Friday, 29 April 2011


I am at the stage that most novelists crave and dread all at once – nearing the end of the planning stages of a novel and preparing myself to start writing. Today, having blocked out a day to begin writing, I am yet to write a single word (apart from this blog, obviously).

Instead of writing so far today I have been procrastinating. In other words, finding a number of other things to do rather than writing.

I laid out my notes, tidied my writing desk in preparation and then found myself distracted. I planted some herbs, cooked, planned and booked a mini-break, organised my wardrobe, rearranged some furniture and then moved it back to where it was before.

And while all of this was going on, those little butterflies were flitting around in my stomach. It is the apprehension and fear of beginning the work. The dread that the words I put down on paper won’t be as good as the story I am carrying around in my head; that terrible self-doubt creeping in and tainting my idea. Tomorrow then.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

How to survive…

Returning to work after a plethora of bank holidays.

I, like many people, am thankful for the extra bank holiday this year and am enjoying a long run of days off work. Not that I am spending the time idling, mind you, but it has provided a welcome break from the usual routine.

I do dread the first day back to work though and I think steps are needed to ensure that I am not overtired and useless on my first day back, and potentially worse, to ensure that I do actually wake up on time and make it back to work.

1) Get an early night for a couple of nights before the first day back to start reversing the late-night, late morning routine.
2) Similarly wake up early the day before going back for the same reason.
3) Avoid extreme water sports or other activities during the break to ensure an injury-free return.
4) Do not drink and eat in excess to avoid sluggish lethargy and discomfort.
5) Adopt an ‘I love work, I do, I do’ mantra (yes even if it is not true) for a few hours the night before to return to work in a positive frame of mind.

Good luck me!

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


What a versatile and fantastic word. It can express so much in one fabulous word. In fact it is more than a word, it is a whole thought, emotion, statement and exclamation in one.

My dictionary – Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus – describes the word flabbergasted simply as being an adjective meaning completely astonished. What more is there to say than that?

I recently welcomed flabbergasted back into my vocabulary after a particularly trying day at work. It was one of those moments when the words used, the behaviour and overall expression of another person was really more flummoxing (another great ‘f’ word) than my mind could cope with.

It was so effective in allowing me to express just what I made of the whole situation that I decided to grant flabbergasted pride of place. Not only is it well and truly back in my daily vocabulary but it is taking pride of place as my favourite word of the week.

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Split Personalities…

I recently watched Black Swan and have been haunted ever since by the realisation that I am surrounded by people who appear to have split personalities, or the Jekyll and Hyde effect as I like to call it.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was, in short, a study of split personality, delving into the battle between good and evil embodied in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, who are of course, one and the same person.

Similar to the demise of Nina in Black Swan as she bows under pressure and enters the alternate personality of the character Black Swan, I am witnessing people undergoing this transformation in my own life. Seemingly well-balanced people are becoming erratic and irrational as a result of nothing more than being under excess pressure.

As disturbing as the film, and as terrifying as the book, I am frightened that our society is following in these characters’ footsteps and cracking under pressure. When will we relax and realise that being under pressure is not the right way to live?

Elloise Hopkins

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Favourite Artist of the Moment…

At the moment I am feeling inspired by the work of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. His work, mostly in the Art Nouveau style, focuses on the female form, mood and expression. His characters stand amid flowing clothing, elements of nature, halos, archways and pastel colour schemes.

His work can only be described as beautiful, even in his more dark and sinister pieces. He portrays his subjects just as they are, be it angelic, powerful, coy, hurt, mocking or confident. It is because of this they inspire me: the reminder that the slightest detail can portray an emotion, an action, a theme or a snapshot in time.

This is particularly poignant to me as a writer in terms of building up the many faces of a character. Each personality can contain all of the above and more. Mucha’s success in capturing this is an incredible reminder of what we all have under our skin and what we portray in our different moods.

I have hung one of Mucha’s pictures next to my writing desk to remind me of this, so that next time I am inventing characters I will remember to make them rounded, changeable and more importantly, real.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Where I'm at...

Wow I’ve had a really busy few days so time for a catch up. I was totally preoccupied with the weather last week but my rant at the British weather seemed to work. The sun came out I had barbecue number one of the season with my family and then headed off to London for more days in the sun.

I did a little of the touristy bit but the main reason for my trip was to visit London Book Fair. I had a great time perusing the stands and seeing recent publications. I was overwhelmed by the number of independent publishing houses in attendance and the fair really opened my eyes to what an international market I am working in.

What I was particularly pleased to hear during a seminar about genre fiction was the depth of content to be found in fantasy, science fiction, magic realism and other genres of writing. Genre fiction is used as a platform for exploring political, social, economic and emotional content and I’m really pleased the guest authors highlighted this. It was s great acknowledgment for how precious genre fiction is and an affirmation of my belief that it is very much an involved and complex form of writing with much to offer.

Well I’m now back home and more determined than ever to get back to my own current writing projects. I’m also in the planning stages of a reworking of the website for Coruscate Theatre to allow the site to adapt with the changing business.

Lots going on and there will be some exciting updates to my own website soon as well. As always feel free to get in touch or browse my site.

Elloise Hopkins.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Escape to the sun?

Escape to the sun?

Yes please. This winter I seemed to suffer a permanent cold from September to March. I can only, rather predictably, blame this on the British weather. After a few months, having a perpetual sniff gets rather irritating and finally I gave in and dragged myself off to the doctors.

“Doctor, doctor.” Began my appeal “Please, please relieve me of this cold before the sniff sniffs and little red nose drive away my remaining sanity.” To which the doctor’s wise response was: “Take a holiday in the sun.”

Is that a jargon-ridden medical term I do not know about? Is that a sensible and widely accepted solution to the common British cold? Can I really afford to abandon my life and seek refuge in sunny climes each time I catch a winter cold? No, is the sad answer to that question. Life cannot stop for a cold.

So here is my plea for the day. Sun, do we have your attention? Britain needs you. Please report.

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday, 4 April 2011

April Showers…

They really do exist. Even with all the climate changes – or whatever you want to label them as – over the last few years, there is no disputing that we still get incredibly powerful April showers.

This weekend as I sat at my work desk, I rolled up my sleeves, sat back and smiled as the sun warmed my face. Within a matter of minutes, the room turned to charcoal along with the sky. The sun faded to the lightest outline of a circle and the wind crept up, paused a moment, then blustered and swirled around the building.

Leaping up from my desk I slammed the window shut, curtains bellowing and catching around my frantic arms. Then the rain came. A heavy burst slamming onto the rooftops and the street below me. Pedestrians ran for shelter, wipers switched on in unison and the ground became a river. Drains slurped up the water as the sky hurled it down.

Then there was peace again. The sun yellowed, the sky brightened and I pulled the window open to a new world.

Elloise Hopkins

Saturday, 2 April 2011

How to survive...

Weekly bouts of birthday cake sessions in the office.

There is a constant stream of birthdays in our office as you would expect in a large company. But a large number of birthdays inevitably leads to a large number of birthday cakes being purchased and enticingly displayed in the office kitchen. Unfortunately said kitchen is only about ten foot from my desk.

If I ate a cake every time one was offered, I would resemble a small landfill site by now, both in size and contents: junk. Thankfully I am not. Instead I have developed a fantastic ability to resist the cakes, which I am pretending is a superhuman sense of willpower. In actual fact it is a three-step plan to apply to just such occasions.

1) Immediately delete the email informing you of the aforementioned cakes.
2) Keep your head at a constant 45-degree angle away from the kitchen so you cannot see the aforementioned cakes.
3) Bribe your team members into making tea so you have no reason to venture into the kitchen.

‘I will not indulge, I will not indulge.’ I say my mantra proudly.

Elloise Hopkins.