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Living Loz
In admiration/disappointment... 
14th-Feb-2012 07:13 pm
This post is all about my complicated, one-sided love/hate affair with Matthew Graham (and to a lesser extent, Ashley Pharoah), so if you're not in the mood for me being just a lot crazycakes, maybe don't click on the cut.

I reread my initial reactions to the Life on Mars finale a couple of days ago. To the announcement of Ashes to Ashes. To my wild fangirling over Matt's Doctor Who eps. My worry about the tie-ins. My superficial thoughts on Eternal Law. And all that lies inbetween. And I have come to a conclusion.

I really love Matthew Graham, you guys.

I can't help it, it's a thing. I love Ashley too, do not get me wrong; in many, many ways I know I should love Ash more, because I think we approach writing in the same way and he usually doesn't act like an arsehat, but somehow Matthew's arseholish tendencies make me love him the most. I have said "oh, Matthew, how are you even real?" more than once. And that part I can't entirely explain --- I don't really know why part of me likes the fact Matthew is sometimes supremely silly. Maybe it's because I really do think he'd be Too Perfect if he didn't seek to alienate his colleagues and his fans every once and a while.

I've always known it's pretty weird that I fangirl MG so much. He is one writer in millions. He can occasionally act like a bit of a prick. He can be so irresponsible as a writer and he sells out his vision --- and all of these things jar with me, but they rarely stop me from feeling this abiding sense of affection. Because, you see, in his writing, he does all of these interesting things so many other writers don't and I can't stop myself from being utterly enthralled by that. Especially since sometimes I am fairly sure he has no clue at all that that is what he's doing.

On the selling out, because it's a hot topic at the moment --- it really does upset me. I have these terribly pompous ideas about integrity in fiction and I've spent more than once wishing Matthew did too. It confuses me that he could write some truly beautiful characters and storylines and then just fuck with them. I love my brother Nick, but he can't write for shit, and there's no way I'd let him near one of my stories. I guess a large part of my inability to understand comes from the fact I have a different profession, yet I choose to spend hours of my life writing stuff that I encourage others to read for free. And I work hard at making that free fiction halfway decent. So I'm always kind of --- hell, if you or your brother are going to get paid for this, couldn't it at least be good? The other side of this, of course, is that I already have an income, and don't need to rely upon what I do being well received. Well received doesn't always equal 'good'.

There's always this disconnect between what Matthew says about his fiction in interviews and the genuine subtlety, tints and shades of his writing (and it's almost always Matthew in this case, because he's involved in more interviews than Ash, and when Ash speaks about his writing, he tends to be less sensationalistic and more honest than Matt.) Matthew describes his characters as archetypes whilst simultaneously writing these multi-layered, complex individuals, who are in some ways nothing like other characters we're usually allowed to see on the tellybox. Gene Hunt is more than a boor and a bully, Richard Pembroke more than a demonic villain. And I don't think, I really don't think, that those wonderful moments all come from the actors who play those characters. So much of it had to have existed in Matthew's work beforehand.

It seems to me that Matt's constantly concentrating on those aspects of his writing that have made him popular, whereas I love him for the things only ten other people have ever noticed. While he'll rant over the bragging rights to a line like "fire up the quattro", I will fucking swoon over "I'll tell you what it's like to live a life. Every day the things that you carry with you get a bit heavier."/"That doesn't sound very good."/"It depends on what you carry." He combines humour and drama deftly; and you notice when he gets it wrong, which just kind of highlights all of the many times he gets it right.

And the thing is, on a purely emotional level, Matthew Graham's writing speaks to me - as does Ashley Pharoah's. Their fiction makes me feel things I don't expect to feel. I'm actually usually pretty jaded and cynical. I tend to dislike rampant manipulation. Yet, so often, they sneak past my defences. I could probably analyse that for days. I had no idea I'd come away from Eternal Law with gigantic heart-eyes. I mostly thought I'd come away mocking it to death.

I don't think everything they do is perfect anymore, but their writing not only makes me feel, but it makes me think, and it inspires the wannabe writer in me.

So. I really love Matthew Graham, you guys. And I really love Ashley Pharoah too. And they give me a massive sad feeling in my heart when they persist in doing things that undermine their great work. Because they are so excellent just as they are and it always seems to be when they do things purely for financial gain as opposed to artistic that we get... well, bizarre LoM tie-in fiction and Ashes to Ashes series 1.

This entry was posted on both LJ and DW. This post has comment count unavailable DW comments, \o/
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14th-Feb-2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's purely British. It certainly happens in Australia. It truly is depressing.
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