My big year!

Happy New Year to everyone! I know I’m a little late but I’ve spent the first week hiking up in the Lake District. Gorgeously frosty days and toasty nights by the fire; it was wonderful as were the real ales and bottles of wine that accompanied the week! Well – we all need a bit of comfort in January don’t we and as you can see from the photo – Angus enjoyed the week too.

I know that 2016 was a bizarre and difficult year for many but for me it was pretty special. I found a publisher for my debut novel, I wrote my second (busy editing now), I walked 1000 miles and I swam 1416 lengths of the pool in the Channel Challenge (both of which were personal challenges) – so I felt rather chuffed by the end of the year. This year looks like being big, scary and exciting all at the same time. The debut novel launches on March 16th (also my friend Trish’s birthday!!), we have a blog tour set up ready to go and I hope to finish writing the trilogy too.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has launched a debut and has lessons I can learn from. I’d also love to know your new year goals – drop me a line

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A lifetime in books – the twenties

Commuting, reading paperbacks, watching what everyone else was reading. Quite a few of us were absorbed in life at Barbary Lane, San Francisco. Oh to have a landlady like Mrs Madrigal with her love of herbal remedies. How could Mary-Ann do that to Brian and of course – Michael Mouse. Who didn’t love Michael? When I heard many years later that Armistead Maupin was writing another episode in the series, my heart, like may others I imagine, skipped a beat. Surely Michael would still be okay? Many characters died along the way but we needed Michael to survive and I’m guessing that’s why Maupin titled the book ‘Michael Tolliver Lives’ – to reassure us from the outset. Great characters endure, they do live. I’m sure that if I’m ever in San Fran, I’ll bump into Michael and we’ll chat like old friends. That’s my fantasy anyway

A lifetime in book Part Deux

Although I kept a diary throughout my teenage years (and therefore know that TH loved JD – even though I have noooo idea who they are now), I didn’t write about my favourite books very often. I do remember my late teens; they were mainly taken up with reading books from the school curriculum. Like many, I studied Jane Austen and Keats. I loved Keats but wasn’t really a fan of Mr Darcy et al. The literature that really captured my imagination and my heart was french literature. I read L’assomoir at the age of 17 and was blown away. It has the honour of being the first book ever to make me cry. I still remember the pit pony being brought to the surface after a lifetime of being underground. He smelt fresh grass and briefly recalled it before dying. Ah! Tears are forming even now! I read more and more Zola sometimes yelling out to the characters as they were about to make life-changing mistakes. It was never a happy read with Zola but boy was it powerful.

A lifetime in books

I was talking books with my young niece the other day – she’s a prolific reader and it was an absolute joy to discover we loved the same characters. My niece is currently reading Enid Blyton – Mallory Towers and St. Clare’s. They’re inspiring her as much as they inspired me and as she spoke of the mischievous Gwendoline, the tomboyish Alice, the midnight feasts and the tricks they played on the French Mistress – boy those memories came flooding back. It turns out we both wanted to be Darryl – the Head Girl. I remember devouring the entire series, keen to find out what happened next and then re-reading them, not wanting to leave that fantasy world. These books defined my early reading – around the age of eight I think – and I can still remember the characters and the adventures they had. My niece has inspired me to think through the different stages of my life and pick the stories that influenced me most. The next post – teenage school days.

Ride a white swan

I sat behind a couple arguing today; again eavesdropping as I do. Their conversation wasn’t very interesting but the young lad behind me came up with a great line. Well I loved it anyway.
Clutching a T-Rex CD (yep – an actual CD) he turned to his Dad and said:

‘Dad – did you know that Marc Bolan died in 1977?’

Grunt from father.

‘That means he never EVEN got to see Star Wars.’

Got me wondering whether Marc Bolan would have liked Star Wars.

Editing

This year I’ve been writing the sequel to The Mercury Travel Club. The first draft is done – it’s actually been done since August – and after a couple of months just thinking about it, it’s time to go back and edit. I’m giving myself November to complete it – NaNoWriMo – as some of you know it. I enjoy this part of the process, it feels less pressurised than the first draft; I know where the story is going although the end sometimes changes (as I think it’s going to do this time). Before that there’s the little matter of the final proof-read of my first novel. I don’t enjoy this – terrified that I miss something critical. Or get my speling wrong!

The things people say

I have a confession to make – I eavesdrop. I can’t help myself – I just love other peoples’ conversations. Maybe this is a sign that mine aren’t all that interesting but I’ll skip that thought for now. Usually the eavesdropping just serves to remind us that people don’t speak in full sentences – quite often they don’t say anything at all – they just grunt responses and somehow we have to reflect this in our writing. Occasionally a gem of a line is uttered and I store it away hoping that one day I’ll get the chance to use it. Years ago, on a girls night out at a Chinese restaurant in Liverpool I heard a classic line but to this day I haven’t been able to include it anyway. The hen-table next to us were very merry when suddenly a cry went out – “Oh my god – she’s only gone and auctioned herself on the Lazy Susan!” You couldn’t make it up.