Writing

A LIFE IN BOOKS…

It’s amazing that with all this time on my hands I’ve been less productive than usual. One of the things I’ve been aware of is the lack of posts on this blog. Although I’m working daily on my WIP, inspiration for topics for a weekly/monthly post other than my usual update seemed to elude me. And then this morning, I suddenly realised there was something I could write about. A Life in Books…

My first contact with any form of reading material was Noddy and Bigears. From an early age I used to attend church on Sunday. In order to keep me quiet during the service I was given one of Enid Blyton’s Noddy books. At the time it was all about looking at the pictures but it seemed to do the trick. Later Noddy, Bigears and Mr Plod became the foundation for my early reading years . Once at school I became familiar with Updown Farm, Old Lob the farmer and Percy the bad chick. During those years running up to moving to senior school, my reading was supplemented with a few of the children’s’ classics – Orlando the Marmalade Cat, Wind in the Willows, The House at Pooh Corner, The Secret Garden, Children of the New Forest and, of course, The Famous Five and Secret Seven. Certainly Enid Blyton was very much at the forefront of my reading experiences.

Moving on into senior school, I lost interest in reading for a while as popular music became my main interest. During those years there was the famous trial over D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover which had everyone speculating what exactly was so risque about it and how could they get a copy. My next memory is during my time in the 4th year (Year 10 in modern speak) when various editions of the Pan Book of Horror Stories circulated around the class. In my wildest dreams I can’t imagine why we were so taken with these gory tales. Shouldn’t we have been reading teen magazines instead? Apparently not. 

At college the talk was all about Edna O’Brien and her book The Girl with Green Eyes, which everyone wanted to get hold of. We all read it, of course and wondered what all the fuss was about.

Moving on to my working years and there are several well known books I can still remember reading. All of Daphne Du Maurier’s were a must – such classics! Susan Howatch’s Penmarric (loved this), Peter Benchley’s Jaws (I was working in Bristol at the time and during my commute everyone on the train seemed to be reading a copy), Coleen MuCullough’s The Thorn Birds (never could take to Richard Chamberlain being cast as Ralph De Bricassart – handsome yes but a little too old). And of course there has to be a mention for Catherine Cookson. My years working in a local authority typing pool brings back memories of how popular she was with the girls and women I managed. Then moving on to the 80s there was Shirley Conran and Lace and of course, Penny Vincenzi and a whole list of books to add to my TBR pile.

I’m also a fan of historical fiction authors. In the 1970s Anya Seton was one of my favourite reads. Moving on into the ’90s I discovered Phillipa Gregory’s novels. Wideacre, A Favoured Child and Meridon were the first of her books I read, before turning to those featuring the Plantagenets and Tudors. Following this I discovered Rosalind Miles and her wonderful Arthurian trilogy which put a totally different slant on the love triangle between Arthur, Guinevere and Launcelot. And of course I couldn’t leave out Wilbur Smith, whose novels of fictitious South African dynasties like the Courtneys included so much historical fact.

 

 

I think over the years I’ve shown to have quite a broad taste in reading. Currently I’m enjoying psychological thrillers as well as mainstream romance. I don’t really have a particular preference for any genre. It needs to be a good story, well written, with believable characters. See, how easy to please I am?

So are there any memorable books you have? Maybe still in your bookcase, or on your Kindle? If you’re a writer, is there any special author who has inspired your own work? Drop me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you…

 

Writing

April Update – Falling off the writing horse…

Before I left to go into hospital, I worked hard to reach a certain point in my WIP. Happy I’d achieved this, I left knowing it meant I would be able to slip back into writing as soon as possible after discharge. Only that didn’t happen. To be quite honest I had no idea how weak the procedure had left me. When my OH came to collect me I had been up and about for a couple of days. But walking around the confines of a hospital ward isn’t quite the same as venturing outside and crossing the car park to reach the car on a bright but chilly March morning. Added to this, I’d emerged into a very different world from the one I had left the day I was admitted. Three days before my operation date we’d had lunch at a local pub. Although Covid-19 was happening the world still functioned as normal. Now we were in lockdown which meant self isolation, social distancing and many other restrictions.  I remember the city streets as we drove home. Normally busy and full of shoppers and tourists, they were now eerily quiet.

My first full day at home passed quietly. As someone who is busy most of the time, it felt really strange not only doing absolutely nothing, but not feeling I wanted to. It wasn’t just a physical thing, I felt mentally drained too. Thankfully my amazing OH had taken charge of all things domestic and was doing a fabulous job. On my second day home I pushed myself and managed a short walk to the top of our road.  From that day it became a daily ritual, extending the distance a little each time, to help build up my strength and get pack to pre-op fitness. But although I embraced this new daily regime and gradually got back to normality, first cooking then to other non- lifting domestic chores, I still had absolutely no interest in writing. Two weeks passed and nothing had changed. I wasn’t really in the mood to sit in front of the computer and look at my manuscript. I was still reading and writing reviews. I could happily do that but had absolutely no enthusiasm for my own work. The following week I have to admit there was a moment of panic. Would this lethargy eventually go away? Or was this going to be my new normal from now on? Had I totally lost interest in creating those parallel universes? Were my days of being an author over? Had I fallen off the writing horse? Would I ever to be able to climb back on?

Well I’m delighted to say it all ended well. One morning after breakfast last week I decided this was make or break day. That I’d open up the computer and check out my manuscript. The worst thing that could happen, I told myself, was that I would look at my work and realise the spark had gone and couldn’t do this anymore. Thankfully that didn’t happen. As soon as the ms was on screen it was as if I’d never been away. It seems I’d got the timing right. I was ready to get back to work again. I guess the whole thing was a little like writer’s block. It meant stepping back, being patient and waiting, hoping my enthusiasm for my own words would kick start once more. So now the writing is flowing once more and my second Cornish romance – although slightly delayed – is very much on course for publication later this year.