July is the highlight of my year, writing wise. Not only did I attend the fabulous HarperCollins author summer party in the early part of this month but, last weekend, I went to the amazing Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. I also attended a library event in Hitchin and was made incredibly welcome by the librarians and readers. It was a bit of a trek from Bristol but I’m so glad I went.
I always feel a bit like Cinderella when I go to the HarperCollins party. Because I live in Bristol and my partner leaves for work before our son gets up, I can rarely stay overnight anywhere during the week. That means that, every year, I arrive at the party, grab a glass or two of champagne, frantically chat to everyone, and then flee on the stroke of 9.30pm to get the train back west. But it’s so worth it. This year I managed to achieve two firsts – I tried oysters (it was my agent’s suggestion!) and I got to speak to Judith Kerr the author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Mog books.
The oysters were…interesting. I swallowed them.
And Judith Kerr was just lovely. They say you should never meet your heroes but she was exactly as friendly, warm and down to earth as I’d hoped. We had a lovely chat and she told me she’d loved doing the illustrations the most and she was inspired to write the stories by her husband who was also a writer. My mum read Judith’s books to me and I now read them to my son. I was so lucky to get to speak to her and I came away feeling a little bit teary.
Another amazing thing happened at the HarperCollins party… I ran into a lady called Phaedra Patrick. Back in 2009, when my very first novel came out – a supernatural romantic comedy called HEAVEN CAN WAIT – I decided to run a short story competition. My confidence in my ability to write had been boosted when I came second in the WOMAN’S OWN short story competition and I wanted pay that experience forward to another writer. I received 267 entries and two of my very generous author friends helped me judge. Phaedra came second. She introduced herself to me at the HarperCollins party and told me that the competition had done exactly what I’d hoped it would – it had boosted her confidence and she’d gone on to write a novel. A novel – The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – that has now been published by HarperCollins! I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Harrogate. What can I say about Harrogate that I didn’t say when I went last year or the year before? Nothing really apart from the fact that it was brilliant and exhausting. Four days of chatting, drinking, listening, networking, eating, watching panels and lying around in the sun. It’s the highlight of my crime year – it’s like a crime Glastonbury – and it was great to chat to so many authors, bloggers, reviewers, readers and publishing folk. It took me two days to recover.
But recover I did and I’m pleased to say that I’ve delivered my fourth psychological thriller! I now have two weeks off while my editor works her magic and I’m going to take the opportunity to get out and about with my family. I have loads of exciting news to share but I need to keep it to myself until it’s all official. Hopefully I’ll be able to share it in my next blog post in August (how’s that for a cliffhanger?).
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