Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

This is a fascinating historical tale told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, King Henry's agent for disposing of Anne Boleyn. Cromwell is a clever, crafty, pragmatic fellow and through him Hilary Mantel provides a more realistic take on this period of history and explores the machinations of power. She has created a unique story. Her narrative is refreshing in its power and choice of words.

It helps to be familiar with Henry Tudor and his reign before you begin the story. It is easy to lose one's anchor in the Boleyn story because of confusion about the various characters and their agendas. It is sometimes difficult to know who is speaking or be sure you are in Cromwell's point of view. As a reader, I was frustrated by having to stop and ask myself: Where am I in time and space? Who is this character and what do they look like, what motivates them? What is the relationship between one character and another? I guess a reread is in order to see if I can pinpoint why I experienced such a frustrating disconnect from the story. From time to time, I would pick up a different novel just for the experience of being able to clearly experience the story. In Mantel's story, you feel like you are looking through the window at an alien scene. There are things happening for which the reader may not have enough background. Nevertheless, it is well done in terms of examining the psyche and motivation of Cromwell, how he handles the complex character of King Henry, and how he wields power.

If you've read this book, what do you think? Did you find it difficult to keep track of all the characters and their motivations? Or is it just me? I'm torn two ways on this book--really admiring the way the author explores Cromwell's point of view and being frustrated by keeping track of all the characters.

If you would like to download an excellent audiobook sample of BRING UP THE BODIES, click here.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Linda. I'm back after my month long hiatus for NaNo. Successfully finished a first draft. So my first business is to say hello to all my RFW peeps. I hope you're doing well. Where are you at with Hawk?

    This book doesn't sound like an easy holiday read. I love English history and have visited Anne Boleyn's childhood home, poor girl.

    Denise

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  2. Hi Denise. Congratulations on finishing your first draft! Laughing Hawk is awaiting the completion of interior layout, ebook conversion, and spine/back cover. Every step takes more time than you think. I could have elected to do some of this work myself, but since this is my first time out of the shoot, I didn't want to further complicate the process nor spend the time/money in learning InDesign.

    Bring Up the Bodies is not an easy read, but it's a good book. You just can't go sailing through it, which is my usual tendency. I think if I hadn't seen the film, The Other Boleyn Girl, I would have been a little lost, historically speaking (although the film is not a 100% accurate telling). I find this period of English history fascinating.

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