Saturday, 4 July 2015

What Would Georgie Do?

I had a strange conversation yesterday with someone who had read my series of books, The Georgie Connelly Stories. However, after the initial thrill of someone actually reading them, let alone liking them had abated slightly, I was left slightly puzzled. You see, this reader clearly thought that the stories are autobiographical and that the protagonist, Georgie, is somehow based on me. As much as I would like to have claimed that they are, after all she is feisty, gorgeous and always gets the job done, I was forced to admit that she is, in reality, just as much my fantasy woman as she clearly was for the reader. 

The starting point for me, when I first embarked upon creating my novels, was thinking about the kinds of books that I love to read. I would hazard a guess that most us read different kinds of books which serve different kinds of purposes. For example, in my life, I have the standard classics which tend to be on the school curriculum that I have read and continue to read until they are coming out of my ears. Despite their familiarity, they still have the capacity to surprise me, when unexpectedly a student offers a new way of looking at the book or I remember ideas and thoughts which were long forgotten. 

I’m also a member of a book club, which meets once a month. Now, I do confess it is a little bit pretentious and the choices tend to be highbrow and not always easy to read. However, I enjoy this kind of reading because it keeps me up to date with literature and often makes for lively and sometimes hilarious discussions with a group of strong, intellectual women, who I'm certain make me feel cleverer than I really am, merely by association. 

There is room in my life, alongside this reading, for the type of books that fall into the category of popular contemporary fiction. It's the section that normally takes up most of the book shop and yet people can be very condescending and sneery about it. Hence the secret and almost confessional appeal of the eReader, your book choices become something sacred between you and your Kindle. It’s this type of fiction that appeals to me the most and from which I derive the most pleasure via escapism.

The problem is even though the writing may be formulaic; it never ceases to amaze me how many times a writer has me in the palm of his or her hand, and then suddenly without warning, introduces some unappealing quality to their protagonist. Or even worse, introduces a character so unattractive, I want nothing more to do with the proceedings. I invariably finish the book out of politeness but wind up feeling let down and disgruntled. 

It was for this reason that I decided I was going to write the kinds of books that I would want to read, with characters who would never make me want to desert them. Georgie Connelly then is I suppose what I would like to be. She never lets people push her around or doubts her own convictions. When faced with a difficult situation, she dives straight in there and doesn't give a damn. 

Over the years, just as I'm sure many of you have, I have bolstered my sometimes wobbly sense of purpose by asking myself, ‘What would such and such person do?’ The person would vary, depending usually on my hero or heroine of the day. However, in Georgie Connelly, I have created something far more constant and maybe she is a better, braver version of me. So from now on, when I am dithering or feeling cowardly, I will ask myself, ‘What would Georgie do?’

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