Guest post 25/11
🎉🎉🎉 Happy Publication Day to Alison Knight 🎉🎉🎉 Mine is out today and I’m thrilled to be taking part in the opening day of the blog tour.
Big thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to Alison for the fab guest post that I have to share with you all! But first….
On Saturday 28 November (this Saturday), Alison will be joining four other authors for a joint event via Zoom called Darkstroke Defined: The five writers will talk about their new books, read extracts and answer questions.
For your FREE ticket, go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/darkstroke-defined-tickets-125793372363
“What’s mine, I keep.”
Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.
Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.
Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?
Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.
The Guest Post – Imagining my parents having sex 😲 😲
Hello, I’m Alison Knight, the author of Mine, a story about class, ambition and sexual politics based on events in my own family in the late 1960s.
A few years ago, I teamed up with writer Jenny Kane to create a business called Imagine Creative Writing (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk), running workshops, courses and retreats for writers. One of our taglines is: Imagine that! It sprang to mind while I was writing my latest book, Mine, because I had to imagine something that everyone hates to think about – I had to imagine, and write about, my parents having sex. I can see you shudder and shake your head. I know. Trust me, I really do know.
Parents don’t have sex, do they?
I remember, aged about twelve, giggling as my best friend described walking into her parents’ bedroom and witnessing them rapidly uncouple and try to act like they hadn’t been doing anything. My friend was traumatised by the very idea that her parents were still doing it!
Fast-forward a couple of decades and my children were disgusted if my husband and I so much as cuddled together in front of them. Kissing was just too much for their sensibilities.
Can I ignore it?
I decided to write Mine, with the intention of telling my parents’ story, to bring them to life on the page, and I realised that sex was an important part of the tale. I could have skimmed over it, of course. But I soon realised that if I wanted to be true to what happened, I couldn’t avoid it. At the time the story is set, my parents were in their late thirties/early forties. They were still young, physical beings. To ignore their sexuality would be to deny their reality and the story would be incomplete without it. But that didn’t make it any easier!
I was a mature student on the Oxford Brookes University MA in Creative Writing Course when I wrote my first scene of my parents having sex. I had to show it to our Royal Literary Fund fellow, who took it all in his stride. But discussing it with him was almost as embarrassing as writing it, although he was very kind.
In the story, I also included conversations between characters about sex, primarily between my father and his brother. These men were very close and the women they married were life-long best friends. The dialogue I wrote for the brothers was based on things I’d overheard my uncle say over the years (when he didn’t realise young ears were listening), giving it authenticity and making it more realistic. That doesn’t stop me worrying, though, that I’m intruding on private matters that a child should never consider about her parents. As we get closer to publication, I can’t help but wonder what my cousins will think about it.
So, how do I make it realistic?
It’s difficult enough, writing realistic sex scenes without going overboard or giving in to the temptation to titillate the reader. Add in the fact that the characters you’re writing about are based on your own parents, and you’re in a really awkward situation.
After several cringe-worthy attempts, I decided to think about the effect of the times would have had on them. It was the 1960s. The so-called Summer of Love was just around the corner, but frankly it wasn’t for the likes of my family. The hippy and free love movements tended to be populated by middle and upper class young people. My parents were a working-class who had been married for nearly twenty years by then. They had two daughters and a granddaughter at home in their small semi-detached council house in Southeast London, so they didn’t have a lot of privacy.
I thought long and hard, but I could never remember seeing my parents naked. Mum always wore a full slip between underwear and outer layers. Dad always wore a vest under his shirt and tie. At night, it was pyjamas for Dad, long nighties and a dressing gown for Mum. I rarely even saw Mum in a swimsuit because she had a fear of water that kept her out of the pool and pale skin that tended to freckle that stopped her from sunbathing.
So, when it came to sex, I had to remember that they were wore lots of layers and had little privacy (so no loud moaning and screaming, thank you very much!). Our home wasn’t centrally heated, so they’d get into bed with cold feet, so that would be my starting point. From there, I had to try to forget this was my own Mum and Dad and imagine them as fictional characters, doing what comes naturally to any couple through the ages.
Did I succeed?
Well, I suppose I’ll have to wait for the reviews to come in to find that out. I hope my readers will see the act of lovemaking rather than the daughter’s reticence as she writes about something that no child should contemplate, even when she’s an old married lady!
If you read Mine, I’d be interested to hear what you think. Did I get away with it?
Who Is Alison Knight?
Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.
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