2021 – What a year!

It feels strange to think back to early 2020 and how I assumed that everything would be back to normal in 2021. Ha ha ha ha. Let’s just say that my expectations for 2022 aren’t quite so optimistic.

There have been highs and lows this year, as there are every year, only this year all the lows have all been Covid related!

To begin with my second young adult book, The Island, was published in January when the UK was in lockdown. Not a great start to the year.

In February I decided to ditch the idea for my 9th crime novel that I’d been plotting for two and half months because my gut instinct told me it wasn’t working. My editor agreed and, to my embarrassment, I cried down the phone when she called me to discuss it. I was exhausted after working on two books in 2020 and I was *this close* to asking if I could take a year off.

I didn’t. I asked for a three month extension to my deadline instead and took two weeks off to do nothing but art. As I painted an idea for a book popped into my head that I couldn’t shake off and when the two weeks were over I started plotting it.

The hardback of my eighth crime novel, Her Last Holiday, was published in the UK at the end of April when we were out of lockdown, achieved number eight in the Sunday Times Original Fiction Chart and over 10,000 of you bought the hardback. Hooray! But next to no one bought it in Canada, despite getting some great slots in bookshops, because most of Canada went into lockdown just as my book came out!

In May there was good news: I found out that I’d been shortlisted for my first ever Crime Writers’ Association Award – The Dagger in the Library. Peter May went on to win it but I was still thrilled to have been nominated and shortlisted.

In July I went to Scarborough on my first writing retreat with friends since 2019, and I was bubbling with excitement because, afterwards, I was due to do my first ever Harrogate Crime Festival event. One of our group tested positive for Covid on the second day of our retreat and a few days later, so did I. I had to withdraw from Harrogate which was gutting. (Photo of me, Louise Voss and Katerina Diamond.)

In happier news I took part in a panel at Bloody Scotland in September with Susi Holliday and Elle Connell and we had a great audience and signed lots of books afterwards.

On 30th September I finished writing (my second attempt at) book nine and delivered the manuscript to my agent and editor. This time my gut instinct told me that it worked, and my agent and editor agreed. Helen, my editor, described it as ‘an amazing whirlwind of a read’ and Maddy my agent said it was ‘high octane, and yet utterly believable.’

Two weeks later my editor sent my structural edits back. I was still working on them on 14th November when I travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival to do an event with Clare Mackintosh. Two days after the event I finished the edits and sent them back.

On 20th November I travelled to Iceland to take part in Iceland Noir crime festival for the first time and had the most amazing weekend. (Photo of Ed James, me, Fiona Cummins and Mark Edwards.)

When I returned from Iceland I spent a week writing a 4,000 word short story for the exclusive Waterstones paperback of Her Last Holiday (you can pre-order it here, published on 20th Jan 2022). Once that was finished it was time to tackle the line edits for book nine.

I returned them two weeks later and, as of 15th December, I’ve downed tools for the year! In January I need to tackle the copyedits for book nine (more about the book next year) and start doing some publicity for the paperback of Her Last Holiday but I’m not going to think about that now!
My year has ended on a high. I discovered earlier this week that The Island won the Warwickshire Year 9 Book Awards, and it’s also been shortlisted in the Dudley Children’s Book Awards.

A huge thank you to all my readers for your support this year. Ups or downs I couldn’t do this job if you didn’t read, review and recommend my books. Have a lovely Christmas and let’s hope 2022 is a good year for all of us. Fingers crossed.

9 thoughts on “2021 – What a year!

  1. CJ says:

    Wow, quite a year, and lots of positive things there, especially getting more books out, well done you! And I second what you say about 2022, hope you have a good year.

  2. tracy foltan says:

    Again, you have kept me up all night to finish The Island and that ending, totally blew me away did not expect it! I felt so sorry for Danny and Jessie, to be so young to carry such mental anguish. Your books are just getting better and better and I look forward to reading the next one. You put so much thought into your characters, I don’t know how it doesn’t turn you instead out sometimes if you know what I mean. I have a few authors I constantly rank as the best: Lisa Jewell, Peter Swanson, Greg Illes and yourself. Thank you for ANOTHER brilliant book and here’s to many more.

  3. Moyra Conner says:

    What an exciting and busy year you’ve had Cally! Life is so busy for you! I’m sure I speak for all of your readers when I say you work so hard keeping us entertained and on tenterhooks with your amazing thrillers! I know I can’t WAIT for next year’s new book! It can’t come soon enough! I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy new year and enjoy that well earned rest! xx

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