Thursday, 7 October 2010

Champagne at 38,000 Feet


Last Sunday it was my birthday (I'm now VERY old) - and thank you so much to everyone who sent greetings and then obviously thought I was a mardy mare for not replying - but I was celebrating it with champagne and The Toyboy Trucker and 300+ other people somewhere dizzily high in the sky above the Alps en route to Cyprus. How decadent was that??? Actually, it was just wonderful. Perfect. I cried with happiness (I cry VERY easily) when I found out about it. Cyprus was my surprise birthday present from TTT, Elle and The Doctor and I LOVED it. Had never been before and will go back as soon as poss. We left the UK early on my birthday morning with temperatures in single figures and a cutting northerly wind howling across a bleak sky - and landed 4 hours later in 35+ degrees of non-stop sunshine. It was one of the most blissful weeks of my life...

But now I'm back, feet firmly on the ground, shivering and WORKING. Well, I'm trying. The new book (Never Can Say Goodbye) is still going okay. It seems to be like Going the Distance and Hubble Bubble in the way it's kind of unfolding itself easily as I go along. Strangely (because I still have absolutely no idea how my books ever come into being, or how I write them, or why it seems natural to me to have this entire cast of REAL people living inside my head) my books don't follow the same pattern. Some like this one (so far) sort of write themselves, others need a lot more concentration and - er - work.

My early Orion books seemed to gush out with no problems (but then I was still all starry-eyed about being published and everything was all lovely and shiny and new), then the HarperCollins ones were much bigger and more complex and layered and therefore took longer and I had to make sure that all the ends tied up and all the sub-plots reached a conclusion as well as the main story thread. And since then, the Piatkus/Little,Brown ones have been a mix of the two. Love Potions gave me all sorts of headaches (mainly because when the title was changed from Flower Power {considered too hippie} I realised I hadn't actually got any love potions in it and had to go back and slot them in); Heaven Sent was far too short but I'd told the story and anything else would have been padding; Happy Birthday was too long (in my opinion) and probably should have been two books...

And The Way To A Woman's Heart....??? Well, once I'd stopped being a diva-bitch-from-hell author and got over it no longer being called Midnight Feast, and accepted that Sunny (heroine) was now called Ella, and that it had to be a longer, meatier story (sorry, bit of a pun as it's about cookery) with a bigger cast of characters, less obvious practical magic and more grounded reality but still series-linked to the previous books - oh, and amusing, I finally knuckled down and just did it.

I suppose, as a writer, that's what it's all about really - just doing it. No-one else is going to. Sadly, it's taken me years to realise that! Much as there were many, many mornings when I'd switch on the computer and hope that the Tailor of Gloucester's mice had written several thousand words of The Way To A Woman's Heart overnight, eventually I accepted that if I didn't do it then it would never be finished. Weird though how the changing of the title and the heroine's name made it the most difficult book I've ever written. Still, it's done, I'm happy with it - and hopefully the slog/sweat/angst/difficult-author-tantrums won't show...

Never Can Say Goodbye (and that is going to be the title - they've had the discussion about maybe changing it to something else and happily decided to stick with my "let's get away from the cutesy magicky titles" title - so that's one hurdle - um - hurdled) is developing into a completely different book. The magic is slightly more - um - spooky. The characters are more eccentric (as in Brian from the kebab van and Maisie the Useless Medium). The situations more down-to-earth - well, in a sort of off-the-wall way. And much as I thought that after actually having to "work" on The Way To A Woman's Heart (I really hate work!) I'd never find my mo-jo or my writing joi-de-vivre again, so far I'm having fun with it. Which is just as well as it has to be finished by Christmas. Erk!

Blimey! This post is almost writerly. Still, the next one won't be as I've got to blog about total rubbish. Even more total rubbish than usual because our local council has just ventured into the multi-wheely-bin-refuse-disposal-system and you wouldn't believe the uproar this has caused in the terrace... FIVE wheely bins, all different colours, all for different things, all collected on different days... It's causing anarchy here, I can tell you. Anarchy.

Oh, and tonight I'm going to the theatre again with The Toyboy Trucker - but this time to see Frankie Boyle - so probably this is not going to be a repeat of the erudite cerebral Stephen Fry experience... Can't wait!

16 comments:

Debs said...

I'm glad you had such an exciting birthday. What a treat to find out you're being taken on holiday?

I can't wait to read The Way To A Woman's Heart and Never Can Say Goodbye, I'm sure they'll both be wonderful.

Jan Jones said...

What a fab birthday-holiday, Chris! Also v glad that the next book is springing more easily from your fingers. Bless 'em, they're all different.

Christina Jones said...

Debs - thank you - yes, it was a really, really fantastic surprise. And I hope you're right! Cx

Christina Jones said...

Jan - thank you. And must say lots of this having-a-jolly-time is down to you giving me great fiscal advice over a year ago. Ever thought of advising writers on how not to squander their money as a sideline???? Worked for me! Cx

Jan Jones said...

Gosh, really? Somebody listens to my ramblings?

Glad it worked :)

Christina Jones said...

Jan - yes really! When I wrote my Flat Broke blogpost about 18 months ago you gave me some great advice, and I took it and stuck to it and have been solvent ever since (she says with fingers corssed and touching wood etc etc) - so THANK YOU! Cxxxx

Phillipa said...

Glad you had a wonderful birthday surprise, Christina - and I'm so relieved to find that you don't know how your books come into being, either - they just happen (by blood, sweat, tears and inspiration.)

I think that's why I love them so much, because they are crammed with spontanaeity and warmth - and no one, but no one, does joi-de-vivre like you, even if you are now Very Old Indeed. P x

Karen said...

I hadn't realised Midnight Feast was The Way to a Woman's Heart - I thought you'd somehow written 2 books at the same time!!! Great that the new one's flowing so easily.

Cyprus sounds lovely, I'm determined to conquer my fear of flying and go one day. Well, go anywhere really.

Hope you enjoyed Frankie Boyle :o)

alzamina said...

Glad you had a great holiday - is lovely to be spoilt like that - I'm sure you suffer it terribly!! LOL

Best medium quote I have heard was a friend of mine at Coalhouse (now of Most Haunted Fame) who said " I hear voices, I have never aspired to be a Medium, anyone can see I am an extra large" - makes me smile to even repeat it! his favourite joke used to be "One" - "how many psychics does it take to change a light bulb"!

really looking formward to the new books!

Chris Stovell said...

Happy birthday to you!

Hmm, I read this post with particular interest as I've been on my own writing journey since being published this summer... and have found watching one book 'out there' whilst writing the next a bit like watching a small child cross a busy road whilst being ill with morning sickness! I'm enjoying it now, but it's the reason I haven't been 'around' much - there was so much to get used to. It's fascinating to read your thoughts - especially with your trademark and refreshing 'tell it like it is' approach.

Shame there aren't any mice busily tapping away at the keys whilst we sleep!

Christina Jones said...

Phillipa - thank you (on all counts). Am going through a huge crisis of confidence at the moment (what's new?) - so lovely to know that someone thinks my books are sort of happy and spontaneous - I'm just hoping that Very Old Age doesn't turn me into a sour and crabby writer anytime soon... Cxxx

Christina Jones said...

Karen - 2 books? I wish! No, the publishers thought that Midnight Feast and Sunny Strange (my heroine) were too juvenile - and wanted TWTAWH to be a bigger and more grown-up book (sophisticated was the word they used - not one that has EVER been connected with me before!)- so they chose the new title and re-christened Sunny... I'm saying nowt! Do hope you overcome the fear of flying - they do courses, could be a great plotline??? And Frankie Boyle was disgusting, harsh, cruel, very, very funny and bloody clever... LOVED him!

Christina Jones said...

alzamina - oooh yes, I take to being spoiled really well! And TTT has been telling me that medium joke ever since I mentioned that NCSG was going to be a spooky book... Still makes me laugh - especially as I didn't get it at first! Duh!

Christina Jones said...

Chris - Thank you - and yes, that's it exactly! Keeping your eye on your toddler while you panic about the new gestation. Weird... And so odd to me (still) that now TWTAWH is done but not yet published, no-one (publishers)wants to talk about it because it's over and The Next One is the one that's important.... One day maybe I'll get used to it - but it's like a sort of frantic treadmill, you can't stop running because if you do you'll fall off and someone else will jump on in your place. I seem to live my life in a state of constant panic... The joys of being a writer, eh????

Jilly said...

Happy Birthday, Christina - even if it is a bit late!!

Christina Jones said...

Jilly - thank you! Cx