Well to start with, I don’t have one. I’ve searched for it for the last five years to no avail. How on earth is my publisher going to find anything remotely interesting about me as a hook on which to hang their marketing plan?
I don’t have a degree in creative writing: I don’t have a degree in anything. I was an eleven-plus failure and went to the utterly brilliant Henry Gotch Secondary School, where the list of famous former pupils can be counted on fingers. I left school at fifteen and meandered through life until I ended up working at the local Council. (I’m still there – 38 years later.)
I have been married for 37 years and lived in the same town all my life. No exciting travels either – we go caravanning and occasionally dip our toes in the Med, but that’s about it.
Talking about caravanning – we went to Grafham Water Caravan Club Site in April. It rained almost constantly and keeping an almost-new caravan free from mud when you have two hyperactive Springer Spaniels and a lumbering, lazy old Labrador to contend with is, I can say with confidence, a challenge not to be considered if you can avoid it.
In the reception area on the site is a bookcase full of donated paperback books for people to swap. Browsing through the books, I thought I had better make a start on promoting myself and, as casually as I could, told someone that my book ‘The White Cuckoo’ was going to be published in October. Well – talk about a completely unexpected reaction! She wanted to know all about it, was thrilled to bits when I confirmed to her that it wasn’t full of swearing and misery and then made me promise to donate a copy for the site when it was published. I then turned around to glance at a fellow caravanner, who had just walked into reception mid-conversation. I thought she was going to have a heart attack when I mentioned that ‘The White Cuckoo’ had been edited whilst we were on the site the previous year. The poor lady started blabbering on about meeting a famous author in reception and my face must have been like a burning picture of pure embarrassment as I fled, to leave the warden and the caravanner talking enthusiastically about how nice it is to read a proper book, with no ‘f’ words and a story that makes you feel good instead of in the depths of depression.
So I came to the conclusion that my unique selling point will be that I am a writer of heartwarming, uplifting novels. The White Cuckoo might give you the odd tingle down your spine, or make you wipe a few tears from the corner of your eye, but it won’t leave you feeling depressed or fed up at the number of (bad) swear words littered through its pages.
I most certainly am not the Mary Whitehouse of novel writing, but the principles she upheld were sound. If your teenaged daughter or granddaughter picks up The White Cuckoo, you needn’t worry. You can be assured she won’t be corrupted by it too much (unlike me when I picked up ‘Forever Amber’ as a thirteen year old and got told off by my mum).
Mind you, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading the work of authors who are quite obviously talented in other, more, shall we say, exciting genres …