Category Archives: Think Tank

To Compromise or Not to Compromise?

Standard

To Compromise or Not to Compromise?

Yet again this proves a tough question. We are back to the detail of Sally’s grooming in The Thinking Tank, which we see in detail not, in my view for any salacious reason, but because we have to know just how bad Sally’s situation is to make sense of everything that happens to Sally later in her story.

Once again, I was accused of titillation – and it makes me wonder whether I should compromise on the uncomfortable elements of my new title, Sleeping People Lie (November 2012). I know that what I write at times makes for edge-of-the-seat discomfort – maybe that’s a difficult place for readers to be – but if in watering down, we lose the nub of the catalyst, is that not removing something essential from the message I want to convey? But then I don’t want to offend people and lose readers either – so maybe the honesty should be reined in.

Things like this always make me revisit my ideas – not a bad thing, maybe, but it drives home my own lack of confidence – and that’s an uncomfortable place for me!

I am grateful to Megan from Reading in the Sunshine (find her on FB) for a beautifully measured approach to the issue in her review…

 

 

Review of The Thinking Tank

Reading in the Sunshine

The Thinking Tank is made up of two stories in separate times. In 1969, we meet Sally, a young girl who attends church and dreams of playing guitar and performing in the Young People’s Fellowship band. She is soon groomed by Simon, a 22 year old police constable and stalwart of the church. The other story running alongside this is set in 2003, and we meet Sarah, a mother being cared for by her daughter Rebekah. Sarah is just embarking on a new treatment for her Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, having sessions inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber (the `thinking tank’). Their relationship is very complex and appears from the start to be very strained.
The blurb on the back was very intriguing, and I was really excited about starting the book as I was interested to see what lay ahead. I did enjoy The Thinking Tank. I will admit I wasn’t sure about it at the beginning. I found Sally’s story at the start difficult to get through, as the subject matter can be uncomfortable reading. Jae De Wylde did a fantastic job in making the story of Sally’s grooming so realistic as it seemed very real and throughout those sections, I just wanted to reach out to Sally. However, it was so realistic that at times it did make me feel on edge, but I persevered with it and I was glad I did because afterwards the story was even more gripping.
Jae De Wylde has to be complimented on her characters and the interactions they have with each other! Jae effortlessly manages to create such complex and interesting characters and you can’t help but be drawn into their lives and their own personal stories. I was especially hooked by the relationship between Sarah and Rebekah; I enjoyed seeing how their relationship developed and how they dealt with the issues that life threw at them. As characters, they were so beautifully written and a lot of the time I felt as though I was stood next to them watching their scenes play out in front of me. I also want to note that I enjoyed the `relationship’ that Sarah has with the `thinking tank’, I thought that it was particularly well-written and added an extra layer and depth to the tale.
After my initial wariness of the first few chapters, I raced through the book, unable to put it down and I was quite sad to finish it. I must say I am looking forward to picking it up and rereading it all over again. Jae De Wylde has obviously poured her heart and soul into this book and it showed, I felt that every word had been carefully selected and the story did reach out to me, and I found myself connecting with not only the characters but taking in the whole picture. It was descriptive, sensitive, thought-provoking and at times very honest, and I must say I enjoyed every bit.
There were a lot of surprises in this book, the twists and turns were excellently placed and compelled me to read on. It’s not light reading but instead the story flows beautifully, giving the reader a refreshing, honest read that will make you stop and think.

A fantastic novel from Jae De Wylde, and I am very much looking forward to her next one.

Must we like a character to love a book?

Standard

The Thinking Tank is available at Amazon, in Waterstones, Walkers and Bookmark Bookstores. Please look out for my new title this November!

Must we like a character to love a book?

This is the question that has haunted me since I began my second novel, Sleeping People Lie/ Two Weeks in Paris – titles currently running neck and neck!

Yes, I do know the rules – but maybe it is time for a rule to be broken. Because not everybody is likeable all of the time; in fact most people are unlikeable some of the time – and some people are unlikeable most of the time.

Do we ever consider that if others could see into our ugliest thoughts, as if we had speech bubbles sprouting from our heads, the image we project of ourselves would be wrecked? And so it is with Sloane and Nicholas, the two main characters in my new title. We see in where others do not, but do we always see what we like?

 

I took heart though, from this 5-star review of The Thinking Tank. My character, Sarah, did not instantly appeal to the writer, but she was nevertheless drawn in. So, filled with hope for my Nicholas and Sloane, I have told their story, which demanded its telling, and I would love you to spend time with them in November when it hits the shelves!

Review of The Thinking Tank by Deborah Fletcher, Author of Bitten by Spain

Much to my own great surprise, I loved this book. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

When I started reading, I took an instant dislike to Sarah, the main character. Her introduction portrays a woman suffering from a degree of immobility and pain resulting from an old accident – petulant and irascible in turns, and clingy and manipulative with her long-suffering daughter, she is exactly the sort of character for which I have little time and much scorn. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to stick with it.

The acuity of Jae’s writing pulled me in, however. Her style is exceptionally clear, well-constructed and honest. And as I became more involved with the slowly-building picture of Sarah’s past, and her arrival in the `now’, my attitude changed, just as I feel it was meant to do.

As her journey of self-discovery continues, so does Sarah’s analysis of her relationships with those around her. This analysis is insightful, clear and sometimes brutally
honest, but beautifully written throughout. I particularly liked many of the short, sharp philosophies that were expressed, and found myself nodding in accord with many of them.

A fairly surprising journey by Sarah to Spain brought me to my home ground, and I read with delight the masterful descriptions of places and atmosphere that flowed from Jae’s pen.

The finale was just as it should be, because I like to close a book feeling content with the outcome. Impressed as I was, I have bought this book a number of times over to gift away. An exceptional first novel.

The Thinking Tank outsells Grey: 50 Shades of Hurrah!

Standard

The Thinking Tank is available from Amazon, Walkers, Waterstones & Bookmark

It was one of those magnificent punch-your-hand-in-the-air moments when the lovely staff at Waterstones in Camberley sidled up to me on Saturday and said, ‘Guess what?’ ‘What?’ I said, as you do. ‘You have outsold 50 Shades of Grey – good for you!’ And we all did a little jig in the shop.

Have I read the rival novel? Well, yes I have. Do I agree with the slamming critics? Well, no I don’t. I like to try different genres and I don’t think the odd dabble into the erotic does any harm – and whatever you say about the style and all the other stuff, in my own humble opinion, it does do what it says on the can.

And the strange thing is that by not being über-critical on Saturday, I ended up meeting some delightful ladies and selling more copies of The Thinking Tank.

So how did that work? Well, I was standing pretty close to the stack of Grey matter as it flew off the shelf towards the cash point.  Had I read it, the ladies wanted to know, so it was good to be able to comment – and to own up to having enjoyed the read. Well, that got us chatting and one thing led to another such that in many cases, The Thinking Tank and 50 Shades went happily off to the till together.

Thank you too to the delightful customer and her daughter who popped off to Primark and bought me a hair clip I had admired – what a brilliant surprise! And to the lovely lady who bought the book, went to the hairdressers and took the trouble to come back to tell me that she was already on page 45 and couldn’t put it down!

The downside of the day is that Brad Pitt arrived to buy books just 30 minutes after I left. Can’t win them all…

Thank you to all the lovelies at Camberley Waterstones for the warmest welcome and for sharing my not-so-grey moment!

Log on to: www.jaedewylde.com

Bags more info and fab expat books at: www.expatbookshop.com

Follow me on Facebook & Twitter – would be lovely to see you there!

Novel Talk: The highs and lows of getting it out there…

Standard

I came across a video clip today, which I hadn’t checked out for quite a little while. It’s of Jo Parfit and me chatting about our novels last October. The highs and lows of getting them out there – what went right, what went very wrong and how we can learn from our mistakes. It’s not a very long clip but it does highlight some useful bits and pieces for anyone out there who’s going through this whole exciting but daunting process. Check out what we loved and what we hated – have a chuckle at what we wish we’d done better and what Jo and I discovered was the most mortifying thing of all…

Here’s the link to the clip on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Jae-De-Wylde/187268408006424

Buy The Thinking Tank from: www.amazon.co.uk

Check out more info plus book signing dates on: www.jaedewylde.com

Lots more info and fascinating expat titles on: www.expatbookshop.com

110 and dancing on the beach! The back-story to Sarah & Stephen’s restaurant in The Thinking Tank…

Standard

Okay, I am lying. I am not 110 and most likely never will be, but my story still holds the secret to an experience you may like to share.

Martin and I were about to turn 60 and 50 respectively and decided not to let this one go without a fanfare or two. Living as expats between Spain and Dubai with most of our friends spending the summer on Mijas Costa, for us, there was only one choice of venue: Triana is a little beachside chiringuito in Las Chapas, just off the main road from Malaga a few miles outside Marbella and as far into the village as you can go. When you see the sparkling waves, the boats and the odd nudist, that’s where you need to stop. It’s a Shirley Valentine type of place, where you can sit on a promontory, surrounded by bougainvillea with the sounds and smells of the sea mingling with the delicious tang of the best paella on the coast.

We celebrated with 25 friends, and being a bonkers kind of girly, I performed a belly dance, a skill I picked up in the Middle East and teach to this day. Francesca who runs the place was, and is, adorable, and her staff are outstanding in their attention to detail, flavour, presentation and the warmth of the welcome. This is the kind of place that makes a mark in your heart and your mind – a romantic sort of place that whispers to you to return and return and to make it yours. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, the ocean sparkles and glows haunting green as the plankton moves silently with the ebb and flow of the waves.

Such is this place that I preserved its memory forever in my novel, The Thinking Tank, set between Spain 2003 and 1970s London. As Sarah and Stephen struggle to piece together fractured relationships of the past, they spend time at Triana, repairing broken dreams, their secrets still unspoken but pressing, needing to be heard.

Triana is a place for friends, lovers, families and the soul that wants to mend. It is also a place to share.

 

www.jaedewylde.com

www.expatbookshop.com

Find me on Facebook & on Twitter

The Thinking Tank is available from Amazon, Waterstones & Walkers Bookshops

The radio show sent chills down our spines…

Standard

Being the guest on Suzanne Radford’s radio show in Dubai was no coincidence. How do I know? Read on to find out…

It was an amazing experience to be the guest on Dubai Today, Dubai Eye’s flagship morning chat show with host, Suzanne Radford and co-host, Richard Manson.  The two-hour show was punctuated only by commercial breaks.  We talked about The Thinking Tank and what inspired my story, writing, love, loss, grief, life’s crappy stuff but also life’s joys and blessings, and I was touched by the comments, empathy and stories, which flooded in from all over the UAE.

But when Suzanne and I discovered an incredible link between our two lives, we both felt chills down our spine. As we chatted, we realised that we had both lived in the same village in Rutland, and that Suzanne’s family home is just around the corner from the churchyard where my elder daughter, Rowena, is buried. Suzanne had even been to a party in the same house that we lived in, years earlier when she was a girl.

How extraordinary that I was there in that place so many miles from home with that link with the village that one of those closest to me will never leave.

Suzanne tells me that the messages she received following the show were uplifting and positive, and that we had touched hearts and inspired some who have been following painful journeys to seek a way to move on. That is a real blessing. Meeting Suzanne is another and we plan to have coffee together next time she is in Rutland.

But it would be wrong of me not to acknowledge that telling my story over the airwaves was in some way cathartic. With no idea who is listening, no particular person to talk to, that curious anonymity of being invisible allowed me just to be me and tell it as it was. How lovely when it works both ways.

The chat show is quite long, but if you fancy dipping in, please click below, which takes you to the page where you’ll find the radio link below (commercial breaks have been removed) or visit my website: www.jaedewylde.com and go to the news page.

http://www.jaedewylde.com/news-reviews-events-jae-de-wylde.php

The Thinking Tank is available on Amazon in paperback & Kindle and from branches of Waterstones and Walkers.

Talking of loss on live TV – and the lesson I learnt on how to make your point…

Standard

Being on TV was an incredible experience and I just realised that with everything going on – the PR, the book signing, life’s normal stuff, crappy or not, I never got to tell you about it, so here we go…

First, thank you to everyone who followed the link on my website to the Studio One show and commented. So supportive and lovely – you are stars. Studio One is the main Dubai channel’s live flagship show. Think BBC’s The One Show and you’ll be there. In an extraordinary turn of events and connections, a dear friend, whom I hadn’t seen since 1999, the year that Rowena died, ended up coming along to the show with me. Extraordinary because I only met her for the first time in 1999, just weeks after Weeny died when we were on business in a hotel in Bangkok. But there she was, now living in Dubai and holding my hand as I prepared to talk about losing a loved one. Never tell me there’s no such thing as fate…

It seemed a daunting task, but the guy, Tom, an expat who runs the show along with his Arabic co-host, was sensitive and kind, chatting to me before the show – and at one time he seemed to have tears in his eyes. We are all touched by loss and grief – maybe something resonated with this lovely guy.

By the time we were chatting on live TV, he felt like an old friend and my nerves were completely gone, also partly because he provided me with some very useful tips, reinforcing some points my FB friend, Jack Owen, had pointed out subsequent to his appearance with Joan Rivers (yes – that Joan Rivers!).

1. Don’t look at the camera – you’ll look daft.

2. Don’t gabble – you need to make clear points.

3. Keep it snappy. Talk in sound bites. Why? Because you’ll pack in much more of what you want to say than if you start heading off on a tangent (I am so good at tangents – this was the best advice ever!).

4. Don’t fiddle with anything – hair, nails, nose. Watch the show – you’ll see I have my hands glued to a copy of The Thinking Tank.

5. Wear something comfortable that also makes you feel good: A particular challenge as this was of course a conservative show in the Middle East and I need to be pretty much covered.

Great advice and a worthwhile experience. The pay-off for the nerves would be knowing that someone out there took heart from what I said – that in some way it helped. But that I will probably never know. One just has to hope…

 Here’s the link to the interview. It’s only 8 minutes long and starts around 5 mins 8 secs into the programme:

http://vod.dmi.ae/media/video/58605/Studio_One___S2_Ep_80

Or find it on my website: www.jaedewylde.com

Buy your copy from Amazon - Kindle or paperback - or from Walkers Bookshops and branches of Waterstones... X

#57 on Amazon Women’s Fiction Bestsellers – definitely NOT life’s crappy stuff!

Standard

Captured on screen at #59!

Last week, when Summertime Publishing named me their Best Selling Author, 2011, I didn’t think the week could possibly get better. But it actually did…

And, OK, Jo Parfitt (www.joparfitt.com), you were right! An author’s ‘backstory’ really does make a difference.

When the Gulf News Friday Magazine published my story by the excellent journalist, Antonia Hoyle (www.antoniahoyle.com), I felt like hiding under the duvet (www.gulfnews.com/life-style/general/belly-dancing-saved-me-from-my-grief-1.960098). I just had this idea that my novel was this separate entity, that needed to be other than me, rather than sharing my history and my sadness. Stupid, I know, when you look at it because what else does an author do other than pour out real emotions, layered onto the characters and their situations? Even so, my novel is fiction and I thought that my ‘backstory’ might somehow infect what I had created. I don’t do ‘poor me’ and anything that smacks of that just doesn’t sit well.

But the support since last Friday has been incredible such that I would never have dreamed possible. Even people from my past have been back in contact. Then, on Sunday afternoon, The Thinking Tank went to #57 on Amazon Women’s Fiction. Extraordinary. Me, on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ list? 23 places ahead of Costa Coffee Shortlister, Chris Cleave, and only 37 places behind the wonderful Jodi Picoult. That is just bonkers.

So, Jo was right, I was wrong. There. I’ve said it.

And a great big stonking THANK YOU to everyone who has been in touch. There are comments on the Friday magazine article – but most have come via FB messages or email. To know that my story has made a difference, to know that it has helped some of you who are bereaved take a baby step forward – that is huge.

As to the ratings – what an amazing blessing from the universe…

’tis the season to be signing…

Standard

Signing The Thinking Tank, surrounded by lovely clothes in White Stuff, Stamford!

I’ve been very blessed with some encouraging numbers at book signings, but when the lovely people at Summertime Publishing asked me to write about how I go about approaching customers, I was a little nervous. The way in which you relate to people is very personal, so how can you possibly provide a blueprint for that?

The answer is that you can’t – but what I can do is just tell you straight how it works for me…

The best tip anyone ever gave me about the sort of situation when you want folks to talk to you is to have something to offer them – so, in my case, I have sweeties! Maybe you have a bookmark or other PR-related product but for me, sweeties do it every time.

Wear a smile – it warms people’s hearts – and in my case I really mean that smile as I am so grateful to be invited to sign and meeting potential readers is a real joy.

I also use humour and joke that folks don’t have to buy the novel to have a sweetie, but it gives me a great entrée and it’s a relaxed way of starting up a conversation about why you are there.

Often, a customer will be wearing something striking or different, which you would be tempted to comment on in any circumstances – that’s another way to begin a dialogue – ‘love your sweater…’

In my experience, people are very willing to listen, especially in a book shop – they are probably curious to know what’s new on the market anyway. That said, I sold the second largest amount of books in a signing in a clothes store – just the fact of you being there is food for chat.

Engage people in conversation and offer a few details about your book that you think might appeal, aiming what you say at what you think they might enjoy – or need. So many guys pop into bookshops looking for that last little gift. ‘The lady in your life would love this…’ Ladies out with their daughters are interested in the fact that The Thinking Tank centres on a mother/ daughter relationship, and local people love to see that my novel is set in their area. Those going on holiday would like the fact that it’s partly set in Spain and most folks love a good page turner!

I suppose the loudest message is make it personal and don’t be afraid to come forward. Don’t underestimate how intimidating it might be for a customer to approach you – for all they know you could be dead famous and snooty! Make the first move – the worst that can happen is that they don’t buy your book – the best that can happen is that they buy the book, love it, pass it on – and you’ve made new friends.

And enjoy yourself. This is a huge opportunity and a blessing and even if you sell little, you’ll have met some lovely people – and you never know where that will lead.

Writing a novel: Life in the Tank

Standard

The TV monitor above the Tank relieves the boredom and alone-ness

My treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen tank was like nothing else I had experienced. When you have a condition that is pain-related, it’s hard for people to understand what the whole fuss is about. I get that. We all get that, those of us who have silent illnesses – the sort you can’t wear, which aren’t signposted by crutches, slings, wheelchairs or sticks. So telling people I was to spend two hours a day, five days a week in an oxygen tank felt a bit like making a bad joke.

 It was even more difficult when I got to the hospital. HBO is used for diseases of the nervous system but also for open wounds that won’t heal. Sarah in The Thinking Tank encounters such a situation when she meets a woman with damaged tissue on her face. If I dig deep, I guess what it made me feel was a fraud. Like if I don’t have some outward badge of pain, then I can’t possibly deserve this treatment. And when you feel like that you get all apologetic for even being there. Hats off to the amazing staff at the former Edith Cavell hospital in Peterborough who were real earth angels and did all they could to make visits to the HBO unit like a coffee morning. But that alone-ness, when everything is cool and separate in the tank – even the earth angels could not fix that.

Which is where the telly comes in – if you want it to. I’ve included a pic to explain a bit about how it works. It is surreal, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s hard to visualise. The monitor is outside the glass cylinder and sound – someone talking to you or sound from the TV – is piped in through an intercom system. And it works both ways. You can be heard too from the outside. It’s another way of making you feel less diconnected but the truth is, there is nothing like two hours in a treatment chamber to underline your disconnectedness – the fact that no one else on the planet can feel your pain – that pain is personal, be it physical or metaphorical, and let’s face it we all tend to think our own pain must be the worst. The truth is that whatever your worst is, is simply that – your own personal worst. We live by degrees. We get hurt by degrees. The more pain we encounter in life the more we are likely to cope with more pain – or if not, we go under.

We each of us live life in our own tank. We just don’t always know when we are there – and we forget that to connect we need to reach out from our tanks, from our pain and from our own private worlds. Sarah gets stuck in hers and to move forward she has to uncover the secrets that keep her and her daughter apart.

 Like Sarah, I watched film after film in my oxygen tank. The difference is that whilst I chose my own films and the tank, the catalyst for The Thinking Tank, chose me, Sarah’s films choose her  – and try as she might to make them stop, the tank just thinks for itself…