I’m in the middle of packing up several thousand books and a few other things ready to move house at the end of the week so as you can imagine, my writing mojo has packed up too and fled the building. I had so many ideas for blog posts this week but all the mountains of boxes and MESS are just draining all my reserves of creativity and whimsy. Argh. The truth is that I am a bit of a not so secret neat freak and I struggle to function if everything around me is in chaos or a state of flux.
However! Despite all this woe and tiresome angst, I popped in to regale you with a couple of things that I thought might interest you all!
Firstly – I’ve just finished reading The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley and thought it was absolutely superb. I’m a massive fan of Susanna’s time slip novels and so hastened with full speed to buy this one when it recently came out, not even knowing at the time that it is a sequel to The Winter’s Sea (aka Sophia’s Choice) which I absolutely LOVED and also her earlier book The Shadowy Horses, which I have yet to read.
I don’t want to give anything away but The Firebird answers some of the questions that were left open at the end of The Winter’s Sea and takes the reader on an amazing journey from Aberdeenshire to Belgium, France and then on to the Russia of Empress Catherine in the footsteps of Jacobite exiles and Kearsley’s intrepid modern day psychics who are hot on their trail. It’s brilliant.
It also reminded me, eerily, of something spooky from my own past – to the astonishment of all who know me in real life and have heard my Very Firmly South Of England accent, I was actually born in Morayshire and spent my first eleven years in Aberdeenshire in Scotland, some of which years were spent living in a house close to a range of hills called Bennachie. Anyway, the house was a bit spooky and my grandparents were convinced that it was haunted, although being a bit fey myself, I didn’t really notice anything amiss. My mother, however, claims to be a bit psychic and told me that there was the ghost of a Roman soldier haunting my bedroom and that, furthermore, she was in the habit of having deep and involved chats with him while I was asleep which, y’know, is always nice to know if you are of a sensitive turn of mind. I always thought this was nonsense as I didn’t think the Romans made it up that far (it’s not my period, shall we say) but imagine my surprise when I discovered many years later, while studying a module on Roman Britain at university, that Bennachie was believed by some to be the site of a Roman v Caledonians battle called Mons Graupius so the place was possibly littered with dead Roman soldiers at some point. Maybe. Wooo. Yeah.
I don’t actually believe in ghosts but that still makes me feel a bit odd, I must admit.
Anyway, yes, if you like time slip novels, hot Jacobites (it’s impossible for a Jacobite to be anything other than hot) or just rolicking good reads then I’d definitely recommend The Firebird which, incidentally, is just £1.99 for Kindle from Amazon UK right now.
Secondly – I got a mention in the current edition of Mslexia, which was rather cool. For those who don’t know, Mslexia is a brilliant writing magazine for women which always has an excellent array of articles, interviews and creative writing pieces. My little snippet forms part of an article by Katy Evans-Bush about the rise of e-publishing and I was asked for my perspective as someone who has self published novels without any prior experience or knowledge about the publishing industry.
‘But while experience and backlist help, plenty of novice authors are also making a go of it. Melanie Clegg… decided to publish ‘The Secret Diary of a Princess – her YA novel about Marie Antoinette – after an agent said ‘there wasn’t a market for books of its type’. She explains, ‘I’m chronically shy. I didn’t think anyone would read it or like it, so I decided to go it alone.’ The book has sold 10,000 copies, and Melanie has published two more.‘
I got a real kick out of this. When I first started writing novels, I thought that agents were infallible and ALWAYS RIGHT but it’s nice to have this reminder that actually, no, they’re neither of those things and that they can get things wrong too. I’m just glad that I didn’t listen to that agent but had a bit more faith in myself. However, their response stopped me submitting to anyone else as well so who knows what would have happened if I’d kept on trying?
Anyway, I think that’s me done. I hate moving house. Isn’t it the very worst thing? I’m sitting here now surrounded by boxes and GRIM and thinking ‘Who invented house moves? Can we go back in time and kill them thus ending millions of years of ABJECT MISERY. I’m sure everyone would be grateful.’
The only things getting me through this dark period in my life are the Four Year Old’s terrible tuneless renditions of music from Star Wars; plans for a research trip to Paris at the start of June with one of my best friends; Sara Sheridan’s superb Brighton Belle (A Mirabelle Bevan Mystery) (only 66p for Kindle at the moment and a definite must read!); finally buying my ticket for the 2013 Jack the Ripper Conference; crushing on Charles II and making it to season three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in our quest to watch every single episode on Netflix.