A blog about weekends away, lucky omens and pastures new:
I’ve just swept three months’ worth of old receipts, pen lids, rosettes and dog treats off the dresser so that I can share a snapshot of the advance copy of The Weekends of You and Me which arrived this week. Isn’t the jacket lovely? It’s published in hardback and e-book in the UK on the 10th March.
When I was writing The Weekends of You and Me, my computer’s wallpaper was a photograph of a track leading up through rolling fields to woodland. Hidden out of sight on the hilltop amid the sweet chestnuts and Scots pine, I imagined an old stone cottage. It’s here Harry and Jo first get together for a wild weekend of second-chance love and make a vow to come back the following year. The novel picks up their story each year for a decade as they escape to the cottage for a few days, determined to put the outside world on hold and recapture the spark, no matter how complicated family life gets.
I really hope you come to love Jo and Harry as much as I do, especially those of you only too familiar with that life stage in which children, careers, ageing parents and cheek-by-jowl domesticity makes it all too easy to forget the heart-lift of loving someone for who they are.
By coincidence, the hardback was waiting here when we returned from a weekend away, and the girls are hugely excited by the illustration because we’ve been staying in a little stone drover’s cottage up a track by a brow of woodland: ‘That’s our half term cottage! You wrote a book about it!’ It was actually a last-minute booking somewhere we’ve never been before, but the fact it so closely resembled my fictional romantic bolt-hole – it even snowed on Valentine’s Day just as it does in the book – did make it feel like a bit of much-needed kismet might just be at play, and it doesn’t stop there. I have to admit here that I’m so superstitious when a new novel is about to come out that I look out for lucky omens everywhere. When Well Groomed was published, I counted horseboxes like magpies on every trip; with The Summer Wedding, I spotted bridal cars and hot air balloons with similar zeal. This time, it’s starlings – you have to read the book to understand why – and I’ve been enormously cheered to find a small gang of them staging a regular and noisy fly-by over our garden. But that was nothing to the moment we drove to the Welsh Marches last Friday and Sam almost left the road, pointing to the horizon where starlings were swirling in their thousands like smoke. When you read The Weekends of You and Me, which I truly hope you will, you’ll appreciate why I still have a bruise from pinching myself. (In case you’re worried that it’s a Hitchcockian feather-fest or a steamy tale of amorous twitchers in hides casting binoculars aside, I should point out that neither Jo or Harry are bird fanciers and starlings have a purely walk on/fly in part.)
When I last wrote this blog, we were about to move from the Smallest Farmhouse in Warwickshire to our forever home, a lovely if chaotic ongoing project which still has a resident builder, a skip outside and a half finished writing room full of timber. What I didn’t know then, as I packed fifteen different Fiona Walker novels in multiple formats and languages into cardboard boxes, was that I’d soon be moving publishing house too. The Weekends of You and Me marks the end of my tenure with Little, Brown. The team that has published Kiss and Tell, The Love Letter, The Summer Wedding, The Country Escape and The Woman Who Fell in Love for a Week is a family that I will miss enormously, and I leave them with a love story that I hope is my best yet. You can buy The Weekends of You and Me here.
I can’t wait to share news about my brilliant new publisher and our future plans, which I promise I’ll do on here soon; all of you who so generously bear with my blog silences to check back regularly (thank you!) won’t have so long to wait this time. For now, I can joyfully share the fact that my foot is firmly in the stirrup on a creative venture that takes me galloping to the best home turf – to rolling acres, village scandal, horses, dogs and country life in all its lusty, divot-flinging glory. I’m already so busy writing, I must apologise as always for my somewhat anti-social media. When lost to a new book, I fall off the twitter perch and don’t show my Facebook in public much, but I promise that I do reply to anybody kind enough to send a message, tweet or email and I am always tremendously grateful when my books get a mention. My greatest passion in life is to tell good stories. I do hope the starlings are right about this one.