Tag Archives: Hunted

G. X. Todd – Movies that Inspired the Voices series: Location, Isolation and the Power of Silence

I’m delighted to share a guest post from the wonderful G. X. Todd with you all today, in which she looks at movies that inspired the Voices series.


In this post I’ll be exploring what movies inspired location and atmosphere, and will reveal the one actor I think should play Pilgrim in a movie adaptation.

Location and Isolation

In HUNTED, there’s a scene set inside a long-abandoned train station. Little more than a shack, it offers shelter to Lacey, Addison and Alex after a particularly harrowing encounter. I saw a version of this train station in a film called The Station Agent (2003) and immediately decided I needed to include it in a book somewhere. The movie stars the wonderful Peter Dinklage and Patricia Clarkson. Peter’s character inherits a disused train station after his friend dies, and it’s a complete wreck. Filled with crap and old worn-out furniture. But with nowhere else to go, Dinklage sets about making it liveable. It never becomes habitable in HUNTED, but the general aesthetic remains the same.

Isolation is a theme I return to a lot in my writing. Whether it’s psychological, social or physical, isolation often affects characters in similar ways. There are a few films I found particularly insightful when it came to this theme, but there are two I’d like to highlight. The first is Moon (2009), directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones. It tells the story of a lone caretaker on a lunar station set up on the moon. Not only is this man alone (except for an AI called GERTY) but he is 240,000 miles away from earth and everyone he loves. It is a brilliant exploration into the resilience (or lack thereof) of the human psyche. How do we cope with loneliness? How far can we trust ourselves when we have no one but ourselves to trust? It’s a claustrophobic, paranoid-filled triumph of a film, and when it came to writing about differing forms of isolation in DEFENDER and HUNTED (Pilgrim’s isolation self-inflicted as a means of survival, Lacey’s through circumstance, Alex’s and Addison’s through misfortune), Moon’s was a great example to refer back to.

The second film is Let the Right One In (2008), and the isolation on show here is the kind I’d define as the isolation of “otherness”. Oskar is the bullied social outcast and Eli the “other”, a child who is mysterious and unsettling. They befriend each other because neither really understands where they fit in the world. Here, I found a story that highlighted difference. It explores how people react to things they don’t understand, how they push away the things they fear (or choose to accept them, as twelve-year-old Oskar does). How the things that scare us can also be the things that make us stronger, can protect us and help us see our true selves. All themes I want the Voices series to explore.

The Power of Silence

As a writer who doesn’t relish writing dialogue, silence is golden. It’s also a useful tool – sometimes you can say more about a character when he doesn’t say a word than when he says two dozen. Pilgrim is a man of few words, and Albus, a new character in HUNTED, is a man of zero. I enjoy the contrast of having a bodiless character like Voice, who expresses solely through dialogue, and Albus who only has his body and expressions to communicate.

3 Iron (2004) is South Korean film about Tae-Suk, an itinerant man who breaks into people’s homes and lives in them for a day or two while he mends the owners’ broken appliances and washes their clothes. He stumbles across an equally silent woman on another of his illegal entries; she lives with her abusive husband, and Tae-Suk allows her to accompany him when he leaves. The two eventually fall in love without once speaking a word to each other. It’s a surreal yet magical bit of filmmaking and proves you can tell an effective and beautiful story through non-verbal interaction alone.

The Garden of Words (2013, 46mins) is a short animated Japanese film and, although silence plays an important role, dialogue has a bigger part to play. Saying that, it still feels as though director Makoto Shinkai allowed himself only a minimum amount of words to tell his story and he lets the visuals do the rest. A student bunks off school to sit in a picturesque Tokyo garden during rainy season. There, he meets a woman eating chocolate and drinking beer. As they continue to meet (but only when it rains), they eventually begin speaking without ever exchanging names. Both are there because they are avoiding personal problems, though they don’t speak of them until much later. It’s a pleasure to watch a non-romantic, innocent friendship between a teenager and adult develop so simply.

Finally, we have Drive (2011). The protagonist is only ever referred to as “the Driver”. He has very little dialogue, with many of his interactions played out by looks and subtle facial expressions. And that’s where his strength lies: in the mystery. The viewer never learns more than what he or she sees onscreen, and it is precisely the not knowing that makes the Driver so interesting. All his dynamism is revealed in action: when he’s driving, when his violence spills over, and when he is holding himself back from acting on his impulses: his stillness in itself is action. It’s fascinating to watch, to have all your attention tuned into his presence rather than the sounds he makes. It’s a good technique to make an audience focus on exactly the things you want them to.

Finally, I promised to reveal who my number one actor to play Pilgrim is. It was in Far From the Madding Crowd (2015) that I saw Matthias Schoenaerts all beardy and rough-looking and thought ‘Holy crap, he’d make a perfect Pilgrim.’ It’s all in the eyes.

So there you have it – go and Google image search him – you’ll see what I mean.


Many thanks to Gemma for this wonderful guest post. Hunted will be published on 31 May and follows on from Defender which was published in 2017.

Advertisements

Hunted by G. X. Todd

hunted

I adored G. X. Todd’s debut, Defender, and it was one of my top ten novels of 2017.  I’m sure it goes without saying that I was thrilled when my request to review the follow up, Hunted, via Netgalley was approved.  That said, I did experience some trepidation in reading the follow up to a novel that I loved, but I needn’t have worried – Hunted is excellent!

The birds are flying.  The birds are flocking.  The birds know where to find her.

One man is driven by a Voice that isn’t his.  It’s killing his sanity and wrestling with it over and over like a jackal with a bone.  He has one goal.

To find the girl with a Voice like his own.  She has no one to defend her now.  The hunt is on.

But in an Inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no Voice gathers his warriors.  Albus must find Lacey… before the Other does.  And finish the work his sister, Ruby began.

Hunted is the second book in the highly acclaimed Voices series, where the battle between Good and Evil rages on.  And on.

I don’t want to go into the plot in too much detail as I think that it would be all too easy to slip into spoiler territory but Hunted opens with something of a curveball.  I was expecting it to pick up where Defender left off, featuring those same characters that I grew to know and love.  Instead, it starts by introducing two groups of mostly new characters, one of which is led by a familiar face.  Both groups are hunting Lacey – for markedly different reasons – and for the first third or so of the novel the story alternates between these two groups, introducing the key players and providing the necessary background to allow the reader to understand their motivations.  I wasn’t sure what to make of this change at first, but I soon came to appreciate the shift in perspective.  It gives the novel a bit of a twist, and I enjoyed getting the perspective of the bad guys.  Additionally, it’s clear that certain characters introduced here have a significant role to play in the series, assuming they live long enough.

Given the need to introduce the new characters, the novel did start out a little slower than I was expecting, but there is still plenty of action as the reader comes to understand what these people have been through, and I found that the novel became increasingly tense as the two groups start getting closer to their target.  This allows Lacey and friends to make their entrance later in the novel, and I loved the way in which Lacey had grown and developed since Defender.  She’s so young, and this, combined with the relatively sheltered life that she’d lived before her journey began, gave her an innocent air bordering on naivety.  In Hunted, I felt that she had toughened up a great deal and had become less vulnerable, and whilst this is sad in some ways, I felt that it made her a more interesting character.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love post-apocalyptic novels, and the harsher and bleaker the world the better.  This series fits the bill perfectly.  Todd’s world building is second to none, and her writing style is such that I found myself completely immersed in the setting – it’s so easily to visualise the narrative as it unfolds.  I really enjoyed finding out a little more about the voices in this novel, although with two instalments still to come, there are still some unanswered questions, and I’ve no real idea of where the story will head in book three, I just know that it will be brutal, and some people will die.  It’s Todd, after all.

Hunted is a brilliant novel in what is proving to be a brilliant series, and I really can’t wait for book three!

Hunted is published on 31 May by Headline.  Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read and review this title via Netgalley.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐