Thursday, 27 June 2013

Are You Interesting?

I've been shot at twice; on another occasion told to: "hit the floor!" by masked gunmen; ran at by a drug-crazed lunatic with an iron bar; had a stab victim fall upon me from behind a telephone box in the street and I had to hold his face together with my scarf; I've also sat in an empty post room in a busy HQ when warned that there was a bomb alert and it was in that room.

All these events, I tried to impart to a group of people who asked me: "Is there anything interesting you can tell us?" I was interrupted half way by a sweet little old lady who said, with tears in her eyes, "Very nice dear, but I lost my poor little dog Sammy last week."

My mouth snapped shut and all faces immediately donned dewy sympathy and turned towards the old lady. I had been put in my place - nobody cared.

I like to read the occasional Austen novel, it's like a hot frothy coffee on a cold winter afternoon. In the forward it says: "Jane Austen's life is often noted for its lack of events." I've just read a Stephen Fry book and thoroughly enjoyed it but during the whole time I thought: "If this was anyone but Stephen, an unknown say, then would I love it so much?" Stephen had captured his life events in print.

But, what if there is more to you than a summation of events? A question often thrown out during a long sleepless night by fitful teens and again when mid-life is supposed to throw up a crisis.

At a funeral, I sat and listened to a eulogy and it consisted of a list of life events relating to the person occupying a box. It was like listening to a Resume and it didn't describe what the person was like. I hadn't known him well, just the last couple of years of his life. Does a book contain the writer, like a wooden box holds the deceased or does it contain events compiled from memory, experience, perceptions and sheer expanse of a vivid imagination?

As a reader, I enter printed events and without realising it, I run a comparison of how I would react given the circumstances. It depends on how well the events are written, the emotion, the impact, that determines the soul of the book and whether I will hold it within my memory.

So, are you interesting? Do you care if you are? Whole industries are built on just that, including the publishing world. Just beware of sweet little old ladies!

Friday, 21 June 2013

A Pain in the Arse...

I didn't have a colourful background. I wasn't a groupie in the seventies with a penchant for sequined glam-rockers, have a claim to fame or the product of a celebrity parent.

As an unknown quantity to agents/publishers I had to support my wonderful idea for a novel with a manuscript and that was judged on how well it was presented as well as written.

Now if I was any of the colourful people mentioned above, then an agent would have said: "Don't worry about it, an editor will sort it all out" and of course there is a cost attached. There is also the misconception that "Surely the publisher will iron out any wrinkles." A publisher may look at an initial sample and think: "This will take a lot of editing and it will be too high a cost and take too long."

Writing a novel is like producing an offspring and like any child it can be both a joy and a complete pain in the arse. Being too close to it will not allow the book to grow and so I step back once I have completed it and then leave it alone for a while. Like a melodramatic black and white actress from a silent movie, I wait until the wrench away has healed and then I can face my book with the ruthless precision of an interbred serial killer with a sharp knife ready to see red.

Is the book the same afterwards? No, its more than it was and it has been put into its Sunday best, taught how to walk and has had its nose wiped so that it looks more presentable.

Does it get any easier with a second child? Yes, because I knew what to expect and I knew when to let it stand on its own two feet. Now that I have a third waiting in its maturation chamber (can't help thinking of the Borg) I am looking forward to a positive result for a fourth. I wonder if I will end up like that old lady in a shoe?

Monday, 17 June 2013

Newspaper article 16th June 2013...

A third newspaper article appeared in the Rochdale Observer on 16th June, 2013.

The photo was taken in our local park, Hare Hill which is the inspiration for some of Star Keeper's story as is Hare Hill House, which overlooks it and the gravestone for a once famous resident - Mephisto.

Hare Hill House has seen better days and sits in a small park in a small town, which is rapidly increasing in size around it. I walked by Mephisto's grave for many a year before I even noticed it and then I stopped one day to bend down and look properly. I guess I wasn't expecting to see a lone gravestone in the park. Since then, I've been surprised by how many people have done likewise and don't know who Mephisto was....

Friday, 14 June 2013

Through the Eyes of Children....Moaning Lisa

I recently saw a street busker while on holiday in Whitby. He had placed himself behind a huge framed picture of the Mona Lisa and there was a hole for his face, which was painted to perfectly blend in. The rest of his body was hidden by a long back-curtain.

At first, he stood very still against a wall while a mother with two small children tentatively approached to peer up at him. The look on the children's faces was priceless and they were then joined by a man with a dog that sniffed the curtain with distrust.

Nobody was disappointed when Mona suddenly averted her eyes downwards, taking the children completely by surprise, and he said in a very loud and camp voice: "What you looking at?" The kids screamed and ran, the dog jumped and yelped and bystanders burst into laughter. It was so obvious what was going to happen and yet the small children hadn't expected it.

For a few minutes, madness descended upon the narrow cobbled street and I felt much better for it. Within seconds the children returned, now over their initial shock and curious to see if they had reason to be truly scared. The children's faces glowed with wonderment and I couldn't help but feel my eyes water at witnessing innocence and then open acceptance; qualities soon lost and then forgotten. I overheard a couple of people grumble: "So cheesy!" and "What a waste of time."

Imagination and patience, two more qualities that are easily lost and then forgotten. I know whose eyes I would prefer to see through...

Friday, 7 June 2013

My Personal Sea of Satisfaction Must Wait....

At the end of a very eventful week it is too easy to kick-back and then allow myself to float contentedly on a sea of satisfaction. I've had a 2nd full-page feature in a magazine, received a great review for Temptation with the summation: "unique, risky and brilliant" and then seen the impact on sales. I've also felt welcomed via emails into other people's lives so that strangers have become friends.

Being a natural die-hard cynic at heart, I almost feel like Scrooge when he flung open his bedroom window on Xmas morning. But, the sea must wait and I must keep both feet on the ground; I have a book to finish.

While I writing my third book I had one thought at the back of my mind: "How will people receive this?" To my surprise, I didn't have to reach so far deep inside me to pull out the characters and story, they were beneath the surface waiting to be unleashed.

My test reader said it was "addictive" and she was disturbed by wanting to like the main character when in real life he would be seen as a devil in human form. From my pre-marital experiences, isn't that true of most volatile relationships that shape rather than crush?

During each of my books, I've taken a personal journey where I found myself questioning everything - God, society, perceptions and how ordinary lives are not so ordinary after all. I'll never forget something I read years ago: "True evil exists where it is allowed to persist without acknowledgement, like seeing something from the corner of one's eye but refusing to see it head on." People do that all the time.

Where do I go next? I have another book planned and like Topsy's hair in Uncle Tom's Cabin, the evil might just grow and grow...

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Northern Life Magazine Feature - Summer 2013

Northern Life magazine have published a full page feature about me and my books in their Summer edition (50th anniversary).

The timing was perfect as my first book "Temptation" is currently on promotion and the second "Star Keeper" has only just been released.


Saturday, 1 June 2013

"Unique, Risky & Brilliant...."

Sophie Kate of 23reviewstreet described my first book "Temptation" as "Unique, Risky and Brilliant."
Thank you Sophie.... For the review, select the link underlined below.