Saturday, May 29, 2010

Schrödinger’s Cat and Others - Guest Post by Nicola Morgan

Today I have my first ever guest poster on this blog and I'm very excited!

Nicola Morgan is a published author and has won awards for her books for teenagers. I first met her  at her blog Help! I Need A Publisher! where she offers advice to aspiring authors. She's has a forthright style and is proud to be the first Google result for Crabbit Old Bat.

Nicola's latest book Wasted has just been published and it's a remarkable book about chance, fate and luck. The knowing voice of the narrator opens up to you both what actually happens and also what might have happened, all depending on the toss of a coin. It's a risky approach that leaves the ending of the book in the reader's hands and Nicola carries it off superbly.

It's a privilege to have you here Nicola. Over to you...


Fairyhedgehog’s blog looks like a very comfortable place for me to spend the day and I’m delighted she invited me to stop over on my blog tour. She says her blog is about books, writing, chocolate and cats – four things that suit me perfectly. She also says it’s about “things that take my fancy” so if we can include sparkly wine in that, then I’m your woman.

Anyway, cats. Two cats make important appearances in Wasted. There’s Schrödinger’s Cat, who gives his name to the band that take up Jack and Jess’s time (when they’re not taking up each other’s time…). Schrödinger’s Cat is a mystery, a paradox, a physical impossibility except in the weird quantum world, where the rules we (I) understand just don’t apply. But then cats, real cats, are mysterious, too. Whether you’ve owned cats or not, you’ll agree: there’s something otherly about them, something inscrutable, something that lends itself easily to magic and belief in the impossible.

And there’s a real cat, Spike. Spike is Jess’s cat. He is also an amalgamation of all the cats I’ve ever had. I’ve had four in total. Two lived to an old age – about 18, and they were twins – and two very sadly didn’t. They died at around one year old, one of a rare illness and one of a fast car. So, those two didn’t have the chance to develop the wisdom and maturity of Spike. But all were black, like him, and all were sinuous, and had fur that smelt of ironing when the sun shone on their backs. They all come back to life for me in Spike.

Here’s how we first meet Spike:

Spike jumps off the top of the wheelie bin where he has been sunbathing and comes to rub his body against her leg. She bends down and strokes his hot black back.

Sweet peas and deep raspberry pink roses clamber up some twisty sticks in pots and their smell is rich and fresh. It makes her want to breathe deeply. If you could trap moments and memories in a jar to taste later, this would be one: before arriving home, before anything, waiting, hoping, wishing, an unspoilt feeling. The present. Jess desires the future, but she is sometimes afraid of it. It is tangled with uncertainty. At least the present is something she knows. She is torn.

Spike pushes ahead of her as she opens the door.

Now, anything I was going to say about cats has gone out of the window because I’ve just noticed something. That last sentence implies a meaning that I’d never intended, but which is possibly true anyway: that Spike can tell the future. If you think about it, I’d just said something about Jess being uncertain of the future. And then I say that Spike “pushes ahead of her as she opens the door”. I bet if a literary analyst were unpicking the themes in Wasted, he or she would claim that I’d intended this and that it’s a metaphor for Spike knowing more and leading her towards her future. I didn’t, but I’m perfectly content to believe that the unintended meaning was there in my subconscious and influenced the words. It might have or it might not: we’ll never know.

So, what I’m going to end up saying is this: one of the main themes of Wasted is that in the visible world, as with the quantum world of Schrödinger’s Cat, everything we do, every thought we think, every sentence we write, has unseen, unmeasurable, unknowable consequences and causes. Nothing is on its own; everything is linked – including the four cats I’ve been privileged to live with, all wrapped up in Spike.

Spike even gets his own chapter in Wasted and the multi-point-of-view technique allows you to see what he thinks. If you want to read it, it’s on the Wasted blog on the page near the top, the page titled Extract.

Wasted has two alternative endings and each one affects Spike differently too. Cats may be independent but they are not separate. Because, as I’m learning more and more, everything’s connected even though we can never know all the connections.

So, I’m very glad I came on Fairyhedgehog’s blog because it’s just shown me something hidden in the words I thought I’d written deliberately.

Meanwhile, do visit the WASTED blog to read about quantum physics, Schrodinger’s Cat and a whole load of background info, ideas, experiences. As well as competitions for readers and writers of all ages.

And thank you for spending time here today!


DJ Kirkby said...

I had to skim over this post as 'Wasted' is on my TBR pile and I don't want to know ANYTHING about it before I read it. That's just the way I am...
The way that Nocila describes cats in this post - "But all were black, like him, and all were sinuous, and had fur that smelt of ironing when the sun shone on their backs." - made my breath catch from the sheer beauty of those words. 'Wasted' will be the first novel by Nicola Morgan that I have ever read and I am very much looking forward to the experience.

Old Kitty said...

I got up extra special early on SATRURDAY!! to see who your guest blogger was going to be and YAY!!! It's the utterly fabulous Nicola Morgan!!!!!!

How wonderful!! But like DJ Kirby her book is on my to be read by the end of 2010 pile (I love my tbr pile of books!!).

Anyway - this is a lovely lovely post, thank you Nicola and Fairyhedgehog. I love how you elevate cats to a place so philosophically divine that I'm sold hook, line and sinker!

p.s doggies are lovely too!

Take care

fairyhedgehog said...

DJ, I prefer not to know about books I'm going to read, too, so I'll just say there is some splendid writing in it!

Kitty, I'm glad you're as excited as I am to have Nicola here!

Nicola Morgan said...

Aww, gosh, you are all lovely. But isn't there something heart-singing about burying your face in the fur of a sun-hot cat? Anyone who's ever had a cat must know that feeling. I am so glad so many people have picked Spike out as an important character. I love him, too!

thanks, Gina, and thanks everyone for your comments.

Get reading, DJK and Old Kitty - you have me on tenterhooks!

fairyhedgehog said...

Nicola, it's great to see you over here today! Thanks for your wonderful guest post!

Wendy Ramer said...

Nicola~ As one who is presently owned by two cats (having already said farewell to five), I understand those sensations perfectly. And the idea of unintentional messages in our conscious writing is so on target. Some phrases have naturally flowed from my fingers, and then when I read them, I thought, "Oh my. I didn't plan that, but it's beautiful foreshadowing."

sylvia said...

I love your description, both of your cats and the moment of arriving home. I have just added your book to my wishlist ;)

Phoenix said...

Nicola's "Publisher" blog has long been in my Google reader, and "Wasted" is definitely a TBR.

What I love about Nicola is her down-to-earth charm. Notice the photo supplied. Her fabulous (of course) boots offset by the shim under the leg of the tea table. And caught feeding treats to the pooch. All real and unfussy. Not everyone can pull "real" off with such style and unconcern ;o) Kudos!

Nicola Morgan said...

*blushes and is very happified*

fairyhedgehog said...

It's like a party in here today! I'm glad everyone's having fun!

Richard N said...

Nicola, there's one disadvantage to burying your face in the fur of our resident cat Magic - he's likely to bury his sharp bits in your face. :-(

But he's wonderfully warm wrapped around my feet of a chilly evening... he always seems to know when the arthritis is playing up. :-)

Robin S. said...

Hi Nicola,

Love what you said:

I bet if a literary analyst were unpicking the themes in Wasted, he or she would claim that I’d intended this and that it’s a metaphor for Spike knowing more and leading her towards her future. I didn’t, but I’m perfectly content to believe that the unintended meaning was there in my subconscious and influenced the words. I think the best writing, while in some way plotted out, has these 'consciously unintended' places in it, like your cat leading the way out the door, and they are part of what makes a wonderful book.

Thanks for sharing this!

Sarah Laurenson said...

I agree with Robin. Those unintended lines that look so deliberate. Probably are, just not consciously so.

Our latest feline addition is exactly like the cat on my business card. Even crooks her tail the same way. And of course they know the future. :-)

catdownunder said...

Purrowl! Spike is by far the most important character in the book of course!

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