Monday, 22 August 2011

Two new arrivals

As a fairly-recently married woman of a certain age, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that when I excitedly tell people that 'I have some news' more often than not their eyes go directly to my belly (where - depending on the size of the dinner I've eaten the night before - their suspicions are momentarily either confirmed or denied).  I should be used to it, I guess.  I've been working part-time for three years now and all too often this fact is met with the assumption that I've got tots at home that need tending, rather than words that need writing.   Last week, however, we were blessed in welcoming two new arrivals into our home, so perhaps there's merit in the presumption after all... 

First came my husband's new graphic novel, Baggage.  On Thursday he received an advance copy from his publisher, David Fickling Books.  If Baggage was a baby he'd be a giggling, rambunctious type, forever putting unsuitable objects up his nose and spoiling his nappy.  I cooed as I turned the pages for the first time and, as ever, the work of The Etherington Brothers left me doe-eyed and proud as punch.

Then on Friday came another bundle of joy!  A proof copy of The Book of Summers.  I've spent countless hours writing-reading-rewriting my manuscript, but to actually see it bound between two gorgeous covers and hold it in my hands.... well, suddenly the whole thing became wonderfully real. And, like an awed mum-to-be clutching a picture of that first scan, I was smitten.  

I don't doubt that I'll be pulling my proof from my handbag at the slightest opportunity, saying 'isn't she beautiful?' and 'look, you can see her spine.'  Maybe in the run-up to Publication Day I'll even be able to get away with late-night cravings, sending my husband out onto the streets seeking pistachio ice-cream and salted caramels.  And I certainly envisage sleepless nights ahead, where we'll toss and we'll turn and in the end console one another with the whispered promise that the world will be kind to our offspring.  Knowing that all we can really do is work hard and hope.

Monday, 8 August 2011

When we were up we were up...

It's been a funny old week.

It began with a very exciting book deal with an American publisher - a dizzying feeling, to know that my words will be going across the pond - and it ended with an inspiring first face-to-face meeting with my editor at Headline, Leah Woodburn.  She showed me the initial cover design for The Book of Summers, and we talked animatedly about proof copies and what the next few months would hold.  Afterwards, I went to Liberty and enjoyed easily the most delicious piece of carrot cake I've ever had, and bought a turquoise leather document wallet for no other reason than it's very beautiful and soft as butter.

But throughout it all, my brother-in-law has been in hospital with an acute appendicitis.  He's the kind of guy who's given to superlatives, so fittingly his was no ordinary deal; he rocked the whole gangrenous, doctor-baffling, relative-terrifying variety.  Thank all the gods, he's home safe now.  But in the midst of his illness I was in Sainsbury's, queuing behind an elderly woman.  She was - as tradition has it - taking her sweet time, and talking to the check-out lady (who was no spring chicken herself) about her niggling and various ailments. As she shuffled away with her groceries the assistant smiled up at me and said, 'don't ever get old, dear.'  I pretended to hunt for my Nectar card but really I was trying not to cry a little bit.  Because, given the alternatives, it's about the best thing we can do, isn't it, getting old?  

In William Boyd's Any Human Heart, Logan contemplates a group of lithe and sun-kissed teenagers, and instead of lamenting his lost youth he muses, 'Play on, boys and girls, I say, smoke and flirt, work on your tans, figure out your evening's entertainment.  I wonder if any of you will live as well as I have done.'

Get well soon, Lorenzo.