Today, I have Liz Rettig, author of Jumping to Confusions, here with a guest post. You can learn more about Liz at here website, and information about her book is available here. I will be posting my review of Jumping to Confusions later this week.
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so they say, yet publishers spend oodles of time and money on cover design because, let’s face it, appearances count. Readers are more likely to pick up and take a peak inside a book with an attractive cover than a plain one. I’m afraid in life, love and romance it’s the same – pretty girls are more likely to be browsed than plain ones! But take heart – if the story is no good then the book will be discarded. And if the girl is a boring or nasty, well, she might, or might not, be dumped – guys can be shallow sometimes.
I was a fat, specky, frizzy haired and ugly teen - or so I thought. Looking back at pictures now I was maybe a bit overweight but firm, I had a pretty face and nice eyes which the glasses didn’t ruin like I’d believed, and even my hair was, well, no, a bit of a mess actually but still, I wasn’t the ugly duckling I’d imagined. Quite nice-looking in fact. But with zero confidence and attending an all girls school it was a very long time before my first date. Instead, I had to make up romances in my head. Many real life romances –and a happy marriage - later I’m still doing it.
I started writing my first book My Desperate Love Diary when my daughter was a young teen. She was miles better looking than I’d been at that age, as were most of her friends, yet I noticed that they were all worried about some aspect of their appearance. Too fat, thin, tall or small. Eyes too far apart or too close, nose or feet too big, second toe too large (longer than the big toe), didn’t like their ear lobes, even their underarm shape – I mean really! The irony is that when we are at our most attractive as teens and young women this is the very time when we seem to have least confidence in our looks.
By far the biggest issue with teen girls is weight. Having said that, fat isn’t all in the head if you get my meaning. Young people today - boys and girls - are fatter than their parents’ generation and it’s a real health concern. On the plus side – no pun intended – boys don’t get teased quite as much for being overweight these days as dumpy Dudleys are almost normal. And hefty girls can definitely still find partners – there’s even been talk of the NHS having to fund different heavy duty delivery beds to support the growing number of massive young mothers. All the same we really need to tackle our growing waistlines or face serious health consequences in the future.
So, yes, junk food and lack of exercise these days are real problems. On the other hand, girls of perfectly normal, healthy weight still fret over their size, always wishing they were at least a stone lighter, which makes the simple pleasure of eating a guilty misery. Often their mothers are no help at all as they are desperately dieting too!
This is why I chose to write a story about Cat, a slightly overweight but pretty teen with a skinny, constantly dieting mum who exists on crisp bread, cottage cheese and low fat, artificially sweetened yoghurt. A mum who knows the calories in a single Malteser or half a medium Satsuma and who frowns at her daughter tucking into a lasagne or even a second slice of toast. For good measure, I threw in Cat’s non-identical twin Tess who’s blond, naturally thin, and the hottest girl in the school. Poor Cat. But never fear, she finds self-esteem and her prince charming in the end.
It’s hard to lose inches from your bum or waist when you’re surrounded by temptation and feeling miserably pre-menstrual but at least it’s possible. Pity the poor girl then who hates being too tall. After all, nothing can reduce vertical inches – apart from advanced age and bone disease (not exactly desirable options). When I was at university I’d a girl friend who was almost six feet tall. She was a brilliant astrophysicist but her main aim in life was to snag a boyfriend who would be taller than her in high heels (I mean my friend in high heels of course not the guy). In Glasgow this reduced her pool of available partners to maybe 0.001 percent of the population. Imagine her fury then when I, or one of her other five-feet-nothingish pals, pulled a six foot three hot guy. You could see her point - we didn’t need someone that tall - but were we going to knock back a fit lad out of sense of fairness? Hmm, yeah you guessed it. Sorry.
My university pal was the inspiration for the character Lindsay, Cat’s best friend, in Jumping to Confusions, whose single minded pursuit of tall guys blinds her to the true love of besotted Peter, a crucial ¼ inch shorter than her. In the end however Peter’s bravery and character triumph over inches.
So the message in this story is, yes, appearances matter but they aren’t everything. As for books – I’ve had so many emails from readers saying the gorgeous cover persuaded them to pick up Jumping to Confusions and then they got totally hooked on the story. Hmm… on the other hand some of them did go on an awful lot about that beautiful cover.
Thank you Liz, for being here and sharing such a wonderful post.