Friday, 29 July 2011

My Bookshelves...

This week I’m picking up on the bookshelf feature I started earlier in the year, where I talk about favourite authors and show off my prized collection of first editions and ‘keepers’ - as I like to call my most loved books. This time I’m talking about the fabulous author of six equally fabulous novels, Kate Fenton, whose humorous and witty tales of country life in the wilds of Yorkshire are written in a pacy distinctive style that I can hardly get enough of, which is a shame, as the lovely Kate hasn’t published a book since ‘Picking Up in 2002!’

Author Kate Fenton

I met Kate a few years ago at a Romantic Novelist’s Association conference. She is great fun, a real joker, and is as witty in real life as she is in her books. To my surprise, she laughed heartily while admitting that her recent lack of input/output on the writing front was down to her suffering from writer’s block. She said she was “deeply embarrassed, mortified, terrified, and stupefied by a sense of failure.”

On her blog, she says this of her predicament: “No, I haven’t written a new novel recently. By which I mean, nothing since ‘Picking Up’. I guess I experienced Writer’s Block, that scary phenomenon about which one reads with the ghoulish fascination inspired by tales of, say, poltergeists or a fatal addiction to slot machines, while smugly thinking such a dreadful fate could never happen to ME. Except it did. And I’m here to tell you it’s no fun.”

Kate has further apologised to her many fans, saying: “I’m sorry to say my books are currently more or less out of print. It’s all my own fault, natch. In this fast-changing retail world, a book has a shelf life rather shorter – in fact, much shorter – than that of a can of baked beans. And if authors fail to deliver new titles, old ones tend to get put speedily out to grass. Re-issues are promised if and when a new novel is published. Ho-hum.”

It apparently took Kate four years to write and finish her first novel The Colours of Snow (which is my personal favourite of her books) and three years later she produced ‘Dancing to the Pipers’. It took her two years apiece to write ‘Lions and Liquorice’, ‘Balancing on Air’, ‘Too Many Godmothers’, and finally ‘Picking Up’. So, despite the speed with which the plots in Kate’s books furiously race along, she has never really been a production line writer has she?

What sort of books are these, you may ask? Well, Kate herself says:  “Oh, I write about, birth, sex and death, really. Doesn't everyone? Also God, dogs, adultery, D-I-Y, suicide, Morris dancing, incest, murder - you know, everyday life in North Yorkshire. With jokes.  But I don't do moody, magnificent brutes, heaving bosoms and surging passions on moon-kissed Caribbean beaches. The odd chilly paddle in Llandudno, maybe.”

The good news is that Kate is still trying to write: she says (talking about herself in the third person) on her (sadly neglected) blog: “That’s right: it’s because she’s run out of excuses, jokes and even suicide threats, in trying to explain her ongoing failure to produce Novel Number Seven. Admittedly, she has been trying – in our view, very trying. You should see her, staring at the wall, muttering to herself, decimating the world’s forests with the manuscripts she so regularly chucks away with a manic cackle as she grows ever poorer, fatter and more morose.”

To me, Kate’s previous novels are a testament to the fact she is a great writer. I can read her books over and over and enjoy them all the more. If she (ever) manages to write another novel, I shall be delighted and it won’t matter a jot to me how long it took her to do it. It’s all about quality not quantity, right?

Kate Fenton Novels on my bookshelves

So here’s a question for you if you are a writer, what’s your opinion on writer’s block and have you ever suffered from it? If you are a reader, how long are you prepared to wait for another novel by a favourite author?

Please consider 'following me' so that I can follow your blog in return - and do leave a comment as it would be most appreciated. Thanks!

My previous bookshelf features:  Ruby FergusonJilly Cooper


Lauren said...

Well I would probably wait an indefinite amount of time for a new book by a favorite author. I probably won't forget about them seeing as their books are on my shelves. It's been quite a while since one of my favorite authors (Frank Peretti) published a book, because he was ill, but he's announced he finally has one off to the editor . . . I couldn't be more thrilled! As far as being a writer . . . I don't run into writer's block often, and when I do I just wait it out . . . my worst enemy is procrastination. I know what I have to write I just don't want to do it!

myraduffy said...

Janice,I don't know this writer but will certainly seek her out.
Hopefully the writer's block will disappear!

Linda Gillard said...

I've never come across Kate's books but will now look for them. She and the books sound very appealing. Thanks for bringing them to our attention, Janice.

As for writer's block: I haven't had it as such, but have had the massive loss of self-confidence that makes writing become an extracting-blood-out-of-stone experience. You know - when you're convinced that every word is rubbish, every idea derivative and you were only a one-(two-, three-) book wonder. I kept writing, mainly because I didn't know what else to do with myself and I'd been dropped by my publisher.

Looking back, I think the book was fine and my fears were unfounded, but when your confidence is torpedoed, you sink.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Love the sound of Kate's books and I do hope she finds her way back very soon. It's both scary and reassuring to know such a well-published author has writer's block!

As a first-time novelist, I think I just procrastinate all the time - I've never suffered from W.B. because I just go on to a different type of writing. As a reader, yes, I'd definitely wait forever for another book by a favourite author!

Reabookreview said...

I would wait a year for a book by a fav author I would wait longer ut would sulk!!!xx

Sarah Pearson said...

If I love an author enough, I'll wait as long as it takes :)

Writer's block? Been there, doing that. Right now!

Bill Kirton said...

When people ask about writer's block, I have various stock answers I give for how to overcome it, but Kate's experience of it suggests something altogether deeper. She speaks about it with humour but it must be awful. I hope the unblocking happens comprehensively and soon.

Melanie said...

I've waited for ages hoping a book would come out by an author and when I finally read that one is in the works, I'm thrilled. The anticipation is almost as much fun as reading the book when it finally comes out.

When it comes to writer's block, been there done that. Tried working on some shorter pieces to keep my mind active and hopefully it leads to a way past the block preventing me working on my main project.

Bikerhen said...

Writer's block is a very real phenomenon. I am sorry this author is going through it.. it's not as if she's brand new to the sport of writing, is it. Wishing her well and at her keyboard.. and thanks to you for bringing her to my attention.

And to answer your question, I wait indefinitely.

Janice Horton said...

Hi Lauren, like you, I would wait and have waited for years for a favorite author to bring out another book - and it's so exciting when it happens. I don't think I've ever suffered WB in it's true sense (like Kate Fenton describes) but I'm a great procrastinator too!

Janice Horton said...

Hi Myra, thank you for your comment. I'm glad to have introduced you to Kate's writing. You may find back copies of her books on Abe or Amazon or ebay? Enjoy.

Janice Horton said...

Hi Linda - thank you for your interesting comments. I'm happy to have introduced you to Kate's books. I'm also very glad you have now got your confidence back and are moving forward again with your writing. I have 'The House of Silence' on my Kindle and I am looking forward to reading it.
Janice x

Janice Horton said...

Hi Rosemary - I think it's great that most readers are willing to wait for a favorite authors latest work - but forever? lol. I hope not!

Janice Horton said...

Rea - when Jilly Cooper's last book publication was delayed for a year - I waited - but I will admit to sulking too!

Janice Horton said...

Sarah - youch - I do hope you recover from the dreaded block soon. My friend Kit has blogged about it here and you might find her words helpful: I think you'll have to copy and paste the link: -

Janice Horton said...

Hi Bill - thank you for your comment. Yes, it does seem a scary sort of WB that Kate describes. Thank goodness she didn't lose her lovely sense of humour too!

Janice Horton said...

Hi Melanie! I'm glad you agree - as do other leaving comments - that it's worth the wait if a favorite author is not as prolific as some other writers seem to be.

I'm sorry hear you too have suffered WB too and glad you could work through it doing shorter works.

I have been through considerable periods of time when I haven't had the 'heart' to write my novel - if I have had real life stresses to deal with - and I have instead turned to article writing. But I don't think that's the same sort of thing as WB, is it?

Janice Horton said...

Hi Dorothy! Yeah - the consensus seems to be that we are all patient souls when it comes to good writing and favourite authors.

As a writer, it's good to know it's okay to take our time to get it right.

Janice x

Pauline Barclay said...

I will have to take a look at Kate's books, so many of them.
In the meantime, there is an award for you on my Blog. When you have a moment, please go on over and collect it. So well deserved. xx

Janice Horton said...

Yay!! Thank you Pauline!!

I've grabbed my award and popped it proudly on my blog sidebar. I'll try to remember that I'm a Powerful Woman now - in times of weakness!

Janice x

Jo said...

This an author I have not come across before, and the books sound my sort of thing.

Lovely blog, I am off to investigate it some more!

Janice Horton said...

Thank you Jo - do come back soon! x