My next novel, THE LEGACY OF MR JARVIS, is now with my publisher and has an official publication date of 28th January 2020. Copies will, in fact, be available about 2 months before this once they have left the printers and the novel could prove an ideal Christmas present for that troublesome and hard to please relative!
So what is the novel about? People always ask, “what sort of books do you write?” And what they want is a clearly defined genre: crime, fantasy, gothic, historic …and my writing falls into none of these. THE LEGACY OF MR JARVIS concerns the complexities of childhood, family life, relationships – and, more generally, the impact of the time in which we are born and grow up – how the attitudes and norms of an era determine and influence the lives we lead. This novel has a dual time-line: the late 1960s and early 1970s as well as a year early in the 21st century. L.P. Hartley’s famous opening line in THE GO-BETWEEN- The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there- is one that has remained with me ever since I first read the novel in the summer of 1969. I think we all look back at the period of our childhood and adolescence (at least post-war 1950s babies like me do) with incredulity at what was socially unacceptable, shocking, scandalous -as well as what was woefully tolerated – and consider how different we might have been, born into another time. My novel does, to a certain extent, explore through its characters and events, this factor. I don’t know yet what the cover image is to be – but I am hoping it is something that indicates its principally south coast of England setting – those pebbled beaches and endless grey skies and wooden groynes and piers that I remember from visits as a child to my paternal grandparents’ home.
Back to the problem of genre. Usually, when people press for a definition of mine, I give in a little apologetically and hesitantly and say, well, I suppose I write ‘women’s fiction – whatever that may mean. So I was very cheered and encouraged to read an article the other day by Jane Corry, a Sunday Times bestseller novelist, who asked But why should we be typecast as genre writers at all? and she went on to quote the author Sarah Vaughan who said, Male authors don’t have to slot into categories according to their genre. If they don’t write some variant of crime, they write fiction, not ‘male fiction.’
How true! That had never occurred to me. And do you know, it’s a liberating discovery!
So equality, please, when it comes to defining male and female writers and their non specific genres.
I will try very hard in future not to box my novels and restrict their appeal to merely one gender.
THE LEGACY OF MR JARVIS is likely, after all, to have interest for anyone who remembers – or partially recalls – something about growing up in the second half of the 20th century… regardless of being male or female.