Musings in Quarantine

With such nice weather, I hope you’re all staying inside! Quarantine is a funny old thing and through something like this we get to see both the best and worst of humanity. (It’s just unfortunate that, in a situation such as this, we are only as good as the worst of us). It’s gearing up to be a rocky few weeks with the day job so it’s nice to catch up with this sort of stuff in the downtime. 

So, while the covidiots rush out to their barbecues, the sensible people stay indoors and the Americans head out to buy loads of guns, I thought I’d update on the book. 

A couple of rejections thus far but most agents I have carefully selected have not yet got back. It’s worth saying that, having researched exactly what getting an agent represents to a fairly extensive degree, I have been selective in who I have gone for. It’s a given that I am looking for agents who have interests in books such as mine, but I am also going for those with non-fiction interests as well, not least because I have ambition to write in both arenas. Of course, when someone is recommended to you, that’s even better.

But here’s the thing. I don’t know if anyone else does the same (and even if they don’t admit it, I suspect they do) but I have been placing a significant emphasis on selecting those with whom I think I would work best based on how they look in their photographs. Where I can find interviews with them, even better. Call me superficial but I feel like I am a fairly good judge of character and so can usually gain a good idea of whether I would click with someone based on their appearance alone. 

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I’ve never heard anyone say that about agents so I’m going with it. I only hope they will adopt a similar approach when assessing my material. The whole process feels a bit like online dating and if history has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not very good at online dating. Time will tell. 

 

 

 

 

Middle England

This was another that I bought on a whim. The first third reads a bit like a cheesey Radio 4 afternoon play (not that I listen to those but it’s how I imagine them to be). 

However, as it goes on, it actually becomes a genuinely thought provoking and therapeutic piece of writing. It is nothing we haven’t already heard but putting brexit and its build-up into the context of people’s lives gives the whole sorry state of affairs a bit of flesh. 

It doesn’t hold any answers necessarily but it is certainly an interesting read. Like many similar documentations however, the people that really need to read this sort of thing probably won’t. 

Early Riser

I had bought this book a while ago on a whim and it had been gathering dust on my shelf as I was concerned that, from its zany blurb, I would not like it. It was the sort of book I thought I would just get out of the way and move on. 

Turns out, it is actually one of my favourite books of the last few years. Seriously, it’s awesome. The plot is tight and keeps you guessing all the way through. Yes it’s zany and mad but that doesn’t matter because the alternate world is so imaginative and Fforde seems to have painted it just right somehow.

For me, it’s as if it all just aligned perfectly. A bit like a more sophisticated, adult oriented Roald Dahl book. Funny. Clever. Cool. 

I’m Travelling Alone

I have a huge to read list at the moment. Every time I walk into Waterstones, there is very real danger of further purchases. Despite that, and having just read another Scandinavian thriller, I had a taste for it and didn’t feel like launching into anything I would have to think about too much.

This one got the nod. My verdict… average. It did the job and bridged that gap. The story was ok, the characters alright. I almost certainly will not be reading any more of the series though. There are far better books out there.

Red Snow

I really enjoyed the previous one in this series and so sought this one out to read again. The snowy setting meant I targeted it for the festive season. I liked this book but didn’t love it. Didn’t quite match the first one for me. The setting was a bit dreary and the actual story was quite limited and shallow when looking back on it. 

Still, a decent read and I certainly didn’t hate it. I’ll read the next one. 

2020 update

It’s a new year, a new decade and plenty is happening in the world. Having not updated the actual blog part of this site for a while, I felt it was about time I rectified that. 

The last time I mentioned anything about my novel, I was embarking upon the 8th draft. This weekend, I finished it. Big sigh of relief! It’s been a tough 6 or 7 months of writing and trying to fit it in between the other day job but I’m finally there and I’m feeling reasonably pleased with it. 

The main aim with this draft (and I wouldn’t have done another if I didn’t think it was necessary) was to streamline it a little more and give it some tension towards the end, which it was perhaps lacking. 

Without reading it, saying any more would be pointless so I’ll leave it there. Needless to say, I am now looking into finding some representation once more and I am hoping that the changes I have made will make the difference. 

I have many projects that have been backing up behind this one, so expect to see so more action on here for the foreseeable. I have some ambitions to publish something non-fiction next, but I’ve also got a couple of short stories lined up as well. For the time being, have a look at my latest dieting post in the medical tab. Worth a read if you’re feeling some of those extra calories!

Shadow of the Wind

This seemed to be highly rated so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s  not exactly a page turner and the story moves quite slowly. However, it is only as it wraps up towards the end that it goes from being just another rehash of a Shakespearan tragedy that I will forget quite quickly to something that genuinely moved me a little. Not the best novel I’ve ever read but not the worst either. 

The Outsider

This was a bit of an impulse read. I needed something light and this one didn’t disappoint in that aspect. It begins with an intriguing conundrum and plays out like a traditional detective novel. The first half is therefore really good. Then it gets chilling, and after that, it just gets silly. I should have realised from the author that there would be a supernatural element, but setting it up in such detail had me thinking he had changed tack and tried his hand at something new – that there would be some clever explanation at the end of it. There wasn’t, it was just lazy supernatural humdrum. It was also a follow-up to one of his previous books which I hadn’t read. It was alright, but I’ve read far better.