Someone get me a freakin’ gold jumpsuit!

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I am a tad excited. Okay, that’s a big fat mahoosive lie! I’ve given myself another excitement headache I’m so completely and utterly chuffed! Because today, a couple of hours ago actually, I did something that once upon a time I would’ve thought was completely out of reach. But then very little is ever really out of reach, I understand this now. Not even body-popping with Johnny Depp in matching gold jumpsuits. (Although that particular fantasy’s on hold after the latest Dior ad put me right off him. Sigh.) Anyway, poppin’ with Johnny’s another issue entirely, and probably not one anyone else needs to know too much about. So, an hour or so ago…

After scribbling my signature on a few cheques for the school bills I owe, drumming lessons, lunch money, typical Monday stuff… I eagerly moved my clammy hands to sign a couple of other bits and bobs I’ve been anxiously watching the letterbox for. Paperwork. Contracts, to be more specific. The business end of an offer totally inconceivable a few years back, my next two book deals.

Say what? Booky what’s? TWO BLOOMIN BOOK DEALS! With publishing colossus, Harlequin/Harper Collins?!

Holy moly, I need an aspirin. This doesn’t happen, does it? Somewhere between loading the dishwasher this morning and burning dinner this evening, people don’t go around signing book deals, do they? Hell yee-HAW they do! The very lucky buggers, anyway. Y’know I might need two aspirin, actually. This really is pretty wonderful. A couple of years ago, when I still fancied Johnny to death, I didn’t have any grasp, whatsoever, on how things would pan out for me and this writing lark. I was given a pretty darned fantastico opportunity, a shot at being an author. I never, ever, expected more than that initial book deal, let alone to still be hanging around two years on indulging in something I love and getting to call it my job, something I’ve managed to perfect saying now while holding a straight face.  Because it’s true! It’s flipping true! It wasn’t a flash in the pan, it’s here… in black and white… with my signature scrawled at the bottom of it. I am a writer. I’m still here! And I’m going to be here for a while yet, thank goodness. Thanks Heavens. Thank the universe. Thank the good folk who buy my stories.

After three novels, lots of ups and downs, the occasional bout of self-doubt and thankfully a whole load of utter contentedness, we’ve come a long way, baby. And we’re still going. Signing on the dotted. Raring to go. Now all I need me is a gold freakin jumpsuit, because Johnny or no, I’ve got me some serious body-poppin to get done tonight 🙂 xx

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Lunch with the lovely literary lot

There I am, like the ham filling in an Agent Milburn/Editor Baggaley sarnie. Not a bad spot!

There I am, like the ham filling in an Agent Milburn/Editor Baggaley sarnie. Not a bad spot!

It’s a funny old existence, being a writer of novels. You spend half your year, maybe more, maybe less, shuffling around the house in ‘comfy clothes’ (manky old pj bottoms, odd socks, coffee-stained tees) racking your ravished little mind for some spark of creativity you might be able to bully into a marvellous sentence if you’re lucky, or maybe just an intelligible one if you’ve already lost the will. And then all of a sudden, it’s done… you have a manuscript, and mostly it makes sense, and before you know it, it’s edited and smartened up and out of your hands, free from the shadows of that grotesquely messy garret you’ve been confined to while the rest of the world carried on having regular sleep and showers and meals and fresh air and snogs.

So yesterday, rested and scrubbed up and still chilling in the afterweeks of a recently released novel, I waved a hasty goodbye to my favourite ankle-biter, took a deep breath of I’m-out-of-the-house-and-doing-something-grown-upness and headed off down to London for lunch with my agent Madeleine Milburn and new soon-to-be-frustrated editor, Anna Baggaley from Harlequin/Harper Collins.

The ankle-biter I mentioned, looking innocent. Don't be fooled.

The ankle-biter I mentioned, looking innocent. Don’t be fooled.

We yacked away about the next two contracts Anna’s just having drafted up for me (eep!) and which I’m completely frothy-headed with relief and excitement and gratitude to have been offered. Then over a pretty badass goat’s cheese salad I gabbled off my ideas for book 4 (latest ideas I should say… the first plot outlines I sent off were a bit naff) and, hoo-bloody-rah, everyone seemed to be enthused!

‘Book 4 is going to be so topical!’ said someone. ‘And your feelings about these issues will show through your writing!’

‘Yes!’ I agreed. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am feeling PUMPED, because this is that stage of writing a book, when your ideas are shiny and new and the mountain to climb ahead, whilst big and slightly intimidating, looks more of a jolly old adventure than a spirit-breaking endeavour that just may kill you.

Yes! I thought, book 4 is going to be relevant and funny and thought-provoking and impassioned because I do feel strongly about the issues I’m going to be writing about and I do want to do my characters’ stories justice and I DO want to become a better and betterer writer who can feel chuffed to death with myself once I’ve made it to the other side of that big-assed mountain! I am gonna write the shizzle outta Book 4 and…

…and then the dessert menu landed and it all became about chocolatey pancakes and caramelised bananas.

So anyway, that’s a little snippet of my very lovely day. A sniffter of the other side of writing. The side where you get to leave your writing room and wang on a bit of mascara and feel quite groovy trundling along the streets of London to meet the professionals who’ve got your back and are going to kit you out in the best crampons they can for the adventure ahead.

Didn’t manage to shake off my comfy shoes, mind…

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Well hello again, world!

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Hola, amigos! So, my best intentions to keep an up-to-date blog have erm… well, the less said about that the better I reckon. What’s a few long months between friends, right? In my defence, I have been a very busy gal. I think I might hactually be a bloody caterpillar in fact, given that I disappeared into my bedroom some time around September and have only just emerged again, dazed and blinking (and not at all butterfly-like, I should mention) with plenty of empty chocolate wrappers, very hairy legs and, wait for it… ONLY A FINISHED BLEEDIN’ MANUSCRIPT!

WAHOOOO!

It’s done. My new novel. My new bloody novel! I’ve just written my 3rd book set to hit the shelves this September, what kind of craziness is this?!

Did I mention I had a baby in August? As in, gave birth to a whopper and have spent nearly every second since within nuzzling distance of him? How’s that for giving yourself a writing challenge? I tell you now, for someone who can’t jog for more than a minute without suffering that coppery-taste-in-the-mouth thing while violently rasping for air, I am pretty darned impressed with my new SAS-like endurance skillz. I kid you not, a girl feels pretty hardcore after writing till 2am, doing the 4am breastfeeding zombie thing and then crawling out of bed again to get the bigger kids to school.

WARNING

Don’t try this at home, folks.

But we’re through it, thank goodness. Normal life, whatever brand of chaos that is, is steadily creeping back down the garden path of Casa Knight. Jesse Boy is now nine months into a fairly awesome life thus far, I’ve caught up with my other two marvellous sons (and Game of Thrones, obviously… that yearning was nearly killing me), I’ve pinned the husband down and snogged his face off a few times and after taking the last fortnight off doing anything even remotely authory, I am relieved to announce that this mama is now fully-coloured, trimmed of split-ends, well-rested and smooth-legged once more. For now anyway.

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And I’m not the only one getting a good sprucing. Letting You Go is pretty much going through the same treatment over at the publisher’s. Basically I give them a hairy-legged, wobbly-bummed manuscript with a hair do like a bird’s nest, and they gently suggest which bits to prune, tighten and gloss.

Which means… oh yes, we’re neearly there! Nearly at the bit I dig the most! The part of the process where I can sit back and catch my breath and almost – almost – feel ready to laugh off all the endless nights I utterly loathed my plot ideas and pulled them apart and hated everything all that fretful, teary effort amounted to before somehow working out (with the help of a few editorial rescue missions) how to pull it all back together again.

Jeez, it’s ace to be out of that stage, I can tell ya. It’s exhausting enough just thinking about it.

But!

Boy oh boy, is it worth it.

After a few fallings out, I love my characters again. I love their story too and, dare I say it, I miss writing/reading about them. It all feels a bit weird without them featuring in my day to day, it feels a bit like we’ve had demanding house-guests for the last few months, eating our food, getting under our skin, stealing our family time. I’ve been desperate for them to bugger off and leave us alone only now I’ve recharged my batteries I quite fancy a few glasses of wine with them again. I hope I still feel that way when the author copies rock up in the post, I guess I’ll find out soon enough when I have a brand new spangly copy of my brand new spangly book clasped in these arthritic, nail-bitten hands of mine. I think it’ll be okay. I hope other people will think so too. And I don’t think it will be long after those advance copies arrive on my doorstep before I’m cracking on with Book 4, because holding your own book with your own name on the front is a pretty cool reminder of why the hard slog is totally worth it.

But it’s also bloody great being back in the real world for a while!

Anouska 🙂