Burnt toast moments

I’m starting to think about my second novel, a lot. I keep falling into my fictional world at inopportune moments. The other morning I burnt six slices of toast in a row, trying to make breakfast for the kids as three of my characters made an important discovery on the banks of a river. My husband’s found me standing over a notepad, dripping wet from the shower, scribbling notes of an imagined conversation before they disappear back into the mistiness of my mind. I’ve half-listened to friends as they chat, while an idea whirls and takes shape in my head.

I’m the first to admit I’m a complete novice at this writing game, but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s vital to get the words down – never more so than at night. Night is the worst. A moment of inspiration while just dropping off to sleep, or later,  while lying awake in the depths of the night, can vanish completely with the morning light. I keep a notepad and pencil beside the bed now and while I realise that this all makes me a bit of a nightmare to live with – a distracted, half-present and probably pretty crap wife and mother – I recognise it’s a good sign for this second novel. It’s starting to take shape, grow bones, feel more real.

A different approach …

It’s been a brilliant week.

Proof copies of the Australian/New Zealand edition of Secrets of the Tides are in and they look beautiful. The cover has been printed on a textured paper – very strokeable and some copies are being sent out with an incredible shell. They’re really gorgeous. The one I have here is fascinating my three year-old – he holds it to his ear and goes very still, trying to hear the ocean roar inside.

It’s really interesting to see the different approaches the UK and Australia are taking with the novel. I love them both: the UK for the eery atmosphere of that house, totally isolated and all lit-up from within as dusk falls, and the Australian version for their nostalgic, sun-bleached feel that instantly conjures up memories of childhood holidays down by the sea.

Lutyens & Rubinstein received an offer this week for the Danish translation rights for the novel too. Plus, there was an exciting invitation, of which I promise more at a later date, AND another wholly unexpected offer which I am still pinching myself about. What a week!

It’s wonderful, humbling and just a tiny bit terrifying to think of all the various people getting involved in Secrets of the Tides. So many beans to spill, but sadly not yet. I’m off to sit on my hands, before I type any more…


Notebook extract:

Some days I long to leave; not forever, but a few hours at least, a day, maybe even a night. I crave aloneness – physical freedom – and space in my head too. Daydreaming requires the lazy spiralling of hours – not grasping hands and hungry mouths and shitty bums.

But when the time comes – as it has this morning – and I am free, in a chintz-filled hotel bar, waiting for an old friend, all I can do is put pen to paper and write of them. I am thinking of those two little faces in the backseat. J asking, ‘why do you have to go?’ and with those six simple words I feel the love for my family pour out of my heart and wrap itself around them all … stretching with them as they drive away from me, like an unsnappable elastic band.

Sitting here in the hotel bar with enough time to notice the condensation running down the side of my glass, I realise that sometimes you have to leave, if only to remember just how much you love them and how you could never fathom life without them; not for more than a few hours, anyway.