Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Confessions of a Spa-a-holic

Word count: 14,103

Well, the threat that somebody would come to my blog and tell me off if I didn't do my 3,000 words worked...I've always been a goody-two-shoes! The chapter is a whole 3,000 words long, which seems excessive, but all the words I need are probably there, just in the wrong order.

While I was writing today's chapter, I noticed a very shallow theme in my books: they almost always feature spas or gyms. Old School Ties - check, yes, they get a girly treat day in a spa. The Starter Marriage: the main character is a teacher who takes her primary school class to an Outward Bound centre. Brown Owl's Guide to Life: they go to an adult activity centre, circuit training etc. The Self-Preservation Society: yep, you guessed it, spa day in rather po-faced and ridiculous holistic retreat...

I do like spas, and I would willingly spend my life in one (which one, though? OOoooh, I could daydream fro hours). But that is a bit excessive, I must admit. The one in Book 5 Option A features only a glass atrium, a sauna and a smoothie bar, and is more a city banker kind of hangout, but even so. A cynic might suggest all this writing about physical activity is probably a substitute for doing anything more energetic than going to the biscuit barrel, but I couldn't possibly comment. Others might say this is a ploy by me to be able to set weekend breaks against tax as a business expense. And the truly cruel might see each novel as an application for a job on Spas Monthly or for the Mr and Mrs Smith guides (please...if anyone's reading, I'm definitely in the running for that...).

My name is Kate Harrison and I am a spa-a-holic.

I'd be interested to know how other racers choose their locations. I definitely like to feature unusual places, including Brownie camps (another outdoor setting!), luxury hotels (two of them so far, a real one, The Lowry in Manchester, plus one which very, very vaguely resembles the Covent Garden Hotel), nuclear fall-out shelters, karaoke bars, floating restaurants and funfairs. I also like different locations in books: I can't bear novels set solely in a single dreary house, where the central character's inner turmoil is reflected in endless tragic silent meals with a surly spouse.

In other news, a further reprint of Brown Owl has gladdened my heart. There are squillions of copies in print, and I wouldn't want trees to have died in vain, so might have to go and buy them myself. Actually, had a rather sad parcel from the American publisher of The Starter Marriage yesterday: a jiffy bag containing three copies, with a tiny note saying 'Enjoy!' I know they meant well, but given that I already had two boxfuls in the garage, this didn't gladden my heart so much. It reminds me of a story I heard from another (well known) writer who received a similar transatlantic delivery: hundreds of publicity photographs of himself, 'because we don't have any use for them any more.'

You see, it's non-stop glamour and adoration being an author.

Lovely Link of the Day:
As a bit of a foodie, I'm enjoying all the quizzes and info on the BBC's Truth About Food website. Now where did I put those choc-covered almonds? They're health food!


Blogger liz fenwick said...

WTG on the words! My copy of the Brown Owl's Guide has just arrived thanks to amazon........

Afraid both this book and the last are set in the same area of Cornwall. Hopefully not too boring....must through a spa in somewhere... Must go do research.

6:09 pm  
Blogger Cathy said...

Fantastic about the reprints of 'Brown Owl'. Is that anything to do with the fact that it has been in Tesco's chart for weeks? I got my copy there whilst doing the weekly shop!

Oh and I haven't read 'Starter Marriage' so if you ever feel the need to offload any of those surplus copies....

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Ive said...

Very interesting I just start in spa bussiness in Thailand.

7:23 pm  
Blogger LinWhite said...

Just thought you'd like to know I finally got around to getting Brown Owl's Guide (we first "met" when I registered Old School Ties on bookcrossing and you emailed, and we met at the unconvention). Within a few lines I was hooked, the teases as to plot to come are absolutely wicked, and I'm finding I'm ekeing the book out to make it last longer, because I don't want to finish it.

I just wish I could write as well as you do!

9:43 pm  
Blogger Julia Buckley said...

I've never been to spa. I'd love to try one someday.

11:31 pm  
Blogger Sezzie said...

Nothing wrong with a love of spas!

Congrats on the 3,000 words....I am struggling this week, on account of the fact that I was out Monday night, Tuesday night and I am out again tonight.
Tomorrow night I will probably be recovering...

There's always the weekend. I WILL reach my week's 5,000 word target!

9:35 am  
Blogger Kate said...

Cornwall's a brilliant setting, Liz. I'd love to do serious research there. And yes, Cathy, Tesco and Asda have been a big help in shifting copies.

Lin, lovely to see you here and thanks for the kind comments.

Julia, you are missing out on one of womanhood's top treats. And now you are 30, it's time to put that right. Maybe Ive can invite you to Thailand???

Sezzie, ever tried writing directly after a night out? It makes for interesting proof-reading next morning!

6:42 pm  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

Kate, sorry have been very quiet as have just finished rewrites of Pastures New. Yay! Tis done. NOW I can get going on this race (once I've cleared the backlog of other work demanding my time!)...

But just thought I'd hop into say, yes spas are fab. Only ever been to the Sanctuary once last year for my 40th but it was fabulosa. And having spent ten years running round after my offspring very welcome. I will happily read about spas for vicarious pleasure, Kate!!

On the subject of places that inspire us, PN is inspired by allotments at the back of my house. My ed thought Surrey too boring though so the location has switched to Essex/Suffolk borders. I prefer to write about what I know, so am about to do battle on the location of next book which I feel very strongly should be urban/south london. It will also feature salsa classes.

As I'm a runner I want to do something around a running club. Mums on the Runs sounds like a good title to me...

I am WAYYYY behind all of you on word count as haven't even started yet and have to loads of research but watching CBB (about which I have been opining on my blog) has given me loads of background for a zedlebrity character. So can't wait to get started!!!

love Janex

1:09 pm  

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