Saturday, 8 March 2014

When Help Arrives Out Of The Blue.

Wow! Finally, my eureka moment. Having just unearthed another author (the renowned Helen Dunmore) whose writing has captivated me, I have experienced an epiphany.
The LieHaving been struggling with the beginning of my novel for months now, I think I may have finally settled the matter once and for all. I've edited myself into a corner, shuffled chapters endlessly and written new beginnings, all to no avail. All in the quest of creating that enthralling first chapter, with the intention of grabbing the reader ruthlessly and retaining their attention for the duration of the entire book.

Cue the author, Helen Dunmore. I've never read any of her books before simply because I've never noticed them. I have heard her name mentioned, but I've always had plenty of titles queuing up and I never seem to have time to read all of them.

Her latest novel, The Lie, set during and after the Great War has just caught my attention. Some might call it coincidence whilst others would say it's meant to be, but for whatever reason this has cropped up just when I needed it and I'm grateful. I happened to read the first page today and immediately knew how my own novel should begin. Such a little thing and yet at times it's been rather like an insurmountable obstacle. My youngest son would declare in astonishment that I'm a cheat. However, I'm not copying anything at all - not a line, word or even an idea. What this book has given me is a vision of what I can do with my own work - which incidentally is so different in comparison to Dunmore's subject matter and thus it would be truly impossible to copy her work.

But taking inspiration and learning from the work of others is what writers do all the time. As Aaron Sorkin once said, 'Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.' And so it is from Helen Dunmore that I take my inspiration from.

Having just bought this for Kindle, I'll post a review later, but if any of you are interested in the Great War then this would appear to be a most deserved read.

From the Back Cover

Cornwall, 1920

A young man stands looking out to sea.

Behind him the horror of the trenches, and the most intense relationship of his life,

Ahead of him the terrible unforeseen consequences of a lie.

About the Author

Helen Dunmore is an acclaimed bestselling author who has published nine novels, including Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; A Spell of Winter, which won the inaugural Orange Prize; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize; Mourning RubyHouse of Orphans and Counting the Stars. Her 2010 novel The Betrayal was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. In 2012 she published the novella The Greatcoat under the Hammer imprint at Cornerstone. She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and her work is translated into more than thirty languages.