
'Six year old Scout and her younger brother Jem.'
I don't know what he said after that. I lost faith completely. He was no longer a man with passion, speaking on behalf of the South. Here was just another actor, spouting words put into his mouth by a team of researchers. The real pity though was that everything the presenter had said before, even his vehement scornful words for those who relied on Hollywood to supply their culture seemed hollow and false. For all I know his comments on ‘Tobacco Road’ and ‘Inherit the Wind’ were pukka. But the connection had been broken.
I’d changed from a woman eagerly hanging on my new best friend’s every word to a cynical channel hopper.
Have I made my point? Sweat the small stuff. I know hundreds of small fascinating facts about the Titanic I never knew before researching for ‘A Ripple in Time.’ It isn’t hard, when the subject’s so interesting. Enthusiasm’s great. It’ll take you far. But sooner or later, you’re going to have to come up with the goods, and if your audience even gets a sniff that you might be faking, all the hard work that’s gone before will count for nothing. And credibility, like Darcy’s good opinion, once lost is lost forever.
Wren Prenderson; "A Ripple in Time" best hero.
"The Griffin Cryer" best Urban Fantasy. Thank you to the hard working judges and everyone who voted at the eFestival of Words, organised by Julie Dawson, of Bards & Sages.
A Raucous Time, A Ripple in Time, and The Griffin Cryer. Thank you to Julie and her hard working panel of judges and reviewers.
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