I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour. Sweet Little Lies is written by debut author, Caz Frear and was named the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in conjunction with retailer WHSmith. To celebrate the release of this crime thriller I have a fantastic guest post (yay! I do love a guest post!) So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Caz…
In defence of self-doubt – overcome it or work with it?
It’s a can-of-worms debate, and yet still a widely-held view, that crippling self-doubt is more of a female thing. Study after study seem to indicate that while men approach a challenge thinking they’ll naturally ace it, women, on the whole, expect the worst.
I’m not entirely sure where I stand on this. It seems a bit black and white, a bit ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, although I’ll admit in my case, it’s 100% true. My school reports were littered with comments like, “Caroline has the ability but not the confidence,” and while I’d argue that in maths, physics and geography, they were being too kind as I had no ability at all, in all other subjects their assessments were bang on. Even in English, no matter how many A grades I amassed in every piece of coursework and exam, I still assumed that the next one would go badly. It’s a ‘girl thing’, I heard my teachers say on more than one occasion. But I’m no longer a girl. And with age should come confidence, surely?
It appears not. I am female and worse still, I’m a female writer, and therefore popular myth states that I must doubt myself as readily as I breathe.
I read an interview with Marian Keyes many years ago where she said – although I’m paraphrasing a little – that every day she sits down to write, she wonders if it’s the day the words leave her. The day she has to admit that all her previous bestsellers were mere flukes and she’s been trading on luck. The day the world realises that she’s simply not good enough at writing.
Yep. Marian Keyes said that. Hilarious, incisive, warm, multi-talented Marian Keyes.
What chance the rest of us??
My debut novel, Sweet Little Lies, came out on Thursday. It won the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and has had unbelievably generous reviews from some amazing crime fiction authors (still fainting over Lynda La Plante and Ann Cleeves!) In addition to this, my agent and my editor have never been anything short of insanely passionate about my writing but right now, as Sweet Little Lies goes out into the world, I’m still asking myself the same question. Still tormenting myself with the same fears.
Is it really any good?
Am I about to be ‘found out’ for being the ‘average-on-a-good-day writer’ that Self-Doubt keeps insisting I am?
And if it really is any good, and no-one is about to ‘out’ me as possibly-the-worst-published-author-in-all-of-history, how can I ever repeat the success with Book 2? I mean, what if I’m a one-book wonder? The literary equivalent of Chesney Hawkes.
Sweet Little Lies was written against a backdrop of 90% gnawing self-doubt and 10% soaring over-confidence. There’s very little in between however I’m told that’s normal. The soaring over-confidence comes when what’s in your head appears on the page perfectly formed. When you completely nail a description, or a feeling. When you feel your heart pounding in the tense scenes or you well up during a sad exchange. In those rare moments, you dream of success, unreservedly. In fact, you’ve made it already. You’ve managed to craft one perfect paragraph and now the Booker Prize beckons.
You are at one with The Words.
ALERT. This is not a good thing.
“Bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt,” Charles Bukowski lamented in an interview, and the man couldn’t be more right. It’s during these self-confidence surges that you’ll do your most cringey writing – the purple prose that adds nothing to the story other than to show the reader how clever you are (the reader almost always thinks it’s boring, not clever). It’s during these surges that you’ll become convinced you can find a far superior way to say, “He sat on the chair” than any other writer that has gone before you.
You can’t. And there’s no need to. Self-doubt reins you in from all this floweriness.
There are several other reasons why it’s a good thing too.
If you don’t have self-doubt, then what’s the alternative – complacency? We can all probably think of an author who we used to love but we now feel has lost it a little over the years. This happens in series crime the most – knowing you have a winning formula that can be relied doesn’t always inspire new heights of creativity.
Self-doubt makes you question everything about your book. Is that periphery character really needed? Is the sub-plot superfluous? Are 4 narrators too many? Is the swearing too much? Over-confidence leads to less questioning.
Self-doubt encourages you to go the extra mile – if don’t believe you’re the bees knees, you’ll work twice as hard to get there.
Self-doubt/self-reflection is a common trait in a lot of crime protagonists and literally feeling how your character feels is no bad thing.
And most importantly, the ONLY way to slap down self-doubt is through action. And it’s only action that gets books written!
About the author
Caz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.
When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.
What happens when the trust has gone?
Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.
When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.
Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.
When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find.
For fans of Erin Kelly and Belinda Bauer, Sweet Little Lies is a suspenseful page-turner from a talented new voice.