What have I been up to? Well, not writing posts for my website is one thing. I hope to change that. Especially now, finally, I’m *drum roll* a full-time writer. Last week I gave up my job in the theatre to concentrate on the books. It was bittersweet, but time. I’m fifty and have never been able to afford to only write. Not sure I can now, but it feels like the right time to try. More on that soon. First … more of What I’ve Been Up To … in April, I got a new agent. The very marvellous Emily Glenister at DHHLiterary. We’ve not met in person yet (pandemics do not consider the wine plans of the Emilys and Louises of the world) but after our first phonecall my cheeky, nosy, listening-in daughter said, ‘Wow, sounded like you’d known each other years.’
Now, on the What I’ve Been Up To list there are exciting things I can’t talk about yet. I’m not being cryptic or annoying (well, maybe a bit annoying) but new books will be happening. Vague? I know. This is partly why I’ve finally become a full-time writer. No, not to be vague and annoying, but because of new things. All I can say is that during the strictest lockdown I wrote a dystopian book. There. That’s all I can say. Watch this space. I also wrote my memoir, Daffodils, during the pandemic, and a lot of you followed my progress. I wrote a piece for the Humber Mouth Festival about that journey. And I MIGHT have some news about that in the not too distant future too…
There are some amazing things I CAN talk about on my What I’ve Been Up To List … namely the incredible reception of my most recent novel, This Is How We Are Human. The supportive messages I’ve had from autistic people and ASD parents have made me cry. I was very nervous when writing it, even though it was inspired by my friend Sean, who’s austistic, and his mum Fiona, and they both helped and guided me through the entire thing. Many people warned me not to approach a topic like this without direct experience, but Sean and Fiona told me this was a story I had to write. So I did. And it’s now been a Clare Mackintosh Book Club pick, and hit the Top 100 on Amazon, amassing more reviews than any of my previous novels so far.
I can also tell you, very excitedly, that my next Orenda book will be published in June next year. I started Nothing Else at the tailend of the last lockdown. It was inspired by the love I have for my sisters. I realised that I’ve explored so many relationship in my novels – mothers and daughters, lovers, friendships, often tricky ones – but never the bond between sisters. I wondered how different my life would be if I’d lost them when we were children. Would I be forever haunted by where they had gone? Search for them forever? My main character is a pianist, so the book is also about music and its power to lift, heal, and transport. The arts as sustenance is a common theme in my stories.
On the What I’ve Been Up To list is a sub section … the What I’m About To Be Up To list. I’m excited to share that on 31st August I’ll be answering questions about This Is How We Are Human on Clare Mackintosh’s Book Club on Facebook, so if you’re not already a member, join up. On 1st September I’ll be chatting to the guys at The Writing Community Chat Show from 8pm. I’m taking part in the East Riding Festival of Words again, interviewing a couple of authors, and hopefully it will be IN THE FLESH. Look out for my new short story in Best magazine any time soon, and also for my contribution to LJ Ross’ beautiful short story collection Everyday Kindness, which made the cover of The Bookseller, and is rasing money for Shelter when it comes out in October. I’ll also be doing a local talk (in the flesh!) for the Women’s Institute, something I’ve missed so much this last eighteen months. Hopefully, I’ll be back here to share more news, more regularly, now I’m a writer. Really a writer. A fulltime, only, absolute, lifetime-dream writer.