It’s great to be back in circulation after a long break from blogging and social media and even better to have got my usual September fired-up feeling back after it went completely AWOL last year. In huge contrast to summer 2020 I’ve been extremely lucky over the last few months, spending a lot of time with my family and catching up with friends. I did eventually make it to France, crisscrossing from Brittany to Provence in and out of Paris, which was amazing and held many emotional reunions after two long years. (And yes, black ice cream.) The trip did me good in so many ways; my tan may be hiding under a jumper but more importantly it woke up the part of me that’s optimistic about new projects and what the future holds. (Even if I’m wrong, hope is good!)
It’s fantastic to hear that lots of people have been reading Scent over the summer – it’s received some excellent new reviews and my friend Ben Blackman has been sending me regular voice messages of appreciation which is a first. Thank you so much to everyone who’s shown their support – it’s a real morale boost as I prepare to dive into writing my next novel after letting the idea marinate.
Recently I was invited into the studio at Boogaloo Radio as a guest on Emily Jarman’s brilliant Bookworm Diary show. Maybe it was the disinhibiting August effect, maybe it was the intimacy of doing it face-to-face, but it was the most frank and personal interview I’ve ever done about writing/publishing, double standards, women and ageing and sexuality – you can find it here. The fact that Emily is in her twenties added a fresh and interesting generation-bridging perspective to our discussion – I’m thrilled that the novel is speaking to women of all ages.
Applications close on Sunday 5 September for the Retreat West Novel Creator Course – I can’t wait to start my new job as one of the mentors and having reviewed all the study materials I can promise you that it’s a very comprehensive and well-structured introduction to novel writing that many of us could have done with when we were starting out!
I have all kinds of good things planned for the autumn season here on the Literary Sofa, starting with a French Fiction Special inspired by the reading frenzy which resulted from finally being let loose in the bookshops of Paris and Marseille. I’ll be reporting on my year of daily mindfulness and meditation (well, assuming I don’t screw up in the next 38 days) and I’m just sorting out the guest author programme which will include Peter Papathanasiou, whose debut crime novel The Stoning (7 October) is set in the Australian outback. I’ll be doing regular round-ups of four books worth recommending as these proved popular last year.
I hope you’ll join me for the blog’s 10th anniversary celebrations on and around 20 September. There will be a post on my Ten personal favourite books of the last decade with a big competition. Additionally, as this blog is read by many writers and has seen so many (including me) progress from hopefuls to published authors, I’m also planning an Elevator Pitch Spotlight – details will be released next week to avoid clashing with #PitMad.