Today I am taking part in the Blog Blitz for The Serial Dater’s Shopping List by Morgen Bailey. Today Morgen will be sharing about the characters in this novel! Bombshell Books is the publisher.
31 days. 31 dates.
Izzy is a journalist who usually writes a technology column for a Northampton newspaper. Her somewhat-intimidating boss William sets her the task of dating thirty-one men, via an internet dating site, all within a month, and writing about it for the paper.
Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend Donna, Izzy knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts and starts ticking them off as she meets the men.
Follow the ups and downs of the dating process including Tim ‘the Weeble’, whose date leads Izzy to see banoffee pie in a whole new light, Lawrence the super-skinny social worker, Felix with his bizarre penchant for Persian Piranhas, and ‘the music maestro but don’t talk about dead pets’ Jake.
By the end of the month, will Izzy have met Mr Right?
A laugh-out-loud comedy about the highs and lows of dating.
The main cast…
Our protagonist, Isobel ‘Izzy’ McFarlane, is fairly like me, so much so in fact that my brother calls The Serial Dater’s Shopping List my autobiography! Izzy’s just turned forty – slightly younger than I was when I wrote it, 5’10 –as I am, and quite quiet. She is, however, not timid and gives the guys she meets – who are weird and mostly not so wonderful – as good as she gets.
Through other threads within the novel, the reader meets her family and colleagues – including Izzy’s best friend Donna, and their boss’s fifty-year-old African Grey Parrot ‘Baby’ gets a few mentions.
The ‘dates’ – the main male characters other than Izzy’s boss William and colleague Aunt Agnes (Keith) – were mostly in a Word document of notes I’d built up over the previous months. I could have just picked one to be our ‘hero’ but they were so quirky that I wanted to include them all. I then needed a woman to meet them but she had to have a reason to meet so many in a short time so a journalist popped into my brain, as did Izzy’s name. Having grown up with the aforementioned (geeky) brother, I gave Izzy a technology column, and part of her remit is to create an online dating profile, something I’m (too) accustomed to doing.
Because it’s Izzy’s ‘job’ to meet these men, and while she is single and would like to meet ‘Mr Right’, she’s fairly self-assured and remains quite aloof of her situation, reminding herself that she doesn’t have to get involved when on some occasions it could have been easy to let go.
Apart from its location – Northampton, England, I’m not aware of any dating novels that have quite so many characters. We get to meet most of them only in their chapter so, like someone we talk to at a party and never see again, we get an impression of them – favourable or otherwise, some staying in our minds for longer – and then we (Izzy) move(s) on.
There are few children in this story. Those featured include colleague Karen’s sons (who often test games for Izzy), one of the dates’ sons, and Izzy’s niece, Lola. Lola’s lovely, and so clever. I don’t have children but I have a family next door with a young daughter. While I didn’t base Lola on her, she’s actually now what I imagined Lola to be.
As for the men that Izzy meets, they are definitely quirky, although she quite readily finds fault with many of them, and in most cases rightly so. They say clothes ‘maketh the man’ and two of the most memorable are Nigel the day-glo cyclist, and Eddie the colour-blind traffic light. We also have Tim who eats a ‘platter for two’ as a snack, the complete opposite of so-thin-he’s-hidden-behind-a-pillar Lawrence, and Hunky Dunky, Izzy’s first date. Of course there are more ‘normal’ characters but, just like life, no-one’s perfect.
A story is made up of three main elements: characters, setting and plot. Some may disagree but, to me, characters are the most important. You can have a fascinating plot and / or beautiful or intriguing setting but if the reader doesn’t care what happens to Joe or Joanne then the rest doesn’t matter. We’ve put them up a tree and are throwing rocks at them. How they stop us and get down is why the reader turns the page. Add in a thunder storm or kitten on a branch they can’t reach, then it adds further tension – there’ll always be more than one problem in a novel – and another resolution that the reader will be pleased they stuck with the story to reach.
Characters are rarely representative of one person. Most of a writer’s friends will think – so hope or even ask – that the characters are them, especially the good bits – but we watch television, we listen to the radio, we live life. Always have your notebook, dictaphone or mobile phone handy to capture the bus driver’s, little old lady’s, or screaming child’s traits – you never know when they might make the perfect character.
Who’s your favourite character from another author’s story? Who’s your own?
About the Author:
Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, Writers’ Forum magazine columnist, blogger, speaker, and Northants Authors co-founder. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates, RONE, BeaconLit, BBC Radio 2 and Althorp Literary Festival short story competitions. She also runs her own free monthly 100-word competition and is a forthcoming Flash 500 judge.
Today I am one of the spots on the blog blitz for Merciless by Heleyne Hammersley. The publisher is Bloodhound Books. The publication date for Merciless was yesterday, June 1st! Today I will be sharing in her own words how Heleyne’s writing evolves in its own way, but still has similar themes.
Two murders. One missing girl.
DI Kate Fletcher is called out to a freezing canal where a woman’s body is found floating in a lock. With no identification, the police struggle to piece together the details of the woman’s life.
In Thorpe a daughter confesses to the murder of her father. She says she helped him escape a painful death from liver cancer, but was her role more active than she claims?
As Kate and her team investigate, the links between the two cases are inescapable and everything seems to lead back to the disappearance of a teenager years earlier.
Then the main suspect vanishes….
Can Kate connect the events of past and present to bring the culprit to justice?
I never intended to write psychological fiction. I’ve always loved reading thrillers and chillers but I never really felt that I had it in me to write one – let alone two. I’ve written comedy, romance and even tried a bit of young adult dystopian adventure but I’d always steered clear of anything approaching suspense and crime. When I started to write ‘Forgotten’ it wasn’t really about what had happened to my central character as much as what was going to happen to her. It was about her identity and her ability to rebuild herself. The crime elements seemed to fit perfectly with that quest for self-knowledge.
My second novel ‘Fracture’ – published by Bloodhound Books on October 28th – is perhaps a more traditional thriller. It has a murder, a detective, a suspect and a few twists and turns. But, again, it is much more than that. At the heart of the story is the central character’s need to establish her sense of self and not become lost in somebody else. Again the traditional crime elements seemed to fit perfectly around the character’s emotional and physical journey.
I’ve started writing a series of more traditional police procedurals – Merciless is the second – and these are somewhat different from my first two novels. There are a couple of murders, a team of cops and a villain. Yet, unintentionally, that theme of self-discovery and identity is lurking again. The main character has returned to her childhood home after many years away and is forced to confront how her early experiences shaped her and added to her identity. In Merciless the villain is also shaped by her past and is forced to confront who and what she has become.
I’m currently working on the next novel in the series and again, I’ve found out that one of my characters has issues surrounding his identity. He was adopted and, while he is aware of this, it isn’t something that he’s shared with his colleagues – mainly because he doesn’t want them to know the identity of his birth mother.
I taught English for many years and one question that students asked again and again was ‘Did the author really put all this stuff in this book/poem/play deliberately or are we just looking for patterns and themes and seeing what might be there?’ The honest answer? I don’t know. I don’t think I’m obsessed with identity and self-discovery yet up it pops up in a lot of my writing. I know who I am, I know where I’ve been and what has shaped me so where does this recurring theme come from? I’m sure a psychotherapist would charge me a lot of money to give me the answer but I’m equally sure that I probably wouldn’t agree with his/her assessment.
And that’s what I love about writing. Sometimes my characters do things that I wasn’t expecting, sometimes the plot takes a turn that I didn’t plan for and often, it seems, I stick to a theme even though I’m not consciously aware that I’m doing so.
About the Author:
Heleyne Hammersley is a British writer based in Cumbria. She writes psychological suspense thrillers and crime novels.
Heleyne has been writing since junior school – her first work was a collection of poems called ‘Give Them the Works’ when she was ten years old. The poems were carefully handwritten on plain paper and tied together with knitting wool.
When she’s not writing, Heleyne can often be found wandering on the fells or in the local park with her dog.[Top]
I am excited to announce that I will participating in my first Blog Blitz this weekend! This is where several bloggers come together to get the word out on a book. The book that the Blog Blitz will focus on is In the Wake of Death by Billy McLaughlin.
Here is the cover of In the Wake of Death:
There will also be a chance to win a copy this weekend!
I will be posting on Facebook, G+ and Twitter about the Book Blitz! Stop back here this weekend for the Blitz![Top]