I've had a crap week.
So, I'm going to have a whine. Bear with me.
I write Historical Romance and Historical Fiction. I can't help it. As soon as I emerged from my girlhood obsession with horse books, I stumbled onto these genres. This was in the 1970s when you could wander into a British bookshop and find lovely, thick tomes by Anya Seton or Rosemary Hawley Jarman. These were wonderful books, rich with plot, real characters and history woven with beautifully written, leisurely descriptive passages. I devoured them and my love for these huge stories never faded. In the eighties I fell in love with Diane Pearson's books. For a moving and compelling tale of Hungary during the two World Wars, 'Csardas' can't be beaten. Likewise, Pearson's 'The Summer of the Barshinskeys' is a gorgeous portrait of rural England and the crumbling Russian Empire during the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution. There were many others and I spent many a rainy Sunday afternoon wallowing in these stories.
I'm a fast reader and I like BIG books. I like the writer to set the scene, I want to see the red brick house, as old as the land, surrounded by beeches and oaks. I want to see the grumpy Cook in the manor house kitchen, her arms covered in flour as she kneads the daily loaves of bread. I want to hear the blackbirds calling across a shadowy green lawn and I want to smell the honeysuckle that grows wild and tangled on a grassy verge.
I tell stories and I like to take my time telling them. I want my readers to see my MC reading a book under the spreading blue shade of an ancient copper beech. I want them to fall in love with my characters and cry when things go wrong and cheer when it all goes right. My great love is early 20th century history. Anything from the Great War, to the Boshevik Revolution to World War 2. Ordinary people became entangled in great events, their lives changed and society changed. To me, telling these stories takes a little time. I don't want to start my books with mortars landing in trenches or Spitfires crashing in flames. I think readers should get to know the characters and their settings. I know, as a reader, that I'm not alone in this.
There has been some discussion in the Twitterverse, with Agent Day and Query Day about writing for trends. Agents are quick to advise writers, quite rightly, to write what they love because that passion will shine through in their work. So, that's what I do. Unfortunately, writing what I love leaves me out of the loop. I don't do pirates, Scotsmen or courtesans. Nothing much happens in the first few pages because I Set The Scene.
There are days when I wake up to an in-box full of Query Rejections and I light a cigarette, drink my coffee and wonder if it's worth it. I feel like a moth dashing itself against a lightshade. Yet, I stub out the cigarette, open up Querytracker and search for another agent.
That's all I wanted to say. I've always been one for wearing my heart on my sleeve. I also leave my heart on my pages.
Thank you for your time. Have a great weekend.