Douglas McPherson is the author of Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away with the Circus (Peter Owen Publishers)and a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Stage and many other publications. He blogs about circus at www.circusmania.blogspot.co.uk
Romance writers are often reluctant to talk about formula, for fear of cheapening the genre or making something creative sound mechanical. There is, however, a cast iron formula used by every one of them, from the best to the worst, and which will never let you down whether you're writing a magazine story, a Mills and Boon novella or a full length novel....
Clever plots are fine, but it's the characters that bring a story to life. It's the characters that we get emotionally involved with, and which we are likely to remember most when the story's over. So how do you create characters that are memorable, feel like real people, and who stand out not just from those in similar stories but from their fellow cast members in the world they inhabit?
With the women's weeklies collectively publishing dozens of stories every week, they provide a ready market for any aspiring fiction writer to get in print and earn decent fees while writing about whatever subjects turn them on. Writing for the womags isn't an easy option, however. They have exacting standards.
This is a silly book, of course - a bit like those guides to surviving a zombie apocalypse. I mean, clowns are harmless bringers of joy, aren't they? They wouldn't turn on us... er, would they? Surely they don't pose the same threat to our civilisation as a plague of zombies. But then again...
Mai Stephens, who has died aged 91, brought glamour to the act of Ireland's most famous lion tamer, her husband, the self-styled 'Captain' Bill Stephens. Her most dangerous stunt was bending over a rack of sharp knives while a lion leapt over her.
An earlier 18-month study by animal behavourist Dr Marthe Kiley-Worthington found circus animals suffer no stress during performance, training or transportation. Kiley-Worthington found circus training methods to be no harsher than those in riding stables, kennels or other animal husbandry environment...
Bobbo was born into one of the world's oldest circus families and on July 8 will make a guest appearance in Simon Thompson's 'clown noir' adaptation of Shakespeare's <em>Love' Labour Lost</em> at the Britannia Panopticon in Glasgow.
The most enjoyable part of writing Circus Mania, for me, was talking to the clowns, sword-swallowers and showmen who make their life in the big top. Every one of them had fascinating stories to tell about their unique vocation, informed as it is by years of tradition.
It's clear that Mike's problems were within himself. Hollywood was the backdrop to his downward spiral, not necessarily its cause. Mike's story nevertheless symbolises the fate of many Hollywood dreams.