Claire King


Posts Tagged ‘Emotions’

Books that make you cry

Posted on: January 13th, 2013 by Claire - 6 Comments

I was sitting on a packed train looking at my smart phone and weeping copiously. I couldn’t help it. I had sunglasses on, but it had gone beyond that and people were staring. It being London, though I was left alone with my pocket tissues and my apparent grief.

But the grief wasn’t real, it had been conjured up in me by the author of the book I was reading. I was slightly embarrassed about the tears, but I couldn’t stop reading, because I had to know what happened next, and because on some level, it felt good to be crying.

Yes really.

Woman reading on train platform.

Sometimes day-to-day life can be routine: Going from one place to the next, dealing with chores and work and the mundane necessities of running a household. Finding time to be interested in and kind to the ones we love. Of course on one level this is great. How lucky I am to be living a life without hunger, suffering or tragedy. And yet it feels good to be reminded of the breadth of feelings that makes me human, and the possible lives that I am not living. It can make me feel more alive to experience something – joy, fear, sadness, anger, the tumultuous experience of falling in love – even if only on behalf of a fictional character. And when I leave the character behind, everything looks a little different. And I count my blessings.

I love books that make me cry. Or laugh, or in fact feel any kind of strong empathetic reaction to the characters. It means I’ve suspended disbelief, it means I care, it means I can have the rush of emotions – and the cocktail of chemicals that accompany them – without any drama in my own actual life.

Ten novels that made me cry (there are many, many more):

1) The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
2) Whatever you love by Louise Doughty
3) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
4) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
5) Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
6) Love Story by Erich Segal
7) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
8) To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
9) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
10) The Help by Kathryn Stockett

And it’s not limited to adult fiction. Since the startling hormonal uprising that is childbirth I’m now floored at their bedtime by:

– The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
– The Ugly Duckling (yes, really)

And in the future we can all look forward to tears over Watership Down and The Little Prince… oh yes.


Photo (c) Moriza via Flickr creative commons

Feeling all emotional

Posted on: December 3rd, 2010 by Claire - 4 Comments

What emotions do you most love to tackle in your writing? What emotions are difficult?”

I thought I’d share this question with you, because I’ve been ruminating on it for a few days. It’s a wonderful question that has been asked of me in an interview (coming in January, more on this soon), and it really got me thinking. What emotions do I lean towards in my writing? My first reaction was – Love, Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Pleasure, Confusion. That doesn’t seem like many emotions for quite a few thousand words of fiction in the last year. Which ones am I missing? I did a quick google for inspiration and here is a selection:

Affection, Amusement, Anger, 
Angst, Anticipation, Apathy, Anxiety, Awe, Contempt, Contentment, Curiosity, Depression, Desire, Despair, Disappointment, Disgust, Ecstasy, Excitement, Empathy, 
Envy, Embarrassment, Euphoria, Fear, Frustration, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Hatred, Hope, Horror, Hostility, Hysteria, Interest, Jealousy, Joy, Loathing, Longing, Love, Lust, Misery, Optimism, Pity, Pride, Rage, Regret, Relief, Remorse, Sadness, Satisfaction, Scorn, Sensory pleasure, Shame, Shyness, Sorrow, Suffering, Surprise, Wonder, Worry.

That’s a rich seam of character building potential right there. Are there any that take your fancy?

One that stands out for me is Contempt. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink he talks about researcher John Gottman, who, after watching couples interact briefly, can predict with extraordinary accuracy the durability of their marriage. And the killer emotion – contempt.

Gottman has found, in fact, that the presence of contempt in a marriage can even predict such things as how many colds a husband or a wife gets; in other words, having someone you love express contempt toward you is so stressful that it begins to affect the functioning of your immune system.”

Isn’t that an extraordinary discovery?

So, I’ve decided that I’ve been neglecting my emotional side. So in the next few short stories I write I’m going to get to grips with emotions one by one. I think I’ll start with ecstasy. How about you?