Tuesday 1 December 2015

Day 1: Siren by Christopher Bowles

 Siren actually started as a monologue in an anthology I wrote for stage - I launched Magpie Man Theatre in March, and debuted my first show, MOUTH, in July's Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.  The theme of the show was confession, and had a hundred stories told by six different actors over the course of four nights.  I really wanted a piece that felt slightly more dream-like and supernatural to clash with some of the grittier confessions, but ultimately, Siren took on a very different life of it's own, and I quickly realised it was meant to be a self-contained story.
I'm a great enthustiast for Greco-Roman mythology, and obviously there are some roots in Homer's Odyssey, perhaps tinged with an element of film noir.

I'm really only quite new to writing, so I've yet to really find my 'voice', per se.  Having said that, this year I've launched myself as both a playwright and a performance poet, and in both fields I'm surprisingly off-kilter and unflinchingly frank.  I admit I do have a predilection to flirt with taboo subjects...
I've never been published, no - Snowflakes is the first time I've ever actually sent a manuscript off.  ...Unless you count that one time when I got a drawing printed in a copy of Wizadora magazine when I was very small.
I like to make sure that I get fully immersed in a character, whenever I write from their perspective; so I tend to play music that to me personally, invokes a particular feeling or emotion relevant to the core of that figure.  For example, the main character in Siren was generated with a playlist consisting solely of Lana Del Rey.
I also have to have a cup of coffee permanently in hand.  And a limitless supply of broken biscuits.  I'm a bit of a diva when it comes to caffeine and sugar.

It might sound bizarre, but I often feel I get better work done when I'm not in my own personal space.  This isn't always practical though, so tactics like specific background music is a wonderful substitute for drawing me out of my own world.
I recently posed nude for a photography exhibit that was displayed in the Cornerhouse gallery in Manchester city centre.  I actually have a polaroid of the original image, signed by the artist, Clifford Owens.  I've not gotten round to framing it yet though - I can't work out whether displaying it at home would be a step too far into the realms of narcissism.

An extract from Siren 

And hers was a haunting song.
It was a lilting melody that span threads and knitted parchment. 
It was an aural tapestry of worn history. 
Of fragmented memories snatched from birth...
...All the way to the final pleading cries to an absent god on a deathbed.
And it was a song that everyone heard differently.
It was a song meant for one.
An individual.
Each verse as perfectly crafted for every imperfect person.
One song for every sad little life.
And the simple way in which it was snuffed out.
And hers was a haunting song.
Samson was officially missing on Wednesday.
The last time I saw him was on Sunday night, when he slept beside me.  I liked to watch the gradual rise and fall of his chest.  The way his feet never warmed up.  The tickle of his stubble.  I liked to lie with my face close to his.  He'd breathe on my cheek, and I'd know he was alive.  Alive and there.  There beside me, here with me.
When I awoke for work on Monday, he'd already gone.  Nothing unusual, sometimes he had obscenely early meetings.  Heaven knows we all need our space from time to time.  But as I commuted, shuttling along in a steel carriage, watching the rest of the Londoners mill around like ants, there was a tiny pang in my side. 
I was stood, holding onto the strap, bobbing along with every jerk of the train, and I caught the eye of a sad looking woman.  Late forties, maybe.  Shawl.  Leatherette clutch bag.  Clumpy shoes.  With every breath she released, another cloud of frosted air.  Her eyes flickered away quickly, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.
The train emerged, an unblinking metal shrew above ground, and I was surprised at how clear everything looked.  As the trees and rooftops cantered by, I watched the first snow of the season begin to descend through the misted glass.  I began to wonder how thick it might fall. 
Would it settle?



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