Tag Archives: Surprise Reaction

I didn’t expect to like this book, but….

It’s irritating to contemplate a book, especially one that’s become a best-seller, despite an unlikely plot and think “I don’t think I’d enjoy it,” then you try to read it and it’s just as bad as you thought! You kick yourself, promising to avoid that author.

Sometimes, though, a book title will keep nudging your consciousness, gently enticing you to read. I have a tendency to avoid reading bestsellers immediately, leaving a couple of years until the fuss has died down. I keep a record of books to request from the local library, but one of them was sitting on the shelf waiting for me last week.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was a breakout debut in 2017, winning the Costa First Novel Award. Reese Witherspoon is adapting it into a film.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Wikipedia

I loved it! It’s one the most skillful character portrayals I’ve read, for Honeyman slowly releases information about Eleanor’s history helping the reader understand why she is so strange. I admit, I guessed a plot twist, but that’s one of the drawbacks of being a writer. That the author resisted a traditional happy ending is all to the good, adding to the power of the story. It’s one of those tales where you bond with the character, wondering what they’re up to now.

Even this version of the book cover is fitting:

A couple of freinds mentioned The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’d put off reading it because I rarely read anything about Nazis following exposure to their atrocities when I was a child after reading details of the Nuremberg war trials. I was captivated by The Book Thief.

The Book Thief – Wikipedia

It’s good to be wrong sometimes.

Other books I enjoyed, without expecting to, include Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist, which is moving in its twists and turns, tragic one moment, then comedic.

The Lonely Polygamist – Wikipedia

Another book I didn’t expect to like was Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris whose title is as misleading as the book cover design. Reading it partly as research for the second novella in my series about a traumatised American Civil War cavalry officer rebuilding his life in the post-war Reconstruction era, I was gripped by the dilemma faced by townspeople suddenly swept into the conflict by an invading army. Well-researched and surprisingly violent, I cared for the characters.


Which books have you enjoyed, that you didn’t think you would?

Do you scare yourself?

I should add, do you upset, arouse, please or amuse yourself as you write a story?

Image result for crazy author gif

I just experienced another example of my writing unexpectedly affecting me.

I’ve been moved by my own writing only a few times, largely because I know what’s coming next, of course. I’ve penned some revolting scenes in my crime novels, including finding corpses and autopsies. There are so many facts to get right, that I’m more focused on the minutiae of decomposition and post-mortem techniques than I am with the emotions of the participants—which are muted, as they’re professionals who’ve seen it all before.

All the same, there was a scene in the first Cornish Detective story which always makes my heart beat faster. In it, a headstrong detective conceals information about a serial killer—a master of disguise—planning to arrest him alone to secure prestige and promotion. Visiting the killer’s workplace at night, no one appears to be there. Thwarted he makes for the police station, stopping to examine a nearby skip/dumpster for evidence. He disturbs a homeless Asian woman, and going to offer her help with sheltered accommodation for the night, he realises at the last moment that it’s the man they’re hunting in disguise. The detective dies. Every time I read it, I’m gripped by the danger he’s in.

Finding a way to write a sex scene for my Cornish Detective was tricky, as it had to fit into a crime story and the circumstances of the MC and his lover. I went for erotic rather than out-and-out-get-it-all-out-and-stick-it-in-there pornography! Two of my three female beta readers loved it, while the other thought it too explicit—preferring the gory details of a body being dissected by the pathologist. Impossible for me to judge if it’s sexy or not, but it’s emotional and fitted in with how my protagonist finally permitted himself to become close to another person, after running scared from intimacy for nine years of widowhood.

I was more moved by the grief of a widower in a short story I wrote about assisted suicide at the Dignitas Clinic, shedding a few tears when he finds hidden messages from his dearly departed wife.

The ghost stories I’ve written slowly build an atmosphere of dread, so I’m more aware of technique than I am horrified. However, just this evening, my skin crawled as I thought of a way to conclude a Crime short story I’m writing in a ghostly way. 

Image result for writer haunted by ghosts

I intend to give away a couple of tales to subscribers to my newsletter from the Cornish Detective website. I started a story in March, returning to it from time to time. The Sad House became gloomier and gloomier, possibly reflecting my own pessimism as I struggled to understand how to build a WordPress blog.

The abandoned cottage has been the scene of murder and suicide for 150 years, so much so, that it’s the first place the police search when a vulnerable adult goes missing. I had vague intentions to add a supernatural element, but couldn’t think how to do it. Out of the darkness of my subconscious, came the idea of my MC catching a glimpse of a woman watching him from an upstairs window of the deserted house. Rushing to find who it is, the detective sees a shadow disappearing into the wall followed by a plaintive wailing. I think it’s the change of senses, from him examining a historic crime scene to hearing the distress of one of the victims that gives me goosebumps.

Image result for ghost look window

How have you been affected by your own writing?