It’s a Saturday. I have wine and a bar of Galaxy Caramel (seriously, I know how to party. And yes, that is me using the word ‘party’ as a verb in this shop). Therefore, I am in a whimsical mood and wish to tell you a story.
A story about my Mum (who hates the internet and would probably frown at me if she read this, but since she hates the internet, I win. Sort of. If anyone could ever win against my Mum, that is. I dreading her turning into a little old lady. She’ll make Father Jack look like a kindly old man, I’m sure of it).
Anyway. A little while ago, I had a book published. It was a little book, full of bonkerness and it sold rather well, which both thrills and terrifies me (and has been discussed in other blogs and shall not be uttered here again). My Mum, as mums are wont to, bought a copy, even though she hates horror, and hates swearing even more.
So, a few days after publication, I get a phone call. “I’m not happy with you,” she says.
Now, this is familiar territory, and about a million minor transgressions are flitting through my mind when she says this. Have I forgotten an obscure birthday? Said something on Facebook that my Mynah-Birdbrained little sister has parroted back to her? Been in a pub where one of her myriad spies (EVERYONE knows my Mum) has seen me, despite me being 37 and a mother of two and therefore entitled to get off my tits on cider and my mate John’s jokes every now and again?
Nope, it was none of these things.
“I did NOT bring you up to use language like that!”
….Aaaahhhhhhh. So, she’s read it.
Yes, there is swearing in PredX. Yes, I know some people didn’t like it. I promise, there’s much less in Canter’s Leap, simply because Canter’s Leap is structurally very different, in that it is a 3rd person past tale, as opposed to a stream-of-consciousness 1st person present tale. And the thing with stream of consciousness is that everything that goes on in that character’s head gets written down, so everything Meg thought, I wrote – and since I swear like a Navvy on a rum bender when I’m scared, so does Meg.
“Mum – they were going insane 3 miles underground, trapped between a ravenous ancient marine reptile and a millions-of-years-old alien entity of indeterminate motive. I think anyone would swear a bit in that situation.” A bit like Dad says ‘cunt’ when he’s in the garage, but says it quietly just in case you might be within earshot.
“Well, I don’t like it. You don’t know language like that,” (ummm… yeah… okay…) “why couldn’t they say something else?”
“What, like ‘oh deary me, my friend seems to have been eaten. What a bother’?”
“Don’t be facetious.” (That’s Mum’s favourite word).
Upshot is, I had to go round and write a formal apology in her copy. I bet Stephen King never had to do that for his mum…
Her latest one? “I won’t really be proud until you win the Booker.”
“Umm… the don’t give the Booker to people who write pulp scifi horror and fantasy, Mum.”
“Well, they gave it to The Goldfinch, and that was the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever been forced to read, and if that can win it, so can you.”
… Sometimes, my Mum is awesome, too.
I think I think I’m going to write some hardcore erotica next, just to see what she does…
(PS: I am in so much trouble if she ever reads this. Good job she hates the internet, really. Just, no one ever buy her a tablet. She might like fondling that slab, and then I’m in BIG fucking trouble…)
CJ, that is just precious! Lol. I am dreading my mum reading my book when it comes out next year which she is absolutely threatening to do…
Mine reads everything published – she has this habit of chastising me for the bits she doesn’t approve of (which is most of it, considering she doesn’t like horror – but she does like scifi, so she’s a bit torn sometimes), but likes to tell everyone that her eldest daughter is an author, and that she’s the reason I’m published because ‘I pushed her to do it. She was reluctant, but I told her to send it to people!’. Which is kind of true. She got drunk and demanded I sent it out, because ‘they’ll fixsh it’. Okay, Mum, whatever you say…
You’re in good company. Joe Abercrombie’s mum read his manuscript and said ‘it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be’. At least you know what will constitute success.
Mrs Abercrombie and my Mum should probably go out for coffee… 😉
When I first started writing, the ‘my mum loved it’ line as an endorsement that everyone mocked used to confuse me a bit, because my mum has never unconditionally liked anything I’ve produced (except, perhaps, the kids!) – it’s always been ‘you could’ve done that bit better’. Bless her.