Celebrating witty women

We always knew it and now CWIP proves it: women can be not only funny but also flipping hilarious!

Comedy Women in Print (CWIP), now in its second year, was founded by comedian and novelist Helen Lederer as a way to celebrate and promote witty writing by women. This year there was a wealth of funny fiction to choose from, with the main prize going to Nina Stibbe for her darkly comic, semi-autobiographical novel, Reasons to be Cheerful.

I read this at the beginning of lockdown – chosen I must confess because of the optimism of its title – and can confirm that it is a real rib-tickler; funny and touching by turns, with a unique and genuine voice, and some put-down-the-book-and-let-yourself-go-with-a-darn-good-chuckle moments. Who’d have thought dentistry could be so entertaining?

As well as Nina Stibbe’s novel (which incidentally also scooped the 2019 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction), CWIP awarded prizes, among others, to Candice Carty-Williams’ for her debut novel Queenie and to screenwriter, actor and novelist Ruth Jones for Us Three. 

Congratulations to all the winners and runners up. Long may CWIP continue to thrive and shine a light on the wit and talent of women. There’s a lot of it out there!

Staying in with Linda

That was fun! I’ve been ‘staying in’ with the lovely Linda Hill of the multi-award-winning blog, Linda’s Book Bag. What a pleasure that was! It was an honour to be in conversation with her, particularly as she has been so supportive of Note to Boy since we first ‘met’ almost two years ago.

Back then I talked about London in the Swinging Sixties and the business of crowdfunding through my publishers, Unbound. This time we chatted about – well, why not have a read?

I’ll just say, maybe it was the biscuits and the gin but it all got a bit surreal. Enjoy!

Thank you, Richard Osman

I’m looking forward to the day when no-one leaves home without the three essentials: face covering, hand gel, funny book! And it’s all thanks to TV’s Richard Osman of Pointless fame. 

I don’t know if you noticed, but, with little brouhaha and no fuss at all, a book by Richard Osman crept shyly out into the world last week. I’m joking! You couldn’t move for interviews with, discussions on, pictures of, and tweets about him and his debut fiction, the crime comedy, The Thursday Murder Club.

I’m not usually one to puff celeb novels, unless they are actually good books in their own right, which I understand this one is. (See also the excellent works of one Graham Norton.) But this development I see as very good news indeed. Why? Because in recent years, we have been told, humour is out of fashion in the publishing world. I’ll say that again. Humour is out of fashion! This is madness, right? Funny books should never be out of fashion. We always need our ribs tickled and our funny bones pummelled, even – no, especially – in difficult times. 

So, good for you, Richard Osman. I wish you nothing but success, in the hope that your mega sales prompt an avalanche of demand for humorous fiction in general. When that happens, I and the rest of the comic writing world stand ready to serve. 

 

And so my tale begins …

Here’s a video of me reading the first few pages of Note to Boy, for your delectation. It’s not the same without the accents but, as Julie Walters and Taron Egerton unaccountably did not answer their phones, you’ll have to put up with me. Likewise Dame Judi and Will Poulter,  Penelope Wilton and Gregory Piper … the list goes on.  Anyhow, hope this little extract whets your appetite for reading more for yourself – then you can do your own accents.

 

 

Super Thursday not so super for new writers

Stand by for the avalanche! On 3 September almost 600 new books will be published. Some newspapers have dubbed this day Super Thursday. Not so super for the many new and lesser-known writers whose books are out at the same time.

The autumn is always a busy time in the world of books, as publishers crank up their publicity machines ready for the Christmas season. This year, to these festive releases have been added all those books whose launches were delayed while bookshops were dark and literary festivals cancelled or virtual. 

As a debut author, I count myself very lucky indeed to have dodged the book jam by being published in July. It’s hard enough getting your book noticed, without having to shout above the din of an over-crowded market. I mean, how can we newbies compete against big releases from the likes of Martin Amis, Robert Harris, Caitlin Moran, and Ant and Dec?

 

 

Waiting for that stinker

Writers’ paranoia is part and parcel of the job of being a novelist, I’ve come to understand. Never more so than when your book is launched into the world, like a helpless but very cute baby. People peer into your buggy, chuck the newcomer under the chin, smile then pass judgement.

When you’re writing a book, paranoia whispers constantly in your ear, but you tell it to ‘do one’ and soldier on. Eventually – with a little bit of luck, a lot of patience, and a Jewson’s lorryload of grit – you have an actual book you can hold in your hands and kiss. And yes, I did kiss mine. Many times.

Your book baby is born. It is available online and in the shops. People tweet about it. They – and this somehow comes as a shock – read it. Now the big question becomes, what do other people – who aren’t related to you or otherwise blackmailable – make of it?

Big? It’s monumental. Reviews, as I have said elsewhere, are the lifeblood of new writing. They are how readers come to discover – and champion – fresh voices. Consequently, a bad review – a one-star stinker (as we in the business call them) – can be a paranoid-inducing downer.

It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I sent Note to Boy off on a blog tour and waited for the reviews to come rolling in. Like an anxious parent, I worried if the reviewers would love my offspring as I do. Would they find the story engaging? Would they be won over by the, admittedly, oddball charms of Eloise and Bradley? And, most of all, would they laugh?

I’m happy to say, they did, as the excerpts below indicate. So thank you, book bloggers*, for your kind and perceptive words.

Though I’m still expecting that stinker!


‘In her beautifully written debut novel, Sue Clark tells a story that will make you laugh a lot and cry a little.’

‘This is a witty, intelligent novel with some laugh out loud, snorting moments … tremendous fun, and had a hugely redemptive and satisfying ending.’

‘I fell in love with both Bradley and Eloise. This is a very sad book but full of life and love as well.’

‘… hits exactly the right notes when it comes to the complex relationship between Bradley and Eloise … This is an excellent social commentary.’

‘This is a fab story of two unlikely people coming together to form a team who go on to take on some unscrupulous people in a funny yet at times sad and poignant landscape.’

‘… a warmhearted and funny story that flows at lovely pace. Filled with attitude, nostalgia and fashion, ‘Note To Boy’ is a trip down memory lane and shows that unlikely friendships can blossom from any situation.’

* And thanks to Anne Cater of http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.com for organising the Note to Boy blog tour.

Blog tour ahoy!

Note to Boy is on the road with a blog tour all this week. Thanks to the lovely bloggers who will be reading and reviewing the book. I hope Eloise and Bradley win you over!

Publication day!

It’s here! Note to Boy was launched into the world – and the bookshops – on 23 July 2020.

No actual champagne and nibbles party being possible, the splendid people at the independent bookshop, Mostly Books, arranged a launch via Zoom. More than 50 people crammed into the virtual venue, tucking into the imaginary cocktails and macaroons. Great to see so many smiling faces – some from Italy, Germany, the US, not to mention the wilds of Cornwall. But they weren’t just there to enjoy themselves. I had to answer some of their probing questions too!

Star of the evening was the comedy legend that is Paul Mayhew Archer, who interrogated me most charmingly about bits of the book I hadn’t even noticed myself. You can see the interview here.

Thank you for helping me celebrate. I had a great time. I hope you did. Now it’s up to Eloise and Bradley!

Event – a virtual celebration

Sue Clark will be marking the publication of Note to Boy on 23 July with a virtual book launch, complete with imaginary twiglets and a choice of computer-generated cocktails. Organised in conjunction with the independent bookshop, Mostly Books of Abingdon – let’s hear it for indie bookshops! – the event will include a conversation between Sue and Paul Mayhew Archer, the comedy writer and co-writer of the Vicar of Dibley and, latterly, stand-up comedian. There’ll also be a short reading from the book and an opportunity for questions.

Sue says: ‘After waiting so long to write my first novel and get it out there, I’m certainly not going to allow its publication to go un-celebrated.’

You can join the event via the links below!