The new novel’s now available on Amazon in a paperback version, and will be in independent bookshops around the end of this month.
Don’t know about you, but no matter how much I love the convenience of ebooks, nothing beats the feel of a traditional book in the hand!!
Many thanks to Leigh Anne Aston for formatting the interior, and to Jessica Bell for the cover design. Thanks also to my editor, Helen Sedgwick, and my amazing beta reader Lin White, who also formatted the Kindle version.
Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to open a secret channel to understand a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week it’s my turn, and I’m talking about the music behind My Memories of a Future Life . And below you have a chance to win a very special version of the print edition….
Begin, like my narrator Carol, lying on a floor trying to think of nothing. Her brain’s like a searching radio, snatching music out of the smallest sound, or the footsteps of the yoga teacher walking around her.
At least one of the main characters in each of my novels is obsessed by swans – our resident, native Mute Swans rather than anything more exotic. Their obsession mirrors my own. One of my earliest memories – I must have been three or four at the time – is seeing a swan fly into power lines and break its neck, while I was out walking with my mother close to Glasgow’s River Kelvin (in those days, the river was so polluted you could smell it from quite a distance away). A passer-by who clearly knew how to handle swans retrieved the bird from the roadway where it had fallen, but there was nothing he could do for it. I’ve never forgotten the incident, and it’s left me with a passion for these serene, graceful birds.
Close to where we live now there’s a disused millpond; it’s badly silted up, but it’s regularly visited turn about by a pair of adult Mute Swans (they built a nest last year, but didn’t breed) and another pair which seems to breed very prolifically (seven cygnets in 2013, four last year), but which only brings the family to the mill-pond once the cygnets are well-grown.
The sad news is that, in the last few days a single adult swan has turned up. There’s no way of knowing if it’s from one of the usual pairs, because as far as I’ve seen, none of them is ringed. Although it’s a myth that swans mate for life and never split up (see this excellent website: http://www.northwestswanstudy.org.uk ), I can’t help feeling anxious as to why this one’s on his/her own.
According to the RSPB website, flying into power lines is still one of the most common causes of premature death in Mute Swans, now that lead poisoning courtesy of anglers has declined drastically. The British Trust for Ornithology has some fascinating statistics about these birds: the oldest recorded swan reached the age of 28, although a more typical life-span is ten years. There are over 6,000 pairs in the UK, and their numbers have been increasing since the use of lead fishing weights was banned. (See http://blx1.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob1520.htm#demography). For an interesting – if somewhat depressing – study of swans in a typical built-up area, read this: http://www.berksbirds.co.uk/articles/muteswanmortality.asp.
I just hope that our resident single swan finds a pal quickly – he/she (it’s difficult to tell the sexes apart, specially when there’s only one – the male is a little larger) has a handful of mallard ducks for company, but I’m sure it’s not the same.
Over the past week, I’ve been running a click-based ad campaign on Goodreads.
I also spent time answering the sample questions which Goodreads suggests for the author page. All of them amount to the same bottom line: why/how do you write? – and for independently-published authors, I’m rapidly realising that the answers should NEVER include the words ‘money’ or ‘fame’ or even ‘notoriety’, because if you use software such as Kindle Spy, you’ll know that many (most?) of us are not too dissimilar to those scientists who spend their time sending messages into outer space……
Which set me to thinking: why the heck DO I bother? I have a friend who has written several books and never tried to get a single one published. She seems happy with that, so am I crazy to have spent money on editors, cover designer, etc etc? I don’t feel I am, because the reason I bother is that the characters in my books get a grasp on my mind that I can’t shake off. If I didn’t do my best to give them a voice, and hope that even a few other people would love them as much as I do, I’d be doing them a disservice.
I leave it to others to write because they have devised marvellous & intricate plots. For me, the whole reason to write is all about the characters. Not that I’m proud to be a ‘pantser’ rather than a ‘plotter’, and I must own up to having read Martha Alderson’s ‘Plot Whisperer’ recently, and to having several metres of lining paper complete with a ‘plot line’, and adorned with coloured post-its on the wall of the writing hut, as novel #4 moves along…
I’d have liked to see a lot of those views on Goodreads translate into people reading my books, but hey, you can lead a horse to water, etc etc. I certainly don’t regret any of the time, effort & money I’ve expended on making The Balvaig Trilogy every bit as good as I can make it.
It’s a distillation of several islands of the Hebrides – including Arran, which I’d count as the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides. I know exactly where it’s placed on my mental map of the Hebrides. Its closest neighbours are Coll and Tiree.
The village of Balvaig is a blend of many Island and west coast mainland viillages I’ve known over the years.
My late step-father (who was not only the most amazing man I’ve ever met, but also a blood relative – he was my grandmother’s first cousin; he and my mother didn’t marry until both were in advanced years) was a highly-regarded figure in the Scotch whisky distilling industry. He always maintained that a good blend is better than a poor single malt. So I like to think of Soma and Balvaig as being good blends!