Tag Archives: novel

Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope

Blood in the CotswoldsA heroine who owns a spaniel and a murder mystery in one of the prettiest parts of Britain – what’s not to like? In my case, quite a bit. Our heroine is apparently Thea Osborne, owner of Hepzie the spaniel, but through the entire course of the book, we don’t learn a single thing she’s thinking. The real main character of the book is her partner Detective Superintendent Phil Collis, who shares his thoughts and point of view with the reader.

The book is written in the third person, but it’s Phil and not Thea that I sympathise with. In fact, half way through the book I didn’t like Thea very much at all. Phil has managed to slip a disc in his back and Thea, who supposedly loves him, is less than sympathetic and quite heartless about it. The poor bloke’s in agony and she seems to treat him and his recalcitrant back as a nuisance. Not that you’d know for sure, for not once in this book are you privy to Thea’s thoughts.

There’s a good cast of supporting characters, some country-lane twists and turns in the plot, the writing itself is well-edited if unexceptional, but I’m left feeling that the main characters are not quite three-dimensional. There’s nothing here that wants to make me read the entire series (unlike, say, Reginald Hill’s Dalziel & Pascoe series where the main protagonists are so well drawn you expect to see them walking down the street).

For me, three out of five. One of those stars is for Hepzie the spaniel.

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What, dear? Novel, dear? Me, dear? No, dear.

Over the years I’ve written several novels. Or rather, parts of several novels. I’ve given up half way, I can’t be bothered finishing, I’ve fallen out of love with my plots or my characters, I’ve lost interest or, worst of all, I’ve got writer’s block.

The Dreaded NovelThe reality is I’m one of Earth’s impatient people, and arranging 100,000 creatively crafted words in one location just takes too long. Hence my short(ish) stories. When I’ve got the characters and the plot for a story, I can churn out 2,000 words an hour if I don’t have any interruptions. In other words, I can write the entire thing in a day, first draft, if I’m lucky. If it’s a 2,000-2,500 word story I can start editing the same day, too. Most of the stories you’ll read on my blog have had minimal editing, by the way. So the odd typo may have crept in there, but essentially I like to use what was in my head or heart first time round.

Friends often ask me why I don’t write a novel, and I tell them much as I’ve said in the paras above. I used to tell my friends when I had a novel on the boil, but these days I don’t. They and I know it’s never going to be finished, and I’ll write something short and silly instead to free my creative juices.

That being said, I admit to having a novel halfway finished at the moment. I started it about a year ago and churned out 8,000 words in a couple of days during my Christmas holidays. It’s now sitting at 15,000 words and I haven’t touched it for months. I can’t find the mental brainspace to get back into it; work encroaches on my weekends these days, and in the evenings I truly want to switch off and be mindlessly entertained by the telly.

I’ve mentioned this poor misbegotten thing because in this case I do have to finish it, and finish it this year. It’s a fanfic (do NOT laugh) which I promised I’d complete for the 40th anniversary of the TV show it’s written about. I’m writing it in the style of the author of the books on which the TV show is based, which makes it even more of a challenge to finish.  I suspect it will end up a novella rather than a novel, or a novel with Very Large Print. As it will never be published by a publisher, and I will never earn a cent from it, it’s a real labour of love. It’s also hanging like the Sword of Damocles over my head as my aim was to get it finished by the end of June.

Having admitted publicly I’m writing it, I’m now committed to completing it. (But if anyone asks you if I’m writing a novel, just tell them “no”.)

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