With the amount of so-called ‘celebrities’ who become famous these days for having no particular talent at all, I really appreciate some of my favourite authors, both those bestselling ones, and more recently, some Indie ones too who rock my world.
After all, you won’t find them cavorting naked in a hot tub on a TV screen in front of millions of viewers as you might on an episode of ‘Big Brother’ or any other of the inane, mind numbing shows that pop up these days. Just by appearing on one of those programmes, average Billie Jo in her white stilettos, spray tan and vajazzled vagina can now be considered a star to a nation. All of this ‘fake celebrity status’ is fuelled as she’s then invited onto shows like ‘Loose Women’ or ‘This Morning’ to speak about her experiences with ‘Sexy Sam Six Pack’ from ‘down sourf’ who she’s fallen in ‘lurve’ with after their close encounters in a bed in a room with a dozen other no marks from up and down the country.
They’re not stars…of course not. They’re just materialistic opportunists with very little shelf life. The media gets fed up of them in time and they fade from the front page, their looks diminish and pretty soon Bille Jo and Sexy Sam are no longer what they once were, indeed, if ever they were in the first place.
Now give me an author who has spent years writing books that can transport me to other worlds, who has built up a large fan base of dedicated followers, and I’m hooked. Those people to me are real celebrities. And although I write books myself and have my own loyal fan base, I am not trying to suggest for one moment I am in that league!
I remember being absolutely thrilled to meet several famous romance authors at the Romantic Novelist’s Association ‘Write From the Heart’ conference/workshop in Cirencester, Gloucester, quite a few years ago. The authors were there as speakers and to enjoy a luncheon and the day for themselves too. Penny Jordan, who was a prolific author, was one of the speakers that day. She spoke about plot ideas and I was in absolute awe of her. She was extremely beautiful too and her looks belied her years. This was a lady who during her lifetime wrote more than 200 novels and she also wrote some using pen names such as: Annie Groves, Melinda Wright and Lydia Hitchcock. A prolific writer of petite proportion!
A keen reader from childhood, her mother would leave her in the children’s section of the local library while she changed her father’s library books. Her story-telling career began at the age of eight when she began telling original bedtime stories to her younger sister. During her career she worked as a typist and her husband bought her a small, electric type writer at a time when they could ill afford it. Yet, on that type writer she wrote her first novels.
After enjoying a hugely successful career, Penny Jordan, sadly passed away on New Year’s Eve, 2011. I’ve never forgotten her advice about plot ideas that day.
Another author I was pleased to meet at that conference was Katie Fforde who has penned a number of best selling contemporary romance novels. At that workshop I was fortunate to be able to ask Katie a question about character development and later she sat beside me as we listened to another author speak. All the while I was thinking, “I can’t believe I’m sitting next to The Katie Fforde!” There were no airs and graces from any of those best selling authors that day, they didn’t act as if they were any better than any of us new authors, who had just joined the RNA. Yet, to me those authors were and still are stars in my eyes.
What I love too about some well known authors is the fact they’ve been where I am now and if they have the time are only too pleased to pass on their advice to people like myself. Of course, I’d never think of sending them a manuscript and asking them to appraise it. Though, one time I wrote to Crime Fiction author, Peter Robinson, for advice. I fired off an email to him and somehow it winged its way to his abode in Canada. He didn’t reply immediately, after all, he is a busy bloke! But about six months later he answered my novel related question. I’d just started writing a crime fiction novel and had about eight chapters under my belt.
One of things he’d said to me in that email was, “Lynette, only you know deep inside if your book is any good or not…”
That struck a chord with me. No, I didn’t think my book was that good even though my contemporaries at my writing group seemed to enjoy the chapters I read out to them. I decided to scrap it entirely and eventually wrote another novel which was published a couple of years later. However, the experience of trying to write that first novel stood me in good stead. I now had more idea about pacing as before that I wrote mainly short stories, which is quite a different beast altogether. Funnily enough, one of the authors at that workshop that day had spoken about pacing and compared the highs and lows to a temperature chart. That lady was Anita Burgh, another author who’s works I admire. Her words to me that day were like gold dust.
The first novel I attempted to write was scrapped, yet I’d learned so much from it about research, formation of chapters, pacing, characterisation, etc. In fact, I liked one of the characters so much…he was the villain of the piece, that he popped up in a later novel. By then, I knew a lot about him, even his back story, and I really think it added to the story.
On Facebook, I am fortunate to have a couple of best selling authors on my friend list and I really admire their work. To me, they are the celebrities because they’ve earned it, they haven’t sat naked [showing all their bits] in a hot tub in front of the nation, for five minutes of fame…well maybe they have, but because they’re so-talented, I’d forgive them anything!