Wednesday, April 14, 2010

After the break...

I have been meaning to blog, but with one thing and another....
Yes, the first draft of The Secret Shopper Affair is done! Hooray - well, half-a-ray, because I printed it off and then put it aside as I know how much work there is to do on it. I think the story starts in the wrong place, and there's too much action, plus there are heaps of topics I need to research, and I need to re-read the first two books (which I never enjoy doing) to be sure of continuity etc, so it's really the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. Still, have been relaxing in the four days since I pressed Print.

Actually, an awful lot of those four days has been taken up by this tome - almost 800 pages, and hyped to be the big hit of the summer:
It's always a slightly bittersweet experience for an author, reading a book they know was bought by their publisher for squillions of times more than they get for their books... but fascinating, too, to see what might have created such passion. And I have to say, The Passage is brilliant, though also responsible for quite severe wrist strain, the thing's so heavy. And it's only the first part of a trilogy.

I shan't go into plot details - one of the fun bits of reading a book before publication is that you don't have much to go on and I didn't know where it was heading. The answer - pretty much everywhere. It's hard to categorise - it reminded me of I Am Legend but also of my experience inter-railing round Europe and reading It by Stephen King and being so absorbed by the creepy clown that I didn't see much of the scenery. The book is very different - but the level of, well, addiction was similar. And I am not really a big fan of those kinds of books. I have to say that the first third was my favourite part, but that doesn't mean the rest wasn't ace, too. Worth the wrist strain, I'd say. Thanks to Gen at Orion for posting it to me (it would have taken my entire Easyjet hand luggage allocation, and would probably have exceeded the limit on Ryanair...)

Otherwise, it's been mainly cloudy, but when it's been sunny, boy, everyone's making the most of it (not our cat, btw, but a very confident neighbour two storeys up). And I am in love with spring-food, especially when used in recipes from the brilliant Ottolenghi cookbook. It's definitely my favourite recipe book at the moment.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter Reading: so much longer lasting than eggs...

Today I hit 109,876 on my work-in-progress and I have about four chapters left to write, according to my Grand Plan... again, the Photo of the Day is losing out, as it would currently consist mainly of quirkily angled shots of laptop/keyboard/mouse. And I don't want to inflict that on anyone. So I thought I'd talk books instead, as I have a to-be-read pile that is both daunting and thrilling...

First, two books I have actually read and loved. The first, Wedlock, came with the goodie bag from the Orion party, and was also featured on the TV Book Club. It's the story of 'Britain's Worst Husband' - honestly, no exaggeration at all - and his long-suffering, foolish but ultimately valiant wife (well, two wives, actually, plus a whole host of mistresses and victims). It has the suspense of a novel, along with the insight and fresh information of the best non-fiction. I don't know that I would have bought it, but it turned out to be such a page-turner and I have been recommending it to men and women alike.

I do tend to read non-fiction - or a very different genre, like hard-boiled crime - when I am in the midst of writing a novel in case it puts me off or I inadvertently adopt the 'voice' of the author I'm reading. However, I was so tempted by the cover and idea of Louise Harwood's brand new book this time that I made an exception. Isn't that the most summery, gorgeous jacket?The story takes place on a film set, and the heroine is a make-up artist, Ella. One of the reasons I thought it might be safe for me to read is that Louise's books are aimed, I think, at a slightly younger age group than mine, and that they tend to be more focussed on the romantic relationships, whereas I tend to get side-tracked by all sorts of random topics (e.g. Brownie badges, phobias, surveillance technology, gambling rehab etc.). Overall, I thought I'd be able to enjoy the book without it affecting my own work-in-progress.

It was terrific! Ella was a great character to spend time with, both funny and feisty, and the setting was brilliantly researched - I learned so much about make-up in the movies, but I never felt overwhelmed with the detail. All the characters were intriguing and I had no idea how it was going to end - usually I do have a habit of guessing where a story is going. An additional storyline, about the First World War photographer who is the subject of the movie, was clever and interesting, and overall I think Kiss Like You Mean It would make a tremendous holiday read. I can be quite intolerant of girl-meets-boy stories where the romance alone is expected to keep the reader interested, but this was absolutely not one of those. I felt I had an insight into a different world.

So, I am now looking forward to setting aside the finished draft (maybe next week, if I get my act together enough) and embarking on a read-a-thon. I will toss a coin between the two I want next: Romantic Novel of the Year Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts: And the unbelievably huge but incredibly exciting-looking The Passage, which was very kindly posted to me by one of the editors at Orion when I didn't think I'd be able to fit it in my hand luggage from the UK to Spain. Well, it would have fitted but there wouldn't have been much room for anything else.

I will keep you posted! Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Quick Post - On Talk Radio Europe today

I am still fighting my way through the last chapters of the Work-in-Progress, but will be taking a break today to appear on the Hannah Murray Show on Talk Radio Europe, if you fancy tuning in! I'll be talking about writing, and also about my course about Women's Fiction at Literary Chicks!