My evening with Marian Keyes.

I’d like to pretend, that last night when I was listening to Marian Keyes as she sat on the sofa and had me laughing A LOT, it was just me and her, best mates, drinking hot chocolate and eating cake.

Sadly that wasn’t the case, but it didn’t feel too far off. Having never been to see “an evening with” any author before I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked the tickets. Turns out what to expect is listening to somebody very funny, relatable and interesting.

The relatable bit was the most important to me.

You see, if I could be like her when I grow up, I’d like that very much please. I say that about a few authors, Jonathan Harvey, Lisa Jewell, Sophie Kinsella, Jackie Collins. I’m not talking genre, I’m talking talent. They make you think, they make you laugh, they make you cry. But most importantly they tug you into a book that you struggle to put down, and when you are finished and you finally do, you wish you’d written a book like that – I’d also like to sell as many please.

With Marian it’s not only about talent, but it’s about her outlook on life. Her honesty about being ‘mad in the head’ her forthrightness that she has good days and bad days, that she’s an introvert, a people pleaser, and takes on too much. The fact she doesn’t expect her next book to do what her other books have done, that she is just grateful to do what she loves, and that people read it.

My initial reaction when she speaks about this was that “well she can say that, she’s a best selling author of about a gazillion amazing books.” But she obviously had to start somewhere, and it got me thinking, about how recently, writing my latest book, I spend more time thinking about the reader, rather than the character. When I self-published, ironically it was easy to forget about the reader, after all, I didn’t think anyone would actually read it. But now, as Dottie’s popularity grows, I panic. I’ve talked about this before, I talk about the fact that I spend time worrying about whether she’s funny enough, clever enough, endearing enough. I KNOW the fact I just need to keep going, but sometimes, I shrink into my own little writing shell, and when my friend texts and asks how my day has gone, I usually reply with “shit.”

My friend happened to be there last night, and when it came to the Q&A she asked how as a friend, she can support her author friend (THAT’S ME I’M AN ACTUAL AUTHOR FRIEND – IN THE COMPANY OF MARIAN BLOODY KEYES) when she says she’s have a shit day. She actually did say shit day, and I was very glad, sitting next to her, Marian looking up at her, she firstly didn’t point me out, and secondly, didn’t say that I basically want to give up, because I worry I’m not good enough.

If I’d not been in the upper circle in the audience, I’d have leapt over and run onto the stage and hugged Marian for her answer. The one she sat and considered, before feeding back that I just need to keep going. It can be edited, it can lead to something, or I can go back and polish. She talked about writing for an hour a day, and that the thought of sitting down and putting words to screen, that the thought of getting started was horrendous, but once she got started it was great.

That’s when I sat there, and realised we’re not so different after all. I’m not a pretend author watching a real author. Because I know all that really, I just thought I was being a bit of a dick.

So after I have eaten my hot cross bun, and topped up my pot of tea, I’m going to write for an hour. I’m not going to think about how funny Dottie is, or what I need to do to get her to the end of this adventure. I’m just going to write her, my favourite character, and enjoy the buzz of her adventure.

From now on, for an hour a day, I’m going to channel Marian Keyes.


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