Weird or What?

All right – here’s a confession. Brace yourselves.

I’ve never read a single one of my books. Or the short stories.

I don’t know what it is – I simply can’t do it.

I usually start to write the next book as I’m about two thirds of the way through the book I’m currently writing because I find my thoughts straying and then I just have to open a new file and get it all written down. Well, I say all – it’s a skeleton story, some background notes, preliminary research, thoughts, questions and so on. Its only a couple of thousand words to begin with, but I’ll spend more and more time on it – usually to the detriment of my current book and the frustration of Accent Press – All Hail Accent Press – until I’m writing to the two almost consecutively. By the time I’ve finished the first book I’m sometimes half way through the second.

But – and this is the point I’m lurching towards – going forwards is easy. On to the next book and then the next and so on. What I can’t do is go back. It’s the same with painting. I know Monet painted haystacks and lily ponds over and over again but I can’t do that. Once a thing is done – it’s done. Same with my books.

Yes, I tell myself that by the time I’ve researched it, written it, re-written it, edited it, edited it again, and again, read the proof and so on, it’s not surprising that I never want to see it again, but that’s not really an excuse.

And I have all my author’s copies, of course, gathering fluff on my never-dusted bookshelves, so it’s not as if I have to buy them (although I do because I need the sales) but there they sit as fresh and perfect as the day I unpack them because they’re never read. I just can’t do it. I don’t know why. Weird or what?

I really feel that with so many people saying they’re about to embark on a re-read of the series – or worse, they’re on their umpteenth re-read of the series – I really should make a start myself.

So, I’ve made a decision. I’ve been putting it off for a long time but I need to grit my teeth, begin with JODTAA and re-read. I need to start at the beginning and go on to the very end. Including the short stories. It’s ridiculous not to be able to read my own work. I need to get a grip. Of course, it would have been a good idea not to have left it so late. That’s thirteen books to struggle through and I’ve lost count of the short stories.

I think I know what it is. I’m going to read a paragraph and think, ‘Good grief, what was I thinking there? That’s a really bad bit of writing.’ Or, ‘I need to change that.’ Or, ‘I don’t like that bit.’ Or, ‘That bit’s clumsy,’ and before I know where I am I’ll be pestering Accent Press for time to rewrite the entire series and I can hear them laughing already.

I’m making excuses. I don’t want to do it.  What is wrong with me?


PS. Since writing the above, The Battersea Barricades has been released. I was a little tense about this one. The whole thing was pure imagination. I had to create a political world, invent a crisis, indulge in tactical and military thinking and I had to do it all by myself because there was no historical framework to fall back on. Thanks for enjoying it. I have to say I really fell in love with these three ladies and it looks as if some of you have as well.

PPS. Yes, I promise I’ll shut up in a moment – 12th and 13th May is Cardiff Comicon and we’ll be there, signing books, glugging tea and having a good old gossip. There’ll be the odd bit of merchandise as well – the usual St Mary’s bags, mugs and notebooks, so do try and pop along if you can. It’s a great day out. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and everyone has a fantastic time. Hope to see you there.


36 thoughts on “Weird or What?

    • Yes! I second that motion. You may know what Max sounds like in your head, but to the rest of us, Zara Ramm is Madeline Maxwell. And Joan of Rouen. And Awesome Mummy.

      Audio engages a different part of your brain, so you might be better able to squelch the Interior Itty Bitty Shitty Committee that wants to critique every word, turn of phrase, etc. Besides, we love all the books, every word, and we are all very discerning and perspicacious readers who would be most upset over unnecessary author angst and turd polishing. So there! 😂😘

  1. I absolutely LOVE your stories. When you share your insight into your writing process, it makes me appreciate them more, especially Battersea Barricades. I hope someday to make it across the pond for Cardiff comicon, to meet you. Thank you for the hours of enjoyment.

  2. This is not surprising. From my modest experience, not as an Author but as a literary translator (English into French), I know full well this sensation of quasi-nausea that pervades you at the end of the exhausting, iterative process of writing… once you have brought it to a satsfiying conclusion (well, satisfying for the publisher), you just want the text to live it’s life, on it’s own… and that’s only as a translator ! I imagine the surfeit it can be for the original creator !

    On the other hand, Jodi, I suppose many readers of yours luxuriously indulge in rereading your works, singly or in sequence, to savour, beyond the thrill of the first-time suspense, the richness of detail and flavour of the language.

    As Robert Sceckley could have said, don’t worry, Jodi : We’ll read it for you wholesale !

  3. Please never stop writing!!! All your books and short stories are a joy to read. I LoL a lot. I enjoy the history and the wonderful characters — and the plots’ twists and turns. Thanks for all the reading pleasure.

  4. Well after finishing Argumentation ( which actually had me in tears at one point, where’s that support group?) I went straight back to the first book and started again. Just love this series.

    • i did exactly the same thing! HI JODI! *waves* I adore your books and they are helping me through a rough time (no job after 38 years at the same place!) I so wish they would make a TV series out of this. Love from a dedicated fan! <3

  5. now now dont have to stop writing in order to read on our account! (me selfish? wanting more you say? bwahahahahahaha!) Thanks for all the fun so far. 🙂

  6. Your missing a treat Jodi, reading all your books has been a delight. I have read all st Marys at least twice.the Frogmorton books twice. White silence once as there are bits which are to scary to get a good nights sleep after (especially if your under a quilt that feels like its being tugged ). Only left with one A bachelor establishment which i will start tonight. I do not have a favorite book as they are all so good, but I adore Markham and Max and Leon and Lingos and well you get the idea. Also I read the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch after you said you were re reading it. If you have any more book suggestions they would be gratefully received as I endure the agony of waiting for your next book.

  7. Hi Jodi, I love your books both in written and audio format. I’m retired just last year but while I was a truck driver, I listened to your whole series from the beginning every time you put out a new book – which was quite often – and I enjoyed every minute of them, every time. Now I am PHYSICALLY reading the series (whew!!) and I am loving every word and looking forward to more. I am something of a writer myself and I can tell you, I am most critical of my own work. Don’t let it daunt you – pretend someone else wrote it and just shake your head before moving on. I find it works for me.

  8. Zara does a fantastic job narrating, maybe you should try to listen instead of read them? Of course you run the risk of hearing different voices than the one’s in your head, but that could be a good thing, right?

  9. I’m two books into the series and about to start the third. You just focus on the writing and I’ll keep on with the reading. You wouldn’t want me to catch up, I’m terribly impatient. And I nag.

    • My sentiments entirely. At least you have lots of wonderful reading ahead, I’ve read everything many times as, just to warn you, Jodi should carry a health warning – these are addictive, read at your peril! I’ve cried with laughter and sadness.

  10. I would do whatever feels right for you but I would be sure to look at those books with great pride. You have given us so much pleasure and very generously allowed us to play with your creation on the Facebook pages. Thank you very much.

  11. It had never occurred to me that an author would go back and read their previous work. If the author doesn’t know what’s in the book — who does? And I agree with others that you might want to Audible them so you hear them in a fresh voice.

  12. Self criticism is helpful only up to a point. Beyond that point, it can become counterproductive even destructive. Be careful.

    I had come to the conclusion that the entire paradigm reset you triggered at the end of “A Second Chance” was a reflection of your dissatisfaction with where the plot line was leading and the decision to move things along in a much different direction. I find your comments about how your creative processes work to be fascinating and also a little confusing. One of the reasons why you’re the author and I’m the disaster magnet, I suppose.

    When you read our comments, analyzing aspects of the St Mary’s saga to the 99th decimal point, ad nauseam, does that amuse you, entertain you, frustrate you or just make you crazy? Do you wonder if, after finishing his “Mona Lisa” , Da Vinci went to his grave wishing he’d drawn her sticking her tongue out at the world? Just curious!

  13. How on earth do you keep the plots of 2 books straight, in your head, when writing both together? Respect Jodi!!

  14. I’m a serial re-reader and re-listener. Your writing style, content and characters just hit my sweet spot every time. With such a wealth of detail every repeat visit to St Mary’s is a satisfying mixture of old friends, half remembered stories and rediscovered moments. I keep hoping you’ll visit the historical events on my wish list – the Clyst Heath massacre, perhaps? I hope as you read your own books you can relax and enjoy them half as much as we do. Many, many thanks for the countless hours of pleasure you’ve given me.

  15. I re-read. And I loved the “Battersea Barricades” – all too plausible, alas. And the three women – I’m so glad Dr Bairstow snaffled them for St Mary’s!

  16. Oh Jodi, you lucky woman, being able to start reading ALL the Jodi Taylor books – they are wonderful – I am sure you will love them. The language and grammer are excellent and there are bits which will have you rolling on the floor with laughter, and other bits which will have you holding your stomach from crying in misery.
    You are wonderful.

  17. Here’s wishing you a better time reading them than you fear! Although I don’t see why you have to; I don’t find it at all weird for an author not to re-read her own books. As a singer, my experience is a little different, as a performance is an ephemeral beast and there is no going back. When I make recordings, though, I cannot but be self-critical. The more time I leave after making the recording, the less strident the inner critic, in my experience. So good luck – and a plea: should you feel your inspiration creaking to a halt when reading, please stop at once! I would rather you never re-read a word and kept on producing such wonderful books.

  18. Wot they all sed! Much better than I could. Well, except for Audible. I know Zara Ramm is super but I can’t bear listening to books – I want to spend time thinking and re-reading and chortling or sobbing here and there, and you can’t do that when you’re having to listen at someone else’s speed.
    Thank you again and again for TBB – I grat (Scots – meaning more than just ‘wept’) from halfway to the very last word.

    • I have been trying to to listen to books but find myself wanting to pick up my iPad and read. I can’t get my head around it.. mind you I do have time to read as I’m retired. Not like most of you beautiful people who have jobs. It’s the best thing about retirement.

  19. I sympathise. I can’t read my own books till they’ve been out for at least a couple of years and when I do I spot typos in the first few minutes – soul-destroying! Take heart though, Jodi – I recently read one for the first time since it came out in 2008 and to my surprise realised it wasn’t bad at all. It just takes time. And in the meantime I’ll re-read all of yours for you!

  20. Jodi: you are far from the only novelist who does not/cannot read her work once it’s out there. My dear friend Rebecca Goldstein has said the same to me,

  21. Not weird at all, Jodi. I don’t read my books either. To the devoted reader, the books are a seductive “fictional dream.” The writer just sees the work. Agatha Christie (I think) said that writing a book is like making sausage (I know I’m paraphrasing)–you don’t really want to see the process. So…When you’re making the sausage, how can you enjoy eating it?

    besides, my multiple readings (listenings) certainly make up for your not reading. I have to admit, I listen to your books every night before I go to sleep (no they’re not boring, they’re relaxing)–all in order and when I get to the last book in the series I start all over again. I also own them all in hard copy and some on Kindle as well.

  22. Hi Jodi, as a huge fan who has read (well, listened to) all of St. Mary’s several times (more than 4, less than a dozen – I’ve lost track), I just wanted to reccomend that you listen your way through them. Zara Ramm is so great and hearing them in a voice other than your own might help get you out of your own head. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!!
    Ps. Loved The Battersea Barricades & An Argumentation of Historians, but the cliffhanger is killing me! Please put us out of our misery soon.

  23. Please Jodi leave the reading to your adoring fans. Speaking personally I’d prefer you to be chained to your desk, pounding away at a new book. I freely admit to reading your books multiple times because I’m suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms. The only cure is to spend time with Max, Leon, Mearkham etc, etc.

  24. You should REALLY read these books Jodi. The authoress is very funny and has given reading pleasure to a lot of people throughout the world. I recommend her to you.

  25. I would say go straight to listening to them on audio!! They are so enjoyable. Zara Ramm is terrific. She reads your books wonderfully!!

  26. It’s just as well that you have many fans who do read them. Thank you for all the hard work (and for promoting tea drinking).

  27. Hi Jodi. My husband has been reading your books for a while, annoyingly waking me in the middle of the night with a titter, a snigger or even a guffaw. I decided to see what he was raving about and am working my way through the St Mary’s books in chronology of setting, not writing. I am currently reading Second Chance and am up to the bit where Max xxxxxxxxxxxx. My heart broke when xxxxxxxxxxxx. (Don’t like spoilers.)

    Regarding reading one’s own work…. I finally completed my dissertation for my MA(SEN) at the last minute (obviously), printing it out at 02:00 on the very last day allowed. I had studied part time, while working as a teacher in a special school and managing my wonderful husband and young family, which is not unlike carrying a mound of cooked spaghetti in one’s hands over an obstacle course. My husband took the day off to take it to the binders and, a few months later, I received my copy.

    Grand Opening. TAA-DAA. Contents page – one line kicked over a bit. Must have hit the ‘tab’ key. Heart dropped. Couldn’t read any more. Sigh.

    Continue writing, please Jodi. Both my husband and I are retired, and have decided not to pop our clogs until we have finished the St Mary’s stories and discussed them – politely, of course, not like the academics in your books, with hair torn from scalps, blooded noses etc.

    My aim is to read everything you have written. Don’t stop. Our lives are in your hands.

Comments welcome - but not spam!