Things That Matter
I’ve often wondered how we choose what we write. Do we choose to write short stories or novels because we love them, or do we just drift into the form? And what about the subject matter? Why do we choose that?
The first short story I ever had published was called Second Chance, and it was published in a teenage confession magazine called Loving (I wish that magazine was still around, it was excellent)
Second Chance was set in a doctor’s surgery, and it was all about a teenager who was planning to have a termination – blimey, I don’t think I’d sell that story now – it’s quite a controversial issue, even today. But then I’ve always liked writing about controversial issues. I don’t have a copy of Second Chance any more but I can remember the last line, which went something like this.
Throughout her life she would give her baby many second chances, but none of them would be as important as the one she was giving him now…
The first novel I ever wrote was called Prisoners.
It was about a woman who works in a pet shop and falls in love with someone she shouldn’t (her married boss). There are a few animal characters and they have a few nights out (the people, not the animals) and in the end the couple get it together.
If this sounds like an immense muddle, then that’s because it was. I’d had four or five short stories published when I wrote Prisoners. I thought writing a novel was simply a matter of writing 70,000 words.
Moving swiftly on, my first published novel, Passing Shadows, was about a woman who works in an animal sanctuary and falls in love with someone she shouldn’t (the father of her best friend’s child.) There are a few animal characters and they have a few nights out (the people, not the animals) and in the end the couple get it together.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? So why did this novel work and Prisoners not work? Well, partly because I knew a bit more about what I was doing. I was passionate about the main characters, Maggie and Finn. Also, this novel had some strong themes, friendship and betrayal being two of them.
My latest novel, Ice and a Slice, also has some strong themes. It’s about friendship, beating the odds, and love.
It’s also about alcoholism, which is a theme I’ve explored in short stories too, but I wanted to take it further and the only way to do this was to write a novel.
The main character in Ice and a Slice, is called SJ, and she drinks too much, although she would argue until she was blue in the face about that! And if you don’t believe me, then do check out her Facebook page here or her Twitter account here, where she is surprisingly active!
So, why did I write about alcoholism? Well, as I said earlier I’m big on issues. I like writing about things that matter, and alcoholism is a subject very close to my heart. Many of my family suffer from it. Some of them are in recovery and some of them are not. And some have died needless premature deaths.
An alcoholic is not someone, as I once thought, who drinks meths on a park bench. Alcoholism is not a moral issue for weak minded people – it’s a disease that can affect anyone – it can strike doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, vicars, secretaries, taxi drivers, anyone. It’s a disease of our time.
So, yes I feel passionate about alcoholism and that’s why I wrote Ice and a Slice. SJ – or Sarah-Jane Crosse to give her full name – is deeply flawed, but I love her to bits. I think she’s probably the most three dimensional character I’ve ever created. Hence, she has her own social media pages. Do check them out.
You’ll have more luck getting a sensible answer from her when she’s sober – so mornings are good!
And if you like what you see, do take a look at Ice and a Slice too – you can read a free sample or buy it for less than a glass of Chardonnay :) by clicking here.
Thanks for reading.
Della Galton x
Thanks Della - I always enjoy issue-led fiction. It means so much more!
In Ice and a Slice, SJ is aware she might possibly drink a bit too much but she's not admitting to the label 'alcoholic'. Her husband Tom is hardly ever around, and seems pretty unsupportive. SJ is estranged from her sister, after she slept with SJ's first husband, leading to the break-up of that marriage. Friend Tanya is doing what she can to help, but she has problems of her own that she must come to terms with. SJ plucks up the courage to see an addiction counsellor, the rather gorgeous Kit, and it is from then on that her life begins to change.
There's a really shocking scene at the start of this book, and then you get the back story showing what led up to those events. It's a real page-turner of a book. Although it is written in third person, you get so close to SJ that it feels like first person, and by the end, SJ seems like a friend. So it's lovely you can then interact with her on Twitter or Facebook - see Della's links above!
This is a book with some serious messages, but it's written with warmth and humour, from the point of view of a character you really care about. Definitely one that's worth reading. You can buy it here.