Tuesday, 1 January 2013
I write the books I want to read - do you?
..... I don't think I could write any other way! There are certain subjects I LOVE to read about, so I put them in my books, because I love to write about them, too - when I start a new book I always think, ooh, what can I put in this one? Does everyone do this?
One of the things I love reading about, in magazines and newspaper articles, too, is women who are diet obsessed - how they feel about putting on weight, how their image of themselves affects their life, the lengths they go to in order to limit their food intake - which is why I created SARAH in 'You Wish'.
...and I also have a strange fascination with people who can't accept that someone they're crazy about is not interested in them, and who do all sorts of cringe-making things in their self-delusion - PETRA in 'You Wish' was making me squirm as I wrote her! I suspect it's a bit of that 'there but by the grace of God go I' thing - most of us get real and know when to think, okay, he's just not that into me, but poor Petra is unable to do this...
The general theme of this book is whether our lives are controlled by destiny, coincidence, or personal choice - something else about which I ponder frequently.
I like to write from personal experience too, not as a cathartic thing but just because the writing comes more easily when I really know how something feels. I know we can't always write about what we know, or no books about zombies or vampires or life after a worldwide nuclear catastrophe would ever be written, but it works for me. Like many people, I've experienced periods of loneliness in my life; endless Friday nights involving nothing more than a bottle of wine to drink alone, and MySpace! SHARON in 'Nobody's Fault' reflects much of this - lots of my readers have told me how they really identified with her; I think the lonely bit is something most of us have experienced, especially in this day and age when there are so many more divorces and single people living alone.
I love a grand passion, too - hence ADRIENNE and NICK in 'Nobody's Fault' - the love affair that can't be resisted and causes havoc for all those involved. Speaking as one who's always followed my heart, I tend to write about people who do so, as well! I won't say too much in case you want to read the book, but I do like to read tales about people who completely lose it when everything comes crashing down...
Oh, and now I come to that 'Sliding Doors' thing, which I think about so much! Thus: if I hadn't taken a job at that office in 1981 I wouldn't have met my friend Angela, with whom I went to that party where I met my first husband Steve, through whom I met Jane, whose spare room I stayed in when Steve and I broke up. If I hadn't stayed with Jane I wouldn't have done a few shifts in the pub across the road, where I met Alan, who became my second husband, and who insisted we move to Norfolk... etc etc etc! This is the theme of 'The Other Side', which I first wrote in about 1999; I re-thought it all and re-wrote it last year.
In 'The Other Side' I've written about lots of other things that I adore reading about, too - self obsessed women who want to 'have it all', bored housewives stuck in dreary marriages, the cut-and-thrust of 1980s Thatcher's Britain, a rock chick or two, the fear that someone is out to steal your man, and the deterioration of people for whom alcohol becomes a serious problem...
....and lastly, I come to 'Dream On'. I've known loads of struggling musicians and pub bands in my time, and I wanted to write about them - the guys you see down the pub, the ones who go to all the rock gigs and want to be rock stars, too! Some books I'd read on this subject didn't seem to be written by the people who'd known these guys, so I thought I'd write about them myself. 'Dream On' isn't only about DAVE and the other members of Thor, though (yes, Dave thinks he's a reincarnated Viking), but about the relationship between him and the mother of his son, JANICE - I wanted to write about a real life, ordinary woman, living on her own in a council house with her son, fearing that the man she loves is never coming back. Janice and the other main female character, ARIEL, are both strong women who don't make a song and dance about it, they just get on with stuff; and they're not at all 'girly'. The sort of women I like!
'Dream On' is full of characters drawn from people I've known - the funny Geordie drummer, the completely bonkers 'artiste' GLYNIS who runs a 'creative workshop', the womanising guitarist SHANE, 'chav' MELODIE with her hair extensions, whose life ambition is to appear in Hello! magazine - and, never mind the TV talent show, I LOVED writing the bit where one of the characters ends up being forced to go on The Jeremy Kyle Show..!
On a more serious note, I've dealt with the issue of Alzheimer's sufferers and their carers in this novel, too - my mother has this, and I hoped that anyone else who has experience of it would want to read about it in a novel, as I did. I like the way that the subject sometimes features in soap operas; the problems surrounding this are getting more attention these days, I am happy to say.
I'm in the process of writing the sequel to 'Dream On', as I felt the stories of Dave, Janice, Shane and Ariel were not yet finished. (Note from Sept 2013 - Full Circle was published in April) In this one I've written about more things I love to read about - the problems facing someone whose spouse is an alcoholic (and the shame of the alcoholic who's made a complete fool of him/herself!), jealousy, the anger people feel when they realise they've been lied to, the pretensions of those who feel they are intellectually superior to others, and the joy of giving them their come-uppance .... it will be called 'Full Circle' and I hope it will be ready for publication soon!
After 'Full Circle' I am going to start writing another novel, about another favourite subject of mine - stalkers. I touched on this a bit in 'You Wish', but this time it will be the main theme of the new novel - title as yet undecided. It will also be about the way people are affected by feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, another topic that interests me greatly. It won't be as light as 'Dream On', though it's been said that I manage to deal with quite heavy subjects in an easily readable way, so it won't be much of a departure from the norm. (Note from Sept 2013 - this has just been published, and is called 'What it Takes')
I hope you've enjoyed reading a bit about what I like to write about - and what I like to read about, too - all suggestions to add to my ever growing 'to read' list are welcome!