Recently, I joined BookBub as an author.
Some of you may already be on BookBub, but for those who have not heard of it, it is a book discovery service and makes a point of informing those who join of book deals. Free books. Books reduced from their normal price down to 99 pence etc.
In case you ever want to be sure not to miss a price drop on my books, it is one way to keep in touch. The best way, however, is to sign up for my newsletter - as I tend to send one out when my books go on sale.
Hello Peeps - hoping all are doing okay today.
Tonight I listened to a talk by Kendall Feaver talk about her writing. It was very interesting. Sharing her process and also reminding listeners of the well trodden rules - give every actor a part, and find the comedy in the dark moments etc. It is always good to hear writers talk about how they write for the stage.
Both of my parents spent a lot of their spare time on the stage, which gave me a bird's eye view of acting, directing, the smell of backstage, the tensions, the prompts, the glorious leads knocking it out of the park. As I was 'dragged along' to trips to London to see shows. It all started to rub off on me.
It makes me sad that we have missed almost two years of live performance. Well, most of us. Thankfully, plays have returned properly since the end of lockdown. Somehow, most of the theatres have scraped by - no thanks to the government. Some have sadly closed.
Plays are not my first love. TV is for sure. Then film. I have always preferred to go and see a stand up comic than to watching a play. I'm not going to lie. I do love both. But if I had to choose. But both share that feel of taking part in a shared experience. Both are good times out. Something to look forward to, to live through, to talk about afterwards. The good ones changing course of the participant - ever so slightly.
I remember before the pandemic, taking my son to the Arts Theatre, Cambridge, to see The Lady Vanishes (which was superb). I have not been since, as I have been ill as most of you know. And now, having watched a lot of TV and Film at home, I am yearning to go back to the theatre.
To sit in the slightly curved seats, velvety, which smell of coats and wine. To watch the people arrive around me and settle, rustling bar snacks and balancing programmes on their knees. But more than anything, to feel alive and part of something. A commonality. Connecting with those around me, jointly sharing the performance. And to watch those commanding performances, which transport you so successfully away somewhere else. Performances that hit you like a train. Performances that make you feel human, fragile, strong, excited, sad, different, that make you think.
My mother always used to insist on sitting in the front row. She used to want to get as close as possible to the action. As a small child, I objected to being spat on by the more enthusiastic actors, or having to look up the nostrils of a more mature performer. And then, there was the neck ache. But now, I crave it. I have been looking carefully at the Arts Theatre programme, ready to pounce on some tickets.
I have delved into playwriting myself, a little. I had a couple of short plays on in past years. One at the Corpus Christi Theatre, and one at the ADC. Both in Cambridge. I am polishing a play at the moment. Though I suspect it will languish in my metaphorical drawer for a long time yet, before I am ready to share it with the world.
If you are going to the theatre this weekend, then I am truly jealous. I wish you the best time, and it won't be long before I am sitting in those seats again.
We just had a storm over in the UK this weekend. I was recovering from an illness, possibly caused by the mouse bite, possibly a fever. No idea. But one thing I was able to do was write.
I realise that writing for me is a habit. It started when I was young. Life was busier then, so I parked it to one side. But the urge grew and I started properly in my mid thirties.
It was around that time that I worked for the BBC. I was lucky, and met very many talented people. Some of their habits rubbed off on me. I was told two things that stuck. Advice if you like...
1. If you want to be a writer, then write every day. This is very obvious advice, isn't it? But now that I can call myself a writer, it is surprising how few adhere to this but dream one day to be an author. Just write. Then rewrite. Make it a practice every day.
2. Don't wait for Christmas. Now this is a bit cryptic, but one of my favourite camera operators told me this when I was telling him that I wanted to write (I had not picked up the pen again at this time, or was in the early throws of taking it seriously). He reminded me that we cannot wait for our plans to happen, we have to make them happen. We don't have all the time in the world. We need to get on with it.
For all those new writers who might ask me what they should do, all I know is that these two pieces of advice have been the most important to me.
If you are still looking for more inspiration, I cannot recommend enough getting to know John Yorke's writing. I was lucky to go on a few of his courses when I worked in BBC Drama. I think a lot of his advice also applies to prose/novels. Good luck writing.
Finally, a photo of my trustee typewriter, which I love dearly and use sometimes, but never enough. I reminds me how easy it is now to write on a computer, but also how hard it is on the eyes and the imagination. There is something pretty special about writing and not looking at a screen.
Over the past few days I have been feeling really ill. I am not sure if it has anything to do with getting bitten on the toe by a mouse. I am on antibiotics. I don't blame the mouse. He or she was caught in the clutches of my cat when I got bitten. I was in bed, awake, being brought the mouse as an unwanted present. But poorly I have been ever since, with a swollen toe.
It meant that I was no good for love nor money for a day, but today at least I could sit on the sofa and write. I got a lot of writing done and it made me very happy. So mixed blessings. Thank you, mouse. And, I am sorry that I couldn't save you.
The writing process is usually stopped by other things in life taking over. So it is always satisfying to get a good run at it. Storm Eunice hit the UK today, which meant everything stopped for most people, as we were all told to stay inside. I did for most of the time, although I did pop out to walk the dog. Pic below of the fallen tree we saw.
I am currently finishing draft one of Book 6 of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries. I am very excited about this book and do not want to give anything away. But, I can say that I hope it will be out by August.
It is the longest gap between novels, due to Long Covid, so I hope you find it worth the wait.
More next week.
Hitting No.1. in Australia
I thought I would write a short blog to thank my readers in Australia for putting Valentine's Day - Kiss of Death on the No.1 spot on the Amazon best seller lists this Valentine's Day.
When I first started writing, I just had an idea for a character. I have said it before elsewhere, but I was out on a walk in Chilham Kent. My father had been head master at a primary school there when I was a baby. I was taking my son for a walk around the pretty small village to show him. And all of a sudden, this woman came out of her back gate from her garden to greet a neighbour. I don't know what it was about her, but I saw Professor Elizabeth Green right in front of me.
Immediately, I went home and started to think of a story to put this character into. And the rest, as they say...
Wind on many years later and I am so grateful that I can share her with you. There are many more stories to tell and I hope I'm spared to tell them and write them for you.