Apparently, we’re already halfway through 2019, and if that doesn’t inspire you to crack on with those writing goals you scribbled down in a drunken frenzy on New Year’s Eve, then we give up! This month, we’re all about author goals, and never quite knowing what’s around the corner …
Last month I left you in New York, where I was preparing to fly to the opposite coast for the second half of The Author’s Trip of (American) Dreams. I think the only word I can use to describe my time in California is magic. First stop was a breakfast event at the Irish Consulate in San Francisco alongside Mike McCormack, which was particularly special to me because (a) the first and only other time I met Mike was 21 years ago (!); he was the first writer I ever met in real life when he came to my school to talk to my Transition Year class about his career, and (b) it has always been my secret wish to get invited to an embassy or consulate. Check! Then it was on to Berkeley for the Bay Area Book Festival, where I teamed up with Mike and Emilie Pine for the ‘Writing Irish’ panel, a trio of Scandi Noir authors for ‘Criminally Good Writing’ and a whole host of writers for Noir at the Bar. I think the best moment though was when I randomly shared a car back to the airport with an editor at a New York publishing house who, we found out about half way there, had edited the book that was the subject of my final year project in college. I’m STILL not over that coincidence!
There was some good news to welcome me home. I got an invite to speak about plotting at a writing retreat in Lake Annecy, France, this July – YES PLEASE – and then I got word that Rewind is going to be published in hardback. This is A Very Big Deal to me and I may lose it completely when I see one in the flesh. The first two were published in what’s called trade paperback in the UK, which is the size of a hardback but with a soft cover, so this is like getting a promotion. Elsewhere, Rewind’s pub date approaches and the machinery behind the scenes is ramping up: we’ve been collecting blurbs or endorsements (those quotes you see on the covers of books: ‘The best book I’ve ever read’ – Ms Famous Author) and approving final cover designs. I’m getting excited about the book being out in the world – not long to go now!
I’m writing this in the Aer Lingus lounge at T2 in Dublin Airport – because I’m off to NYC again. This time it’s for a librarian conference called the LJ Day of Dialog, where I’ll be sitting on a panel of thriller authors that includes Karin Slaughter (!!!), and BookExpo America, a massive publishing trade show, where I’ll be signing copies of Rewind and wondering how the hell I got here and what I did to deserve it. The only fly in this ointment is that the first draft of Book 4 is due on September 1st – GULP – so I really need to get some work done on this trip. I’ll let you know how that goes next month!
Last month I shared with you all that I was deep in my editing cave with my eight novel, Finding Greta Gale. Well, the month of May was STILL pretty much consumed with this book. Catherine said to me that I needed to open a vein and while I didn’t literally bleed all over my words, there’s no doubt that I gave it my ALL. I was emotionally vulnerable, which is always a scary writing experience. It feels a little like when I jumped from an aeroplane – with a parachute don’t worry -and while I was terrified as I freefalled, I never felt more liberated.
One of the main themes in this book is around negative body image which is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. Greta’s story is not my story of course – it’s fiction, but we do share many of the same demons. I suspect and hope that many of my readers will find a connection to Greta too. And maybe by the end of the novel, we might have slain one or two of those demons.
I posed the question last month ‘How do I know when my book is finished?’ Well, without the editorial guidance of both my editor/publisher and my agent, this story would have missed so many incredible moments that were hidden, waiting to be teased out. So I’m repeating – because it’s worth saying twice – that you should never forget that as writers we are too close to our work to be objective. You know what to do.
It wasn’t all edits thought – I did step out mid-May for a special lunch with Catherine and Hazel. If you’ve attended our IP days in the past, (if not, go on, book!) you will have heard us talk about the importance of tribe. Chose wisely writers! A good tribe will be your loudest cheerleaders when you succeed AND when things go a bit pants. I hit the tribe jackpot with my two. Fact!
After our fun lunch, Hazel and I attended the annual Harper Collins Big Book Bonanza, held in The Lighthouse Theatre in Smithfield. It’s a chance for our publisher to go all boasty, mcboasty and tell the world about the new books that their authors have coming out that year. And a chance for us authors to catch up with our publisher, book retailers, media and book influencers, over a glass or two of bubbly.
And last, certainly not least and absolutely nothing to do with writing, but still the biggest and most important of all of the news … we adopted a rescue dog. If you want to see pictures of George Bailey, head to Instagram/Facebook @happymrsh!
It really is a wonderful life.
May was a curious concoction of bookish things for me, which all reminded me how far I’ve come in my writing career, and how far I still want to go. Particularly exciting moments included seeing the cover of the French edition of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – my first French translation (Ooo la laa!), being contacted by my Swedish translator for the Swedish edition of the book, and seeing Meet Me in Monaco featured in lots of ‘Best Books of Summer’ round-ups over in the USA. These are not things I ever expected to be part of my writing life when I was quietly working on The Girl Who Came Home at the kitchen table in 2011! I never take these ‘pinch me’ moments for granted, and they always catch me by surprise.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter was also just released in paperback in the UK and Ireland. It’s another stage in the book’s life-cycle, and although I finished writing the book in early 2018, it’s still just as exciting to see it reach new readers, and to remember why I fell in love with my subject matter in the first place.
Of course, me and Carmel have been glued to Instagram following Catherine’s epic American adventures, Part Two. We could not be prouder of her, or more thrilled for all the incredible success she’s seeing for her hard work. We’ve also both added plenty of WANTS to our author bucket lists: rooftop parties in NYC, huge signs outside BookExpo, tickets to Hamilton … the list goes on! And that’s what I love about this job. It is constantly changing and evolving. One week is never quite like the next. A month can bring a huge surprise. A year can be seismic. Which is exactly why we wanted to write these diaries, to capture the quiet moments of writing and hoping and staring at the walls, and the public moments of celebration and cocktails and notions all over the place!
To anyone out there who is struggling and doubting and wondering if it is worth continuing, we all say YES! We can’t promise rooftop cocktail parties, but we can’t not promise them either! Who knows what might happen, or what’s just around the corner? So ignore the WTFs and focus on the ‘what ifs’. It’s that which keeps us going as much as the coffee!