Sunday 27 April 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I've been nominated by Scott Bury for the 'My Writing Process' Blog tour - thank you, Scott!  Here is his post:

I was also asked by N E David (thank you again, N, and for giving me a different slant on it!) - so here is his blog, too!

I have to answer four questions about what, why and how I write, then link to the bloggers that tagged me, and tag two or three more authors in turn. 

Okaaaay - here are the questions and my answers....

1.  What am I working on now?

I'm currently working on a novella, a light 'beach read' type of thing; it's about the same sort of concept as my novel The Other Side, ie, parallel lives, what might have happened if we'd turned a different corner/made a different decision, etc - all those 'but what if I'd....' questions!  Very Sliding Doors - it's a subject that fascinates me.  

The very act of just missing a tube train gave Gwyneth Paltrow not only a different life, but a different hairdo!

I needed to write something a bit lighter - and shorter - after finishing my latest novel, Kings and Queens, which was something of a marathon!  I worked on it every day all through the winter - even Christmas Day!  I think the new one is going to be called Round and Round  

2.  How does my work differ from others in its genre?

That's a hard one, as my novels don't really fit into one genre - as is agreed by several regular readers.  One review said that I have 'a genre all of my own'!  I suppose they're more 'real life' than some of the romantic suspense or contemporary women's fiction genre, and maybe more humorous, sometimes, too.  And not necessarily just for women.  It's so hard to analyse your own work, I think.

More real than most romantic suspense?  It's impossible for me to say!

3.  Why do I write what I do?

For this one I really can't think of an answer apart from 'I don't know'.  Although I take great care with unpredictable plot twists (I love working out the red herrings!), my biggest interest is in the dynamics of the relationships - and not just the love ones.  I find people's emotional reactions and issues fascinating, so I suppose that interest sparks off my weird non-genre of choice!  If a story arrives in my mind to such an extent that I want to develop it, then away I go, but those ideas are completely random - I mean, I don't think, ooh, I'll write a heartwarming tale to catch the Christmas market, or anything like that - maybe I should, I'd probably sell a shedload more books!  When I got the idea for Kings and Queens, I was sitting in bed watching The Tudors.  I suddenly thought, isn't this a brilliant story?  I wonder if I could translate all that intrigue and drama into the present day?  And thus, you have it - the story of property developer Harry Lanchester, and his six wives (well, five in mine!).

Showing the intriguing Annette Hever, and her historical counterpart, Anne Boleyn!

4.  How does my writing process work?

It's the same for each book.  I get an idea, and mull it around in my head; sometimes I discuss it with my sister and my husband.  At some point, I start writing a few scribbled notes.  When I've decided what the actual story is, I write a very basic chapter plan - I never do this until I've decided on the ending, because I think that every sentence in a novel should be relevant to the plot, and all threads should move towards the conclusion, even if that conclusion has several aspects. However convoluted those threads might be, however seemingly insignificant they seem when first being read, each element in each novel I write is a part of the whole.  I don't like books that have superfluous detail about subjects irrelevant to the plot, particularly where the writer has wandered off into self-indulgence; I like to make every sentence count.  

I do any necessary research before starting to write, too - which meant about two months' reading for Kings and Queens.  My books are very 'character driven', so I spend a long time working out ways by which my characters' actions will be feasible; I am so wary of making events occur just for the sake of moving the plot forward, or characters suddenly changing personality half way through. I write little timeline charts as I go along to help with continuity.  

Courtesy of author and writing coach Rayne Hall

Then I write 'Chapter One', and the process begins once more.  First draft, nice spaces between each subsequent ones so that I can see it with fresh eyes ... and, yes, I always get that that 'this is a load of crap' bit around 6k words....

I hope that was of some interest to some people!  I am tagging:

JD Hughes

Cynthia Harrison 

Georgia Rose


Saturday 12 April 2014

The Eleven Most Irritating Characters on 24!

Jack is back, and isn't it wonderful?  I am sure I am not the only one who is so delighted it's almost pathetic...!  

Roll on next month!!

Last year I listed my Top 20 best characters in 24:

.... and now I'd like to present my eleven most irritating!  It's a personal thing, of course; one man's funny guy is another's aggravating idiot, made harder by the fact that some characters started off irritating but ended up superbly bad (eg., Dana Walsh; however, that pout still has her bubbling under at number 11, I can assure you).  Others some were irritating for a long time but then redeemed themselves (Michelle Dessler admitting she did love Tony after all, and then helping in the Jack's-Not-Really-Dead plot, Paul Raines being a total tit but then saving Jack's life), and some were irritating but such fabulously well drawn  characters that there is no WAY they can be included here (Charles Logan). 

Here we go, then!

At number 10 it's ditzy girly Marie Warner, sister of the totally cool and gorgeous Kate, from Series 2; even when we found out she was an undercover baddie she was still super irritating ~ and that wig....

Sharing the number 10 spot is Farhad Hassan - not only evil and crass, but the owner of the most irritating hairstyle in the whole eight series!

Exuding great menace at number 9, it's Cheng Zhi, evil head of security at the Chinese Consulate who imprisoned our Jack, just after he'd saved the world again at the end of Series 5 - it's not his evil that's so irritating, but his air of "ah so, look at my inscrutable face and know that in me, the ruthless Cheng Zhi, there is no human frailty."  I thought he was really silly.

Strutting her stuff at number 8 is Sandra Palmer - very worthy, but didn't she go ON???  And on, and on??  One of those small people who compensate by making themselves heard... and heard... and heard....

I did actually want to put Kim Bauer as number 8, because she seriously gets on my nerves, but I think it would be unkind to Jack, especially as my choice for number 7 is....

"I can't remember my name!  Where am I?  Anyway,  how did a humourless ostrich like me ever land superman-with-a heart Jack Bauer?"  Yes, chaps, it's Teri Bauer.... look, I know she did the right thing by saving Kim from being raped back in series 1, but the rest of the time....

At number 6, the sneaky little jobsworth Janis Gold, who tried to thwart the wonderful Chloe!  I couldn't even stand LOOKING at her!

Heading for the top now, and crawling along like a smarmy lizard at number 5 we have revolting Miles Papazian, with his facial craters, horrible pale crocodile eyes, sexist attitude, and triumphant marching off to DC as soon as he'd mucked up the recovery of the tape that incriminated Charles Logan...

The biggest incentive ever to work out your own problems ~ Number 4 is uber-pillock psychotherapist Barry "everyone breathe" Landes (and yes, Jack, of course there was something disgustingly creepy about his relationship with Kim!)

Flouncing about and making everyone's blood boil at number 3 we have the HORRENDOUS spoilt, full of herself Miss Olivia Taylor, daughter of President Alison Taylor, who made me want to smash the screen several times during series 7!

Seriously vomit inducing now, right?  The runner up, and second most irritating, for me, was the grotty, whiney, spoilt, self-indulgent little wimp Richard Heller, who thought the world centred round him, and had no concept of what it meant to be who he was.... and WHY couldn't Audrey have hinted to him about that stuff called shampoo?  And, like, scissors?  And, y'know, a razor?

Drum roll.....

The moment you've been waiting for!  

Number one in my list of The Ten Most Irritating Characters in 24 is.... (further drum roll)....

Maya Driscoll

...... short-lived CTU manager Erin Driscoll's loopy, manipulative daughter, who couldn't get it through her supposedly schizophrenic head that her wanting to go home with her mum wasn't quite as important as Mum managing an operation to save a million people from suffering horrendous deaths courtesy of Monsieur Bierkov and his nerve gas.  

"Never mind that you're trying to save the future of the nation, I'm going to hit that nasty nurse and I'm not talking my pills, so there!"  And don't get me started on her attack on the next door neighbour's son.... I saw a picture of the actress when I was looking for these pictures, incidentally, and she looks nothing like her in real life ~ amazing acting!  Even if it did make me nearly throw the telly out of the window....!!

Comments welcome!

Tuesday 1 April 2014

KINGS AND QUEENS - my new novel, coming soon!

Please note!  KINGS AND QUEENS was released on April 25 and is now available!

I'd been delaying about my new book, because I was originally going to approach literary agents with an ultimate aim of getting it traditionally published, but then I decided not to; I've written a post about why not, on my other blog, here:

Okay!  Here goes, then!  Kings and Queens will be published on Amazon some time during this month (April!) (note from 24/4/14 - hopefully out on Friday 25/4/14!!) - it's just on it's final read through!  It's a bit longer than my others, which range from 80K to 96K words; Kings and Queens is 120K.  It's contemporary fiction/romantic suspense/family drama, very much in the vein of my other books - but it should also appeal to anyone with an interest in the Tudor era of British history.  Sounds a bit odd, I know - let me explain!

Here's the first version of the cover!

Kings and Queens spans 35 years, from 1971 to 2007.  It's the story of the life and loves of Harry Lanchester, a successful property developer in the south of England. But there is an echo from the past; Harry's story mirrors that of Henry VIII and his six wives.  It is, in effect, the story of Henry VIII, but translated into modern times.  

The story is told in the first person, from the point of view of each of the six 'wives', in turn.  They each have their section in the book, ending when their relationship with Harry comes to a close, for whatever reason.  The stories of the women are interspersed by short chapters from the point of view of Harry's best friend, Will Brandon (whose Tudor counterpart was Henry VIII's good friend Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk). 

Harry Lanchester's kingdom is his company, Lanchester Estates.  I've used the company as a metaphor for what was happening at Court and in England 450 years ago, but the primary focus of the novel is Harry's relationships with the six women who come into his life.  Obviously I've had to modify the story; people tend to get the sack, or resign, rather than have their heads chopped off (!!) and I've used an up-to-date equivalent where possible; for instance, Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, had a bit of a racy past, which in those days meant she had 'entertained' another man in her bedroom.  In Kings and Queens, my character Keira Howard has worked as a lap dancer.  Henry VIII's groom, Thomas Culpepper, becomes his driver, Danny Culpepper.  

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Natalie Dormer, etc, as Henry and the six wives in The Tudors 

I will stress that it is not necessary to know anything about the Tudors at all - the book can be enjoyed as any contemporary drama, but those who do know about that period in history will enjoy seeing the parallels, some more obvious than others (and occasionally quite amusing; the rock band with whom Annette Hever - Anne Boleyn - hangs out is called Traitors' Gate!).  A couple of people to whom I've spoken about this novel have said that they don't know anything about the period but think they would enjoy it more if they did, so I have written a brief blog post about the life of Henry VIII, and will put a link to it in the Kindle version of the book.
If you wish, you can read it here: 

I remember this from the 1970s - Keith Michell and Angela Pleasance as Henry and Catherine Howard.

I'm very excited about having a new novel out and hope you like it!  I've already planned the sequel, which will be about Harry's children... you will have heard of Edward VI, Queen Mary Tudor, and, of course, Elizabeth 1 of England!  

Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth in the film of the same name, 1998