Count Ugolino’s Eyebrows

I have a tendency, when things are not quite right, to go back to old, familiar things.  So when I’m feeling ill, I pick up the sort of book that has been with me all my life, like a Georgette Heyer Regency novel.  Even before I started devouring them in my teens, they were old friends, having been favourites of both my parents, the increasingly battered copies accompanying us from house to house, no matter how far we moved. 


So when something between a cold and flu hit on New Year’s Eve, I retreated to bed with a new unabridged audio copy of Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle.


I’ve always enjoyed this one, but somehow Phoebe’s misfortunes as an author struck me more this time than in previous readings.


Her anonymously-published ‘roman à clef’ quickly has everyone talking and speculating, until she finds herself forced to jump in and say that it was all made up, she never meant people to take it seriously…


With my first book having been published ten days ago, I really feel for her. Although Track Limits is unlikely to become the talk of London, as The Lost Heir did, and as far as I know there is no single distinguishing feature that I wish I could remove, like Count Ugolino’s distinctive eyebrows, if it did become the talk of the paddock, how would I feel ?


What if people started speculating?  Is Mark meant to be X or Y? What about Jordan’s bright green eyes?  What about the Villain of the piece, Brad? Who is he?  Anyone know?


No – stop!  It’s fiction!  I did what you’re supposed to do, write what you know.  But when setting a book in a familiar landscape – in this case, an imaginary racing series and real racetracks –there is always a risk that people could read more into it than was ever meant.  The characters and situations came out of my imagination, and if some minor details may be reminiscent of real people, it was never intentional.


But there are chances that I’ve picked up details along the way, stored them and then reused them, I hope no one will be offended.  I never realized how difficult it is to come up with a totally original name until I tried…


But even if any of the GT drivers around the world feel themselves to have been caricatured in Track Limits,  at least it shouldn’t result in a kidnapping and flight across France, like poor Phoebe in Sylvester !