I've been trying to work out how to respond to recent events in the world and closer to home. I feel I should respond instead of simply being scared, which is how I felt last night. These are my thoughts...
I watched the news last night as MPs voted on Syrian air strikes and, like many people, I felt utterly devastated. Devastated that, once again, violence has been chosen to meet violence; fighting a war we haven't asked for for an unknown length of time with an unknown likelihood of victory. Whatever your views on the legality and rightful place of war against terrorism, it's difficult to watch events unfolding in the news with a great deal of optimism.
The overwhelming feeling I encountered following reactions I saw across social media was powerlessness. We have no power over organisations or individuals who walk into our workplaces, cities, neighbourhoods or social settings intent on taking lives. We have no power over our governments' responses - and certainly, it would seem, no power of influence over their actions. In a world so seemingly full of frightening things beyond our control, what can we do to make any kind of difference?
This is the conclusion I've come to: I am going to pursue HOPE, JOY and LOVE.
I can't change what happened in Paris, or Garissa, or anywhere else terrorists have targeted. But in my life, and in my actions that affect other people's lives, I can do something. I can pursue hope, joy and love. These are the things terrorists seek to target and destroy with fear. But the only way I can not allow them to win is to actively go after all the things they don't want me to have. So I intend to encourage and help people, celebrate life, choose positive words over negative, choose to be optimistic and most of all, do everything I can to not be scared of what might happen in this uncertain world.
It's a tiny personal stand from one life among a countless many. But I think it's the only way I'll feel I'm doing something to fight back in situations where I feel powerless. Peace lies in finding joy in terrifying times. I'd rather be doing something than just being scared. That's all.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
I hesitated about whether to post this or not. But having spoken to so many writers during this year, both through WriteFoxy and via Twitter, I think this is something that could help fellow writers to follow their hearts...
I had the initial idea for A Parcel for Anna Browne about four years ago. Like many ideas it sat sparkling away on the sidelines of the books I was writing, trying to distract me when I had deadlines and waking me up in the middle of the night to whisper in my ear. I loved the idea. I even wrote the first chapter to see what it might look like. But I didn't propose it to my agent or publisher for one simple reason: I didn't think I could write it yet.
Writing is about taking risks when you're facing The Fear.
You would think, after writing six Sunday Times Bestselling novels that have sold almost 1 million copies worldwide (eek!) I would be completely confident in my writing. This couldn't be further from the truth! Every year I ask myself if I'm up to the challenge of writing another book and telling the story I'm dreaming of in the way I want to tell it.
What I found really comforting is that when I spoke to my writer friends it turns out that all of them regularly do battle with what has become commonly known as The Fear. Writers I admire, whose words flow onto the page beautifully, who tell stories that amaze, thrill and inspire me, have all at some time during the writing process of their incredible books doubted their ability to do their idea justice. What made the difference between those ideas remaining in the wings and being brought onto the page wasn't confidence, but courage.
So, after four years of hesitation, I decided to go for it.
Writing A Parcel for Anna Browne has been one of the scariest and most exciting experiences of my writing career - and I am so proud of the result. Writing the book has taught me to follow my gut instinct and tell the stories I'm dreaming of telling. Where I've felt my vocabulary is lacking, or encountered obstacles I'm not sure how to overcome, I've held on to the inescapable feeling that Anna's story is one I want to write.
So, this is what I've learned: if the idea has come to you, then you have everything you need to tell it. All you need is the courage to begin.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
So, I finally have a cover for my seventh book, A Parcel for Anna Browne. And I'm thrilled with it! Ahem... drumroll, please... TA-DAAAAAAH! Pan Macmillan felt like the right time to write Anna Browne's story - and I'm really proud of the book. I firmly believe it's my best yet and I can't wait to share it with everyone! Exciting times, lovelies! xx
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out. This week, I have a real treat: welcoming one of my favourite authors, MATT DUNN, back for a chat.
Everyone should have a Matt Dunn shelf in their bookcase (or virtually on their e-reader). Quite simply, Matt is one of our funniest, most enjoyable romantic-comedy novelists, author of eight cracking novels including the much-loved A Day At The Office and his latest, What Might Have Been. So sit back, relax and enjoy this cracking interview with the man himself!
What interests you as a writer?
Relationships, primarily. And the words ‘what’ and ‘if’.
What inspired your latest book, What Might Have Been?
It’s a love triangle, and *shameful face* I was involved in one once. When I found out she had a(nother) boyfriend, even though I was crazy about her, I did what I thought was the decent thing and walked away. And a part of me (the novelist part of me, if my lovely wife is reading this) has always wondered (hypothetically, sweetheart, honest!) what might have been if I hadn’t.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Oh yes. At least, ever since I first laid eyes on Halle Berry.
Who would play Evan and Sarah in the film version of What Might Have Been?
What do you love about writing romantic comedy?
The romance, and, er, the comedy. There’s something about crafting a good one-liner, or creating a funny scene, or writing about the awkwardness of relationships and the incompatibility of the sexes that’s hard to beat. And true love NEVER goes smoothly, of course, so there’s a lot of material out there.
Have you ever encountered prejudice being a male writer in what is often (wrongly) assumed to be a “female genre”?
Not at all, and in fact, I’ve been told by a few of my female readers that they like the male point-of-view I bring to the genre. In a crowded industry where it’s hard to stand out whatever you’re writing, I think it’s actually an advantage to be in the minority. Besides, there are a lot of male writers (Mike Gayle, David Nicholls, Jon Rance, Neal Doran, Nick Spalding, Graeme Simsion etc.) writing romantic comedy nowadays, so we’re not such a minority anymore!
Which part of the writing and publishing process do you like best?
When the royalties come in! Apart from that, I actually quite like the editing. For me, that’s where a book really comes together – especially when you can rework a scene and make it funnier, or give it some extra poignancy. Though there’s a downside to that too – there’s an old maxim that says something like ‘you never actually finish writing a book, you just decide to stop working on it’ – and usually that’s not our decision, but down to publishing deadlines (or to put it another way, our editors shouting ‘where’s the book?’ at us). If we didn’t have them, I’d still probably be tinkering with my first novel, not writing my ninth!
And which is the worst?
Sitting alone in front of your laptop, trembling softly, staring desperately at the ominously terrifying desolation of the blank page in front of you, while trying to ignore the deadline looming ominously into view...
If the X-Factor voiceover guy was to announce you, what would he say?
@mattdunnwrites) says something along the lines of ‘award-losing rom-com novelist’. That’ll probably still be the case when they’re writing my obituary, so I’ll go with that.
What are you working on now - and what would your dream writing project be?
I’m working on two things at the moment: One (which is my dream writing project) is the screenplay for my second novel, The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, which I’m collaborating on with a real director (i.e. he’s already made several proper films which have been shown in cinemas and everything, and with the likes of Keira Nightly (sorry – Freudian slip – I meant Knightley) in them). I’m also writing my ninth novel - it’s called Home, and it’s about someone returning home to the jaded seaside town he spent the first eighteen years of his life desperate to escape from.
Coffee and Roses! For a limited time, Matt's brilliant book, A Day At The Office, is only £1 on Kindle. You can read his guest post for Coffee and Roses about the book HERE.