Cliff Robertson Honorary Documentary

My all-time favourite film, set during wartime, is 633 Squadron (1964), starring Academy Award Winner Cliff Robertson. You may know him better as Peter Parker’s uncle in Spider Man.

633 Squadron is also one of my favourite movies of all time. The editing is tight and the action is the edge-of-your-seat stuff of legend. Here’s some trivia for you: did you know 633 Squadron was George Lucas’s inspiration for the Death Star attack in Star Wars IV – A New Hope? A great deal of the credit for the film’s taught style and human depth can be attributed to Cliff Robertson, who had enough influence in Hollywood at this time to ask for rewrites of film scripts. Cliff was at the very pinnacle of Hollywood’s acting elite and is still, to my knowledge the only actor to win a Grammy each for film, theatre and advertising. His Oscar for Charly was well-deserved and if you haven’t seen that, PT 109 (where Cliff played John F Kennedy) or 633 Squadron, see them.

Cliff was one of my childhood heroes and I was lucky enough to correspond with with Cliff at the end of his life. Along with many other fans, I always wondered what happened to his character, Roy Grant, at the end of the film. He is badly wounded but we can’t be sure whether he survives or not. After a heated discussion on youtube, I decided to try and contact Cliff to find out. With the help of Stephen Thompson, Cliff’s Press Agent, I was able to write a letter with a set of questions and get these to Cliff.

To my complete surprise, he replied! Not only that, but he was very forthcoming in his answers and asked me to go to America to interview him, in his words ‘mano a mano’. Unfortunately I was unable to do that before his death, to my lasting regret. Cliff left a lasting impression on me as a man of great warmth, generosity and genuine curiosity. Here is the question and his response:

10. It seems a question of debate as to whether Roy Grant survives at the end of 633 Squadron – we would like to have your personal opinion on this?
Cliff: I did not particularly like the ending and so stated because there was an ambiguity as to whether Roy Grant lived or died. However that’s just my opinion. Walter Marrish, the producer is a fine gentleman and a delight to work with. He happily is still with us and lives in Beverly Hills.

You can read the interview in full by clicking on Cliff Robertson Interview in the main menu.

Cliff was a towering figure in Hollywood, for reasons which I won’t go into here, but which you can find out about yourself if you take the time. Please don’t let this outstanding actor and personality be forgotten. I recently dedicated my novel Attack Hitler’s Bunker! to Cliff.

Stephen Thompson is now working on producing an honorary documentary about Cliff, both as an actor, and his aviation accomplishments. Below is a video of Cliff talking about some of his concerns about modern Hollywood films and below that an extract from Stephen’s project page to raise seed money to get the project made. He has contacted John Travolta, Harrison Ford and many other people who knew Cliff. Brian Gillogly (Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story) has agreed to direct the documentary. The project is gaining pace but the project needs your support. I have known Stephen for a few years now and I have found him to be utterly dedicated to Cliff’s legacy and reliable. Anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated and you can have your name on the Honour Roll at the end of the documentary. See further down for more details.


Video Courtesy of Jason Wissinger — Storm Maker Productions

From Stephen Thompson’s project page:

In order to produce the project at the quality level I envision, developing the project will take a substantial amount of time on our parts, so I am raising $9500 to cover the development expenses, minus the $410.00 I raised earlier this year through our IndieGoGo campaign.

Development is the business foundation of our project. Without proper development, our project will never progress beyond the discussion stage.

I feel fortunate to have found the video shown above, and obtain permission to use it, because this particular video shows Cliff as I knew him.

So please like the project on Facebook then learn more about the project, and consider making a donation in order to help make the project happen.

Check out our Honour Roll, where any donation earns you a listing, regardless of the amount!

Please consider making a $50 donation, and receiving a listing on our Supporters page.

As always, thanks for your consideration and assistance!

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OCD Log 1

This week, first of my new OCD updates and FREE eBook Offer: Eighteen, Blue

OCD Log 1
To make it easier to find my updates on OCD, I am starting from today to name them Log 1, 2 etc. Too often, these posts might get lost among other subjects and I am aware there are many sufferers out there.
In my last OCD update, I announced my first OCD-Free day. It was really just an experiment and I didn’t expect it to work. But it seems to have worked.

OCD-Free is a strong term however. I think it would be more accurate to say that I have ‘broken the back of my OCD’ or ‘turned a corner’. The OCD is still there; every day I catch myself doing something that I call ‘OCD behaviour’. I just stop myself, say, “That is OCD behaviour. I am not going to do that,” and then ignore the impulse.

This tactic doesn’t always work. Strangely, it works better for physical events than purely mental ones. I am still prone to moments of hesitation or what I will call ‘colour blocks’ – a distaste or guilt, if you like, for looking at cert.

But on the whole, things are much better. My partner is over the moon and suddenly I can eat what I want, and I have much more time each day to focus on writing and practical tasks. OCD was a big waste of time and I knew it.

So how have I made this leap forward?

1. There are complex factors but I think the biggest is the boredom I suffered after giving up music full time in the early 1990s. Music really absorbed me. I was passionate about it but to earn enough money to survive, and produce albums, I had had to busk and this physically exchausted me. At the end, I had severe back pain, so bad I could only sleep on the floor, and I was too tired to move. It was then, I decided to go into IT. I don’t denigrate IT at all, I earned a good living from it for almost 25 years but it was not so interesting as music for a very creative person.

2. My last job, in IT, was extremely stressful. There was a lot of ‘office politics’ totally unnecessary for the job at hand, and this drained me.

3. I must say a word about my partner. She has been a mountain of strength. Her patience and understanding are LEGEND as far as I am concerned. She has definitely been one of the biggest factors in helping me overcome OCD. If you are a sufferer, never underestimate how much support your loved ones can give you. And if your loved one has OCD, never underestimate how much support they need.

I should also mention The OCD Work Book. I am not sure how much help this book was, but I know some of its exercises were so mind-numbingly boring that they gave me a big incentive to ‘make a break’! You can find a link to the book on my OCD page.

So if you are an OCD sufferer, or think you might be, have patience. I had it for 20 years, 18 of those without acknowledging it and without help, and I have managed to make progress.

If you have something you want to say about OCD, please don’t hesitate to comment here and I will do my best to give you an answer.

FREE eBook offer!
To celebrate my progress with the OCD (and because I need the publicity!) Eighteen, Blue: (Short Stories Volume I) is FREE from 24-26 May on Amazon. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/19xmNJq

I have rarely offered this book free and in fact, this may be the first time so make sure you grab a copy. It will be the only chance you have to read the short stories, Eighteen, Blue and the romantic science fiction tale, Another one for No. 19.

Eighteen, Blue
On the Rebel held wastelands of North American in the 22nd Century, biker bounty hunters choose their victims according to their playing card rank. But in this life-or-death game of poker, one player holds the trump card.

Another one for No. 19
Machine 19, the last Janitor bot still moving, travels on to its last assignments as Isha and Danel in NewYork District of Central City wonder how to change their meaningless lives.

This book may well soon become available on Amazon because they have banned one of my books which has forced me to seek other outlets. But more of that next week.

Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?

This week: Grammar and Onomatopoeia and – Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?

Grammar and Onomatopoeia

Grammar
I am just doing a light re-edit of the second book in the Ordo Lupus series: The Devil’s Own Dice. I have been pleasantly surprised how good it is! I occasionally go back to old books to just bring the grammar up to date. This is because, not only do my grammar skills improve as I publish more work but also there are fashions in grammar and these gradually change! Yes, it’s true!

Of course everybody knows that the meaning of a word can change over time. This field of study is called semantics. The obvious example is ‘gay’. When I was young this simply meant ‘happy’ or ‘bright and cheerful’. Now it most usually denotes someone physically attracted to the same sex.

Another word which changes meaning with time is ‘insidious’. The meaning of this word seems to actually fluctuate during cycles of about ten years. It can sometimes mean ‘subtle’ and sometimes mean ‘subtly bad’.

In two of my books, written in the mid-noughties, the phrase ‘in-control’ comes up quite a lot. People actually used said that a lot during the 80s and 90s. Now, nobody seems to use it so I take it out wherever I see it.

While I edit, I also look at ways to subtly improve the text. Occasionally, particularly when the action gets going and where most writers tend to use less commas, I find too many of the blighters. This sentence had two but by removing them, I created a much simpler sentence with a more flowing ‘feel’. Actually, I am quite pleased with this sentence; its quite difficult to create one this long which has no commas and yet is grammatically correct (correct me if it’s wrong somebody):

I did my best to stand up straight and look dignified in the doorway at the top of the stairs while the water dripped from my cloth hat onto my nose and then to the dry stone floor.

Onomatopoeia
Finally, I had the rare chance to improve on my use of onomatopoeia when I came upon this sentence:

At the sound of eight tolls of the nearby Abbey bell, I made my way back to Herleva’s room.

I instantly saw that this sentence had some onomatopoeic potential. I wanted this sentence to communicate a gloomy mood. What if eight syllables reminded me of the sound of a bell being tolled? What I ended up with is this:

At the sound of eight bells, tolled from the nearby Abbey bell, I made my way back to Herleva’s room.

Here we have the eight syllables: eight (1) bells (2), tolled (3) near- (4) by(5) Abb- (6) ey (7) bell (8).

Of course, strictly speaking this is not onomatopoeia. Nevertheless, the sounds of the words reflect the feel I want to get across so I think it’s very effective.

One wag quipped that in this case it may even simply be euphony (any agreeable (pleasing and harmonious) sound) because the sound of a bell ringing is pleasant but I would argue that I am not trying to create a pleasant sound, but a gloomy one.

See if you can find a sentence in one of your books where you can try this sort of trick. Writing can often be about mood-setting and this trick can work well.

Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?
I have often been asked where my idea for the Ordo Lupus occult thriller series; Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and The Devil’s Own Dice, came from. Well, to be honest, the idea didn’t come completely out of the blue.

I had been interested in werewolves and vampires for a while. I was also intensely interested in cults and secret societies. Long before Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, I was interested in the Knights Templar and through this came to books by Henry Lincoln like Key To The Sacred Pattern: The Untold Story Of Rennes-le-Chateau (sadly out of print but still available on Amazon as a hardback). These books led me to an interest in the lost treasure of Rennes-le-Château and from there to an interest in the Cathars.

All this interest may well be because my family’s roots are in that region of France. In fact, one of my ancestors may well have been a Cathar!

So the seeds were there for a book about mysterious treasure and secret societies were planted in my mind. Then I stumbled upon this video on youtube while googling wolf cults:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpJwzIC4G_4

I didn’t think too much about the video but at the end there was a link to a website:
http://www.ordolupus.org

I typed the address into my browser and came upon the most bizarre website I have ever encountered! The appearance is nothing special, forbidding crossed swords on a plain, black background and with nothing in the way of information about the cult apart from the enigmatic phrase ‘Don’t forget who you are’. Perhaps the introverted aspect of the website tempted me to enter my details in the hope that I would gain membership, if only for journalistic reasons.

I was to be sadly disappointed. Not only did they not respond to my submission, but when I messaged them on youtube, they didn’t respond there either. Frustrated, I copied their video, colour-corrected it and posted on my own youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFYgIWQXS4Y). I was sure this provocative act would get them talking to me but no! They have never once contacted me. In fact, apart from a brief mention in a UK national newspaper (I can’t remember which one) and two mentions in Le Monde (29 September 2009), I have been able to find no other references to the cult.

And yet the website is still there!

Incidentally, from the Le Monde article I was able to find the park in Lyon where the beast was filmed and even the balcony from which it was most likely filmed. The trees are Plane Trees and from their size, I would estimate the beast was one of three things: a large alsatian/newfoundland cross, a smallish newfoundland, a wolf (they are not uncommon in Southern France although they are not known to enter the cities) or something else…

The website never changes. Clearly, my submission for membership did not arouse their interest, nor did I fit the credentials they are looking for. They ask the nascent member to say a bit about themselves and check that you are an adult but nothing I have tried, arouses their interest. Perhaps I need to be a werewolf? Ha! Ha!

In any case, I decided to write about Ordo Lupus. I made most of the detail up but speculation about this most secret, and exclusive of cult societies in inevitable.

So, tell me what you think. who do you think they are?

How do you get a U-Boat through Gibraltar Straits in 1945?

Did you know the typical U-Boat torpedo was steam-driven and had a range of 12 Km?
Below in this post is an excerpt from my forthcoming book December Radio. This part is where a team of fantatical German nuclear scientists are being smuggled out of German held territory in a U-Boat. But I don’t want to give too much away…

I did have to think very hard about how even a very talented U-Boat captain would get through the Gibraltar Straits. Every trick seems to have been tried in the Hollywood movies like Torpedo Run, The Cruel Sea, and Run Silent, Run Deep. What is more, by 1945 the Royal Navy pretty much owned the Straits and no U-boat had got out through the Straits since 1942. They had got in, but not out.

Some of the usual techniques used are:

1. To fire either oil, debris or even a dead body out of the torpedo tubes so impersonating a stricken U-Boat in the hope that the destroyer above assumed you are sunk
2. To lie on the bottom and keep silent so that the enemy thinks you have gone. Sonar (sea-penetrating radar) was not very good during WWII and could not penetrate to depths beyond about 50-60 fathoms (300-400 feet).
3. To stay underneath the destroyer so that it mistook your sonar signal for its own
4. To use the currents; in WWII it was known that there was a cold-water current flowing out of the Straits and into the Atlantic. This was faster – about 5 knots at shallower depths of around 200 feet but it decreased in speed down to the deepest part of the channel at about 700 feet. Conversely, at shallower depths there was a warm-water current flowing in to the Mediterranean. This would probably have been the predominant current near to the land masses of Spain and Morocco where the depth was at its shallowest.

But I didn’t want to use any of these. The Straits are about 9 miles wide at their narrowest point. During even the late stages of WWII they didn’t have nets across the Straits to catch submarines but they did have patrolling submarines, aircraft, destroyers and plenty of mines. So how does my captain get the U-Boat through the Straits? I am looking for ideas which I can include in the book. Please comment below. The best answer will receive a free eBook of December Radio and a credit when it is published.

December Radio
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

The U-669 began to drift with the current. There were only small pools of water on the floors now so Carl was able to get his breath back. Fifteen minutes went by. Suddenly the tense silence in the Control Room was broken.
“I have activity,” said the sonar operator. “Bearing two-seventy nine degrees. Far away. At least ten thousand metres. Sounds like depth charges but I can’t be sure. One… two…. three… four… fading. Maybe more.”
“Yes! They fell for it!” Riddaker said, slapping the periscope column. “Helmsman. Hold her steady. How are we doing?”
“Three knots. Eastbound.
“Good. A bit slow though. Hm. Up ten fathoms!”
“Up ten fathoms!” echoed the Helmsman.
“You can go back to your bunk Sturmbannführer. Get some rest. I may need you later. And tell that lazy pilot – whassisname – Stengler to get his ass up here!”
Carl made his way, staggering from side to side, back to his bunk. He found Roth being sick in one of the bilges.
“Captain wants you. I think there’s a bit more water to be drained out,” Carl told Roth.
“Fuck Riddaker! Asshole!” If I have to look at another bucket on this stinking hell-hole of a basket-case crate!”
Carl smiled weakly and continued to his bunk. He had just enough strength to clamber into it before falling into a deep sleep.
He was woken six hours later by Roth. The short pilot handed him a black coffee.
“Now it’s your bloody turn.” Roth rested his head on the edge of Carl’s bunk. Carl could see Roth was breathing hard. Carl patted him on the shoulder. He sipped the coffee.
“Hey. Is this real coffee?”
“Yeah… Oh, by the way, the bloody Royal Navy figured out Riddaker’s trick. They are on to us. Expect some action.
“Thanks.”
Carl picked up the bucket dropped by Roth in the Control Room just as the explosion rocked the U-Boat.
“Enemy approached from astern. Estimated 34 knots, distance 1000 metres.”
“How deep is it here First Watch?”
The Lieutenant studied the char on a table.
“Forty fathoms. No more.”
“Damn! They will have us. Engines. Full power. Full ahead. Starboard twenty.
“But that will take us right into the central channel!” exclaimed the First Watch.”
“We have to make a run for it. It’s deeper there,” Riddaker replied pensively.
The Lieutenant, second in command on the submarine, hesitated for a moment before issuing the order.
“Full power – estimated eight knots,” the Helmsman replied.
“Down twenty!” commanded Riddaker.
“Down bubble. Twenty degrees.”
Carl hadn’t seen Schumann arrive but he was standing just inside the hatch of the Control Room. The scientist looked angry.
“I think you have a problem Captain!” he shouted at Riddaker.
“What is it Herr Schumann. I’m rather busy!”
“Hoffe is very ill. Fumes from the battery compartment. I think you have a leak.”
“Yes, well we’ll worry about that later.”
“And what’s in the central channel anyway? Do you realise those crates could be damaged?”
“Subs. The British have at least three submarines patrolling there. Still, it’s our best chance.”
“Well, I hope we make it or else your name is not going to be worth as much as your shirt button, let alone a medal in the Reich!”
“Don’t worry. I’ll get us through!” Riddaker looked like he had eaten something bad. Clearly the two men didn’t like each other.
Another explosion, this time much closer, rocked the submarine. Carl was thrown from his feet and water began rushing in through cracks in the submarine’s outer casing. Carl began bailing. Another, then yet another, explosion rocked the submarine.
“Lucky bastards!” Riddaker yelled.
The red lights went out for a few moments before the emergency power bus kicked in and they flickered back into life. Six more explosions followed before the submarine was beyond the reach of the depth charges.
By now everything was wet and the sound of moaning and women screaming echoed around the stricken submarine.
“God help us!” muttered Riddaker. “I can’t think! Can somebody shut those damned women up! And the men too for that matter! And get these leaks plugged! Level out. Hold at sixty fathoms.”

I have invited the writer of this blog to do a post next week: http://lifelongexplorer.blogspot.co.uk

Cliff Robertson Biography film

Just a quick post:

I had a very short correspondence with Cliff at the end of his life because I was a huge fan of his since I was a child and I wanted to ask him some questions about my favourite film 633 Squadron. He was mad about aircraft himself. I found Cliff to be incredibly warm and friendly and he tried to answer most of my questions. He even asked me over to do a ‘mano a mano’ interview. I would have loved to have gone but I couldn’t really find the time. I regret this now because I didn’t know how ill he was. Please help raise some money so we can honour this outstanding and inspirational man. Click on the link below and find out more:

http://www.thomcomm.com/cliffrobertsondocumentary.php

You can also like the Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/cliffrobertsonhonorarydocumentary

and comment on the blog:

http://cliffrobertsonhonorarydocumentary.blogspot.com/

I have asked Steve Thompson  who is guiding this project to post about this project on this blog in the next few weeks.

Blog: The Taste of First Blood

This week: Werewolves in Mauritius, Rewards for Reviews, Short Stirling aircraft recovery, Video Blog Tour

Werewolves in Mauritius
I often feel like a rabbit in the headlights when it comes to blog time. I simply haven’t prepared anything much and I am so busy, yet I want to give something to my readers and fans. This week it is a little easier because I came across this article on Werewolves in Mauritius. Actually it’s not the original recent article I was looking for – I heard of this phenomenon back in the summer – but the frequency of reports shows just how steeped in Werewolf culture Mauritius is.

Werewolves – or Loup Garou – the French equivalent word – inhabit the Mauritian subconscious like the sea and sun of this gorgeous island. They are said to prowl the streets and night, rape women and appear as naked men covered in oil. They are also said to be able to vanish at will but despite having such supernatural powers, they are not averse to a little high-tech gadgetry in their lives. The most recent spate of sighting this year included several eye-witness accounts of the Loup Garou carrying mobile phones and even talking on them!

I am fascinated by Vampire and werewolf… shall we call it culture, for now; I hate the terms mythology and legend. To me, vampires and werewolves are part of our very deepest emotions and views of the world. I believe man has had the idea of vampires and werewolves since he could visualise his own existence. Indeed I have been slowly developing a para-world that includes this as part of its fundamental structure. They may not be part of the physical world around us but their effect is.

I am equally fascinated by werewolves and I think they fit a similar niche in our inner-most thoughts. Shape-shifters or lycanthropes all, and welcome to my world if you believe. To this category we might also add the classic zombie – a creature which is also undead and loves the taste of human flesh. Their only real disadvantage is that they are rather impractically slow. I seriously doubt zombies of the classic Hollywood type could catch a hedge-hog, let alone a terrified human. Perhaps if we allow them a little more speed they too fit this category?

Whether you believe in the benevolent lycanthropes of early Medieval culture, or Jewish views of the seductive Lilith, or the predatory creatures of Hammer Horror, they fascinate most of us.

Getting back to Mauritius, of which I now have some knowledge, this island seems to regard werewolves as no more unusual than rain storm although they engender a much greater fear. A few things strike me about the Mauritian view:

1. The sightings are often most frequent just before, during or after a cyclone. Some claim (as quoted in the linked news report above) that these rumours are circulated by the government to deflect criticism away from their Prime Minister who claims a divine ability to stop Cyclones. If so, making the people even more terrified seems a bad tactic at a time of devastation.
2. Mauritius is not the only island subjected to tropical storms which has an endemic belief in this collection of supernatural beings. Haiti is regularly subjected to these storms and has some of the most fascinating zombie tales of all.
3. Mauritius is not the only former French colony to believe in these supernatural monsters – Haiti does too.
4. Mauritius is not the only Creole speaking community that believes in these creatures. Haiti does too.
5. Mautitius is not the only culture steeped in Voodoo that believes in these creatures. Haiti, and in fact most Caribbean islands do. Some of these use Creole too. Here is the Wikipedia page on Zombies in Haiti.

I think you probably see where I am going with this; rather than the standard view that fear of and belief in shape-changers and zombies comes from backward, third-world countries, are we looking at a belief culture that is being propagated from France – indeed the France of the middle ages?

I believe so. Furthermore, I speculate in my books, Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, and The Devil’s Own Dice, that these creatures are born of the clash of two great cultures – the European and the Eastern which met like great tectonic plates in the Balkans and forced belief systems like Catharism into being some time between the 6th and 10th Centuries.

I do believe whatever forces brought up vampires, werewolves and zombies from the very uttermost depths of our souls, are still acting as well-springs of secret desires and fears today. I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts?

Rewards for Reviews
I am reducing the price of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate to £2.99 for Christmas but I still need more reviews. I also need reviews for my new book Attack Hitler’s Bunker! As you will see further down in this blog post, I am planning a Video Blog Tour for both books soon and more reviews would certainly help persuade more people to try them. So, if you submit a review of either book to Amazon in December or January I will give over my blog for one day to you to post about your book, cd or any other product (within reason!) I will also include you in my Video Blog Tours which will provide you with loads of traffic and plenty of material to post about in the form of interviews. Two things you probably don’t know about these two books:
1) There is a pass called Pas de Loup near Rennes-le-Château which I feature in The Devil’s Own Dice. To the best of my knowledge this translates as Wolf Pass. No idea why it has that name.
2) I knew the Hollywood Oscar Winner Cliff Robertson towards the end of his life through a brief correspondence. He was a very skilled pilot and owned a Spitfire for many years. He was partly the inspiration for Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

So hurry up and get reviewing!

Short Stirling aircraft recovery
stirling
If you’ve been following my blog you will know that I write about, and am mad-keen on World War Two aircraft. I first came across the Short Stirling – the first British 4-engined bomber of WWII, when I made an Airfix model of it in my childhood. Since then I have often wanted to see a real one but there are no Short Stirlings left in the world. This seems a great shame to me. The Stirling Aircraft Society is doing its best to rectify this. Time is running out now for WWII aircraft wrecks that are viable restoration projects. After 70 years those left are mostly in the sea and too corroded to lift. The recent Dornier Do 17 lifted off the English coast may be one of the last that is raised. Let’s hope its not too late for the Stirling.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw a video on youtube showing a fairly intact example, dived on my a French team. I regularly scan the web for any news about Stirlings and hadn’t seen this. I watched it again and then immediately reported it to one of the senior members of The Stirling Aircraft Society. He told me he had seen it and tried to contact the divers but nobody had replied. Knowing how tricky it can be to communicate with youtube, I was determined to try and contact them myself. After a lot of googling and guess-work I found two email addresses and fired off two friendly emails. I received two enthusiastic replies and was able to put them in touch with the Society. Things are moving along now, with both teams working on identifying the aircraft so that the French Authorities can be contacted for permission to dive the wreck. I would be very happy if anything comes of this. Let’s hope so. If you want to watch the video, it’s here. The wreck is on its back but seems relatively intact and in shallow water. If you are interested in The Stirling Aircraft Society, they are here. As an interim measure the Society is attempting to build a replica of the forward fuselage section of a Stirling and you can read about it here. Short Stirlings feature heavily in my WWII action thriller Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Click on the menu item at the top of this page if you want to grab a copy!

Video Blog Tour
I am planning Video Blog Tours – or VBTs for both Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and Attack Hitler’s Bunker! soon. This will hopefully be a series of interviews I do about these books with the questions set by other blogs talking about related subjects. So if you are blogging about Vampires, Werewolves, WWII, the Luftwaffe, RAF, Short Stirlings or allied bombers of WWII please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. I am now following a long list of such blogs so if I don’t hear from you, I will be in touch!

Blog: Copycat Killers by Lazlo Ferran

This week: Sneak Preview, plagiarism and Lord of the Rings (movie and book).

Sneak Preview

I should just mention that this week’s blog title is a joke. Normally I use film titles and of course there is the film Copycat with Sigourney Weaver and  Holly Hunter, but I thought that film was called Copycat Killers and I like the title so much I am copyrighting it here, right now.

Copycat Killers

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran

All Rights Reserved

A story about love, death and the habit of murder.

Now on to the except. This week’s its from my imminent busking blockbuster, King of the buskers! Just joking. This project is still sitting in the sidings waiting for somebody to take it on. If any publishers out there are interested, please get in touch. I have rewritten the end to Chapter One and this is the revised version.

King of the Buskers

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran

All Rights Reserved

[My parents] visited me. The atmosphere was congenial enough at first. We went for a curry around the corner and then back to my flat. It was only when my mother went out of the room for a while, that my father said something very peculiar to me. He asked how Lina was, and I told him I had split up with her.

He said, “I dunno. You always go for girls with exotic names.”

Now although Lina is in fact a typical name for a Dutch girl, it may well sound a little exotic to a man born in 30s England. But my previous two girlfriend’s names had been very typically English and not exotic at all. It may sound like an inoffensive comment but it made me start to think.

What if my father is deliberately undermining me – trying to play on any insecurities I might have? What if he often does that? What if he has always been doing that since I was about three?

The last thought occurred to me simply because I could remember that far back clearly, and I recalled that my father had always made little comments like that. He had also recently started saying that music was too tough an industry and that I would never make money from it.

I had already been living largely off income from busking since the autumn, and had already contemplated living solely off busking. To my knowledge nobody had ever done this before. Was it even possible I wondered?

Now I determined that this was what I was going to do. What’s more, I was going to do it for three years. I was also going to move – and not tell my parents where I had gone, or leave any clues. If I was living off cash alone, this should be possible, I thought. I would become invisible to those I didn’t trust. What I needed was space to think. My scientific, analytical and empirical brain had decided that the best way to separate out what was manipulative bullshit from the truth, was to isolate myself and remove as much external stimuli as possible. From there I could piece together what was truth and what was fiction. I have always been passionate about truth, and now I needed it more than ever.

The last piece of the jigsaw that led to a major break with my past, was my contemplation of religion and my faith. I am not an evangelist and I won’t belabour the point, but I was thinking more and more that meditation was only giving me half of what I wanted. It didn’t, for instance, satisfactorily answer the fundamental question of what happened when we died. I already believed in reincarnation, but what happened at the point of death? I found some answers in Gurdjieff. In particular, I found a reference to a very old tale, told by the wise, in remote parts of Afghanistan and Armenia: that at the point of death, time slows to a standstill and infinity opens up before you. Your life flashes in front of you but in the end, there is infinity.

I was strongly attracted to this idea and decided it would be a good subject for a concept album. It was nothing if not ambitious!

So that was it then: My plan was to move to a secret location, begin recording my concept album, and for three years, and attempt to live solely off busking. It was a momentous decision. In a strange way this was the moment when everything I had gone through up to the point came together. It was the moment when I finally accepted that my father wasn’t going to change. Breaking away to be myself rather than trying to compromise with his views, I had to put my ideas to the ultimate test. I knew I was putting my life on the line; busking can be a dangerous occupation at times. I was certainly also putting my reputation on the line so one thing was for sure; if I survived, my life would never be the same again.

Plagiarism

It occurred to me this week to talk about plagiarism. My partner often asks me if I don’t think something has been copied from somewhere else. In particular she has been watching the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies and feels that a very well-known (and very rich) writer may have copied a very well-known series of books from J. R. R. Tolkien.

I am not disagreeing with her. I happen to know, however, that the author in question claims to have been ‘inspired’ (my parentheses) by Tolkien, but not to have copied him. Quite often an author is unaware of the extent to which they have copied something. They are adamant that they haven’t done so and yet the evidence seems against them. This complicated matters.

Also, there are many books which openly ape or satirize well-known books. I remember chuckling through a few tertiary college break-times while reading Hordes of the Things by Andrew Marshall, a satyr on Lord of the Rings. Did the Tolkien estate complain? No. Would J K Rowling complain if something similar were done for Harry Potter? Probably.

So why is satyr allowed and yet inspirational versions are called into question for their validity? I think the answer is that the public feel plagiarism is the act of copying something without adding something meaningful and possibly making something inferior for the gain of profit. And plagiarism is illegal.

Collins English Dictionary has plagiarise as: “to appropriate (ideas, passages, etc) from (another work or author)”

In other words, plagiarism to make a work or parts of a work one’s own without reference to the original.

Clearly Horde of the Things is felt to be a new work and only inspired by Lord of the Rings.

Whereas when a work is claimed to be original and yet the main characters and main plot seem in many instances to bear a great similarity to the original, the author really needs to examine their conscience. Yes, writers all know that a ‘quest’ is a common theme in a book and a ‘magical device with great power’ is also a common motif. Indeed there are reckoned to be only roughly 18 (some would have it as few as 8) themes in the whole world – ever. However when the movie version of the ‘inspired’ work casts a similar looking lead actor to the original work and they both have the same genre and themes, it leaves the public feeling slightly queasy. It puts my hackles up even further when the ‘inspired’ writer protests loudly, and long, their innocence and proceeds to prosecute anybody and everybody who says otherwise.

Do the Tolkien estate (led by the redoubtable Christopher) prosecute all and sundry for writing satyrs, guides and critiques of J. R. R. Tolkien’s work? No. Why, because they know the story is so deeply original and enchanting that no reader could possible be duped into preferring a fake version.

Or could they?

Lord of the Rings

Please note, I am not saying that this article is in any way related to the article above about plagiarism.

Let’s just say that my partner, who is not English  and is discovering our heritage slowly, has finally discovered Lord of the Rings.

So much does she shun Harry Potter, that I thought this would never happen. I even lent her The Hobbit – a friend had taken her to see the film – but to no avail. Then I told her a bedtime story about a wizard and a magic ring and a log fire into which the ring was thrown to reveal secret, evil writing. Well, you must admit it sounds enticing. I must have done a good job because the next day, she wanted to give The Fellowship of the Ring a go. After enjoying the first few chapters she then wanted to see the films. Of course I was delighted so we settled down to watch together. She was full of questions.  She wanted to stay up all night to watch to the end. The films only made her more hungry for the books.

However, she could not understand why the books had evaded her. Why had somebody told her they were just like the Harry Potter books? Furthermore, why were the books so much better than Harry Potter books?

I can only say that I am delighted we have watched all three films and she is now close to starting the second volume.

As a footnote, I had accidentally deleted the third film from my Virgin Media library so we had to watch the extended edition. While it did have some nice extras – the Mouth of Sauron was particularly good – on the whole, the film was too long. Then, of course, there is the absence of Tom Bombadil in the first film, even the extended edition; such a loss.

Other news

I haven’t written much at all this week; not writer’s block but just me easing back into writing after a long-needed break. As you can see, even in this break I have done a little work on the busking book. Several readers are part way through Iron III and I will let you know their opinions when they have finished.

Elsewhere

I set out not sure what I was going to write today and I have written quite a lot! I just wanted to mention the MotoGp tomorrow. I saw Valentino Rossi narrowly miss getting another pole position today. Good luck to him tomorrow.

Lazlo Ferran on Google