Wednesday 25 February 2015

What does 'I love you' actually mean?

Alas, it often means very different things, even to two people who are uttering those three little words to each other at the same time.  How many times have you heard a brokenhearted friend say "I don't understand; how could he just go?  He told me he loved me!"?  You may have said it yourself.  

Perhaps one person was saying "I can't imagine my life without you in it", while the other just meant "You're so exciting and exactly what I'm looking for, right now".

Sometimes it means the more sinister "I have an ideal in my head about the person I will love, and I want you to be 'it'"~ more on that one later!

I thought about this whole subject a great deal whilst writing my latest book, Last Child, because it features so many variations on the man/woman relationship.  Although not 'romances' by any means, my books do tend to be based around affairs of the heart, and I draw not only from my imagination but also from my own experience and observation of others This aspect of life has always been both interesting and so important to me, perhaps one of the reasons why I've never allowed it to fall into the second place necessary when you have children (actually, that's only just occurred to me!). 

Children or not, it isn't so important for everyone; there are those like Hannah (she appears in both Kings and Queens and Last Child), who prefer to keep such extremes of emotion at arm's length: "Some people need romance and passion like they need air to breathe, and some don’t.  I belong to the latter camp.  I’m happy to be a friend and confidante to those who need help in related crises, but have no desire to experience the despair that so often follows the joy."

(Sensible?) people like Hannah are just not made for the 'grand passion'; those explosive chemistry type of affairs, illicit as such things so often are, in which the two people have an immediate lust thing going on but also "that indefinable ingredient ‘X’ that turns attraction into love" ~ I won't say which two characters the one in Last Child involves!  The sort of love that leads people to leave long term partners, make crazy decisions, and tends to either burn itself out, painfully, or keep flickering away forever, even if the two are not together - think Burton and Taylor!  Even if we haven't the film star qualities of these two and our affair does not involve exclusive hotels, yachts, huge diamonds and newspaper coverage, I think everyone should have at least one of these sort of experiences in their lives!  Shame they don't always end in happy ever after...

In the second part of Last Child I've written two characters who, sadly, mean completely different things by those three little words.  His 'I love you' means 'I'm very fond of you but I'm really in this relationship because it gives me everything I need socially and financially', whereas, alas, hers says: 'I am obsessed with you to the point of not being able to live without you' ~ yes, for those who know their history, it's my modern day Philip of Spain and Mary Tudor.  

Old family friend Will Brandon makes this observation about 21st century would-be king Phil Castillo: “Lucky fella; a cushy job with a generous salary, a place in the bed of an attractive young woman whenever he wants it, and a nice little rent-free bolthole in the village when he doesn’t.  Can’t be bad, eh?”

...whilst poor Isabella feels like this:  "The ferocity of my love for him scared me, sometimes.  I couldn’t think about anything but him.  We’d be sitting at home watching television, but I’d be unable to concentrate on the programme.  I’d gaze at his face, study its angles and expressions, and I’d want to devour it.  Sometimes when we made love I left bite marks on his skin; he said he loved my passion, but I think it scared him a little, too."

Philip of Spain and Mary Tudor

This sort of relationship can work if the less enamoured is basically a decent person and appreciates where his/her bread is buttered (a young woman being totally spoiled by her doting, older, rich husband, perhaps!); sometimes love can grow out of such a situation, though more often than not the one with more to offer ends up with a broken heart.  I'm so glad I don't have the psychological make-up that allows me to be as eternally obsessed with someone as Isabella is with Phil; I know someone who suffers this affliction (poor her); her 'love' for the man in question colours her whole life, even if she rarely sees him. 

As sister Erin observes about Isabella:
"Love’s a weird thing.  It so often has so much other stuff attached.  Sometimes it’s more the fulfilment of a need.  Exhibit one: Izzy and Phil Castillo.  When she met him she was starved of love and affection, and just needed a good shag, in the opinion of most of the men at Lanchester Estates.  She saw mirrored in Phil’s empty blue eyes the image of herself in which she needed so badly to believe but was never truly convinced by, so when she felt her dream slipping away she clung to it by any means she could because she was terrified of going back to how she was before."

The final third of Last Child brings with it three more faces of love: duty, true soul mates, and that curious one of which my character Amy is guilty ~ she thinks she feels true love for her husband, Robert, though she is more in love with an ideal.  
Robert says: "Amy doesn’t really love me, anyway, although she thinks she does.  She loves her fantasy of me as one of the heroes from her stupid romantic novels, not me, the real me, how I really am."

I think this is more common that people realise (or admit), particularly amongst women who, when younger, daydream about their wedding day/future marital bliss, and amongst men who weave fantasies about their ideal woman - anyone who has been in a relationship with one of those men who tell you they adore you then try to change everything about you from your friends to your hair colour to the height of your heels will know what I mean by this one!

Being the object of this sort of 'love' should make the recipient want to say "Oh, excuse me for not being the person you've made up your mind I ought to be - not!!!", but, sadly, it all too often makes low self-esteem even lower; men who think love = protection and control have a radar that detects the sort of women who will put up with it.  As for women for whom "I love you" means "I want you to star alongside me in my fantasy of a perfect life.  Here are your lines and stage directions; if you deviate from them I will sulk" - they need a course in growing up!

As for 'duty' love, Robert's relationship with Amy begins because he is on the rebound, but grows into something genuine; however, he feels guilty for falling out of love with her almost before the ring is on her finger, and tries to make the best of it.  Erin thinks such duty is misplaced:
"If you don’t love someone, don’t stay married to them.  End of.  Don’t waste her life as well as your own.  Let her find someone who loves her, instead of putting her through years of anguish."  

As for Erin and Robert, their connection is a continuing theme throughout the book.  But are they true soul mates, two people who fit together so perfectly, or is their love destined to bring nothing but heartbreak (she says, as though writing a blurb for a romance book.....!)???

I hope if you have downloaded the book you enjoy finding out, and, whether you have or not, that you can relate to some parts of this post; I'd be interested to hear about anyone's own experiences, and promise I won't use them in future novels!

Thursday 19 February 2015

Erin and Robert.... 21st century versions of Elizabeth 1 and Robert Dudley!


This is my husband's favourite piece from my almost-ready-to-publish new book, Last Child ~ spoken by Erin, my 21st century Elizabeth I.  One of those little things I've noticed over the years, that, inevitably, found its way into a novel....

“It’s a strange one, that,” I said.  I was thinking of my sister, too.  “Sometimes the people most lacking in self-confidence are the most demanding.  They’re so terrified that they can lose everything in a moment that they become clingy, which gives the impression that they see their own needs as all-important.  Their lack of self-esteem makes them self-obsessed.  It’s a curious contradiction.”
Robert smiled.  “When did you get so wise?”
“All the time I was reading books and thinking about stuff instead of cooking men’s dinners,” I said.  “And earning a living, observing people and the way the world works, instead of getting stoned at student parties and swotting up a load of crap for stupid exams that I’d forget within a couple of months.”

He also liked this bit, from the beginning of one of Robert's chapter. Alas, Robert is married to the wrong woman....

"When husbands don’t spend enough time at home, they’re always the ones who get the blame, aren’t they?  For not being supportive, a good husband, etc.  The onus is never on the wife to be less bloody boring so he might want to spend more time with her.  It’s like, because she keeps the house nice and irons his shirts he should give up the rest of his life to making her happy."

If you haven't already seen it and would like to, my original post about the book is HERE  

Not long now.....

Saturday 14 February 2015

The past lives on, and Valentine's Day

I read a post via a tweet yesterday, titled '11 jobs that no longer exist'

One of them was milkman.  The article informs us that, many years ago before refrigeration, there used to be a man who delivered milk on a daily basis.  Who'd have thought it, eh?  Um, I've got news for you, article writer - these quaint old fashioned chaps have not yet slipped into history!  My father still gets milk from the milkman, for one, and I am sure he's not the only person in the country...

... actually, it's quite an interesting article.  It's HERE.  If you click on it you also get to look at the post mortem photographs in the article at the side, too !) - but, anyway, back to the jobs of yore.  Amongst others, the article mentions 'knocker-uppers' - in the days before everyone had alarm clocks, each community had a chap or woman who would go around knocking people's windows to get them out of bed so they wouldn't be late to clock on at t'mill, or whatever.  Now, here's a thing.  I used to live with a chap called Marcus who came from a very 'we don't like no foreigners round 'ere' type of village in Northamptonshire.  In that village he was known by most people as 'Knocker', as was his father afore him, because his grandfather had been the village knocker-upper.

Me and 'Knocker', around 20 years ago.  And I didn't choose the picture of me looking quite sweet and him looking weird on purpose, either; I have very few of him scanned for computer use!!

Incidentally, it being Valentine's Day 'n' all, I'll just add this.  On February 14th, 1990, when we'd only just met, he made a most romantic gesture. This was in the long ago era before Valentine's Day became 'Suppose I'd better take the Mrs out for an overpriced meal and spend half my salary on a bunch of red roses and some daft heart shaped box of chocolates' Day.  He put a single red rose through my letter box, without anything to say who it was from.  Would have been so thrillingly mysterious had my flat mate not seen him through the window, walking away.  And I don't suppose his current girlfriend would have thought it was that romantic, either.  Oh, well....

I hope y'all feel loved and appreciated every day, not just today, and preferably not by someone who lives with someone else!

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Why do we blog?

I read a post by Tui Snider on this subject, and left a long comment that refused to appear, so I thought I'd turn it into my own post, instead!  You can read Tui's article HERE; alas, she is having ongoing problems with her site but hopes to have them fixed soon

So why do I do it? I started only because people kept telling me that writers ought to.  I shoved a few old articles on and remembered to write something once a month.  I used to feel pretty chuffed if I got about 50 views per post.  Gradually, though, this site became a thing apart from my books.  I never intended to have a blog based around writing or self-publishing, realising that would only be of interest to other writers, and I thought the whole point of them was to attract readers. But it isn't.  They're there for when there is something you want to write about that is nothing to do with your novels - mine gets used whenever there is something I want to express in more than 140 characters.  

It's somewhere where I can moan about stuff, develop ideas, collate various thoughts into one post, obsess about my favourite TV progs, write a bit of background about my books when new ones come out, and share the odd picture of people like Josh Holloway and Norman Reedus....

(Whoops, there I go again...)

After a while, though, I found that I did sometimes want to write about self-publishing.  Then, last month, my blogging empire expanded when I decided to start a book review blog, HERE.  I did this because I'd been reading some really excellent books and thought they deserved more than just a review on Amazon; also, there were some I want to help promote because they are so good, and it's easier to do so with a blog where I can present the review more attractively. 

In answer to one of the questions on Tui's post, I don't have a blogging schedule because the idea that you MUST blog every half hour whether you have something interesting to say or not is, like, so 2012.  I never did anyway. Sometimes I'll do six posts in a month, sometimes one; it depends what else I'm doing.  I write stuff simply because I think of things that I hope will be of entertainment/interest to others.  Emphasis on the entertainment/interest.  I hope I'm never too self-indulgent.  But look, it's my blog and if I want to post pictures of Josh Holloway I will, right?

I must say the book reviewing blog does seem to be taking over, lately.  I've discovered why real book bloggers (not people just playing at it like me) do it!  I keep reading when I should be writing.... 

So why do you blog?

Wednesday 4 February 2015

My Top Ten Favourite Characters in The Walking Dead

.... I couldn't resist it, as the next half of the current series is imminent!  First I had fun going down the cast list on IMdb to choose my ten, then finding the pictures... so here they are - who were your favourites? 

10.  Sorry, T-Dog, you just missed out on a place in my top ten, as I gave that spot to Maggie Greene, played by Lauren Cohan.  I liked her because she was super not-daft-girly, and dealt with the histrionics of irritating sister Beth, and the initial prejudices of father Hershel about her relationship with Glenn, pretty niftily.  And she could handle herself with a gun.  Love her and Glenn's relationship, too. 


9.  Swaggering in along with the chip on his shoulder at number 9, I've chosen Shane Walsh, played by Jon Bernthal.  I felt kinda sorry for him when Rick turned up alive in series 1 and he had to pretend he wasn't in love with Lori, especially when she started being snitty with him to cover up the fact that she felt guilty.  I thought a lot of his more 'it's hard, but it's the only way' type decisions at the farm were right, too.  Oh, and of course he was the best totty for the first few episodes... 


8.  I love this guy!  Sgt Abraham Ford, the man who really thought he was going to save the world!  Big nice teddy bear, often with his ideas a bit screwed up, but heart in the right place.  Some of the best comedic lines involved him.  Played by Michael Cudlitz.


7.  Now, I'm known for not having a great deal of time for anyone much under the age of about 25, but I really got to thinking that Carl Grimes was more than okay as the story went on.  He soon sussed out about not being a child anymore, and learned to do and understand grown up stuff without making a big song and dance about it.  He also had that way about him that the coolest kids have: sometimes, he could make the adults look pretty stupid.  Played by Chandler Riggs.


6.  No, Glenn Rhee, I won't make the mistake of thinking you're Chinese....  loved this chap from the time he first saved Rick's life back at the beginning, when he was a jaunty boy racer type.  He grew up so much from the lad who couldn't believe his luck when Maggie propositioned him in the looted out pharmacy, to someone who could protect and survive with the best of 'em.  I thought his relationship with would-have-been father in law Hershel was kind of sweet, too.  Played by Steven Yuen.


5.  Bumbling his way into the Top 5, surely one of the most inspired characters in the whole show - I bet the writers were pleased when they thought up Eugene Porter (played by Josh McDermott)!  The probably borderline Aspergers syndrome computer nerd with the horrendous mullet who knew he would be dead meat if ever he came face to face with a zombie, so pretended he was a scientist carrying the formulae to end the disaster - all he needed was someone who'd give him a safe passage to Washington DC!  Actually, everything he said made good sense, if you listened to it.  Terrific dialogue!


4.  At number 4, someone I couldn't stand at first but then came to be one of my favourites.  Who'd have thought that the end of the world could bring out the best in someone?  Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) went from pathetic victim to totally capable and switched on person, almost as soon as her 'orrible husband died and her daughter turned into a zombie.  Whatever it takes, right?  She took charge of big cry baby Tyreese, and I loved how she was strong enough to kill eleven year old psycho Lizzie.  I thought she made the right decision about the people she sacrificed back in the prison, too...


3.  There's always got to be a Hershel Greene type character in these sort of programmes/films, hasn't there?  Just in case you haven't got enough tears pricking at your eyelids.  Scott Wilson played the saint who brought Carl back to health, and truly believed that he and his family would be able to carry on living in his farm, safe from the Walkers; remember when they were finally driving away from it, and he said something like, but it's my farm, and Rick said, "Not any more, it's not".... not a dry eye in the house.

In the prison he became the wise father figure to everyone, a moving moment with one of his daughters, Glenn or Rick in almost every scene he was in.  But then came The Governor....


2.  If ever I find myself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, I want to be Michonne!  Isn't she just the best?  That cold silent attitude at the beginning hinted at great pain that we knew would come out eventually - and as for her two armless Walker safety shield...

The way she just slashes through whole groups of them with that sword is always great to watch; the sword itself one of the stars of the show.  Her relationship with Carl is dead touching, and she always looks so cool, too.  Love that leather waistcoat....  Danai Gurira, you totally rock!


 1.  And at number one.... no, not Rick, I'm afraid.  His ego got in the way too much for me, and he made some crap decisions, too (I'm thinking back to him trying to negotiate with The Governor at the prison) (Note: 2016 ~ I revised my opinion about him in the last series and now like him!)  Hey, but this isn't about Rick.  It's about the best character in the whole show: Daryl Dixon, of course.

Absolutely nothing to do with him being drop dead gorgeous, of course.  Even when he's all dirty - or especially when...  no, no, shut up, this is a family show!  But aside from his lushness, he's the bravest, the sharpest, he's loyal and deep and fearless, has really hunky broad shoulders, the way he cried when Merle died was such a memorable moment, ooh, and the way he handles that crossbow .... Norman Reedus, we love you.  Well, I do, anyway!


I can't wait to see them all again ~ do you agree with my ten?