I have some news about the Cuckoo. Remember, it’s the novel I wrote in a crazy, manic attempt to banish the writing blues during May this year? (See previous blogs).
I have never been much of a romantic fiction reader. I prefer a good crime, or thriller – can’t be doing with all this slushy romantic stuff. I used to titter at my mum’s favourite books, but then secretly take them all on holiday and enjoy the feelgood reads. (Ohmigod, I’ve never admitted that before!)
I think every writer should have an ideal reader sitting on their shoulder: an actual character they are writing for. With me, it’s my mum. I am writing solely for her, knowing that her type of books were my grandma’s, and my great aunt’s. In fact, my mum’s paperbacks were always well worn and passed around amongst her friends until they ended up at my house, dog-eared and tea-stained, with a ‘you really should read this, our Anne … it’s such a lovely story.’ Mum could never get to grips with Ken Follett, Jeffrey Deaver or William Boyd and I remember her throwing her hands up in horror when she saw Dennis Wheatley in all his dark glory lurking under my coffee table. She would stand at the kitchen sink, or turn around while hard at it over the ironing board, iron in hand, and tell me all about the books she was reading. She’d describe the characters, comment on their shortcomings and give her opinion on which hero was her favourite. I didn’t realise at the time just how much I was taking it all in.
I wrote ‘The White Cuckoo’ for my mum. I just poured my heart out and wrote a romantic novel especially for her. I wish she was here to see it.
I submitted the Cuckoo to the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme a couple of weeks ago, and as my friends at work will testify, I had my tongue firmly pressed into my cheek and a cynical smile on my face on the day I posted off the manuscript.
I heard today it’s got a second reading! I’m ecstatic, to say the least. Apparently, only about ten manuscripts each year get a second reading.
I can’t believe I have actually written Romantic Fiction!
I’ve learned a lesson, I think. I actually feel quite ashamed that I used to make fun of mum’s favourite books. Since I’ve been writing seriously, I’ve been reading some of her favourites and I’ve actually got to know some of the authors through facebook and at Caerleon.
I always imagined writers of Romantic Fiction to be all girly-girly types – belonging to a club I could never be a part of. You see, I’m not a pink, fluffy, Barbara Cartland type of woman. I hate wearing make-up. Long fingernails get on my nerves when typing, so I cut them off with scissors. I fall over in high heels, doing a fair impression of Dick Emery’s ‘Mandy’ and want to stick my fingers down my throat at sentimental films and suchlike. I’ve never watched The Sound of Music, either.
But underneath I am all woman. I must be.
Please can someone give me some lessons?