Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

judging a mug by its cover


Pouring myself a coffee today, it occured to me that when the day ahead is a designated writing day, I always use the same mug. Without fail. On regular days, when I am getting ready to go out and about and shop and wander and visit and do all sorts of other important things, it doesn't worry me in the least which of my multitude of mugs into which I pour a hot beverage. But on writing days, the vehicle for my coffee imbibement is entirely particular.

This is my favourite writing mug.

It came in a goodie bag at a Romance Writers of Australia conference a few years back, and if it ever breaks - knock on wood - I'm fairly certain that I will never be able to finish a damn book again. For pouring my regular white coffee, with no sugar, into this mug, and this mug alone, gives me inspiration. With those inflammatory words glaring back at me from the haven of my messy desk how can I not write faster? How can I not impose deadlines and word count minimums when I am being yelled at by such an insistent mug?

I tried the other day to have a coffee in a beautiful decorative mug, but nothing happened. No words. No inpiration. The coffee even tasted different. So who am I to argue?

Along the same lines, doesn't it feel much nicer to fall into bed at night when the bed is made? I mean presumably one's bed surely has the same sheets, the same thread count, the same temperature whether the bed is made or not. But when it looks so neat and trim and perfectly groomed, somehow I am able to sleep easier, with a self-satisfied smile on my face.

And don't get me started on actual books. Okay, so I started this myself, so I'm damn well going to finish it!

I bought "The Gunseller", a novel by Hugh Laurie nigh on ten years ago. I have been a little bit in love with the guy long before House came onto the scene. (And seriously, don't those guys deserve every award on the planet for being able to make a mean, sarcastic, handicapped, drug addict sexy? Seriously? I want to be them.)

I had watched him for many years, through "Black Adder", "A Little Bit of Fry and Laurie", "Peter's Friends" and the like. His appearance in "The Young Ones" epsiode "Bambi" set him up in my mind for legend status all on its own.

So needless to say I flipped out when I found this book on a $2.95 discount rack at the local bookstore. I bought it. I began to read it. And I never got past page two. Why? Because the cover is horrendous. Somehow I couldn't get past the look on the guy's face, the haircut, the colours - all of it bugged me simply too much to go on.

The book was on a $2.95 discount rack, for goodness' sake, so stop looking at my like I'm shallow! But am I shallow? Are all those people who didn't buy the book at full price shallow? Shouldn't an enlightened person be able to see past the high gloss cover and the title and the back blurb to the words within? Of course one should, but that doesn't mean than one can. Or will. Or wants to. Time is too precious. There are only so many books out there one can read in a lifetime, only so many mugs to drink from, and linen sets to sleep in...

Anyway, a week ago I found this book again in the bottom of a great pile of books to one day read. I scratched my chin and thought, "Do I give it another go?" Well, with "House" being just about the best show on TV - "West Wing" beating everything else in my humble opinion, and now that's a TV show with a good cover! - I thought I'd give it another go.

So being older and wiser and having a current mental image of deliciously unhurried Hugh Laurie in mind - the version of Hugh Laurie with the "House" cover, not the "Blackadder" cover, mind you - I dove in and I didn't come up for air until it was over.

"The Gunseller" is an absolutely divine novel. The hero measured, flawed, and heavenly. The story timely and intriguing even ten years on. And the language to die for (check out an excerpt to see what I mean). I grinned, gasped and laughed so hard my husband kept asking what the heck I was reading. The final line alone had me in stictches for five minutes!

So the moral of this tale is... If you want my attention, if you want me to see your product in amongst the trillion other like products out there on the shelves, make it pretty. Or this buyer ain't buying.

"The Gunseller" has been re-released in the UK. Check out the much nicer cover here. So track it down, buy it, clear a space in your next two afternoons to lie back and think of Hugh.

Publisher: Arrow
ISBN: 0099469391

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