Sunday, 14 June 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...


The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacobs is one of my favourite short stories. Musing the other day, it dawned on me that this tale sparked me into writing children's novels. And supernatural ones at that! It has seeped into popular culture, even the Simpsons, all the way from 1902 and, although the language can be difficult, kids in my classes used to love to hear it.

It's one of those 'be careful what you wish for' stories and provoked all manner of lively debates, not to mention some excellent stories by the pupils.

I love the fact that, in the story, all the horror is hinted at. Everything is left to the reader's imagination. we never see mangled corpses rising from graves. We never learn what the last owner of the paw, Sergeant Major Morris wished for. When he is asked if he has made three wishes, he shivers and says, 'I have.'

The tension builds beautifully and what Mr White, the main protagonist, has to wish for in the end is truly tragic and horrific.

Speaking of being careful what you wish for, I've now had back the second edited manuscript of Mortlock. It needs a few (well two actually) tweaks. I often hear writers bemoan the revision process but I have to confess, I quite enjoy it. It never ceases to amaze me how a few changes, rearranging a paragraph, modifying a sentence, can transform a scene and take your work to another level. It's brilliant!

But I haven't been stuck inside all of this sunny, shiny weekend. The chicks hatched about three weeks ago are getting feisty and adventurous so we moved them out into a nursery run in the garden.

And today I'm going to a SCBWI crit group in Chester which, if I remember my camera, I will tell you all about next time!
But for now, here's some music for you! It's called the Teetotaller, which I'm not.

12 comments:

JJ Beattie said...

My brother, who is 11 years older than I am, used to terrorise me with that story. Totally terrifying. I haven't read it as an adult, but think I should dig it out! Thanks for the reminder.

Megan said...

you're so right - that story's amazing. I reckon I'll be unearthing it too (-:

DJ Kirkby said...

Love the tune. N3S listened to it with me and now he wants to know your name and where you live! Erm...not sure if that is good or not, he won't tell me if he liked it...but he does want to know why your music stopped :)

DJ Kirkby said...

Okay he has just listened to it again and now wants it loaded onto his blog. He loves music and you've made him very happy with your this morning, thank you. P.S.The word verification is 'whirlade' which just seems very appropriate to me.

DOT said...

We had a scholastic Jesuit who used to delight in frightening us boys at school just before bedtime with horror stories, one of which was The Monkey's Paw.

I have never slept well since.

katcampbell said...

The Monkey Paw...we used to read it around the campfire when I was a kid. My Dad using his best Vincent Price imitation. That would be followed by a screening of Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. Did I mention I didn't sleep much as a kid?

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Jon,

First... whoa it got dark around here, and it's cool!

Second, you are one talented musician, sir. That was some very impressive finger work.

Thank you!

Good luck with Mortlock! Goodness I can't wait to read the whole thing!! YAY!


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Tam said...

You're right, it's a great spinechiller and all the better for the hinted horror. And you're also spot on about editing, I love it, for exactly the same reasons.

Liking the choon, btw. Good work, BDB.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Gosh, you are good - but where was the singing?!
And you know what, after years about whinging about rewrites and re-edits, I've finally come to see the point and so relate to what you're talking about.

gary davison said...

Yes the talent is there! As for the story, this web page alone is frightening enough for me. Things looking spooky round here!

KatW said...

You really are a busy bee. And I'm loving that you share your musical talent with us - must show this to my little man as he has liked your past performances.

Kat :-)

SarwatC said...

Good story. The Monkey Paw theme could be one of the classic themes in a lot of tales, and it's interesting you raise it when, apparently, you've got away with it. For now, anyway....