My 13 year old son has an idea for a book he wants me to write. “I was thinking Mummy. You’ve been working on that novel since at least 2010 and the problem is it’s just too long. Why don’t you write children’s’ stories? I’ve got one for you. It’s called Silly Bear. Silly Bear happy. (turn page) Silly Bear sad. (turn page) Silly Bear tired. (turn page) Silly Bear bad. (ends). We could get Manu to draw the pictures. It would be so EASY! It doesn’t even have VERBS!”
Finding the impetus to finish a novel is never easy. A friend once told me she’d often thought about writing one, but had been put off by the thought that there are so many others out there that will always be so much better than anything she could write. I know what she means. I can barely read anything when I’m writing fiction, it’s ALL better than anything I’m writing, and all too easy to descend into “what’s the point?” depression. And when I am reading something worse – in terms of quality – than anything I’m writing, it’s invariably making so much more money than mine will ever dream of making, I fall back into the “what’s the point?” game.
What keeps me going? Twitter is useful. I like @NathanBransford. I read somewhere (@JohnnyGeller?) that it’s only in recent times that authors have had the luxury of writing without having a second job – I can’t really moan any more about not having enough time for writing my masterpiece when I realise that everyone from Charles Dickens to Raymond Carver has had the same issues. (I appreciate this may well be the first and last time I will refer to myself in the same breath as Dickens and Carver; hey ho). I have a couple of friends who talk enthusiastically about my book and are keen to develop subsequent plot-lines. One author friend, Stella Newman, made me promise to send her a chapter a week to read and give feedback. (I hasten to add, I’m on about the fifth draft, so I have a whole stash of chapters ready to send, otherwise a chapter a week would be a bit much).
And now this.. from my lovely author friend Kate Morris, author of Single Girl’s Diary, Seven Days One Summer, writer of a very funny blog called writing and moaning.com. A questionnaire you complete called My Next Big Thing, blog about and then “tag” another author or two to complete. (You can find out more about the novel Kate’s written as she’s also answered the My Big Thing questions – it’s on her writing and moaning blog, linked above). It will focus my mind on finishing my novel. And spare us from the Silly Bear Stories for just a little longer.
So here are the questions.
What is the working title of your book?
Two Weeks in Malibu.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A London couple swap homes with a Californian couple for a two week holiday, only to discover the Californians don’t actually own the home they purport to own and now the British couple can’t get the American couple out of their London home. (Keep up at the back). I am obsessed with California and always wanted to write something that would enable me to spend more time there, but other than that I can’t really remember where the idea came from, although I will say it is nothing like the film with Cameron, Jude, Kate and Rufus.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s commercial, but readably so. I remember a film agent once telling me on no account should any woman describe her book as “chick lit” as this was derogatory to all womankind. There is a big romantic element in this book, but it is also about solving a crime and turns into a bit of a detective novel. We’ll see when I’ve finished.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My heroine, Antonia, would be played by Emily Blunt. The LA detective would be Nick Nolte. The dude in the desert? Brad Pitt, possibly. The English fiancé? Burn Gorman, perhaps?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a holiday home-swap goes badly wrong, Antonia discovers it’s not just her home that’s at stake but her entire future.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Forever. Truly it should be winning Booker prizes for time-spent-procrastinating.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Everyone who said how much they enjoyed the last one, my first and only finished novel, Face Value (Berkley). The supportive email I received from Marian Keyes, the hand-written card from Joan Rivers.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Murder. Posh people. Not so posh people. Stars of the sky, stars of the screen. It’s all in there.
I was on my way out the door, thought I’d quickly check my facebook page and saw your updated status on my timeline. This of course has now made me late for where I need to go because I had to click on the link and read your blog post.
First I want to say, the book sounds exciting! I was picturing it being kind of like the movie “The Holiday” starring Cameron Diaz & the cutie Jude Law.
I was kind of glad to hear about the whole writers thing because I’ve just started a blog which is scary within itself and I always think, “how can it possibly be of any relevance to anyone with people like Bryan Boy and Susie Bubble on the loose?”.
Anyway, as ever a fan I can’t wait to add your next book to my collection. Much Love