So, my very first book, Calendar Girl is now available on kindle. Which makes me ever so happy, because it’s not available in print and because it took longer than the others in the series to make it to e-book and I know people like to start at the very beginning.
And it feels a little odd to be suggesting people to go and read it, because of course, now I can see loads of things wrong with it. It’s very episodic (because I mostly wrote it at 3am when I had time and I mostly wrote until I had finished a chapter), it’s fairly short and could have done with quite a lot of building up, some parts are over-written and some under, and there are a few crime-novel clichés in there (not least because I didn’t think I was writing a crime novel, so I didn’t pay attention to certain things I should have steered clear of) …
BUT I am proud of it for many reasons :
– because some of the writing is work that I would still happily allow to be published now
– because it has as much sex as violence in it – that is, I wasn’t coy about writing sex*. Girl sex. Women sex. Women having sex, that is right there, on the page, and pretty graphic. And that wasn’t done an awful lot back in 1992 when I started writing it or 1994 when it was first published and it still isn’t done an awful lot these days.
– because I’d wanted be a writer (whatever that might mean) since I was very young, and had no idea at all how to go about doing that
– because I love Saz. In some ways she’s entirely wrong as a PI – she’s not a very good traditional detective, working on hunch and supposition as much as fact, she runs into situations when other people tell her not to, she tends to get the people working with her beaten up or killed, and she’s always pissing off her partner, when she has one. And back in the 90s when I was writing these books, people sometimes commented on these things as if they were a problem. Now of course, we know they are also the defining characteristics for Sarah Lund, one of the most loved and lauded women crime characters ever. Hey ho, I’ve never quite managed the trick of doing the right thing at the right time!
So, if you fancy a short book that was mostly written at 3am while the author was spending her days temping or cleaning houses for rich people, her evenings doing impro, and was edited while understudying in the West End, and (thank you!) got me started … here you go. I was a very different woman when I started Calendar Girl and the Saz series, over twenty years ago, but I’m really proud of the 27-year-old Stella who had an idea that might be a story or a book, and had no idea how to go about writing a book, had never done a writing course in her life, certainly had no clue about where to start, and decided to give it a go – anyway.
* it always astonishes me when writers who seem to have no problem describing, in graphic detail, a rape or a murder for four or five long pages, do the “and they went upstairs to bed” thing when writing consensual, joyous sex. If we are to balance our violent culture with some good humanity, then real sex – not the fake porn stuff – written honestly, is a fine way to do it.