How’s it all going? I keep being asked. It’s been a very busy and exciting first two weeks for the paperback edition of Paris Mon Amour, so I thought I’d share a few of the best moments and some still to come.
There isn’t anywhere else I could start than by expressing my gratitude to WH Smith Travel for stocking my novel in their 35 branches at UK airports and large railway stations – thanks to everyone who’s been sending me photos of your sightings from all over the country. It’s been huge fun seeing it in Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Exeter and knowing it went jetting off to lots of far-off destinations over half term. Some sightings have come as a surprise, including smaller stations and Dublin airport, which I’m sure would also please my mum and my late grandfather, a Costello of Cordangan, Co. Tipperary. But my favourite has to be a snap of the paperback mangled by my friend’s new puppy, who got fed up of being ignored while she finished it!
It’s been lovely to hear from readers who are discovering the novel for the first time and some who knew of it all along and waited patiently for it to appear in print. Amongst them is Anne Goodwin, whose eloquent and insightful review, with the benefit of her experience as a psychologist, was one of the highlights of publication day. Anne’s second novel Underneath was released around the same time as mine. I love writing reviews – running a book blog would be a pain if I didn’t – but it’s not everyone’s idea of fun, so to all those who have given their time to share thoughts with other readers a seriously BIG THANK YOU is in order.
RED MAGAZINE 50 TOP SUMMER BEACH BOOKS
I was thrilled to see Paris Mon Amour included in Red Magazine’s 50 Best Summer Beach Books, alongside classics such as Valley of the Dolls and an enticing selection of recent releases, including a couple which also feature on my own Summer Reads selection: A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall, Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft, plus the superb Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose (out in August).
I’ve taken part in some very interesting blog chats lately. The first was with Louise Walters on my experience of self-publishing Paris Mon Amour in paperback. Louise and I have both branched out in that direction, in her case with second novel A Life Between Us, and we’ve enjoyed swapping tips and the occasional pep talk. I also relished my Conversation with Greenacre Writers, a dynamic group located not far from me in Finchley. Topics included my writing journey (you’ll be pleased to hear I feel all the ups and downs have been worth it), why I’m not interested in ‘Being a Writer’ and some very thought-provoking questions on diversity in fiction and the perennial (un)likeable characters debate. This comes with a Strong Opinions warning!
Finally, some events. Yesterday was my first literary festival event as a published author, thanks to critic and broadcaster Alex Clark who invited me to be one of her Rising Stars at the brilliant Stoke Newington Literary Festival, alongside Eley Williams, Miranda Doyle, Nell Stevens and Paula Cocozza. It was a really lively, wide-ranging discussion in front of a packed house and I enjoyed it so much.
AN EVENING WITH ISABEL COSTELLO – Thursday 15 June , 7pm
Big Green Bookshop, Wood Green, London N22
I KNOW! Still pinching myself to have a solo event at my favourite local indie bookshop which just happens to be the legendary Big Green Bookshop. (Actually, it didn’t just happen, it’s because owners Simon and Tim are so damn good at what they do.) There will be a reading, Q&A, wine, signing – I’d love to see you if you can make it on the night!
BRADFORD FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE – Saturday 1 July – Writing and Thriving in the Digital Age
Really looking forward to this panel with Nikesh Shukla and Molly Flatt, chaired by Danuta Kean. I’ll be at the festival for a couple of days reporting on a number of events – it’s a very impressive programme.
YORK FESTIVAL OF WRITING – Friday 8 September – Workshop on Perseverance and Motivation for Writers
I’ll be presenting this three hour mini-course with author and psychologist Voula Grand, designed as an energising and positive start to a hectic and exciting weekend which played a key role in my and many writers’ route to publication. I’ll also be doing Book Doctor one-to-ones if you’d like my input on how to make your work stand out.
On Wednesday I’m hosting a guest post from Stephen May, author of Stronger than Skin on the subject of Manhood, a title which takes every connotation into account. It’s punchy, provocative and raises tons of issues, some quite uncomfortable. Don’t miss it if you fancy something non-election related to get worked up about!