Some of this is on my “Who Am I?” page. But I thought writing this on the general blog might be useful. Back here now in England, and battling jet lag after returning from New York on New Year’s Day, to begin 2018 I thought I would (re)introduce myself…
I’m here on this blog essentially because I write novels. My first book appeared in November/December 2013. And this is my first blog post – in its entirety, from December 5, 2013:
An experiment: tell select friends and family you’re writing a novel.
After surprise diminishes at the statement (meaning, if you have never hinted previously you wanted to undertake such an endeavor), be prepared to hear this question asked by someone (or more than one someone) at some point: “Am I in it?”
And your answer will be?: “Of course not.”
Impressive, huh? It attracted not a single like or comment. As I recall, it got hardly any visitors.
Four years ago almost no one even knew I was here. A few close family – here in England – and close friends did know. They were the extent of my “readership.”
We all have to start somewhere.
I wrote most of that novel, Passports, in secret and due to a desire finally to “prove” to myself that I could write a novel as my uncle did. He had been a novelist from about age 40 (in the early 1980s) and written 8 books, but by 2013 had been “retired” from novel-writing since about 2004 – when his last had appeared. He had been published by Harper-Collins and several other major companies whose names you would probably recognize.
I did not tell him what I was doing. The reason? Mostly self-preservation. I was worried about what he might think of the novel; and not just about how “good” it was. My bigger concern was (if you knew me) it was obviously autobiographical, and I had fictionalized him, as well as others I had known or knew, including my mother, and I was fearful of creating a family uproar.
Fortunately, I did finally tell him in early 2015. By then, I had already decided to write as many books as I could; and I had just finished a second. He proceeded to read those first two – Passports and Frontiers…
I was thrilled when he told me he enjoyed them – even though they were nothing like what he wrote. (He was a crime and police novelist.) He encouraged me to keep at it and wasn’t at all fazed by my fictionalization of him. Writers get better only with practice, he said, and by sharing their work with readers.
I was about finished writing a third novel, Distances… when he died unexpectedly in early October 2015.
Saddened by the sudden double loss of my uncle and two weeks later of my mother, in 2016 I decided to go all out with a huge new project.
Yes, it would be one with an overall theme similar to my first three novels. It is impossible, I often note here, to escape entirely from oneself; our personal baggage invariably finds its way into our writing. The main difference was in this next novel I would write one of the sorts of books he had told me I should try to: something really historical.
I fell back on my having been a politics and history student and afterwards, for a time, a college lecturer: It would be an historical drama set in the late 1700s – a favorite “time” of mine. It would feature some real historical figures and real events mixed in among the fictional characters and fictional happenings. I finished it in 2017:
Yes, it is America, France and Britain again, and it is romantic again…
And it being mostly the 1780s and 1790s it has, of course, “drawing rooms” and “wigs” and bits reminiscent of “Jane Austen” (I suppose)…
However, it also has action(s) Jane, uh, never wrote…
For 2018, I am writing another novel following on from that one. It will include some of the same fictional characters. They will mature further, meet new historical characters, see the 1800s appear, and their worlds will change still more…
“365 days, write a page a day, leading to a novel….” writing self-help memes usually read well. And there is, as in all memes, an element of truth in them. That is why they are memes.
But writing every day does not mean that book you produce “365 days later” will be “good.” Even that meme nods to that reality in urging you to “write a good [book]” – a bit of “advice” which is much easier “memed” than done. However, its positive spirit is undeniable.
I blog here mostly about writing, as well as about travel and life here in Europe. Yes, I do occasionally delve into wider issues; but I try to keep this personal, friendly and intimate. It is a “chatty” blog, more a journal than anything else.
If you knew all of that already, it means you have been here for a while – and I thank you. If you are new, I hope it helps you better understand what the heck is going on here.😂 Now, for all of us, it’s on to this latest new year.
Have a good day.😊