Ralph Grayden's Blog: Ralphy's rant

May 7, 2012

If you enjoyed Page Three why not also come join us at the Page Three Facebook Page?

It features some cool extras like an interactive map of the places that inspired the book.

I'll also be using Facebook to publish some 'secret chapters' that got cut from the book in editing. And I'll otherwise be doing my best to keep it a fun sort of place where you can waste a few work minutes/hours/days.

You can find the Page Three Facebook page here.

Cheers,

Ralph
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Published on May 07, 2012 19:37 • 207 views • Tags: facebook, more, page-three

April 29, 2012

There are so many books dedicated to telling would-be authors how to find the inspiration and organisation needed to write an entire novel and the advice is almost always the same: ‘different things work for different people’.
Here’s how I wrote mine.
My starting point was my experience in London. Like Sarah and Paul, my wife and I packed up our lives in Sydney and headed to the UK in December 2004. We’d been to London a few times before and always imagined that our new lives would be taking place in the parts of the city we already knew: nice tourist areas like South Kensington and Chelsea.
But also like Sarah and Paul we found ourselves in Camberwell – three miles south of London but a million miles away from what we knew.
My time in Camberwell gave me all the inspiration I needed for setting. By using two main characters with similar backgrounds to my wife and me, albeit with very different personalities, I also had my starting point for the characters.
I just needed to make them do something.
I figured it was going to be easiest to come up with a plot if I based the story around a tried and tested structure. So I built the action in the novel around the structure of an Elizabethan tragedy, or more precisely, a tragicomedy.
This actually gave me a whole stack of things to start with before I even put pen to paper: the idea of a flawed but ultimately likeable main character, five acts which led to a catastrophe brought on by that character’s flaws, a blend of comedy and seriousness, the idea that something’s not quite right at the start of the work (Paul’s dad’s death) and even the idea of a play within a play (well, if that’s what you can call Celebrity Love Chains).
I took some liberties with the structure. Unlike a true tragedy I couldn’t find it in myself to kill Paul off at the end of the book. Besides, he was narrating the whole thing and it seemed pretty lame to have him telling his story from beyond the grave. So I modified the structure of Page Three just a bit. Then I started mapping out my plot to fit in with that structure before I began writing.
Once I got writing I found that instead of five acts, the story worked better as seven books as well as a prologue and epilogue. Then I threw in a whole lot of chapter headings which I thought kind of mimicked the chorus in a Greek tragedy, giving a summary of the dramatic action and saying some of the things the characters couldn’t.
Once I had this overall structure to stick to, I found that piecing together the first draft didn’t take too long – probably six months of on again, off again writing. It was the editing, re-drafting, cutting and developing characters which really took time: probably another two and a half years.
I was really quite fortunate that pretty much every word as read by my wife as I went. She would read pages and pages of manuscript in bed beside me at night while I got to read proper books. But she did laugh a lot as she went, which was reassuring, even if the mountains of red ink and suggestions she covered my manuscript in weren’t.
I also managed to get a good friend who worked in publishing to read through an early draft, which gave me a whole lot of food for thought as well as new ideas.
You can buy Page Three from all leading online retailers including Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
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Published on April 29, 2012 21:59 • 294 views • Tags: how-to-write, inspiration, page-three, writing-process

April 12, 2012

In my first blog post I mentioned that the setting for Page Three: A very London story was very real. All the pubs, restaurants and places Paul and Sarah visit actually exist (or at least once existed).
I took a bit of artistic licence for dramatic effect. Other times I amalgamated a couple of venues I’d been to – for instance the Ned Kelly Bar Paul visits in Paris was a combination of Café Oz on Rue Saint-Denis and the Ned Kelly bar in Rome.
Take a virtual tour of the sites that inspired Page Three on Google Maps.
Take a Facebook photo tour of some of the events and places that get mentioned in the book.
Hope you’re enjoying the read!
Ralph
Page Three: A very London story is available through Amazon and Smashwords.
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Published on April 12, 2012 17:46 • 308 views • Tags: facebook, inspiration, london, page-three, photos, setting, tour, venues

April 4, 2012

Are you in the book?
Page Three: A very London story has been out for just on a week now but already a few people have contacted me to tell me they’ve finished it. A stack of others tell me they’ve knocked over a pretty sizeable chunk.
The one thing pretty much everyone has wanted to know is how much of the character of Paul is based on me. Well, actually it’s usually phrased as ‘please tell me that Paul isn’t based on you’…
The answer is that he is and he isn’t.
Like Paul I was once a very unhappy lawyer. However, I didn’t manage to last as long at it as Paul did. I quit commercial law when I was still in my mid-twenties (way before the decent money kicked in) and went and worked on a building site for a while before then finding myself in a bookshop, legal publishing, journalism, then copywriting.
Also, like Paul I’m married to a beautiful vegetarian woman who worked in publishing. Fortunately though, she doesn’t have that much in common with Sarah, when it comes to personality.
I’d like to think I don’t share too many of Paul’s characteristics… such as being a jealous, depressive alcoholic who drives everyone away with his frequent outbursts.
The reality is none of the characters in Page Three is based entirely on a real person, even if each one of shares at least some characteristics with people I know (for instance I really do know someone who worked as bird exterminator, but he’s nothing like Davo).
What is real is the setting.
Each one of the places Paul and Sarah visit actually exists. The Camberwell flat is the one we actually lived in for the first six months of our time in London. The pubs and restaurants that Paul frequents all exist or at least existed. Camberwell really does have a high security KFC, a menacing ‘Green’ and estates that were in the process of being ripped down.
And London’s ‘Australian’ venues really are crammed to capacity with antipodeans looking for a big night out in their new city.
Anyway, hope that helps answers one of your main questions and that you’re enjoying the read!
Ralph
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Published on April 04, 2012 20:10 • 263 views • Tags: characters, inspiration, page-three, questions

Ralphy's rant

Ralph Grayden
Page Three: A very London story is available through Amazon and Smashwords.
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