Writing Demented Love

By Lynfa Moses

Lynfa picture

It was so exciting to see my book come out, especially in paperback. It all seemed worthwhile. Those hours staring at a blank screen or at least they felt like hours.  Deleting chapters and starting again.

Refused by several agents, I decided to self- publish, though not without trepidation.  It contains some sexually explicate scenes – what would my adult children think?  Could I even tell my elderly relatives?

I didn’t set out to write a racy novel, though the idea for the book came from a friend who I knew was having an affair. She told me that her lover was now suffering from dementia and the novel was conceived, if not yet born. Originally, the mistress was the main character but the wife, Paula, developed organically and became the primary focus.

My research included joining a web site for women wanting to date younger men. I joined  toyboy flirt.com. as if I were Paula, a sixty -year old woman looking for some fun.  I much prefer the name of my fictional website.  mrsrobinson.com, but the replies were great and some went into the novel, though others were too sexual even for Demented Love and many of the photographs were gross. I had plenty to choose from, as within a week, I had over 500 replies!

I also attended a day centre for dementia sufferers and sought advice from friends whose parents suffer from Alzheimer’s. I did a lot of soul searching about the voice of Jack, who has Alzheimer’s. The book is full of dark humour but I did not want the reader to feel I was mocking Jack but rather laughing with him.

I wrote each chapter from the point of view of a variety of characters, so I set myself the hard task of finding voices for characters as diverse as an eighty- year old dementia sufferer, his gay son, a toy -boy and a young surrogate mother.

I started Demented Love several years ago, when attending a creative writing evening class run by Susan Elliot Wright. I had constructive feedback from other students and from the Sheffield Novelist’s group. I pitched it at the Novel Slam in Off the Shelf and came second. This gave me the confidence to apply for the MA Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam, where I completed the novel as my final piece.

My blurb describes it as S&M for the M&S brigade and most people find it very funny. I hope though behind the humour it begins to reverse the asexual way older people are generally portrayed and  to explore the dynamics of elder abuse in a very different way.

Demented Love cover

If you want to buy it is on Amazon to download or in paperback

Buy Demented Love here.

Or paperback from Lulu

“http://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=20124460”

Remember to review it if you like it!

Novel Slam 2016 – Join us!

The novel slam 2016 will be at the Crucible!
The novel slam 2016 will be at the Crucible!

I can’t believe that this will be the fifth annual Off the Shelf Novel Slam! This years’s event takes place on Tuesday 25th October at 7.30pm at the Adelphi Rooms at Sheffield’s internationally renowned Crucible Theatre.

It would be amazing if you could shine your shoes and head for the Crucible for this amazing event.

The novel slam is a showcase for writers of fiction. Poets have poetry slams to find their audience, and novelists need novel slams (although you don’t get to read out your whole novel – that would take too long!) In the novel slam, fiction writers get the chance to give an audience a taste of their work and leave them wanting more.

The aim is to bring writers together to share their work, to get used to pitching their ideas and reading out their work in front of a live audience. To enter the novel slam takes a bit of bravery, some good preparation, a little resilience (it’s a friendly but competitive event) and an open mind.

Audience members are also very welcome indeed. Come and meet some of Sheffield’s most talented and prestigious writers, and help to discover new talent.

Tickets cost £5 /£3 concessions on the door, and there will be a bar at the venue. If you don’t want to compete, please come along to enjoy the evening and vote for the best books.

If you want to compete in the Novel Slam, call 07815966784, or email sheffieldnovelists@gmail.com to book  your place.

In true X-Factor style, we have a panel of judges who will give feedback and tips, and advice on kick-starting a successful writing career.

Meet the Panel

Stacey Sampson:Writer, actor and drama practitioner, best known for her work in This Is England. Her first novel won the Arvon Award at the 2013 Northern Writers’ Awards. Stacey was the first winner of the Novel Slam in 2012!

Daniel Blythe: The author of many novels, including The Cut, Losing Faith and This is the Day. He wrote the bestselling Doctor Who adventure Autonomy for BBC books, and Shadow Runners and Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones for younger readers.

Bryony Doran: Novelist, poet, short story and script writer. Bryony won the Hookline novel award in 2009 for her debut novel The China Bird. Her short story collection The Sand Eggs has also won critical acclaim. She also works as a creative writing coach, helping other writers’ creativity to flourish.

Berlie Doherty: A legendary Sheffield writer, a double Carnegie medal winner for her novels Granny Was a Buffer Girl and Dear Nobody, who has written many novels for children and adults. She has also written short stories, plays and poetry, some of which can be found on public works of art in Sheffield in the Botanical Gardens and on the Moor!

Once again, our compere for the evening will be Iain Broome, author of novel A is for Angelica. He will be poised ready with his horn, to embarrass any writers who go over their time limit. This didn’t happen at all last year, and he was very disappointed.

Prizes for 2016

Prizes for 2016 include:

A creative writing coaching session from Beverley Ward.

A creative writing coaching session from Bryony Doran.

A guaranteed read-through and feedback of three chapters of your novel from literary agent Joanna Swainson

A critique and appraisal from Daniel Blythe.

A writing workshop with Sheffield novelist Susan Elliot Wright and fellow Sheffield writer Russell Thomas.

Plus, lots of books from our award-winning judges!

The Rules

Please don’t be daunted by the novel slam. Egos can sometimes be a little bruised, but the event is intended as a light-hearted way to bring writers together and discover new talent. It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve got or whether you have finished a novel. Everyone is welcome to enter, and you will find yourself in a supportive environment.

The first round is a 1 minute pitch of your novel. You will be timed! You have exactly one minute to convince the audience that your novel is a must-read. You don’t need to explain your entire plot, you just need to prepare the blurb that will make readers pick your book off the shelves and take it straight to the till in the bookshop.

The audience will vote for their favourites, and after a short break, the ten people through to the next round will have 3 minutes to read a compelling extract from their novel. Most people pick the start of the first chapter, but some writers have had success with extracts from the middle of their books. The panel will give constructive feedback to each writer.

The audience and the judges will vote for their four favourite novel extracts.

In the final round, the four finalists will read for a further 5 minutes each and will each receive more in-depth feedback from the panel of judges. The overall winner will get the first choice of prizes.

Good luck!

Tip: practise makes perfect, so carefully craft your pitch, test it out in front of your family and friends, use a timer when you’re rehearsing, and edit your extracts to read so they’re engaging, attention-grabbing and intriguing.

Writing The Ways We Follow

By Liora Salt

Liora Salt
Liora Salt

Writing a novel is a lonely business…Especially if English is not your first language.

My friends ask me very often: “Why do you want to write in English?” “Why do you try to make a hard job even harder?” “Where did this idea come from?”

I tell you what – I never know where all my creative ideas come from, but I do know that the idea for my first novel written in English -“The Ways We Follow”- came into my head in English.

It was spring 2014…

The beginning of the year was full of political changes and social disturbances in Russia and neighbouring Ukraine. As a person who had lived in both countries for quite a long time, I couldn’t stay indifferent. I had friends and relatives on both sides, although the truth laid somewhere in the middle. The “carcass” of the novel appeared in my head and one by one the characters started to “talk” to me. To talk in English…

I had been living in the UK for about one year by that time. So as you can imagine, these “voices” had strong Russian accents and very little understanding of English stylistic and other fine points of the language. But they were determined enough to persuade me not to leave the process.

I found Sheffield Novelist group accidentally by looking on the internet for opportunities to improve my writing and get feedback. First, I was a bit concerned about sharing my ideas with strangers as I had never done it before. I wasn’t even sure that my writing was readable at all or interesting to anybody.

But I’ve done it – for the first time in my life, I’ve opened my ideas to the public and never regretted it at all.

The members of the group, with their constructive feedback and patience about my mistakes has empowered me to continue.

Every chapter has been re-written, God knows how many times (and I’m sure they are still not perfect), but the support and inspiration I have received from the Sheffield Novelists group keeps me going.

People ask me if I write in Russian and then translate into English. I can tell you straight – no way! In fact, trying to translate it is the worst thing to do with a manuscript (unless you’re a professional translator and you do it for a living). My advice to any non-English-speaking writer is: never try to translate your ideas from your language into English. It simply doesn’t work. Translation will never show the depth of the original ideas.

My novel was born in English, for an English-speaking audience, but the ideas and problems which have been described, the questions which have been asked, the values that have been reflected are absolutely universal for every city, every country, every language and as a result, for everybody.

The plot is set in the near future, and reflects all the issues and weak points of modern Russian society. The big city of St. Petersburg seduces the reader with its cold and elegant beauty and then, like a giant creature, swallows dreams, hopes and sometimes even the lives of the main characters, drawing them into its rivers and canals.

Despite the many challenges I have faced with the English language, it has become a better tool for “the needs” of my novel. However bizarre that sounds…

It has cost me lots of hours of my free time, as well as a lot of nerve, to make my writing readable and more understandable for an English-speaking reader.

I hope the result will be worth it and, who knows, maybe one day the English-speaking world will find my novel on the shelves of book shops. Maybe the readers will discover another Russia – not always cold and dull, like the way the mass media likes to describe it. Another Russia they have never seen before….