Wednesday 28 July 2021

How the ideas get in

 Writers are like sponges - well this one is. While I would never conform to that old joke about "Be careful or I'll put you in my book" - I don't do the vampire thing on people - I do tend to absorb and use other things.

It's strange too how things co-incidentally turn up. Take the WIP. It features a wealthy family whose members are collectors. For one of the collections I chose the idea of clowns. I had in mind the Stephen King kind and the possibility of something a bit creepy. When I googled clown art though, a lot of what came up were figures from the Commedia della'arte  - especially Harlequin and Pierrot. I was looking for examples of expensive art and was quite surprised to find that Picasso and Jean Cocteau were among the artists who painted and sketched these subjects repeatedly. Immediately things began to shift. Then I did one of the Wallace Collection's weekend lecture series ( I find them very good and very enjoyable) The subject was  the painter Watteau. And his subjects? - often characters from the Commedia delle'arte. He also had the advantage that many of his paintings have been 'lost'. Which may mean  that some have been in private hands for a long time and have dropped out of sight. Perfect. My clown collection, although keeping the name, has moved over to something much more romantic and picturesque, with a couple of unknown Watteau canvasses of my own devising. I've had a lot of fun creating my expensive clown collection which soaked up something that was totally unexpected. 

I'm also attempting to clear out old paperwork - I've bought a new shredder and everything. Author's  homes tend to accumulate papers and books in quantity. One drawer I've just sorted was 'ideas' - all kinds of bit and pieces - leaflets, clippings from newspapers, scribbled notes. Although I hadn't looked in the drawer for ages, I found that a lot of the topics had found their way into books anyway. There was an article on jewel thefts in the South of France which is an overarching background theme in the Riviera books, and another on parkour - which involves a lot of athletic and  scary running about on roofs and buildings and which made an appearance in What Happens at Christmas.  

I've got some interesting stuff still to explore - white-hat hacking, survival skills, lots about art, folklore and magic. Plenty to keep me busy - and I hope a lot of fun. 

Wednesday 21 July 2021


 Authors often have quite a thing about names - a character with the wrong name, especially if it is hero or heroine, can throw the whole thing off. Weird, but there you are. 

Names are one thing, but I have been thinking about what comes before the name. I began to ponder it when my new energy provider addressed me in an e-mail by my first name. Chummy and all that, but I wasn't sure that I approved. I can be old fashioned like that, and I am employing them! It started me thinking. The optician always calls me Ms. Wareham. The doctor varies - Ms. in correspondence, first name in person. The university it's always Dr. Wareham. 

It can be a small but important detail when you are writing. My heroine in A Villa in Portofino has a PhD and as much of the book is set in Italy - who would have guessed - where I understand there is more formality over this sort of thing, I have scattered Dotoressa around liberally. Maybe too liberally. My editor will not doubt tell me. I was reading a crime novel recently - can't remember title unfortunately - where a particularly unpleasant and supercilious type kept putting the female police officer in her place by referring to her as Miss, instead of by her rank. 

I remember while I was growing up all the neighbours were referred to as Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith even when they were friends and spent long times on the doorstep gossiping. Tradespeople and shop keepers then would certainly not use first names. Worth recalling if you are writing "Historical". Although I do not see how something that I remember can be historical!!!!!

It's a small thing, but worth thinking about for subtlety and for the reader to appreciate that the writer knows how things were done in the past. 

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Just an update.

 The new Choc-lit/Ruby anthology Sunny Summer Treats came out yesterday. A collection of short stories and flash fiction with a summery theme and a holiday feel, with the proceeds being donated to the mental health charity MIND. Do you have your copy yet? If not, there's a link HERE

My short-short story is set in Paris and is the last one in the book - there are plenty of goodies before that to be enjoyed. I hope you do enjoy them and that they tempt you to sample some of the full length works by some of the Choc-lit and Ruby authors featured. 

In other news - my contract for The Villa In Portofino has arrived. Not yet read and signed, one of the fun bits of being an author, but necessary. Edits are on their way, so I will have my head down dealing with them for the next few weeks, with the aim of having the e-book out in September. Posts might be a bit brief until then. 

I'm looking forward to sharing some of the "backstage" elements of writing the story in the run up to publication, and a few of the outtakes that didn't make it into the final cut. My final cut that is. I have a feeling there might be a few more before the thing finally makes it into print. Always a wrench to murder your darlings.

Wish me luck, and I'll see you on the other side. 

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Where are we now?


Well - I'm still waiting for a verdict from the publisher on The Villa in Portofino, but I have begun book four of the Riviera series. 

I have twenty thousand words of Masquerade on the Riviera done and I have just hit a junction where the story turns, so am having a moment to re-group. This is the point where I am always convinced that I do not have enough story and it will only end up as a novella. Three months later I am usually scratching my head wondering how I can knock off at least five thousand words to bring it in on the respectable side of one hundred thousand. We shall see how this one shapes up. 

I'm having a ball so far- although I do need to get my head round some productive plotting soon. I spent the Sunday afternoon before last arranging a robbery, and it was great fun. Somehow I have managed to get a secret passage into the action. You can blame that on a childhood addiction to Enid Blyton. I have to figure out how to get my characters to Monaco/Monte Carlo, how to get something squishy involving lychees into the plot, how get that scene in the car park to work and how to stage a very grand ball. I suspect the book might end in Las Vegas, which is not the Riviera, but that one is still in the melting pot. 

Of course all this goes on the back burner if I get edits back. I hope I do get edits!