I admit it: I have an automatic Google search that informs me when Smart/Casual or About Time is mentioned on a website.
Mostly the alerts are about second-hand copies of my books for sale, but occasionally it is something else: The Ampersand Agency’s blog, the debut album from Kids in Glass Houses, or the Smart Casual Raiding Co. of Earthen Ring (“Someone talked to Tirion and decided we don’t need the strength of Wrynn buff – and we do not!” Don’t ask. Here. See for yourself and let me know if you have any idea what brand of mushroom they’re smoking.)
A couple of weeks ago, Google Alerts emailed me the link to this review of Smart/Casual, by Read in a Single Sitting. My critic was kind enough to award it 4 stars out of 5. That’s an A-, right? Well, it is in The University of Western Ontario, which doesn’t sound like the type of college where you can buy your degree at all.
So that would be the highest score I ever got for English Composition and, you know, I can only consider it a failing on my former English teacher’s part that she never likened my writing to:
a Jack Russell: small and with a lot of character, but once you get past the fact that it jumps all over you and tries to do the dirty with your leg, you can’t help but love it
When Little Black Dress offered me a two book deal, the contract specified only that the second book should be a ‘short, funny romance’.
At the time, I had already started another novel. However, since Revenge of the Cow is a long, melancholy tragi-horror, I postponed it and started a book that featured more boners.
That covered the romance.
‘About Time’ is a sequence of snapshots over an extended period, narrated by both the male and female protagonists.
“Oh my goodness,” said my agent, when I told him I was writing half the book from a male perspective. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Maybe you could write his sections in omniscient pluperfect. Or . . . something..”
Indeed, for a long time I wondered whether I could pull it off. I’ve always considered my humour fundamentally female, deriving as it does from exaggeration and dramatic over-statement; and Conn’s personality was the precise opposite. Although I had a clear idea of Conn’s character (highly intelligent but pathologically incapable of normal social interaction), getting his ‘voice’ right – the clipped sentences and formal structure – was an arduous process that felt entirely unnatural at the outset.
At least my sense of humour was ideally suited to Lara’s free-spirited character with an uncanny ability to pick emotional wankers.
The story is about the concept of fate or destiny as opposed to free will/choice.
Also, of course, boners.
I’m not going to get a chance to post over the next couple of days, but in the meantime here’s an excerpt from About Time. I hope you enjoy it.
Crazy times here in Casa del Deadlyjelly.
By ‘crazy’, everything is relative. Husband didn’t go on the rampage with a chainsaw – although that may be just a matter of time. I have not resorted to licking the walls – most likely a matter of time too; or a natural response to Andrew coming at me with a live chainsaw. Jed is madder than a barrel of frogs, but relatively speaking? No change there.
The copyeditor came back to me with her feedback on About Time, so I’ve spent the last few days clenched onto my laptop trying not to smear it in blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears, which are at least more sanitary than the other two.
Apart from the time pressure (not all self-inflicted – I spoke to my editor the other day and she sounded mildly panicked about getting About Time into production) I’ve actually enjoyed revising the book. Which is a first for me: reading through my own work and not thinking it sucks lemons genetically modified for extra acidity. I actually felt quite smug. Not sure I’m over it yet.
Now we’re about to embark on a little road trip to the Coromandel. Normal service will resume on Sunday.
My publishers sent through the cover for About Time recently:
Officially, OH MY GOD I LOVE IT!!!!!
Unofficially, I hate yellow. But I’m not about to bite the hand that feeds me. Just nibble the fingers a bit.
For the last few days I’ve been working on the copyeditor’s feedback. This is the last hurdle before the book goes into production (no idea whether that’s the correct terminology, but it sounds good to me), due for release at the end of April.
Reasons I haven’t posted in the last few days:-
- A tragic event involving an aerial canine stunt, a loaded whisky glass and my keyboard.
Blame has been duly attributed to my Stepfather In Law, Agent of Death. It may have been my keyboard, but the whisky was under his supervision at the time. So, allegedly, was his dog. Looking on the bright side, there were no fatalities.
The morning after the incident, the q, a, z, w, s, x, e, d, r, f and spacebar keys did not respond.
Unlike my Compaq Evo, which once copped about three times as much pineapple juice, Husband’s attempts to wipe off the whisky with a squeegee were unsuccessful. Luckily, Husband had a spare keyboard and mouse in his wallet, so that I could continue . . .
- Finishing the second draft of ‘About Time’.
My editor has been ridiculously patient, but I set myself a deadline to complete it by last Thursday. Since my first two deadlines were not wholly successful, I was determined to hit this one.
I emailed the manuscript at 11:40pm after working on it all day (plus most of the previous year).
Three seconds later, I received an out of office notifier from my editor. Bum!
But at least I had it finished before setting off on . . .
- The road trip home with Husband, Dog, and a large MIG welder.