Thursday, 2 July 2015


There you will find information on latest book releases, reviews and lots more.

For everyone who has asked, my first crime novel - The Bones of You is released in the UK on 16th July, 2015.

Thank you to everyone who has read & commented here. x

Friday, 13 February 2015

On book covers and that next book...

My book was sold a year ago.  A long time?  Then, I might have thought so, but the months have flown past.  Months in which layers of editing have taken place, a cover has been designed, and then recently, the first proofs have been sent out.
This week, I've written a letter, to people who will be selling my book, some of whom will recognise the landscape I'm describing.  It's a particularly beautiful one, of rolling hills and wooded paths, the shade lifted where the sun breaks through; one that sets off The Bones' darkness.  With that very much in mind, the wonderful art team at Pan Macmillan created this:

When I wrote The Bones, I created a Pinterest board, of tall trees and falling leaves, ethereal figures; of sunlight falling on shadows.  There was barbed wire, too - and paint flaking away to reveal the rust underneath - you'll see why when you read it.  To me, they evoked the mood of the book.  When it came to the cover, I'd hoped for beautiful, and deceptively simple, but what I got was so, so much more.  Even the back cover is gorgeous.  I feel so very lucky that I truly love it.

Meanwhile, over in the US, there has been more editing.  Different words, phrases telling the same story - of course I'd known there'd be changes to make, but until the editing began here, I hadn't appreciated what they'd be.  And the lovely Kensington have designed this.  Oh, and that quote.  Thank you, Lisa Jackson.

As a writer, I should be able to, but to see the proofs in the flesh for the first time, was a feeling I haven't yet been able to put into words. And of course, while all this has been going on, there's the whole other matter of the next book.

When I wrote The Bones, I was writing for myself.  I hadn't allowed myself to think about what would happen when I submitted it to agents.  Of course I'd hoped.  Really, really hoped.  It's true to say I was driven in a mad, single-minded kind of way that left no room in my head for anything else, but then I wanted this like never before.
I've spoken to other authors who agree. There's a world of difference when other people have expectations of you; more moments, too, of searing doubt along the way.  When you finish writing that second book, hold your breath and send it out to your agent and editor who are waiting to read it. Yes, this time they will definitely read it, but you know also, there is no entitlement.

In my case, I told Juliet I'd finished, then sat on it for ages, while I plucked up the courage to email it to her.  But I've done it and she's read it.  And so now, moving on, because I need to have a book going on in my head, I'm in the early stages of another, as I count down the months until July.  Not that I'm wishing them by, because I want to hold on to each moment along the way, but it's not long until The Bones is published...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sometime later...

I've just read one of Jessie Burton's blog posts - read it, her writing is beautiful - The Miniaturist is stunning.  She writes about how all this feels - the finding an agent, meeting publishers, your book being sold and the whole extraordinary thing about how this book you've written, that you've no idea if it's any good or not, suddenly other people are reading it and most unbelievably of all, want to publish it.

She writes too, about the doubts, that even with her book just a handful of months from being published, still they come back to haunt you, because here's the thing.
That getting-an-agent moment is magical in itself.  It validates all the blood, sweat and tears poured into first your book, and then the submission process.  The rejection you take on the chin, before picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, because not to keep trying isn't an option.  When miraculously, incredibly, an agent loves your book, it's the reaching the top of the mountain moment.  You want to pause at the summit, letting it soak in that you've finally got here; that suddenly the view you have is out of this world.

Explore ~ By Isaac Gautschi

Only believe it or not, the momentum just keeps on going, with edits that are mind-boggling followed by more doubts, because even now, you don't believe your book is good enough.  And then because Juliet works at supersonic speed and doesn't sleep, before you can catch your breath, your book goes out.  On submission again - this time to publishers.

Even reading and rereading snippets of emails - the reactions of editors - still, it didn't feel real.  Here I was, in the midst of the wettest, most horrible winter, in my layers of jumpers shivering at my desk, gazing out of the window at heavy skies and sodden fields and my poor wet chickens. Surreal was the only word that described it.

Watching the rain... by ~LoveSumer

One such particularly rain-sodden evening, I was driving my dying car that I couldn't afford to fix.  It leaked when it rained and rolled like a boat because a shock absorber had gone.  The back door was tied shut with a bungee and I started it with a screwdriver because the ignition was completely b*******.  I'd been driving along in the dark, leaning forward to wipe the windscreen because the de-mister didn't work either.
Then my mobile went off.  I remember pulling over to take a call from Juliet - 'the Germans have made an offer!' - sitting there, slightly giddy, while my car misted up and leaked and filled with the smell of damp dogs.  It seemed fantastical!  The collision of the two opposite worlds I now inhabited - I think.  Still completely surreal.

And then my mind went berserk with insecurity.
I haven't had a contract! I said this to friends and family who were so thrilled and excited for me, because for what seemed like ages, I hadn't.  But as I know now, these take time.
I haven't actually been paid anything! I said this too. I think my car was dead by this point.
I keep thinking they've changed their mind! I actually said this to Juliet, who reassured me they hadn't.  A few days later, the first contract was signed and I had my own copy.  I think by now it was safe to say it's real.

Then one day, I had a different feeling.  I'd first felt it on New Year's Eve, when I'd taken a moment just as the old year ended and the new one began, wondering what it would bring. It was tentative, but the best kind, about standing on the edge of something unknown, but new and completely wonderful.

Yes, the doubts come back to haunt you, which possibly isn't a bad thing, but also, you need to believe.  Several months on, The Bones of You is being published next year.  Any day now I'm hoping to see the cover and I've nearly finished book 2.  I also have a newer car and it doesn't leak.  Everything is as it should be...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

On beginnings

Last week started with a flower order - for a country wedding.  With the checking and checking again, of the flower varieties I'd picked, the number of stems needed - enough plus a good margin without blowing the budget.  A trip to a local nursery - the amazing - to hire tall, scented columns of jasmine.  An early morning drive to the wholesaler.  I don't think I'll ever tire of flower markets, wall-to-wall with colour and scent, a window into the nuances of each season (an early spring, a hot dry summer, you'll see it here);  the ungodly hours etched on the faces of the traders; the steely restraint it takes only to buy what you need.

A well-worn routine follows, of unpacking and unwrapping, the cutting of stems and stripping of leaves and thorns; the buckets of cold water, the choice of light or shade or degree of warmth, to either coax petals to unfold or hold them closed.

This wedding was an abundance of soft, summer flowers in joyous shades of orange and yellow, set off by the dull red of Leonidas roses and pinpricks of white - tiny spray roses and cow parsley.  Sunflowers - a favourite of the bride, spice-scented stocks, orange-red freesia and also daisies, small and simple but with a loud voice that hails summer.  The finishing touches were leggy buttercups, grasses and loose-trailing wildflowers that had invaded the flowerbed in our front garden, now clambering through their cultivated companions with the same unruly irregularity.

For once, my car smelled pretty instead of like dogs, but far better than that, the bride loved them.  And after early thunderstorms, the skies cleared and the sun shone.  (And the jasmine columns were a triumph, too.)

After, though, I drove home feeling a strange kind of emptiness - my own choice, but for now, there are no more weddings in my diary.  And the emptiness is actually freedom, the end of the flowers a beginning, because now I can focus full time on writing.

It's how it goes, I think.  Ends-of eras are usually about beginnings - and with change inevitably comes challenge.  I remind myself of this often, because I know too well, it's easier to stick with what you know.  Can be much harder to take that leap of faith into the unknown, even when your heart tells you it's right.  

Yesterday I got talking to a florist who is just starting out.  Her shop is full of local, seasonal flowers, the kind I love most, and it's gorgeous in there - and I didn't feel a flicker.  Not the smallest hint of I-wish-it-was-me-in-her-shoes (though I had to stop myself buying her delphiniums).  I wish her lots of luck but I won't miss those early mornings and I'd quite like my nails to grow again. (Flowers are completely rubbish for your hands).

So now?  I've been waiting for this.  For as long as people want to read my books, I'll be writing.  

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

This is when it stopped feeling real...

That agents liked my book was in itself a dream come true, but was no guarantee that publishers would feel the same.  Obviously I was hoping they would, but again, this was uncharted territory for me.  I'd no idea what their response would be, how long this next part would take, and whether I'd sit in another slushpile for days, weeks, months even, waiting my turn.

This is where you SO need an agent.  After the polishing, pitching your book to people who'd otherwise never see it.  Loads of these other people, as it happens - worldwide.  What followed was the most exciting, unbelievable, surreal experience.  There were offers from foreign territories before the UK - something I vaguely knew happened but hadn't even thought about.  Juliet's calls and emails with the latest updates.  Then the call that began 'Are you sitting down...'

I was so lucky - not a day goes by that I don't think that.  What could have been the most nerve-racking wait of my life happened at lightning speed and despite the best efforts of the taxi driver who was determined to leave me at the wrong end of London that morning, my book has found a wonderful publisher.  It's a cliché, but this is the dream I've held on to, from when I first started reading those fantastic stories about writers who wrote a book and found an agent and got published, just like that.

And it's taken a few years but now, it's happened to me, too:

                Dreams quote via

For me, the next chapter is just starting.  There's editing, the next book to write and wonderful people to work with, but amazing though it seems, it is happening.  I will forever keep the emails that flew between Juliet and myself over those completely mad weeks, just to remind myself - it's real!
But my point is this.  Those dream-come-true stories you find online sometimes, aren't made up.  Publishing is full of people who want to find books they feel passionate about - I know this because I've met a few of them.  And okay, for most of us, it doesn't happen overnight.  As an unpublished writer faced with rejections, sometimes it's hard, really hard, to keep the faith.  But the best things are so worth waiting for - if you keep writing and keep believing, you never know, one day, it might happen to you...

Friday, 7 February 2014

On editing...

Writing is an endurance test - of the love in your life.  Not just how much you love writing, because it's hard, time-consuming work, but how much your family really love you, when you spend more time in the world you've dreamed up than in the one you share with them.  Guilt levels rising stratospherically higher than the usual sky-high level that every parent knows, when someone says Mum, you've asked me that loads of times or I already told you, you never listen and I don't have any pants.  For the record, I do listen.  Just, when I'm writing, there's far too much stuff in my head.


The first month of this year has been spent editing - properly, with Juliet's brilliant insight - polishing, tightening, deleting what wasn't needed (less really is so often more) and rewriting where the pace needed work.  It's hard when you work back and forth through something, so many times that your brain feels like spaghetti, and that even you, who wrote it in the first place, can't remember what happens where.  I now fully understand what it means to lose the plot, because there were times I came close to losing mine.  Different things helped at this stage - Pinterest, because some parts of the book are very visual - and I put a soundtrack together that fitted the story without overly distracting me, both of which I'll use much earlier with my next book.  And if all else fails, a day away from it too, can work wonders.

I'd no idea what to expect, because it was the first time I'd had any proper, editorial input.  Many people have taken time to review my self-published books and yes, I always read what they write, know I'm not supposed to, but can't help it.  The really lovely ones give me a warm fuzzy feeling and yes, the scathing ones make me question my sanity and remind me how subjective all this is.  But I'm aware that my books could be better, which means listening to people who know.

If I'm honest, I wondered how I'd feel about someone highlighting weaknesses or suggesting changes, but I knew also,  that someone else would see things I couldn't.  And it's wonderful working with someone who loves my book.  Someone who answers emails practically as soon as I send them.  As well as that, Juliet found the gremlins that I'd kind of buried away and tried to forget about, while making other suggestions that made it a better book.

some would argue sad animals =/= ugly animals. they would be wrong, as evidenced by this fine specimen. 

Immersed in editing, family (and dogs, cats etc) neglected, house untidy, washing piling up, larder bare, I found out too, that sleepless nights don't go away.  One night I woke up, actually in a panic, thinking what if there's a fire!! (Yes, I know) Only I'd forgotten to email my latest edits to myself - a new habit I try to keep to - every night, emailing the latest updated edit.doc. in case of fires or acts of God or computers crashing, because how awful would that be.  So there I was, lying in the dark, cat curled up next to me, thinking obsessively about my manuscript, yet again.

I discovered also, that the insecurities don't go away, getting that familiar churning feeling as I pressed send, winging the latest edits off to Juliet.  What if she didn't like them?

But luckily she did and in the end, we got there quite quickly.  And at the end of January, the latest tweaks done, that very same afternoon I sent it to Juliet, my manuscript was on it's way to publishers.

And then it got even more AMAZING...

Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Writing aside for a moment, in so many ways, 2013 has been quite a year.  But this time last year, if someone had told me I'd have self-published three books and sold tens of thousands of them; would have an offer from a digital publisher, that I'd write something completely different and find an agent... I probably would have said, right, would be fantastic, BUT...

But it's happened!  And right now, because it's still new and makes me grin a bit madly when I think about it, I keep reminding myself, because I'm so enjoying this bit.  I'm still chasing the dream of a traditional publishing deal with this latest book, but I wouldn't have got this far without the thousands of people who've bought my books so far.  Or other writers who've given me advice, agents who've given me feedback.  All of you who've written reviews, bloggers who've featured my books and even me, too!  You are all completely brilliant.

So a massive THANK YOU to all of you, from the bottom of my heart...
and may your New Year be filled with love.
2014... Bring it on...
 Happy New Year  #happynewyear #newyearwishes