The Verdict: ‘A fun read’

Well, the reviews of A Novel Solution are coming in … and I can breathe again.

You never know before you publish what readers are going to think of your book. Obviously you love it – otherwise you’re in the wrong business and should immediately retrain as a nail technician or a barista. But will they? Will they fall for your characters? Will they find the plot convincing? Will they like your writing style? And – to me, almost as important – will they get the jokes?

I’m happy to report that A Novel Solution (published in paperback on 11June by SRL Publishing) seems to have hit the spot. The reviews so far have been thrillingly positive. So I can cancel those job applications to Nailed It! and The Daily Grind… for the time being at least!

Big thanks to all those who took the time to review. Here’s a selection from their kind words (For the full reviews, see Amazon):

‘A delightful comedy fiction, this book follows Trish, a lovable mess, who meets Amanda a renowned author offering to mentor her. Masterfully written, hilarious and effortlessly engaging, it’s a brilliant story brimming with laughter and surprising twists.’ Amazon customer

‘Trish’s self-esteem is at rock bottom in A Novel Solution, Sue Clark’s witty, satirical second novel. Her husband is unfaithful, her adult daughters are selfish and her boss underrates her. When Trish finds herself alone and out of a job, she decides to repair her shattered confidence by writing a best-selling book. As she has no idea how to go about this, she signs up for individual writing lessons… Sue Clark uses clever writing techniques to emphasise her main character’s inner conflicts. Trish’s inner voice is personified as Ivy, who comments on and appraises her efforts to better herself. As well as being very funny, Ivy helps to explain why Trish sticks like glue to the arrogant Amanda… I also enjoyed Sue Clark’s beautifully written, relatable first novel Note to Boy. I heartily recommend both of her novels as pacy, entertaining reads which will make you giggle. To paraphrase Trish’s dream review – these are great books. Buy them!’ Loarn Paterson (www,patersonloarn.co.uk)

‘As soon as I started reading this, I was hooked… I really liked Trish, and felt so sorry for her as the secrets and bad luck kept on coming, but she did meet some good people along the way and never gave up. One of my favourites was Ivy, Trish’s inner voice that fills in any gaps that she leaves out whilst telling us the story. This was another fab book that was so well written that I couldn’t put it down. I’m definitely going to look out for more by this author for sure, and if you want a good, fun, emotional read then go read it.’ @candygirl73reads

‘I love a good cosy mystery and Sue for sure nailed this… I flew through this book within a few hours, which each chapter getting me more and more hooked. The mystery that ensues is fun to try and solve while reading and I was making new guesses with every page turn. The pacing is great and there’s never a moment where there’s a lull or you feel like you can look away. Overall a solid read that’s great for mystery lovers who like something a bit lighter and cosy.’ @titleswtyler

‘This was such a fun read. It’s a mix of mystery, British humour and thriller and it’s just full of quintessential English eccentrism. But it’s also a drama and a comedy, all the while remaining easy to read and thoroughly entertaining. My first read by Sue Clark, but judging by my enjoyment of this, certainly not my last. It’s genuine, real and hard to put down and I read this in two sittings. But it’s also a book of depth and emotion, with a main theme that women “of a certain age” may find it difficult to find their place in the world or might feel left behind.’ @fatguyreading

I was instantly drawn to this book when I read the blurb. It had everything that appealed to me. A coming of age / middle life crisis novel that I could relate to. I connected with Trish she was a real character that was just like me in so many ways… This was a good relaxed read that didn’t feel hard work and would be a welcome holiday companion. @mrsd271015

‘Sue Clark’s second book, A Novel Solution, demonstrates again what a witty, personable writer Clark is. The main character, Trish, is down on her luck but so relatable; even when bad things happen, you feel her pain and know that things have to get better, but how? That’s Clark’s skill as a storyteller. Every character is unique here, with quirks and believable flaws, no stereotypes.’ A B Kyazze 


See how excited I am to welcome the paperback!


Get your mitts on it!

It’s here! Look out for A Novel Solution, my second comic fiction, out in paperback this very week, published by the lovely people at SRL Publishing.

What’s it about? It’s about Trish who is facing a midlife crisis, as her personal and professional lives fall apart. In a bid to grab back control, she decides to reinvent herself… as, of all things, a novelist.

Easy, right? Wrong! After a wobbly start, things seem to be looking up when the rookie writer hooks up with self-styled celebrity author Amanda, who agrees to mentor her. But everything is not as it seems in Amanda’s gloomy house in the woods…

Readers’ verdicts include:

‘Hugely enjoyable and entertaining.’

‘I had high hopes of this book … I was NOT disappointed.’

‘A cracker.’

There’s comedy, mystery, drama. There’s an atmospheric ochre pit. And there’s a stray kitten. What more could you ask for?

A Novel Solution is available all over the place, in bookshops and online.

And if by chance it’s not on the shelves of your favourite indie bookshop (mine is the excellent Mostly Books in Abingdon), please go in and order it. You’ll probably come out with several other books in your backpack, but that’s all to the good. And great timing, as next week (15-22June) is Independent Bookshop Week. Our friendly local booksellers are precious!

See how excited I am to welcome the paperback!

Many a true word

That Will Shakespeare knew a thing or two about writing comedy. ‘Many a true word hath been spoken in jest’ he said, or words to that effect. I concur with the Bard.

I came to pondering the relationship between fiction and comedy thanks to Shepherd.com, a new website for readers and authors. They approached me – among a thousand other authors – to name our favourite books.

I naturally opted for humorous fiction and, after much soul-searching, managed to whittle my choice down to five. How did I choose? First and foremost, of course, the books had to be funny, really funny, with characters that amused and plots that engaged – but not only funny. There had to be something more for the reader to get their teeth into. Not a heavy-handed message, you understand – that would kill the humour – but a subtle use of comedy to present a thought-provoking attitude, opinion or situation.

Compiling the list was a wonderful opportunity to revisit books I’ve enjoyed, and enjoy them all over again. It was also a welcome reminder that funny books don’t have to be trivial or fluffy. In the best of them, I would suggest, humour is laced with poignancy and flights of fancy with hard truths. That’s certainly how I aspire to write, anyway. Heart and humour, laughter and tears.

The best humorous books make you laugh AND make you think.

These are the five books I chose:

  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nine Stibbe
  • A Very Important Teapot by Steve Sheppard (no relation)
  • A Murder to Die For by Stevyn Colgan
  • Domestic Bliss and Other Disasters by Jane Ions
  • Spencer’s List by Lissa Evans.

You can read my reviews of the five books on my list here.

A Novel Solution is ‘One to watch’!

Thrilled to discover that, not yet out a month, and already A Novel Solution is grabbing attention.

Dumbstruck to find that The Bookseller magazine, no less – the publication read by publishers, retailers, agents and libraries – has singled it out as ‘One to watch’, praising the ‘warm, knowing humour of Clark’s clever second novel.’ Swoon-worthy praise indeed!

And these are some of the reviews that readers have kindly posted. My thanks to all who took the time to express their views. Please keep them coming. Writers love to hear from their readers:

*

‘It takes quite some skill to not only write humour (with a touch of pathos) but also to write something that becomes such an ‘easy reading’ experience. More that that, something in which the reader can immediately ‘view’ – even hear – the characters and plot coming to life. Sue Clark achieves all this and more.

A Novel Solution (great title!) is an intriguing romp through one woman’s mid-life crisis and her highly creative – if often disastrous – attempts to revive her fortunes.’ – Kindle customer

*

‘I had high hopes of this book. After all I’d really enjoyed Sue Clark’s first novel ‘Note to Boy’… Well, I was NOT disappointed… This is comic crime fiction, the plot is well-handled and I am very much loath to spoil any of the jokes. Suffice to say that many are aimed at writers, would be and published, self- or otherwise.

‘Much funnier than any of the tall bloke with the glasses’s books, this little wonder has more in common with Horowitz’s Magpie Murders than those.’ – Ewan

*

‘This book was so quintessentially English and eccentric, it was a rip-roaring read! Part mid-life angst, part thriller/mystery, all entertainment… The cynical humour that Sue Clark uses throughout the book hits all the right notes, the quick wit of Trish and the pithy put-downs of Amanda had me giggling to myself as I read it.

‘This book does have a serious message within its laughs – as we age, women find it difficult to see their worth and to define their place in a world that is hell-bent on making them more and more invisible. The world should take heed from this book and ignore women ‘of a certain age’ at its peril!’ – Kerry Young

*

I tore through this book. A funny and satirical read about two middle-aged women Trish and Amanda, the former a wannabe writer with a failed marriage, and the latter, a supposed “success” in the literary world, A Novel Solution highlights the plight of Trish as she takes “writing classes” from Amanda to gain some skills to reinvent herself. The characters/voices are well-developed and likeable, including the builder and a metaphysical, surrealish Ivy character too.’ – Ivy Ngeow

Publication day!

It’s here. The day has come and I am beside myself with excitement! A Novel Solution is published today.

Today (19th March) sees the publication of A Novel Solution. First to hit the bookshops is the hardback version – please contact me if you’d like me to sign your copy. I’d be delighted. The e-book is also out today. The paperback is available everywhere to preorder and will reach your hot little hands in June, just in time for that holiday read.

Like my previous comic fiction, Note to Boy (also still available, folks), A Novel Solution combines heart and humour. It’s published by the lovely SRL Publishing.

‘Funny and touching. A Novel Solution is an engaging and uplifting story of a woman’s struggle to sort her life out.’

If you need me, I’ll be celebrating!