Since I began blogging I’ve featured quite a few books from Unbound and today I’m pleased to welcome Sue Clark to Linda’s Book Bag to tell us more about the 1960s background to her novel Note to Boy.
Note to Boy
A comic novel about what happens when the worlds of a 1960s fashion diva and a modern teenager collide: she wants revenge and her reputation back; he’d settle for a safe haven and a warm coat.
Outrageous former fashion celebrity Eloise Slaughter and introverted Kilburn council estate kid Bradley McCreedy are poles apart. She’s an extrovert, seventy-something, gin-soaked diva. He’s a seventeen-year old who’s learnt it’s safer to keep his eyes down and his mouth shut. She has a past she likes to boast about. He’s already given up on his future. Yet against the odds, as this comic novel describes, the two of them become a formidable team.
Bradley and Eloise’s relationship is volatile, not helped by her devotion to Bombay Sapphire gin and an increasing tendency to confuse the past with the present. While Eloise struggles with memories of long-ago betrayals and humiliations dating back to her days as a 1960s ‘shock frock’ fashion designer, Bradley grows in confidence and cunning. A locked room in Eloise’s chaotic London flat adds to the mystery.
Note to Boy is an entertaining romp that touches on universal truths: don’t write people off, just because they’re unimpressive or annoying; don’t let your past screw up your present; and value friendships, no matter where you find them. Oh, and it’s funny too.
London in the Swinging Sixties: Ode to an Era
A Guest Post by Sue Clark
Who doesn’t love the 1960s? Mary Quant. The moon landing. The Kinks. Georgy Girl. It was an exciting and vibrant time to be alive, especially if you were young – and makes for a great background to a novel. One of the main characters in my comic fiction, Note to Boy, spends much of her time reminiscing about her life in Swinging London, when skirts were short, morals flexible, and life was about having fun.
Why did I decide to focus on that era? How could I not? During the late 1960s and early 70s, when I was single and carefree, I was living in London. I worked for an American film company, shared a flat near Oxford Circus with three other girls, bought my clothes in Carnaby Street and went to the sort of parties where you might bump into a James Bond actor. Sounds glamorous, hey?
Not so glam when you’re living it. I was mere ‘office fodder’ at the film company, the occupant of the flat next door to ours advertised herself as a ‘model’ and the James Bond actor I met was the Australian whose name no-one can ever remember.
Ok, so real-life wasn’t quite so ‘fab’ and ‘trendy’. Nevertheless, those times have proved to be a rich source of material for meas a writer of humorous fiction. I wasn’t even particularly thinking of the 60s when I began the book. I wanted to write about celebrity, from the point of view of someone who’d had it and lost it.
The story concerns the unlikely friendship between elderly, former fashion guru Eloise Slaughter and downtrodden teenager Bradley McCreedy. Thrown together, they don’t get on. Why should they? They have nothing in common – except gradually they discover a common purpose. Then the fun starts.
Who, if anyone, did I base these characters on? Well, Eloise is a monster. Arrogant, demanding and deluded. So, of course, she couldn’t possibly be based on anyone I know. Most certainly she is not a self-portrait. I don’t hold court from my bed wearing a purple peignoir, knocking back gin. I prefer white wine and my dressing gown is pink.
Though I’ve never come across anyone as extreme as Eloise, thank goodness, I’ve hung around enough TV and radio studies and, as a journalist, interviewed enough well-known people to know there are some monstrous egos out there. No, I’m not revealing any names.
When are you likely to see Note to Boy in the bookshops? Soon I hope, although this could depend on you. It’s being published by Unbound and crowdfunded directly by readers. The more people support the book, the quicker it gets into print. As I write this, Note to Boy is 63% of the way to being fully funded. It’s all explained on the Unbound website.
(I have to endorse what Sue says; Unbound have some wonderful books and I have been privileged to feature many of them on Linda’s Book Bag.)
About Sue Clark
In a varied career Sue Clark has been a scriptwriter, journalist and PR copywriter. She’s worked for BBC radio and TV, local newspapers, and no end of corporates. Her TV and radio credits include: Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, and The News Huddlines.
She’s interviewed John Humphreys and Ronnie Corbett and penned funny lines for Lenny Henry, June Whitfield, Tracy Ullman, Roy Hudd and David Jason, among others.
Although the comic fiction Note to Boy is billed as her debut novel, there are others lurking in desk drawers that may one day see the light. And there will be more to come!
She lives in an Oxfordshire market town much like the fictional setting of Midsomer Murders with her long-suffering husband. She has three children and one adorable grandchild.
You can follow Sue on Twitter @SueClarkAuthor.