My novel is called Timed Out because it is about aging and using a computer to try and find love.
In my two previous articles I have talked about how I became a fiction writer in my 70s, and about Internet dating when you are in your 60s. Now I want to focus on the production of Timed Out.
I had a very grand retirement dinner, and after it I felt sad. I would wake up wondering what was the point of me. Crosswords and birdwatching didn’t seem enough. A few weeks after that dinner I wrote a chapter describing a dinner just like mine, and a heroine just like me wondering what was the point of her.
I read it next day and deleted it in disgust
Some two years after that, I wrote a very similar chapter and went on writing. I changed the setting and the heroine’s name and had her grow up on a Welsh farm rather than a Cornish one. I had her meet and fall for men not unlike some I had met through my own Internet dating, though I was careful to change identifying details and mix their traits, appearances and speech patterns so as to make them unrecognizable (and me unsueable!). The heroine was much like me, though, even down to my unfortunate tendency to burst out crying at the slightest provocation.
Friends who read those early chapters said it was more like a memoir than a novel, and too ‘episodic’ (A string of episodes is a very bad thing in novels – ‘this happened and then this happened’)
Then came my education in creative writing. I knocked Timed Out into shape: linked things up, made people and ideas develop, added lots of imaginary characters and wrote an imaginary second half which followed on happily and believably from the more autobiographical first half. This wasn’t easy –in the process I cried a lot, had to cut out some of my favourite purple passages, occasionally wondered why on earth I was putting myself through all this when I could have been having fun scribbling short stories.
So here it is at last: Timed Out, available as ebook and print edition. It has got on a short list for one prize and won another, and had some lovely reviews already. And I have another novel in press: Makeover, – about a history professor and a personal shopper – using my own experience again (don’t we all?) but not in so direct a way.
Timed Out can be purchased as a paperback and an e-book from Amazon, as an e-book from Kobo, and Apple i-books, as a paperback and an e-book from Nook and as a paperback and an e-book from Driven Press.
EDITOR: Barbara is donating a signed copy of Timed Out for a future raffle prize. Details will be up on the website soon. Many thanks Barbara!