Sunday, 23 August 2015

Doctor of the High Fells

My new book is out on Thursday August 27th, that's this week. My agent says it's the best thing I've done in years. She doesn't always say that. Actually the book I'm just finishing would never have been finished if it hadn't been for her. Thank God for agents and editors and all those people who never seem to get the credit. Books should be like films, with credits at the end, all those people who worked so hard, the people who design the cover, the printers, the on line folk, those who do the big print and audio books, the booksellers, the librarians, the secretaries who hold the publishing houses together, those people who have to decide how much the book should cost, whether it should be hardback or paperback or an ebook, the poor damned accountants who get blamed for everything,
A work of fiction is a team effort so next time you see the author think of all the other poor buggers who have to put with it all as well.

There is an element of luck with any published book. Sometimes it just takes off. We live in hope.  The genres change, people have new ideas, some people have old-new ideas and it's difficult to tell which way the wind is blowing or whether you can make it blow your way.

I don't think at the moment there are many books with a woman doctor as the main character. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there are but I didn't write it for that reason. I wrote it, as my agent would say, because it was the book only I could write. I longed to write it. I just hope people like it and that we didn't all sweat and work all that time for some mean bugger to think it's too expensive when the download is little more than a Starbucks' coffee.

Some people think nothing of paying forty quid for a pair of shoes but get upset when a book costs more than a fiver. You get a lot for your money with a book. It has a lot of mouths to feed and strangely we aren't doing it for the fun of it, we do expect to get paid. If people want me to write books for nothing I shall give up and stay in bed in the mornings and read a lot and eat more cream cakes. And be poor and not care. They are not getting me for nothing. The labourer is always worthy of his hire. Nobody should do stuff for nowt, not in business. It's false economy and of no use for our self respect.

I'm not a vain writer. I don't think I should have been Jane Austen or E.L.James. I don't mind that i'm not brilliant and that I'm not a millionaire.What the hell would I do with it all?  I could give it to water aid of course. That's what I would do or like Catherine Cookson did and gave most of her money to the Newcastle hospitals. That's what a lot of money's for, I think.

Anyway, it is all right, the book, I laughed and cried over it, we all worked so hard. It isn't a work of genius, it's an honest attempt to get something right and to hope that somebody likes it.
I like the main character, Prue Stanhope, I admire how brave she is and that she does her best and that she's out there as woman all are. We've giving it rock all and that's what we can do.

So I do hope you might read and like it and if not there are thousands of other books out there and a whole load of other folk have sweated blood over them so go for something else, something you enjoy.  I love to read crime. I'm happy with Peter May and Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson and a dozen more. They make my life better. They make me happy.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Oh God, a Labrador

Our first dog was a black labrador, called Rex. I was very young at the time. I remember my mother on being told that it had been run over. She was the only one of us who wept, I can remember getting on with my fish and chips, quite unmoved. After that there was a boxer, that got run over eventually too. Those days dogs were not pampered, they were free to roam. The third one, when I got a bit older, was  Sherry. She used to run up and down the Northumberland beaches so that when we came home she would sulk in the shower.
I didn't want any more dogs so many years later when my husband, who use to shoot, insisted on having a black labrador, I could not contain my mirth as it threw up all over our smart yellow sports car.
After that there was Jasper, half labrador, half springer spaniel and then Timmy, fully springer spaniel, and like many aristocrats, good pedigree but quite stupid.
I still suffer from being left with the damned dogs when my husband died.  George collapsed of old age and had to be put down a year or so later, Jasper went into a decline, missing Richard and I sent him off to a Yorkshire estate so that he could work and I kept the last dog.
I shall never forget the day they came to take Jasper away. I remember him watching me from the back of the car. But he was not meant to be a lap dog. He was the dog who swam widths of the loch all week when we went to Scotland. We named him Wilkie Jasper. Everything good in my life seemed over when I had to give up that dog because he loved the shooting so much.
Dogless I remained, so my emotions when my daughter rang earlier to say she had bought a yellow labrador were so hard. In vain had I told her that it could not be left, that it would need walking ten miles a day, that it would throw up in the hall, crap in the bedrooms and leave hair all over the sofa. I told her that I would have nothing to do with it, that it could not be left for holidays with me when she went to top up her tan.
Like all children, she hasn't taken a blind bit of notice, so I'm sitting here crying now for all those days of my dogs, for the days when my husband used to try and cuddle them all together. He would say,
'My boys, my boys,' and laugh over them.
On the last day of his short life we took our little girl and our dogs to Fountains Abbey and walked through the woods where he named the trees for her and the dogs frolicked about and played.

The new labrador is called Izzie.  Which presumably is short for Isabel which is another name for Elizabeth. Well, I don't suppose there's anything in that, other than the fact that my daughter has moved on, dog wise and that's lovely but I still can't wait for the first time that it throws up in her new Mercedes. I really can't.