My new novel has just been released. Putting the final word on it has been harder than I expected. However… THE ROAD TO AVERSAC is rougher and rockier than anyone thinks. When Jessica decides to leave England and relocate to France, her lodger, Rex, goes along to help her settle in. Their uneasy relationship, which began in ‘The Hare Lane Diaries’, continues as they adapt to the French way of life in Aversac, a town where the shadow of the fountain is the fastest moving thing in sight. But Aversac is not as sleepy as it looks. The Mayor is determined to twin his town with a comparable one in England. He will not rest until his ambition is fulfilled and when the Twinning project starts, Rex and Jessica are drawn into a maelstrom of local politics for which nothing has prepared them. Note: Town Twinning – French, Jumelage – a strange habit that starts when a town feels lonely and wants to make contact with the outside world. At such times a small group of locals appoints itself to look for a similar community in some other country – ideally one that offers holiday potential. Invariably the group will
I have titles in my head for stories I haven’t written yet. They cry out for exposure, ready to lead the reader into uncharted pleasures. Some will be written; others will be wasted. The irony is, I’m on the last few paragraphs of a new novel and I still haven’t got a title for it; not one that gives me that electric buzz, anyway. The problem is overchoice. I have functional titles that do the job. I have surreal titles that stamp the novel as something it probably isn’t. I have jokey titles; the novel is, after all, a kind of comedy about a French village trying to twin with a village in England, and all my research suggests you CAN’T MAKE IT UP. But the dilemma is haunting me day and night, so I thought I’d let you know. A title can make or break a book. It is the first tool of marketing – your first shot at making an impression on someone you may never meet but who you hope will settle down with your book and later, we hope, recommend it to everyone they know. I’m still wavering, but the title must be firmed up in
Blogging ground to a halt before Christmas. Why? Take a wild guess. But here comes the self-congratulation: I’ve written eleven chapters of ‘The Road to Aversac’ in the meantime and have started galloping towards the conclusion. Not happy with the title but not willing to expend too much brain power on it until the book is finished. THE TITLE IS ALL-IMPORTANT AND WHAT FOLLOWS IS EVEN MORE SO…
An old mate used to talk about something he called The Diversionary Force, an ever-present spectre waiting to leap out and distract you the moment there’s any danger you might achieve something important. For writers, The DF is lethal. Its power lies in the fact that there is always some plausible, legitimate demand on your attention, something you must get done before you can start the day’s writing. And with any luck, when you’ve done it, you’ll have forgotten the searing insight you were about to explore. In the world of DF, the Inbox is King at the moment. It’s almost impossible to open an email that requires action without dealing with it straight away. I suppose it’s the same misguided instinct that prompts some people behind desks to answer the phone while they’re talking to you and keep you standing there for ten minutes while they have a conversation with the person who couldn’t be bothered to turn up and talk personally. I digress – (y’see? I was about to expose the Diversionary Force, when it tried to lead me off in another direction). Today’s DF for me is the bottom left hand drawer in my desk which I
There are days when I don’t feel like addressing the blank page. They are a rarity, but I can’t help wondering why they exist at all. So when the current work seems to be ignoring my efforts to engage, instinct says explore the reason. Conclusion: it has to be built into the writer’s nature. I imagine racing drivers have days when they don’t feel competitive, and deep sea divers wake up some mornings and just fancy poling a punt down the river by way of a change… Even so, I’ve spent long hours in lecture theatres assuring students that drive and will-power will get them there every time. If I were doing one of those horrible presentations (downstairs room in a conference centre off the M40 – you know the kind of thing) I’d head this: ROUTINE. DISCIPLINE. FOCUS. A cohort of smart, bespectacled graduates would assume enthusiastic body language and prepare to take notes. I would deliver a scathing assault on those who aspire to be writers, with assurances that without extraordinary qualities their chances are roughly those of an aardvark winning the Grand National. I would tell them that at the very least YOU MUST WRITE EVERY DAY.