Monday, October 29, 2012

TV, Hair and Labels

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine passed quickly, filled with an RNA London Chapter Meeting where the wonderful novelist Carole Matthews shared her journey to success, and then an emergency hair appointment on Sunday where my horrendous roots were turned back to blonde. Yay!

Why the emergency hair appointment, you may be asking (if you've nothing more interesting to contemplate, ha!)? Well, tomorrow, I'm going to be on TV! Wheeee! Okay, so I might not be broadcast on Tuesday, but I have been invited to a studio to discuss my books for a new Sky channel launching shortly. Wish me luck, everyone. With my expanding belly and rapidly diminishing wardrobe choices, let's just hope the camera stays focused on my head and shoulders.

Today, I'm also over at the advice blog of the Independent Alliance of Authors, talking about why I don't want to labelled as an indie author. Pop over if you get the chance!

And now I must go pluck my eyebrows... Random eyebrow hair never looks good on-screen, does it?

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nicking Other People’s Stories

Look at that, it's somehow Friday! I've no idea how this week passed so quickly, but today I'm happy to have author Phillipa Ashley on the blog, talking about her latest novel and fan fiction. So without further ado, here's Phillipa!

The World of Fanfic

In November 2004, few people had heard of ‘fanfic.’ Hell, I hadn’t heard of fanfic and I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of ever writing any. In fact, if you’d told me that within six months I was going to a -write fanfic and b- then write a novel, and that it would be a –published; b - win an RNA award and c - get made into a movie, I’d have thought you were stark raving bonkers.

As the name suggests, fanfic is when a writer takes inspiration from a favourite novel, TV series or film and creates their own stories around the incidents and characters in the original. Back in 2004,I think it’s’ fair to say that fanfic was largely a niche area of fiction writing, considered by some to be at the bottom rung of the literary ladder. Back then fanfic authors struggled to break free of their genre and achieve credibility and to a degree, I can understand why.

In its purest form, fanfic is essentially the plunder of other writers’ work – if not of their actual phrases and words, then of concepts and characters. For that reason, much if it is confined to fan forums, and can’t be published for commercial gain. The writers of the originals – if they are alive – would rightly be outraged to have their work ‘stolen’ in this way.

However, the online world has moved on very rapidly and a growing number of fanfic writers have found new ways to reach a mainstream audience, with their own works

The most famous, of course, is EL James, whose Fifty Shades of Grey novels had their roots in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. Not having read the Twilight books and only seen the movies, I can’t really judge how strong the relationships between the two series are. But it seems to me that an obsessive relationship between a young ingénue and a sophisticated dominant male is the core of the story - and that’s a theme that’s common to countless romance novels.

My very first story was inspired by a BBC costume drama called North & South, that was aired in late November 2004 and starred Richard Armitage as another ‘Alpha male John Thornton. I also read the book but I have to say the TV series captured my imagination more.

Having never written any fiction before I felt compelled to write a modern version of the story. Back then, I was unaware that authors did this and I think that until then, there wasn’t any North & South fanfic of any kind, certainly not modern versions.

I posted my story on a Yahoo loop and got some encouraging feedback. Most of all, I realised that I had found what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: write romantic fiction. Other writers started posting their own N&S fanfics, both historical and modern and our chapters were devoured by readers desperate for their fix once the series has ended .

But I soon came up against a problem: which I now know was an opportunity.

For me, the desire to create my own characters was too just too powerful to ignore. I hadn’t got very far through my North & South story (imaginatively entitles N&S 2005) when I realised that ‘my’ John Thornton was not the one in the novel or TV series. He and the other characters had taken on lives of their own.

I took my fanfic off the net, feeling constrained by the need to fulfil reader expectations that I could never meet: I also was desperate to try my hand at an original romance. That story was Decent Exposure – which luckily for me, went on to get a book and movie deal.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a little bit of ‘Thornton’ or Mr Richard Armitage in all the heroes I've created. I’ll always thank my lucky stars I saw that programme and met so many inspiring women, both readers and writers, through the fanfic world.

Since then , many of the original N&S fanfic authors have gone on to create and publish their own novels, including Rosy Thornton, Juliet Archer , Hazel Osmond and Elizabeth Hanbury.

So what actually counts as a fanfic these days? The canon is wide and arouses much debate. I know dozens of authors who write Austen spin offs, everything from Mr Darcy Vampire by Amanda Grange to Pride; Prejudice and Zombies. Most recently, we’ve seen new the erotic new retellings of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

Does Jean Rhys’s literary classic Wide Sargasso Sea count as a fanfic because it features the young Bertha Mason? Is Anthony Horowitz’s new Sherlock Holmes story, House of Silk a fanfic?

There will always be a vast canon of ‘pure’ fanfic on the web. where writers try to stay as true to their source as possible. But there will also be those break out authors who use that first impetus as inspiration for new material – so I say may fanfic never die, in all its forms.

The debate will rage on but one thing is clear in my mind. Without fanfic, I would never have started writing and kept on writing and my own happy ending is that my sixth novel, Miranda’s Mount was published on October 4th by Piatkus Entice.

I'm curious to know, do any of you write fanfic?

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you Monday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Should Novelists Blog?

Hey hey! It's Monday! *insert grimace here* Hope everyone had a lovely weekend. It was a damp and drizzly one in London Town, but I didn't move here for the weather.

This morning, I read a post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner called 'Should Authors Blog?'. It got me thinking, because her thoughts echo my own. I'm not going to join the cries of 'blogging is dead', but I know many of you ( like me) have cut down on the amount of time you spend blogging, turning to Facebook and Twitter. We still blog, though, because we enjoy it and we love the people we've met.

And that's pretty much what Rachelle's post boils down to. With the number of blogs increasing, it's become harder and harder to make an impact. And forget selling books through blogs... it's almost impossible.  Authors no longer need to have a blog;  it's a nice to have if they so desire.

And I do! I'll never abandon my blog because I love posting what I'm up do, both writing-wise and with my jaunts around town. But as the years go on, new social media pop up, and my time decreases, I may limit my posting to once a week. We shall see!

How are you feeling about blogging these days?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mr Darcy? Yes, Please!

Happy Friday! TGIF, is all I can say. What a week!

Today, I'm delighted to host fellow Romantic Novelist Association member Victoria Connelly. I adore her novels -- if you're looking for a great romantic read, check them out -- and I can't wait to read her Christmas novella.

Take it away, Victoria!

I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas book. Whenever I see those pretty glittery book covers that start hitting the shelves in October, I tell myself, I must write one of those one day!

Last year, we were in the process of moving house and it was particularly stressful – one we liked was taken off the market, we got gazumped on another and then, when we finally found another, the paperwork took an absolute age. All this, together with two sick pet hens and a spaniel who underwent two major operations and nearly died both times, made it hard to concentrate on a long project like a novel. But I still needed to write something. I get pretty cranky when I’m not writing so I thought a shorter project would be fun and, as autumn approached, I kept thinking about Christmas and how we would be settled in our new home by Christmas. 

I’d recently finished writing my Jane Austen Addicts’ Trilogy and I’d been getting a lot of emails from readers wanting to know what happened next to the characters. Dan Harcourt – one of my heroes from A Weekend with Mr Darcy - seemed to be getting more than his fair share of fan mail too and I must admit that he’s the hero I’d be most likely to run away with if I could! 

Hmmmmm ... Jane Austen and Christmas, I thought. That sounds like a pretty irresistible partnership... 

And that’s how Christmas with Mr Darcy was born. I thought it would be fun to unite all the main characters from the trilogy and have then attend a special Jane Austen conference at Purley Hall at Christmas. Throw in a badly-behaved brother, a marriage proposal and a missing first edition of Pride and Prejudice and you have the ingredients for a fun-filled festive read! 

I can't tell you how much fun it was to write this novella. It was so lovely to see all my characters again and continue on their journey with them and it was so much fun to have a Christmas setting and really go to town decorating Purley Hall with evergreen garlands, candles and baubles. And Higgins the butler gets to wear some pretty fantastic waistcoats too! 

Victoria Connelly has had eight novels published worldwide. Her first, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in Germany. All her books are available as ebooks along with two collections of short stories. She lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband and an ever-expanding family of animals and can frequently be found on Facebook wittering on about her hens. ; Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy 

Thanks, Victoria!

Are you a Mr Darcy fan? Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Back to the Desk!

Oh, it's good to be home. After spending last week battling the foggy effects of jet-lag (and I highly recommend NOT undertaking trans-Atlantic flights while six months' pregnant -- ugh!), I was eager to get back to work. A creature of routine, I love my wake-up coffee, burnt toast breaks, and Twitter check-ins . . . not to mention the growing pile of virtual paper on my desk.

It's going to be a busy autumn, but I like being busy! I've got the Festival of Romance to attend mid-November . . .

The Pollyanna Plan to get out by the end of that month . . .

And a Christmas novella to complete

Lots of writing ahead. Fingers crossed that Baby TR does not make an unexpected early appearance, please!

What's on your plate for the next few months?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Vacation... Done!

Well! After over two action-packed weeks, my vacation is coming to an end tonight as I wing my way back to London. What a spectacular trip we've had, from a beautiful Cape Breton wedding to seeing old friends to a real Canadian Thanksgiving. It's been wonderful.

I hope you're ready for pictures? Yes? Here we go!

The wedding ceremony location at Keltic Lodge, Cape Breton.
(Photo by Pash Photography)

The beautiful bride and I walking to the ceremony.
(Photo by Pash Photography)

I absolutely love this photo. The newly-weds on Ingonish Beach.
(Photo by Pash Photography)

I'm hair-obsessed, so you can imagine my joy that the photographer captured my 'do!
(Photo by Pash Photography)

During the ceremony...
(Photo by Pash Photography)
Me and my two friends from Ottawa, who flew down for a visit, at Peggy's Cove.

Peggy's Cove.

Prince Edward Island.

Wood Islands lighthouse, Prince Edward Island.
Phew! A great two weeks. Hope everyone has been faring well, too! I'll be recovering from jet-leg for the next few days, but I'll try to pop by and say hello.

What's new with you?