We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at teh stars - Oscar Wilde
So I went to see Sophie Hannah and Simon Brett at the Oxford Literary Festival. The talk was very informative and though provoking and helpful to what I am trying to do both with The Bittersweet Vine and Chupplejeep. Of course I ended up buying a copy of each of their books (Bones under the beach hut – Simon Brett and Hurting Distance- Sophie Hannah and I also picked up The Quotable Oscar Wilde (as quoted above) so now I am £20.00 down- money I didn’t have to spend but anyways. At least I got some signed copies- Now I have three- maybe I should collect them! So out with Tess Gerritsen for my holiday read and in with Simon Brett. He was very witty and as I sat there watching them talk, discuss and debate I hoped that one day I too would be as witty as that! – FYI and this made my weekend – Sophie Hanna tweeted me back when I said I was going to read Hurting Distance- Yes it is the little things in life that put a smile on my face!!! Anyway my first famous tweet...
Anyway enough of me garbling on about stuff you are not interested in - On to a couple of points that I made a note off- yes despite being super organised – of late I am no longer the organised type and therefore I didn’t think about taking notes until I arrived there (late I might add- although they hadn’t started- I hate being late though) well it was in a marquee in Chrsit Church – but it was a marquee within I marquee- could I be blamed for not thinking it was that simple? No. Anyway the real reason for lateness and this is another annoying thing – I had a cold- a bad one at that and of course left home without enough tissue. Where did I stop to buy some – Accessorize!!! I mean who goes in there to buy tissues ? (for those of you that don’t know – it sells fashion accessories) – I ended up buying a little pack of about which contained about TWO tissues with pretty pink butterflies on- Who does that? I can only blame the cold that was clearly blocking my normal mental efficiency…
Okay, Okay get to the point: What did they discuss – everything that was entertaining to me- an hour flew past – Was Agatha Christie Dark? Yes came Sophie Hannah’s response – there was a lot of love in the room for Poirot and Miss Marple (no longer do I need to hide the fact that I love Poirot – woo hoo) and for Midsommer murders- why/ because they are cosy detective fiction – and whats wrong with that- they sell and they entertain !!!! (I think its still not tiome to confess Jessica Fletcher inspired me to write though)
The real debate was between gore and psychological thrillers. I of course favour the latter and that’s why I love Sophie Hannah – She did say that she writes what she likes to read – exactly what I do – do all writers do this? Or are they writing things to sell? I think there are few and far between authors who write stuff they don’t wish to read- as if by accident – If you write something you are not interested in- or so Simon Brett says- you will be bored and a reader can immediately tell if the author is bored. A bored Writer = A bored reader- Fact. I agree with him. That is so important. You have to be interested – okay fair enough after the fifth edit it may bore you to tears but as long as your writing holds the passion you first wrote it with – there you have it something filled with you that you will be proud of. ( a little aside- Have you noticed that when you cook dinner and don’t put your heart into it- and it tastes pretty average- but if you cook it with love and passion – it generally tastes pretty good – same with writing –put your heart in it and you will get something good out of it.)
Simon Also mentioned that readers cant cope with something they cant see happening- even if it is plausible in real life – if the reader cant cope with it – it wont sell – apart from sci fi I suppose. Simon also made a funny but very true comment that amateur detectives don’t exist. He said - If we walked out of this event and saw a dead body – we wouldn’t say oh no lets call the lady in no.74 who knits a lot but solves crimes! – no we would call the police- very true – but it works because its cosy – a bit of a Sunday night mystery that provides escapism before that back to school feeling sets in.
They also discussed which is worse- gory or psychological ---- I think psychological is way worse which I suppose is why I like that genre- its is not mindless (well gore isn’t really) but it makes you think…
The debate and discussion was well worth it – one thing Sophie Hannah did say is that when you write a book the story has to have an atmosphere that stays with the reader long after they have finished the book- that is what she says makes a good book. Something that will stay with you forever…. I hope I can create this with The Bittersweet Vine. She also said that make sure the reader has a question to answer – their reason for reading the book- if you answer the question too early on you need to provide a new question for the reader to keep interested…. Interesting – maybe take your manuscript tonight and ask yourself what the questions are?
Can I just say a big Thank you to all those who bought Goa Traffic Last onth- 77 sales on Kindle!!!! Although mostly in England- please pretty please America – start buying book- clearly Blog hits do not generate sales- but go on make my April (see links on the right)
That’s it for today… one final thing – I am going to purchase Body Language for Dummies- How else will I describe my characters- as a good author is a keen observer of human behaviour … Must hone in my skills ( I know that after this blog you are thinking I should read my English Language for Dummies book again instead- but I’ll do that too – when I find the time Mwa ha ha ha ha)
Ohhh one final plug http://www.marissadeluna.com/