Although the announcement has been made on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter I have yet to let you know that the sequel to Our Doris is complete.
Indisputably Doris will be released on Thursday 31st August.
If you go to Amazon you will see that the book had a previous publication date of 1st July, however, I unexpectedly have had a lot of overtime at work since I first submitted the book to Nielsens. Therefore, I had no choice to push the book back so as I could properly give it the attention it deserves.
The official blurb reads: The second in the series of monologues featuring Mrs Doris Copeland of Partridge Mews, atomic housewife, and owner of a rock bun recipe that can make the most secure dentures shudder.
Join her once more as she battles Pandra O’Malley for her position as chairwoman of the WI. Her campaign brings her up against flu, would-be elves, and a bake sale that may just be a cover for more nefarious means.
Told from the perspective of her long-suffering husband ‘arold, it’s no wonder he spends so much time down The Hare and Horse.
I’m very aware that this book has been a long-time coming. The first book only took me four months to write, yet the second has taken over two years. And with good reason.
Indisputably Doris was incredibly difficult to write. I received some strong comments about the first book, they were exceptionally good compliments that I’m grateful to receive, however they left me feeling as though I wouldn’t be able to replicate the tone. I had no idea how I’d managed to craft the book in the first place, and felt as though I were back at square one, as though I had never written anything before.
After I wrote the first book, there was question as to whether I would be made redundant from my job – eventually I managed to find a new position within the company, but those few months of uncertainty were enough to leave me feeling low – with the move came the guilt of having kept my job where others lost theirs.
We also had some bad news within the family at the start of last year and all of the things reached the point I call the period of unfathomable sadness. The very thought of writing left me exhausted and sad, to the point that I gave up writing to re-evaluate what I wanted to write.
I honestly believed I would never write again.
It didn’t bother me.
Once I allowed myself to return to writing, I only wrote poetry and short snippets of prose. After a few months of trying to figure out what sort of writer I want to be, I ended up returning to the world of Partridge Mews.
This time, however, I wished to include things in the book I’d been too scared to write about, matters I thought to serious to include in a series of comedic monologues. I have taken risks and although there’s some trepidation as I worry that folk will despise the book, I’m glad to have written what I wanted to write, rather than what some might have expected.
I’m currently emailing libraries to see whether they’ll let me hold readings there. You can check out my Events page for more details. If you’d like me to come to a library near you, please feel free to contact me or your library and I’ll see what I can do.
There’s also a Goodreads page if you’d like to add the book to your Want to Read Shelf.
I am proud of Indisputably Doris and am most excited to share the story with you.
Until next time, that is all.
I often cite my influences at my events and one of the authors who helped me throughout the writing and publication of Our Doris is Margaret Holbrook. Margaret is an indie writer I met through the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group. Her work encompasses the entirety of literature with a great wealth of prose, poetry and script under her belt. Margaret’s second book Cul-de-Sac Tales is one of the major inspirations in how I chose to set out my book.
Cul-de-Sac Tales is a series of comedic vignettes that focus on the residents of a cul-de-sac, each short focuses on a different month of the year. All told from the perspective of Rita they are a rather stupendous read.
I interviewed Margaret relating to Cul-de-Sac Tales and her writing process:
- What was your inspiration behind Cul-de-Sac Tales?
MARGARET: I came up with the idea for a character, who then turned into Rita and decided to give her a voice. She had to live in a cul de sac, it would give her a confined territory to operate from. The other characters followed easily once I’d finally shaped up Rita and her husband, Sid.
2. Why did you choose the format of interlinked stories?
MARGARET: Cul de Sac Tales was originally going to be one short story, Bungalows, Cul de Sacs, Neighbours, (the first chapter in the book). It was after that story’s first airing that it was mentioned to me that there could be a series of stories based around the cul de sac. I gave it some thought and began writing, knowing right away that there would have to be a link or some common ground for the story to work as a novella rather than a series of complete pieces.
3. Do your characters draw from people you know in real life?
MARGARET: The characters are totally fictional but some of the things that happen to the characters in the book have actually happened and some of the things the characters say I have heard people say. It’s amazing how good public transport and cafes are for giving unintended inspiration.
4. Will there be any more tales from the cul-de-sac?
MARGARET: It has been suggested to me by readers that they would like to hear more from Rita and her cul de sac neighbours, but I’m not sure that they will.
5. Have you any more projects in the pipeline?
MARGARET: I have a novel that should be out later this year and a poetry collection due out early next year, plus a novel to complete and a collection of short stories – enough to be going on with!
6. How did you start writing?
MARGARET: I’ve always written, I just needed a spur to make me pay it more attention. That spur came when I joined a writing group in Macclesfield.
7. When did you decide to become a writer?
MARGARET: I said when I was 7 that I wanted to write books…and a long time further on I’m pleased to say that I’m doing it.
8. Is there a special time of day that you write?
MARGARET: No! I just write when I can.
9. Do you plot books beforehand or write them off the cuff?
MARGARET: My books are plotted, my short stories are not; they are just written when an idea comes to me.
10. Why did you choose to publish your books independently?
MARGARET: Finding an agent and finding a publisher are both difficult and it seems the older you are the less likely it is to happen so I decided to take the bull by the horns; life’s too short.
11. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of independent publishing are?
MARGARET: The advantages are that I have control over all elements of my books, and that’s a huge thing.
The disadvantages are many; you have to do all the work yourself, everything. You are a writer, publisher, distributor. Getting into bookshops is difficult, getting into bookshop chains is nigh on impossible and unless you’re wealthy to start with you can’t throw money at advertising and publicity. It’s tough…
12. Are there any authors or books that influence your writing?
MARGARET: I read a lot of stuff by many different authors but I like to think I write as me. I hope not to be influenced.
13. How can readers find you?
They can read more about me and my work on: http://www.margaretholbrookwrites.weebly.com/
Events page not to be missed! Also check the shelves of your library or bookshop, I might be there, and if not ask!
Thank you to Margaret for answering these questions. If you haven’t read Margaret’s work before then you ought to, she explores various genres and is doing wonders as an indie writer.
On the 20th June 2015 I released my first book Our Doris at Macclesfield Library. I arrived with my mother half an hour early to set up the room, meeting my good friend Lindsey on the way. (She crossed the country for me and proved just how good a friend she is.) Incredibly nervous, I envisaged no one arriving, and being left to share cakes and books with my family.
I had spent the best part of Friday baking in preparation. I made a Victoria sponge, a lemon sponge, a chocolate gateau and a carrot cake, mentioned only because I want bragging rights. They were rather thin sponges and I question the use of 1970’s cook books, but folk offered compliments on them.
Once we reached the library we embarked upon a quest to get the Meeting Room ready in the half hour I had before my guests arrived. There was something of a mad dash in my mind because the tables weren’t as I had envisaged and there weren’t enough chairs – I’d asked for fifty and there were only about ten but we found a caretaker and he was kind and fantastic and he took the book I was donating to the library and honestly I wish I’d found out his name because he was kind enough to help an incredibly nervous writer and not complain.
My earlier torment that folk wouldn’t arrive was non-founded when a lot of people arrived. Well thirty-seven, but since I was only allowed fifty people in the room I was happy. Rosie and Liz, my uni friends came to see me, as did more friends and family and folk from work and Weight Watchers – I count them amongst friends as well but I wanted more space to brag.
Then the launch began.
I introduced Our Doris and thanked everyone for helping me. I know that writing is a solitary pursuit but the actual act of putting a book together takes a whole host of planning and preparation and without my friends I would be nowhere. The people that I wanted to thank were there – I’ve mentioned them on the blog before, and they know that I thank them. Some people I thanked because I saw them around the room and I wanted to thank everyone individually but a lot of the time it’s just being grateful for support.
Once my rambling speech was over I chose to read the first monologue from the book ‘Slugs’. I developed a nervous dry mouth and was exceptionally glad for my glass of water. And fortunately enough I used full stops so had chance to breathe. The reading seemed to go well.
Alas, I didn’t have enough time to mingle as I sold out of books and had to sign them, but this is not a complaint. Folk managed to speak to me and being amongst friends no one wants you to fail. Questions were asked and answered – there’s a question that’s plaguing me at the moment, but I’m planning on answering it in a later blog post so that won’t be answered here.
Honestly, the launch went as well I had hoped and then some. There was this wealth and depth of support I hadn’t expected. I’ve always had this anxiety that people expect me to fail, or want me to fail in some way and I sold out of books and was able to celebrate a book that I have released myself. Our Doris is self-published and that meant having a lot of faith in my own work and my own ability as a writer.
I’m twenty-two, I have a lot more to learn about the publishing world and writing in general and it’s a world I want to be part of. Our Doris is a book I am incredibly proud of and I am prepared for bad reviews and for it not to sell but it doesn’t stop the aching hope I have in my chest that we will be successful. I want to show to the world that I can write and I can write well.
Whether I can or not is up to you, now.
Until next time, that is all.
Our Doris £6.99
Our Doris is released in less than two weeks and I disappeared two months ago ne’er to write a blog post to explain what is going on. I’ve kept the events page updated so you can have some fun looking over that. I have been busy organising readings and interviews to discuss the book – the giveaway on Goodreads ended a few weeks back and the five winners have since received their copies.
Today, I thought I would talk about what inspired Our Doris. I’m not sure whether it is something I’ve talked about before and if I have no doubt the answer has changed because lord knows there are that many things that inspire me – as has been dually noted many times before and is something of a bone of contention with my good friend Imelda.
I know that in the past I’ve talked about how I wrote the first line in a writing burst because I had nothing to write about and used that to get me through writing bursts from that point onwards. However, after I had been writing the bursts for a while folk would ask me if I would compile them into a book because surely I had enough material .
The only problem was that I did not want to compile a lengthy amount of sections that at most only amounted to 200 words. I needed to find plots that could connect with one another and create a book that I felt represented Doris and I would like to represent me. For that I needed a plot that could last for an entire book. I knew that I was going to start the book with the first monologue, ‘Slugs’, because that was a natural start but then I needed a reason for Doris to despise slugs enough that she would set about the garden herself. Doris is very much a character who doesn’t like getting her hands dirty – not in that respect anyway.
Thankfully I have an amazing friend in the form of Margaret Holbrook who mentioned the garden safari in Poynton and with an added element of the WI I had a plot. Of course, there were a few months where I decided releasing a book on my own was too scary and stopped writing in favour of finishing the children’s book. Now, however, the book is coming out next week and people are already giving it nice reviews.
(Once again thank you to Imelda, and also thanks to Iris from Weight Watchers who had a few kind words, as relayed by my mother to myself.)
Originally, I intended to write thirteen monologues, similar to a television series with one for every month of the year. It turned out that a few of them were useless and went over old ground and thus they were cut in favour of giving the book ten monologues of excellent quality than a book with a few wishy-washy stories.
(I’m allowed to say the book’s excellent, I wrote it.)
Our Doris breaks all the rules I learned from text books and university. It’s written in what I call a conversational style that was influenced in part by listening to my family tell stories over the years and partly because of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, of which I will always be a fan.
One question I received today was, ‘How can you as a twenty-two year old write about a man who is seventy-four and his wife who is seventy-two?’ And at first I didn’t have an answer. In my work I am surrounded by people of the older persuasion and they are all fantastic. I think there’s this stereotype that once you hit a certain age that’s it, your life is spent at home watching ITV3 and eating custard creams, and yes, there is a certain amount of that in the book – simply because I do stay home and watch ITV3 and eat biscuits – but in reality your life doesn’t stop just because you’re retired. In fact, most retired people I meet find that their lives get busier once they no longer have work to go to.
I also look at Roy Clarke who began writing Last of the Summer Wine when he was thirty-three. He wrote about characters a fair bit older than himself getting up to things that would be seen as suited to younger people – and it worked – I say it worked because it is one of my favourite television shows but we’re heading into different territory.
The writing is inspired by my favourite writers as well, the writers I’ve mentioned above and Victoria Wood. There’s a great wealth of British comedy that has helped shape and inspire Our Doris and yet I feel like I brought my own thoughts and experiences to the story. Yes, I have stolen some stories from people I know, but if they notice let’s hope they don’t mention it.
I’m hoping that this blog post covers most of what I wanted to talk about today, I’m not going to promise a post in the near future because we know how that’ll go. Also I’ve not done much reading so I doubt there will be a wrap up this month. I need to find some more fantastic fiction.
Until next time, that is all.
It’s been too long since I announced that Our Doris was coming out this year. So much so that it now has a Goodreads page, and I’ve booked a few events – check out the Events page to find all the glorious things – and I’ve read my proof copy. Although it’s not completely ready and my rather awesome friend Imelda is going through the book once more for me.
I made a list of posts to write for you and didn’t write them. I’ve spent a lot of time reading and planning another book.
I’m just going to say that Our Doris will launch on the 20th June 2015.
The Macclesfield Creative Writing Group has met at Macclesfield Library since it began in 2011. Since Our Doris was first conceived in a workshop there it seemed only fitting that I host the book launch there as well.
The event runs from 10:30am – 12:30pm. I will read passages from the book, and as only befits Doris there will be tea and cakes and a Q&A session. Tickets cost £2.00 – and each ticket holder will be placed in a raffle to win a copy of the book.
I hope there won’t be too much of a delay between posts this time. If you start to question where I am follow me on Twitter where you can lambast me to remember to say hello to folk every now and then.
Until next time, that is all.
In April 2011 I joined the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group, a new writer’s group in my hometown. Over the last years I have written various snippets of prose that have arisen from the writing bursts we embark upon each week. I used to find writing freely for fifteen minutes incredibly difficult and one week in a burst of inspiration I started one of the writing bursts with the line, ‘Our Doris has developed an unhealthy obsession with slugs’ and wrote a page about a long-suffering husband who is relating his experiences in the form of a dramatic monologue. Over the next few weeks I began to write about Doris and her husband as she went about her day-to-day life, usually with the story relating to the writing burst we were given that week.
Doris grew into a character similar to Hyacinth Bucket with more curse words and the wherewithal to throw dictionaries at reporters who don’t stay on topic. A regular cast of characters grew and as time went on I had created an entire village of characters. These characters stick in my head like family as I remember each story they’ve related through Doris.
The first flash monologue was published in the group’s anthology Macc Writes back in 2012. Bread can be viewed on Youtube, and on this blog. Since that first monologue, I have performed more monologues around Cheshire, at chapels and libraries, Seven Miles Out in Stockport and most recently at Knutsford Library as part of their Writer’s Forum where I shared the floor with Madeleine Keefe, Mollie Blake, Zara Stoneley and Joy Winkler.
Now after almost four years of living with these characters, I am exceptionally pleased to announce that Our Doris will be a book.
In summer 2015, you will be able to read all about Doris’s endeavours to become fifth house in the local garden safari. You’ll get to meet Violet Grey, husband to the philandering Doug Grey. Doris’s mortal enemy, Janice Dooley of Little Street. And at the heart of it all you’ll meet ‘arold, the gentleman who tells of his wife’s endeavours; after fifty years he’s got a bit of an idea how to deal with her.
The monologues have been expanded, characters have been added and the plot has grown beyond anything I could have hoped for when I first wrote that paragraph of ‘Slugs’ back in 2011.
The book will be available to purchase via www.variousaltitudes.com and from certain independent book shops throughout Cheshire. Closer to the time of publication, I will hold readings where you’ll hear the monologues in action and have the opportunity to buy the book there and then.
Next week I will write about my decision to self-publish the book, but for now I want you to know that I am incredibly excited for the future. I hope that you all enjoy Our Doris because although the book has been difficult at times, and I have worried about my own skills, and despite the fact that life can so often get in the way, it has been an absolute pleasure to write.
Until next time that is all.