The Rage of Frank Miller

This blog isn’t a place where I want to comment on politics. I only bring this up as an  example of how easy it is for a writer, facilitated by the internet, to quite possibly say too much for their own good. Frank Miller, graphic novelist and screenwriter – The Dark Knight Returns, 300 – recently posted a vitriolic piece about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Frank Miller's 300

Here is a flavour of Miller’s post:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

This has led to some interesting reactions, not least almost 10,000 comments on Miller’s own blog. So one might argue no publicity is bad publicity. Unless it turns your readers against you, destroying your reputation and future book and movie ticket sales in the process.

There have also been interesting responses such as Rick Moody’s piece for The GuardianFrank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood and by novelist David Brin (best known for the Kevin Costner version of his book The Postman), who dissects the historical distortions in Miller’s 300 arguing that they make both graphic novel and film works of ‘blatant, outright-evil lying propaganda’.

The Postman

Which raises the question, what is the moral responsibility of the writer? Is Miller’s work really akin to ‘the propaganda machine of 1930s Germany’, or is the argument all over the moment someone evokes the Nazis?


A day with Jane Goodall

We spent Saturday with Dr Jane Goodall. Afterwards Jane asked me to write an account of the day. So here it is.

The Jane Goodall Rose

The Jane Goodall Rose - photos C. Hanak

Jane Goodall  is excited. “Have you heard?” she says, as we eat lunch in the restaurant at Compton Acres in Poole. “We’ve been shortlisted for an Oscar!” She is referring to the film about her life, Jane’s Journey, which had its first UK showing at Bournemouth University.

The scientist, conservationist and UN International Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, spends 300 days a year travelling the world raising environmental awareness. In between trips she still lives in her family home in Bournemouth, and she is at Compton Acres for a very special event. The Jane Goodall Rose, described as the ‘ultimate romantic flower’ has been created by Christian Hanak and La Roseraie Guillot. Jane planted the first of 400 of these most remarkable climbing roses on 17 May in the Rose garden of Val-de-Marne near Paris. “The fragrance”, says Jane, “is exquisite”. Today two more Jane Goodall Roses are to be planted, one in Jane’s honour at Poole’s Compton Acres, the other in her own garden in Bournemouth. A third is going to the rose garden of Lord Eden to thank him for a wonderful dinner he hosted, for the Jane Goodall Institute-UK, in the House of Lords.  The only other one in the UK will be auctioned to help support JGI’s Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots conservation and humanitarian education programme which has tens of thousands of groups in over 120 countries – including in 1,500 schools throughout the UK.

Jane Goodall with  Mr H, Compton Acres, photo Gary Dalkin

Jane Goodall with Mr H at Compton Acres

Our host for the afternoon is Peter Thoday, Gardens Advisor to Compton Acres and presenter of BBC2’s The Victorian Kitchen Garden. Peter leads a small group of Jane’s family and friends, and staff and volunteers from JGI-UK, JGI-France and JGI-Global, the length of Compton Acres. On this exceptionally warm and sunny afternoon, the gardens are still beautiful even in November. We are joined by a Roots & Shoots group from Ringwood School.

The head gardener has chosen a wonderful sunny place beside the path to be the new home of the Jane Goodall Rose, and there we are joined by the Mayor and Mayoress of Bournemouth, Councillor Chris Rochester and Mrs Val Rochester and, arriving last, the Mayor and Mayoress of Poole, Councillor Graham Wilson and Mrs Sally Wilson. The Mayor of Poole gives a short speech about Jane’s many achievements. The Mayor of Bournemouth notes Jane’s lifelong connection with Bournemouth. An oak tree was planted in January in Bournemouth Gardens by Jane and the former Mayor, Councillor Barry Goldbart in celebration of Jane’s 50 years of research with chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania.

Jane Goodall, mayors and mayoresses of Bournemouth and Poole

Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bournemouth, Councillor Chris Rochester and Mrs Val Rochester and the Mayor and Mayoress of Poole, Councillor Graham Wilson and Mrs Sally Wilson

Then before the rose is planted Jane has all the children, and not a few adults, kiss its roots – to give it strength, she says. Though the Mayor of Poole has the shiny town ceremonial spade at the ready, to do the job properly Jane is down on her hands and knees, fingers in the dirt, making sure her rose is planted to her satisfaction.

Jane Goodall, the Mayor of Poole and Poole's official ceremonial super-spade!

Jane Goodall, the Mayor of Poole and Poole's official ceremonial super-spade!

The Roots & Shoots children all lend a hand. It is a happy, warm occasion. Jane’s love of life and nature raising everyone’s spirits and giving us all a sense of optimism for the future.

Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, with children from Ringwood School Roots and Shoots

Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, with children from Ringwood School Roots & Shoots group and local mayors and mayoresses

Watering the newly planted Jane Goodall Rose with nephews Alex and Nickolai. Bournemouth and Poole Mayors and Tara Golshan from Roots & Shoots

Watering the newly planted Jane Goodall Rose with nephews Alex and Nickolai. Bournemouth and Poole Mayors and Tara Golshan from Roots & Shoots

The Jane Goodall Rose - Compton Acres

The Jane Goodall Rose - Compton Acres

Jane Goodall, Tara, Jasmina Marcheva (Roots & Shoots), Gary, Anita

Jane Goodall, Tara, Jasmina Marcheva (Roots & Shoots), Gary, Anita

Later, the sun already below the tree line, with the family dogs Charlie, Callie and Henry playing on the lawn, Jane plants the second rose just outside her sitting room window.

Jane Goodall planting the Jane Goodall Rose in her garden in Bournemouth

Jane Goodall planting the Jane Goodall Rose in her garden in Bournemouth

Afterwards we gather for a cup of coffee, sitting by a roaring fire with Jane’s family, dogs sprawled on the floor. Jane is still excited about the Oscar. She only heard late last night that Jane’s Journey has been chosen from an original list of 124 films to make the shortlist of 15 in the category Documentary Feature.  Now she brings up the titles of the shortlisted films on her laptop. Competition is strong but Jane believes that, thanks to the excellence of the team – the producer, director, cameraman, sound engineer and composer – the film might, just possibly, make it into the final five, one of which, on Oscar Night, February 26, will be chosen as the winner.  If the film gets that close to Oscar glory Jane will have to rearrange her packed schedule.

She is supposed to be writing a book about plants. Her previous book was Hope for Animals and Their World. Fortunately she has a lot of it done already. But a previously unplanned trip to Saudi Arabia for the Jane Goodall Institute UK means Jane is not going to be able to make the February deadline. She grins “my publisher is used to that with me,” she says.

We end up swapping creepy ghost stories about Cornish Wreckers and haunted WWII airfields. A splendid ending to a day that was, as Jane says, “truly magical”.

The Jane Goodall Rose

Photo - C. Hanak

There is more information our Jane Goodall Institute – Bournemouth Base Camp page on Facebook.

From a press release by Christian Hanak

Christian Hanak, author of roses, and La Roseraie Guillot, producer of roses, have worked together to create a superb variety in honor of this exceptional woman. Tuesday, May 17 at 11:00 am, the Rose garden of Val-de-Marne and the Region have received the baptism of the ultimate romantic flower, and the rose Jane Goodall was finally revealed to the public.  This event took place in the presence of Dr. Jane Goodall, Christian Hanak and Guillaume Didier (Roseraie Guillot), as well as representatives of the Department of Val-de-Marne (Region).

 Fact Sheet of The Jane Goodall Rose®

A rose is the subject of eight years of work, when you want to create a new variety. The Jane Goodall Rose® is no exception to the rule. It is the delicate marriage of two contemporary flowers issued from former creations.  A rose that had to be adventurous. Eglantine, it should have had the strength and determination of a flower very open to the sun, dedicated to the extraordinary journey of one who has dedicated her entire life to the cause of the Living, in all its forms: Dr Jane Goodall.

Finally, it will be the ultimate romantic flower. Painted in a pink pill loan of tenderness, it has the natural grace of simple beauty and delicacy. Its robe is both generous and discrete; we almost would think it is very fragile. Mysterious and refined, it is the flower dedicated to the woman Jane Goodall. It’s a rose that knows not to reveal its heart until the end of its flowering, when it can no longer hide its secret. It keeps the mystery of a pink-orange-blooming. Its perfume is intense and powerful. It listens patiently to the nature that surrounds it, its silence is spiritual.

Climbing Generosa, the rose bush has abundant flowering and a vigorous charm. Its dark foliage is robust and very resistant. It has the elegance of a Master of Nature.

Name of the la variety: Jane Goodall

Category: climbing Rose Generosa©

Foliage: dark, rustique and resistant

Flower: rose pale, flowers bloom in orange trends

Perfume: powerful

Development:  up to 3 meters

Flowering: from May until the first frost

Breeder: Christian Hanak and the Roseraie Guillot

  © C.Hanak

La Rose Jane Goodall® is a Registered Trademark: Rose Jane GOODALL® Christian HANAK/Versailles 2011


Science Fiction Holiday stories market

This one is probably of most interest for American readers, as we don’t really grasp the concept of ‘the holidays’ on this side of the pond. What with it being dark and gloomy and most of us working right up to 24 December.

Carina Press, the ‘digital first’ imprint of Harlequin Press, are looking for science fiction novellas between 18,000 – 35,000 words with a winter holiday theme. The chosen titles will be published both individually as ebooks and together as a print anthology in December 2012. Stories must contain elements of SF, and can also feature romantic, mystery, thriller, horror or other sub-genres. The only absolute givens are that stories must fit some definition of science fiction and the narrative must revolve around the winter holidays as understood in the US – i.e. Halloween through Thanksgiving to Christmas.

The anthology will be edited by Carina’s Executive Editor Angela James, who says that stories should be ‘interesting, creative and well written’ but does not want to impose further restrictions so as not to miss out on ‘something amazing’.

To submit send your complete manuscript with cover email to submissions (at) by March 15th, 2012. In the subject line write SciFi Holiday: ‘Manuscript Title and Your Name’. More details here. Full guidelines are always worth reading before submitting and finding you’ve got something vital wrong. All stories will be selected by 30 April. Email enquiries to above address.