Worthing was the setting for the UK Southern Book Show on Sunday October 28th – and it was a good day for making contacts with a lot of other writers and readers.
For me, the highlight was delivering a talk on aspects of writing.
I managed to cover: sources of creativity, exploiting memory for writing, characterisation and techniques of flash fiction – by going at a break-neck speed and with the support of a lot of hand-outs so that, hopefully, the audience members had something to remind them and to look back on once they left the room, a little dazed by the amount we had covered in 60 minutes!
Crime and mystery genres certainly seemed to be well represented, judging by the books on sale.
I envy such genre writers – they can define clearly what they write. When people ask me, ‘what sort of novels do you write?’ I find it hard to be concise and tend to ramble on about ‘family, relationships, that type of thing.’ Then I’m inevitably asked, ‘oh, so romance?’ And my answer of ‘no, absolutely not,’ somehow feels awkward as if I am denigrating that genre.
But I don’t write romance. Yet I write about love. And as soon as the word ‘love’ is mentioned, there is an assumption that it must be ‘romance.’
But how can a novelist write anything that touches on families and relationships without writing about love?
In a review of my second novel, COUNTING THE WAYS, L. H. Anderson, author of THE LILY YEAR, has written a wonderful explication of the part love plays in it:
‘This book made me think. It made me feel. It’s a book about love, love found and love lost, dissected and teased out with agonising precision, pared down to the bone with a delicacy and lightness of touch that belies its serious treatment of serious themes.’
I think I should learn her definition off by heart so that I can reply with it when people ask me, at book fairs like the one last Sunday, ‘So what is your book about?’
Not exactly a one-word genre explanation, but far closer to the essence of my novel than I was managing last week!