Friday, July 27, 2012
When I Fall in Love - hidden secrets, hidden lives...
This week I have given my first full interview about the story of When I Fall in Love, including a hint at the secret I want readers to discover. But how easy has it been to withhold this information?
The answer is, very!
As a writer I always want there to be aspects of the stories I write to be discovered by my readers as they are reading them. It's the reason I try not to read a lot of reviews of books before I read them: I think too many reviews today are actually full-blown synopses of the story rather than a reviewer's personal response to the experience of reading it. Part of the magic for me as a reader is to discover all the surprises, twists and turns of the narrative that the author has worked so hard to build into their story. As a writer, I want my readers to have the same experience.
When I Fall in Love, I have deliberately kept back a key detail of Elsie Maynard's life for you to discover in the story. It was a brave decision for me - and one which I agonised over a great deal as I wrote it. You may guess what it is before it is revealed - in which case, great - but essentially I wanted it to be something you learn about her. If I had revealed it at the beginning of the story (or written it in the blurb on the back of the book), I think it would have given Elsie a label she shouldn't have before any reader was able to get to know her. I really love Elsie's character: she's by no means a victim of her circumstances and has an immensely positive view of life, which when the key detail is revealed makes her even more remarkable, I think. Also, the way in which she reveals the secret is one of the scenes I'm proudest of in my entire writing career to date, and the thrill of the punch when it comes (especially considering who it's delivered to) was just too delicious to resist revealing it this way. I promise you, it'll be worth the wait!
What I wasn't expecting from this decision, however, was a problem it has presented me with in terms of talking about the story. Holding back this key detail about my main character has meant that I've had to be a bit more creative with how I tell people about my book - and it's been a little bit frustrating because I know so much more than I can say! It's definitely the deepest book I have written so far and has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. I think it's a real rollercoaster ride, with my motley crew of comic characters set against a touching, real storyline about moving on in life which I hope will resonate with my readers. It feels like a risk even more now that When I Fall in Love is on its way to be printed and we near 100 days to publication, but I'm taking a deep breath and trusting my gut instinct. I am confident that, when you read it, you will understand why I've kept back the secret about Elsie's former life - and love her even more for knowing it!