FRANK has continued to present his well honed case to agents and potential publishers throughout the month of October but the huge and interesting changes he makes in his fictional life, in the novel, ‘To Be Frank’, have not yet been taken on board. Frank is however not a quitter and in the autumn of his life (he is 62 in the book) he will keep on trying to get recognition. He is aware that many members of the book community are busy catching up post pandemic as well as possibly being involved with the Frankfurt Book Fair so it’s lucky he is a patient character.
Meanwhile as Frank’s creator I’ve been occupying the writer in me by writing short stories and shorter pieces of flash fiction. Suddenly it’s November and notices about NaNoWriMo are appearing across social media platforms. Having completed NaNoWriMo successfully on two past occasions, I chose not to do it again this year and instead I’ve joined FlashNano 2021 which is run by http://www.nancystohlman.com . Here one is sent a daily prompt for the 30 days of November. You can write as little or as much as you wish each day but must write something every day. There is no obligation to post the flashes so it feels more fun and less pressurised than the challenge of the full NaNoWriMo.
I’ve done the first 5 days and am enjoying writing about topics far removed from my usual themes and I guess that’s the idea. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll have 30 short stories to tidy up and use in the future. Maybe at least one of them might make it’s way into a future novel.
With my next novel, To Be Frank, on its way and currently doing the rounds of the agents, I thought I’d remind readers of what has come before.
Recently, when I’ve bumped into people emerging from Covid restrictions, they’ve asked if I am still writing. When I say I’ve been working on my fourth novel they look surprised and interested and that’s great. More than once they’ve continued to say that they’ve only read one or sometimes two of my books and I’ve wondered why? It seems odd when they’ve made such a point of saying they’ve enjoyed my books. I thought perhaps a reminder of what they might have missed would be helpful, along with an honest analysis of my own thoughts on the writing.
My first novel, There’s No Sea in Salford, is the story I really wanted to write, based on my time working as a final year medical student for 3 months in Sri Lanka in 1978. In many ways it’s my favourite story, but also the most naive, written before I’d discovered what a novel really needs in terms of technique and structure. I am still trying to learn!
How They Met Themselves came about after the short and sharp success of TNSIS when I was determined not to be a one trick pony. Here I used experiences taken from a wonderful journey around California, made with three good friends a year after we’d all retired from our professional careers. Rather than give away tales of what we got up to, I invented Max as the main protagonist and allowed him to make a similar journey, even though he and his friends were at least 30 years younger than us.
In HTMT readers come upon the fictional character of Max for the first time, as a young traveller taking a gap year after graduating from university. He and his eventual wife reappear in my next two books, Lawn House Blues and To Be Frank, so it’s well worth meeting him if you haven’t done so already. Books two, three and four all stand alone but a few of the characters crop up again from time to time, so watch out.
Lawn House Blues is set much closer to home in rural Suffolk and goes into more depth, looking at families, relationships and secrets from the past. It revolves around an old country manor house and the owners’ struggle to maintain it in the modern world. Snape Matings even gets a mention.
I consider LHB my most accomplished novel to date and I love the breadth and detail of the characters within the story. In fact I love the characters so much that a number of them are developed further in To Be Frank. Frank’s story is very different and moves between the countryside around Lawn House and the Suffolk coast.
To Be Frank is still the working title of novel number four and the title therefore might change. Covid times have given me time to rewrite Frank’s story many times so I hope the end result will be interesting, believable and enjoyable for future readers. I am not planning to rush to get this published, so you might have to wait a little longer and meanwhile simply be satisfied by my little WordPress drip feeds, or perhaps read or re-visit the previous books.
All three of these books shown above are available on Amazon as paperback and kindle editions.
Not writing much on http://www.philippahawley.com lately because I’ve been in Felixstowe in my head (among other places) polishing off another novel set in lovely Suffolk. Agent hunting now so that’s the next challenge.
This is your first taster and I will be drip feeding more information as I go along, so watch this space.
Wandering in the garden, the day before lockdown eases, thankful for the wonders of nature and the time and space to enjoy it, grateful for the warmer weather and the welcome rain, hopeful we will take good care of our world for the future.
Hungry juvenile great spotted woodpecker.
Polystichum setiferum, (auditioning for Jurassic Park).
Posting ruddy face mask welts and lockdown haircuts we reconnect through screens, rehearse our daily routines, and wait for the vaccine cavalry to restitch reality.
I scroll, I tap, I ‘Read More’. Graphs, quotes, opinions, read more! I need to salve the agitation simmering deep. All I find is distraction.
Pixilated Mum. Close up ear on upside-down phone. Tiny Mum in zoom cubicle. Disembodied voice. One year, more, she can’t crush me in her arms.
I weep in my bunk, in my hand a tangerine with a dusting of green where once a stalk joined it to tree and family.
Ian Richardson has been reading books and comics for a long time. Eventually, inevitably, he began to write and gained confidence to share his work. He lives in Scotland and enjoys walking his dog and exploring local countryside with camera in hand. His micro poetry can be found on…