I started this blog so that I could chart my writing life and the experiences I have and will encounter as I begin a new phase of my writing life. My first post was about my crazy ambition to self publish a four book series and now, writing book 3, I know I can do it.
Its been a stressful sometimes but I’m mostly optimistic and probably boring my husband senseless by constantly saying, ‘I’m so excited about this book series!’
One of the first things I panicked about when the reality of producing a four book series by January 2024 hit me (I began in January 2023) was that as an independent author, I am responsible for everything! The biggest hurdle I saw was the marketing side. I know next to nothing on the subject and so one of the first things I did, apart from getting down to preparing book 1 – editing and releasing the second edition of my first novel – was start reading!
I began with websites about book marketing for authors, podcasts, books, asked questions of a couple of writer buddies. I was and still am, a little lost.
For every article, blog post or video I watched, the experts advise that you find books in your niche for you to compare your book to and use things like their book descriptions, book categories, book covers, etc to help you to market your book. The first thing I thought was, well there are no books like mine, I’m an individual and no one else has written my book.
But when I really thought about it, several books came to mind that I’ve read and loved and all had one glaring theme that my first novel glaringly had. All the books were about or concerned the Windrush Generation.
Here are just 3 books that I read, two of them, several years before I even thought about becoming a writer, that I would highly recommend if you are interested in fiction that features the Windrush Generation.
The first one I read was The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, 1956. This book is semi autobiographical. Though it has no one clear plotline that runs throughout, this short read is made up of several vignettes in which characters lives are tied together in some way. The cast of characters are rich and jump off the page at you. As the characters are newly arrived to London, ‘the centre of everything’ from the West Indies, Selvon does use West Indian dialect a lot and for me, that’s one of the reasons I love it.
When I first wrote Holding Paradise, I was constantly being told I shouldn’t use certain words in my dialogue because the majority of people wouldn’t understand. I struggled with this because I couldn’t see a way to portray my characters without letting them use their own language. Well, I persevered with this editor, though he nearly drove me to tears and managed to keep my use of dialect in my book.
Secondly, I have to take talk about Small Island by Andrea Levy, 2004. It charts the story of Gilbert Joseph from Jamaica, returning after the second world war. He marries Hortense but goes to London for a better life. He remembers a friendship he had in wartime with Queenie whose neighbours frown upon her for taking black lodgers, and knocks on her door as he needs a place to live. The story develops on when Gilbert’s wife comes to join him and finds him changed and that London is a shabby place.
I loved, Levy’s writing style from the beginning which might explain why I read most of her books after this one. She has an ease about her writing that is engaging and seamless. Her characters are beautifully written, you feel as if you are in the room the way Levy’s scenes unfold. I think I pick this one again soon, certainly worth a third read!
This Lovely City by Louise Hare was a delight. There was jazz, crime, love, deceit and intrigue from cover to cover. Hare deals with racism and hatred in a beguiling way, doesn’t point a finger but leaves you questioning the way the Police treats its black population in Britain long after Empire Windrush docked in 1948.
It is the most current of the others but but manages to conjure up the vibrations, atmosphere and settings in such a way, you feel as if you have been transported. Great writing in my opinion and I certainly recommend this read.
My book, Holding Paradise is being re-published in 2024 and I look forward to learning if you think it fits in with the above. And to hear about the Windrush Generation fiction you’ve enjoyed or might go on to read.
Here are a few more to get stuck into:
Moon on a Rainbow Shawl by Errol John (1957)
Motherland: West Indian Women to Britain in the 1950s by Elyse Dodgson (1984)
The Emigrants by George Lamming (1954)
The Final Passage by Caryl Phillips (1984)
Windrush Songs by James Berry (2007)
In Praise of Love and Children by Beryl Gilroy (1996)