This was the notice put up in my gym the other day. It was 6.00 pm, a peak time, and the changing room was packed.
I looked around suspiciously, instantly confident that I'd located the thief - a young man, mid-twenties, shaved head, covered in tattoos. When he put on a hoodie, evenlifting the hood up to partially conceal his face, before glaring at me as he left, I knew that was him - the thief.
Caricatures, caricatures, caricatures. As a writer, I recognise the danger. How dull the story would be if this first guess for the thief turned out to be the right one. So much more interesting if it's a close friend, a charming older man, always immaculately dressed, always smiling, and forever offering to buy others cups of tea and coffee or a glass of wine after gym. As a citizen, it's all too easy to pass judgement on people based on first appearances. We mustn't and it can take a tragedy like the Manchester bombing and the heroics of the homeless man to remind us not to....
For me, it's a love/hate relationship with eBooks.
As a reader, my Amazon Kindle works well when I'm travelling - it's light, portable and I can take a small (actually not that small) library with me. Reading in bed is easy too - again the portability is a positive, the soft backlight, and the chance to increase the font size so I don't need to wear glasses is convenient. For all occasions, there's the opportunity for digital bookmarks, highlights and notes, and access to the last read page is immediate. So, as a reader, I should be happy, shouldn't I?
Actually, not completely so. The physicality is lost with an eBook - the affinity with the front cover then flicking over to read the back page blurb, the smell of opening a new book, the texture of the paper. It's so easy to grab an eBook, dump it onto a tablet and then forget about it - far less likely for me to forget I've got or have already read a real (interesting that this is the word that first comes to mind) book.
I think it’s because my novels are character driven. Of course, plot is essential and in Romance there are a thousand and one nuances, but basically, woman meets man, the path to a relationship is hazardous, it seems doomed to failure, then it works out. What makes a story sparkle are the characters.
There’s such a wealth of potential in people. Consider your own character, its complexity, mood swings and so on. Next think of the person closest to you, a partner, a relative, a best friend. Despite similarities they are so very different to you. With seven billion people out there, that’s a lot of material to choose from, each person with endless plot potential.
My inspiration comes from observing people, followed by make believe about their thoughts and actions. I get to know them as the story unfolds; t...
I'm a member of the UK Romantic Novelists' Association. At conferences with 200+ delegates, no more than 20 are male authors are writing romantic books. Admittedly, the vast majority of Romance readers are female, but surely they have a curiosity about the male take on relationships.
I've included some males in this photo gallery - that's me bottom right. Can you name the authors, reading horizontally through the images? Submit your answers by email, and if you get them all correct, I'll send you my short story that was short-listed in the 2016 Cambridge Writers competition.