I love movies and television. I blame my dad and my Nana – and her parents, too. Dad loves TV and I watched a lot of TV as a kid – and, to be honest, I still do. My Nana – my dad’s mom – loved movies. She was a kid in the ’20s and ’30s. Her parents loved drama and costume parties. I think she might have gone to the movies a lot. I remember one time when she was visiting, she took me to the Broadway Theatre to see a showing of The Red Shoes. I remember falling in love with the colour, the glamour, the dancing, the drama! I remember visiting her and staying up late watching Elvis movies on TV. I think I love old movies more than I love new movies.
I remember a discussion about oral tradition in a class I took. It was a course about the co-operative movement, so I’m not certain how we got on the subject of oral tradition. It was a history course, so the topic of oral history often came up. In any event, someone said something about oral tradition in Western culture being dead – people didn’t tell each other stories, we didn’t sit around campfires so much and all our tradition came in written form. I had to argue a bit about this point. I believe Western culture still has something of an ‘oral tradition’ – in that it’s more than written – in the form of cinema and radio. Granted, radio drama is not as popular as it was 60 and 70 years ago, but we still tell each other stories over the airwaves through news, talk and songs. Cinema engages many of our senses in telling stories. Unless the film has subtitles, there is very little text to read while watching a movie. I will concede that all of these things are written down – scripts with all kinds of directions. However, I don’t think that takes away from the fact that when I engage with a story on the radio, on television or in a film I am not reading that story.
The point of all this being that I am inspired in my writing by film, radio and television. What I want to evoke when I’m writing is a picture, a moving picture really. I want the reader to see what I see and hear what I hear. When I’m thinking of a story to write I can see the characters, their clothes, the city and everything very clearly. I want the reader to be party to all of that.
I think I draw the line at smelling stuff, though. I always cover my nose when the putrified dead body is discovered on CSI or Bones. I don’t even like to imagine that I can smell yucky things.