My brilliant and funny fellow expat blogger Mothership wrote a very interesting post the other day about visiting Steinbeck country in Monterey, California, and finding it somewhat changed.
In a somewhat similar vein, I recently re-read The Great Gatsby, which I had last read as a teenager, after discovering to my delight that it was based on the very area in which I now reside. Although things have changed somewhat since the Jazz Age, and it isn't all millionaires round here by any means, many of the ridiculously over-the-top mansions remain on the so-called Gold Coast of Long Island. Not a million miles from here are houses modelled on French chateaux, Latin haciendas, Georgian mansions and Elizabethan halls. I have no idea who lives in these palaces, with their imposing gates, manicured lawns and private beaches, but I suspect that they are owned by the modern-day Gatsbys of Wall Street, Wal-Mart or mega law-firms, who are too busy working to ever hold glamorous parties or gaze yearningly across the bay.
Mind you, I had forgotten that Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby had amassed his fortune through decidedly dodgy means, which probably makes his modern-day equivalent Bernie Madoff, but as readers we forgive him because he's romantic and believes, however naively, in hope. I just wonder what Fitzgerald would have made of modern day New York, greedy bankers with their bonuses and Ponzi schemes....
I've been reading pretty voraciously recently - the result of living virtually next door to a library and not being inclined to watch much American TV of an evening - so it's apt that my friend Mum of 4 (herself a talented writer) has passed me on a meme on writing. Here's my attempt to answer it.
Which words do you use too much in your writing?
And, actually, slightly.
Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
Unnecessary abbreviations - I even noticed a respectable newspaper using 'apps' for 'appetisers' the other day.
What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
I can't in all honesty say I've a favourite, but I like this one.
What blog post do you wish you'd written?
This one, by A Confused Take That Fan, had me in stitches, and I always remember it.
What is the strangest thing you have ever been asked to write about?
I once had to write a business profile of the marketing director of Ann Summers. The quotes were all about pink fluffy handcuffs and which vibrators were the biggest sellers. I don't think I have ever seen my (male) editor so excited about a piece I'd written....
Name three favourite words...
Murmur, seashell, emerald
And three words you're not so keen on?
Qualitative (can never spell it), consumer, apps
Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
Journalistically I've always liked Zoe Williams in The Guardian. Of authors, I love Rumer Godden, Margaret Atwood, Barabara Trapido, Amanda Craig and Jonathan Coe. I wasn't inspired to start blogging by any particular blogger, more by reading a book called Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson and thinking, "I could do that, and maybe I'll do it online."
What is your writing ambition?
To get beyond the first chapter of a novel.
I'm going to tag Potty Mummy, A Confused Take That Fan , Cassandra and Mothership to take up the challenge.