I had planned to show you pretty pictures from my holiday last week. Yes, my writing cave was situated on the west coast of Scotland, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and beautiful (and beautifully quiet) beaches. *
However, technology is thwarting me today. Maybe next week?
Of course, as soon as I returned to the land of Wi-Fi, I immediately read the internet. All of it. Here are some carefully selected links so you don’t have to…
1. I love it when author Laini Taylor talks about the craft or practicalities of writing – she’s always eloquent and inspiring. This piece on Writers With Kids and what that means day-to-day is a little bit humbling (man, some people work really freaking hard), but it’s also comforting to know that many other folk are trying/struggling to fit creative work around family life.
2. Another of my must-reads is Chuck Wendig. His writing advice is profane, profound and very funny. This piece: So You Just Had Your Book Published really resonated with me. I wonder why?
3. YA author Karen Mahoney is running another of her supportive writing challenges on her blog during August. If you’ve got a writing goal in mind and want to join a group for cheer-leading and support, head over here to sign up.
4. I just discovered Thug Kitchen. It’s not safe for anyone who is offended by swearing, but those who like their vegetarian recipes yelled at them in an amusingly offensive way, click away. Plus, the food sounds really good. I’m planning to try these smokey bean and spinach burgers ASAP.
5. You guys know the insanely-talented Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh), right? Well, she has a book coming out. Hurrah! Pre-order it here.
* Don’t worry, I took my family to the cave (AKA holiday cottage), too. I’m not that mean.
I’m back! I’m out of the writing cave just in time to introduce you to playwright and fellow Carina author, Amy Bird.
Yours Is Mine is Amy’s debut. It’s a psychological thriller and is out now.
Take it away, Amy…
Who would you magically exchange identities with?
In her best-selling debut, my lovely host Sarah has brought some magic into our lives.
In my debut, just released, I’m exploring what it would mean to exchange identities with someone. No magic, just the stark reality of North London.
But what if you could use a little bit of magic to exchange identities with anyone you wanted? Actually become them? I guess for a start, you’d have to know you were them – otherwise it wouldn’t be worth doing.
If I suddenly looked like Scarlett Johansson, or had Gwyneth Paltrow’s physique, I would want to know about that and internally gloat – particularly as a magic swap would be a much more fun way than gruelling daily workouts to achieve Gwyneth’s frame.
And sure, it would be great to inhabit J.K. Rowling’s life, without having to be the one for whom Harry Potter strolled into existence. But again, I’d want to know it was me, in there.
Because that’s the thing: it can be easy to think ‘Oh, I’d change places with someone more beautiful, fit or successful than myself in an instant.’ But where would ‘you’ go? What would become of all those projects and plans, all the friendships and unique inner monologue you’d built up over the years? Your life, your self?
In Yours is Mine, my protagonist Kate gladly accepts the opportunity to exchange identities with another woman, Anna, on the basis that they will masquerade as each other for three months. Kate, recently bereaved by the death of her father and lonely following the departure of her military husband, thinks this will be a chance to get her spark back.
She relishes living in Anna’s North London flat, enjoys impersonating Anna on her on-line dating sites, and has fun taking an acting class in Anna’s name. But throughout it all, the aim is to go back to her own life at the end of it. Imagine the shock when Anna has other plans.
So for me, although I’ll happily keep eating carbs on the basis that I might suddenly find enough magic to become Gwyneth (any excuse), I think I’ll politely decline the idea of a magical life exchange for now. Or even a non-magical one. For all we really mean when we say ‘I’d give anything to be ‘so and so’’ is that we would like to be a prettier, thinner, or more successful version of ourselves. We don’t want to lose the identity that we hold dear, or the projects that make us who we are.
To be fair to Kate in Yours is Mine, she knows that – she is just hoping that agreeing to impersonate Anna for a bit will mean that when she, Kate, steps back into her own life she will return a refreshed, happier version of herself. But in making the pact with Anna, she puts all that at risk.
If Kate had a wand, or the skill of ‘Finding’ that Sarah’s characters have, maybe she’d be alright. But she doesn’t. So all she can do is fight to get back what’s hers – and hope that’s enough.