These are a few of my favourite things

25 05 2014

No. Not “The Sound of Music” film or soundtrack.

In my recent time away from t’interweb (see WordPress blog of 16/09/13) I thought about my reliance on technology, on things, possessions, services and asked the oft-mooted question. Are we really only three meals away from anarchy?

Setting that thought aside for another day I settled my thinking on what things I like. Not “needed”, not “essential”. Just things I like.

My computer? No, just a tool.

But my pen? I do like my pen. It isn’t valuable in a monetary sense but I’ve had it a long time. I won it in a writing competition aged 16. I wasn’t first, not even second but I still got something in exchange for a piece of my mind jotted down and appreciated by someone else. Even now I think about that every time I pick it up – carefully – because the lid no longer clicks shut fully and the ink does occasionally ooze. As I said, not monetarily valuable!

My chair is also a winner in the liking contest. A Captain’s Chair on a swivel. Slightly frayed and the odd hole now in the leather – it just suits me!

As blogs go, this won’t hold much interest for many of you but if you have persevered to the end and before you move on please ask yourself the same question…

What do you actually LIKE in your life?

Quirks in your writing – what do you always include?

16 05 2014

Clive Cussler appears in each of his Dirk Pitt novels. Somewhere, for at most a page or two, a silver haired gent appears in the narrative and says or does something a bit helpful to the hero before never being seen again. It’s nice, a kind of magic in each novel. Something to watch for. Something you know is coming and you wonder how he will weave himself into the world this time.

Hitchcock loved a cameo in his films, and what will be world be if the next reboot of Star Trek doesn’t rely on one flash of light that shows a Spock moment somewhere. If we ever lose Nimoy I expect CGI will be fired up with pointy-ears a-plenty and he’ll save every one of us.

Do you have a gimmick? Something you always put into your writing which makes you smile as you type. It may be you do it just for yourself and if anyone noticed you’d deny it. Perhaps you set it as a challenge for your readers in the know.

It’s strange but it’s true that, for me, in stories if not in blogs, it is not complete until I have a Queen lyric or two somewhere in the crazy paving. Perhaps in the dialogue, perhaps in prose. Somewhere Freddie, Roger, Brian and John live again

First books – how autobiographical are they?

16 08 2013

First books are autobiographical.

This is something I have always known, both intellectually and anecdotally. The proof sits on the shelves of any bookseller. First novels are where authors pour their naked souls only to edit and rewrite to take some bits back, hide themselves away again, disguise and disfigure to bring new heroes and villains to life.

I have often wondered if I re-read the first novels of each of my series, would I see different facets of the creative mind in each heroine. Does Mrs Vintner hide more darkness than Penny B? Will Mischa give people a view of my lightness of spirit at times?


Or is the first novel which no-one sees the one where you are most naked? We all have that first book – it may not be finished – it may never have fully left your mind– but we authors all have the first embarrassing secret text where we gave too much and could not edit it enough to hide our true selves from the readers

To quote some advice given in my latest work:

“This is your first novel. There are always autobiographical elements. Don’t worry about it, there has to be. But if you don’t give Mischa her own face, her own voice, she will assume the readers know her as well as you know yourself. You, the writer, are just recording her actions, her thoughts – not your own – no matter how similar you might think she is.”