Saturday Spotlight: Ellie Gray

Ellie Gray Profile PicToday on the blog, we’re delighted to welcome Ellie Gray. Sit down, Ellie, and make yourself comfortable, while we turn the spotlight on you. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt a bit…

First things first. When did you start writing?

I think I first started writing not long after I had my first child, when I was working part time. It suddenly occurred to me that, all those stories I had written in my head, the ones that kept me awake at night, carefully planning and constructing, should actually be put down on paper!  I’ve been ‘writing’ ever since I can remember but, up until that point, it never really occurred to me that I should physically write them down.

Yep, always useful to put the words on the paper! What genre do you write in, and why?

I write contemporary romance, erring on the sweet side, with strong male and female characters who have the same flaws we all have – no-one is perfect! I love writing about their hopes, fears and struggles and, best of all, helping them get to that happy ending; something that is not always guaranteed in real life. I also enjoy writing young adult novels with a fantasy-type edge.

Like Sharon, Alys, and Jessica, you’re a Yorkshire lass. Is setting important in your novels?

I think setting is really important and I love setting my novels in Yorkshire. I think readers like to ground the characters they are reading about, to know about where they live and how that affects them. I try to give enough description to enable the reader to really picture the surroundings, without being too prescriptive and degenerating into sounding like a travelogue! Although my debut novel is set in Yorkshire, my current work in progress is set in the exotic surroundings of Egypt and the Nile.

Exotic, indeed! When do you write? Tell us about your writing day.

That’s a tough one. Like many writers, I also have a full-time job and a family to work around. I am also studying for a Masters degree, just about to start my dissertation (gulp!) so it feels like a real juggling act. I try to write on a weekend and, if the writing itch gets too itchy to ignore, I’ll do a couple of hours on an evening, but I really do try to limit my evening writing during the week and spend some time with my family, and to drag myself out of the writing cave after an afternoon’s writing on a weekend.

Yes, we can all relate to juggling writing time with family time. As authors, we also have to get to grips with social media. How do you feel about that?

I know that social media is an important way of raising an author’s profile and I am building up a profile, using Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest etc. I’m also trying to learn as much as I can about how best to build up a following without shoving the ‘buy my book’ message down everyone’s throat. I do worry about how best to utilise social media, particularly when there are so many authors out there promoting their work. How do you get heard over the crowd? I don’t know the answer but it is something that I’m willing to work at and to learn from others.

Do you read much? What books do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?

I love reading. With reading comes the guilt complex, though – when I’m reading, there’s a little voice in the back of my head telling me that I should be writing. However, I know that to become a better writer, I also need to read as much as I can – so that’s what I tell that little voice when it whispers in my ear. I like to read a range of genres – contemporary romance, of course, but I also like to read the classics, Austen and Du Maurier, horror such as King, Herbert and Koontz, and I love the Harry Potter and Tolkein books. Oh, there’s the Sharpe series, I love those, and Elizabeth Peters with her Amelia Peabody adventures.

All of the Write Romantics were, at one time, members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Indeed, that’s how we met, so we’re very grateful we were accepted onto it. You were a member of this scheme. Do you feel it helped you? Would you recommend it to other aspiring authors?

Joining the RNA NWS is the best thing that I could have done to kick-start my writing career. I’d toyed with joining for several years but never seriously looked into it until late in 2014. Then, last year I decided that this was the year I was going to take my writing seriously. I knew the NWS is always oversubscribed so I stayed up on New Year’s Day to email my application just after midnight and kept my fingers crossed. Fortunately, I was successful and, since then, I have been overwhelmed by the support offered by RNA members. Even though I can’t always make the planned events down in London, there are lots of other ways to keep in touch and offer support and encouragement, not least via the email and Facebook forums. This year also saw the first RNA Afternoon Tea event in York which I attended and it was lovely to meet up with the people that I’d been connecting with online. Add to this the fantastic manuscript critique that is part of the NWS – I can only say that I would definitely recommend the RNA NWS to any aspiring author.

You recently signed a publishing deal with Tirgearr Publishing. Tell us about your path to publication.

It came out of the blue, which sounds ridiculous because, of course, I had sent the manuscript off for consideration. Beauty and the Recluse is a novel I wrote several years ago and which has been revised several times. Harlequin M&B requested to see the full manuscript about two years ago and, although they passed on it, they did give me an excellent and detailed critique.  As I was already well on with my next novel, I took it on the chin, put it in the proverbial drawer and kept on working on my new novel. Once I had drafted that, I took a break from it and pulled out Beauty and the Recluse and decided to re-work it, taking on board the M&B advice.  Once I had done that, I left it for a while and went back to editing my next novel. It was only when, during one of the email forums, one of the other RNA members mentioned that they had a new novel out for release with Tirgearr Publishing that, out of interest, I had a look at their website, liked the look of their titles and their approach and, on the off-chance, decided to send them Beauty and the Recluse – not holding out much hope. However, less than two weeks later, I had a response from them telling me that they loved the book and the characters and offering me a contract on the spot. I was at work at the time and thought that it must be a hoax!

Loving the title of your first novel! Can you tell us a bit about it? When is it due for release?

As you might guess from the title, it has elements of Beauty and the Beast and, while it isn’t a true, modern day re-telling of the tale, it does have certain similarities to the fairy tale.

Following the recent death of her father, and in need of both a job and somewhere to live, Kiya takes a housekeeping job on the spur of the moment.  She soon finds herself living in a beautiful but neglected mansion, working for a strange and reclusive man.

St. John is a man scarred by the past, both physically and emotionally, and is determined to live out his life alone.  They are two very different people, drawn to each other almost against their will, but can Kiya convince St. John that he is not the monster he believes himself to be? 

It is due for release in February 2016 and I am so excited, although nervous about how it will be received.  I can’t wait to get the first sight of my cover which should be fairly soon.

Very exciting times ahead! What are you planning next? Is there another book in the pipeline?

Yes, I am currently editing my next novel which is set in Egypt and follows the themes of love, loss and letting go of the past.

Thank you for being such a lovely guest, Ellie. Hope the spotlight didn’t shine too brightly in your eyes! Good luck with Beauty and the Recluse. We look forward to reading it. 

You can find out more about Ellie at:

https://elliegrayauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliegrayauthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/elliegray58

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/elliegray71/

 

Valerie-Anne Baglietto on The Irresistible Lure of Fairy Tales

 My favourite book for a few years now has been Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones. It was written for children, but works beautifully for adults as a page-turning love story. Or it does for me, anyhow. It’s the sort I enjoy most of all, where the couple go to great lengths for each other but can’t acknowledge why for most of the book, even to themselves. It alludes to the attraction rather than presenting it neatly tied up with a bow. I don’t mind a more direct approach, of course, and I read plenty of those, too. But anyway, I digress slightly.

Where else but in a fairy tale can you have a romance between a girl under a spell, who spends most of the book as a wizened old woman, and a vain, selfish young wizard whose main hobby seems to be breaking hearts? They are so outrageously incompatible on the surface, and yet we know that they’re made for each other.

Soulmates pop up regularly in fairy tales. The princess and the talking amphibian by the pond. The girl in cinder-coated rags, imagining herself whirling around a ballroom in the arms of a prince. The beautiful merchant’s daughter who sees beyond the abrasive manner and hideous exterior of a beast to the lonely, tortured soul beneath.

I wrote fairy tales as a child, but then stopped as an adult in an attempt, I suppose, to behave like a grown up. It was in the throes of Harry Potter fever that I started experimenting with them again, eventually blending subtle magical elements with the romances I also enjoyed writing. I grew up on a diet of fables and folk stories, just like my own young daughter. Currently, she’s unaware of how much she inspired the character of the stepdaughter Lexie in my latest book Four Sides to Every Storyblog vb1

Of course, we now know how much darker these old morality tales were originally. They’ve evolved over the decades for various reasons too convoluted to go into in this post. This development seems to have peeved some people, but I don’t see why we can’t have both. The whitewashed versions and the more sinister ones. The sweetness and light, to contrast with the gloom.

My readers want the innocence, the enchantment, and often tell me so! We need that kind of wholesomeness and hope in what seems an increasingly dark and sinister world. That doesn’t mean I don’t have heartbreak in my books, or more shady, reprehensible characters. Of course I do. How can you possibly have a fairy tale without some sort of villain? And I like my heroes flawed, but with a big heart. And stubble. They usually start out more like the frog or the beast than the smooth-talking, debonair prince.

blogvb2The stories I digested as a child weren’t as diluted or sanitised as the current ones offered to children. And my daughter still reads from the same treasured book of fairy tales that I devoured myself. It’s the source of countless discussions between us. Because there’s no marry-the-prince happy ending for the Little Mermaid in this anthology from the 1970s. No Disney makeover. Here is Andersen’s version, retold but not drastically altered, with its message of love and sacrifice.

We also have the stories of The Little Matchgirl and The Little Tin Soldier. They have poignant conclusions, not the unashamedly happy endings we’ve come to associate with fairy tales these days. Not all the stories in the anthology end on a high note, but they still influence me today. Possibly they’re another reason I became a writer in the first place. As a child – just like Lexie in Four Sides to Every Story – I wanted to rewrite the sad tales. I longed to give them a HEA. Yet now, looking back with adult eyes, I understand why the sadness is there, and why sacrifice is necessary and redemptive.

It probably won’t surprise you to know I love Disney Princess movies, will it? Especially the latest crop. Throughout my new book you’ll find conscious and unconscious little moments of homage to some of my favourite films and novels… Tangled… Enchanted… And the (non-Disney) Howl’s Moving Castle gets a look-in, as I realised after finishing my first draft that I’d used the names Sophie and Lily (characters in Howl’s). More deliberately, however, was the hobbling old woman with the stick. The use of Travers and Brand as the name of the nanny agency was no accident, either. Nothing to do with Howl’s Moving Castle, though. I’ll leave you to work it out – far more fun that way!

Then, of course, there’s Cinderella. That’s probably the fairy tale I reference most. After all, it’s the most famous one to feature a fairy godmother. But I didn’t want to write about the sort of older, theatrical fairy godmother we might visualise when we hear the term, so I put a new spin on a classic tale, and then set it in the quaint fictional village of Fools Castle, which seems to be a hit with readers. So much so, that I’ve decided to revisit it in my next book. I hadn’t intended to, but to be honest, I’m missing it too much not to go back; and all those familiar characters are scrambling about in my head trying to get themselves heard again. There’s so much more to be said, I’m discovering. Who knew? Not me. Not till now, anyway.

Because, apparently, true love isn’t the end of a story. It seems it’s just the very beginning. ‘Happily ever after’ left to our own imagination may be the conclusion of most fairy tales. It’s what we’ve come to expect. But what we’ve come to expect from a fairy tale has never stopped me before…

My favourite mode of transport. Naturally 😉

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You can read Sharon’s review of Valerie-Anne’s latest novel Four Sides to Every Story here

You can buy Four Sides to Every Story here

Author Bio:

By day, Valerie-Anne Baglietto writes modern, grown-up fairy tales. By night, she clears up after her husband and three children. Occasionally she sleeps. During her career, she has written rom-coms for Hodder & Stoughton and won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award (the little silver rose bowl was a nightmare to polish, but it did look very pretty on the Welsh dresser). Aside from writing and household management, she takes perverse delight in bossing around the other members of Novelistas Ink, a writers’ collective founded by the bestselling author Trisha Ashley. You can also find her hanging out in the usual places on social media:

Facebook – Valerie-Anne Baglietto Author

Twitter – @VABaglietto

Pinterest – Valerie-Anne Baglietto

Instagram – valerieannewrites

Website – www.valerie-annebaglietto.com

 

Dealing with Rejection by Alys

I got two rejections last week.  One of the upsides of having an agent is that those emails don’t come directly to me anymore.  But one of the downsides is that my agent seems to store them up and I tend to hear about two at a time which is a real double whammy.  I also get more feedback these days as the editors give at least a line or two about the book, giving a couple of positives before they get to the reason why they turned it down.

Doubt Kills More Dreams

I thought the feedback would be a good thing, give me an idea of what I need to work on in my writing.  But they’re so contradictory that I don’t know what to take from them.  One of this week’s rejections said they didn’t like Maeve, the antagonist, whereas an editor who turned me down before Christmas said Maeve was a great character.  It’s making me realise how hugely subjective the whole thing is.  What one editor loves, another says doesn’t work for them.  And what should I take from the comment that ‘they didn’t sufficiently connect with the heroine’?  Is that in my writing or is it just a personal reaction? I can think of dozens of books where I didn’t love the heroine but I still enjoyed the book.  Do editors need to feel a deep personal connection with all the characters to take a book on?

I’m getting better with rejections though.  These two made me mutter and moan for about half an hour whereas when I first started submitting rejections could knock me back for days.  Of course, it helps if there’s a few positives in there as well.  One of these said that Beltane was ‘crisply written’ which took some of the sting out of it.

I asked the other Write Romantics if they’d had any really positive rejections.  Jessica got a reply from an agent that said:

‘There’s an awful lot I like about it.  However I am afraid in the current tough market I do have to be completely bowled over by something to take it on….I’m sorry that it’s been a near miss for me.”

rejection

Jo received this lovely rejection from a publisher:

‘As we are finding the market so competitive at the moment, we will unfortunately have to pass on the book, but personally I think you have great potential and would encourage you to keep going as you have qualities we have previously seen in other newbie authors who have made it big.’ 

Both Jessica and Jo said that these emails kept them going through the dark days of other less tactful rejections.

And we’ve had some of those.  Helen R received:

‘Sorry but this market has collapsed and I don’t think we could find a publisher for this.’

Fortunately she can laugh about it now (particularly as Crooked Cat are publishing her novel next month) but it must have hurt at the time.  My worst one was from a very well-known agent who gave me the standard two line rejection and then tried to sell me her book on understanding the publishing industry.

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I know rejections are part of the process and if I talk to non-writers about it they always quote J K Rowling.  Everyone forgets how many times she was rejected (apparently it was twelve which doesn’t seem that many to me anymore!) but it’s become urban myth that she was knocked back a lot.  Margaret Mitchell got 38 rejections before she found a publisher for Gone with the Wind and Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit and look how well that worked out!  Louise M Alcott was told not to give up teaching and it took Agatha Christie 5 years to land a publishing deal.

So if you’re feeling down about a rejections try to remember that you’re in really great company.  Pretty much every writer I can think of, other than PD James and Georgette Heyer, have been turned down.  Which just goes to show that editors are as prone to mistakes as the rest of us.  Except perhaps the editor who told Dan Brown’s agent ‘it’s so badly written’; he might just have had a point!

If you’ve had any particularly unhelpful or really positive rejections then we’d love to hear about them.  You can leave us a comment by clicking where it says ‘Leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in teeny, tiny type below.

A Christmas Star

The Write Romantics have been very lucky to have some amazing guests on our blog. However, today we are especially thrilled to welcome a very special guest. A true superstar, he’s in pretty high demand at this time of year, so we were particularly honoured that he agreed to spare us ten minutes in his incredibly busy schedule.

Welcome, Father Christmas.9c27774869418c3a5d41da6c3286932a

Well hello, Write Romantics. I’m very pleased to be here. Thank you for asking me along. Where’s that cake you promised me?

Don’t worry. It’s right here. Would you like chocolate cake, coffee and walnut, or Victoria sponge?

Well, since you’ve gone to all that trouble, it would be rude not to try a little of each. And Father Christmas is never rude, as you know.

Well, quite. Please, help yourself. I expect you’re very excited. After all, tonight is your big night.

You’re not kidding. Do you know how many mince pies and cookies I’ll be given tonight? It’s the one night of the year my wife lets me break my diet. She’s very strict the rest of the time. Apparently she finds it embarrassing that I’m known for my big round tummy. I said to her, it’s my trademark. It would be madness to jeopardise that. She didn’t agree. She said the red suit and the white beard were quite eye-catching enough and I didn’t need the jelly belly to go with it. Obviously she’s allowed to be rude, whereas I have standards to maintain. Love this chocolate cake, by the way.

mincepie-1Er, thanks. So, apart from the mince pies, what do you get up to on your travels? What’s Christmas Eve like for Father Christmas? We’re all dying to hear about it.

I expect you are. For centuries I’ve been asked the same questions. What do you do on Christmas Eve? How do you manage to deliver all those presents in one night? How do your reindeer fly? It’s what everyone wants to know.

So…?

So what? You don’t really think I would ever tell anyone, do you? Ho, ho, ho! That’s quite funny. As if I could possibly divulge that information! I must say, this coffee and walnut cake is even better than the chocolate one. Lovely.

Thank you very much. Do help yourself to egg nog. So, if you won’t answer any questions about Christmas Eve, what about Christmas Day? What do you do then?

Ah, well that’s different. I’m not breaking my contract if I tell you about Christmas Day. You know, I do love a good egg nog. How kind you all are.

Sorry, did you say contract? You have a contract?

Did I say that? Well, I can’t possibly comment further. Loving the Victoria sponge. Very tasty. Did you get the recipe from Mary Berry? She leaves me the most delicious cakes on Christmas Eve, you know. I so look forward to dropping the presents off at her house. Always a treat. Mind you, I positively dread visiting Heston Blumenthal. You never know what he’s experimented with from one year to the next. He’s a very talented chap but I’m a man of simple tastes, after all.

I’m sure, but what about Christmas Day?

What about it? Oh, yes. Sorry, I got a bit distracted then. Well, obviously, when I get home I’m pretty exhausted. It’s terribly hard work delivering all those gifts, you know. I don’t think people quite appreciate…I mean, I know they know I work all night and manage to visit every single home in the world, but I don’t think they feel it.  Their imaginations simply can’t grasp the enormity of the task. I know when I took on the job I was very naïve. I –

You took on the job? So what were you before you were Father Christmas?

Did I say that? Well, I can’t possibly comment further.  I don’t suppose you have any more cake, do you? I’m a bit peckish and the wife won’t give me any supper tonight because of all those mince pies and cookies I’ll be eating later on. Oh, thank you. Just another slice of each cake will do nicely. I don’t want to overdo it. Now, where was I? Oh yes. Christmas Day.  Well, after I get home, I make sure that the reindeer are fed and watered and bedded down with lovely fresh straw. The elves always offer to do it but I feel it’s my job. They’ve worked hard for me all night and it’s important they realise that I appreciate their efforts. Then I fall into bed and sleep and sleep for hours. The elves get very impatient. Well, it is their day off, after all. They’ve been busy in the workshop fashioning all those toys and gifts for months, and Christmas Day is their chance to celebrate and have a good time. They can’t wait for me to wake up so the festivities can start. We have a wonderful old time. Mrs Christmas is a jolly fine cook and lunch is a treat. It’s a good job, too. Those elves have amazing appetites. I wonder where they put it all as they’re tiny little chaps, you know. You’d be amazed how much they can eat. Oh. I seem to have finished the cakes. Well, thank you very much. They were delicious.

You’re very welcome. You were saying?

I was saying how delicious the cakes were. Oh, you mean about Christmas? Where were we? Well, after lunch we exchange presents. My lovely wife and I give each other gifts, and then we do Secret Elf. There are so many of us, you see, that it’s easier if each person just buys a gift for one other person. Very clever idea. The elves invented it. They were quite miffed when everyone else pinched the idea and renamed it after me. It’s always jolly good fun. Last year I was given a new belt, which was very lucky as my old one was just about to snap. This year was easy. I drew one of the younger elves’ names out of the hat and I knew just what he’d like. I can’t tell you what it is or who it was for because he might read this and then the surprise would be spoilt.670px-Dress-Up-As-Santa-Claus-Step-6

The elves might read this blog? Really?

What do you think? That elves can’t read? Tut tut. You should never make assumptions.

No, it wasn’t that. We just never imagined that there were laptops and computers in Lapland, or that elves would access the internet.

Good heavens, what do you expect them to do when they’ve downed tools for the day? Really, there’s only so much television one can stand, you know, especially at this time of year. They’ve seen The Grinch thirty times and the Christmas EastEnders makes them grumpy so I’ve had to stop them watching that. They’re quite partial to The Snowman so if they’re getting above themselves I let them watch that, and we all have a good cry to It’s A Wonderful Life. Of course, they read a lot, too. At the moment, half of them are engrossed in Harry Potter and the other half are discovering  my old favourite, Paddington Bear. I’m happy about that. It puts them in a good mood. My wife loves reading. She’s particularly fond of a good old-fashioned romance. Mind you, at the moment she seems obsessed with a book about decorating. I’m not sure which room she’s planning to redesign but it will be a bit gloomy, if you ask me, because the book seems to be all about different tones of grey. I don’t fancy a grey room. When I said that to her, funnily enough, she went rather red. Most peculiar.

red-christmas-presentsEr, quite. What do you do after you’ve exchanged presents?

Well, we, er, we – well, what does everyone else do on Christmas Day after they’ve eaten lunch and exchanged presents?

Watch television? Play games? Meet up with family and friends? Go for a walk?

Yes, that’s right. That’s what they do. I’m sure of it.

Don’t you know?

Honestly? I can’t say I do. I’m usually asleep. But, to be fair, I’ve had an exhausting night. And I always wake up in time for supper. Mrs Christmas provides an exceptionally good buffet, you know. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. After supper we like to listen to carols and reflect on the year we’ve had. Then it’s off to bed, because we have a busy time ahead of us the next day.

Oh dear. You mean you’re back at work making toys for next Christmas?

Are you mad? Do you think I’m some kind of slave-driver? It’s the Boxing Day sales. Mrs Christmas and the elves wouldn’t miss those for the world!

Now, it’s been a delight to talk to you, but I must fly because I really do have a lot of preparations before I head off to work tonight.

Of course. Thank you so much for dropping by on such a busy day.

Not at all. May I take this opportunity to wish The Write Romantics and all of their friends and followers a very merry Christmas.

Thank you. Merry Christmas to you, too. Enjoy your mince pies.

I will. And if you could see your way fit to leaving a little cream to go with them, I’d be much obliged. Merry Christmas!santa-and-reindeer-in-front-of-moon

 

It was a great honour to have Father Christmas here today. He will be appearing in the sky over you at some point tonight. Remember to leave an apple or a carrot for the reindeer, and a drink and a mince pie (with cream) for the great man himself. Oh, and if you’re Heston Blumenthal, Father Christmas said not to bother this year as he’s on a diet and is cutting down, but thanks anyway! 😉

Have a great Christmas everyone xx

Thursday Friends of The Blog – Kerry Fisher and The School Gate Survival Guide

School_Gate final jpegApologies for making Kerry sound like a book from the Harry Potter series in the title of this post, but she is, after all, capable of magic. Her debut novel The School Gate Survival Guide, published by Harper Collins, is available as a paperback from today, Thursday 11th September.

The magic lies in Kerry’s ability to create characters who can make you laugh and cry with them, on their journey through the novel, and you’ll be rooting for the protagonist, Maia, from the first page.

We’ve all had those moments when we realise that being a parent entrenches you straight back into the playground politics you thought you’d left behind with your navy-blue gym knickers and Bunsen burners. The School Gate Survival Guide is a great read that will help banish those back-to-school-run blues and make you realise things could be a heck of a lot worse!

You can order Kerry’s novel here or pick one up in your local bookstore or supermarket. Kerry is also one of the contributors in our charity anthology and you will be able to read a sneak peak of her second novel, The Divorce Domino, there.  The School Gate Survival Guide will also be our Goodreads book club, book of the month in November.

The Wednesday Wondering – Who’d Win in a Fight; Book or Film?!

Apologies for a very late Wondering …. just got in from running Race for Life this evening and this is the first chance to post.

Another week, another Wednesday Wondering and this time I’ve posed the question again, turning to another of my loves; films.

The Wondering is:

Many amazing books become films (ch-ching!) Can you name one book that you preferred to the big screen adaptation and/or one film that you thought was better than the book? And, of course, please tell us why.

I’d also love to hear whether you are someone who likes to read the book before the film or after the film. I know some people have very strong opinions on this.

So, what did the Write Romantics come up with? I’ve given the responses on previous Wonderings in alphabetical, reverse alphabetical and random order so here’s alphabetical by surnames.

JO:

Looking back on my previous responses for the Wednesday Wondering, most of them spookily linked to this theme. I spoke about Harry Potter in one of the posts and my eleven year old daughter is adamant that the films are better than the books, as they contain almost non-stop action. The books have too much description for her liking but, since she thinks I know nothing anyway, there is little point me trying to explain the difference between visual and written media on this point! I also wrote about the Green Mile, but I can’t pick a favourite between Stephen King’s book and the film.

TV adaptations are easier, I think. I loved Jilly Cooper’s novel, Riders, as a teenager, but the actor cast as Rupert Campbell-Black in the mini-series was so wrong – at least I think so! On the other hand, although I loved reading Pride and Prejudice, seeing Colin Firth in tight breeches as Mr Darcy meant the TV adaptation pipped the book to the post I’m afraid. This started a long love affair for me with Colin (in my dreams), which strangely takes us back to films… And, much as I adored Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diaries, the films with Colin (and Hugh thrown in for good measure) are so perfectly cast and edged past the novels and into my heart!

 

JULIE:

Why do I set such tricky Wonderings? Hmmm. I’ll start with the last bit first. I know some people have massively strong opinions on book then film or film then book but I’m not one of them. I would probably lean a little towards film first simply because it usually (but definitely not always) helps me with the visualisation of characters and scenery.

The worst film adaptation I’ve ever seen is one I haven’t actually watched all the way through – Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. It’s shockingly bad and they massively change the ending. I got quite angry about that one. Also Cecelia Ahern’s PS I Love You. I think Hilary Swank is a great actress but she really didn’t fit the bill of Holly for me. Gerald Butler is welcome eye candy. But … sorry … I didn’t like what they did to the story. I saw absolutely no reason to take it away from Ireland where it’s set and fiddle with the story in that way. The book was so much better.

As for film being better than the book, I am inclined to agree with Jo about Bridget Jones even though I adored the book. The cast were just perfect. Another one was Sleeping with The Enemy. The book was good but I saw the film first and it absolutely terrified me. Perhaps I may have preferred the book if I’d read that first, though.

 

DEIRDRE:

I’m not a regular cinema-goer but when I do go it’s often because I’ve read the book, so for me it tends to be book first then film, although I don’t have strong views either way. I don’t think I can honestly say that I’ve ever found the film ‘better’ than the book because it’s a totally different experience but there are times when I’ve got something extra from the film that I didn’t get from the book.

One example is Ian McEwan’s Atonement. I love his writing – the man’s a genius to my mind – and I read his books with a permanent ‘wow!’ going on my head, but the plot of Atonement is somewhat convoluted and seeing it on screen helped me make sense of some of the bits that I had perhaps misunderstood in the book. That I might need this kind of help is of course one of my failings, not his!

Another is Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller. She tells the story well and I really enjoyed the book but it’s quite short and I found myself wanting more. The film made the whole thing that much ‘bigger’ somehow. In the book I didn’t find much sympathy for Barbara Covett, the narrator, but seeing her portrayed on screen by Judy Dench with her wonderfully expressive face made it easier to ‘see’ the person she really was.

 

HELEN P:

Hmm that is a tough one. I would say that Twilight wasn’t better than the book but it’s the best film adaptation of a book that I’ve seen because it kept to the original story. I loved the film The Woman in Black and thought it was much scarier than the book by Susan Hill.

 

HELEN R:

That’s a real toughie! I think the only films I prefer to the books have to be the Harry Potter films. Whilst I think that J.K Rowling’s writing is simply amazing, it really isn’t my sort of thing…but, I don’t mind sitting through a condensed version on the big screen (when hubby has had enough of my rom coms!)

I always prefer the books to the films: Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook”, Cecilia Ahern’s “P.S I love you”, Jennifer Weiner’s “In Her Shoes” to name just a few. I would always choose to read the book first because I wouldn’t want the film version to “spoil” it for me, but perhaps this is why I always end up liking the book best? Films are always so much shorter than the book so I tend to feel that they’re lacking in the richness of the words that I enjoyed.

 

ALEX:

I loved the film ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ which is a romantic comedy about an uptight fish scientist (played by Ewan McGregor) who falls in love with his colleague (Emily Blunt) when he’s working on a project to introduce salmon fishing into the Yemen. He starts the film thinking the project is crackers and that she’s an idiot for suggesting it but through working together they become friends and then fall for each other. It’s warm, charming and uplifting. I found the book a huge disappointment. It’s more of a scathing satire on government, PR and idealism with a tragic ending.

I don’t have strong views on reading books before seeing the film. But watching the film first has definitely helped me to get through some of the classics. There’s no way I’d have made it to the end of Jude the Obscure (which must be the most depressing book in English Literature) without imagining Christopher Eccleston as Jude.

 

OVER TO YOU …

Tell us what your answer would be. Or tell us if you agree/disagree with what any of The Write Romantics have said. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading and for joining in.

 

Julie

xx

 

 

 

The Wednesday Wondering – The One That Got Away!

Welcome to our 2nd posting of The Wednesday Wondering. Can we just start by saying thank you so much to everyone who joined in and commented on or responded to our 1st posting last week.

This week’s question was also posed by Write Romantic Julie:

What is the one published book that you wish you’d written and why (doesn’t matter if it’s a change of genre for you)? 

Ooh, tricky! What will the Write Romantics go for? Will it be their favourite childhood book? Will it be the one that banked millions? Will it be something that inspired them to become a writer? Or simply a story so delicious that they wished they’d thought of it. Let’s find out. I promised Alex I wouldn’t always post them in alphabetical order so she has the constant pressure of being 1st so here are our responses in a completely random order…

DEIRDRE:

When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (Headline Review, 2011): It’s the story of childhood and growing up in the 60’s and 70s, following the narrator, Elly, through to her adult years.  It has the feel of a memoir about it and the relationships she draws between her unconventional family and her friends ring so true that I found myself constantly saying ‘Yes!’ as I read it.  It’s funny and sad and quirky and I so wish I had created this cast of oh-so-real characters.  As a debut novel it’s inspirational as well as an engrossing read.

 
JO:
Going to be fairly obvious and say Harry Potter. Not just because it would allow me to bathe in Champagne, sleep on a bed made from the down of long extinct dodo birds and turn up to the RNA conference in a chaffeur driven Bentley convertible, with George Clooney at the wheel, but also because my kids might actually rate me as cool!
 
ALEX:
I’d love to be able to write a big fantasy book. The kind set in another world full of heroes, villains, magic and monsters.  However, as I struggle to write about anywhere that I haven’t actually been to, I don’t think my brain is capable of creating an entire fantasy  universe. It feels hugely presumptuous to say this seeing as George R. R. Martin is such a brilliant writer but I would have loved to have written ‘A Game of Thrones’.
 
LORRAINE:
Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol. It is one of my favourite novels. I love the way it takes you into the life of Ebezeezer Scrooge, we get to see all of his life, what it has been, and how only he has the power to change his own future. It is all about second chances. We also see the lives of those he deals with on a daily basis, and how he affects their lives, by the decisions that he makes. An amazing story, that I would have loved to pen.
 
JAXX:
All of them!
 
JULIE:
I’m going to really cheat here because I have three but for very different reasons and one of them is a huge cheat because it’s actually a series. 1. The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton but, if I had to pick one, it would be Second Form at Malory Towers. I was bought the 1st one as a birthday present from a neighbour and begged my mum to buy me the rest as I was gripped. I loved the ‘nasty girl’ and how the relationships developed between the protagonist and her boarding school friends. 2. Flowers In The Attic by Virginia Andrews which is my favourite book. It made me cry and I could not stop reading it. It’s the first page-turner I ever read and the only book I’ve read more than once (think I’ve read it about 6 times). 3. Bridget Jones’ Diary. It put ‘chick lit’ on the map and opened it up to a whole new reading set. I remember laughing out loud so often and relating (like most women) to so many aspects of it. Well done, Helen Fielding; amazing work!
 
So, you’ve heard what some of The Write Romantics have to say. What would your answer be. We can’t wait to hear from you!