Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Five Things I'll Never Write

I've now had five books traditionally published, and published one myself, so I recently launched a new website ( with a tagline: "Your friend for feel-good fiction".

That tagline tells you a lot about me. I want my books to uplift and bring happiness. I want people to get warm fuzzy feelings as the close the book after reading the last page. I want readers to get pleasure from my books.

To that end, there are five things you will never find in one of my books. Not now, not at any time in the future:

1. A Sex Scene
My mother reads my books. More than that, I tend to feel that intimate moments between couples really should be private even when that couple is fictional. I really don't see any circumstance in which detailed description of sexual acts can advance the plot of a book.

2. Swearing
I hate swearing. It's poor use of language, "the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully" (Spencer W. Kimball), using words out-of-context purely for shock value. I defriend anyone who swears on Facebook, and I remonstrate with people who swear in the street within earshot of my children. My books will never contain a swear word.

3. Misery
I really don't understand the recent craze for misery memoirs, with all the horrors of people's abused childhoods laid bare. I know there are horrible parts of life. I know that atrocities happen, and that many people are very damaged by what they go through. But as Marvin the paranoid android said, "Life's bad enough as it is without wanting to invent any more of it." There's no place in my books for any seriously horrible stuff.

4. Politics
I write for an international audience, with my books available worldwide. Expounding my views on UK politics is the very quickest way to alienate readers, and will be pointless and senseless for many of my readers who don't happen to live on these islands.

5. Bad spelling, grammar and construction
I'm a horrible grammar nazi. Yes, there may be the odd typo in my work (although I do use editors, some always slip through) but I really work hard to make sure my writing is good. Maybe it's because I read too much great literature, but I always feel that it's important that a book is actually well-written with meaningful metaphors, evocative description and dazzling prose. I don't claim to be able to achieve this all the time, but I really do try. I'm currently reading a book by a huge author (and I mean really huge - billboards all over the underground huge) and I'm astonished to find that it's really badly written! I mean, the guy can't write for toffee. Unless I can read back my work and feel it stands up to some of my favourite authors, that there are parts I'm proud of, and that it really is good, I'm not going to submit or publish it.

Because if I'm going to call myself "Your friend for feel-good fiction" my books needs to make you feel good, they need to be good, and you have to be able to trust me as you would a friend.


  1. I have always wondered if I could write an acceptable scene where someone was drinking beer or wine or coffee or even smoking. Those are common to much of the world but since I have never partaken I don't know if I could make it believable.

    1. Ah, this is where we converts have the edge! I haven't done all these things (never smoked) but I can describe the taste of wine and coffee.

  2. Do you read books that have sex and misery in it?

  3. No I don't. I don't read misery memoirs, and if I come to an unexpected sex scene I generally throw out the book. Mostly I read sci-fi and dystopian, classics and LDS fiction.



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