Over the years, I suppose what I’ve learned is not to have too many regrets in life. The baggage we carry should be light and insubstantial. I’ve learned that it’s better to make mistakes, rather than do nothing because doing something might be a mistake. That forms part of the premise of Everyday Magic, my new novel, and you can read all about it on Ringwood Publishing’s website. And yes, it has a happy ending.
Apart from other stuff, I also teach creative writing. Some people are a bit iffy about courses like mine, believing that some are born to write and others aren’t. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You wouldn’t hire a plumber because he or she knows what a tap looks like, or an electrician to rewrite your house because they know what a screwdriver is. Writing is a trade and, unless you are exceptionally gifted, you have to learn it.
Charlie Laidlaw is joining me to share #TenThings he’d like his readers to know about him. It’s a really eclectic mix! His latest novel, Everyday Magic, will be published by Ringwood Publishing next week. If you pre-order your copy of Everyday Magic before its digital launch on the 26th of May, you’re guaranteed to receive a signed copy from the author! There’s a buying link at the bottom of the page.
I was born in the west of Scotland, moved to Edinburgh, and then to London where I lived for over twelve years. I then moved back to Edinburgh, and now live in a rural village near Edinburgh. All my books, being character-driven, are set where I live. Memo to budding authors: if “place” isn’t important in your story, just write about the places you know. It took me years to learn that simple lesson.
The first book that got me thinking was Paul Gallico’s Jenny, about a boy who is turned into a cat. I still find that quite plausible, and therefore treat our cats with more respect than they deserve. But it was also the first book I’d read where a central character dies. It made me realise that not everything in life has a happy ending.
More about the author
About the book
That said, all my books (so far) have had happy endings. I just don’t like books where the hero ends up being stabbed to death by a robot. Life is too short to live it, or read it, on the dark side. Maybe that makes me a sentimentalist, but I like the final page to be about the protagonists galloping into a sunset, or fireworks exploding, or fountains bursting into life, or rockets taking off, or other clichés.
The trouble with #TenThings is that everybody is more than a limited number of things, whatever things are. That said, I am also struggling to think of ten things that would make me seem remotely interesting, or which illuminate who I really am.
That impermanence of life was brought home to me when, as a journalist, I visited a camp for displaced people during the Lebanese civil war. It was filled with ordinary decent people and smiling children everywhere. A few weeks later, the camp was the scene of a massacre. How do you write about that? The hatred that led to it, or the image of child’s teddy bear in the rubble? Maybe that’s why I like happy endings, because some endings never can be.
I once (maybe) saw a UFO. It was early morning and I was quite little, but I absolutely remember seeing a ring of bright lights in the sky. Later that day, the evening paper carried a story about local workmen on a tall chimney seeing a UFO, and they described what I had seen. My mother phoned the newspaper and they wanted to interview me, but my Mum said I was too little. But since then I’ve always been fascinated by space and my third novel, The Space Between Time, was inspired by that fascination.
Charlie Laidlaw is a PR consultant, teaches creative writing, and lives in East Lothian. He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and was previously a national newspaper journalist and defence intelligence analyst. He has lived in London and Edinburgh, and is married with two children, to whom Everyday Magic is dedicated. His other novels are The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, The Space Between Time, Being Alert! and Love Potions and Other Calamities.
Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.
I once had, shall we say an encounter, with a co-worker on our boss’s desk. He wasn’t there at the time, and neither of us liked him. It was extremely cathartic and, when all restri. She was the daughter of a TV celebrity and later married a rock star. Of such things are memories made.
But in spite of her mundane life, Carole has decided to do something different. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.
Six Apart from our cats, which are cold and pretty useless, I am also friends with local crows. They come to be fed. I’ve read several stories of crows learning to bring their benefactors little presents in return, things like bits of mouse. I live in hope that my crows will bring me untold treasure, but the little sods have brought nothing so far.
Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has just been run over by an electric car.
Perhaps one of the enduring legacies of lockdown is how we have all been forced to reassess our lives, the people and places that are important to us, and how we’ve ended up where we are. For many of us, it’s been a time of introspection, and an opportunity to create a better future. That’s something that I’ve learned: rather than let life happen to you, make life happen. It’s something we all now need to do.
Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.