I’ve just got proof copies of my new novel The Carer– nice and early as it’s not published until July. I described it in my last posting – basically it’s a comedy about class, and death, and family secrets. And quite a lot about guilt. And it has a great big twist in the middle. But it got me thinking about writing contemporary fiction at this point in time, during these ghastly unfolding events, and how much one reflects these in ones story.
For instance, just typing the word “Trump” makes me feel nauseous; it’s like finding a slug in ones salad. I simply don’t want him there in my novel, amongst my characters. Nor do I want the B word mentioned. This is partly because events are moving so swiftly that by July, and indeed the months and years beyond that, our country might become unrecognizable, and my book will seem dated.
Yet not acknowledging these elephants in the room also seems rather perverse. Some writers have dashed off Brexit novels and good for them; I can’t do it without sounding pompous and clichéd.
And in another way the world is seeping more and more into ones work, whether or not it’s reflected in ones novels. I’ve just done an interview for The Society of Authors magazine, and when asked about the biggest problem for novelists, wrote “The internet: loss of concentration, and loathsome Amazon”. By “loathsome” I meant all those things we know so well: the horribly seductive, cheap and easy way of ordering books, the loss of bookshops, the scandal of Amazon’s tax avoidance, and so on. (The real rot set in with the abandonment of the Net Book Agreement in the 1990s)
The loss of concentration has been more subtle. We all know the thrumming temptations within our laptops, the world of possibilities that are waiting to disrupt our working day. Lots of writers switch off the internet completely, when they’re working. I haven’t joined Twitter because I know I’d spend all my time thinking up clever things to put on it, or start galloping off on other people’s trails of witticisms. I try not to noodle around on the internet. And until now I haven’t joined Facebook.
But I’ve recently succumbed, and joined an outfit that not only joins me to Facebook but sets up all sorts of links to me and my books. For those of you on Facebook, it takes you into a rather marvellous trail of extracts, competitions and whatnot, and hopefully will enlarge and entertain my readership, and introduce more of them to my work. I’ve been a Luddite for far too long.
So I hope you enjoy it. At the moment I’m working on my stage adaptation of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, for Chichester Theatre next year, which is rather thrilling. I’ve gone back to the book, which is rather different to the film, and have been re-aquainting myself with my original characters and their stories.
And, coming up, I’ll be appearing at lots of events as publication day for “The Carer” draws nearer. I’ll post these soon, and indeed will be reviving this website by many more news blogs, to keep you in touch.
Remember, too, that I love to hear from you, so do email me if you fancy, at firstname.lastname@example.org