Saturday, 16 May 2015

Guest Post: Why Writing Romance (Or Indeed Anything Else) Was Easier in the Old Days by Alison May

Today I welcome back to the blog Choc Lit author Alison May with an entertaining guest post and a look ahead to her new book Midsummer Dreams which is being published next month. 

Do you remember the good old days? Of course you don’t. Nobody does. The good old days are a never fully specified period that existed from sometime around when your grandparents were born up until when you were small children. And they never really existed at all. There never was a golden period where everything was better. Maybe life was simpler before smartphones and being able to get the internet through your telly, but, on the other hand, nobody had smartphones or the internet, or a telly, so, at best, it’s a mixed bag of a comparison.

‘But what has this got to do with writing romance?’ you ask me. Of course you might not have asked me. Clearly that whole sentence was merely a little authorial flourish to make you, the reader, feel involved in the whole blog process, but I shall now continue as if you have asked. With that in mind, if you haven’t asked and would like to, please do so now.

Excellent. Well a lot of those modern contrivances, like smartphones and the interwebs, that make life so much more joined up and interconnected, make life really stinky for the poor novelist, toiling away at their keyboard. Firstly they make things tricky within the story. There used to be a whole load of ways you could get a heroine or hero lost and stranded, just primed to run into the paramour of their dreams. These days they would just whip out their phone, use Google maps to work out where they were and then text a friend to come and pick them up. They’d probably have time to take and post a selfie with the caption, ‘Lost on the moors again. LOL’ while they were waiting. What they probably wouldn’t need would be a swarthy gentleman in riding breeches to rock up and manfully loosen their stays.

But it’s not just in StoryWorld – which would, by the way, be the most awesome of theme parks – that all this modernity gives writers a headache. It’s in RealLifeLand – a much duller and less ordered theme park – too. It used to be that the writer would toil away by candlelight with only a quill pen and their parchment for company. Ok, so that was probably terrible for their eyes and I imagine the outrageous cost of parchment was a common point of discussion whenever two or more writers gathered together in one place, but at least distractions from writing were limited. There was no twitter, no amazon reviews and sales rankings, no goodreads, no facebook, no pinterest, no linkedin, no email, no yahoo groups, no blogs to follow, but these days, dear lovely reader, as a writer I absolutely must check all of those things before I can even think about starting to write. And by the time I’ve been through them all then there’s almost certainly something new on the first ones I checked, so I really feel that I ought to check those again. And so it goes on. A never-ending cycle of social media to read and interact with and enjoy. And I love social media. I love all the ideas I’ve come into contact with, and the people I’ve virtually met, that real-life would never have introduced me to, but golly gosh it’s a massive set of distractions from the actual business of bum on seat, fingers on keyboard, words onto screen.

So to that extent I do envy the lovely Mr Shakespeare, whose work provides the starting point for some of my own books. He never took a selfie, never frothed with rage because someone had used an apostrophe incorrectly in a facebook post, never got into an ill-advised argument in the comments section of a blog. He just wrote plays. Really really good plays. A quill pen, a parchment, and a wife who has her own cottage is, it turns out, all the truly great writer really needs.

About Me

Alison May’s new book, Midsummer Dreams, is available for kindle pre-order now.

Alison was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now lives in Worcester with one husband, no kids and no pets. There were goldfish once. That ended badly.

Alison has studied History and Creative Writing, and has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and a freelance trainer, before settling on 'making up stories' as an entirely acceptable grown-up career plan. 

Alison is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, and won the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2012. She writes contemporary romantic comedies, published by Choc Lit. In addition to Midsummer Dreams, she is also the author of Sweet Nothing ( and the Christmas Kisses series.

You can find out more about Alison’s books at or by following her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay 

About Midsummer Dreams 

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything…

Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect. 

Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself. 

Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers. 

Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach. 

At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.


  1. Wonderful post - and so true! Funny to think of Shakespeare checking his Amazon rankings/reviews before he wrote!

  2. Funny and very true! There's a lot to be said for just getting on with writing - worked for Shakespeare didn't it? Angela Britnell