Tag Archives: adele parks

Strong Female Characters – how do you not make them a ‘bitch’?

Candice: Phil lent me a book the other week by Adele Parks called ‘Game Over’.  We like Adele as we met her at the Stratford Literary Festival earlier this year.

I haven’t finished the book so I won’t write a review yet, but the main female character is a ‘balls out, no holds barred’ woman who only does one night stands and is totally focused on her career.

Our main character, Kate, was originally more like that, but after some feedback we softened her a little.  Not too much mind as the whole point of these books is that the woman is not ‘wet’!  I hate females that turn into quivering wrecks at the sight of a six pack and then proceed to dribble after a man until they are married and have their first child.

Not that Kate is based on me (she isn’t), but it’s interesting that some of my friends are going back to work after having their first child and there are lots of discussions on Facebook about missing the child and feeling lost.  Um, I don’t really understand that as I didn’t feel like that.  I love Erin but she and I get more out of our day by going to nursery and work respectively. I haven’t said that on Facebook though as I think it would go down like a lead balloon

So, how do you make a female character strong and not make people hate her for either becoming too soft or being so hard you can’t empathize with her?  I think we have got that fine balance but it is that, a fine balance.

Phil has sent me the final big scene for Book 2 this weekend.  It’s cracking and well on the way to bringing it all together, but it does need some other parts adding into the rest of the book to make it make sense.  And part of that is deciding how much Kate is in to Dave.  This book is where their relationship starts to change and we have had a lot of discussions about where their relationship goes long term.

So my job is to go back through what Phil has written and make Kate strong enough but soft enough that we still believe in her and like her.  It’s not going to be easy.


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Getting up close and personal

CaptureCandice: I’ve commented before on how I like the social media, Twitter especially as it gets me up close and personal with people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day before.

When I was growing up if you wanted to get close to someone famous, you queued outside the stage door or joined their fan club. This, if you were lucky, you’d get sent a regular newsletter and perhaps a signed photo. But you’d never get to communicate with them face to face.

Previously we’ve met/seen authors at event and then but some social media jiggery pokery we’ve got them to do an interview with us. I have to say this more me than Phil but then if am the cheeky one of the bunch (hence why I will be on Loose women).

I don’t have the time to keep tweeting as much as I would like, which is probably why I only have just over 100 followers but I can see, if I did I would struggle keep off it. It’s bad enough at the moment with our habit to have our phone with us at all times, so that any little thing that comes in we are checking. Some times this is a good thing but some times a terrible distraction as that flashing symbol means we don’t really concentrate on what we are doing and just jump around all over the place. This is emphasized by the fact I have finally upgraded my Blackberry to a Samsung Galaxy which I’m finding easy to use and also even easier to check my social media only! Any way, this blog isn’t about the downsides of our ‘always on life’.

So a few weeks ago I finished The Seafront Tea Rooms. I blogged about it and @ it at the author. She came back saying thanks for the review.

Then I sent something to Rob Sinclair, who Phil met last week at his met the author session, he said look forward to meeting you and it gave Phil an introduction.

I then sent something to Adele Parks to say looking forward to her session, she said thanks. And then when we met her on the night it was the opener to a conversation as I mentioned we’d ‘chatted’ over Twitter.

And finally, I’d just finished The Miniaturist, which I loved, I sent something to Jessie Burton, its’ author. I said ‘I wanted to know more’ and she said ‘you’ll just have to wait and see’.

It’s amazing to see a response from the people who’s book I be just read. For them it must be nice to get a true response, rather than just a formal review in a paper. This is their audience so it’s their chance to communicate to them, as well as us readers to get a buzz from getting a response from some one who is famous.

It’s also a very clever marketing ploy, as I now want to read more of their books as I think I know them and they like me.

Phil said Rob spends half his day on social media, and I think you would have to to respond to everything that comes in. But it’s worth to get that extra reader to engage with you and want to come back for more.

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The importance of research

Candice: Last week Phil and I went to an event as part of Stratford Literary Festival.  Billed as ‘Adele Parks and Jill Dawson – researching for fiction’ we thought it would be worth attending for two reasons: one I’d read some books by Adele so was curious to see what she was like, and second we’d just had a long conversation about whether we needed to get something factually right for the book, so I thought it would be good to see what they said.

I was the last one in as had had to get there by train and it was running 15 minutes late.  So I snuck in the door, sat down, and off they went.  If I’d been a minute or so later I could have been replacing Adele and been ushered into the front !

Settling in to listen we had an introduction to the two authors, one a regular historical writer and the other usually a writer of romantic fiction who had decided to explore something else.

Both ladies had similar but also different approaches.  Jill was more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ writer, she planned some of her work but admitted that she didn’t really know how the end would work so just let the writing flow.  Adele was more of a ‘post it note on the wall’ kind of girl, working out her year so she’d finish the book in time to go on the family holiday.  This has obviously worked as she’d turned out 15 books in as many years.

Both admitted to researching as they went, writing some and then going off to find out something they didn’t know.  This might also mean trips to the places they are actually describing, though in Jill’s case it seemed the place and historical story she based her book on often came first, and this is what drove her writing.

It became very clear, particularly in Adele’s case, that she had become extremely engrossed in her subject.  As a first time writer of a fictional book based on fact she’d wanted to get the true story across of the ‘spare brides’, those left behind after the first world war.  She’d delved into the detail so much that she now had a house full of posters and knick knacks from that era.

Some of the best points from the interesting hours talk were:

  • Your readers need to stay in the moment.  Detailed research is good but only if we, as a present day reader, understand it.  ie don’t use a term that means nothing today
  • Also, they need to be unaware that you have researched, the story feels natural to them
  • You need to know when too much research is a step too far.  It might be nice to include that point, but only if it adds to the story.
  • And finally, it doesn’t have to be true as long as you, the reader, believes.  Going back to Phil’s last post about action books, they are terrible for this, putting someone in a situation where they would die but miraculously the come out unscathed.

I’m still unsure about this last one, but then I am a terror for picking flies in story lines or looking for mistakes in films so perhaps I am the extreme.  I just want to make sure with this book, as we are talking about things I know nothing about, that the reader doesn’t get put off by us getting our naval terms wrong.

Anyway, I got a lovely signed book at the end and had a brief chat with Adele who also seemed lovely!

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