October 24, 2013

Writing stuff I'd rather not: An Awkward Affair

At a writing day we were set on of those challenges on a theme I just didn’t want to write about. I was going to rebel and write something else but I decided to go with it to see if I could write anything good even if I didn’t like the subject matter. 

The prompt: A man is having an affair with his secretary. He goes to bed with her in a hotel room and when he wakes up, his wife is in the bed beside him…


An Awkward Affair


“Good morning.” Molly was smiling her sweet smile, the one that suggested an air of ‘tongue in cheek’.

“errrr yeah, Good morning.” Gerry was not smiling.

“Well, this is a classic case of ‘the awkward moment when…’ if ever I saw one. Did you have a good night last night; Tiger?”

“Don’t, please don’t call me that.”

“What? So now you DON’T want to be called Tiger? From what I could gather last night you didn’t seem to mind it at all.”

“Well I mind it now. Listen, I think we should just get dressed and go home; now.”

“What? The breakfast is included. If fact a little Maitre’D told me you ordered it to be brought to the room this morning.”

On cue there was a knock at the door. Molly opened it and the waiter quickly wheeled in a trolley. He clipped it in place and with a couple of moves transformed it into a fully set breakfast table. He bowed slightly and left without a word.

Gerry started to get dressed as Molly sat at the table.

“Well, I’m having breakfast before I leave. You should have a coffee at least. You’ve a long drive; and as we came in two cars…”

Gerry surrendered to the smell of the coffee and spoke without looking at Molly.

“So I guess you want to talk about last night.”

“Oh yes, I do indeed.” She beamed that smile again and he cringed.

“Well, it won’t happen again.”

“That’s your opening gambit? It won’t happen again? No mention of how good or bad it was?” She was mocking him.

“No, I don’t want to say anything else. It was the first and the last time, I can promise you that.”

“That’s a shame, I kinda enjoyed it.”

“WHAT? How could you enjoy it?”

“Well come on, you’re not going to tell me it wasn’t exciting.”

“Yes of course it was, but for you too? Really?”

“Yes, I loved pretending to be your secretary,”

“OK but now I want you to be you. And I don’t want you ever to be anyone else again.”

“Alright then… Tiger.”

October 20, 2013

Finally I can reveal the news about Lizzy, but she wants to

Today I wanted to fill you on the news about Lizzy and her stories. I had to make sure everything was in place before I told you. As usual, she’d prefer to tell you herself...


Hello everyone,


I really enjoyed telling all my stories in April. And now I’m getting a chance to tell more of them – in a newspaper.

The Echo Newspaper is sold in loads of places in the south of Dublin – Tallaght, Clondalkin, Ballyfermot & Lucan and I will be there every week.

I can’t wait, cos I love talking and writing about all the different things that I do. If you haven’t read any of my stories you should  There’s one about my brother Jim who reeeeeeallllly annoys me, and there’s one about the day I lost my mammy in town. Oh and about the time we did a play in school.

There’ll be lots of new stories as well – things I’ve never told anyone.

It starts this Thursday, so if you read The Echo look out for me in there.

My daddy said that If I get famous that I’m not to forget him. That made my him and my mammy laugh but I’m not sure why. I’m never going to forget who my daddy is, I see him every day…


From Thursday October 24th ‘Lizzy’ will be featured as a serialised story in The Echo Newspaper – serving South and West Dublin.  I know many of you are fans of Lizzy and I’m grateful for your encouragement to do something more with her. If you don’t live in an area where The Echo is sold, it is available to read online as part of a subscription service.


October 7, 2013

Open letter to Julian Fellowes from an emerging writer...

Dear Mr. Fellowes


“you had me at hello” as the saying goes. Or more accurately, you had me at the opening credits of Downton Abbey Series 1. Episode 1. And not just me, I’m sure your marketing people have told you how popular the show is.

Many of us love the characters, the intrigue, the humour and the style. Anybody who wanted happiness has had to fight for it; and you’ve given us a certain sense of realism with war, loss and financial shenanigans.

I read somewhere that you responded well to the vehement response to Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley’s untimely deaths. (We were never quite as distraught about poor Lavinia Swire.) I sensed you held your hands up when Dan Stevens left… ‘it wasn’t me – he left of his own accord, had to kill him off, no choice’

It feels like the characters who fought most for what they wanted, lost it not long after. And tonight we see you’ve written in the potential ruination of the couple who fought most for happiness.

Mr. Fellowes, you made us love those characters. You made us cheer them on and hope for them and cry with them when they lost. And that’s because you’re a great writer and they are great actors. But I also read somewhere that you promised to go easy on us in the series. That you heard the cries from Downton fans at the amount of loss in such a short space of time and that this series would not be so hard on us. (I’m sorry I can’t quote the sources but I’ve read them more than once and if I had the energy or time to google them I would!)


I’ll be honest, I really don’t know if I can watch it anymore. I probably won’t buy this series on DVD. I’m wondering what happens next and if I can bear it. Will you sweep the issue under the carpet quietly and quickly (which you kinda did with prostitution)? Or will we watch another beloved character die (albeit on the inside)? Another happy marriage wrecked – and no doubt there’ll be a baby on the way soon enough and…. we’ll never know will we?

So as an avid Downton Abbey fan, and an emerging writer, looking to people like you to learn from, I’d like to ask you why you insist on breaking our hearts. I think what happened tonight was a step too far. I want to be a good writer and I know that means harsh realism and not everyone gets ‘happy ever after’. But I also feel I have a responsibility to my readers, my audience – even if they are only few at the moment. If I am blessed enough to be talented enough to make my readers love my characters  - then I feel a responsibility to let those characters be happy.

Your PR people will probably love that Downton is trending on Twitter. You may well be consoled by others that tell you that ‘all publicity is good publicity’. No doubt you’ll be contacted for a whole stream of interviews over the next week. Maybe clever people who know what they’re talking about will say, “Every war, even the ratings war has casualties. Some people are angry and we’ll lose a few, but it doesn’t matter.”

But I think it does matter and I hope it matters to you.

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