It’s the official pub date of our novel Chasing Marian next Tuesday, March 1 – and no, that does not mean we all head to the pub (although we might) – it’s our publication date.
FYI…in case you’ve missed my ENDLESS social media posts about it, Chasing Marian is about four strangers who decide they are going to meet bestselling Irish author, Marian Keyes come hell or high water after her trip to South Africa is cancelled. It’s hilarious and heartwarming and features a fictional appearance by Marian and her husband, known as Himself.
Marian read the book and has been incredibly generous in supporting us with a cover shout and on social media which has made us adore her even more (if that is in fact possible).
In honour of the book’s release, I asked my co-authors: Amy Heydenrych, Gail Schimmel and Qarnita Loxton a couple of questions about writing (which I also had to answer). I found their answers insightful and interesting, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did…
What is the best writing advice you have been given that you would pass on to someone?
- Amy: I once read a piece of advice from Lauren Beukes which went something along the lines of: ‘Finish the book. You only know what you are working with when you have a first draft.’ This has really guided me in my writing when self-doubt or impatience has taken over! Anything can be fixed, but you have to have words on the page first.
- Gail: I am not sure that anybody told me this, but the most important thing that I have learnt is to keep your goals realistic. Don’t try to write 3000 words a day – by day 3 you will fail and give up. Try to write 300 or 500 or 700 – whatever works for you – and succeed every day. Similarly, don’t sit down to write the best novel ever first time round, it will intimidate you right away from your desk – sit down to write the novel that you can.
- Qarnita: It sounds so obvious but the best advice I’ve had was to write about something that is interesting to me, to write something that I would want to read. Two reasons why this works for me – it means I don’t worry about who will like it / not like it, so I become less self-conscious about writing and it becomes more joyful and authentic. Then if it’s interesting to me, the greater the chance I will keep working at it and not simply give up. Other good advice is to have a deadline!
- Pamela: Be persistent. The book you are writing could be a bestseller OR it might not ever be published OR you might have to rework it twenty times before it’s ready to go out on submission (writing is rewriting) OR you might have a smash hit with book 1 – and book 2 might sink without trace. As writers, we can never be sure of the outcome of our work and the kind of rejection we endure is BRUTAL, so you need to enjoy the process.
What is it you have learnt from Marian Keyes – as a writer?
- Amy: To not be afraid to be specific. Marian’s books are wonderfully Irish and don’t try ‘play to a wider market.’ She is not afraid to write the specifics, which I think gives the books authenticity and makes readers connect to them.
- Gail: Early in my writing journey (I hate that word, but I’m not really sure how else to describe it) I went to an event at Lifestyle Nursery where Marian spoke about her then new launch, Rachel’s Holiday. It was a really strange event, filled with Ladies Who Lunch who were mildly surprised that I had taken a day off work and had actually heard of the writer. Anyway, at the end of the talk, I went up to have my book signed, and I said to Marian, “Thank you, you’ve really inspired me to keep writing”. And she said, in that wonderful, modest, self-deprecating way of hers, “Oh if I can do it, anyone can!” And then she signed my book with an extra kiss to encourage me. Now I don’t buy that anyone can write like Marian Keyes – but her words reminded me that all writers are human, and have self-doubts. It gave me the strength to keep pushing. And yes, sometimes I looked at my extra kiss for support.
- Qarnita: Marian is an incredible story-teller. I love the way she incorporates real life issues into her writing, but in a way that is also incredibly funny and easy to read. Her writing is unpretentious and clever, and it always makes me want to read more of her work. I think it’s because she is true to her own voice as a writer and to the voices of her characters and this is what comes through in her novels.
- Pamela: She finds comedy in the darkest, bleakest situations and says things that should be offensive – but somehow coming from her pen – are not. I’m thinking of Rachel being envious of Misty’s childhood abuse in Rachel’s Holiday because suddenly the attention wasn’t on her anymore. I try to emulate this but sadly am sometimes more on the offensive end of the spectrum (as several editors have confirmed.)
What is your favourite novel by Marian Keyes (okay, okay, your top three)?
- Amy: Grown ups! (also Again, Rachel)
- Gail: Anybody Out There
- Qarnita: Again, Rachel
- Pamela: No way I can do one or even three…sooooooo, Lucy Sullivan is getting married (because it was my first), The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There, This Charming Man, Rachel’s Holiday and Again, Rachel.
If you haven’t yet read a novel by Marian Keyes, I envy you because you have such a treat in store for you. I suggest you start with her first novel Watermelon and take it from there.
Do rush out and buy your copy of Chasing Marian on Tuesday if you live in SA (I know it’s available on Kindle and hopefully, it’ll be available in the shops.) And please, if you’re in Joburg, you must come along to our launch on March 15 at Exclusive Books at Rosebank Mall. We will be in convo with the lovely Kate Sidley and it is going to be A LOT OF FUN. Just a reminder – you must RSVP!! Email them at email@example.com to book your place.