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Monday, 2 May 2016

Book feels...

Next Friday, the sixth of May, my current favourite book (of the ones that I wrote, I mean, not all the ones I've read because I don't think I could pick a favourite out of those.  Actually, picking a favourite of the ones I've written is hard too, it's a bit like asking me which of my collection is my favourite pet.  The answer to that is usually 'the one that's lying quietly in the corner and not pestering me for a walk/food', but that doesn't really apply much to books) - what?  Where was I?

Oh yes.  'I Don't Want to Talk About It' is out in paperback on Friday.
This one.

I'm quietly proud of this book.  It's made more people cry than I care to count.  Normally, making people cry isn't something to be proud of, any averagely rude and insensitive person can manage that several times a day, but it's different when it's a book.  It means that I managed to tell a story that readers got involved with, enough that they could identify with the characters and feel for them.

Usually I like my books to make people laugh - there's quite enough stuff in the world to make them cry already and I feel slightly uncomfortable writing things that are sad.  Laughing is more socially acceptable somehow, what's that saying?  Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Cry and you can say goodbye to your friends coming round to watch Game of Thrones ever again.  Something like that.

Anyway.  It's funny and sad, and it's got a hobby horse and a guinea pig in, and those are two groups that are massively under-represented in fiction, and a stone-mason and an author, and graveyards and...well.  If you like any of those things then you should read this book.

Oh, and it also has the worst ever Amazon review that I think I've ever got from any of my books.  All the other reviews are 5* and 4*, this is a 1*...

Oh dear Oh dear Oh dear. You've let yourself down, Choc Lit, with this one. Please be more careful about what you publish or I may not be able to rely on you any more. Appalling writing. Dreadful story. No tension. I didn't care about any of the characters. The conversations were completely unbelievable. Silly, silly, silly...nothing going for it at all. 

So, if you'd like to see who you agree most with, the 6* 'this is beautiful', or the 1* 'silly, silly, silly', then I suggest you hie you hence to a bookshop and purchase the book in question!

Go on.  I'll still be here when you get back.  I haven't finished all the biscuits yet...

Monday, 25 April 2016



Scene One:  Int: Day. Careers Office, St Conglomerates School for Wayward Boys


*The careers officer, Mr Huge, is sucking his pipe and staring into the middle distance.  There is a knock at the door.

Huge: Come in!

Frogworthy enters.  He is a small boy for his age, head slightly too large for his body, and a stoop to his shoulders that speaks of too much time in darkened rooms.  

Frogworthy:  Thank you for seeing me, Mr Huge.  I've finally decided what I want to do when I leave  St Conglomerates.

Huge:  Well, it's about time, you are forty-seven.  Now, I see here on your school entry form that your father is a highly regarded criminal, is that right?  In Wandsworth 'doing a twenty' as I believe they say?

Frogworthy:  Yes, sir.

Huge:  And your mother disappeared running guns and ammunition to a small west African country in return for diamonds and, and I quote 'permanent access to the all-you-can-eat buffet'?

Frogworthy:  Sir.

Huge (removing his pipe from his mouth and turning his gaze to Frogworthy) Well, lad, I wonder what career you've settled on that could do justice to your dear parents.

Frogworthy:  I'm going to be an author, sir.

The pipe hits the floor.  Huge begins to sob.

Huge:  But the school, lad! Think of the good name of the school!



*This actually happens. Never tell a careers teacher you want to be an author.  You'll find yourself on a nursing course or doing a degree in Geography before you can blink.



Sunday, 17 April 2016

Writing. Why? When eating buns and watching EastEnders is so fulfilling...

There comes a point in every author's journey (at least, I think there does.  I mean, I might be large, but I'm not every author, although I must admit, on a bad day I do look like several authors have been rolled into one person, clothes included.  And hair.) when they sit down in front of a bleakly empty page and think

"what the hell am I doing this for?"

and then they go away and have a long think, because if there's one thing authors love, it's procrastination with a good excuse.

Because, for all the surveys that show that 110% of the population  wants to be an author, and all those people who stop you to tell you they've started to write their novel, it's a tough job.  And I speak as someone who spends up to eight hours a day standing behind a till in the local Co Op.  Which is easy, compared to writing a book, even when the till breaks down and someone who has clearly already drunk more than is advisable is trying to buy a litre bottle of very cheap whisky with someone else's ID...

Writing a book takes ages.  I know some people can write a book in six weeks, but it takes me six to nine months.  And even then there's the beta reading and the two or three rounds of editing and the proof reading.  In that time you have to give up any meaningful hobbies, the house gets filthy (yes, all right, mine's filthy all the time but......ummm...no, no excuses. I'm just a slut) and slowly all your friends stop speaking to you.  Because you only talk about plot holes and characters who don't exist, and events which never happened and never will happen because they are all in your head.

The pay is nothing to write home about.  I've got nine books published and my total royalties last year didn't even cover my rent.  So doing it for the money is a no-no, unless you are massively successful or very lucky, or have someone to help pay the bills.  Seriously, if you're a single person and you have to pay the whole house-load of bills, plus run a car and buy food, don't even think about using writing to make money.  It might pay for a nice holiday, for one person.  If you like camping and Camber Sands .(Actually I've never been to Camber Sands.  It might be lovely.  Or it might be a description, like those road signs that say 'Adverse Camber'. Maybe they are just really slopey sands.)

You have a great idea for a novel.  You start said novel, get 20,000 words in and realise that great idea wasn't so great after all, it was more of a 'thought', and it certainly wasn't enough of an idea to sustain 90,000 words, and the 20,000 you've already written are pants anyway and why don't you just put the TV on and watch EastEnders instead?  And have a bun, because you've already got Writer's Bottom, your buttocks are creeping off the sides of your chair and heading for the floor, and you never wanted to write that stinky book anyway.

But somehow...just somehow...when you've decided that writing is just a way of wasting time whilst looking as though you are busy.... those ideas just keep creeping up in the back of your mind.  And, before you know it, there's a cast of characters knocking on the back of your brain and demanding to be let out, and this really amazing idea that you want to see if you can work out, and that place you went to last weekend would make a great setting for a story, and people are asking when your next book is coming out and...

Off you go again.