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:

‘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!

The Many Hats of the Modern Novelist

Writing a novel is difficult and demanding, and many fall by the wayside. It’s tough but it’s a process with a clearcut and straightforward goal, right? An obvious beginning and end.

You have an idea. You labour to transfer it onto the page and fashion it into a book – let’s call it My Debut Tome. You struggle to find an agent, publisher – anyone! – who will help you get it out to readers. Eventually you succeed and MDT is published. You do a bit of publicity, heave a sigh of relief, and reward yourself with some time away from the keyboard.

Except, it’s not like that. Not at all. Let me tell you about the multiple literary hats I am currently wearing. My Tome Number Two – that is to say, the comic fiction A Novel Solution – is out in just under three weeks in March. Naturally I – along with my publisher SRL – am pulling out all the stops to get the title in front of as many readers, reviewers and booksellers as possible. That has to be my priority. My biggest bonnet, you could say.

However, at the same time, I can’t neglect My Debut Tome – that is, Note to Boy – since the launch of the new novel offers a great opportunity to promote my first, and find a fresh audience for it. Another hat.

However, qui n’avance pas, recule, as the French say. Those who don’t go forward, fall back. I need to plan ahead, and balance another titfer on top of the other two.                 

As every writer I know finds, before the ink is dry on the last book, people are asking ‘What are you working on now?’ Plus writing is an addiction. Without a text to tinker with, I’m like a vaper craving their next fix, and probably as grumpy. So, I am about 75% through drafting Tome Number Three and hoping to have it in good shape for submission later this year. We’re up to three hats.

However, as you may have noticed, I am also involved in a project with Breakthrough Books to publish short story anthologies. Two volumes have been produced already; the well received and reviewed Taking Liberties and Order & Chaos, both of which include stories from me as well as other established writers. Ideas for short stories are constantly bubbling in my brain, demanding attention. I need to work on them, ready if the call should come for a third anthology. Four hats.                              

All this is in addition to marketing and social media activities, and, if I’m lucky, finding time to read other writers’ books. By now the pile of hats is in danger of toppling.                    

Being a novelist, straightforward and clearcut? I should coco.                                                                                                                           

Out in March. Grab your copy.

Countdown to publication – one month to go

Only a month to wait now before Trish is launched into the world. I can hardly believe it. On 19 March, A Novel Solution will be published, to be followed a few weeks later, in June, by the paperback.

It’s taken a while. As you may have gathered from these occasional glimpses into my life and writing habits, I’m not the most organised of authors. Like a DIY decorator let loose with a paintbrush, I have to create an unholy mess before I can start to see exactly what it is I am actually aiming for.

I make no apologies for this unashamed ‘pants-ing’. For me, as I’ve said many times, the magic comes in the edit. It’s there that I explore my characters, shape the story into something that resembles a coherent plot, and add a few extra funny moments. Which means, though I can dash off a passable rough draft in a few weeks, the editing process takes an age and needs careful thought. With help from SRL Publishing and a host of writerly friends and supporters, I think I have pulled it off once more!

So, if you enjoyed Note to Boy (still available from the usual places) or my contributions to the short story anthologies Taking Liberties and Order and Chaos, please do take a look at A Novel Solution. One of my very favourite authors, the peerless Lissa Evans (Old Baggage, and many others), says kind things about it. You can preorder now – a good thing, they tell me, for favourable algo-whatsits.

PS Thank you to everyone who sent good wishes after my recent hip op. Happy to say, I am at last on the mend and on the move.

Looking forward to what 2024 brings

Happy New Year everyone! I’m a looking-forward sort of gal so, I am thinking ahead to what goodies 2024 will bring, while being thankful for the best bits of 2023 – a curate’s egg of a year fo me.

Very excitingly, Spring will see the publication of my latest, and I think funniest, book, A Novel Solution (a reminder of its zingy cover is below) with the lovely people of SRL Publishing. The hardback drops – is that the term? – in March, to be followed soon after by the paperback. But of course, if you wish you can put in a preorder NOW on Amazon. Keep your eyes open for further news of the launch.

The Breakthrough Book Collective, of which I am proud to be a part, launched in 2023 and I am happy to say goes from strength to strength. The publication of its first two anthologies of short stories, Taking Liberties and Order and Chaos, were extremely well received and another is planned. The Collective also published the novel In Truth, Madness by Imran Kahn, an important, timely and hugely readable book, which looks at the world’s trouble spots through the eyes of a fictional jaded foreign correspondent. I can’t praise it enough. We hope to add more books to the list as the year progresses. And I’d like to add, what a joy it is to work with such a talented, positive and generous bunch of writers.

Lastly, a personal note. I shall be hors de combat for a while since, as seems to be my habit, I shall be starting the New Year with a new hip. But back, as soon as I can, with a cobalt-chrome spring in my step.

Lookee here!

Excited and delighted to reveal the cover design for my latest comic fiction, A Novel Solution. Scroll down to see it in all its glory.

Wannabe author Trish gets nurtured by celebrity author Amanda. But when Amanda goes missing, is Trish woman enough for the rescue job?

Lissa Evans, the wonderful author (and, lest we forget, producer/director of TV’s sublime Father Ted) calls A Novel Solution ‘a clever genre-crossing novel of comedy and suspense’.

Available to preorder now. Published by SRL Publishing March 2024.