Happy New Year everyone! I am quite aware that my posts of late have been very much book and writing-related. That is because I am somewhat of a one trick pony of late, literally doing nothing much else! Fergus said to me the other day, mum, you know when you wrote that book about the bed? (He means One Thing Led to Another, which had a couple in bed together on the cover….) You were much more ‘efficient’ when you wrote that book….Mmm, he’s probably right, I am sure I didn’t make quite such a meal of writing that one ! Or maybe it was just that he was younger, so didn’t notice..
Anyway, I feel somewhat that I have been leaving you short, since it says on this site, that my blogs will be about (among other things) DATING. Oh GOD! I really don’t know, you know, how I’m ever going to have time to do that dating malarkey whilst I am writing novels, since it is so all consuming and also, writing turns you into a bit of a loon…I recently had dinner with fellow brilliant authors, Lucy Robinson and Lindsay Kelk and Lindsay said how she had read somewhere that writing was like ‘a mental illness’ – that obsession with creating another world. That made total sense. I mean not only have you got the obsession with creating another world, but then, when you ARE published, if you are published, the obsession with sales and rankings and reviews and …..Yep, BATTY!! I did, for the record go on a few dates with a young man recently and he was a lovely guy, but it wasn’t long before he experienced the battiness. I said I’d call him one day – I was working in the library – but the writing wasn’t going very well and I had hit that banging-your-head-against-the-table-it’s-ALL-shit!! point. I then (ill-advised) decided to call him before he was gong off skiing for a week (because I had said I would and so didn’t want to ignore him…) The conversation started off ok, I managed to hide the battiness, chat about frivolities, banter, have a sense of humour (you know, sound like a reasonable human being..) But then gradually, it became clear I was not a normal human being. Or at least not that day anyway.. “So how’s the book going?” he asked. Yes, THAT question able to turn a seemingly reasonable person into well, someone you might want to back slowly away from, depending on the answer.. “Oh you know, ok, well not that well, well I’m not having such a great writing day today……oh God (begin to sound on brink of tears) I just don’t know what I’m going to do…but you know….it’s ok, it will be ok in the end…won’t it? Um, yeah, not great….NOT good at all today” I became aware he had gone awfully quiet. I was unable to speak much more in case I just started wailing on the phone (I had been on three dates with this person, so you know, prob best not to reveal the full extent of battiness YET poor bloke..) Anyway, then there was a long, long pause, where I imagine he was thinking IT’S NOT LIFE AND DEATH LOVE But this is what I mean. This is the problem! Who is going to want to go out with someone on such a rollercoaster of emotion with work all the time? Who needs to shut themselves away for days and weeks on end? Who can’t talk or socialize with people when writing their book is not going that well? (which unfortunately is pretty often!) I am exaggerating slightly for comic effect, but this is something that worries me. I think the man was a little shocked by the seriousness in my tone. Yup, like someone had died…I am not dating him anymore. Eek. You know that programme The Undateables..? Mmm….I’M JOKING (she laughed manically).
Anyway, let’s get onto books and writing which it seems is the only thing I am capable of talking about ….Everything is gearing up to publication day for HOW WE MET, which is only two weeks away now! (although the ebook is out already and you can download it here!! It’s got some lovely reviews already so I’m really pleased. It’s a crazy time, because you are on deadline for the next book and yet you have so much to do in terms of publicity for the book about to come out. But it’s all very exciting! Last week, I went into Harper Collins to be filmed answering your questions about HOW WE MET and writing in general. There were some brilliant questions, which really made me think, so thanks so much for sending these in. Starting next Monday, on my facebook page I will be posting me being filmed answering ONE answer to EACH question, per day, for five days. I shall also be writing a blog with the answers to the questions that I couldn’t answer because I could have yabbed on all day !
It was great fun being filmed, although strangely tiring with all those bright lights and the adrenaline pumping and there had to be a few takes whilst I got my tongue-tied and lost my train of thought – it’s a real skill, presenting (one, I fear, I don’t possess naturally!) But ‘tune in’ to my page next week to see for yourselves…There will also be some competitions coming up for you to win some cool prizes…
In between writing crazily and working up to publication day, I’ve been reading lots too and there are soooo many books I want to read at the moment, I go a bit dizzy when I walk into Waterstones….
Anyway, here’s my pick of the best books I have read recently and some I am excited about reading…Some of them are new, some of them are just ones I haven’t discovered till now…
Why be Happy When You Can Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson
This completely blew me away and at the end of it, I wanted to marry Jeanette Winterson; not only for being such a brilliant writer, but for revealing herself in this memoir to be a force of nature (as if we didn’t know already), SUCH an amazing woman and for making me think about my life, and the nature of happiness in a whole new light.
A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger (out on 31st Jan but I had a sneak preview!) by Lucy Robinson
I absolutely lapped up Lucy’s debut: The Greatest Love Story of All Time – it was some of the best commercial women’s fiction I’d read for a long time – and this is just as good. Lucy has a real gift for warm comedy, but also writing adorable, real characters that you relate to and about the truth about women’s lives. (also I totally fancied the lead man in this!)
The Secret Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller
Strange, evocative and really original… I don’t know why it took me so long to find this!
Saw the film and loved it but the book is sooo much better. Quirky, moving, unsentimental…. The tale of how a father reconnects with his daughters after their mum dies in a tragic boat accident
Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman
Such a beautifully written book that makes you respect your sisters (women) even more. It deals with the harrowing reality of domestic violence with such novelist skill, that it is ultimately, uplifting and makes you proud to be a woman.
You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane: Already a massive hit with readers, it’s not hard to see why. Mhairi has a very distinct, razor sharp wit and her dialogue is second to none. This is also a really gorgeous love story. I loved it.
The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright
I picked this up once, a few years ago and couldn’t get into it, but the second time around, I loved it. Just goes to show that where you are in your life, can really affect your reading experience. It’s a really stylish, subtle family drama
The Playdate – Louise Millar
Dealing with the ever-fascinating nature of female friendship (gone a bit twisted..!) this is soooo creepy and CLEVER and compulsively page-turning…This introduced me to psychological thrillers and I cannot wait for Louise’s next book which brings me onto..
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
I read this for the book club I go to and I was gripped. It’s a bit marmite, in that you either love it or hate it I think (some people have said it’s not believable) but I thought it was so raw and fast-paced and thrilling.
Books I can’t wait to read
Accidents Happen by Louise Millar
Lisa Jewell’s new one (don’t know title yet, but I know it’s about a hoarder – something I’m really interested in – I also have a cameo character who’s a hoarder in my new book – and I love love Lisa’s writing so can’t wait for this…)
Cupcakes at Carringtons by Alexandra Brown
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
GOLD by Chris Cleave
The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris
BED by David Whitehouse
The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon
And about a million more….
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