Friday, 15 January 2010


Because I was up to my eyeballs in rewriting chunks of my present book at the time, I omitted to mention what a fab Winter Party the RNA threw in London at the end of last year. Loads of interesting authors, all with agony stories to tell. I was delighted to find out that quite a number of them had tales of being 'advised' by agent/publisher to ditch the opening of their book when it starts with the heroine/hero as a child.

Why? I hear you ask.

Well, I have experienced this 'advice' myself. It came as an unpleasant shock but I understand the wisdom of it from a reader's point of view. They want the story to be in the here and now, not a load of back-story. But clearly it is part of the process by which a writer gets to know her/his own characters, to understand what rocks their boat and how they will react in the events that are about to unfold.

It's always hard to chuck out episodes that you sweated blood over but that's what agents and publishers are for - to make you ruthless with yourself. So having got your motivations and childhood traumas all worked out in the opening chapter, my 'advice' to budding authors is 'Bin it!', and get on with the story.

Back to the party. It was good fun and wonderfully incestuous with all the book crowd full of encouragement for each other, while wondering fiercely whose sales were topping whose. The proceedings were further enlivened when a charming agent I was talking to fainted on me in mid-sentence. I know authors yack on about writing till boredom glazes the braincells, but really!!

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year

I want to wish a Happy New Year to you all. It's got to be better than 2009, hasn't it? Here in Devon, UK, it has started with pure blue skies and a beaming blissful sun, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's a good omen for the year ahead. I heard on the radio today that it's official - we are to call it "twenty ten" rather than "two thousand and ten". Two syllables shorter. How lazy can we get?

I had a long and delightful Christmas with two weeks solid of family visitors and their three adorable cats. Charades, Pictionary and Articulate won hands down in the 'playing silly games after too much Sauvignon Blanc and Baileys' stakes, but even while performing an inspired ET charade with my finger pointed up in the air, my unfinished book haunted my mind. So now I am relieved to be back at work, hurtling towards the end with Valentina determined to make life difficult for me.

I want to say a massive thank you to my publishers, Little Brown UK and Berkley USA, for being so patient and so gentle in their enquiries as to when the book will be finished. If they're panicking, (which they undoubtedly are) they are showing no sign of it to me. I breathe easy.

Happy 2010 to you all.