Category Archives: Writing

How sad is ‘The End’ ? Missing your characters.


The End of the book

image from ‘The Guardian’

Some people feel sad when they finish reading a book or a series. There’s a new hole in their lives, they say, when the last page is turned and the characters they’ve come to know and support fade away.

Here on Reddit, there’s a discussion about how finishing a book causes sadness.

Bailey laments the coming to the end of a series in 2013 in her BookBlogging blog.

In Yahoo answers the discussion mentions sadness at finishing a book because the reader has become so attached to the characters.

On GoodReads, too, there are readers who explain how they feel sad when they’ve finished reading a book they’ve really enjoyed.

So how do writers feel when they’ve finished?

If you can feel sad when you’ve finished reading a book, how much sadder are you going to feel when you’ve finished writing one?

The writers at Jungle Red discuss it here. Most writers feel something of a kind of emptiness but deal with it in different ways. Some jump straight back into the next novel. Others enjoy taking a break.

Flaubert said this –

I love my work with a love that is frenzied and perverted, as an ascetic loves the hair shirt that scratches his belly. Sometimes, when I am empty, when words don’t come, when I find I haven’t written a single sentence after scribbling whole pages, I collapse on my couch and lie there dazed, bogged in a swamp of despair, hating myself and blaming myself for this demented pride which makes me pant after a chimera. A quarter of an hour later everything changes; my heart is pounding with joy. Last Wednesday I had to get up and fetch my handkerchief; tears were streaming down my face. I had been moved by my own writing; the emotion I had conceived, the phrase that rendered it, and satisfaction of having found the phrase–all were causing me to experience the most exquisite pleasure.”

He must have been depressed beyond imagination when he actually finished.

I admit I’ve made myself cry

when I’ve killed off characters. I’ve got myself all riled up during arguments between my fictitious people and found it difficult not to take sides. I’ve felt for myself the heartwarming/heartbreaking bits, but the act of finishing, actually coming to ‘The End’ has been a very strange feeling indeed.

When I finish a short story, I can’t wait to submit it and see if a magazine is going to take it up. I don’t grieve for the fact that story is finished. I’m not so invested in the characters. I’d be wrung out like a rag if I became so deeply involved as with the characters in a full length novel.

So, now I’m missing the characters in Patterns of Our Lives. They’ve been a part of my life for so long. The best I can do for them now is market the book and find ways to promote my work and persuade people to read it so they can come to love Sandra and Jean, Polish George and Ronnie Logan and all the others. Like grown up children, they have to go out into the world.

I’ll leave the final words to the Bard:-

‘Tis almost morning, I would have thee gone—
And yet no farther than a wan-ton’s bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silken thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

I would I were thy bird.

Sweet, so would I,
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow. [Exit above]

Romeo And Juliet Act 2, scene 2, 176–185

The End

farewell my friends . . .

A pain in the Arts.

Pain shut off my creative spark. I didn’t have the faintest glow. Not even a hint of warmth, never mind sparkle. So, I got to thinking where does creativity come from? And where has it gone now that I’m battling this CRPS diagnosis?

How can we measure suffering?

pain scale

on a scale of 1 to 10 where would you place your pain?

Doctors usually ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. What I’m looking for is proof that there’s a connection between pain and creativity so I can understand why my light went out temporarily.

Doctor Joy Madden who’s the self development editor for Bella online says that, actually, we might need suffering because it can have a positive effect on our creativity.

(Not mine, Doctor Joy)

Indeed, her article goes on to say, and I quote:  “Some of the most famous creative works have been accomplished when experiencing the greatest pain.”

(Oh dear)

In Pain and the Creative Process, author K. Ferlic says:

Although pain is not inherent to the creative process, it is integrally tied to the creative process as performed by humans because of how we create our experiences. Pain and the creative process are related in several different ways.”

Similarly, in Pain and suffering and developing creativity, 

Cheryl Arutt, Psy.D., a psychologist specializing in creative artist issues, says “Many creative people carry the belief that their pain is the locus of their creativity, and worry that they will lose their creativity if they work through their inner conflicts or let go of suffering…”

(Oh, double dear)

It seems to me that in articles such as these they’re talking about the need to have experienced pain of depression, loss, longing and desire to fire up the creative processes.

I’m not talking about the ‘tortured’ artist who creates on the agony in every brush stroke or word of what it felt like to be dumped by her precious ‘other’. I think it’s only common sense to see that if you want to write about heartbreak, it helps if you had it yourself at one time.

I’m talking about having CRPS right now.

CRPS pain scale

CRPS pain scale

It hurts. It really hurts. Now. And now. And NOW. Over and over like Groundhog Day.

‘Look out! Your wrist just got broken,’ mine tells me. ‘Look out! Your wrist just got broken. Tell your arm your wrist just got broken. Tell your elbow your wrist just got broken. Tell your shoulder your wrist just got broken. We’re all broken. NOW. Broken. BROKEN.’

You get the picture. But other people don’t. They’re so happy to see you out and about they slap you on the shoulder or they rub your arm and don’t realise they’re putting you through agony. I try to anticipate and turn to the side but I’m never quite quick enough.

Chronic pain is tiring. Exhausting. Medication gives you nausea on top of everything else you’re putting up with. You can’t sleep so you’re even more fatigued. You begin to avoid going to places where people will rub your arm and tell you they’re glad you’re all better now. And, yes, from time to time you get a little depressed.

With all of the above going on, how could anybody find the energy to be creative?

So where do ideas come from?

Read Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on this. I like his thinking. I like the reference to daydreaming. I like how he says ideas come often when you’re doing something else.

But, when you’re in real, excruciating pain, right now this second, you don’t do something else; you don’t do daydreaming. You’re not relaxed enough for those things. All you can do is try to cope with your pain and get through the day, the hour. When you are relaxed it’s because medication got you there and you probably wouldn’t even remember how to write a shopping list in the state you’re in, never mind write the next five thousand words.

I found I could edit, though. I could look at what I’d already written and reshape it, get it ready for publication. So there is a positive to come out of it. Maybe without the enforced limitations on my capabilities I might never have got around to editing Patterns of Our Lives. I’m pleased and proud it’s out there and selling.

But, don’t tell me pain is conducive to creative arts. It only works in the past tense.

Meet My Main Character. Blog tour

A writer friend of mine invited me to take part in a blog tour. Would I be interested in answering a few questions about the main character in my Work in Progress?

Patterns of Our Lives

Meet my main character

how many secrets?

Oh, I said. I haven’t got a work in Progress. It’s finished. I’m taking a break before starting the next one.

It didn’t matter. I could use Patterns of Our Lives for the blog tour questions. So, it’s thanks to Siobhan Daiko that I’m bringing you the results.  She is currently working on her novel The Orchid Tree, set in Honk Kong 1941-1945 and 1948-1949.  We’ve both chosen to have events of World War Two feature strongly in our first novels.  We’ve also both been inspired by old photographs.

Siobhan is an accomplished writer whose work is very highly rated by readers and by other authors. I’ve read the opening to The Orchid Tree and it sounds exactly the kind of read I enjoy.

Here’s a link to Siobhan’s blog, where you can find out more information about Siobhan and her work.

I think blog tours are a great way for writers to share news and help each other. This one was started here and I thank Teagan for getting this thing rolling.

Here goes.

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historic person?

My present day character is widow, Audrey Freeman, returned to England from Australia to search for the truth about her mother. The real main character is Jean Thompson who lived through World War Two. They are fictional characters. Any resemblance to real people is for me to know and for my readers to wonder.

When and where is the story set?

The novel has two settings. First there’s Kingsley, Yorkshire, 1935 to 1965, a fictitious town based on my birthplace of Keighley and its neighbour Bingley. My second setting is Walsingham, in Norfolk 2009-2010.

The dual narrative treatment allows the reader to discover more about Audrey Freeman’s ancestry than she knows herself.

What should we know about him/her?

You don’t need to know anything in advance about Audrey. She’s chatty and tells you all about herself right from the off. We learn straight away how she cherishes old family photographs.

Readers see Jean’s life in the sections of ‘snapshots’ from the past. We get to see events Audrey has no access to. The snapshots she cherishes don’t tell her the whole story. In Jean’s era, when they left school at fourteen, young people moved straight from childhood to become an adult with adult responsibilities. There was no in between stage. Teenagers hadn’t been invented.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The main and obvious conflict is World War Two and how it affects my characters in a north of England industrial town where munition factories worked round the clock.

What messes up both Jean’s and Audrey’s lives are the secrets passed on from one generation to the next.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Audrey wants to find out the truth about her mother’s past. Jean wants to find love.

Is there a working title and can we read more about it?

My working title was Walsingham Matilda. It wasn’t until I wrote a scene where Audrey uses the phrase ‘patterns of our lives’ that the lightbulb moment arrived and I realised all I needed to do was add capital letters and I had my new and more appropriate title. It sums up the theme of the book perfectly.

When is publication?

Patterns of Our Lives is available from June 14th 2014. It’s just gone live on Amazon as a paperback. I haven’t yet finished formatting for Kindle.

Many thanks to Siobhan for the invitation. Don’t forget to visit her blog. Just click on her name to go straight to more information about The Orchid Tree.

Patterns of Our Lives

I‘m delighted with the cover for Patterns of Our Lives.

So much so, I’ve decided to reveal the cover of my upcoming novel. Here’s a sneak preview:

Cover reveal

Patterns of Our Lives

an epic family saga

Patterns of Our Lives

My first novel is a family saga from 1935 to 2010. Set in Yorkshire and Norfolk, the book follows widow Audrey Freeman’s search for the truth about her mother.

How could generations of one family keep so many secrets for so long?

Do you know the full story of all those people who feature in your old photograph albums? Those little square black and white pictures don’t tell the whole truth. Maybe none of us is ever meant to know.

Heartwarming, heartbreaking, Patterns of Our Lives is essentially a story about love and the sacrifices people make in its name.

book cover

coming soon . . .

I’ve borrowed heavily from knowledge of my birthplace but I’ve messed around with its geography. I ask the good people of Keighley, West Yorkshire and their neighbours in Bingley for their forgiveness. Kingsley is my fictitious town based on both my former haunts.

Similarly, I ask the people of Norfolk to forgive my messing with their geography, too.

Of Yorkshire and Norfolk in wartime I have no personal experience. Events in Patterns of Our Lives are authentic. Characters are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons either living or dead is entirely coincidental.

But then, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Publication by Amazon as a paperback and for Kindle – only weeks away!

Would you like to be among the first to know when Patterns of Our Lives is available? Sign up to get an email or watch for Tweets or on my FaceBook author page.

(Edited June 8th)  Publication date brought forward to June 14th. Get it for your summer read.

Here’s a link:

Which characters are real?

Characters for your fiction are everywhere

even here at the clinic. This is where I’m at 5 days a week, all day being bent and stretched, but that’s no excuse for not doing any writing.

 characters at the clinic

even clinics harbour characters

There’s no shortage of characters in this place. It’s called ré-éducation this teaching your limbs how to work properly. It’s a bit like re-hab except most patients are over 50. Make that 60.

There are bad legs and bad arms, slings and crutches enough to make you wonder if there are any uninjured people left in this part of France.

On the residents’ wing patients are recovering from operations, strokes, heart attacks and nasty falls. In the day clinic where I’m an outpatient there are some young people and they are mostly ski-ing accidents.

Stories just waiting to be written

The Queen of Andorra is here with her fabulous jewellery and stunning outfits. Not for her the yoga pants, trainers and sloppy tees. Her shoes are handmade pumps to match her numerous ensembles. I expect she wore high Jimmy Choos before she bust her leg ski-ing in the Pyrenees so now she’s had a bunch of flatties  made to fit her slim but extremely long feet. (Feet are the only thing I’ve got smaller than hers)

She drives to her physio sessions in her Porsche. On the front there’s a regal looking car badge.

Andorra character

I didn’t realise Andorra is a Principality!

It’s hard to tell where the guys are looking when she rolls up.

She’s got a fantastic figure (except for the feet) and is a natural beauty. Plus, she knows how much jewellery to wear.

CopyCat characters

When she first arrived she unwittingly started the ‘bling’ competition among the other women, yours truly excepted. I can’t get my hand round the back of my neck to fasten jewellery anyway. So, it was an experience for me to sit there with my notebook and watch and listen, and take my notes.

Another ski accident has recently arrived. Her eyes are sunken and dark-rimmed. She’s in a lot of pain. I haven’t seen the ghost of a smile on her face.

The other ski accidents are men. One is a leg; one is an arm; another is both legs and one arm. He is one of the most masculine types: square jaw, chiselled features, all that good stuff. He isn’t the best-looking though. That title goes to the 6ft 4″ proprietor of the local archery club who one day let fly an arrow with such velocity it pulled his shoulder out. He has a physique so tight you could play bongos on his buttocks. Actually, I’d like to.

bongo characters

beat the bongos

Then there’s Mister Bean. In the pool, where we have our Balneotherapy, he will not listen to our instructor’s advice. Mr Bean is a character who wants to do everything his own way. He’s all arms and legs going in every direction at once so I can’t tell which part of him was injured. He behaves like he’s fifteen. He’s 70 if he’s a day.

There’s a left shoulder who looks like Gaylord Focker and a right shoulder who looks like Spencer Tracy and then there’s two Spanish old boys who sound as if they’re speaking their mother tongue even when they’re speaking in French. I don’t understand a word so I nod and smile a lot at them.

The newest guy lives at the Naturist colony in Cap d’Agde and his name is Monsieur Le Coq.

The Lady in Black has left. Every item of clothing she wore, everyday was black: trousers, skirts, blouses, jackets, knitwear, socks, hairband, spectacle frames. Everything. But her shoes were white. Work that one out.

Mouse Lady and Bird Lady have also finished their treatments. They left on the same Friday and brought cakes and drinks and a whole feast of goodies to say goodbye to the rest of us. Then I felt mean for giving them such dismissive nicknames.

There’s Marie Louise who works for Air France. She’s always making coffee and asking if anybody wants one.

AirFrance character

Air France logo

There’s Giselle with teeth like piano keys and Corinne who has a different car with a different man in it come to pick her up at the end of each day. Maybe they’re her clients waiting for her hip to get better.

Plenty of characters, you see? I could base my fictional characters on any of these. Stories are coming out of my pores as I sweat out the pain of having my elbow pushed, my shoulder hoisted, my wrist twisted and my fingers pulled.

But which of these characters do you think are real? I’ve changed names and embroidered a bit as writers do, but, go on, which ones are real? Have a go.

You can leave your comment at the top of the page. I’d love to know what you think.

Book covers. Judging a book by its cover.

Book covers have been discussed in other people’s blogs. Usually they poke fun at ridiculous designs. On Google images, you can find pictures of the 10 worst book covers of all time etc. Some of them are so bad they’re hilarious. Mostly they are genre fiction of the kind of inexpensive reads you used to find on a market stall. Self-published books are notorious for having poor quality covers. But what about book cover design on recent highly-rated books from mainstream publishers?

I don’t like some current fashions in book covers. There, I’ve said it. Can’t be plainer than that. Some book cover designs are so awful I wonder what their authors thought about the packaging of their precious months of hard work. Self-published books have some kind of an excuse for having terrible covers, but where mainstream publishers put out our favourite authors’ latest novels in covers that scream second-rate, I get annoyed.

Here are examples of some of the books I’ve read:

bad book cover


What were they thinking putting that cheap red title in letters that look like worn road markings? If I didn’t know Mr Coben’s work I wouldn’t have bought this book. It looks as if it’s about some pervy paedo with a taste for little boys. Yuk!

I have no qualification in design so you’re entitled to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I’m entitled to my opinion and it’s this: current trends in book cover designs can be misleading.

In some cases, very misleading . . .

bad book cover

great story – terrible cover

Oh, Kate I loved this novel, but the cover? It cheapens your plot and characters. It looks like a quasi-erotic historical romance. It is based on historical events, of course, and there is a story of love woven within it, but the novel is so much more. This cover design neglects the hardships endured by your primary female characters. Anyone would think the whole book was about a Russian princess in her red satin gowns waiting for Prince Charming to arrive.

Misleading book covers

Why do they do it? Why do they want to make novels look as if they’re about something else? Here’s more –

misleading book cover

deserves something better than this tired image

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding is contemporary literary fiction. It rips your heart out. I think somebody must have briefed the designer with ‘It’s a haunting tale of  . . .’ and the designer stopped listening, didn’t bother to read the book and came up with a book cover that looks like it ought to be a ghost story. Ooh- er – something nasty in the attic, eh? And what is Mrs Danvers doing climbing the steps in this version of a burnt out Manderley?

Speaking of Rebecca, look what they did to a reprint of du Maurier’s classic story.

bad book cover design

tasteless book cover

It’s no better than a card from Moonpig or the Dog’s Doodahs or Funky Pigeon. And what’s with all this red, satin stuff again? Is this another case where the cover designer never read the book?

Won’t readers new to the author be disappointed when they discover the story hasn’t got any red satin glamour about it at all?

Won’t that same disappointment prevent them from buying books by that author ever again?

What is the point of misleading prospective purchasers?

Here’s another classic novel with a badly updated cover.

bad book cover

dire book cover


Everything about this cover is SO wrong. They couldn’t even choose a font that encapsulates the era of the narrative.


I don’t like book covers where they use a scene from the film, either.

bad book cover

how could you tell what kind of a book this is?

This was a good book before they made a film out of it. Why put famous actors’ faces on the cover? To attract a different body of readers? Misleading again?

It seems to me publishers are afraid of what they choose to call literary fiction.

So, stop calling it that then.

A good read is a good read whatever genre you want to put it in.

Here’s a cheap and nasty looking book cover where the story is about cheap and nasty characters.

bad book cover

should have been a cult read . . .

Layer Cake was given me by friends returning to England. I’d never heard of it and didn’t know it was also a film. The characters are such villains and probably a little stereotypical, but it doesn’t matter because this is one entertaining read. You can’t help rooting for the protagonist. It belongs with other cult reads but with a cover like this it’s only ever going to find its way into the second-hand shop, in my opinion. I get the car and the iron, but what’s with the Humpty Dumpty colours and the primary school layout?

It looks like a Haynes car manual. With an iron. How to repair those small dents in your bodywork . . .

book cover

mixed feelings about this one

One Day I can look at the cover of One Day and see the faces. On other days I see a wobbly candlestick. But then, when the original Batman film poster first appeared I wondered why it had on it an open mouth with strange golden teeth.

Do you remember the one I mean?

two ways of seeing it?

Can you see the teeth? Ah, well.

So it might be just me.

What do I know?

Sometimes book covers are spot on even if they are still misleading. Here’s an example of one I think works well.

book cover

designed to arouse curiosity

The cover for 50 Shades does its job well, in my opinion. It makes you wonder about what’s inside. The cover is actually classier than the narrative and that’s where it’s misleading, but the lady made a packet so she must be right.

I like the lone figure in the landscape appearance of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Not only are they appropriate for the storyline but they are instantly recognisable as another Jack Reacher walking into trouble novel. You know you’re not going to be disappointed. There’s no misleading.

The lone figure image worked well for Carlos Ruiz Zafòn’s   Shadow of the Wind. Great book; great cover.

book cover

mouth-watering cover, full of promise

I loved this book. The lone figure is not a Jack Reacher type, standing tall (all 6ft. 5 of him ) ready to get his fists out and sort the problem. The shadowy figure here has his head down; his shoulders slightly stoop. You know you’re going to feel sorry for him or worry about him at some point.

There’s mystery in that fog.

There’s danger in those dark buildings.

book cover

a paler version


The cover is enticing.

The lone figure emblem didn’t work so well second time around.

Or, maybe it did. Maybe it was truthful. It was a paler image for a paler story. I think it was a mistake to stick with the same kind of imagery as the first book.

Do you get disappointed by book covers? Do they sometimes put you off buying a book?

How important do you think book covers really are?

I’d love to read your opinions. Drop me a line and share your thoughts.

2014 for writer in Languedoc. Be careful what you wish for . . .

In 2014 writer in Languedoc is having problems already. Writing plans are delayed.

writer tools

learning to type with just one

On December 14th a car hit me from behind and knocked me flying. I don’t remember falling. That part of the experience is a complete blank. I remember my head bouncing on concrete and I ended up lying on my right side cradling my left wrist. Both my head and wrist were hurting like crazy. I knew I was in trouble and lay very still.

Christmas and New Year were non events for me. I was out of it much of the time, spaced on painkillers and sleeping my way through nightmares. But here I am today, typing with one hand a little at a time. My wrist/arm is broken in 2 places. I have a full arm cast which gets in the way and is very heavy. I can’t sit at my keyboard for long because I can’t get in a comfortable position.

Be careful what you wish for

Do you remember my post from the Wicked Stepmother where I planned a crafty coup for time off from kitchen duties?

Oh, how I wished for a break from all that cooking.

Well, look what happened!

A break in two places.

I won’t be able to peel a potato for months.

But I’m a writer. Somewhere I’ll get a story out of it.

Arse(d) Ends. Great reviews on Amazon

Mick’s crowing about his latest reviews for Arse(d) Ends, his first collection of darkly comic stories. I have a soft spot for the old boy, so I thought it might be an idea to give him a little update on MY website.

Arse(d) Ends

I know it’s a weird title. I know some people don’t like it, but Mick does and he’s sticking with it. You can’t deny the title suits the mood of each story. Mick is Celia’s alter ego. Remember him? You can find out more about him here.

One reviewer, Juliet on has said the stories in Arse(d) Ends are ‘ a cross between Alan Bennett and Tales of the Unexpected.’


We like that. A lot.

Arse(d) Ends story collection

comedy with a twist

There aren’t many words in the English language ending with the letters a.r.s.e. Mick took six of them as inspiration: Parse, Sparse, Enhearse, Coarse, Unrehearse(d) and Hearse.

These are stories with a twist. Humour with a hidden dagger. (Metaphorically speaking)

Mick says,

Even good people have a dark side that comes out every so often.’

Of course, Mick is more highly tuned into the things that are likely to go wrong, so while Celia moves on with her women’s fiction, Mick gets free rein in his own favourite shadowland.

The Dark Side

We’re not talking horror or fantasy or sci-fi. No. It’s more fantastical sic-fic. (I just made that up. Do you like it?)

Real life settings with real life characters but with some very odd situations – just like real life where dark and light and funny and sad can happen all at the same time.

So there are some unusual combinations in Mick’s stories.

Feral cats,

Arse(d) Ends feral cat

watch out!

and deadbolts feature in one story in the collection.    According to Mick, it’s often these unusual combination of elements that make for the liveliest stories.

Arse(d) Ends deadbolt

In another of Mick’s stories, Ted is sick to death of his wife’s hobby – making Teddy Bears. Who knew Teddy Bears could be so offensive?

Arse(d) Ends teddy bears


A reviewer on Amazon France says there’s something Dahlesque about the tales in Arse(d) Ends. A wonderful compliment, but if you don’t believe me, the review is there for all to see on Amazon. fr. It’s a pity all the reviews don’t show across each platform so that whether a customer is buying from .com., .uk., or any other Amazon site, they’d be able to see all the reviews if they wished.

Here’s a link to the Amazon UK page where you can click to read a sample of the first story.

Alternatively, you can listen to a short reading here.

Should I mention Arse(d) Ends would make a lovely stocking filler?

Oh, go on then.

Arse(d) Ends would make a lovely stocking filler.

Till next time,



Gran Lit. Are you serious?

How very dare you? You mean, it’s only for Grannies?

Nonsense. Hilary Boyd writes for people not for bookshelves. (My words)

Don’t call it Gran Lit

I’m so heartened by her attitude to publishers’ need to classify fiction into genres.

“Bollocks,” she said when the Gran Lit classification was first suggested to her.

Gran-Lit writer

photo by Quercus

Oh, Hilary, please come to France and be my honorary sister. Who says people don’t want to read about older women?

Not me.

Who says you can’t have romance and sex with older characters?

I didn’t say that.

I’ll tell you who said it: Publishers. To be exact, their readers. You know, the ones who hold back the gates from the likes of aspiring novelists such as you and me. They are the ones who are in charge of the slush pile. They pass on to the people who really make the decisions only the books that excite them.

But they’re all teenagers, darlings. They only know about fantasy: werewolves and vampires and robots and spies and spaceship ghosts and the like. They also read those books with photographs on the front of men (boys) who are built of muscle and iron and their women nearly wear red or black satin. Or else they read titles like Carlotta’s Christmas at the Cup-Cake Café and the cover looks good enough to eat if you’re into sweet and sickly Candy Floss.

See? Fantasy. Do I sound full of sarcasm? Of course I do.

When they’re older, they’ll get a life. In the meantime, I mustn’t be too hard on them. They got it SO wrong, didn’t they?

Who makes up the majority of the reading population?


We’re still here. We’ve had our kids and years of sleepless nights. We’ve looked after ageing parents during their last days. We’ve lost sleep all over again when the grandchildren were unwell. We’ve had our own illnesses and close shaves. We’ve had a life. And, let me repeat myself, we’re still here. And we’ve got a little money to spend on small treats like a damned good story to read.

We’re old enough and wise enough to read all manner of different kinds of books. We have open minds. We’ll read about police detectives, little girls in France, 6ft 5″ ex marines on a one man mission to rid the USA of scum bags, widows with autistic sons, kids in a fight to the death struggle – you understand me – and once in a while, we want to read about people with whom we can identify more closely.

See, the young readers employed by the publishers couldn’t possibly understand that because they haven’t got there yet.

So it’s hats off to Quercus for publishing Hilary Boyd in the first place and having the nous to put her out as an ebook.

The Boomers have spoken. Gran-Lit? Bah, Humbug. It’s L.I.F.E., darlings. People get older. Even publishers. And now they’e having to get wiser, too. Go Hilary.

Does your face match your genre?

Are authors and their novels comparable with dog owners and their dogs? Do writers look like what they write? If you’re not sure what your genre is could you simply check in the mirror? Would there be a certain look in your eyes that told you what to write? Does the way you smile give you away?

Do authors look like their genres?

Do romantic fiction writers look romantic? Are thriller writers thrilling? What can you say about the way horror writers present themselves? Do they look horrible?

Some of the authors I’ve read.

Here are some famous faces. I’ve read all of them. Not always everything they’ve written, but the following faces have played their part in my growing up with reading for entertainment. I make the distinction here between reading for pleasure and other reading. I have therefore excluded all the authors I’ve read for study and the many classics I’ve enjoyed.

Enid Blyton

when I was a child I read everything she wrote

Does this lady look friendly? Would she be a lovely mummy? Does she look as if she adored children and loved to entertain them with her stories? Or does that strong jaw speak of something heavier than nodding toys and goblins with large ears?

I know more about her now than I did when I was a child, but I think I would have been in awe of a lady who wore that kind of jewellery.

Daphne du Maurier

my teenage favourite

As a teenager I read everything I could get my hands on from the second author in my gallery. Maybe you’ve read a previous post where I explain what I loved so much about this author and the power of her characters.

Only recently have I gone back to catch up with short stories of hers which I missed when I was young.

(Edit 26/04.2014)

I can’t imagine what she’d think about a recent BBC television production of one of her novels where we couldn’t see what was happening in the dark and we couldn’t hear what was being said.

John Wyndham Sci-Fi genre

he introduced me to Sci-Fi

At school we read one of this next author’s books. I loved it and went on to read everything else he’d written too.

His works of science fiction appealed to me because they were about how extraordinary circumstances affected ordinary people. I think they’d feel out of place and dated now, but at the time it was fascinating reading about alien children or plants that captured and ate people.

A new genre had found its way into my reading. I wanted more. I looked for even darker stories and found them with the next author on my list.

Dennis Wheatley horror genre

dark tales of devilish horror

I was hooked. If my mother had realised what I was reading, I think she might have banned this author’s books. I couldn’t get enough. I think I became a Goth before Goths were invented.

His words thrilled me to bits, I suppose much in the same way a different generation of teenagers thrilled at Edward Cullen.

Eric van Lustbader thriller genre

high octane dramas

Here’s where I went next.

I had a husband by now and we had started a family. This author’s books were primarily written for a male audience, but I lapped them up. Well, haven’t I always said how much I love variety in my life? I continued reading action thrillers, horror and science fiction for several years, interspersed with books by the following author.

Harold Robbins

sexier stories

His books were best sellers. I tried books in a similar genre by female writers of the time, but didn’t rate them as highly.

It was a long time before I trusted female writers again. I discovered a woman who, although she was way before my time, spoke to me in a voice I knew well.

Dorothy Parker

sharp as bitter almonds

Oh boy, I loved her wit, her sarcasm, her pain, her fury. I devoured her short stories.  She was clever and scathing and thoroughly magnificent and I wondered what she would have written had she been born in my generation.

John Grisham thriller genre

a new kind of thriller

I can’t include every author I’ve ever read in this post – I’m sticking to the ones I read most. It’s interesting that there are more male authors than female. Maybe that means something: maybe it doesn’t. But I read everything the man on the right put out until the one about an American football team in Italy. And don’t say I objected to him changing genre. He’d already done that before and I loved A Painted House. I would never object to an author writing in a different genre.

Dan Brown thriller genre

I’ve read them all . . .

This is the man who took over. He’s the only author I’ve ever bought in hard back because I didn’t want to wait for the paperback.

I’ve read them ALL.

Does his face say ‘best-seller’?

Oh, yes.

And now it’s time to hear from the girls. Do they look like the kind of books they write?

Martina Cole crime genre

would you argue with her?

I tried reading the woman on the right. I’m including her in my list because I really did want to like her. I wanted to understand what makes her a best-seller. Really, I did. But, I can’t read her. Sorry. I couldn’t ever read J.K.Rowling either, for different reasons. Sometimes you just don’t get on with the way a writer writes. That’s okay. You can’t please everybody and I’m sure Martina isn’t the least bothered that Celia Micklefield doesn’t get on with her books. In this photo, though, she looks like what she writes. Wouldn’t you say?

Jodi Picoult

Earth mother?

I found characters to really get behind in this author’s books. She’s great. Love her to bits.

Just bought her latest.

Wouldn’t you want this lady for your sister?

I would.

Val McDermid crime genre

hard as nails?

Another face you wouldn’t want to argue with. If she didn’t write crime fiction, she’d be a butcher. Or a wrestler.

Joanne Harris




This author’s magic has bewitched many a reader. She probably had her fingers forked behind her back when the photographer took this, though.

Anne Tyler

my favourite female author

My current favourite female writer. Look at her face, those eyes. You just know she’s holding back.

And my current male author?

Lee Child

creator of Jack Reacher

Ah, Jack Reacher. Say no more.

So where would I fit in with all this?


what genre?


what genre?


what genre?

Three pictures – all me – all different. Which genre do these faces belong to?

I don’t know.

If you do, let me know.


Authors in order of appearance:

Enid Blyton, Daphne du Maurier, John Wyndham, Denis Wheatley, Eric van Lustbader, Harold Robbins, Dorothy Parker, John Grisham, Dan Brown, Martina Cole, Jodi Picoult, Val McDermid, Joanne Harris, Anne Tyler, Lee Child, Celia Micklefield x3.

Feel free to comment. Maybe add your own suggestions to the list. Do you look like what you write?

Till next time,