Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Could you say which of your children is your favourite?

Another writer recently asked me which of my four novels was my favourite, and I couldn’t say. It felt as if she was asking me which of my children is my favourite.

How could a mother choose?

How can a writer choose?

And now I’m thinking about it I’m wondering whether the reason she, a writer, could ask me such a question is because she has only one child, and she hasn’t yet had a novel published (although I am sure she will do soon.)

Which of my novels is your favourite? And why?

I love Plotting for Beginners because it was my first. And because it cheers me up to read it now. And I love the characters.

I love Zuzu’s Petals because it’s based on my bereavement journal that I wrote when my father died. It has huge chunks in it which are real and which are there to say – this is how it is – this is how it feels to lose a beloved elderly parent. I think it is good and serious writing.  My aim was not to make the reader laugh, although there are many jokes in the dialogue between the minor characters. But I do feel sorry for Zuzu’s Petals. The blurb does not sell it, and neither does the cover.

I love But I Told You Last Year That I Loved You because it is full of things that Dave has said that have made me laugh. Basically, it is full of Dave. Sol and Frances are not Dave and me, but there is a huge overlap.  I’m proud of it because it’s the first novel I wrote (successfully) in the third person. I’m also proud because the National Autistic Society named it as one of their favourite novels about autism.

I love Plotting for Grown-ups because it was such fantastic fun to write, because I love the characters (mostly the same as in Plotting for Beginners), because it’s a Rom-Com* – a genre I like when it’s done well - and because I fancy Kit.


*One of the last arguments that Jane (my co-author of the Plotting books) and I had in the writing of Plotting for Grown-ups, centred on whether we should describe it as a romantic comedy in the back-cover blurb. I said we should. Jane said we shouldn’t. She won. I can’t recall her reasoning now, except that I think (and forgive me if I’m wrong, Jane) it was because she said it would put off our target reader. Also, that Rom-Coms have got a bad name as there is so much trash out there.

According to Billy Mernit, my Rom-Com screenwriting guru, "a romantic comedy is a comedy whose central plot is embodied in a romantic relationship" and "the central question posed by a romantic comedy is: 'Will these two individuals become a couple?'"

So based on that, I’d say PfG is definitely a Rom-Com.

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