Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Guest Blogger: Nicola Morgan speaks about her novel Mondays are Red

Changing Minds by Nicola Morgan

And now for something new on Absolute Vanilla...

Today it's my pleasure to introduce to you a guest blogger and one of my favourite YA authors, Nicola Morgan - also known as the Crabbit Old Bat despite the indispensible advice she offers writers on her blog Help I Need A Publisher.

Author, Nicola Morgan

You may recall that I did a rather gruelling interview with Nicola about her YA novel, Wasted, but today, I've decided to skive off and let Nicola speak for herself about the her debut YA novel, Mondays are Red.

First published in 2002, Nicola Morgan is now delighted to be personally producing Mondays are Red as an ebook, with a new cover and extra material, including creative writing by school pupils inspired by the book. For review information and details about where and how to buy the ebook (price: approx £2.23 on Amazon), see here.

NOTE: you do NOT need a Kindle to buy a Kindle book. Simply download the free Kindle software for your laptop, iPad, iPhone, smartphone, android, tablet etc

When Luke wakes from a coma, his world has altered. Synaesthesia confuses his senses and a sinister creature called Dreeg inhabits his mind. Dreeg offers him limitless power – even the power to fly – and the temptations are huge, but the price is high. Who will pay? His mysteriously perfect girlfriend, with hair as long as the sound of honey? His detested sister, Laura, with the wasps in her hair? When Laura goes missing, Luke realizes the terrible truth about himself and his power. His decision is a matter of life and death, and he will have to run faster than fire.

Thank you, Nicky, for letting me come here today. And to escape the clutches of your interview technique, too! You’ve asked me to say something about language changing minds, which is an underlying theme of Mondays are Red.

First, the relevant parts of the premise: an ordinary, sport-mad 14-year-old boy wakes from a coma after meningitis, to discover his world changed. Not only is his leg weak (so he may not be able to run again) but his mind is invaded by synaesthesia (where the senses are mixed) and a sinister creature called Dreeg. Dreeg shows Luke that his synaesthesia offers absolute power – and we all know what absolute power does to people. The mechanism of this is that his synaesthetic way of seeing the world gives him the power of language, which is, in effect, the power to change people’s minds. When Luke describes something, he does it so powerfully that people actually see the thing he’s describing – in other words, he changes what they see, which amounts to changing what is.

And that is why the power of language is the greatest power. It can be used, of course, for good or for ill, but as writers and speakers we do change people’s minds.

Let me demonstrate – and this is what I show pupils when I do creative writing with them. I’m going to say a word and when you hear it, I want you NOT to picture the word I say. Ready? Elephant. Did you manage to hear that word without a picture of an elephant coming into your mind? Try harder this time. Apple. It’s hard, isn’t it? Old crone with glowing red eyes and a hunched back. Impossible. The point being that every word we use paints a picture in the reader or listener’s mind.

Let’s take that further. Imagine I describe someone’s lips as “fire engine red”. What do you think of when you think of fire engines? They are red, big, noisy, and represent danger, glamour, bravery. So, if we say “her lips were fireengine red”, we’re adding those meanings to the reader’s mind, hinting that she may also be loud, dangerous or glamorous. But supposing I say that her lips were not fire-engine red but “strawberry red”. Strawberries are small, sweet, strawberry-shaped, and so those are suddenly the things the reader will attach to that woman’s character. Try the same with “letter-box red”.

Power, you see, and it’s greater than we think. Every word takes with it a load of meanings and they all seep into the reader’s mind. And change it. And there’s something else – the actual sounds take meanings with them, too. Sounds do have colours, and smells and feelings and all manner of sensations, which all add to meaning. We’re all a bit synaesthetic – as I’m going to be showing on Mary Hoffman’s blog on Dec 9th! Understanding the power is essential for writers.

People ask me why I wanted to be a writer. It’s simple: power. (*rubs hands*) I just hope I’m never corrupted as Luke is in Mondays are Red...


Buy Mondays Are Red on Amazon UK.
Buy Mondays Are Red on Amazon.

Nicola Morgan talks about synaesthesia on Lucy Coats' blog.
Nicola's next stop will be at Mary Hoffman's Book Maven blog on Friday 9th December.

Nicola's website is here.
You can also find Nicola on Twitter (where she Crabbits regularly as @nicolamorgan).


jancarr said...

Very helpful post on showing, thanks Nicola and Nicky

kathryn evans said...

Great post , and book bought - here's the link to make it easy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mondays-are-Red-ebook/dp/B006CQB5K0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1323162698&sr=1-1

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Laura Atkins said...

Great specific examples. I'm going to use this with my students.

Maureen Lynas said...

Mondays are Red was on my Christmas Wish list but I may accidentally order it earlier. Thanks Nicky and Nicola.

Nicola Morgan said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone, and to Nicky for having me here. Kathryn and Maureen - extra thanks for buying it!


Nicky Schmidt said...

It was really great having you here, Nicola! The topics and issues you address in the book are fascinating!

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