‘Assured Attention,’ book 2 in the series about a large Edinburgh department store now moving into the 1980s, was launched on Monday 31st July at Blackwell’s Bookshop, South Bridge, Edinburgh.
An attentive audience appeared to enjoy the interview of the author carried out by Gordon Lawrie from Comely Bank Publishing and came up with some interesting and challenging questions of their own!
Not least among these was which person would Jane Tulloch choose to read the books for audio recording. Hard to say. There are male and female voices required. Jane’s choice of Judi Dench was purely a default selection. Perhaps? Hannah Gordon might have been best? Food for thought anyway.
It was a very friendly evening all round. Blackwells, as ever, did us proud.
The Fife Farm Women’s Club: did you ever see a picture of such a cheerful group of ladies? I actually wanted to take this picture to try to capture the lovely, friendly, happy atmosphere in the room. My photography skills are vestigial, to say the least, and the ladies to one side of the room couldn’t fit in to the picture. It was very encouraging to see such a good turn out at this time of year. Several apologies had been given by members too busy with lambing to attend this month but others had come from near and far.
I talked as usual about my book “Our Best Attention” and we had plenty of laughs throughout the course of the evening. I have to say that this has been my experience at all of the author events I’ve been involved with. There’s something about ladies/women coming together to share a good blether with a visiting speaker as a pretext. This sort of thing goes quietly on all over the country and is never remarked upon. Well I’m remarking. Its time that the general sense of well being generated by such events is recognised and celebrated. Thank you ladies. I’m looking forward to next week’s events- Howgate WI and the Gransnet conference here I come.
I like old ladies. I like the way they speak. I enjoy their reminiscences. I spend a great deal of time eavesdropping on them in public places. I’m not being creepy-I’m on the way to being one!
When I say old I suppose I mean older rather than chronologically ancient. Their personalities have been shaped by their life experience. Their style of dress conveys much about how they see themselves: some always dressed up to the nines in public others who don’t give a toss and dress for comfort rather than style and every variation in between.
These ladies have been the backbone of their families, the mainstay of many occupations and valiant contributors to life in an infinite variety of ways. Most still contribute and can be found in every nook and cranny of society.
When I started to write “Our Best Attention,” I wanted to be sure to include some older ladies among the characters. Although they are sprinkled throughout the book, the main chapter in which they feature is “Weepers”. In this a group of typical “Edinburgh Ladies” congregate in a typical Edinburgh way in a typical Edinburgh tea room every week and have done so for many years. They know every aspect of each other’s lives yet still find much to talk about at every meeting. While sharing life’s gradual downward spiral they come up with a cunning plan. Like so many older ladies they certainly make their own entertainment!
I like people with Asperger syndrome, a sweeping statement I know but there it is.
I can’t help how I feel. Of course, like everyone else, there is enormous variability within the syndrome and more to people than just this particular grouping of skills and difficulties. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many hundreds of people at the Asperger end of the autism spectrum over my many years working in this field. This has led me to develop an appreciation for their refreshing style of thought and how it can be manifested in tackling life’s problems.
It was for these reasons that I determined to write a chapter in my forthcoming book, ” Our Best Attention”, about a person with Asperger Syndrome. I wanted to present a positive picture and to write an unfashionably happy ending for the person concerned. In the event this was much easier than it might sound. The chapter wrote itself as the character emerged so strongly in my mind. It is light hearted and pokes fun at some typical “Edinburgh ” types.
As most people with AS are not formally diagnosed, I didn’t specifically mention the syndrome or “diagnose” the person with any particular problems beyond an awkwardness with people and an honesty in the way that they expressed themself. I became very fond of the character as I wrote and keen for them to find a positive niche for themself in the department store in which I set this character.
You will note that I’m being cagy as to the gender of the character concerned. Who is it? Which chapter do they feature in? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I’m thinking of offering a small prize for the first person to identify the “Aspie”.
Well I’ve done it now. My first book is released in January 2016. Unbelievable! Plucking up courage to tell people I’ve written a book wasn’t easy. There tends to be several reactions: either blank astonishment, a curling lip and disbelief, sometimes compliments and pleasure at my having done it at all, or a flurry of questions about the process.
At times it seems to me that half the people I meet are writing or planning to write a book and the other half is asking how do I do it. Where do I get my ideas from? What gets my writing juices flowing? Why?
No easy answers but it did set me thinking. Now I’ve done a bit more writing and am looking to writing in the longer term I’ve been reflecting on this.
The “how” is quite straightforward. Creating a story seems to me to be like creating a painting, or at least how I would if I ever painted. First I sketch in the outline and characters then I go back over and over it adding in detail to highlight parts that need highlighting or even reducing the contrast so that outcomes can be more surprising when they come. Certain characters need to be delineated with more care than others. Dialogue might need extra work. So on and so on until the day comes when it is finished. That’s the hard part: when enough is enough and it’s time to stop, to let go.
The “where” I find ideas for stories can be the distilled essence of overheard words or phrases, other people’s experiences rethought and retold, half thought notions and lots of what ifs. Sometimes it’s a character or set of characters that appear fully formed in my mind sometimes it’s a situation. Such variety.
Why? Well that’s another story and one I’ve not worked out yet and somehow I suspect I never will.