Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? And here I am, older and wi...well, older anyway. And with two new books under my belt!
Firstly, A Seagull Summer was released at the beginning of August, which was lovely.
And then, with much fanfare and general fanning of various types, The Country Escape was released on Tuesday of this very week. It's currently off on its blog tour, being escorted around various lovely bloggers' sites, being trotted up and showing off its not-inconsiderable paces. I understand it is behaving itself impeccably and hardly biting anyone. Which is nice.
Now, as you are loyal (and even, in some cases, besotted) followers of my writings, I thought you may like some 'original content' and insider secrets about The Country Escape and writing thereof. So this is the perfect place to let you in on said secrets.
1) Harvest Cottage was very much based on my living accommodation whilst I was writing the book. It wasn't so much a cottage as a house, and in deepest, darkest Yorkshire rather than Dorset. But it had all the other attributes - damp down the walls, plants growing behind the furniture, no heating and woodlice in just about every orifice. Not everywhere in the country has double glazing and central heating... I wore a lot of jumpers.
2) Patrick is based on an amalgam of ponies through the ages. Now, I am a reasonably heighted person, at around 5 foot 6 inches, but due to a peculiarity of biology, I have short wee legs. This means that whilst most persons of my height ride elegant horses, I was doomed to the world of pony, to avoid looking like a paperclip on a sofaback. All my life I've ridden the Patricks of this world - stocky, hairy and frequently outdistanced by, well, woodlice.
3) I have raised three daughters through the 'Poppy' stage. Mostly they were a little less abrasive, but they all had their moments. And no, none of them got a Versace handbag, never mind two.
4) The original cover of The Country Escape didn't have a pony on. It had a ginger cat. I'm not entirely sure why, since cats only get a passing mention in the book. I suppose the countryside is full of cats, so the chances are that one or two would frequent the garden of Harvest Cottage, but not on my watch. The very lovely people at Boldwood changed it for me.
5) I have a friend who sews exquisite patchwork quilts. Honestly, the work that goes into making one, with all the cutting of templates and the fitting together and the sewing - well, I don't even have the patience to describe all the stages, let alone to actually do them. I am to sewing what Andy Murray is to...well, sewing, I suppose. Unless he has a whole alternate career in embroidery, which I doubt.
6) This is the fourth book to be set in or around the fictional Dorset village of Christmas Steepleton. I had to draw a MAP! I kept forgetting which way round the bays went and where the harbour was in relation to the shops. I do not think I will be causing Ordnance Survey any sleepless nights, since the resulting map looks as though it was drawn by a nine year old
Please don't laugh. Please. I know I can't draw. And I couldn't find any plain paper. I don't know how to explain the stains, but that's pretty nearly the story of my life.
Anyway. There you go. The Country Escape.
Now, off you pop and buy it...