Helen Smith will be appearing on panels at Malice Domestic (3 May, USA) and CrimeFest (16 May,UK)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The best book in the world

Sometimes friends and acquaintances will ask me about my books. I'll blush and say, 'They're pretty good. They're not the best books in the world but I'm proud of them.' This peculiar marketing technique may help to explain why so few of my friends and acquaintances have actually read any of my books. Fortunately you are intelligent and perceptive enough to see past my self-deprecation. If you haven't yet read one of my books, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before you go out and buy yourself a copy. Thank you for that.

I'm writing one at the moment, it's about a woman and an angel who go on a road trip after the angel saves her from suicide. I think it will be good (I hope so, anyway). I don't think it will be the best book in the world.

What would be the best book in the world?
Maybe I should try to write it.

What elements would a book have to contain, in order to be the best book in the world? I think it would have to be exciting and sad, with lots of funny lines in it. It wouldn't have rape, torture, child abuse or brand names in it. It would be a short book. There would be a moment of terrible realisation for the main character, and as it was uncovered in the story, it would nearly break the reader's heart - because it would somehow reveal some great truth about life. The reader would think, this book could have been written for me.

It must be possible, therefore, to assemble such a book by putting together all the right ingredients in the right order: sad bit, funny bit, terrible realisation, excitement, excitement, funny bit, sad bit, the end.

Regular readers will know that I'm reverse-engineering my masterpiece for the theatre, Smith's Bleakly, from the kind of reviews I would like to get. My novel - the one I will be writing after the one I'm writing now - will be tackled more conventionally and robustly. I will drive into it headfirst as if I have just seen the last parking space in Asda's carpark at Christmastime. I will assemble it as efficiently as if I were making a cheese cake with my nephews; all the ingredients crunched, whipped, measured, sifted, separated and then folded in together and baked.

It may not actually be the best book in the world but it will be wonderful. I just need a title.

Enough about me. What about you? How are you?

8 comments:

Donna Fasano said...

Although I agree with all the ingredients, I would rearrange the bits a bit. And the ending to the best book in the world would have to be--for me, at least--happy. There's enough sadness in this cold, cruel world. I need a happily ever after!

If anyone could write the best book in the world, Helen, you could do it. Heck, you've already come close.

Helen Smith said...

Aww, you're lovely! I like a sad ending.

sandra said...

I agree with Donna. I love the best book in the world comments, and you can write it of course. Your books are original, funny and extremely engaging. Just what we need x

Helen Smith said...

Thanks, Sandra!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your recipe for the best book in the world, especially since it is eeriely similar to my own views on that subject.

And it is possible to orchestrate this masterpiece. Based on the reviews I have read on your work, you are in a fine position to do it.

Helen Smith said...

Thanks, Karen. We should both give it a go.

Fran said...

The best book in the world is usually the one I'm reading (if I'm enjoying it, that is).

Helen Smith said...

So... what are you reading at the moment, Fran?