Tuesday, 17 December 2013


2013 has been an odd year. It's the year I've finally found my feet as a writer - come out and been proud of what I do, even if what I write isn't to everybody's taste. It's also a year in which I've made contact with a lot of old friends.

Facebook - for all its issues and reputation - is a marvellous tool. I browse around groups and pages, find a thread and pull ... and suddenly there are people I haven't spoken to in over 25 years. Friends from university, girlfriends, boyfriends - and I rummage through their photos online (doesn't everybody do this?) and I realise that I wouldn't recognise some of these people if I walked past them on the street. These are men and women I was close to for many years, some of whom shared huge parts of my life. And I wonder how I look to them now. Have I changed as much as they have?

Anybody who reads the Daily Mail will have heard of their columnist Liz Jones. Over the years, she's recorded her life, warts and all, in the back of one of the colour supplements. It's a diary of sorts, detailing everything, and often in far more detail than can be considered decent - especially when she's talking about friends, boyfriends and lovers. Rarely names - but sometimes scandal gets out.

How far can you go with that, I wonder? Everybody blogs these days; celebrities and nonentities alike enjoy recording their lives and dreams for all the world to see. Can you blog about real people, like Liz Jones does? Record their achievements and failings in black and white forever? It doesn't seem decent to me. Sometimes I think I'd like to write about events in my life that have made me who I am, but that might involve other people and is it fair to them? What if I inadvertently revealed secrets they've kept for years?

And what of photographs? Copyright of photos belongs to the photographer, but can you post pictures online of other people without their permission? Let's say I wanted to write about some (entirely fictional) person I shared a flat with in my youth. Would that infringe their privacy? I really have no idea where free speech ends. And so I say nothing, simply write about me and keep anything else as pure fiction ...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Picking Those Literary Scabs!

It's like picking a scab. You think it's healing, the wound is clean and you know you should leave it alone and forget about it, but you just can't resist picking at the edges, opening it up and making it bleed. Just because.

So it is with writing. When I wrote Hamelin's Child, it was a one off story. It was complete in and of itself with no loose ends to tie up. Everything got resolved one way or another. But when I self-published, people - fans! - started emailing me to ask what happened next. Friends who'd read it wanted to know what life was going to throw at poor Michael next, so I wrote a second book Paying The Piper. And then a third Calling The Tune.

And now it really is over. There is no more. Michael's story is told - rather satisfactorily, if I do say so myself... The ebooks and paperbacks are out and selling well. I'm doing a good deal locally with gift wrapped paperback sets at a discount. And I should be moving on and finishing some other projects.


I just can't resist picking at that scab...

And it's not Michael anymore. Now it's Lenny's turn. My bad-boy needs to tell his own story. We got a glimpse of it in Calling The Tune, but he needs his own space to talk.

It won't be a novel, I don't think. Maybe a novella. Probably ebook only unless I can find a way to make a paperback viable at short length. It's tentatively titled Rat's Tale and my brain is once again in overdrive.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

On Shopping With Men....

One for the girls - I've noticed recently that there is a distinct difference between going to the shops and going shopping. The first implies a quick trip with the express purpose of buying something - toiletries, perhaps? But something specific. The second is more general - a browse around clothes shops or looking for Christmas presents.

For the first, you may take a man along; for the latter, you go alone or with girlfriends.

Now I'm not sexist, really I'm not, but if I go into town with my husband in tow, he'll trail around behind me looking like a bored toddler. I can't browse clothes, weigh up the merits of leggings or jeans or try on underwear in M&S. After ten minutes I feel guilty and I'm trying to persuade him to go and look in man-shops. But he's not interested in clothes and B&Q isn't within walking distance.

There are dozens (and I'm not exaggerating) of empty shops in our town centre - possibly due to the fact that they keep knocking things down and "redeveloping". Which in planning-speak means: yes, we're going to give you another supermarket. We have Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsburys, a large co-op that used to be Somerfields and a brand new Waitrose. And they've just promised us an Asda. In a small market town. Can you tell how excited I am?

But I digress. Why doesn't some bright spark open up one of these empty shops as a man-creche? Think how useful it'd be with Christmas coming up. You'd need a few comfy sofas and a tea machine (a bar with beer for the ones who aren't driving). Food of sorts - cheese and onion pasties and bacon sandwiches would probably be fine. Chuck some lads mags and Maplin catalogues on a coffee table. Add a large television with Sky Sports and playstation or two in the corner. Maybe some flat-pack furniture for them to play with.

They'd be happy. We'd be happy. And everybody wins!