Eirin Thompson Guest Post & Book Giveaway

How can it be ten days since my last post? Time is running away …! And I am having a nightmare with WordPress at the moment, for reasons that I won’t bore you with. Suffice to say, this post might look a bit different, while I get used to a new ‘editor’.

There was major stress chez nous this evening when one of the juvenile blue tits that have been coming to our feeders (and looked like this one on the left), crashed into the window and rolled around on the patio for a few seconds and then just sat, completely stunned. Nooo! I was nearly having palpitations. I watched it, willing it to be alright, for about fifteen minutes, which is a long time when you’re doing nothing but staring, motionless, at a baby bird.

Reader, after a few little turns of its fuzzy head (it definitely perked up when other birds came onto the feeders), it flew off (away from the window, fortunately) and I have now put squares of paper on all the glass which looks ridiculous but I Do Not Care. (And I have ordered some of the more tasteful bird silhouette stickers for the windows).  

Eirin Thompson Guest Post & Book Giveaway

If you write short stories for the womags (or read them), you’ll almost certainly have heard of Eirin Thompson. She’s prolific!

Ironically, at a time when her name seems to be on the cover of every issue of People’s Friend, she tells me that I was the first name she noticed in women’s magazine fiction because I once had 3 stories in an issue of TAB Fiction Feast.

(Shh, between you and me, Eirin, that was the one and only time that ever happened and it was a long, long ago…)

Not content with her short story successes, Eirin has a novel, ‘I Know I Saw Her’ coming out with Hachette on 1st July (I told you she was prolific) and I’ve invited her onto the blog to tell us about it AND she’s kindly offered to give away one copy of the book. Read on for more about the book (which has a 50-something female protagonist, by the way – hurrah!) and details of how to win!

Over to Eirin…

I Know I Saw Her’ is a twisting mystery story, packed, I hope, with lots of suspense. The main action is set in a quiet suburban street over a sultry summer and tells of Alice, a stressed-out supply teacher, who sees something she shouldn’t and which she simply cannot overlook. As she starts probing, she becomes convinced that someone’s life is in danger and, dismissed by police as a crank, it seems that she alone must find a way to intervene. Two big influences on this project were the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘Rear Window’ and the Paula Hawkins novel, ‘The Girl on the Train’. I tried to capture something of the heat and claustrophobia of the former and the vulnerable-yet-courageous narrator of the latter.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book, and I put much of that down to the confidence and experience I have gained through submitting short stories to women’s magazines over the past three or so years. Reading the excellent short fiction in the magazines taught me, crucially, the importance of dialogue in bringing both story and characters to life. I have honed my dialogue-writing over several hundred stories, now, thanks entirely to the opportunities provided by these magazines we love.

I’ve had far too many magazine rejections to count, and these are a blow every single time, but they have taught me as much and sometimes more than the successes – the ‘womag’ editors really know their business, and can always detect a fatal flaw in a story. It takes resilience to keep submitting when you’ve had stories turned down, but I would urge writers to persevere – I once had twelve stories get the thumbs-down in a single email (admittedly, there were particular circumstances), but I survived!

Finally, I wonder if I’m the only one who loves finding names for their characters. I say ‘finding’, rather than ‘choosing’, as I feel the best names are the ones that just seem to choose themselves. The main character in I Know I Saw Her is called Alice Payne – ‘Ali’ to those who know her well, and I think it suits her.

Helen has generously allowed me to give away a copy of the book via her blog, and if you can comment below leaving your favourite name of a character in a book, I’d love to draw one at random and post you your prize. (UK and RoI only, I’m afraid.)  I Know I Saw Her is published by Hachette on 1st July, with the author name E.D. Thompson. You can buy it here.

Many thanks to Helen for giving me a voice on her blog, and to the followers who have taken the time to read this. I wish much writing success to all.

Eirin x

The book sounds fabulous, doesn’t it and I agree with Eirin wholeheartedly, that writing for the womags is a great training ground for other forms of writing.

I was interested to know whether Eirin is still writing short stories (because, now I’ve turned my attention to novel writing, I don’t seem to have time or brain-power for shorts, myself) and this is what she said, “I am absolutely still writing and submitting short stories to magazines – having discovered this opportunity late-ish in life, I am very keen to keep at it. In particular, I hope this will be the year I have a serial accepted by The People’s Friend, as that is something I haven’t done yet. I do find I have to ‘block’ my writing time – I cannot juggle the very different challenges of novel-writing and short story composition and have to immerse myself totally in one or the other.”

And of course, I had to ask, what about novel number two…?

“I’m into the final stages of writing my next novel (first draft) – another mystery/suspense story – and am extremely conscious that it is due to be handed over at the start of September, so I need to keep pressing on with it, if I am to have time to ‘rest’ it in the drawer before editing.”

Wow, inspiring stuff. Good for you, Eirin and I’m sure we all wish you the very best with the novel and your writing career.

If you’d like to win a copy of ‘I Know I Saw Her’, just comment below with your favourite name of a character in a book (it can even be your own book but do tell us why you like the name and how you thought of it!), no later than 6pm on Monday 5th July, a week today.

I’ll do a random draw to choose a winner (UK and ROI only) and Eirin will arrange for the book to be sent.

Good luck!

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25 Responses to Eirin Thompson Guest Post & Book Giveaway

  1. jbettany2013 says:

    I love some of the great names created by Charles Dickens. Mercy Pecksniff is probably my favourite. She appears in the novel Martin Chuzzlewit (now there’s another great name). Thanks for the very interesting blog post. I really enjoyed reading it.

  2. Barbara says:

    Interesting post as always from baby birds to a mystery novel. Atticus Finch is a name that has always stuck with me as whenever I hear it or think of it I am deep in Alabama. I am not sure if it is from reading the book when young or seeing the wonderful film with Gregory Peck but his quiet resolution made me envy Scout having him as a father.

  3. Sue Cook says:

    Flashman. The name says it all. Hope your blue tit is all better.

    • Flashman is a great name. It does, indeed, say it all. I keep trying to ‘spot’ the baby blue tit but as there are several that come to the feeder it is of course, impossible! But I think he was OK in the end.

  4. I am suffering with that new WordPress editor too! I hate it.

    • Glad it’s not just me, Sally! Grrr. I have used Classic Editor for 10 years! I don’t want to change to another system! I can’t get the text to wrap around images, that’s my main bugbear at the moment.

  5. Is there a plug-in you can install to get back the old editor? I use the WordPress software, rather than WordPress.com, but finding a plug-in has saved my sanity more than once. 🙂

    Congrats to Eirin on her new novel. I always enjoy her womag stories when I run across them, and a bit of suspense is right up my alley.

    In terms of character names, I’ve always thought Bunny Corcoran from The Secret History was fantastically absurd. It really fits with his braying personality, and gives a hint of his overwhelming Kennedy-ish clan of Irish-American siblings.

    • I LOVE the Secret History. In fact, I should really re-read it because it’s a long time since I read it. And yes, Bunny Corcoran is a great name. There IS a plug-in but if I want it, I have to upgrade my current WordPress plan and pay about £200 a year, which I’m not prepared to do! (I already pay £7 a month). I’ll just have to get used to the software, I fear…

  6. Lisa Davies says:

    I love some of the names of the characters in the Harry Potter series: Severus Snape, Luna Lovegood and Bellatrix Lestrange, to name but a few.

    • Yep, JK Rowling is brilliant at character names, isn’t she? In fact, I’m surprised that no-one, so far, has given the name of her detective in the novels she writes as Robert Galbraith because it’s a really memorable and, dare I say it, striking name!

  7. edinburghs says:

    Congratulations on your book, Eirin. Pollyanna was an inspired made-up name for the character – although probably Eleanor H Porter could not have dreamt that it would become a synonym for an optimist.

  8. pennywrite says:

    Good luck with the novel, Eirin! Hope you keep writing the stories as well…
    I never like to admit exactly how many rejections I had (lots, and still have!) but something keeps you going, doesn’t it?
    Thanks to Helen for the blog. When we first moved to our present abode, a buzzard brought down a passing pigeon right in our garden!! Like an explosion in a feather-pillow factory! What a welcome that was… small birdies far more loveable, even if the cause of some anxiety.

    • The buzz of getting a story accepted is addictive, I think! I’ve just had two rejections this morning from Take a Break Fiction Feast but they’d had the stories for so long that it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Still a bit disappointing, though!

  9. Karelann says:

    Scarlet O’Hara – that name has always conjured up the larger than life and gritty determination of the character she is.

    Enjoy your blog and definitely the short story writing should continue. Good luck to Erin with the books and hopefully a serial in PF.

    P.s. Which bird shapes have you chosen ?

    • Agree, Karelann, Scarlet O’Hara is a fabulous name. Gone With The Wind is one of those books I’ve always been meaning to read but never have (I’ve never even seen the film). Maybe one day…! The bird shapes are all different. When I’ve got them and put them on the windows, I’ll post a photo!

  10. KATE HOGAN says:

    Great post. Glad the little bird is OK. Terrible feeling helpless around our lovely vulnerable creatures. Good luck to Erin with her novel. I do enjoy your stories in the PF. I’m drawing a blank on names from novels though I know there are lots I’d mention if I wasn’t ready for bed. That said I’ll go for the name Thomas Begvious one of my own characters from my self-published novel. Good wishes. Kate Hogan.

  11. Lesley Smith says:

    My favourite character name is Abel Magwitch, can’t say why, it just is 😊

  12. Eirin Thompson says:

    Sincere thanks to everyone for your very encouraging words – they are deeply appreciated. And I LOVE the selection of character names – all wonderful and memorable. I think Dickens is probably the master, when it comes to naming of names – who else would come up with Herbert Pocket, or the sadistic schoolmaster of Dotheboys Hall, Wackford Squeers? Wishing you all a great weekend.


    I’ve always loved the name Ebenezer Scrooge. I know a lot of the old names are making a comeback, but let’s hope for the child’s sake Ebenezer isn’t one of them!
    Good luck with the novel Eirin.

  14. Eirin Thompson says:

    Thank you, Margaret. I love ‘A Christmas Carol’ and read/listen to/watch it every December, often in more than one version. I genuinely think the muppets film version is a really good one! And the Simon Callow one-man-show that was shown on BBC4 was remarkable.

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