Introducing Dawn Knox – The Chronicles Continue.

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Images of Dawn Knox/The Macaroon and Basilwade Chronicles/The Great War/play photos were all supplied by Dawn Knox. Many thanks to her.

Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied for her.

And a big thanks to the organisers of the Facebook Group, Christmas Book Hub, for creating the wonderful bookshop image for their page, which currently features Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Very very happy to give them a shout out!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m delighted to welcome #DawnKnox to Chandler’s Ford Today for the next two weeks as we discuss her writing journey, celebrate her new book, the hilarious The Macaroon Chronicles, and look at her varied career which includes playwriting. Dawn will be sharing her thoughts about writing and also chats about the joys and pitfalls of writing humorous prose.

Feature Image - Dawn Knox interview Part 1

The Macaroon Chronicles

It is always a great joy to chat to a fellow flash fiction and CafeLit/Bridge House Publishing writer and I’m looking forward to catching up with Dawn and many other colleagues at the BHP celebration event (online) on 5th December.

Will so miss seeing everybody in person but at least Zoom gives us the chance to meet online. And I can’t wait to share Part 2 of Dawn’s fab interview next week.

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Brrr…. It’s getting chilly out there not that Lady noticed. She had a fab run with a lovely Saluki/whippet cross this morning. Lovely to see them both having a great time.

Have been having fun with Book Brush again. This is my latest effort.

Really looking forward to sharing Part 1 of my interview with Dawn Knox on Chandler’s Ford Today. Look out for this tomorrow. Dawn is a delight to chat to and I always learn something useful from interviews like this.

No two writers have the same writing journey and I find it endlessly fascinating what has worked for one, what has worked for another and so on.

Dawn will be discussing her latest book, The Macaroon Chronicles, which is hilarious. If you need a cheerful read, do check this out.

Am catching up with some non-fiction reading at the moment. I’m reading London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd. It’s a hefty tome but a fascinating read and I just love the idea of writing a biography about a city. Interesting approach to take on it.

Whether what I learn from this fab book filters into my writing later on remains to be seen but I do know non-fiction can often spark ideas for story writers. An interesting fact here and there can trigger story ideas so don’t overlook reading non-fiction as part of your overall reading “diet”.

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Had the perfect dentist’s appointment today. No. It wasn’t at two-thirty (tooth hurty – veterans of the old gag circuit will easily recognise that one!). I got out with nothing having to be done! So win-win immediately there…

Looking forward to “going” to the Bridge House Celebration event on 5th December. Normally this would be in London but of course it will be a Zoom session only for this year. The event is FREE but you do need to register. See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/launch-and-celebration-event-tickets-127841763155 for more details. Hope to see you “there”.

These events are always great fun and, if ever there was a year we could all do with some of that, this year is it.

Personally speaking, what is lovely is being able to celebrate The Best of Cafelit 9, where I have two stories published; Mulling It Over, the new Bridge House annual anthology where I have a standard length short story published; Transforming Communities, where I had a 1000 word story published (this was the Waterloo Arts Festival writing competition book); and, of course, Tripping the Flash Fantastic.

Despite everything else going on in 2020, publication wise it has been a good year. And there’s more to come. A little later on the three ebooks from the last three years of the Waterloo Arts Festival will be published in one single paperback. Am looking forward to sharing details about that in due course.

This year has been a good one for professional development too in terms of video making, setting up the Youtube channel, revamping the website, appearing on Chat and Spin Radio, appearing on #WendyHJones’ The Writing and Marketing Show. And Book Brush has been a revelation too.

The flip side? I have so desperately missed meeting up with writer friends in person at Swanwick, Winchester, the Association of Christian Writer events, and the Bridge House/Waterloo Arts Festival celebration days.

Let’s hope for better things for 2021 but I guess if this year has shown anything, for me at least, it has been doing what you can when you can and making the most of things like Zoom.

Oh and keep on writing and submitting of course!

Happy writing!

Book Brush - Cafelit 9, Mulling It Over, TransformationsBookBrushImage-2020-11-16-21-040

From Light to Dark and Back Again

I enjoy being part of a number of writing groups etc on Facebook. These groups are a lovely way to meet other writers, albeit only online in some cases, and I always learn a lot from them.

I am part of the Christmas Book Hub – see https://www.facebook.com/groups/bookhub/permalink/1003208640189243/ for more.

#PatriciaMOsborne, one of the founders of this, is someone I know from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to her for my Chandler’s Ford Today posts in the past too.

Now I mention this for two reasons:-

1. If you want to create a book buying list for Christmas, do start here!

2. There is a wonderful banner for this Facebook page – of books in a Christmassy shop window. The books on this change every so often and my Tripping the Flash Fantastic is on there at the moment.

The artwork for this is wonderful and it is a great pleasure and privilege to see my book on there. A huge thanks to the organisers behind this page on behalf of all of the authors on here. Online things like this are always useful but never more so than now during what has been such a strange year for us all.

And it is a timely reminder to say that do DM the authors on this page, including me, if you would like to know more about buying signed copies of our books.

We would be so pleased to hear from you!

TTFF in Christmas Book Hub shop windowScreenshot_2020-11-27 Facebook Groups

I’ve mentioned my love of mixing up the kind of flash fiction stories I write before. I do think one of the great strengths of flash fiction is because it needs to be character led, you can get to set that character anywhere you want in genre and time period, past, present, and future.

The crucial thing is to have a character who is worthy of being written up! Even if you don’t plan any other writing, I do think giving thought to what your lead character is going to be (or likely to be, I know things can change in the editing), is important.

If you want to write a story about a financially astute character but discover the way you’ve portrayed your lead, they’re more likely to be as astute as a chocolate teapot, then you have an issue (though it could make for a wonderfully funny or tragic piece, depending on how you wanted to “play” it).

But things like that should be a conscious decision by you as the writer. You can’t rely on “happy accidents”. You can rely on some forward planning though!

Many thanks to everyone for the wonderful reviews so far for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. They are much appreciated and I was delighted to see two new ones in today.

Appropriately for a flash fiction collection, I will stress reviews don’t have to be long and they are a great way of supporting authors. (This year we are even more grateful than we usually are for that kind of support. I have missed being able to go to writing events dreadfully. Fingers crossed for next year!).

Do I review books myself? Oh yes. One of the things I love about the writing world in general is there is a lot of give and take and that is only right. All of us know the pains and pleasures of bringing stories/books/articles to life etc. All of us appreciate the support from others but it is good when you can give support back. I like to see it as paying it forward and back.

Screenshot_2020-11-25 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic(1)Screenshot_2020-11-25 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic

Fairytales With Bite – Twists and Turns

Fairytales are full of twists and turns, which is another reason to love them. You know, after you’ve read a few (and/or listened to them when you were a kid), that the underdog will somehow come out on top, usually with the aid of a friendly fairy godmother or talking cat or some such thing.

Fairytales are great because you accept that magic is part of the setting and it is a question of finding out who is going to use it, whether they’ll use it to do good or not, whether it backfires etc etc. But you also know the character being helped this way has somehow got to be worthy of it. Fairy godmothers don’t just turn up for anybody!

So when planning your own fairytales/magical realism/fantasy stories, think about what your twists and turns are going to be. Magic is going to be around but don’t overdo it.

I know as a reader I like to see characters who are trying to improve things for themselves, who are being thwarted or held back through no fault of theirs, and then hey presto the fairy godmother turns up. It is also not a bad thing to show the downside of magic.

As with any source of power it can be abused so think about how that might happen in your creations and what your characters could do to overcome this (assuming of course they want to and they’re not the ones abusing the magic! In the case of the latter, I would like to see some sort of “back fire” happen so said characters have to behave in a better way and/or don’t get away with what they’re doing and/or are thwarted by other characters).

Expect the unexpected is a good motto here but as the writer think about how this could play out in your stories. Plan what your twists will be and how they will be executed. What clues will readers have to look back on and think later “I should’ve spotted that”?

And just as life is full of ups and downs, so your stories should be. But the nice thing with stories is you can make them end on a good note! Stories can be arranged!

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This World and Others – What Is Normal?

Now there’s a leading question but it is a vital one. Whether your created world is a fantasy one or set here firmly on Earth, you do need to work out what is going to be normal/perceived as normal by your characters. (Readers of course may well think entirely differently!).

So what kind of setting are you using? If here on Earth, will be in an Earth we would recognize? You could of course set up an alternative based on certain aspects of history being changed.

If X happened instead of Y, what would Earth look like as a result? The series The Man In The High Castle was based on that. If you’re using a fantasy setting, what aspects would appeal to readers? Which wouldn’t? Which are necessary to the successful running of that setting?

For your characters themselves, would we recognise their behaviours as normal? If not, why are they different and in their setting, is their behaviour considered oddball or not?

Working out details like this early on can save you a lot of editing and rewriting later on so I think it is worth doing. Even if you don’t want to plan to the “nth” degree, wanting to see where the story and characters take you, I still think it pays to jot down a few basic notes.

Character A is capable of this because…. The setting is this because…. What you jot down here really is an aid for you and I am all for things that help make the writer’s life smoother!

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Running Orders, Book Brush, and the Brechin/Angus Book Festival

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Smashing autumnal walk with Lady today. Hard to tell who is more tired out of the two of us though!

Happy with the progress on my kind of NaNoWriMo project yesterday as I had one of those lovely moments where the words just flowed and it was just a question of keeping going with it. (That is the definition of the ideal NaNoWriMo really isn’t it?!). I’m adding new material now and enjoying it so hopefully future readers will do so too.

Am really enjoying playing with Book Brush. Latest effort below.

Oh and talking of CFT, my post this week will be a Local Author News one about yours truly in connection with the Brechin/Angus Book Fest I’m taking part in over the weekend. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/808280536653169 for more details on the Festival, which is part of Book Week Scotland. I will also flag up more news here as I get it. (Oh and I also flag up my Youtube channel on my CFT post but more on that on Friday).

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)


After Saturday’s deluge, and a world record time set by me for walking Lady (20 minutes, bare minimum, both of us returned looking like drowned rats), it was a relief to have a dry, reasonably mild day today.

Sight of the week and probably the year: Lady’s best buddie, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, having a wonderful run and play fight with another Ridgeback – 100 kgs of dog between the pair of them. Wonderful sight. Just stay well out of the way! Lady decided to leave the pair of them to it and focused on her Chuckit ball, probably wisely.

Delighted to say I’ve been playing with Bookbrush again and for the first time have used the video function. Hope you enjoy the very short story that goes with this. Naturally this went up on my Youtube channel earlier today (I do love scheduling!). (Have also included the video here).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXGNt9XndN8

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

Last Request by Allison Symes

Have spent time this afternoon doing some “housekeeping” on my website.
My About page is now my Home page and I’ve added new material to it, including those lovely images I created yesterday using Book Brush. (A big thanks for all the positive comments about those). Am so looking forward to using Book Brush more.

There is now a direct link to my Youtube channel on the About page too.
I like to add material to the website every so often to keep it fresh, of course, but it is easy to forget to do the housekeeping side of it such as removing things no longer relevant, finding better pictures than the ones you had originally and so on.

I’ve also tidied up my Books page too. I’ve not yet found a way of changing the URL slug for the Books page from Home to Books but will sort that out in due course I hope.

The ideal of a website is to make it easy to navigate, eyecatching, and fun for both you and your visitors.

Hope you enjoy the tidy up!

 

I went out with the dog once today. It was enough! So glad to be back at my desk. Still no watering of anything will need to be done for some time in my neck of the woods!

Many thanks to #LizHurst for her fab interview with me on Chandler’s Ford Today yesterday (Friday, 13th November, see previous post).

I’ll be talking about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest for my post next Friday. The fact I’m taking part in it is NOT coincidence! 😀😀

I’ve also been experimenting with graphics for my books (using Book Brush). See throughout this post for various images created since the weekend using this.  

This kind of marketing is fun! Hope to be doing more of this. This has come out of a Zoom event I was at on Friday night where I learned so much. Many thanks to #WendyHJones and #KathleenSweeney for running this.

Below are some of my earliest attempts at creating book adverts. Just need to replace the spaniel with my Lady for the dog one! Mind you, I suppose I could avoid telling Lady….


From Light to Dark and Back Again

Having a lot of fun experimenting with Book Brush. Latest effort for Tripping The Flash Fantastic below.

One thing I have learned though creating Feature Images for my Chandler’s Ford Today posts is to keep them simple and avoid over-complicating things. Great tip for writing flash fiction there too!

I like to hit the ground running with my stories, which is why I often use the first person as that encourages this approach.

It is often said for story writing that you have to get straight to the action and hook the reader immediately. That is true but flash helps you sharpen that skill which you can then adapt for any other writing you do.

Even for non-fiction you need to draw the reader in immediately.

Looking forward to sharing more about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest as and when I can later this week. I’ll be writing about it in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week as well.



Hope your Monday has been okay. I’ve posted a mini flash story, Last Request, on my Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

Good fun to do and I love the bats and that’s all I’m saying about that here!

paper bats and spiders on orange background

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I love many things about flash fiction but one of the major ones is that it is more flexible than it might at first appear. I’ve written stories across the spectrum from six words to the maximum of 1000.

I’ve written in the first person, the third person, and shown things from the viewpoint of a mother dragon (see my trailer for Tripping The Flash Fantastic).

It is a great format in which to have fun with your writing. If a story works well at 100 words, I leave it there. If it needs more and ends up at say 500 words, that’s fine.

I also think it is good discipline to practice writing to different word count lengths. For one thing, it means you can have a stock of stories in store ready to send to different competitions and markets depending on their requirements.

Happy story writing!


As well as selecting the stories for my flash fiction collections, thought has to go into the running order too. That isn’t an always obvious thing to decide.

For TTFF I deliberately kept two historical stories together as one is from the viewpoint of Richard III (Getting It Right) and the other is told by his niece, Elizabeth of York (Not Knowing). Those two were going to go together from the offset.

But I didn’t put all of the historical ones together in one batch. There are others later in the book.

I also look at the mood of the stories too. I like a mixture of funny, poignant, scary (think light horror – that’s as far as I go) and back to funny again. I also try to end a collection on a positive note too. Kind of “that’s a wrap, folks”!

Did I get the running order right immediately? Oh no!

Did I expect to? Definitely not!

But it is worth taking your time over. You want to think of the impact your stories will have on your readers and that helps a lot with working out an appropriate running order. I did the same for From Light to Dark and Back Again. It makes, I hope, for smooth seamless reads and an even more enjoyable reading experience for your reader.

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Well, I’m glad I don’t write stories which match the mood of the weather. Anything I’d come up with today would have been unremittingly grim!

Now you know I like the good old random generators for triggering story ideas. I’ve used random number, word, noun, and adjective generators to good effect. Ta da – I’ve found another one!

Welcome to the good old random object generator. Yes, really.

This particular site has four categories – All, Outdoors, Clothing, and Office.

You can select a number of items though I have found with all of the generators, you are better off selecting up three or four and no more.

So how can I use the random object generator in my flash fiction, I hear you cry?

1. The object has to be in the story somewhere.

2. The object has to have special meaning to a character in your story.

3. If you’re a crime writer, how about making the object either something to be stolen or the murder weapon?! (In my selection tonight, a pillow came up. I’m sure you can think of a way of using that in a crime story!).

But you get the idea. Have fun!

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Effective Blurbs

The book cover is usually the thing that attracts my attention to a potential new read, of course, but following that comes the blurb.

I like a blurb that is (a) short, (b) intriguing and (c) gives an idea of what the story is about without giving everything away.

My blurb for Tripping the Flash Fantastic reads as “Allison Symes loves reading and writing quirky fiction. She discovered flash fiction thanks to a Cafélit challenge and has been hooked on the form ever since. In this follow-up to her From Light to Dark and Back Again, Allison will take you back in time, into some truly criminal minds, into fantasy worlds, and show you how motherhood looks from the viewpoint of a dragon. Enjoy the journey!”

Was it easy to write that? Not particularly! The stories were easier to do but many authors find that. It is hard to capture the essence of your work without giving too much away. After all, the idea is to entice the reader in to read your book, not leave them feeling as if they have read it all from what you’ve put on the back cover!

Is it worth taking time and trouble over to get right? Oh yes.

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. What is it about your book that they would want to know to make them want to find out more? It is all about triggering interest and from that a wish to know more.

Happy (blurb) writing!

Twitter Corner



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Youtube, Bookshop, and Falling Over!

It really has been one of those weeks, folks!

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Am pleased to announce I have set up a Youtube channel. See the link here.
Naturally the first thing I put on here was the book trailer for Tripping The Flash Fantastic! Also on here are the book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again and a video of me reading Judgement Day which I used at my recent cyberlaunch.

I hope to create and put more videos on here on a fairly regular basis. One great thing about flash fiction stories is they make great adverts for trailers and the like.

Hope you enjoy this – and watch this space, as they say! I have linked my channel to this Facebook page, my website, my Twitter feed, my Linkedin page and my Chandler’s Ford Today author page, my Amazon Author Central page, and my Cafelit author page, so you can click through to any of those from here.

I was also pleased with the way the banner has worked out as I really wanted “my” castle from the book cover for TTFF to show well here.
Definitely my marketing bit for today I think!

Screenshot_2020-10-31 Allison Symes - YouTube

Hope your Sunday has been okay. Is getting wild, wet, and windy here in Hampshire this evening. Not that I needed much encouragement to stay indoors at my desk writing away but bad weather does help there!

Have started work on the project I’m using as a kind of NaNoWriMo. I say kind of because it’s not a novel, I’ve written some of the material already, and I’m hoping to use November to get the project restructured (which it needs) and to add material to it after that. I would like to get a complete first draft done by the end of the calendar year and maybe think about submitting it come Spring 2021.

Good fun playing with my Youtube channel. I’m hoping to add material to that every week or so and it will encourage me to be creative with how I do this. That’s never a bad thing!

Have a good reading and writing week!

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Quick heads up and thanks to #AlyRhodes for flagging up Bookshop, who represent many indie bookshops throughout the UK. Sales made through Bookshop raise funds for said indie bookshops so win-win and an alternative to Amazon should you want that.

Delighted to see both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping The Flash Fantastic are on Bookshop (though there is no cover image for the latter).

And don’t forget I am very happy to sign copies of either/both of my books and get them out to people in the post. Just DM me and we can take things from there.

Tripping the Flash Fantastic MediumFromLightToDark_medium-2

Pleased to say I’ve uploaded another of my story videos to my Youtube channel. Putting My Face On is a short piece (even by my standards!) that I first put on this very website back in February. Hope you enjoy. See the link here.

I hope to put story videos and the like here on a fairly regular basis. Flash fiction works brilliantly for this kind of thing and it is another way of getting a story across!

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From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve been busy setting up a Youtube channel and now have my first videos on it – the book trailers for From Light to Dark and Back Again, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, and a reading of Judgement Day from TTFF.

I will be putting more stories on here in due course. Flash tales work really well for trailers and naturally I hope the YT channel will draw people to this website etc as well.

Moving on from there, a big thanks for the wonderful response to my story, Finding My Feet, which went up on Cafelit yesterday. I love writing funny fairytales like this. I think they can also be a bit of a tonic at times. And boy do we need something that can cheer us a little right now. Stories, for me, are wonderful works of escapism (which is why tales about pandemic are unlikely to go down that well with me. Nothing wrong with the tales. Just not for me and that’s fine).

Stories “just” for entertainment have value and merit and even more so now, I think.

Happy reading and writing!

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One of the joys of flash fiction writing is in having to come up with so many different characters. Inventing my own people has always been my favourite bit of story writing so win-win here.

What I look for are characters who engage with me as if I’m hooked by them, then there’s a good chance readers will be! (It at least ups my chances there!).

For a character to engage with me there has to be something about their voice that draws me in. They don’t necessarily have to be likeable. I can think of a few of my characters I wouldn’t want to meet on a dark night (!) – and that must be even more true for my crime and horror writing friends!😂

I’m looking for traits I sympathise with or situations where I would ask what would I do given these circumstances. Then there are the characters who are greedy, for example, (where I don’t like them at all) but I can drop them right in it and the consequences of that greed are brought home. Plenty of stories there!

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Hope your Monday has gone reasonably well. Mine got off to a bad start when I tripped over as I was walking home from the park with Lady and her best buddie, Khaya, the Ridgeback, and Khaya’s human mum.

What was lovely was the way the two dogs came up and gave me a lick as if to say ‘we’re sure you’re not meant to be on the floor like that”. Quite right, girls, I wasn’t. Huge thanks to Khaya’s mum too.

Nothing broken but one seriously miffed author (at herself) has made sure she HAS stayed upright for the rest of the day! (And I swear I had only been drinking tea before I went out with the dog!).

Now that trip happened in a flash – and it’s true what they say about seeing things in slow motion. I knew I was going to fall, I also knew I couldn’t do anything to stop it (the most annoying bit of all) but it led me to think.

If you could take one moment of your character’s life and “slo-mo” that, what would it be and why?

Worth thinking about and I’d be very surprised if there isn’t a story idea or two in there. (And I’ve got a blog post out of a wretched fall so win-win!). Oh and I definitely wasn’t tripping the flash fantastic either!

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Am working on my non-fiction book as my major project for November. It is an interesting challenge and so different from flash fiction writing but both in their way need to get their message across.

The message in any story is, for me, whether I can understand the character and what they are doing and why. If I can, then I will have read the story through to the end, as I would have had to find out what happened to said character and if any guesses I made at the start of the tale proved to be correct or not. Always a great guessing game that one!

My natural flash limit is the under 500 words kind of tale. I haven’t set out to do that deliberately. It’s just where I seem to gravitate to. Of course, for the non-fiction book I need a lot more than 500 words! Still onwards and upwards….

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Adaptations – When They Work…

I’m sure we’ve all seen film adaptations of books that we’ve loathed (”not true to the book” etc) but what about the ones that work?

The Ian Fleming Bond books I think transferred well. Some of them have had pretty good audio adaptations too. I was sorry to hear about the death of Sir Sean Connery today who did sterling work there! Also loved his roles in The Hunt For Red October and The Untouchables, amongst many others.

A good film adaptation will bring a book to life for viewers and may even encourage them to go and read the book for themselves. A Muppet Christmas Carol is upfront about telling viewers to do exactly that right at the end of the movie.

For me, The Lord of the Rings adaptation brought to life for me The Shire etc as I had seen it in my own imagination when reading the trilogy. It remains my favourite adaptation.

I accept that not every element in a novel is going to make it to the big screen version for various reasons but what you do want is to be true to the spirit of what the book’s author intended. As long as a film does that, it is going to work.

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Twitter Corner

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