Archive for the ‘The Bad Twin’ Category





Filed under: The Bad Twin, writing

Last week I received my editorial letter and marked-up manuscript from my editor, so I’m spending this week busy revising the Headline Review novel. Which used to be called The Bad Twin, but isn’t any more, and still doesn’t have a new title. Yet.

The revisions aren’t that extensive—it’s more about tweaking little things than any wholescale slaughter, all to do with making things right for the reader. For example, I’m toning down my heroine’s language a bit. She’s a tough-as-nails stunt woman, and when I wrote her, she just came out swearing quite a bit. But my reader doesn’t really need all the cussing; a little bit can go a long way toward showing character, and too much can put the reader off.

My method for revising is to have the ms in front of me, and also the revision letter. As I check each page, I drop it on the floor. As I do each item in the revision letter, I tick it. If there are questions, I mark those up so I can ring my editor about them later.

My editor also suggested I use chapter headings rather than numbers, which is a lot of fun, so I’m adding those as I go, too. And because we’re still thinking about titles, I’m jotting down any ideas that come to me.

Anyway, I’m on page 141 of 516. And hope to get a lot further with it before the end of the day.






Filed under: crows, Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom, The Bad Twin, writing

The absolutely gorgeous but also rather evil Anna Louise Lucia said to me today on the phone, “You know, one reason I love being friends with you is that I just get to say ‘I told you so’ so many times.”

If you’ve read my blog at all for the past eighteen months or so, I’ve had a little bit of, er, trouble writing my last two books. In that, I thought they were utterly crap, pretty much until I got 60% of the way through the first draft, and just slightly less crap for the remaining 40% or so. There were usually one or two scenes that I liked, but that was it. Otherwise, I SUCKED, I was AWFUL, I was GOING TO LOSE MY CAREER and BE MOCKED MIGHTILY BY REVIEWERS AND READERS, to say nothing of my agent and editor. I moped and complained and moped some more and was generally not pleasant to be with.

“Don’t worry,” my then-editor said. “If you’re having trouble it’s because you’re stretching yourself as a writer.” I nodded, but did I believe her?

Not a fart’s chance in hell.

Revising the books made me like them more. I could see the whole thing, I could begin to pull them together and shape them into something more like how I wanted them to be. But still, I wasn’t so certain.

Even when my agent and my editor loved Nina Jones and said it was their favourite of all my books so far, there was a bit of my brain that didn’t really believe them. That thought they were just being nice (never mind that they’d never minced words in the past). Humouring the insane author, whilst edging away towards the nearest exit.

You know what, though? I’m reading the proofs for Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom. And after all that agonising, all that self-flagellation, all that moping and complaining, I LIKE IT. I actually like it quite a bit. I actually kind of love it. I’ve stayed up late to read more, even though I know what’s going to happen. I almost sort of feel that it’s nearly the book I wanted it to be from the start.

And then of course there’s my current book, The Bad Twin, which I (thoroughly sick of every word) delivered to my agent last week and which she said she wouldn’t get a chance to read properly until Friday. Thank God, I thought, seven days of reprieve before I have to face up to the massive revisions she’s sure to give me. She was the first and only person to have the entire draft; others have read little bits, but not the whole thing.

She rang me today, two days before Friday mind you, having read all 146,000 words in two sittings, and said she loves it. And then proceeded to give me a detailed and enthusiastic list about all the things she loves about it—things that, actually, now that she mentions it, I love too.

Is it perspective? Is it time? Is it the opinion of professionals whom I trust? Is it just that I’m really stupid?

I really don’t know. But I’m really, really relieved.

And drinking wine.





uh-oh. we’re in trouble. biiiig trouble.

Filed under: about me, parenthood, The Bad Twin

Ferrari EnzoAston Martin Vanquish

It has all gone too far. But I couldn’t help it. Too many forces were working together to push me to this. And now…it’s too late.

I love Top Gear.

In my defence, let me plead two extenuating circumstances. One: my heroine in The Bad Twin is a stunt woman. She specialises in flying, martial arts and especially, stunt driving. She loves fast cars. So of course for the book, I had to research cars. She crashes a Ferrari Enzo in chapter one—one of 400 only ever made. A Porsche 911 Turbo and a BMW L740 are also important to the plot. The hero drives a Aston Martin Vanquish in British racing green. And the climactic scene happens in…well, in something very like this.

Concurrently, my son is also completely obsessed by cars. His favourite film is Cars. He wants to be Lightning McQueen. He pretends to drive when he’s in his pushchair and he holds imaginary toy car races all over my house.Lightning McQueen
So as, you know, a sort of bonding thing, we started watching Top Gear together.

It was the beginning of a slippery slope. The Fecklet is now convinced that The Stig is his friend. We have conversations about who’s faster, Lightning McQueen or The Stig. Fecklet yells “Top Gear!” the minute he hears that Allman Brothers song. We choose our favourite cars in every episode and talk about them.

And now, the worst has happened. Last night I dreamed I was having sex with Jeremy Clarkson.

I fear it is too late for me.

(Actually I’d much rather have sex with James May. How about you? Which Top Gear presenter would you do in your dreams? And no…you can’t say The Stig. It only counts if you can see his face. Besides, everyone wants The Stig.)

Top Gear Dudes

From left: Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, James May

EDIT: I bought a copy of Heat magazine at the station on my way to the RNA Winter Party and they had their “Weird Crushes of 2009” poll results. Jeremy Clarkson was at number 9, James May at 6, Richard Hammond at 4, and The Stig at 3. See….I’m not weird.





I do wish that the answer, my friend, was blowin’ in the wind.

Filed under: about me, The Bad Twin

It’s blowing a gale outside and the rain is pelting against the windows. This week we had our ancient boiler replaced, and today is just the day to make me feel glad of it. The hole where the old boiler used to sit, in our chimney, is covered for the moment by a piece of MDF which bows in and out with the gusts of wind. Then, suddenly, the sun will come out and it’s like September again.

Fecklet and I have been out in rain gear, so he could jump in muddy puddles, and now we’re back eating the bread we made this morning and soup I made from a roast chicken from earlier in the week. After lunch he’ll have a nap (I hope) and I can spend an hour or so banging my head against this behemoth of a book I seem to have written, while the wind continues to blow outside.

It’s very definitely time to send the thing off, as soon as I can. I’m at the stage now where I’m a) bored with it, and b) second-guessing everything I’ve ever written on it. I’m too close to the story and the characters, and while that’s good in a way (I could write and write and write about these people, I know them so well), it’s also keeping me from having any critical perspective at all. I can’t tell what’s good and what isn’t, any more. This is, to me, a sign that it needs to be read by my agent and then my editor, so they can help me understand what I’ve done well and what needs to be improved.

Plus, I’m getting sick of sitting on the couch editing while Fecklet watches Numberjacks.

Of course, I’m really looking forward to being finished now, and when I actually am finished, I will be depressed as hell. Just watch. I’ll be moping and complaining and generally not fun to be with. You can’t fricking win.

On a much brighter side, I’m definitely using lots of the ice cream suggestions you guys gave me—this morning I put in Cloud Lime, which was one of Kate’s many strokes of genius. I’ll make a list of the ones I’ve used and post it, once I’m finished.

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Any ice cream designers out there?

Filed under: The Bad Twin

Anybody want to help design an ice cream?

In my book, The Bad Twin, the heroine’s family owns an ice cream business, and I need some flavours to mention. The business is called Ice Cream Heaven, and it’s my idea that every flavour should have something to do with “heaven” (or goodness or happiness) in it.

So far, I’ve got:
Toffee Euphoria
Apricot Arcadia
Peachy Keen
Rapture Rum Raisin
Praline Perfection
and Bee’s Knees, which is honeycomb.

Any other ideas? Please, as many as you can think up, I need loads! Especially for chocolate.

Thank you, my creative friends!






Filed under: The Bad Twin

As of last night at sometime past 11, after a bit more than half a bottle of Australian shiraz and some Italian chocolate, I finished my story.

Today, I slept late, went to soft play with Fecklet and DH, and have just been treated to a slap-up pub lunch.

Tomorrow, I print it all out (all 500+ pages, yikes!) and start the read-through before it goes to my agent.

But now I think I will have a nap.





revising update

Filed under: The Bad Twin

Back hurts. I’m on page 398, which is 122,134 words. I’ve still got quite a bit more to go, but my hope is that I’ll be done in the next two weeks, then a readthrough/polish, then off to my agent well before Thanksgiving. Not that Thanksgiving has any meaning here in the UK, but it does to me.

This book is LONG, the longest thing I’ve ever written. It has a lot in it. It’s mostly set in Wiltshire, but it’s also set in Los Angeles, London, Preston and Greece. It has tractors and crop circles and aliens and aeroplanes and fires and sheep and joyriding and Alzheimer’s disease and even a bit of sex and love.

Here’s a paragraph of which I’m very proud, from the revisions I did yesterday:

I’d already spent a completely miserable hour eating dry lamb and dry roast potatoes with my mother, during which neither of us spoke more than necessary. The small talk options had seemed rather limited, since I couldn’t really say, “Well, turns out your perfect other daughter has stolen a car.” Or “How did you like that jujitsu hold I put you in the other night? Inescapable, isn’t it?”






Filed under: The Bad Twin, writing

I’m at the point now, in my revisions, where I’m actually feeling really good about this book. I can understand what’s happening with it. I’m writing new scenes to fit in the gaps I had before, and I’m changing what I’ve already got so it’s stronger and more coherent.

I love my heroine, too. It’s funny to say that for most of the first draft, I wasn’t 100% sure of her. I liked her and she had a strong voice, I sort of knew what made her tick, but I wasn’t in love with her. Going back to the beginning and writing it again made me fall in love with her. Now I think she’s great. She’s ballsy, and a wiseass, and a risk-taker, and selfish. And yet she’s vulnerable and ambitious and frightened and caring.

What I can’t quite tell yet, because nobody else but me has read this, is whether it’s what I want it to be. I’m not really sure that I’ve shown what I want to, or made the world as rich as it could be. I need a reader to tell me that, and also distance.

What are you up to in your writing? NaNoing? Revising? Resting?


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