1. Meeting Odette is an allegory for the present. That refugee you see shivering in the water, struggling across barren lands - how can you know who she really is? Refugees have nothing and our society therefore sees them as nobody. This is both ridiculous and worse than inhumane. Supposing someone who arrives from the east with nothing but the clothes on her back turns out to be...a very unexpected individual indeed?
2. One of today's burgeoning literary trends is for "empathy", or so I'm told. Books that lead us to get under the skins of others, stories that perhaps share the "Mitleid" (literally: suffering together) of Parsifal. The world is failing us at this: only the arts can bridge that gap, which is part of what makes us human beings. Meeting Odette fits right into that category.
3. Magical realism is a wonderful genre and I was devastated when it began to be regarded as outmoded around the turn of the century. What could possibly be outmoded about 100 Years of Solitude or Midnight's Children? Somehow we associated magical realism with "exotic" authors - ie, from far-away places like India or South America. To me, the best magical realist of all was right here in sunny Battersea: the legendary Angela Carter. I devoured all her books back in the 1980s and while my writing will never be like hers in five millennia, there could be worse examples to inspire us to extend our visions of reality.
4. You don't have to like ballet to love Meeting Odette. It's not a ballet book. Nobody dances. OK, Odette and Patrick dance together at a ball of sorts, but to imitation Elvis. There are no anorexic ballerinas, no self-harming teenagers, no longing for the smartest tutu in town. But if you do love ballet, you'll feel very at home in any case.
5. If you support Meeting Odette by pledging for the 5-copy 'flock' level, you solve 4 Christmas present conundrums in one go.
6. Chicklit it's not. Cygnet-lit, perhaps... Meeting Odette is for all ages of readership from 110-up down to about 16. While the two principal characters are both female, there are some good male characters as well, notably Chris the musician who leads Odette back to the artform she most loves. All the characters undergo learning experiences; all are flawed, muddled people as we all are, and all of them have the chance to find themselves transformed.
7. Meeting Odette's existence depends entirely on your willingness to pledge to it before it is published. Many friends have written to me saying how exciting it is, how much they're looking forward to reading it and how they'd love to have a signed paperback when it's ready. Great - that is wonderful and I hope you'll love it. But not to put too fine a point on it, it will never be ready unless you pre-order with a pledge, because it doesn't get published until the full costs are covered by the crowdfunding. We are nearly halfway there at the moment and there's a good little distance to cover.
Thank you so much for your support, your encouragement and your pledges thus far - you have my eternal gratitude with all my heart!
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