Welcome to Love Books Group blog Emma Baird, thank you for sharing a short story with us. We also have a wee interview Emma too, enjoy!
Emma Baird works as a writer by day and night. In daylight hours, she scribbles blogs for people. When the sun goes down, she lets her imagination run riot and comes up with weird genres such as plus-size vampire erotica. At some point, she hopes the stuff she comes up with in the dead of night will allow her to write more of it during the day… She lives in Scotland with a patient husband and a demanding cat.
You can visit her website here: http://emmabaird.com and she’s on Twitter @Glitterbaker
- What book first ignited your love of reading?
There was no one book, I just remember loving reading from an early age. I read a lot of Enid Blyton and many of the classic children’s books, such as Peter Pan, The Secret Garden and Alice in Wonderland. I also loved Greek mythology and read up on that extensively, which made me useful for crossword clues.
- If your current book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
“A Change Will Do You Good” by Sheryl Crow. The Girl Who Swapped is about two female protagonists who find themselves in different bodies and what they experience – hint, it changes them for the better…
- Which book have you read more than once?
I usually re-read The Source by James Mitchener every few years. It’s an epic, sweeping behemoth of a book that uses an archaeological dig to tell the history of the Jewish people, religion and Israel. I’ve also just re-read The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard, as I find her portrayals of families very moving.
- Do you plan your writing or go with the flow?
I tend to go with flow. I have a rough outline in my head, but I really enjoy what happens when you let the words come to you. I’ll write something and think, “Where did that come from?” but it seems to fit in and make perfect sense for that character.
- Do you enjoy the editing process?
I love tidying up sentences and clarifying meaning. It’s satisfying. I also offer book editing services for other people and I find that rewarding. But as for the re-writing… urgh. I have several finished novels that all need restructuring. I can see what’s not working and where I’ve gone off on a tangent, but I find it very difficult to make myself sit down and get on with it. Perhaps that’s where a writer’s retreat would come in handy.
- If you could what advice would you give your sixteen year old self?
It’ll all be the same a hundred years hence. What I remember most about my teens is the anxiety and angst that comes with typical teenage self-absorption. It’s wonderful when you grow out of that. I’d probably advise myself to steer clear of all those bad boys I used to like too…
- Do you read your book reviews?
Only if they are good! It’s a self-preservation thing and I think it’s what most authors do. Mind you, if I got a huge number of very bad reviews, I think I’d decide the universe was trying to tell me something.
- What is your opinion on social media and it’s unique gift of connecting writer and reader instantly?
That’s one the gifts of social media. I’ve done it myself – Tweeted an author whose work I’ve enjoyed because I wanted to thank them personally. One thank you can mean a lot, can’t it? I follow quite a few authors on Twitter.
- If you could give one literary villain a happier ending, who would you pick and why?
Though I’ve never forgiven Heathcliff for what he did to Cathy’s dog, I can’t help thinking with a lot more love and attention in his childhood, he might have turned out a lot nicer.
- If your book could come with a preemptive message for the reader, what would yours say?
Find out what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes…
- What are you currently reading?
The Power by Naomi Alderman, the book that won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction this year. I usually read two or three books at the same time, so I’m also reading a Sara Paretsky book too, the V.I. Warshawski mysteries.
- Where did you get the inspiration for your current novel?
It started as a piece that I entered for a competition to write a compelling front page. The story got long-listed so I thought I’d better make more of it.
Life Lessons for the Jaded ~ Short Story
Diana had recently read a quote that these days adulthood involved Googling “how to” articles and videos on the internet.
She had to agree.
It was only lunchtime and so far, she had researched how to write a killer presentation (and then how to deliver it with pizazz), how to remove red wine stains from your sofa (oops), how to create interesting meals on a budget and the best exercises for slimming down your tummy.
The next “how to” query was a little more tricky and her fingers hovered over the keys, reluctant to tap down on the letters as if even submitting the query was committing her to a course of action she was not sure she was ready to take.
“How to –
She took a deep breath, wriggled her fingers vigorously and typed out the query quickly – “how to find a man online”.
As had been expected, the first page of search results brought up plenty of advertisements for dating sites, all offering access to loads of members instantly should she choose to sign up. Tilting the screen towards her so that no-one in the office could see what she was up to, Diana scrolled down page 1 of the results and moved to page 2.
It was a good general rule, she found, that looking beyond the most obvious often brought unexpected and useful answers.
At the bottom of page 3, there was a link to a blog and the words intrigued her. “Ladies, I want to make life easier for you. If you’re finding it really difficult to find a man online, read on…”
With another surreptitious look around her vicinity to check that no-one could see what she was doing, she clicked on the link and found herself on a lifestyle blog called “George’s Gaff”, its tagline – “Life Lessons for the Jaded”.
“Jaded – that’s me for sure!” Diana thought. “I’m in my mid-40s, divorced and with two grown-up sons who seem to have forgotten I exist except when it comes to tapping me for money. Best I read on…”
George’s advice impressed her. He spoke about the general benefits of online dating – huge choice and the chance to meet people from all over the world, but he cautioned against relying on pictures (often out of date), and urged people to meet their contact as soon as possible.
“It’s too easy,” he had written, “to get carried away with an exchange of romantic emails or instant messaging late at night when you’ve both had a few drinks. But chemistry can only be felt through contact in person – and you might be wasting your time with someone you just won’t fancy when you meet up.”
Diana nodded sagely to herself. That seemed like very good advice and she vowed to bear it in mind for any future online encounters.
Out of curiosity, she found herself reading more of George’s blogs. Funnily enough, he also had an article on creating meals on a budget. Other articles made her laugh (albeit inside, seeing as she was surfing the internet at work when she should have been engaged in actually writing that killer presentation) and she found herself reading through almost all of his posts.
She clicked on the ‘about me’ tab, curious to find out more about George, this giver of good advice. The photo showed a man with a dog held in front of him so that the dog covered his nose and mouth. Clearly, George was aiming for online anonymity.
Well, he had written about disastrous dates, including one that would probably be rated an 18, so anonymity was a smart choice. Nevertheless, Diana found herself disappointed. George’s wit and wise words had provided her with an hour or so of wonderful entertainment and she wanted to put a face to him.
Her attention was drawn to the hand that held the dog in front of his face. There was a distinctive mark there, a mole she supposed, and so large it took up almost half the surface of the back of his hand.
It was an OMG moment – one where her gasp was so loud that two colleagues turned round and asked her if she was okay.
“Yes, yes – just realised something,” she muttered closing the top of her laptop in case they spotted the picture too.
They exchanged ‘hellos’ most mornings and the occasional comment about the weather. Once or twice, she thought he’d been looking at her in a… well, speculative way – as if wondering what she might say if he asked her out. She’d dismissed the thought.
George. George… The building’s security guard.
“You okay, Diana?” a colleague repeated.
“Never better,” she said as she scraped back her chair and stood up. “I just need to ask George how to improve my life.”
©Emma Baird 2017
What do you do when you find yourself in a strange body and a different life? The Girl Who Swapped is about to fill you in… Lottie and Charlotte are not having a good morning. They’ve woken up in unfamiliar beds. Not to mention, unfamiliar bodies. What is going on? At least Lottie’s boyfriend, Josh, is by her side. If only Lottie didn’t have this nagging feeling that something important happened last night, but she blew it… Charlotte feels terrible. She’s woken up with a hangover of gargantuan proportions. She is the woman who drinks only according to the Government guidelines. And where the hell are her husband and children? Then, there is Eve who thinks she is taking part in some innovative science experiment which will change the world and bring benefits to many. Is she? And just why is the director of the project so pleased with her? The three heroines must work out what is going on if they are ever to return to their real lives. Along the way, there will be tempting encounters with six-pack abs guys, full-on flirtations, Hollywood stars, riotous parties, blackmail and far too much champagne. Come along and enjoy the adventure in this terrific summer read for women! If you love escapist chick lit, you have come to the right place.
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