Friday, November 9, 2007
ANNA CAMPBELL RIFFS ABOUT ROMANCE, SPORTSMEN AND SEXY COOKBOOKS!
OK, important things first! I’m giving away a fantastic prize to a random commenter so comment now and comment often! Marion Lennox, double RITA winner and all round good egg, has put together a wonderful anthology of romantic short stories and recipes from some of Australia and New Zealand’s most popular authors. I was delighted when she asked me for a recipe – and even more delighted when she didn’t ask me for a short story as short isn’t my forte. But that’s meat for another blog! Anyway, the resulting volume has just hit the stands in Oz and it’s called SIZZLE, SEDUCE AND SIMMER. You can buy it here.
So the prize is a signed copy of SIZZLE, SEDUCE AND SIMMER and a fantastic apron with the cover printed on it – great for when you try the brilliant recipes that will have your mouth watering, I guarantee. Good luck and may the games begin!
And speaking of games, I’d like to thank regular Bandita visitor Keira for the idea that turned into today’s blog. We were talking privately about how strange it is that cricket features so rarely in historical romances, even though most historicals are set in Britain and cricket is such a huge part of the culture there. We then talked about amazing cricketers of the past and I’ve included pictures of some of the legends for your viewing pleasure – Don Bradman, the greatest exponent of the sport ever and an AUSSIE (pauses to wipe away a sentimental tear), Imran Khan who was always a pleasure to watch, in many, many ways, Vivian Richards, same.
Keira and I then moved on to talking about how writing a novel is very like a Test Match. Now, for those of you who find cricket completely bamboozling, don’t worry, we’re not going to delve into silly mid-offs and sticky wickets and 12th men (hmm, wonder what was wrong with the first 11!). But just to explain, a Test Match was originally a five-day event (I’ve got a feeling now that they’re four days – cricket actually isn’t my specialty) where two teams of 11 men play for the honor of their country and the glory of the game.
I asked Keira for her thoughts on why writing a novel is like a Test match and this is her brilliant response:
Those of us writing historicals set in the British Isles can relate to imposing civilized rules upon our unruly characters, not unlike the British public school system of Eton and Harrow, or the most popular English export of all time (barring Nutella) is cricket. Not the chirpy kind, but the kind that required a wooden bat, a hard stitched-leather ball, dollops of patience, and reams of arcane and archaic rules as well as a few civilized rules. It's a gentlemanly game lasting five days with precise start and end times and breaks for lunch and afternoon tea, having decided to forgo the elevenses. A slow and steady tortoise-like perseverance is what wins the game. You start out of the hatch foaming at the mouth, you're going to get out soon. Surviving by cultivating a Zen-like approach is the main strategy. The writing life is much like a cricket test match. It's a long-haul game of survival, of patience, of developing a calm attitude towards rejections/boos, and a dogged adherence to the writing goals of the current project.
I think Keira has hit on something profound here. Writing is like playing a long, long game of cricket. You need strategy. You need fitness (mental and physical although I can’t really comment on the physical!). You need to be tough, again both mentally and physically. You’ve got to play through those hot afternoon hours after lunch which can seem endless. You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball and wait for the opportunity that comes from nowhere to score a six or get that batsman out. Through all that long, long game, you have to stay alert and ready to make the strokes that will win the match. And even though cricket isn’t my specialty, my father was an enormous fan, and I can remember moments where a match has turned on a sixpence and everything changed in the flash of an eye because of something unexpected or brave or brilliant that a single player did. All of these things can be applied to writing.
So here’s my question for you. What is your favorite sport and does it offer you lessons you can take into your writing life? Or life in general! It’s not just writers here. I know many people find sportspeople inspiring because of their perseverance and skill and pursuit of excellence. I look forward to sharing the wonderful recipes in SIZZLE, SEDUCE AND SIMMER with the lucky winner!