Reading Marian Keyes books again, I am struck by how the messages I collect from her writing, change and evolve to fit my feelings and thoughts of the moment.

Uplifting messages of personal courage are there, of course; and so are the quieter messages of human existence: even though our heroines might go flying off at short notice to America in pursuit of a dream (“The Woman who stole my life” / “Angels”) their heroism is also about accepting and learning how to live with and truly love the ordinary things in life.

Unlike some authors of fiction (whom I shall not mention) not only are Marian Keyes’ heroines ordinary gals and blokes – no Dukes, formula One racing champions, top models or artistic virtuosi – their stories are not about how they won the lottery, effortlessly qualified for the Olympics, secured a mega corps film deal or were “discovered” on the beach by a top modelling agency… Instead, after their adventures, Keyes’ heroines often arrive back home with a fresh recognition that the ordinary things in life – true love, a meaningful job – are not so ordinary after all, and can be the stuff of which dreams and contentment are made, if only we have the sense to see it.

The kind of trite, “rags to riches” success stories that feature in so much popular fiction – the idea that a bright idea and a sparky attitude are enough to propel even the humblest aspirant to undreamt of recognition and success – are what first gave me the idea to write fiction differently, because I think that readers might sometimes like a choice: to read fanciful fairy tales that transport them to other worlds, or to locate within the pages of a novel, heroes and heroines who have experiences they can relate to their own lives.

I’ve always said that I can only write from my own experience, and that is what I aim to do. It is heartening to be reminded, when perusing one of Ms Keye’s books again, that successful fiction does not always have to rely on a host of improbables, but can revolve around ordinary, decent and faithful people with whom I have something in common. It’s nice to feel, in the success of one of Ms Keye’s characters, the potential of my own success.

Thank you to Ms Keyes, and thanks for reading.

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