During June and July I received notifications or invitations to a number of book launches. Suddenly I'm surrounded by new authors! Authors of exciting books; my to-be-read bookshelf is heaving!
Two of these authors are from Greenacre Writers, the Finchley based writers' group I co-founded with Rosie Canning in 2009, and of which I was an active member. Greenacre Writers was set up with four members and Helen Barbour was our fifth. She has now just published her first novel, The A-Z of Normal, that she first brought to our critiquing groups. There was really only one problem with Helen's novel: there wasn't much wrong that needed critiquing so the rest of us frequently made comments such as 'Well, that chapter was great, I can't think of anything that consider needed to be changed. I really liked how you have portrayed Claire's dilemma when ...' You get the picture!
Helen's book is the story of Clare who has OCD, and the issues this causes. Helen, who blogs about her own OCD and how she manages it, wanted to educate people about this condition which is often misunderstood. She has achieved it in an entertaining way with a novel about Clare who accepts her long-distance boyfriend's proposal only to wonder how she will cope with telling him about her problem, which until now she has managed to keep secret. The course of true love is certainly rocky - will Clare and Tom work it out? For more information read Helen's blog The Reluctant Perfectionist.
The other Greenacre Writer is Anna Meryt who has published her memoir A Hippopotamus at the Table. I think I'd be tempted to pick it up from the title alone - although its origin wasn't what I was expecting - and if you'd like to learn more about that, take a look at this interview.
Anna was originally in GW's memoir and autobiography group co-ordinated by Rosie. I wasn't a member of this group so didn't see Anna's work until she switched to one of the Finish That Novel groups when the memoir group closed. I do however remember reading the first couple of chapters and thinking 'I want to read more.' She recalls her travels in South Africa with her husband and Pascale their eighteen month old daughter in the early 70s when apartheid was rampant. For more information take a look at Anna's blog.
The third author was one of our guest readers at Finchley Literary Festival. Although Irenosen Okojie had only a ten minute reading slot, I was immediately impressed with the vitality of the extract from her debut novel Butterfly Fish. I'm not alone as it is, rightly so, attracting a great deal of attention. For a little more, see my blogpost on the festival about this exciting new author: Irenosen Okojie.
Last but not least is a writer who I 'met' online. I first read some of Joanna Campbell's work when she entered the Greenacre Writers short story competition. Her stories struck me as very original, with a well developed wry humour. I followed Joanna's writing blog and with it the progress of her novel, Tying Down the Lion, which was published this month. The Bishop family drive across Europe in 1967 in a battered Morris Traveller to Berlin divided by The Wall. Grandma, who knows what makes the world go round, blames a lot of the world's problems on the fact that Hitler was a vegetablarian. Take a look at Joanna's website.
As I congratulate these new authors, I know how much hard work went into their successes, and that makes me feel more determined to get my head down and get on with my own writing, much neglected lately. To cheer me on I'm pleased to say I received some very good feedback on my re-write of my WIP's first three chapters.