by Charlotte Sabin
“What do we mean by Romance? Do we mean love stories? Because love stories exist in all kinds of genres.”
Alison Mercer is a fan of Cornwall (as she explained this to me, rain hammered against the windows of our farmhouse green room – so she’s being serious). We are very glad to have her here all weekend, delighting audiences with a talk as well as a workshop on writing romantic fiction.
This trip down for the North Cornwall Book Festival is all research material for her next novel, set partially in Cornwall. “The Saturday Mother” follows a mother’s relationship with her daughter under the strain of divorce, and a custody battle won by her ex-husband. Writing in the daughter’s voice was a fantastic experience, Alison explains – but she’s not tempted by writing YA just yet, love stories got her enticed into books in the first place and for the moment, that’s where her heart will remain. From the age of 8 or 9, Alison was already writing a novel and reading copious amounts of her guilty pleasure, Mary Stewart, and in writing diaries years later, Alison was able to discover her author voice.
Her experience writing trade journalism further reinforced her interest in writing fiction, as she explains, she “always thought there was much more story to tell”. Romance is a perfect genre for this, as all love stories are nearly always about something else. Inspired by a love of Jane Eyre, Alison’s novels follow female lead characters who defy expectations, who assert their independence and make no excuses for love. Beyond pink covers on which supermarket shelves and marketing teams thrive in this genre, romantic fiction is diverse and defies all expectations.
In her workshop tomorrow Alison will be looking at scenes from a cross-section of fantastic work, by authors Patrick Gale and Jojo Moyes and the original romantic heroine, Cinderella. Join her from 10am in the Stone Barn.