Thomas W. Hodgkinson is the author of:
They say cool can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.
Yet the idea behind this sleek compendium of cool information is that, contrary to popular opinion, anyone can increase their coolness by studying the masters and the methods of the past. Consider the Nine Defining Qualities of Cool. Measure your Coolness Quotient by taking the CQ Test (sample it here). And grapple with an assortment of cool facts, including the disturbing original meaning of the word "geek", the line Orson Welles came out with when he crossed paths with The Fonz, and what the sinister occultist Paschal Beverly Randolph described as the optimal conditions for "sex magic".
"This is a cool book."
"I began smoking by age 6, owned my first Mercedes convertible at 12 and since the age of 16 have spoken only to confirm my name in court, order rib-rattlingly strong cocktails and seduce aloof, erotically-charged women. Le cool, c'est moi. But even I found myself scribbling mental notes on this finely-judged socio-cultural baedeker. Reading this, in the company of a Sobranie gold and a Japanese whiskey, is the coolest thing to be doing this Christmas."
A horror novel published by Silvertail Books.
When Jack Raphael first sneaks into the home of his unspeakably beautiful ex-girlfriend, Mills, he doesn't plan on staying there for months. It's just that one thing leads to another. As each day blends or bleeds into the next, our obsessive hero (and there is something heroic about his level of commitment) develops ingenious ways to pass undetected. He skulks in shadows; he lurks in cupboards. He becomes the house. And all he wants is to be near her. Or at least, that's all he wants at first.
The method writers project
What do Homer, Shakespeare and Dickens have in common? They are all authors who also performed their works. This original link – the unity of writer and performer as two sides of the same creative coin — is one that has been lost in the modern era. It is this that the Method Writers project aims to restore.
PREPARATION & PERFORMANCE
Hardly a week goes by without a story appearing in the press about the extremes some fanatical actor has gone to in preparation for their latest role, whether it’s Leonardo DiCaprio consuming a hunk of raw bison liver on the set of the survival epic The Revenant, or Jared Leto playing twisted pranks on his co-stars while filming Suicide Squad. Clearly, some of these anecdotes carry the whiff of the marketing department. Yet for decades now we’ve been accustomed to the idea of serious actors employing an immersive method, as just one strand of teaching among many developed in New York Method Acting schools by the likes of Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. The question is: if it works for actors, why don't writers try a similar approach?
With this in mind, the Method Writers project adapts the techniques of Method Acting and applies them to the craft of writing. The aim is to help writers push through a creative block, to give a spur to those putting off a project, and to offer an adrenaline shot of true feeling to any work, which will help it to stand out from the crowd. There’s an old story of how Marlon Brando, to prepare for playing a paraplegic in his first Hollywood movie, The Men, spent weeks wheelchair-bound in the company of authentic paraplegics. One day, they were in a bar when a Christian evangelist came in and declared that, if they believed in God, they would be cured. Brando promptly leapt up from his wheelchair with a cry of “Hallelujah!" and began to dance a jig.
We won’t force you to dance a jig, but we do hope to get you leaping out of your chair.
The Method Writers are offering one-day courses in central London at a cost of £95.
The informal classes are taken either one-on-one or in small groups. All performance elements are voluntary. The only request is that the student should be willing to summarise a work in progress or proposed project in advance, so the class can be tailored to it. As an added incentive, the Method Writers are recruiting candidates for a writing week in Greece this autumn. More details posted here as available.
Thomas W. Hodgkinson is the author of the novel Memoirs of a Stalker and two works of non-fiction. He has spoken about the ways he uses Method in his writing on Radio 4, and written on the subject here.
Alexander Fiske-Harrison is the author of Into the Arena and the editor of Fiesta. As well as being a confirmed Method writer, he has trained as an actor at the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York.
The National's Jane Eyre resists the charisma of the sexy bigamist (The Sunday Times)
Pandora! I adore ya. I implore ye. Don't ignore me (The Sunday Times)
How well do you know your stuff? Take the Cool Quiz (The Guardian)
Everything you ever wanted to know about coolness, and more (Australian Financial Review)
Everything you ever wanted to know about coolness (The Irish Times)
Why old people are cooler than young people (The Daily Telegraph)
Gerald Laing, the artist that made a war zone go pop (Financial Times)
Fancy joining a new literary movement? The launch of the Method Writers (The Independent)
Intellectual, moi? An intro to five French thinkers (The Sunday Times)
The blight of Cultural Name Fatigue (The Independent)
How to nail an intellectual name-dropper (The Daily Telegraph)
Where are the British intellectuals? (The Sunday Times)
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts? Actually, no (New Statesman)
Might your ex be secretly living in your home? (The Sunday Times)
Resoundingly quiet applause, please, for the anti-celebrities (The Sunday Times)
The song that changed rock music forever (The Sunday Times)
Trapped in the world's smallest country (The Independent)
Thomas W. Hodgkinson has worked as Deputy Editor of Literary Review (2001-2) and Contributing Editor at The Week (2007-present). He writes book reviews for The Spectator, travel pieces for the Daily Mail, and occasional features.
In 2011 he became the first person officially to swim from Albania to Corfu. He is definitely the first person to have done it naked.
In 2013 his screenplay Memoirs of a Stalker was a finalist at the Austin Film Festival. In 2014/15 his screenplay The Magnificent Kate Morgan was nominated as a finalist or semi-finalist at the Austin Film Festival, the Sun Valley Film Festival, and the LA Comedy Festival.
In 2016 he launched the Method Writers movement, devoted to applying the techniques of Method Acting to creative writing. The idea was inspired by his own experience of writing Memoirs of a Stalker inside a cupboard at his home.
That is his face, concealed behind this text.