July was a ridiculously busy month. As well as working flat out on my third psychological thriller I went to the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate and to Darmouth for a family holiday.
Harrogate has to be the highlight of my writing year. Hanging out with other crime writers, going to panels and getting to lie in past 6.45am (the time my 4 year old normally wakes me up each morning) feels like a holiday in itself.
This year I went to some fantastic panels on forensics, the dark art of criticism, Irish noir and a fascinating interview with Paul Abbott, the creator of Shameless, Touching Evil and Clocking Off. I also attended two awards ceremonies – one where Sarah Hilary won the Crime Novel of the Year Award for her brilliant debut Someone Else’s Skin, and the other where I was nominated for two DeadGood Books reader awards. Sadly I didn’t win either of the awards but I was delighted for my fellow Avon author Marnie Riches who won the ‘Best Exotic Location’ award.
I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve been subconsciously following Agatha Christie around recently. During the Crime Novel of the Year awards ceremony I discovered, via one of the speeches, that Agatha Christie had checked herself into the very hotel we were sitting in when it was a spa hotel. Sounds normal enough right? Only Agatha Christie had checked into The Swan not as herself but as someone called ‘Teresa Neele’.
Days earlier she had disappeared from her home in Berkshire. Her car was found near a lake called Silent Pool in Surrey where she had drowned a character in one of her books but Agatha had disappeared. Inside her car she had left her fur coat, a suitcase, and an expired driver’s license. I knew all this before I went to Harrogate because I’d been investigating a condition known as psychogenic amnesia for novel three and her name had come up as someone who’d suffered from the condition. What I didn’t know was that, during the awards ceremony, I was sitting in the very room she would have had afternoon tea in 79 years earlier!
My second encounter with Agatha was during our family holiday in Dartmouth last month. The author Clare Mackintosh had recommended the town to me as a great place to take young children so I knew all about the crab fishing and the steam boat and the theme park. What I didn’t know was that were living just a couple of miles away from Agatha Christie’s holiday home. I dragged my partner and son onto the steam train to get there (they didn’t need much convincing to be fair) and we traveled to the Greenway Estate which is now owned by the National Trust.
And what did I discover there? Only one of Agatha’s famous fur coats and a load of her suitcases. I know, it’s all very circumstantial and doesn’t really mean anything but I found it fascinating to find myself so close to someone I’d read so much about.
Talking of book 3, I’ve finally finished the first draft. I took myself off to Retreats for You in Devon a couple of weekends ago and came away with 9,000 words written in just over two days (and a bit of a hangover from lots of red wine on my last night). Last week I typed ‘The End’, final word count 114,740 words. I’ve started to edit it now and the word count is falling as I ruthlessly cut words and tighten scenes.
In other news I was delighted to find out that comedienne, actress and writer Helen Lederer called The Lie ‘excellent’ and ‘a dark, scary page turner’ in an article about ‘books on my bedside table’ in Good Housekeeping magazine.
The fabulous team at the Madeleine Milburn agency have secured me some new foreign deals – The Lie is going to be translated into Danish by Jentas Forlag and into Norwegian by Pantagruel and The Accident is going to be translated into Swedish by Lind&Co.
And if that wasn’t enough good news for one month I found out yesterday that The Lie is number 6 on Amazon’s ‘Top 20 Bestselling Ebooks of 2015 (so far)’ and that the combined (print and ebook) UK sales for The Lie and The Accident have now exceeded half a million. It’s a figure I can’t quite wrap my brain around! A HUGE thank you to everyone who’s bought, reviewed or recommended one of my books to their friends.