Saturday, 24 May 2008


Bliss! This week I received an advance copy of my latest book The Red Scarf from my American publisher, Berkley, and it looks gorgeous in its striking cover.

It's an emotional moment - like the birth of a child. But a nerve-wracking one also, because next month (24 June) it will be going on sale in the bookstores and it's like watching your beloved offspring walking into school for the first time. Will it go well? Will people be friendly? Or turn a cold shoulder?

All that writers can do at this stage is to believe in what they've written and trust that others will do the same. Initial reactions have been good and some top flight media in the US are lining up to review it, so I am optimistic.

I loved living with this book. I walked every step of the way with my characters - Sofia, Anna and Mikhail - through 1933 Russia. It's an intense love story that portrays not only the deep passion between a man and a woman, but also the powerful bonds of friendship between two women. It explores how love entwines with - and sometimes distorts - people's beliefs, and to what extent those beliefs can be imposed from the outside by an enforced political system. A story of strong emotions and rigid rules. It's when they clash that life explodes in ways no one anticipates.

That's what I love about writing. Becoming entranced in a world and a life that otherwise would never come within reach. And of course that's why we read books - for that pleasure of experiencing a whole new existence. So it is with excitement that I pat The Red Scarf on the head, kiss its rosy cheek and wave it goodbye. And good luck.

It will also be published by LittleBrown/Sphere under the title Under a Blood Red Sky in July in other English-speaking countries and in the UK in November. More news about that to come.

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