We’re very pleased to welcome Maggie Dana to the ball. A book designer and typesetter, Maggie is also the author of six books for children. Her first novel for grownups, Beachcombing, has just been published by Macmillan New Writing in the UK, where she’s been doing a book tour and hiding from her family.
Sometimes old flames burn the brightest…
This is the tag line for Beachcombing, my debut novel. Pretty catchy, huh? My youthful editor at Macmillan came up with it for the cover. But see the word old in there? That’s me. And the flames? The burning? That’ll be my face when my 16-year-old granddaughter discovers the two bedroom scenes in the book and realizes her grandmother still thinks about sex.
It’s silly, I know, to be embarrassed about sex when it comes to your family. I mean, none of them would be around if you’d not had any, right? I have three children and five grandchildren, so it’s pretty obvious I’ve had a few romps in the hay. But my very English parents (no sex please, we’re British) never discussed such things; nor did my teachers. I came of age in the fifties when married couples on TV sitcoms slept in single beds, and nice girls didn’t even get to first base. Not that we knew what first base was, given our national sport was cricket, and it had wickets, not bases.
Like most authors, I have a trusted reader and when I wrote that first love scene she was inconveniently down in Florida visiting a friend who didn’t, at that point, have email. So I faxed her the pages. Trouble is, I mistakenly faxed them to her friend’s business partner who is probably still scratching his head over them.
Are they very racy? Do they border on soft porn? Not in the least; then again, I don’t leave my reader at the bedroom door, either. But since they’re written in first-person point of view, I know I’m going to get some funny looks from family and friends once the book is published. Good thing I’ll be in the UK when it is. That way, my family will (hopefully) read it while I’m gone and by the time I get back, the initial shock will be over. Or so I keep telling myself.
All this makes it sound like I’ve written a geriatric Lolita or Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Far from it, but it is about a mid-life love affair and, quite frankly, there aren’t enough novels with 50-something heroines who’re not ashamed of their wrinkles and saggy boobs, as I’ve tried to show in this snippet:
We light the candles and watch one another undress, and for once, I’m not ashamed of my middle-aged body. Tonight my hips aren’t wide, they’re generous. My soft stomach is smooth and sensuous, and I’m proud of my full breasts that never passed the pencil test.
When Deb Kristina, who I met several years ago in an online writer’s forum, then in person (she’s absolutely gorgeous!), invited me to write an article, I decided to write about book design and typesetting which is what I do for a living. I love talking about fonts, about whitespace and leading, and why readability is a typographer’s first obligation to the reader. But Kris convinced me that while this is all very interesting, sex is even moreso. As she succinctly put it, “Marketing, baby. Sex sells.”
I just have to hope my kids don’t read this blog as well.