At this point it almost feels like I’m at home with Karen on her blog. I really couldn’t be in a nicer spot, Karen has the very best books around! She was kind enough to come on board for the Blog Tour for THE GIRL I USED TO KNOW and she invited me to write a post for the occasion. You can go directly to the link here:
And here’s the post – I’m talking genre – and how it all fits together…
Welcome to my turn on the launch celebrations for The Girl I Used to Know. Having read and very much enjoyed a previous book by Faith (Secrets We Keep which I reviewed here) I’m very much looking forward to reading this latest one which is (im)patiently waiting on the Kindle. Today I have a fabulous guest post by Faith which I hope you enjoy. My thanks to Melanie of Aria for inviting me to take part in the tour.
THE SECOND LIVES CLUB!
by Faith Hogan
Very often, when people hear that I write books, one of the first questions they will ask is, what kind of books? A valid question and one would think, a very easy one to answer. Any writer will tell you that next to writing a synopsis, one of the hardest things to do is pick a pigeonhole that fits your own book.
When my agent first came to me with the offer from Aria – there was talk about women’s fiction, about photographic treatments and the writing being for a more grown up, thinking woman. Hence, I’ve ended up with a variety of lovely covers – but still didn’t grasp exactly where the books might fit. You see, I thought Womens’ Fiction was just books for women!
It is only as I’ve journeyed along, taking in the vistas and landscapes, of the genre that I’ve begun to see what she meant.
My books are grown up. I don’t write about twenty something girls – modern day Bridget Joneses or Carrie Bradshaws – mainly because I can’t. Their existence is very different to mine and I’m not about to take a flat in London, sleep with every unsuitable man I spill coffee over and blow my grocery money on heels that would likely give me bunions!
Instead, my books are about the kind of women I know and have known all of my life. They are a mixture of ordinary and extraordinary women who make their way quietly through traumas and triumphs and celebrate as much for others as they do for themselves. These women are like me and you – your friends and mine. These are women we would want to be friends with and women we want to put our arms around because we have, on some level, felt their pain – because their pain is our pain.
Many of these women are older – they are at the age when not so many decades ago, women were supposed to have disappeared from the starring roles in our culture. (Unless you happened to be the Queen, of course – HRH is always relevant!) It seems odd now, that women once pinned their hair up when they got to a certain age – now we have people like Jerry Hall who have better hair than many women half her age.
The real beauty of older women though, from a writer’s point of view is not their hair or the fact that we have learned to age in ways that keep us feeling vital and necessary and significant, rather than relegated at best or at worst burdensome. The real beauty of writing about a more mature heroine, is that she is much more interesting.
You see, you can’t get to fifty years of age, or even thirty-five, without some history. Backstory, no matter how expensive it was to gain along the way, is what makes us who we are. Those outrageous slings and arrows of fortune (sic) shape us; true we thought they might actually kills us, in the end, they only made us much more remarkable.
The other thing about the modern woman is that she is always learning and adapting – I think we are much better at this than men are. We are never too old to learn a new trick or to try some different way to make life more of what we want. We are open to learning, striving and achieving. In fact, if anything, once we are past the stage of nurturing our children, we are positively embracing of change for with it there are possibilities for a better life.
The books that I like to read are ones with characters who are fascinating, women who live outside the tick box of society’s expectations.
In THE GIRL I USED TO KNOW Tess is very much one of those women. She started out, so many years before, a girl filled with passion and when she lost her heart, she lost it wholly and maybe some of her self with it. She has lived her life on her own terms, even if she carved them from loss and bitterness – she arrives at an age where she decides to turn things round. Like very many women, I know, teetering on the verge of retirement, she is ready to grasp a new, if uncertain future, choosing to see in it instead the possibilities for ideal progression.
Amanda, on the other hand, is twenty years younger than Tess. She has lived a seemingly gilded life – from the outside, it looks as though she has it all. It turns out, she’s just a down trodden yes-woman who has gone along with her husband’s plans and quelled her own ambition so it’s hardly even a smouldering flicker anymore. It takes Amanda longer to find herself than it does for her to see through the man she thought she married. Amanda, is like that friend you have, you look at and wonder sometimes, what on earth happened to them – or rather what have they allowed life to do to them? She’s the one you want to shake some sense into – it is, a very, very good thing she has Tess Cuffe nearby – even if she doesn’t realise it for herself!
So now you know… those books, the ones with normal looking women on the cover? The ones that look like you and I? They are women’s fiction – in my case, with THE GIRL I USED TO KNOW, I’m joining a wagon called UpLit – uplifting stories about real people to brighten up your world. I’m not promising you a happy ending, just a story with optimism, every day heroism and assurance. And, I hope, when you pick up THE GIRL I USED TO KNOW, you’ll meet at least one or two people to root for, I know as I was writing it, I was rooting for them to the very last page.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.
Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.
By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.
It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.