Phew! The first draft of my next novel, The Country Escape, is finished just in time for the school holidays. The second draft is due to be delivered just before the start of next term, alas, so come the Walker family holiday I’ll be the one buried up to her neck in sand on the beach with a red pen in one hand and a manuscript in the other. Thankfully the girls are accustomed to Mummy hawking three hundred pages of pen-marked A4 around everywhere in the same way their beloved battered rabbit and chewed blanket are brought wherever we go. They think my comforter is printed loose leaf, and they’re probably right. I’m much happier when I have something physical to work with and I relish the editing stage where characters really come to life, plot twists are tightened and the end – inevitably written with drooping eyes at 3am in the first draft – is lovingly re-crafted with tears and laughter galore.
Meanwhile, it’s very exciting to know that The Summer Wedding is being tucked into suitcases and handbags, propped on bedside tables and sun-loungers and devoured on e-readers and iPads. I’m incredibly grateful to everybody who has taken the time to send a message or tweet to let me know how much you’ve enjoyed it, and a big thank you to all those kind enough to review the book on Amazon and Goodreads for other readers to see. It’s wonderful to learn that the characters are already such favourites, particularly Laney and Simon, the ‘Taylor and Burton of the small screen’ who were huge fun to write. Hearing readers’ reactions kept me tremendously bucked up as I put in lots of late night writing shifts on the new book, and I hope The Summer Wedding continues to entertain throughout this summer and beyond.
As well as editing The Country Escape, I have a Christmas short story collection to put together which I started work on this week, although it’s hard to imagine reindeers pulling sleds full of gifts when the sun is blazing outside and the dog’s panting beside me. I might test the family’s powers of observation by getting out a few tinsel garlands to drape around my office before revving up the Carols from Kings CD to get in the mood. For those of you enjoying the heat without the need for novelty light up Christmas tree earrings, I wish you all a very merry summer indeed.