Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Not sexy enough for you, Daily Mail?

Well, according to Danuta Kean, Fairytale of New York 'offers little escape from the drudgery of real life'...

That's funny. I thought it offered hope.

Apparently, Rosie my protagonist shouldn't still be nursing a broken heart six years after the event: 'Now, don’t get me wrong, there is not a woman alive who hasn’t mourned the passing of a relationship. But please, six years after being dumped? After two, I’d be calling in specialist help.' Well, clearly Ms. Kean has been fortunate enough never to have had the kind of relationship that crushes your self-confidence. But plenty of women have - and I have received countless letters from readers who say reading how Rosie faces the man from her past has given them hope for the future.

And that's the point: Rosie faces her biggest fear head-on and emerges strong, dignified and triumphant.

Rosie is a successful businesswoman, who loves her adopted city of New York and her close friends. Her life is great, she has worked hard to achieve success despite the fact that the secret from her past six years before threatened everything she knew. But instead of dashing home with her tail between her legs, she chose to stay in America and got on with her life. I don't see that as 'drudgery' - I see that as a brave young woman making a success of her life.

Has she even read my book? Or just read the blurb on the back?

She also singles out Lucy Dillon's brilliant Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts for her 'helpful' advice - completely crazy as the book is packed full of hope, humour, wit and originality. If you haven't got a copy of the book that deservedly scooped the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award this year, then you need to treat yourself!

Now, I'm not saying that everyone is going to love the kind of romantic comedies that Lucy Dillon and I write. It's absolutely the reader's right to like and dislike whatever they choose. Diversity in publishing is what makes this industry so unique and special and I would defend a reader's right to choose to the end of all. But simply attacking a style of writing that is popular - and loved by millions of readers - is, quite frankly, a cheap shot.

Ms. Kean says she wants strong female characters who don't need men, but then goes on to praise the masculine 'manly Rhett Butler' males who lord it over their women, expect them to swoon over them and never reveal their true feelings. So we have to have women who don't need men who swoon over men that 'treat them mean to keep them keen'? I don't see how the two are mutually compatible. I don't want one-dimensional male characters. They bore me. I want real men who aren't perfect but who are interesting, witty and sexy. They don't have to reveal their feelings constantly, but they need to be honest about themselves - that's not a weak quality, it actually shows real strength. The male characters in my book are largely based on my male friends, all of whom occasionally talk about what they're feeling but all of whom are undeniably masculine and very heterosexual. The notion that men who open up aren't sexy is plain silly. My gorgeous boyfriend is open, honest, very masculine and sexy as hell!

I think the problem lies in whether you want a sledgehammer approach to fiction or prefer something a bit more subtle - gentler, lighter even, but still as interesting and absorbing as any good book should be. Most of all, subtle, warm, engaging stories of love are romantic. For me it's about the suggestion, the 'will-they-won't-they' journey through a book, that makes it truly romantic. Look at Sleepless in Seattle - the two leads only meet at the end, but after the build up of the story, one touch of their hands is, to quote the film, 'magic'. That's what makes a story romantic for me - real people, making real mistakes, having real lives and still finding a happy ending.

So I'm sorry if that doesn't do it for you, Daily Mail. But for me and the lovely people who read - and love - my stories, we'll take subtle every time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Help! Let's Kick Cancer...

Cancer is an evil disease. It robs you of loved ones and it needs to be stopped...

In my next novel, Welcome to My World, my main character Harri has lost both her parents to cancer - both dying within a year of each other. I've written it from personal experience - I lost my lovely, much adored Grandpa to the disease a couple of years ago and I still miss him immeasurably (there's a character called Geoff in the story in honour of him) and have also now lost three friends to cancer.

So this year, I've entered the Dudley Race for Life at Himley Hall on Sunday 11th July this year to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I'm going to attempt to run the whole 5k (which, if you look at the gargantuan pics of me in the posts below, you'll know this is no mean feat!), which means getting in some serious training between now and then (and July's not that far away - eek!)

Being really cheeky, would you like to help me raise money by sponsoring me? My initial target is £300, but I'm hoping to exceed that... You can sponsor me here Every penny counts and will make a difference to the millions of people who face this disease every day - plus, if you tick the Gift Aid box, the lovely taxman will give Cancer Research UK an extra 25%, plus a 3% supplement (all at no cost to you!)

I'll be posting updates of my training for the event here at Coffee and Roses, so keep checking back to see how I'm doing (there will probably be highly unflattering photos, too, but I promise to keep these to a minimum to avoid scaring young children and those of a nervous disposition!) There will also be regular updates on Twitter, so make sure you're following to read all the gory details!

Thanks so much - let me know if you're doing a Race for Life event this year and I'll post the details on this blog :o)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Simple pleasures

Every now and again it's good to just enjoy something simple that makes you smile...

This is a brilliant video I first saw on the fabulous Mr Neil Gaiman's blog and it's bloomin' excellent - just watch and feel your inner kid jump up and down in sheer delight...

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