Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The end of summer

That's how it feels, anyway.

Spent a riotous long bank holiday weekend immersed in the depths of family, surrounded by brothers and cousins and happily regressing to the age of about nine. Every year we descend on my lovely and extremely long-suffering stepmother to camp in her fields, swim in her pool, take over her kitchen and drink her out of house and home whilst reminiscing about past summers spent together and slotting neatly back into the roles we filled all those years ago (in my case the plump, unsporty one-- see below). Usually this, and laughing immoderately over the odd grainy photograph featuring bowl haircuts and flared trousers takes up most of our time, but this year brother #1 (in a series of 3) decided to throw in an Olympic-style decathlon too. Guess who came last and brought home the wooden spoon?

The sun shone for most of the weekend, but the nights were freezing cold, glittering with stars and lit by a big, creamy harvest moon. By the time we all went our separate ways yesterday it really did feel like autumn had arrived.

Hmm. I love autumn. I love the bonfirey, golden-leaved, red-wine-and-apple crumbleness of it all, and I'm looking forward to wearing boots again, and getting back to work (of course I am-- I mean, have you seen my new hero?) But I'm sad about summer ending. I'd just got into the holiday groove, and now the idea of school run, homework and ironing uniforms seems outrageously uncivilised. Which, coming from someone who's just spent the best part of a week sleeping in a tent, is saying something.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Hello New Man

He's called James Franco (in real life) and he's pretty luscious.
But don't be fooled by that melting, sensitive look. In my book he's going to be annihilatingly ruthless.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Goodbye Orlando!

Heard just before we left on Friday (for the wettest camping trip ever) that my wonderful editor loved him too, meaning my time with Orlando is officially over.

Am trying to be glad about this. It's excellent news. So why do I feel so lost? Think I'll just post one last photo of him to cheer myself up....

(Thank you, James d'Arcy for making suffering look so sexy, and doing the tormented hero so inspiringly. Your work here is done.)
Thank you too to all the people who have so far entered my website competition-- and sorry if I haven't yet had a chance to reply to you. I promise I will soon! There's still a couple of weeks left to enter, so if you haven't done so already please get over to the website and say hello. There's no need to send a long message, just a 'hi' will do! (Having said that, it's great to get your emails and I love reading them! Thank you!!) I've got signed copies of The Italian's Defiant Mistress and other assorted goodies to give away, and one name that I pull out of a hat (note to self: find suitable hat) will be given to a character in my forthcoming book.
Talking of which, I've searched long and hard, and have eventually found the man to take on the role of hero...
Back with pictures tomorrow.

Friday, 17 August 2007


Yesterday, completely on impulse as the daughters and I wandered around town in search of marshmallows, torch batteries and other camping essentials (a bath? A proper bed? An electric kettle?) I steered them into a shoe shop.

We emerged, half an hour later with three pairs of school shoes.

Oh yes. More than two weeks before the start of term!

This is organisation on a scale never previously achieved by me.

Two of the pairs of shoes have small windows in the bottom of the sole, through which a strange little doll peers eerily from a sort of medieval-style prison. You can release her by lifting a compartment inside the shoe. I started off with an attitude of extreme cynicism about this latest mad marketing ploy, but find myself increasingly fascinated by the possibilities of applying such 007 technology to shoes for grown-ups. You could have change for the car park secreted in your insoles. Or lipstick. Or emergency chocolate.

Must go and email Clarks head office with these suggestions immediately.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Home again...

... for brief and frenzied spell of unpacking, washing, and re-packing for camping trip this weekend. Luckily, am still feeling relaxed from lovely week in a magazine-perfect holiday cottage in Whitby on the East Yorkshire coast, and am making huge efforts not to compare its pristine paintwork and uncluttered surfaces with home.

Whitby is a strange and completely wonderful place-- a mixture of laid-back surfer cool, with vast, empty beaches pounded by north-sea rollers, and old-fashioned English seaside charm (the breeze is spiked with a vinegar tang from all the fish and chip shops along the pier.) However, these are both offset by an intriguingly dark undertone which sets it apart from other seaside towns. The beaches are pretty much devoid of shells, but are littered instead with fossils and jet, and thanks to its Dracula connection (Bram Stoker wrote part of the book while staying in Whitby and looking over to the ruined abbey on the clifftop opposite) the town boasts the title of Goth capital of Britain. Daughter #2, aged 9, has decided she wants to be a goth when she's older, and spent a long time gazing wistfully into shop windows draped with black crushed velvet and vampiric jewellery.

One of the best things about the week, apart from the miraculous weather and the plentiful supply of cold Pimms was the fact that for the first time in 4 years we were not staying in a tent. Camping has its charms, but after the last few deadline-dominated, sleep-deprived weeks I'm not sure I was in the right mood to appreciate them and it was bliss to soak in a bath (a gorgeous claw-foot Victorian bath, at that...) and fall into a proper bed at night.

However, all good things come to an end. Back home, the rain has returned, making a proper assault on the mountains of sandy washing inadvisable, and I keep coming across reproachful piles of beach 'treasures' which a proper mummy would no doubt display imaginatively, but which induce in me a spiralling apathy. Worst of all I am unable to ignore any longer the fact that none of my clothes seem to fit anymore, and am forced to contemplate a bleak spell of abstinence from cake and chocolate. (Am cheered by the thought that Pimms is still allowed-- actually, is virtually an essential diet component, probably containing 5 statutory portions of fruit if you drink enough of it...)

Anyway, must go and re-load washing machine, and dig out list of camping supplies for forthcoming expedition. Please, if anyone can think of a creative use for 57 flat stones, a handful of ammonites and 4 revolting limpet shells do let me know.

Saturday, 4 August 2007


We leave tomorrow.

Put everyone in charge of their own packing this morning, and retreated to the bedroom to spend a gorgeous, relaxing day doing desultory ironing while dreaming up my new hero. Should, however, have anticipated the glaring flaws in this plan, or at least have explained with devastating clarity what was meant by the term 'essential items'. Am adamant this does not include a Barbie horse and carriage, sequinned party shoes or 4 hot water bottles.

The Pimms and the ice box stay.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Hurrah! Another Review!

This time from lovely Julie at Cataromance. As a reader I've long been a follower of Julie's reviews, so am way beyond delighted to be given 4.5 stars by her. I also loved the synopsis she did of the book, which picks up on lots of small details and encapsulates the plot perfectly.

And I'm also, you know, kind of vaguely pleased to be described as 'an amazingly talented storyteller who has written a captivating romantic novel that is sexy, funny, moving, dramatic and totally engrossing.'

(Eeeeeekkk!!! That's my entry for 'understatement of the week'. Am actually so thrilled that even the ongoing state of my fridge can't take the ridiculous smile from my face.)

Read it here!

In other news, the sun has at long, long last made an appearance, meaning I've been able to banish the children to the garden while I update my website. I'm running a competition between now and September, and have some signed books and other assorted bits and pieces to give away, plus one randomly selected person will have the dubious honour of having a character in my next book named after them! (either their first or second names). All you have to do is contact me via the website form to enter!

(I feel there is a higher than average number of exclamation marks in this post. A clear indicator of over-excitement.)