DORIS, FAST FOOD, AND FICTION

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30 years ago I was sent a pack on how to write romantic novels, which are still highly consumable. I tried to follow their formulaic instructions but couldn’t do it. For me writing is not like rhubarb: you cannot force it, it has to grow organically whilst breathing in fresh air. I would like to say, though, I do take my hat off to those who can write a series of books for one particular genre, it takes some doing. Its been just over a year since I published my 6th novel and such a lot has happened since then. I was just beginning to pick up speed, on the home straight to finish my 7th book, when DORIS arrived, her 90 mile gusts of wind cutting a swathe through the country and the East Midlands, to blow the roof off our bungalow.

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The trial of having to sleep through a night with no roof above us  as we couldn’t get a roofer out for love nor money as it was just too dangerous, was horrendous. The feeling must have been like those who experienced the Blitz: waiting for the bombs to fall and hoping its not you. Luckily there was no water ingress throughout any of the ceilings, so we hoped and prayed that it didn’t rain that night. No one slept too well.

This major episode in my life has given me pause to consider if the Gods are putting these obstacles in my way to tell me something? Will 2017 be better than last year which was quite testing on a health level. Well it’s not started very well has it? So what’s next? Will I ever get to finish my 7th novel?

What has sprung to mind in my doom and gloom is a review I had a couple of years ago. The person said of one of my books, because it did not have a happy conclusion,

‘I would have been annoyed if I’d have paid more than 99p for this book’.

99p **** *** *** **** !!!  Sorry, the expletives come automatically when I think about it as it took two years to research the background for this book, along with two others. I would state that this same novel, along with the other two, are is still in the top 100 of their genre.

Genre fiction is consumed at an alarming rate and some readers can devour two books a day. I can only liken it to eating one of those meals you get from certain fast food outlets, the consummation of such will leave you wanting something more immediately afterwards. No time to sit and relish what you’ve just eaten: stuff it down and hope it satisfies. Widen your reading habits, that is my motto: you will learn more.

DORIS seems to have put a dent in my spirit, somewhat, but I’m sure I will rise above it, as I have always done: onwards and upwards: keep on going. And if I sit at my desk with a bucket over my head tapping away at my computer trying to finish this 7th novel which the Gods have decided should not be finished, then you will know I have totally lost it: big-time.

HEAD TO HEAD

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An author friend of mine, Josef Black, asked me last week for an interview and I accepted. Josef has just published the 3rd of his Blades series – fictional military, action and adventure stories about a group of SAS operatives. We are two very different people, who write very different novels, but have, for the past two years, forged a writers friendship.

Well, here is the interview and introduction:

Patricia is a fellow author who has been a rock of support since I first released SARAJEVO, she writes some amazing literary fiction, some featuring ex-Blades, and has the sort of literary voice poor old comprehensive-educated Jo can only dream of. Her books are well worth a read.

Q: So, Pat, tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to write books about the Hereford hooligans:

A: First of all I would like to thank you, Jo, for that lovely introduction. I am a wife, mother and grandmother:  that’s enough about me. Having had a member of my family in Special Forces I always wondered what actually makes these men tick: they are closed books: never talking about their work: so along with researching facts, and reading fiction, I decided I didn’t want to write another account of their escapades. I wanted to explore how their work impacted on personal relationships, and how they viewed the world.

Q: Tell us a little about your books:

 A: My first novel, TALE OF TWO WOMEN, was set in the 80’s and in it appeared a minor character, who was ex-SP. He then grew into a full length biographical novel – TO THE EDGE AND BACK. But, knowing there was a darker side to these men I did more research and came up with OPERATION MAINSPRING, a mixture of action, thriller-come-detective story, also set in the 80’s. My German trilogy – A LIFE ONCE HAD, A NEW BEGINNING and FORBIDDEN LIAISON, were set during and just after the 2nd World War. The first two novels are about a German surgeon: his role during the war, and trying to start a new life in England when the war is over. FORBIDDEN LIAISON is about a disillusioned German soldier who is posted to the Channel Islands. My novels are character driven because its people I like to write about.

 Q: What’s been your biggest challenge as a writer?

 A: The researching and writing of A LIFE ONE HAD and A NEW BEGINNING. It took me two years to research those books. Not only did I have to research pre-war surgery, but the austere conditions both in Germany and Britain after the war. When I had finally finished writing the novel it was about 350,000 words in length, so I decided to publish as two separate books after editing a lot of wordage out.

Q: What is your favourite book you have written, and what made it stand out for you?

 A: I can honestly say I don’t have a favourite because I put everything I can give into each novel, but if pushed it would have to be A LIFE ONCE HAD.

Q: Which writers inspired you most as a reader?

 A: D.H. Lawrence, Heinrich Böll, the poetry of Heinrich Heine, Emile Zola, Alan Bennett. These five came readily to mind, but there are many more authors I like to read. I have an eclectic reading taste.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?

 A: Having just finished your book, BLADES: TASK FORCE DAGGER, the next on my list is GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee.

Q: Writers know everything. Tell us something interesting about squirrels that we might not know.

A: The Grey Squirrel or the Red Squirrel?

 Q: When can we expect to read your 7th book?

 A: About autumn time. Just a little more research and writing to do before proof reading and editing.

That’s it folks.

 

 

 

 

STOPPING BY WOODS

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I now have a title for my 7th novel and hopefully a book cover – but that depends on my book cover designer, Bryn Smith, who, without his help at finding my way around a computer, my novels would never get published. I personally like No. 2 – the black and white one – as this novel is set in France during the early months of 1944 in the run-up to the D Day landings. Which one do you like?

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The main protagonist is a woman masquerading as a purveyor of beauty products, but when the RAF bombed the prison at Amiens to try and set free all those French Resistance workers imprisoned there, she finds herself alone and rudderless as they were all quickly captured and executed. Making her way to the coast she secures herself a job in a brothel as a beautician, but there’s more to this woman than lipstick, powder and paint.

The book is not yet finished, but I know where it will end, I just have to sit down and write it.

PS. For those of you who recognise the title as the title of one of Robert Frost’s poems, I have checked, and found that titles are not copyrighted. If I am wrong please let me know.

WHO DARES WRITES

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Now, I have to admit it, but the title of this blog is not mine. I borrowed it. An author friend of mine – Josef Black – kindly lent it to me as we thought it had a certain ring of truth about us, as authors.

I was also inspired by a book I read whilst studying years ago, ILLNESS AS A METAPHOR and AIDS AND ITS METAPHORS by Susan Sontag, an American intellectual who died in 2004. Everyone would have heard that often used phrase, ‘fighting the battle against cancer’, well, we authors can also have our own metaphorical battles to fight.

Writing can be a minefield of typos, grammar mistakes, poor sentence structure, telling not showing, and plotlines like a truckle of Emmental cheese. But like every writer who is serious about their work we will, hopefully, seek out and overcome these obstacles before we reach our objective: publication.

But; and I suspect many authors feel the same; my missions don’t always run smoothly as the occasional typo or spelling mistake will slip through the lines like a sniper hidden amongst the surrounding dialogue and prose. These ‘snipers’ can cause havoc, and a lot of angst, especially when we’ve reached our objective and we feel the battle has been won.

Then when we think its time for exfiltration there’s a second front to deal with: reviews: most of which will be friendly and constructive banter supporting your cause, but we have to be prepared for that pocket of resistance that will detonate a few land-mines, or take a pop at us with their small arms fire. And no matter what flak we get on the way to our objectives, we don’t give in; we carry on. We don’t fall after the first battle, we become stronger, wiser, and hopefully, more proficient at what we do.

I don’t think I can stop writing now, but I feel I have to look for another route into the war-zone. My daughter once said to me my life has been far from ordinary, and perhaps I should write my biography. As I am no celebrity who would read it? So, to all my writer friends out there, good luck with your endeavours, and to all our readers, one huge thank you.