Focus on the Author: Morton S Gray

I’m breaking away from the norm on my blog today. Usually I write about my writing experiences but today, I’m interviewing another author about hers. So, dear reader, perhaps I’m up for learning something new too!

I would like to introduce you all to Morton S Gray, fellow Choc Lit author, who recently had her debut novel, Girl on the Beach, published in eBook form:

Good morning Morton and welcome to my blog. First of all, congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Girl on the Beach, which is flying high in Romantic Suspense on both Amazon and Kobo.   

 

To kick off the interview can I ask you to tell us a little about yourself?

I live with my husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K.

I’ve been reading and writing fiction for as long as I can remember, penning my first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. As with many authors, life got in the way of writing for many years until I won a short story competition in 2006 and the spark was well and truly reignited.

I studied creative writing with the Open College of the Arts and joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) New Writers’ Scheme in 2012. I am member of the RNA and The Society of Authors.

After shortlisting in several first chapter competitions, I won The Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition in 2016 with my novel The Girl on the Beach. This debut novel was published on 24 January 2017. The story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s headteacher, Harry Dixon.

Previous ‘incarnations’ were in committee services, staff development and training. I have a Business Studies degree and am a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. I also have diplomas in Tuina Acupressure Massage and Energy Field Therapy.

I love crafts, history and tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind my books.

 

When did your writing journey begin and what was the trigger?

I would say that there have been two crucial phases to my writing journey. The first was at infants’ school. I could already read by the time I went to school and loved stories thanks to my mother reading loads of them to me. We also went to the library as a family every Saturday morning. I enjoyed writing stories which emulated my favourite author Enid Blyton, so my early work was peppered with gold ingots, big brothers and caves. I wrote a novel when I was fourteen and let my best friend read it – I still have that somewhere. I studied English up until O-Level, but chose other subjects for my A-Levels, degree and professional qualifications.

Life got in the way for many years and then in 2006 I entered a short story competition on a whim and won! It started me wondering if I could write something longer. I enrolled on an Open College of the Arts Creative Writing course and got hooked. I also began to do the annual NaNoWriMo writing challenge to write 50,000 words in November, last year was my seventh year of doing this. I started entering competitions, mainly for first chapters and began to get shortlisted. In 2016, I won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition that resulted in my debut novel The Girl on the Beach being published this year.

 

Who are your favourite authors and did any of them inspire you?

I’ve already mentioned Enid Blyton above. I have lots of favourite authors and love their work for different reasons. Sue Moorcroft inspired me to write romance with her book Starting Over. Other favourites are Pamela Belle, Anya Seyton, Barbara Erskine, Linda Gillard, Jane Austen, JoJo Moyes and a newly discovered favourite, LJ Ross.

All of the above and many more I haven’t mentioned inspire me to write. I think you need to pen books that mean something to you, so that you can write from the heart.

 

Like myself, your journey to publication has been coupled with raising children. What are your top tips for aspiring writers trying to juggle writing time with the demands of bringing up children and the school run?

Good question! Top tips for aspiring writers … hmm …

I use the school run as a frame for my writing. I’m lucky not to have to work outside the home now, as I did with my first son. Several mornings a week I go straight from dropping my son to a café and write, or plan blogs or publicity. This stops me returning home and immediately getting embroiled in washing, tidying, etc.

Allow yourself time to write. It might be that you get up earlier, go to bed later or set aside an hour each day, but do it. Motherhood is a ticket to guilt anyway and it is so easy to put yourself last, even to the dog! Your children will be better off if you indulge your writing, because not to do so can often lead to frustration and irritation.

Find something you can allow the children to do something they enjoy while you write, be it watching a television programme or playing a computer game. If they are interested in what they are doing they will let you write.

Inevitably you will get interruptions with children around, so perfect the art of writing in quick bursts. Use spider diagrams to capture thoughts about your plot. I’m known for writing on the inside of toilet roll tubes – the loo is often the only place for some peace, although even that isn’t always sacrosanct!

Try making homework time a family affair. Sit at the table together – you scribble in a notebook while they do their homework. Again, there are likely to be interruptions so use your spider diagrams.

And onto your novel. Girl on the Beach is set in the fiction seaside town of Borteen where artist and gallery owner, Ellie Golden, has settled with her teenage son, Tom, having escaped a brutal marriage to her ex-husband, Rushton, now serving a prison sentence. The novel opens with Ellie co-judging an art competition at Borteen High, where Tom is a pupil, with the soon-to-be new Headmaster, Harry Dixon. Harry seems ever so familiar to Ellie but as someone else, a dead someone else; Ben Rivers, her teenage crush. So, who is Harry Dixon? Can he remember Ellie? Do they still have feelings for each other and what will happen when Rushton is released from prison?

 

I am sure you have been asked this 100 times, but where did the inspiration for Girl on the Beach come from? 

If you write, you will recognise that inspiration strikes in the most unlikely places, as if the cogs of your mind suddenly slot into place and often with no respect for where you are or what you are doing. I found this happening on one occasion when we were zooming down the motorway (husband driving). I frantically searched my handbag and I found a pen but, very unusually no notebook. A rummage in the side pocket of the car produced an envelope and I scribbled down what became the plot and first chapter of my novel on that in tiny writing.

The inspiration was the coming together of two newspaper articles I had read, one I won’t tell you about as it gives away too much plot, but the other was about mentoring teenagers and what a difference it can make to their school work. The other strand was my friend, who has an art gallery at Bevere in Worcestershire, running an art competition at my son’s school. Suddenly, in my mind, I was standing in the school hall and meeting a man who looked very familiar. I wrote the question on my opened-out envelope – Who is Harry Dixon?

 

Choc Lit are renowned for their hot, strong heroes and Harry Dixon does not disappoint. Where did the inspiration for Harry come from? 

You will laugh when I tell you. I was throwing away one of those annoying clothing catalogues that seem to be sent through the post without you asking for them. On the back of this one was a model who I used as the basis to describe Harry Dixon. 

 

The novel is well crafted at weaving in little details, to raise the reader’s curiosity and build up suspense; it’s well-paced with twists and turns. For anyone attempting to write Romantic Suspense, do you have any tips of how to plot out suspense to keep the reader reading on?

I think it is vital to layer in little clues as you go through the book and also to finish chapters on a cliff hanger or hook. Spider diagrams are vital to me for thinking up the strands that make up the story. My books tend to pivot on the back story of the characters. Things in the past will greatly influence the way they react in the present and how they have got to the point at which we meet them in the story. So, I suppose the biggest tip is to understand your characters, what motivates them and what makes them tick.

 

Finally, for those in love with Harry Dixon; are we going to be able to read more of him in the future?

Lol. I am definitely writing more about my fictional seaside town of Borteen and some of the characters you have already met in The Girl on the Beach. I don’t discount following up Ellie and Harry’s story at some point.

Thank you very much, Morton, for your time and I wish you every success with the novel.

The Girl on the Beach is available in eBook at the following outlets:

 Choc Lit – http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/the-girl-on-the-beach/

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

iBooks

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Google play

Contact Links for Morton S. Gray

Website – www.mortonsgray.com

Twitter – @MortonSGray

Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author – https://www.facebook.com/mortonsgray/

Blurb For “The Girl on the Beach” by Morton S. Gray

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

Resolving to just be resolute

When I was 19 and nearing the end of secretarial college – eager to enter the big, wide working world – my father helped me write my first CV.  It had a mini-biography under my name which began something along the lines of, as a creative individual, with natural flair, curiosity and initiative….  I used that biog for years.  It wasn’t until recently that I’ve considered what my Dad was really saying; arty, confident and nosey.  Obviously, he meant it in a nice way and my husband would be the first to concede I am nosey but, personally, I like consider it to be observant.  As a writer, I do think it’s important to be observant.  How else do you come up with believable characters if you don’t constantly dip in and out of people’s behaviour; what motivates them?  In a way, I think ‘naturally curious’ sums it up perfectly and it makes me realise that from a young age my Dad really did know me.  He knew I was creative and he felt it important enough to mention on my CV when I was applying for boring PA jobs in equally dull and depressing offices.  Perhaps he knew my creativity would shine through one day, which brings me onto the consistent piece of advice he proffered throughout life.  ‘Whatever you do,’ he used to say, ‘I can’t ask more than if you try your best’.  It has always been good advice which has stood me in good stead and has brought me to the conclusion that I am giving up on New Years’ resolutions because I feel I can confidently say that I always try my best.

nyr

 

Last year, I posted this photo on social media, depicting my resolutions for 2016:

 

 

 

Well, I have achieved them all.  We now regularly eat meals made from leftovers (turkey curry last night), we still (and it’s a very tentative still) have a puppy, nearly an adult dog now (thank goodness!) and as much as I love him, I will NEVER raise a puppy again, and the biggest achievement of all was to finally achieve a publishing contract.  Of course, I still have to wait to be published and receive the reviews, but I think it goes to show that trying your best really does pay off.

And so, next year, I am going to embrace doing what I’ve always done; trying my best.  In September I gave myself the goal of losing a stone before Christmas and by Christmas Eve I’d lost 13lb.  Not the full ticket but a jolly good show.  I know I need to read more, I know I need create more writing time; give my OCD a rest and leave that pile of ironing because I should be writing at least 1,000 words a day.  I know I need to spend less time scrolling through Facebook and spend more time playing with my children because in a blink of an eye they will be adults and flown from my nest.  I don’t need to set a New Years’ resolution to do any of these things though; I just need to be more disciplined.

With that in mind, I am laying down the gauntlet to myself.  I have had thrown at me a lot this year that it’s okay for you.  I am not about to go into the context of this throw-away comment but it has made me question (yes, there’s that natural curiosity again), people’s motives for saying such a flippant and, frankly, sometimes hurtful quip and I have come to the conclusion that it is not okay to say it.  None of us know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  What is an easy challenge to one individual may be an extremely hard challenge to another.  With that in mind, we must always be kind.  So – and this isn’t a NY resolution! – I am going to run a half-marathon in 2017, to raise money for my friend Emma.  Not many people can say that their friendship bloomed over a burst cyst on their ovary but in my case that is exactly what happened.  We were ward buddies in hospital when said cyst decided to explode and although my gynaecological issues have thankfully resolved themselves for the time being, Emma’s sadly haven’t.  She has Ovarian Remnant Syndrome and is currently in hospital as I type.  So rare is this condition, where an ovary she had removed has regrown, that there are no surgeons in the UK capable of carrying out an operation to remove the reformed ovary.  She needs to be flown to the states to have the procedure carried out, something at this moment in time that the NHS won’t fund.  You can read more about Emma’s plight here.  Now, I don’t consider myself to be unfit but on the other hand, I’ve never ran that far before!  But by stating it here, there’s no going back.  So, expect me to be pestering you for donations, very soon 🙂

I had originally planned to begin this blog with like many, I suspect, I will be glad to see the back to 2016.  I had, for many years, anticipated losing my Dad at a young age and thirty-six was pretty good in the end.   However prepared I thought I was for coping with the loss of a father realistically old enough to be my grandfather, the reality was an entirely different experience; a very bittersweet one.  Although, the one advantage of having a father so many generations removed from my own was his wisdom.  He was often fond of drawing a negative experience into a positive one and telling me to look on the bright side.  If I can gain anything positive from 2016, it is to expect the unexpected; you can’t prepare yourself any more than that.

I feel like I have become a proper grown-up this year.  I am now without one parent and although I have been a parent for almost 14 years, I feel like my childhood is ebbing away.  So many famous people have passed this year; Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood, George Michael, Alan Rickman, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Caroline Aherne Carrie Fisher, to name but a few.  I didn’t know any of them personally, but so many played a significant part in my formative years that I can’t help but feel that a door is slowly closing on part of my life.  And that is the one thing I am very sad about on this New Years’ Eve 2016; it is the last day I can use the present tense.  My dad died this year.  It feels like a final goodbye.  From tomorrow it will be ‘last year’, the past tense; old news.  As I have already said, however, if I have learnt anything this year it is to expect the unexpected and adapt.  So, if like me, you are keen to give up New Years’ Resolutions too, I leave you with the words of JK Rowling, who I think sums it up pretty well:

hagrid

I hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017

Love Lx

An Interview with Jilly Cooper

That sounds like a rather grand title, doesn’t it?  For clarification it wasn’t me actually interviewing the wondrous Jilly but the lovely Claire Balding and with her background in racehorses and television (not to mention recently publishing her children’s book) she was definitely more qualified than me.  It was at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Saturday and I had really gone along for pure indulgence, however, within five minutes of listening to the talk, I found myself whipping out my notebook and scribbling down much of Jilly’s wisdom which she had chosen to impart as a writer.  And, having found the interview so interesting, it really only seemed fair to share some of that wisdom with my fellow writers.

To give you some background into the significance of Jilly Cooper and her writing to me begins in my childhood.  I grew up in Bussage, the neighbouring village to Bisley, where Jilly lives.  This was in the 80s when ridersher novels were big news and every home in our village had a copy of that cheeky hand on a bottom with a riding crop on their coffee table.  In fact, my mother and her friends must have discussed the plot at length because until I was about fifteen, I genuinely believed that Rupert Campbell-Black was some lothario who lived Chalford, our other neighbouring village.  And it wasn’t until I was in my teens and started reading Jilly’s novels that I realised exactly who she was; a best-selling, bonk buster, author.  As a child, she was Mrs Cooper to me, the lady my dad liked to stop and talk to over the garden wall when we took our neighbours little Jack Russell, Wilma, for a walk.

Having set one of my novels in the racing world, I was interested to hear Jilly’s take on everything horsey.  She didn’t disappoint.  Which was her first tip really, the significance of research.  Her latest novel, Mount, is set in the world of flat racing.  Rupert Campbell-Black is now a horse trainer and in order to make her setting authentic, Jilly visited many training yards and met lots of horse trainers.  She even went to a dinner gala hosted by the Racing Post and ended up winning a trip to the Dubai Gold Cup to take her research even further.  Which makes me all the more determined to become as successful an author as Jilly as my research for Fall for Grace was far less glamourous.  She had some interesting facts too; horses breed (called covering) from February until June and the most successful horses can reach up to £150,000 per shag!  She even had funny stories about horses not being able to perform unless the vet was present which brings about the attention to detail she feels a writer should put into their novel.  She found that most trainers are quite immoral, that they are dealers first and foremost and that a win for a horse trained by a yard brings great relief to the trainer as he can then afford to pay his staff and running costs.  All important facts if you want to authenticate the suspense happening in this setting.

Claire was very disappointed – spoiler alert – that Jilly kills Billy Lloyd-Foxe off in her latest novel but Jilly feels that this is all part of being a storyteller; you have to kill characters off because people die in real life and the writer is merely reflecting real life.  The story allows Rupert to deal with his grief, even phoning Billy’s mobile just so he can speak to him; a way perhaps of humanising the loveable rogue that is Rupert CB.  When asked whether she likes RCB, Jilly said that she loves him because he is foul and that we can all be foul and this gives her the opportunity to vent all her frustrations through him.  She says that at almost eighty, she is terribly politically incorrect and that RCB is a great opportunity to unleash some of her incorrectness on society.

Jilly still uses her typewriter and her idea of cut and paste is to cut out paragraphs she’s typed and stick them together with the help of her PA.  When asked whether she invented the bonk buster she said that it wasn’t her intention – and they are referred to as shagfests these days – but she does feel that sex scenes are immensely important in romance novels.  Like dying, sex is another normal part of life and by showing your characters love each other you manifest their qualities, their characteristics by showing them in bed with each other.  Which actually made sense to me and, I hope, will aid me in my next writing sex scene (because I still feel a bit awkward about writing them!).

All-in-all an exceptionally entertaining hour of my time and all for £12.  If you are in the vicinity Cheltenham Literature Festival is on until Sunday 16th October and is well worth a visit.

Lx

House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey

Full of suspense and mystery yet sexy and heart-warming;  Lady Chatterley’s Lover meets Sleeping with the Enemy!

When widow Madeleine Frost realises just what a threat her new partner, House of Secrets ImageO’Grady, is to herself and her three-year old daughter Poppy (plus their Springer Spaniel puppy Buddy) she knows she needs to get away from him.  But where to go?  Her mother has recently passed away, sister Jess’ one bedroom flat is too small so with little other option Maddie finds herself knocking at the door of her estranged father, Morris Pocklington.  Recently widowed Morris welcomes his daughter with open arms, even if he is a little confused having received a letter from Maddie around the time his wife, Josie, passed away stating that Maddie never wanted anything to do with him again.  Still, that doesn’t matter to Morris when he’s lonely and in need of help running his hotel, Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire.  Maddie, Poppy and Buddy settle quickly into the hotel and before long are getting to know its residents including the rugged game keeper, Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless; an ex-marine who grew up on the estate.  When Maddie discovers an old diary belonging to a past resident during the second world war both Maddie and Bandit are intrigued.  Immersing themselves in Emily Ennis’ love story with her sweetheart Eddie brings Maddie and Bandit closer together.  But Liam isn’t finished with Maddie yet.  He considers her to be his and will stop at nothing to have her.  Literally nothing.

When I began this novel I had no idea what a rollercoaster of a ride it was going to take me on.  At first I thought it was going to be a contemporary romance, then I realised there was the welcome addition of a time slip and finally I realised there was a suspense developing too, encouraging me to turn the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen next.  For a debut novel Lynda Stacey has set the bar high.  Her illustrious writing builds a clear picture of not only the beautiful setting of House of Secrets but also her characters.  Liam has a manipulative, manic edge to his character which is cleverly written and not two-dimensional; you begin to understand this anti-hero, not forgive him but comprehend him.  And Bandit, ohhh, Bandit.  If you are fond of physically strong, sexy, assertive heroes then you won’t be disappointed!

I would personally like to commend Lynda too.  I lost out to her in the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition and I can see why.  Her writing is compelling, her setting and characters are believable and she has cleverly weaved both suspense and a time slip story into a compelling, romantic read.    Congratulations Lynda!

Lx

My time to shine…

It is my pleasure to inform you (with my chest bursting with pride) that I am the latest winner of Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition!  I’ve got a publishing contract, I’m going to be an author, I’ve been bouncing off the walls like Tigger these past few days; whoop, whoop, whoop!

I am so over the moon and I would just like to pass my congratulations on to all the other finalists; you are all stars in my eyes.  I was lucky enough to meet Sue at conference and know both her and Jackie are fellow Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme members and I just know it won’t be long until they are published.

For those of you who know me, you will know I’ve been on this writing journey for quite a while now.  Almost eight years to be precise!  I have been a RNA NWS member for six of those years and I can’t thank this supportive scheme enough for helping get where I needed to go.

And this is where it all began…

The original property details still on my notice board 4 years later; it went on the market again recently!
The original property details still on my notice board 4 years later; it went on the market again recently!

Great Norwood Street in Cheltenham.  I love this house, it stands out from all the other Regency townhouses with its Cotswold stone bare wall end standing almost in defiance to the rendering of the rest of the row.  About four years ago, when I was still an estate agent, I held an open house there.  While prospective purchasers dipped in and out of rooms, discussing whether their sofa would fit up the staircase, I stood in the first floor drawing room wondering who would live in a house like this (no Through the Keyhole pun intended).  A strong image came to mind of a very glamourous, elderly lady and I could see the story stretching out in front of me.  I imagined the house full of mothers and children but one girl, in particular, who couldn’t have children, tormented by being surrounded by them.  Then, remembering the back lane to the property is called Casino Place, I just knew that this lady would be a gambler, love horse racing and so Fall for Grace was born.  You’ll have to wait a little longer to find out how that all comes together though 🙂

I am sure that I should wait until I have a published book to dedicate my ‘thank yous’ but I couldn’t have got this far without a few certain people, so here goes…

I would like to thank Julie Cohen for her advice on taking myself out of my novel and to always ask myself WHY??!!  Alison May for ALWAYS being supportive and a shoulder to cry on when receiving rejections.  Kate Johnson for all her inspirational hero discussions. My NWS reader who gave me such a positive review of my partial manuscript last year and really spurred me on.  My parents for investing in my writing career and funding all the expensive writing retreats and conferences (not to mention babysitting!) and, finally, my hero, husband and best friend, Matt, for helping me realise true love really does exist.

It’s scary to think I nearly didn’t enter this competition.  I didn’t think I would make the deadline.  But regular readers of my blog will know my Dad became terminally ill at the beginning of this year which gave me lots of time to fill whilst looking after him when Mum had to pop out.  I am so glad something positive has come out of such a desperately sad situation.  I am very sad he is not here to tell but I know he would have been so incredibly proud to find my dream has come true ❤

We’re all kids chasing butterflies… a tribute to Carla Lane

Butterflies is notorious in Cheltenham. Mention it to anyone of my Mother’s generation and they will tell you their own personal tale. My Mother’s is that she used to watch the dashing Nicholas Lyndhurst filming in Pittville Park whilst she pushed me around in my pram. I have many. I know two families which have owned ‘the Butterflies house’. I had my first kiss in Hatherley Park where Ria used to have clandestine meetings with Leonard. Still high up on my bucket list is to own an original red Mini Cooper with an Union Jack on the roof and bonnet. But what I never realised was that through this sitcom, which I loved so much, set in my home town was that Carla Lane was teaching a valuable lesson to women, one I unfortunately had to learn for myself.
Being of a younger generation, I didn’t discover Lane’s sitcoms in chronological order. My first encounter was Bread when I was around 7 or 8. I was too young to take any meaning from this sitcom which very much represented the political landscape of the time (cue Joey Boswell and his hilariously weighted arguments with the lady at the DSS) but I do remember my love for Adrian and his artistic flair and Nelly Boswell, the matriarch and the cog helping everything to turn. She reminded me of my Nan and that need for a matriarch in families is something which has resonated in me and my writing. It is most probably, as an only child, why I felt such a great need to have a large family myself. 

I discovered Butterflies at 11, but I will come back to my love for that, and The Liver Birds I discovered at 16 when Britain was in the grip of Brit Pop and a 60s revival. I loved the Liver Birds for its fashion, its feminist independence and a character I could identify with in Nerys Hughes’ Sandra; bewildered about boys and sex. My Mother was of that generation and she was definitely of Sandra’s ilk. She wasn’t ready for me to have a boyfriend, she was dreading it and what I recognised in Lane’s writing, which she co-wrote with Myra Taylor was all that fear, all that prudishness. But life had moved on. It was the late 90s, some nearly 30 years since the Liver Birds had originally aired and Britain was much more relaxed and open minded than my Mother’s generation who would have been where it was frowned upon to leave home without a house and a husband to go to. I can remember looking to Beryl’s character for inspiration of attitude, to find my own way.

Which leads me back to butterflies and more specifically, Ria Parkinson. She is probably my favourite female sitcom character of all time. As a teenager I used to watch repeats of Butterflies and get completely caught up in it. I have always been a daydreamer and it was the first time I recall a character having an inner-monologue. Thinking about what she wanted to do, about her life, whilst getting on with all the day-to-day mundanity. The shopping, cooking the dinner (one way I do differ, I like to think I’m a better cook than Ria!), filling the car with petrol. Carla Lane was giving the teenage me a message, one I chose to ignore; don’t get caught in a trap. So, what did I do? Exactly that. I listened to a Woman’s Hour interview with Carla Lane last week which was recorded ten years ago, when her autobiography ‘Someday I’ll find me’ was published. She spoke of writing Butterflies, on the verge of an affair at the time she began writing it. She said that she honestly wasn’t thinking about her potential adultery at the time she wrote the first series but she did say, ‘Ria was trapped in a marriage which was right and proper but not right for her.’ That was me in my first marriage. It was exactly how I felt. And yet, I couldn’t really identify that unhappiness Carla Lane was portraying until I was in the same situation myself.

Which is why Carla Lane was an exceptional writer, one I can only aspire to one day finally be like. She took everyday life and made it personal to the viewer. Equally as important, she made it funny. She said she had identified early in her career that she had a sense of humour and that she had to use it. That those that have one and don’t find a channel for it are wasting it. I like to think I have a sense of humour. When I wrote Dad’s eulogy I wanted people to laugh. They did and applauded at the end. If that was a test to the standard to my writing, to get people to laugh in the face of death, then hopefully I passed. And if my writing & female characters are even a tenth as memorable as Carla Lane’s, then I know I’m heading in the right direction. 

For Spooks & Ghouls & Freaks & Fools… call Rent-a-Ghost

As a child of the seventies, you didn’t expect me to call this post anything else, did you?

Well, I can now call myself Miss Popov because I have become a ghost writer.  It’s my first paid, regular writing job and it combines my love of writing with my other passion; property.  I was approached by a local estate agent to write a regular blog for them and I am pleased to report it’s Miss Popovgoing very well (even with my rusty property knowledge).  They have received positive feedback and they liked me so much they asked me to revamp their Rightmove pages too.

It did, however, put me in a compromising situation.  I’ve always felt that being a ghost writer was a violation of one’s artistic licence.  Allowing someone to put their name to your craft just isn’t something which has ever sat easily with me.  I conjure up an image of Kate Price in my mind at one of her glamourous book launches, with me sitting at home on the sofa, watching her through the TV and pitying the poor sod who wrote the book and gets none of the credit. 

But then I got to thinking, maybe the ghost writer doesn’t feel like this?  Maybe they’re just happy to be earning a crust and aren’t bothered by the fact that their name doesn’t appear as the author?  About the time I agreed to be a ghost writer for said estate agent, Abbey Clancy launched her new Mills & Boon novel, Remember by Name.  She’s openly stated that she hasn’t written it herself but that it’s written by a ghost writer from Liverpool.  Clancy brainstormed and worked with the writer to get the novel how she wanted it. 

And I would be lying if I said it wasn’t about the money, after all, paid writing is income whether my name is on it or not.  So with that in mind, I’m laying down the gauntlet.  I’ve got a novel which keeps making it past the first post with publishers then rejected by senior editors, it even came on the shortlist final for Choc Lit’s Search for a Start competition.  It’s set within a family estate agents, it’s big on property along the lines of Location, Location, Location.  Perhaps Kirstie Allsopp, Amanda Lamb or Lucy Alexander might like to put their names to it?  I’m quite happy to brainstorm with them, meddle with it, come up with a new plot altogether….

Just an idea 😉  

Lx