This is what I originally wrote here:

A serial for those gloomy Rugby World Cup days when you’re lying about with a hangover. Or whenever you want something to read. In bed. At breakfast time. Late at night. Using the free wi-fi in the Wellington waterfront’s FanZone (or in Auckland). At the library. In a bar on Courtenay Place. In a cafe on Cuba Street. On the road to the next game.

Get to know the people who work at Hemingway’s, a Cuba Street restaurant. And the people who visit them. And then YOU can help to decide how the story ends. How would you like it to end?

I wrote Hemingway’s for fun, to see how images and sound might fit in a ‘novella’, and how the story might fit into the experiments in my Looking Like Sean Connery blog. And hoped that other people would suggest an ending; I didn’t want to kill off anyone from Hemingway’s, but a death felt imminent.

I work here—and at Looking Like Sean Connery—to learn how very simple free-range online play offers me new storytelling opportunities, where I can combine words and images and sometimes sound. What can easy-to-use blog formats provide that paper books can’t? I was very chuffed when I realised that I could organise the chapters so readers could start at chapter 1 and read straight through all on one ‘page’. I was excited when I started to insert YouTube music clips to accompany some chapters. I liked adding FireflyX’s notes, though they worry me a bit. Now, in 2012, I’m gathering energy to rework and end the story. Wondering whether to turn it into a graphic novel. Or a screenplay. Your opinion welcomed! In the chapters, where does your interest increase? Where does it fall away? Which characters do you feel some warmth towards? Which do you want to know more about? Are you confused anywhere? I look forward to your comments.

Why am I FireflyX here and at Looking Like Sean Connery? I wanted to distance these experiments from my other on- and off-line selves. FireflyX draws on characteristics and experiences of people I’ve known and loved but has become utterly himself. Like Firefly and me, those people live in, love and walk around the small Oriental Bay/ Mount Victoria/Courtenay Place/Cuba Street district in Wellington New Zealand, or used to. This is how Firefly described himself early on:

I love rugby, dislike WINZ, miss my kids. First I got a shock when someone called me an old man, months ago. And thought, oh, I should think about that. Write a blog. Wrote one entry and stopped. Then I read that John Key saw being a beneficiary as a lifestyle choice. And was filled with anger and bitterness. Which has something to do with moving out of my house, too.  This is about my life and my lifestyle.

Quite different than the Firefly in Hemingway’s, which is intentional.

Firefly’s changed now. I’ve changed. If you’d like to know more about my experiments, try Looking Like Sean Connery, where I sometimes post stories from FireflyX’s daily life, among other fictional work-in-progress.


NOTE from FireflyX

Hemingway’s, the place

Some of you will recognise the building at the top of this page. In real life, that building houses one of my favorite restaurants. I’m in there all the time. Usually, with mates. But one day I was there alone, at a loose end. And that’s when I imagined Hemingway’s.

Hemingway’s is NOTHING like my neighbourhood restaurant. Except for the outer shell. Except for the high quality eating experiences it offers. The space has had a totally new fit-out. It’s got new owners, new staff, new menu, new clientele, a new backyard. New neighbours. Even the people who walk along Cuba Street, past Hemingway’s windows, are different.

A big thanks to Floriditas, for the inspiration. As well as all that great food and service.


3 thoughts on “About

  1. wordywanderer says:

    Hemingways is one of the most beautiful works of short fiction I’ve come across, and it does distress me somewhat that I find the characters- at the end of my voracious reader-journey to the point of highest tension in their story so far- frozen time. I think the pace and tone are perfect; not unnecessarily ambiguous nor too-tellingly explicit; and the characters and engaging and human.
    I’m going to be a bossy consumer-reader here and demand/plead/order that you don’t let this lovely work lie unfinished…
    What to do, though, to tie together these threads?
    I’m not entirely sure how Ivan fits in to it all yet, and it seems like we need some kind of a confession from him to clear that up as none of the central cast would know directly. He needs something… perhaps in capture after an attempted abduction of Tai… said confession elicited either by police or by Team Jo/Gracie/Vita/Rebecca? Having the gang of women bust the pederast ring seems to be the direction it’s headed in but I couldn’t say how best to go about it. My guess is that Rebecca from afar/by chance spots Ivan&cronies making a move on Tai and somehow apprehends them… it could be interesting if she got captured along with him and then the hunt was really on (perhaps a bit too CSI) but it feels, coming almost-full-circle at this point, that things need to happen and ?resolve? very quickly from here on in- probably finishing almost immediately after the match. Jo and Vita should (read as: must) be left with, if not a definite romantic relationship, certainly at least the promise of one- probably the only way for this to be possible is for Vita to save Tai (or know she has done her part participating in his salvation) and allow her grief to be resolved by renewed faith in herself as a mother-figure/guardian. Vita needs to give herself permission to move on with her life. Gracie’s choice to ‘give up’ Lisa was heart rending but wise, I think. A good counterpoint too to other adult/child bonds in the story. I could o on and on but there’s already a wall of text so… eep.

    Sorry if my 2am tuppence contribution is nonsensical and/or flogging a dead horse, but at the least I’d really like to let you know how much I appreciate your work.

    • Marian Evans says:

      O wow! Amazing to read this! I’ve only just found it, as I tried to change my gravatar. Thank you sooo much! Was just wondering whether I might work on this after I give my Muriel Rukeyser play presentation tomorrow and now you’ve convinced me, will incorporate your thoughts into some others I have, my own and given to me. And now I’m going to check out your own work! Thanks again–

  2. Marian Evans says:

    And here’s another view for which I’m truly grateful. Lots to think about! Planning to start work on Hemingway’s again this coming winter.

    “I think you’re right on the button when you say:

    > I’ve written it a bit like a script, without providing the characters with interior lives

    Indeed, the first thing that struck me – aside from the online form being a great, innovative way of telling (and publishing) a story — is the immediacy and sheer energy that comes from narrating events in the present tense, and from keeping the description quite exterior. The flipside of this is that, even just reading the first couple of “chapters”, I couldn’t quite find myself engaging with the characters. It took some work to visualise them, or distinguish them from each other, or figure out what their motivations (can’t stand that word!) might be. Everything felt on the one hand very visceral and impressionistic and intense — the “world” is strong — and on the other hand, a little slippery and hard to grasp.

    Of course, this might just be me – every reader is just one reader, and some readers really prefer a more “exterior” style – but it might also be a more universal issue.

    At first glance, I can’t quite see this as a novella – which is not to say it couldn’t be; rather, that in its current form it doesn’t necessarily seem to be heading towards that medium. On the other hand, the voices were so immediate that it struck me that it might sound fantastic on the radio, or as a play. Funnily enough I have another dear friend who is a very gifted playwright and has written for radio, and she has shown me some drafts of a novel, which strike me the same way – wonderfully immediate voices and situations, with linking bits that feel more like stage directions or the descriptive bits in a film script; it too was written in the present tense. I just mention this because I think often we each have a “native language”, a preferred form (mine is non-fiction), and when we try other forms, that “accent” comes across very strongly.

    That said, then you have someone like Anthony McCarten, who can get away with anything! His latest novels (Death of a Superhero and the sequel) read exactly like novelised screenplays to me; not really my thing, but somehow he manages it. Possibly because his high-concept plots are so immediately compelling? Kid with cancer, cows and aliens, men turning to stripping… you know where you are before you start, if you know what I mean, so it’s fun to hitch a ride even if the telling is unorthodox.

    I guess you have two choices with Hemingway’s: push it back towards the form that you’re most experienced with (screenplay, playscript, radio play), or “translate” it into a formal novella. (Well, and a third choice, of course — which would be to leave it online as an experiment in form, and move on to other projects.)

    If you wanted to work towards a novella, you’ll need to figure out who’s going to die, for starters :-) You’ll also need to find a way to let readers know, early on, what the thing is that will keep us reading. Who’s got a problem? Where is this going? Who should we be worried about, and why? Mystery is great, but there is such a thing as too mysterious!

    And I’d be ruthless about 1) cutting out anything that looks or feels like a stage direction, and 2) putting in some interiority for the characters (possibly by having one of them narrate the whole thing? Or if not first-person narration, then sharing the centre of gravity between just two of them?). in something as short as a novella, you really want to pick one character and really “be” with them as much as possible; if we see the world through their eyes, we have a guide to the story, and there’s a stronger current running through it. At the moment, the cast (great as it is) feels overwhelmingly large for the size of the story.

    Your character descriptions are great — “fit-looking and attractive middle-aged man watches the parade arrive in Civic Square. Jeans and leather jacket. Nose that’s been broken a time or two. Expensive hair cut. Watching, and watchful. Ivan.” — but quite cinematic… Try winnowing them down: in this example, I reckon “watching, and watchful” is the real nugget, and all the rest can be delivered piecemeal, in good time. I loved this: “Gorgeous on a good day. Gorgon on others.”

    One other thing – I’d skip the current opening paragraph on Wellington, and launch straight into “The day before the Sevens start, there’s a parade….” which is a really grunty, wonderful, carnivalesque piece of description, a little sinister, and something you could use to let us know fairly soon what the hook is for this story, and what the stakes are.”

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