You’re on every book cover. You’re the same woman, with different hair. But I cannot relate to you, and neither can anyone else. You are annoying me. A lot. And so I write this open letter to you, 20-year-old faceless girl who does not represent either me or the characters who speak beneath your covers.
It is a little-known fact that the old trope of a piano falling on someone’s head was inspired by every Irish person ever who felt proud of themselves for even five minutes. In this post I deal with misplaced pride, indie publishing scams, bogus bestsellers, my difficult childhood, and why if you want to be original, you should never read anything written by anyone else. Ever.
It’s time you stopped blaming that book you wrote or recommended for the fact I didn’t like it. It’s time you started blaming me instead. With a little help from quantum physics, I explain why loving any book is a miracle, why my bad mood became your problem, and why writing a book is like putting an unseen cat in a poisonous box.
Amazon’s algorithms don’t like the concept of General Fiction. If books are being sold more on the basis of genre than content, is content changing to suit genre fads? I think so. And if you’ve ever read a book which promised something it didn’t deliver, or seemed like two different plots or styles clumsily slapped together, you might think so, too.
Historical fiction can be a refuge for people exhausted by modern problems or fearful for the future. A panacea for all today’s ills. Nobody is more reassuring than the hero of a historical fiction novel – the man who has the answers to everything whilst somehow also understanding the consequences of his actions.
But what would it be like to live with a historical fiction hero? Would it make life simpler? Or might dead pigeons and his fear of toasters make it a generation gap too far?
We’re told that by far the best training for writers is reading. But what happens when what you’re reading is being a big bully? Tempting you with sweet nothings? Calling you names? Interfering with your confidence and ability to write? I have a conversation with an unbearably smug book to explore the concept, and discover something nasty.
No matter how good a Grip-Lit book is, there are only so many psychological thrills we can stomach in a row. With the help of some tenuous and downright cheesy food metaphors, this week I’m asking you: what’s for dessert? What do you, the reader, want to read next? Shouldn’t we, the actual consumers have a say?