Monday, 12 October 2009

Focus Pulling

The last month has vanished in a blur of writing, interspersed with dashing down to the beach to ensure my legs still function, and the mandatory eating and sleeping (both badly). But a couple of highlights leap out at me. Firstly because they were fun and secondly because I learnt something from each of them.

The first was a meet-and-greet for myself and three other authors at our publisher's swish offices on the Embankment in London. It involved meeting a whole bunch of the team of Little,Brown UK who are responsible for making our novels appear on the shelves of the bookstores and supermarkets etc. Magically they transform a dog-eared manuscript into a bright and glossy book. I chatted with editors, copyeditors, cover designers, people in PR, in marketing, in UK sales, in overseas sales and many more. Plus, of course, the CEO herself, the impressive and charming Ursula Mackenzie. What a back-up team I have!

Sometimes when closeted in my study for weeks at a time, glued to my keyboard, writing feels a very solitary occupation, so it was good to be reminded that it's not. This lovely team of young people is bursting with commitment and energy to keep my books rocking and rolling. And they are used to authors. They understand our weird frailties. It's great to know there's a safety net out there - even if it is wielded with an occasional crack of the whip!

The other highlight was when I gave a talk at a Book Festival in Appledore. Dreamy blue skies, the sigh of somnolent waves and one of the prettiest little seaside towns on the north coast of Devon. The perfect setting. The Festival was warm and welcoming, expertly organised by Carol Saumarez and her band of enthusiasts. I had a great day out.

So what did I learn? That I need to get away from the shackles of my desk more often. I have a tendency to narrow my focus to my writing, a real bad habit. So I'm widening it - taking in the state of my kitchen cupboards and my cat's claws. Both are crying out for attention!

Which means I now have a new new motto: Just write - but hey, don't forget to lunch. Those authors I told you that I met at the meet-and-greet? Bernie Strachan and Louise Candlish. Together we're widening our focus on to a tasty crabmeat roulade and a colourful pinot in London's Covent Garden. Wish us luck.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,
I love reading about the problems you face as a writer - it makes me feel better about tearing my own hair out when I can't get the words to do what I want. To succeed as an author is so hard on so many levels. You are a fabulous writer. I've read all your books and am eagerly awaiting the next.

From Jennie in Oxfordshire

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Jennie,
Thanks for your comments. Don't become downhearted when the going gets tough - just hang in there and keep at it. Usually if it's not going right on paper, it's because you haven't done enough homework in your head. Hey, who ever said it would be easy! Good luck with your writing.

Anita Davison said...

I read your post positively drooling about a world I aspire to - but my agent says we'll get there yet and maybe all I need is more faith in myself. Loved your need to make sure your legs work - I have the same trouble, but once the laptop is booted up - time simply doesn't exist, does it? And that coffee machine/fridge is just sooooooo convenient!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Anita,
I love hearing from other writers -especially aspiring ones. If you already have an agent, you are more than halfway there. Congrats. Don't give up believing in the work you do - your agent is right. And keep writing. Good luck.

Life with the Warrens said...

I have already gobbled up the Red Scarf but i completely devoured The Russian Concubine. I lived in Russia for a long time and all you have written is so precise about their lives that I feel like I in the stories again as one of them. I love your work. I am not a writer but a reader so please keep writing for people like me.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Life with the Warrens,
I like the image of you gobbling up my books! It always gives me a strong sense of satisfaction to hear that people who have lived in Russia or China find my settings accurate. I've even been asked by a Russian how long I lived out there. (The answer is I've only visited.) It makes all the months of research worthwhile. The sequel to The Russian Concubine, entitled The Girl From Junchow in the US (The Concubine's Secret in the UK) takes Lydia and Chang on the next stage of their journey together, but I am just finishing writing the prequel - all about how Valentina and Jens Friis met and fell in love before the Revolution. (Titled The Jewel of St Petersburg.) Keep reading!

Paul Cullen, RNLI said...

Dear Kate
It was so interesting to read the story of your rescue by Appledore RNLI lifeboat some years ago - and incredibly generous for you to have donated your appearance fee from the Appledore Book festival to the crew there.
I am looking into the possibility of putting together an audio book as a fundraiser, of profile rescues over the years. Still early stages but would be delighted to hear from you if you may be interested in supporting the RNLI further.
Many thanks.
Paul Cullen, RNLI Celebrity Manager

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Paul Cullen RNLI,
Happy to help in any way I can. You do a fabulous job for others. Thanks.

Karen said...

how are you getting on Kate, hope you have a great Christmas

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Karen,
Great to hear from you again. I have been remiss about my blog recently, as I am working flat out to finish the new book. I had hoped to do so before Christmas but sadly I'm not going to make it. My publisher is being very patient! I hope you are set for a good festive season and have the books stacked up at your bedside for a few days' indulgence. Have fun.

Karen said...

Looking forward to hearing about your new book

Happy New Year

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Karen,
Happy New Year to you. I had a wonderful break with all the family but am now back at work, eager to pursue Valentina's tortuous path. The Revolution is creeping up on her and she has no idea what lies in wait for her. It is interesting that readers who have read The Russian Concubine will view her from a different angle as they know what she becomes in China. Strange but exciting that they will have a different perspective on her from new readers. Good luck to you in 2010.