The Inspiration Project started with an idea to hold creative writing events to offer practical advice, honesty, and inspiration to aspiring writers. September saw our last event of 2019, at the gorgeous LexIcon library in Dun Laoghaire. We loved meeting our amazing writers, and can’t wait to see where they go from here! And now, what have we been up to in the last month …
At the beginning of September, I spent a week at Tyrone Guthrie, writing for ten to twelve hours a day. When I said goodbye to my cottage in the idyllic woods, I left with 20,000 words. Good times. Since then the word count has slowed down. Damn distractions everywhere – the number one enemy for us writers. Bad times.
Last week we had decorators in. A genuine distraction if you like. But it’s quiet now. However, the worst kind of distractions are the ones that live inside my head. Saboteurs. Hecklers. Take this morning. I lost an hour staring at the biblical rain pelting down outside my writing room. Anything but write whispered the distraction.
I’m often asked where do I find the discipline to finish a new book each year. Well, the simple answer is this – I have to get out of my own way. Every day. While I love what I do, it’s also my full-time job. A lot of the time its hard work, a slog. So once I’ve finished this diary entry, I’m going to write a new scene, no excuses. And tomorrow, I’ll write another and so on, and so forth until I have 10,000 words added to my WIP.
Oh, and I’ve got gorgeous news to share! The US book subscription company, Once Upon a Book Box, revealed that their September pick was A Thousand Roads Home. Remember I signed thousands of bookplates last month? It was for them! This book club is HUGE and rather wonderful. Check out my Insta and Facebook feeds for more information and photographs from readers as they open their boxes and gifts. Speaking of readers, I’ve also done some fun book club chats this month, all via FaceTime. Isn’t technology wonderful?
Lastly, I have a title for my next book. I’ve also seen a preview of the cover art. I am so in LOVE with them! Both to be revealed soon. But for now, I can’t let the excitement of that distract me. I have a scene to write …
September was another crazy busy month for me with the UK and Ireland paperback release of MEET ME IN MONACO, and publication in Italy, too! I also received the wonderful news that THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association (HWA) 2019 Gold Crown Award. This award recognises the best historical fiction published in the last year, so it’s a real honour to be shortlisted! In true Inspiration Project style, I found out through several very excited WhatsApp messages from Catherine and Carmel, who were watching the announcements live on Twitter while I hid behind the sofa! Wish me luck for the awards evening in London in November!
In other very exciting news, I finally got to announce my next historical novel, THE KINGFISHER PATROL. The book is set in Japanese-occupied China in WW2, and tells the story of a group of international school children and Girl Guides who face internment and separation from their parents, and the impossible choices their teachers must make to ensure their survival. The book was inspired by incredible true events, and while I often wondered what on earth I’d taken on while researching and writing the book over the last two years, I can’t wait to share it with everyone when it has been edited and whipped into shape!
Heather and I are also busy putting words down in the first draft of our next co-written novel. Heather is currently on book tour with her latest release, and I am in the middle of moving house, so time and head space are not our friends, but we do what we can, when we can, and slowly the words are adding up. Sometimes, that’s just how it has to be: grinding out the words between catching another flight, and packing boxes. The pretty stuff will come later.
Now, I’d better go and pack another box. Seriously, where did all this stuff come from?!
Greetings from a beautiful sunny morning in New York, where I’ve come to write – yes, really – for a month. I’ve been here a few times before and twice earlier this year, on amazing trips with my publishers for, first, the Edgar awards in April and then BookExpo America in June. On both those occasions I had a packed schedule of commitments but I squeezed as much as I could into my free time, exploring all the things I’d long wanted to see in the city. There’s something really special about being in New York by yourself and just being able to wander around and do whatever you like, whenever you like, without maps or plans, and just see where the city takes you. A plan started forming in my head… For many years now I’ve been going to Nice in the south of France for a few weeks at a time in the off-season, when the tourists are gone and accommodation is cheap but the sun is still shining. Why not do the same in NYC? So here I am, in an apartment in the Financial District, surrounded by beautiful riverside walks, amazing city views and all the coffee, stationery stores and bookshops a girl could want. (Plus, my favourite American thing: half and half!)
Rewind has been out here since September 3 and has treated me to a couple of great moments here too: I got to go to the world famous Mysterious Bookshop to sign copies of it, which was amazing, and in a truly fantastic coincidence, the New York Post chose Rewind as one of their Best Books of the Week – and I found this out while in the plane on the way here! 38,002ft over Nova Scotia to be exact! I may have squealed.
The slight damper on all this is that I’m also racing to finish the first draft of Book 4, tentatively titled The Nothing Man, which will hopefully be out next year. It’s going really well – I LOVE this book, I’m even more excited about it than I was about Rewind, which was a lot – but I wish it was going just a little bit faster. Still, being behind on your word count in sunny New York is infinitely more fun than being behind on it in dreary Dublin…