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All Advice Welcome …

Jessica Stirling (AKA Hugh Rae), is the prolific author of more than 30 Scottish Romantic Fiction books, in more than 25 years of writing under his chosen female pseudonym.

One can argue forever, the fors and againsts of a male author, writing books in this genre, to be almost exclusively read by women, but one cannot deny the continued success Jessica Stirling still enjoys, in the popular fiction marketplace.

Personally, I think that one should rather argue the morality and ethics of the publishing company, on insisting, way back in the 1980s, that such fiction should necessarily be seen to be written by a woman, to attract its chosen audience.

Jessica’s words of good advice to unpublished authors, still holds true and contains more than a grain of common sense to me:

“Two pieces of advice frequently offered to unpublished writers, to which I do not wholeheartedly subscribe are:

‘write from the heart’ and ‘write about what you know’.

I genuinely believe that with a little bit of  ‘head’ added to the ‘heart’, the passion and commitment all writers need to keep going, will smooth the way into print.

As for writing only about ‘what you know’ – there goes curiosity, imagination and the adventure of exploring other times, other places and situations that excite you which, for me, is more than half the fun.”

 


Even as a non-author, I think that both of these sentences are quite profound, especially the second one, about only writing about what you know. If all authors followed this maxim, I feel sure that we would not today be enjoying the vast and varied range of literature, that we are able to choose from. I hope you agree?

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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6 comments
  • I gather Jean Auel who wrote the Clan of the Cavebear books (which I must read sometime) knew nothing about her subject when she started to write those books. She’s now a recognised world expert on the era, through her own research, so that rather supports Mr. Rae’s opinion I would say.

    • Hi Cath,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I took a look at Jean Auel’s site just now and from what she herself says, the supporting point to Rae’s opinion, certainly holds true, doesn’t it?

      That whole paragraph seems to sum up Auel’s approach to her books, almost to the letter!!

      Like yourself, I have yet to read any of the series, although I shall have to go some to catch up, as the 6th book in the series is now out.

      I think I may be put off by the sheer size and weightiness of the books, reading them would be a project, something of military campaign proportions, I think!!!

      • I think what Annie quotes Jean Auel as saying below puts it perfectly, ‘you set out to know because you are interested and hope you can take others along on your journey.’ I’m all for being interested enough to do research and learn and then use it to get others as interested as you are. For me that’s part of the wonder of reading.

        Yes, gosh, they are huge books and I’m put off too. I thought I might make the first one a summer read. When it’s too warm and sunny (haha, am I talking about British summers?) to be working in the garden I tend to spend afternoons in a cool spot in the house with a ‘big’ book and manage to get through them quite well that way.

        • My husband never reads fiction, saying that it is a waste of time, when you could be reading and learning at the same time.

          I have, on several occasions, dropped facts and information into a conversation, that I have gleaned from a well researched fiction book, that he would probably not have found from his non-fiction reading….

          Fiction, when it is thoroughly researched and written with a passion, can be an invaluable source of information and social history.

          Books that are just ‘too big’, do tend to put me off a bit, as I never get enough continuous reading time to get really involved in the story. When they are read too piecemeal, they just don’t seem to have the same appeal or impact, so I tend to avoid them…

  • I heard Auel talking about exactly this on the radio last week. As she says, you set out to know because you are interested and hope you can take others along on your journey.

    Where the male/female issue is concerned publishers haven’t changed much. Harry Potter is written by J K Rowling because Bloomsbury thought Joanne Rowling wouldn’t be read by boys.

    • Hello Annie,

      Wish I had heard that interview.

      Jean Auel’s own bio. page on her site, is a fantastic read, with her passion and interest in her subject, just shining through.

      http://www.jeanauel.com/about.php

      I take your point about J K Rowling, but I do think that female writers are more likely to write in what is traditionally a male genre ie. crime fiction, than vice versa, where men either from choice or by dictate, more often than not adopt female pseudonyms..

      Personally, it makes no difference to me when I buy a book, whether it has been written by a man or woman, so perhaps more of these ‘closet’ writers should ‘come out’ and make themselves known to the reading public ….’ Publish and be Damned’

Written by Yvonne

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