Members 38. 10. Wild East. Hungary

Hungary is my favourite place. My time living there was alternated with the Czech Republic and the two places are permanently linked for me. I forever compare them.

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Members 36. Wild East 8. Taxi

“Don’t get a Taxi on the street.”
This was the first piece of advice that every ex-pat got on their first day in Prague or Budapest.

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Members 35. Wild East 7. Food.

I wasn’t always in the Irish Pub. Honest.

It’s a terrible oversimplification, but Central Europe and I expanded our food horizons together.

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Members 34. Wild East 6. Irish Pubs

Irish pubs were central to my experience of the “Wild East” as I term Central Europe of the 1990s. Both in Budapest and Prague, I had a default pub.
In the early days, these pubs were welcome havens in cities that felt incredibly foreign.

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Members 33. Wild East 5. Preconceptions

In the novel, (will I ever finish the bloody thing?), Sean arrives in Budapest, barely knowing where it is. That is written from experience.

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Members 32. Wild East 4. Stealing

“I want to fire them and prosecute them.”
“Yes. Of course. There are some risks.” The lawyer measured every word.
“Risks?” John was almost screeching.
“Yes. Unfair dismissal cases for one.”
“Unfair? We caught them red-handed.”

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Members 31. Wild East 3. Buy Low – Sell High.

Buy Low – Sell High

“All of them?”
I nodded.
As a newcomer, I had mystery-shopped every location of our company in Budapest over a single weekend. Multiple bureau de change. In each, I had exchanged hard currencies for Hungarian forint. The service had been OK, apart from at one location which I had found closed.
However, the majority of transactions had been completed without a receipt, a key indicator of fraud.

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Working Tools 20. – Music

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Leo Tolstoy.

I’m writing scenes set in Budapest in the early 1990s. My protagonist, Sean is in a bar. Everything is going his way. He’s invincible, unstoppable. The world is his oyster and everything is coming up roses, (ouch – talk about a mixed metaphor.) He is full of that impossible confidence of youth.

I want the reader to feel all of that, to be transported to a smokey bar, whisky in hand, rock music booming from the speakers, ready to party hard.

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” E. Y. Harburg.

History

I lived in Budapest in the 1990s. Sean and I have similar tastes in music. To get inside Sean’s head, I decided to build a playlist.

Wow.

I’m back there. It’s all I can do not to pour myself a Johnnie Walker Red. I can smell the bar, see the faces. Memories rush back with every chord.

I messaged a friend from those days. We reminisced about basement rock clubs full of leather jackets, tattoos and sticky dance floors. He suggested some missing tracks. Listening to a playlist melted 25 years, taking us both back to those days. It was a joy to bathe in nostalgia and “feel those feelings” again. The question is, can I communicate those feelings to the reader, without the music?

Technique

I can’t use the lyrics. In order to quote Guns and Roses or U2, I need their permission, which can be withheld or charged for. That’s overhead that I can’t afford, neither in terms of money, nor time.

Still. I’m a writer. Communicating is a core skill, I hope. How hard can it be?

Turns out, really hard.

I’m going to invest some time in creating specific playlists for each character and each venue. At worst, I get to luxuriate in memories of my youth, and the scenes become much more vivid in my mind’s eye.

I’ll publish them in the members section of the site.

Now. Where did I leave that Johnnie Walker?

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Debut Novel Syndrome

Debut Novel Syndrome is, of course, well-known. You haven’t heard of it? Shame on you. Alright, I confess. I made it up. As far as I am aware, which is as far as the first page of the search I just completed, Debut Novel Syndrome is not a thing. It should be though.

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Inspiration

Inspiration. Where does it come from?

They say that everybody has a book inside them. I say, “Of course everybody has a book inside them, many, in fact. The trick is getting the bloody things out.”

 

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