Category Archives: Truth in Fiction

Four Years On…

A lot has happened in the last four years since my debut novel was published. No more novels are out yet and that is a shame, but it is not that novels have not been written, just that things have slowed down since I was signed by my agent. I am hoping that 2018 is the best year ever by seeing progress in getting that second novel out there. So watch this space.

Well, today sees the 54th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination: the event that inspired, first the short story and then the novel While No One Was Watching. So it seems right to slip in another quick blog post for the rare few that follow this blog that did not buy the book, with a blatant plug! I launched it on this day at the same place I will be launching the Canvey Writers book this Friday. November 22nd, 2013 was, in fact, a Friday and we showed the famous news clip announcing Kennedy’s death at almost the exact moment it broke some 50 years before!

I did see that the book Kindle version is only 99p today so do download it if you haven’t yet and the paperback is also on offer too!!!

So here it is… !!!

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Friday Writing Prompt

Inspired by my talk last weekend, and thinking about the close interaction between fact and fiction, here’s a prompt for you.

Take a key moment in history; so something that ‘literally’ stopped the world, not just your world, so let’s say, as is the case in my novel, the death of a president, maybe 911, Diana’s death, Elvis… ? and then write a short piece of ‘alternative history’ as if it never happened. So you will need to use fictitious characters perhaps or make it a memoir piece where the event affected you, but now let us see what happened if something else happened instead… So, for example, JFK Airport used to be called Idlewild and, in fact, this is the name of Mark Lawson’s alternative history novel, if Kennedy had not died as he did and make him the icon he is, would the airport still be called that? In fact, that is the case in this novel; Kennedy is still alive years later. Perhaps juxtapose what might have happened with what did happen, so some of you might even want to write two versions…? I will leave that to you! Allow your imaginations to run wild… and not be idle! See what I did there 🙂 Groan!

Happy Writing!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Being YOU!

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The Day the World Stopped #JFK51

Tomorrow marks the 51st anniversary of that fateful day in Dallas when John F Kennedy was assassinated. Today, the Friday, is the actual day of the week, 12.30pm.

 

kennedy for president buttonjpg

From website: LINK

With the Zapruder tapes, it remains one of, if not THE, most watched and most studied murders captured on film. The very public nature of it and the conjecture that came from it, puts it up there as one of the most iconic moments in history and it sits in the top ten list of conspiracy theories; being labelled THE quintessential conspiracy theory.

Why it captured my imagination the way it did and hence became integral to my novel, I don’t know. It hit me one day what other news stories are overshadowed when something as big as this impacts on our lives. That concept inspired our On This Day short story collection at Bridge House and some later works of mine. And of course is the premise of While No One Was Watching; Eleanor Boone goes missing from the grassy knoll at that exact moment.

I know I have talked about it here before, about the role of fact in fiction, but it continues to fascinate me and I am itching to recapture that sense of time and place, as I did for Lydia and the American civil rights movement when I revisit Colourblind. This was one of my training novels and one I really want to dive back into. I know it has something.

It’s a year on since we marked the 50th anniversary with my big launch event on Canvey, a day I remember so well and so fondly, having already celebrated its release and started to get some great reaction to it with my lovely friends in North Wales as well. And it marked the start of Lydia coming into her own when I started to give readings in her voice.

And a year on, some 60 reviews later (virtually all 5 star or 4 star) and reasonable  sales (not anywhere near the figures reached with the big presses but respectable never the less) I am still plugging away. And I still hold the dream alive that one day While No One Was Watching makes it onto the BIG screen. Keep dreaming they say and I always will. Come on!

I will mark tomorrow in WHSmith in Southend-on-Sea signing books with my stars and stripes bunting and tablecloth and I might even have some candy to share! Please come and see me if you live local and consider a signed novel (£8.99 so less than a tenner!) for a Christmas present! My mission is to outdo my afternoon in Liverpool and again SELL all my books but we have more! Come on Southend –prove you can do it! Help the local lass!

And of course if you can’t make it, I have signed copies for £12 on my website if you are in the UK! It would cost more if shipping elsewhere! http://www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk/Pages/BuySignedCopies.aspx

The book is on Amazon too as you know! So please add it to your lists. And what a pertinent weekend to buy it, right?

Amazon.co.uk: LINK

Amazon.com: LINK

My Goodreads Giveaway finishes Sunday so if you haven’t had a go yet — please do! LINK

I was also in the local paper yesterday so as soon as I have a copy I will also post that here!

Have a lovely weekend.

I will leave you with my book trailer again for those who haven’t seen it, or want to see it again and my poster.

 

Have a peaceful one.

Signing again!

Signing again!

RIP JFK

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Rochester LitFest Rocks!

Don't forget to book your tickets! October 1st in Kent!

 

I had a great night last night. It was my first appearance at a literary festival and I hope not my last!

The venue the Nucleus Cafe is a trendy arts cafe in Chatham. If I lived closer I have a feeling the kind of place I’d be meeting writer friends! My north Wales writer friends would love it! I think Jaye has done a great job with this new festival that only started last year. Check out the website here: www.rochesterlitfest.com

 

Nucleus Arts Cafe, Chatham

The Venue (sorry slightly blurry photo taken by me!)

I wrote to a few festivals when I knew I was moving back to the south east proposing a talk about ‘Blurring the Lines between fact and fiction’. Jaye Nolan who organises the festival said yes, it fit her other talks and the rest I guess is history (literally!). I want to thank her for all her tremendous efforts and again if I was closer I would certainly like to be involved and help out. I will try to do more next year, perhaps spend the week with my brother so I can offer my support to the writers etc.

Jaye is pictured here (centre) at the event last night

Photo by Bill Gooch -- official photographer for the event, thanks Bill!

Photo by Bill Gooch — official photographer for the event, thanks Bill!

 

I hadn’t given this particular talk before, although I have talked about the subject matter a lot and it was part of my MA dissertation, how fact and fiction are not opposite ends of a spectrum but intimately woven into the fabric of how we tell stories. ‘Factual account’ — uses wiggly in the air finger thing — are often biased, spun from yarns, filled with opinion and conjecture while fiction does what it says on the tin and is created from imagination but needs fact for authenticity, right?

The venue was intimate and being a great fan of the coffee-shop culture (not enough of that on Canvey Island) it worked well for the talk. The first half I felt was slightly less coherent as I did jump about a little in subject, although the audience were kind and receptive and I felt enjoyed it from the great reaction in the break. The second half was more focussed and more engaging. By then everyone had relaxed, we’d chatted and everyone wanted to interact so having thrown out the odd question it then became really interactive and I think it worked well. So I think I need more of that in the first half when I do this again. I am wondering about hosting an event on Canvey — ideas machine now flowing!

I loved meeting the people, some readers, some also writers and I already see friend requests and followers on Twitter, so I hope to have made some new friends!

Another photo thanks to Bill -- do check out his FB page here:  LINK

Another photo thanks to Bill — do check out his FB page here: LINK

 

I am still buzzing from the event and the engaging conversation and I can’t wait to do it all again!

It’s been a crazily busy few days since my move, so busy I can not wait for a couple of days just to relax. I have worked this week too although not written but my plan is to do a rare thing and take tomorrow off after my workout as I have a full day at the Southend Book and Art Fair this Saturday. And next week will be a normal working and writing week, which I need! I also seem to have a short story buzzing like a fly inside my head — perhaps one for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize I wonder …

So I will leave you with the last two photos from Bill Gooch, and will share some my brother took next week!

Thanks again to Jaye and the festival for having me!

Chatman 3 2014 Chatman 2 2014

Clearly making an important point!

 

Thanks Rochester LitFest!

 

 

 

 

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Getting into Character

I find myself this week back in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco and then climbing the dizzying heights of Pacific Heights and down to Pier 39. Contrasting neighbourhoods. No I have not jetted off to the states again (more’s the pity) but am back in the minds of Frank and Richard in the next novel. It’s already had a fair polish but needs some overhauling and the ending is in my head but not on a page. So here I am back there. What these characters are telling me is I know Frank’s voice really well (ex con, hard but soft) and Rich is more of a challenge as he is a bit of a bumbling prof recovering from a mental breakdown.

So for me to be suddenly back with these guys feels like a real treat. I have done a lot of work on this one but now I think it’s time to get to sorted. It’s pacey and psychological this one, darker too.

Because I’ve been to San Francisco a few times, one in particular on a fact-finding mission for this book, I feel more comfortable than perhaps I Am Wolf where I have never been to Alaska or Moscow. One of things we did in San Francisco five years ago (see I said I had been working on this for a while) was walk in Golden Gate Park, ride the amazing carousel that is in the novel and wonder where a body might be found near the carousel. Yep really. But what you can’t capture from Google earth are smells and the feel of the place. So I also had my notebook and asked what scents I could pick up on — get a feel for the place in the early morning. What I love about San Francisco is the fog, very atmospheric, right?

So I must leave you now to get back into character. While Frank has his issues — and so does Rich although I think your sympathies are with him from the get-go, Frank is the likeable rogue  and so I hope all of that comes across. Well — I will have to make sure it does. Being a writer is like being a character actor.

 

AlcatrazIsland

Have a great Wednesday, y’all!

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Promo day!

Hi everyone, sorry to do the old promo thing but my novel was selected for a gold star promotion on Amazon Kindle in the UK which means for today only it’s back to 99p on Kindle!

So if you don’t have it or if you do but can help promote it please do share this page!

Part of being an author also means doing this hence there will be lots of tweets and Facebook posts today (sorry). I do get a bit fed up when all anyone tweets are buy my book, but this is usually more something I do when there’s a promotion — and that is today!

Please share far and wide! Thank you so much!

Off to Essex later so no post now until next week. On Monday I see Barry Manilow at the O2 and I might never come back!

But at least I have a legacy … this book! Wonder if Barry would like a copy?

 

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In The Spotlight Guest Author Laura Wilkinson

I have a very special guest in the  spotlight today — some of you already know, the talented Laura Wilkinson whose first novel BloodMining won the first and only Bridge House Publishing Debut Novel prize and has since gone onto to have great sucesses.

Laura’s new novel is now out and after we met Kit last week with her novel based around the miner’s strike I want to introduce you to Laura’s novel — downloaded and waiting to be read, along with Kit’s. Both inspired by the same period in history but very different. So I hope you, like me, will read both and see how the writers handled it.

So without further ado I would like to hand my blog over to Laura …

Welcome Laura Wilkinson

Welcome Laura Wilkinson

Laura Photo

 

Remembering our Foremothers by Laura Wilkinson

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike, an industrial dispute which divided the nation like no other and whose effects are still reverberating today. The role of women in the furore cannot be overestimated. The strike made feminists of many miners’ wives – women formerly used to fulfilling a very traditional role – and after the conflict, there was no turning back.

My novel, Public Battles, Private Wars, is set against the backdrop of the strike and tells the story of a young wife and mother who finds her voice, and love, during a time of great hardship and struggle. I have been asked why I’m interested in an industrial dispute decades old, who wants to read a feminist novel, and what relevance does it have for modern women?

I answer these questions by quoting Elie Wiesel: ‘Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilisation, no society, no future.’

While I was researching the novel, I spoke with a number of the women involved, miners’ partners and women from the political movements who rallied round – Labour Party activists, Marxists, Feminists and others – about the often profound impact of the strike.

Memory is key to our identity, image and awareness, and for many women, the conflict was a defining period in their lives.

I have my own memories. My step-father was a steelworker, an industry crushed by MacGregor and Thatcher before they turned to coal, and my mother was an important role model. Growing up in a working class family in the 70s, I was unaware of the feminist movement until I studied for a degree in Manchester. Whether or not she wore the badges, read the books and attended the marches (though we did visit Greenham on route to a CND demonstration when I was a child) my mother was undoubtedly a feminist, and her involvement in local politics had already helped shape her identity – she took public office as a town and county councillor, as well as becoming mayor of our town. My stepfather was also a feminist, though he too would never have described himself as such. Even before he lost his job, there was never any question of him not pulling his weight in the home, with cooking and cleaning and shopping and so on. Theirs is a relationship of equals with the mutual respect this implies. In this, we were different from many friends’ families in the rural Welsh town I grew up in.

When the miners came out on strike, I was in my first year of an English degree. Like so many of my fellow students, I marched and rattled buckets. My mother helped the women of the Point of Ayr Colliery and it was women like my mother who became role models for women who previously lacked confidence and belief in their abilities.

There is a stack of writing about the strike, but the bulk of it is non-fiction and none of the three novels I’m aware of focus on the women. Until now, with the release of Public Battles, Private Wars and Kit Habianic’s novel. While much of the non-fiction available makes for compelling reading, nothing sticks in the memory quite like stories. Narratives evoke emotion, take readers on journeys and allow them to walk in others’ shoes, to live the life vicarious, and learn from the experience.

There is still widespread oppression of women across the globe, but as the women’s role in the miners’ strike demonstrates, there is power in collective action and the cross fertilisation of ideas. History (herstory) is important because we learn lessons from our pasts, collective and individual, and it helps us to understand our present and shape our future.

Public Battles, Private Wars is published by Accent Press.

Yorkshire 1983

Miner’s wife Mandy is stuck in a rut. Her future looks set and she wants more. But Mandy can’t do anything other than bake and raise her four children. Husband Rob is a good looking drinker, content to spend his days in the small town where they live.

When a childhood friend – beautiful, clever Ruth – and her Falklands war hero husband, Dan, return to town, their homecoming is shrouded in mystery. Mandy looks to Ruth for inspiration, but Ruth isn’t all she appears.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns into war and the men come out on strike. The community and its way of life is threatened. Mandy abandons dreams of liberation from the kitchen sink and joins a support group. As the strike rumbles on relationships are pushed to the brink, and Mandy finds out who her true friends are.

Here’s a buy link:

AMAZON

E-book is on special offer at the moment too – just £1.

You can find out more about Laura and the novel, including Book Group Questions, here: http://laura-wilkinson.co.uk

Accent are running a giveaway over at Goodreads. There are 6 paperbacks up for grabs. Competition ends 25 April: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21488069-public-battles-private-wars

 

 

Thanks so much Laura and I have to say I am looking forward to this — so come on followers and get buying!

Have a great day everyone! Something amazing is about to happen, if you believe!

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