Thursday, 22 December 2011

Here comes the sun

In the bleak midwinter, it's comforting to think that it's always summer somewhere. I woke up yesterday, on a cold and wet Bristol morning, to a wonderfully warm review of The Book of Summers from the Australian books site, Booktopia. Describing it as 'a lovely coming of age story with a sting in its tail', Toni Whitmont writes:

'Newcomer Emylia Hall weaves a touch of magic in The Book of Summers... the magic of snatched dreams, half-recollected in the dawn. The magic of snapshots of memory. The magic of some really beautifully pieced together sentences.'

To read the review in full, go here. Thank you, Booktopia! And here's to a sun-filled Christmas Down Under. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Happy Mondays

I love Mondays. This is a relatively new state of being, traceable from the end of October when I began to write full-time and with a capital W. I love them for lazy reasons (lolling in bed reading, edging into the day with peanut butter on toast and a mug of coffee) and sparky reasons (embarking on a working week that'll include new words written and take me ever closer to Publication Day). But this Monday has surpassed all others... 

First, The Book of Summers was blessed with a truly lovely first review. Great thanks to book blogger Charlotte Chase for reading it so kindly and describing it as 'a captivating first novel' and 'a delicate treat'... Wow. As a newbie author whose edges are yet to be roughened and toughened, these are words to be cupped and cherished. You can read it here.

Then... the Red Pages published their Hot 100 list for 2012 this morning. Tis the season for lists aplenty, but this one caught my eye more than most. Last year the only novelist to be included was Téa Obreht and she went on to do okay, didn't she? In previous years Poppy Adams and Adam Foulds have appeared alongside actors, singers, models, child-stars, chihuahas and the like. Therefore it's sort of crazy to see that for 2012 I'm listed, along with fellow Headline writer Eowyn Ivey, author of the wonderful The Snow Child. Oh, and Lana Del Ray's on there too. Just saying.

I know, I know, this is the golden time. When the dream and the reality are twining in crazy fashion, and with a magnanimity that even a relentless optimist such as me knows cannot last forever. And so I tell myself this; there won't always be glowing reviews and hot lists but there will be other things. Like peanut butter. A second pot of coffee. A novel to read. And new words to be written. And that's enough to make me glad on just about any day - especially a Monday.

Friday, 2 December 2011

New for 2012

In the January issue of ELLE magazine, Naomi Wood, Morgan McCarthy and I are tipped as three of 2012's "most anticipated debut novelists". What a thrill. As a teen, ELLE was the first 'grown-up glossy' I ever bought (Just Seventeen never did it for me, nor the naughty More, the mag my classmates used to cluster round, giggling into their sleeves). I'd read it as my village bus bumped along the country lanes, with fields of moody bullocks looking on. I'd feel glamorous just for having a copy of ELLE in my hands, for it was like peering into another world. Not that I was dissatisfied with my own, but I had the curious nature (curious? Nosy) that I suppose all writers are born with, and the wish to live more lives than one.

Back to now. In the feature 'We've only just begun', each of us write on the subject of 'new.' My piece is about me quitting my job in a London advertising agency to become a chalet girl. And how it was during those months in the mountains that I realised what I really wanted to do. I've said elsewhere on the pages of this blog that I owe a debt of gratitude to the high peaks of the Portes du Soleil, for that is where I gently found my way with words. I never tire of celebrating what those months meant to me. There, I wrote a little poetry, the kind that only ever stays between the pages of a notebook and is quite happy doing so, and I began to plan a novel. After six months of chalet work, the time I write about in ELLE, my boyfriend and I decided to go back for another winter. We rented a tiny one-room appartment, with a balcony that just had room for a table and chair. That was the notoriously mild winter of 06/07, where the lower ski slopes were streaked with mud and peppered with pebbles, and the days were long and sun-filled. As winter ebbed to spring and snowboarders turned their last tricks in the park, or rolled down off the mountain and into the town's bars, I sat on our balcony and wrote. 

'A new view' is the title of my ELLE piece. And while I took that literally, decamping to a part of France where there were inspiring vistas at every turn, I do believe that we can change the view from our window at any moment. Watch the clouds clear. Spot a ray of light. For the mind is by far our nimblest mode of travel. We just need to work out where we want to go.