My views are not always popular, now the internet is swamped with ‘How To Books,’ mostly written by people who don’t really know, but know a lot about SEO and publicity. It almost seems that – if you don’t choose Murder Mystery or Young Adult Romance as a genre – you are a dead duck, and you better wise up! But in a world which dreams of instant gratification, and overnight success, how much of this is true?
In a recent interview on Greek TV, author Hillary Mantel quickly discovered that her two interviewers were not fawning numpties, but a couple of well-read critics; now her books have been translated into the Greek language. Greece is a cultured country, with many popular indigenous authors, and despite their internal political and financial problems, they do look outside the box.
Hilary Mantel was very honest about her own work, and made it quite clear that short of a memoir or two, she only writes on subjects she finds personally comfortable, and about things she is familiar with. She also admitted that – up and until Wolf Hall, and Bring Up The Bodies – she had always had very good reviews, but had not sold many books. She told viewers that ‘the numpties’ often asked her how it was that she had become an overnight success, to be told that she had been writing and publishing books for fifty years.
So, once again, we find ourselves as writers, gifted with the ultimate reality check, and faced with every writer’s dilemma. Do we write about what we know and understand, or do we join the queue, and trot out cheap fiction, which is treated with as much respect as a spam sandwich or a magazine about lipstick?
What am I writing about today? I am fictionalizing my former life, unmasking some very unpleasant and shallow people from the past, and having a good laugh!