Monday, 22 August 2011



I'm actually writing this from our cottage in the Gower Peninsula in Wales where it is still summer: it's been very busy here, loads of visitors, including the two new additions to the family, Niamh, aged two months and Grace, aged nine months, both of whom seemed to like it a lot. Oh, and a large number of four legged family visitors too, most notably Merlin the whippet and Floyd and Monty, the labradors.Not forgetting Clemmie, my own rather elderly but sea-loving King Charles
Everyone has had a lovely time, walking on the cliffs and moors and playing in the sea; this is such a very special place, quite unique, and I actually used it as one of the settings in "An Absolute Scandal" the book before last.
It is gloriously sunny and warm and the sea (which I can see from my study window, how lucky is that!) is blue and hugely enticing-looking. I was in it yesterday...but I'm resisting it today--so far. The blog beckons.
Anyway, it all seems a long long way away from London and the publication of The Decision which is excitingly--and terrifyingly! -- close.
Just a few weeks ago, we made the short film about it which you can view on the website right now. It was a pretty scary experience, I have to say, although huge fun as well; it's all very nice at first, being fussed over by make up artists and hairdressers and choosing your most flattering outfit to wear, but then you have to face the camera and it all gets rather different. Like most of you, I daresay, I've always thought reading the news would be a perfectly straightforward procedure, so long as you could actually read out loud: not so. The person you thought you were-- able to smile at the same time as talk, not deliver everything in a complete monotone, not gallop through the words in a desperate attempt to get to the end--walks out of the door and leaves a different you behind, ridiculously nervous, with a wobbly voice and a tendency to gulp audibly. However, I settled down after a bit and really began to enjoy it; reading from the book--and I had the very first printed copy in my hands that day--brought it to life and made me realise that here was another one finished, the real thing, not just a manuscript, or a document on the laptop, but an actual book, signed, sealed and delivered, with characters just waiting to get out there and tell their story.
It's on my book shelf now; it'll be in the shops in just three weeks' time. As I keep saying, I do hope you like it...
September is going to be a whirlwind of The Decision-based activity, taking in a trip to Ireland, the Appledore book festival in Devon, another at Henley--followed by Cheltenham and Guildford in October-- all of which I'm very excited about, and then of course the fast-becoming-famous Bookfest in Wimbledon, of which I'm a patron. I'll hope very much to meet some of you at some of them, if you follow me.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Back to work!

It's a very long time since I wrote this blog and I'm very aware of it; but I do have an awfully good excuse which is that I've been writing my next book. It has been a long long task, given the length of my books (and this one is longer than ever, despite my best efforts to make it shorter). A lot of research, a bit of rewriting, (two of the major characters wouldn't do what I expected--this always happens, but it was worse than usual this time) and then a fair bit of editing. But it's done now, it's called The Decision and it's being published in September and I've put a photograph of its cover on this blog for you to see.
Covers are so important--not just to look good and stand out on the book shelves and all that sort of thing, but also to suit the story and please the author. It is after all a bit like dressing your child; it's not just that you want him or her to have lovely clothes, they need to be right. I mean, a frilly dress, however delightful and sassy, won't suit a tomboy; and a smart shirt and trousers, however stylish, won't do for a little chap who should clearly be knocking around in board shorts and t-shirt. So with book jackets: they need to look romantic, or intriguing, or exciting in every way, they need to catch the personality of the book, and that includes the photograph (if there is one), the type face and even the colour of the title. The Decision has a lot of glossy white and red; I will leave you to guess at its mood from that.
I'm not going to tell you what it's about just yet, but what I will tell you is that it's set in the sixties, and much of it in the world of fashion, which I was very involved in myself at that time--I was actually the first fashion editor of an iconic magazine called Nova--and writing about my heroine's life on a rather similar magazine was incredibly exciting and brought it all very vividly back. I still possess a few things with the Biba label and can remember trying things on behind a screen on the pavement outside the first shop, because it became so impossibly full inside.
Oh and I will tell you the heroine's name: it's Eliza. And that she is, at the start of the book that extremely old-fashioned creature a deb, but becomes very thoroughly modernised very quickly both by her career and the man she falls in love with. And that really is all for now.
Lots more to come though.....