As if by magic, details of The Love Letter have appeared on the website along with its little sister, Sealed with a Kiss. Hooray! You can see a preview of the first chapter of The Love Letter here on the site, and read even more chapters exclusively when you download the prequel story.
Right now I’m writing for up to eighteen hours a day and totally immersed in the plot of my next book, so seeing the finished version of The Love Letter is a huge incentive as I’m reminded what will come at the end of this all-consuming process, a lovely chunk of entertainment bound between glossy covers that one can take to bed, on the train, on holiday or just hog on the sofa. Most writers are passionate readers and I’m no exception. We have books everywhere in this house – piles in colourful towers and spirals, climbing the stairs, three deep on shelves and toppling from windowsills. Lots are unashamedly broken-spined and bath-soaked with page corners turned at reluctant intervals indicating train stops or Sailing By. We keep meaning to organise them into some sort of system, but never find time, and I rather like the anarchy of horse manuals shouldering up to chick lit leaning against Booker nominees, with Carl Hester sandwiched between two Trollops. I’ve always been mildly irritated by people who only put their most worthy volumes on show and yet have may sets of shelves buckling under the weight of well-read paperbacks in the spare bedroom – unless, of course, I’m staying in that bedroom in which case I’ll probably be up all night reading.
Nowadays of course paper pages are rivalled by the data bytes that can fly invisibly into one’s electronic reader to be savoured at the stroke of a touch-screen. I’m embarrassed to admit that we’re still a household for which ‘kindle’ is something one does with screwed up Sunday supplements in the wood burning stove. It was on my Christmas list last year, but I got a slow cooker instead, which has enabled me to savour deeply infused flavours at the push of a button, if not carefully crafted prose. Thankfully, I also got a lot of fabulous door-step books which I’ve been happily lost in ever since. I know I’ll succumb to an e-Reader soon, particularly as author friends tell me they’re great for reading through drafts and making edit notes, which would save me acres of paper – and spare me the moment I realise my four year old has covered most of Chapter 4 with Crayola and pencil stab marks. Readers also tell me my novels work really well on Kindle because they’re very addictive and one can take them to places that a chunky book would be impractical, so the percentage bar clocks up like wildfire. Whilst I will always love feeling the weight and beauty of a book in my hands, I’m all for the eBook and its potential. The short story prequel to The Love Letter, Sealed With A Kiss, is the first digital-only work I’ve written. At 40 pages, it’s ‘movie length’ – in that it takes about as long to read as takes to watch a film – and is a completely self-contained story in its own right. Available for download on the 30th March for just 99p, I hope those of you with the wizardry to do so agree that it’s well worth clicking on.
Full-length and full-bodied, The Love Letter is out on 26th April when readers can choose whether to have it spirited through the ether or land chunkily in hand. I hope the narrative will last considerably longer than a movie takes to watch, although I was amazed to receive several emails saying that Kiss and Tell had been consumed in two days flat – all 900 pages of it! That’s hugely flattering because those rare books I find myself hooked on reading day and night are memorable treats, so to have created that experience for others is wonderful…even if I find myself regularly apologising for lack of sleep, neglected children/animals and grumpy husbands/boyfriends. If it’s any consolation I get exactly the same grief…
Once these eighteen hour shifts are over, I will be out and about talking about my writing life and promoting The Love Letter throughout late April and May, including an appearance at Chipping Norton Literary Festival on Saturday 21st April in a panel event with the amazing A-list authors Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Veronica Henry, chaired by the gloriously funny and knowledgeable Jane Wenham-Jones. Given that ‘Chippy’ was firmly in my old stomping ground during the ten years that I lived nearby, I can’t wait to go back there. I’m also in Fowey in May for the Du Maurier Festival, appearing alongside the deliciously funny Ruth Saberton, writer of three romantic comedies, which promises to be a hoot. As The Love Letter is largely set in the South West, it will be great to be a part of that area’s loveliest literary festival. I’ll make sure all dates and details of events I do are posted up on this website, also on my Twitter stream and Facebook page, so please do keep checking. I’m here every time I surface for air, I promise!