BearManor Media has been kind enough to show interest in my biography of Marie Prevost. I thought you might want to read these extracts from three e-mails I sent to someone whose research on Marie I had genuinely admired. I haven’t included the replies because of what follows:
“I readily admit that I am not an expert – and that your knowledge of Marie and her life is far greater… I have retyped the acknowledgements with a paragraph mentioning you and your fantastic site, but I would also note the source of any images you are prepared to let me use.”
“I’ve been reading through some of your older posts and saw one about people using your work as their own to write about Marie. I hope I’ve been open enough to tell you what I was doing, that this is only a part-time hobby and that if you were to publish a book, it is likely to be about as definitive as you can get. In fact, I’d be first in the queue to buy it...”
“Until two months ago, the thought/hope/prospect (call it what you will) of a book deal was nothing other than a dream. I have self-published more than a dozen books and lost money on every single one of them. Hobbies tend to cost money, but it was my choice and if it bothered me that much, I could always stop. I just wanted to write and if friends and family wanted to read my books, then I’d probably just give them a copy – but that’s just me. What’s happened in the past few weeks has been a total surprise – I’m just excited to see a book produced by a professional company as opposed to editing, typesetting and designing everything myself. I actually don’t care if it makes money or not – if I did, I’m absolutely sure I’d pick someone well-known... Sorry for bothering you. “
This is part of a lengthy blog on this person’s website:
Recently, someone wanted all the research I had not yet blogged about for free because they “just didn’t have time” to read books. He hadn’t even heard of Marie Prevost until last year, and refused to do research unless it was all online. I didn’t give him any of my research. Ultimately, he used [my] posts and other webpages about Marie for a biography which is now being published by a house infamous for its inaccurate and cheap bios. He, of course, wanted more free stuff from me once he inked a deal with the publishing house — free info from me for a book he is making money off of. When I pointed this out to him, he acted as though I was stepping on his dreams, then complained that he wouldn’t make much money anyway because Marie wasn’t famous enough.
Part of this is certainly true, I rarely read complete books and I hadn’t heard of Marie Prevost until 2012, I readily admit that I’m new to all this and if I’d gone about asking for help in the “wrong way”, then I probably wouldn’t argue, but to see words completely twisted and my character effectively stained in a public forum is, let’s say disappointing.
I might be wrong, but I’m presuming you could have the best research in the world and still churn out a poor book, simply because you actually can’t write very well. Other people might research differently and probably comparatively “better” than I do, but I’ve counted FIFTY-FOUR separate sources for my attempt at telling the Marie Prevost story. I certainly don’t over-estimate my own ability, but I do believe I can write. I’ll leave it up to others to judge how close to the line this particular person is treading.
And here is another paragraph from the blog – I sincerely hope I’m not being considered a bully by definition.
A full length, comprehensive and factual book about Marie Prevost will take the kind of time and money I don’t have right now, and I would bet none of the bullies who has emailed me has that kind of time or money, either. If they’re the kind of people who think everything they read on blogs is true, that everything women do can be appropriated by men, that a little online research is all one needs for a proper bio, then no, they have no idea what they’re doing. They just don’t.
Temper that with the following opinions of two undeniable Marilyn Monroe experts (Marijane and Hanna) about my self-published MM bio which was researched exactly the same way…
“Richard, when taking into consideration how many YEARS it takes for us fans to discern fact from fiction and considering the huge, awful, just ridiculous errors in some of the more famous bios, what you have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. You did more than a “reasonable” job, you did an amazing job and you should be proud of
“I have come away with a sense of pride that the Author, who started out knowing very little about Marilyn, has shown himself how to use the evidence provided and write a very good book. I just wish others would do so! Richard does not claim to be an expert on Marilyn . . .as so many have done before and his book is certainly not the doorstop he makes it out to be! The only time I would use it as a doorstop would be to make myself fall over it, to remind me to read it again, which I certainly will!”
I’m just an ordinary bloke, with an ordinary job, who likes to write in his spare time. I could bin this book tomorrow and my life wouldn’t change. I’m not going to mention the person involved or their site: I am bothered by what’s been written, I probably shouldn’t be, but that’s just me and I’ve no intention in trading insults. I hope I'm better than that.
All I will say is my book might be published, it might not, but whatever happens, I’ve certainly learned a lesson about human nature.
Almost ten years ago, I embarked on what was to be my first attempt at a novel. Coming up to a decade and several rewrites later, it is finally starting to take shape. I’m certainly not a novelist—I’m not even sure if I’m a decent writer— but this book is, or will be something very important to me.
The book revolves around two students, Matthew and Jodie, who meet at college in the 1980s. The book isn’t auto-biographical, but I wanted to be comfortable about the setting. Maybe unusually, no other character will be properly defined. The story is simply about the relationship between these two teenagers and covers some pretty difficult subjects (which I’m not planning on mentioning here), and any other rounded protagonist would merely serve to distract.
I have written 44,000 words so far and what follows are two very brief extracts. One from Matt and Jodie’s “first date” and the second a “morning after the night before” for Matt. Please ignore any typos or grammatical errors… story first, English accuracy second…
Any comments would be more than welcome—unless they include the word “crap”
The restaurant was fairly busy. Not packed, but there seemed a nice atmosphere or buzz about the place. We received a friendly welcome from what appeared to be one of the waiters—the notepad sticking out of his apron and pen behind his ear gave it away—I confirmed that we had booked and we were duly escorted over to a small table, at the end of a row of other tables set up for dining couples at the far side of the room. The tablecloths were of the disposable variety, but comprised the red, white and green colours of the Italian flag, adorned with a small candle flickering away happily in the centre.
Jodie slung her jacket over the back of her chair. She had taken the seat next to the back wall, which meant she could look out across pretty much the whole of the restaurant. I couldn’t but I was more than happy with the view!
We were handed menus and asked what we wanted to drink. We decided to sample the house white wine—a bit of a gamble on my part, because I was hardly a connoisseur—and within moments, a different waiter brought along a wine-filled glass container which, to the untrained eye, looked like a cross between a large flask from a chemistry lab and some sort of urine specimen bottle. Right at that moment, the reality of the taste could only be better than the prospect.
The waiter poured a small amount of wine into my glass, stopped (too quickly for my liking) and looked enquiringly at me. I glanced at him, and then across at Jodie, who was already giggling. “Try it!”
“Because that’s what you do. Make sure it tastes okay then he’ll fill up both glasses.”
I peered sheepishly up at the waiter, who didn’t quite manage to stop rolling his eyes in time. “It’ll be fine. Thank you.”
I couldn’t be certain, but with glasses duly filled, I was sure he mumbled something under his breath as he turned and walked away. I felt such an idiot.
“You don’t come to restaurants very often do you?!” Jodie was still chuckling as she sampled the wine. “Mmm, that’s nice. Quite dry.” She took another sip.
“Yeah, dry. Just what I was thinking!”
Jodie put a hand across her mouth, spluttered as she swallowed the wine, then laughed out loud.
“Anything you fancy?” I nodded towards the menu that was covering most of Jodie’s side of the table. Jodie’s smile and raised eyebrows were enough to make me look at the floor as I felt my cheeks starting to glow—yet again. “. . . on the menu!”
“Ahhh,” Jodie sighed melodramatically. “Surprise, surprise I’ll have the chicken salad.”
It only needed a quick look to confirm what I’d picked earlier, a hot and spicy pizza with pepperoni and chilli, although I should really have had a plan B because the jet-black hair and slightly-olive skinned waiter who was on his way over to our table could only be . . . yes, it was bloody Luigi.
He acknowledged Jodie, then me: “Ciao Signora, Signore. Are you ready to order?”
I so wanted to say “hello Dave” back, but after my faux pas with the wine, I thought it best just to be polite: “Hi . . . er, yes . . . can we have the chicken salad and a pizza . . . Inferno please?”
I gave myself a mental pat on the back for using the restaurant’s name for the pizza, thereby avoiding having to say “pepperoni”, and denying Luigi the chance to repeat the order but roll several extra r’s into “pepperrrrroni”.
“Grazie. Any garlic bread or chips?”
He actually said “cheeps”, but I’ve opted to anglicise rather than try to attempt anything vaguely phonetic.
“No thanks.” I smiled and handed back the two menus.
I woke to find that my head had been transformed into a lead weight that was way too heavy to be lifted up off the pillow. The scuffling sounds from the corridor suggested that some of the lads were getting themselves ready for some midweek education, one instructive boat I looked destined to miss. I groaned loudly as I rolled over, rubbed the fingers and thumb of my left hand across two very painful temples and, with admirable concentration and no little effort, managed to sit up.
Having struggled to my feet and shambled pathetically over to the sink. I turned on the cold tap, cupped my hands and doused my face several times. The effect was one of apparently instant refreshment, which disappeared as soon as the tap was turned back off. I screwed up my eyes and became aware of a sickly, bilious feeling somewhere between my stomach and my throat—although I couldn’t work out exactly where.
I glanced over at the foot of the door, half expecting to see a reply to my note, but there was nothing except the faint streak of brightness from the corridor lights. My thoughts turned to Jodie. How had she slept? How did she feel after last night? I shook my head to banish any negative thoughts. There was no logical reason for me to doubt that the special person I saw in Jodie was real and, more relevantly, that she saw something similar in me too. The most pressing concern was to get rid of the throbbing pain in my head: then, and only then, would I be ready to face however much of the day was left.
I didn’t quite make it for the eleven o’clock lecture—mainly because it started at ten. The topic was due to be Victorian social history. It was actually quite an interesting subject, or rather it should have been. Sadly the History department seemed to be inundated with particularly dull lecturers, and Mr Henderson was just one more face in a wholly uninspiring crowd.
Buoyed by a cheese and ham toasted sandwich—served with lettuce, tomato and a nicely blackened piece of cellophane which was well and truly stuck to the bread—I was able to face the afternoon’s lessons with renewed energy. I managed to last through two one-hour talks, along with a half hour tutorial. Seemingly the powers that be were slightly more impressed with the quality of my work than I was with the standard of some of the lecturers, but it was certainly comforting to know that as far as the course was concerned, I had made a steady start.
As I strolled back across the campus, I wondered whether there would be a piece of paper waiting for me. I turned the key and clumsily opened the door, the simple action being complicated somewhat by the weighty text books I was carrying. There was no note. I flung the books onto the bed—two remained on the duvet, but one bounced off the edge and onto the floor, coming to rest face down on the rug. I bent down and dejectedly spun the book back onto the bed. . . .
So it seems like the rumours may be true – some previously “missing” episodes of Doctor Who may well have been found.
There has been some speculation that an as yet undetermined number of lost episodes from the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras have been unearthed and the short article that appeared on the BBC news web site certainly gives the story credence.
There are one hundred and six missing episodes in all and in advance of any formal announcement, I presume fans of all ages will have a wish list of those missing episodes – or even missing adventures – that have been or will be returned to the BBC. Seeing as this is my blog, it would be a shame for me to miss out, so top of my personal list would be any (but preferably all four) missing parts of the 1967 serial The Faceless Ones (and the picture is of Patrick Troughton as the Doctor with the Chameleon Nurse Pinto, played by Madalena Nicol). After that, probably the fourth instalment of The Tenth Planet (was this why the DVD release was postponed I wonder?) and then… actually I don’t really mind after that.
It’s ironic to say the least that any announcement would come just weeks before the show’s fiftieth birthday, but accepting there is truth in the rumours, two things are for sure. If just a few episodes have been discovered, the BBC are going to make an awful lot of money – but if a significant number of gaps in the archive are about to be filled, then the BBC are going to make an expletive awful lot of money – a significant amount of which is likely to be mine!
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