This morning I celebrated publication day of my first thriller, The Perfect Liar, with a long lie in, followed by some still-warm fluffy croissants and a large soya cappuccino, while I opened a giant sack of fan mail from readers telling me how much they loved the book. Next I bathed in Jo Malone, dressed in head to toe cashmere and walked my terrier through a scented meadow.
Okay. I made that up. All of it.
The truth looked like this. Up at 6.30am for muesli in front the TV news, rolling my eyes at the US presidential circus. Then hopping onto Twitter and Facebook to thank the early birds for their lovely and unwavering support.
Next I walked Brodie, sticking to the streets because the fields round here are waterlogged, then home by 8.30am to let the window repair man in, to fix our bi-fold doors. While he was busy doing his socially distanced repair thingy, a tow truck arrived to remove our ancient Golf GTi from the drive as it’s in a very poorly-sick way (it may be the end of the road for our trusty car – which will throw up a whole new raft of problems). Cue tears from Mark!
So, back onto social media to reply to yet more warm and wonderful messages on Twitter and Facebook – followed by a nervous check on Amazon to monitor reviews. More on this thorny subject later.
And then something wonderful and unexpected: some gorgeous, long stemmed barely-blush roses from Bookouture, my publisher, arrived. Which seems like a good time to pause and say thank you: To Therese, my editor for her endless patience and tireless input on The Perfect Liar (gently nudging me along when I felt ready to give up). To crack PR team, Kim and Noelle, who seem to spend fifteen hours a day plugging all the Bookouture authors’ work – whilst still managing to write bestselling series’ of their own (I know, the mind bogles). To generous and brilliant authors Carla Buckley aka Carla Kovich, Mark Mayes, Kelly Florentia, Anne Coates, Gina Kirkham and a host of other brilliant writers who barely let a day go by without tweeting or emailing words of encouragement. There are many others, too – sorry I haven’t named everyone here but suffice to say that the writing community is incredibly supportive.
Thank you to everyone’s favourite book blogger, Jill Doyle, who runs the magical Jill’s Book Café and is a Yorkshire lass to boot – thank you for all the mentions and plugs.
Thank you to Marika Cooke, whom I met in my old stomping ground, Kings Hill in Kent – for featuring all my books in her fab parenting magazine, Kings Hill Mums. Thank you to Stephanie Chapman, who always manages to shoot flattering mug-shots – the last time we were outside in the rain due to Lockdown One: the old wig may be fluffy but the eyes still shine.
Praise and thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publications, who gave me my first break by offering to publish Seeking Eden when seventeen agents had ignored my emails.
Thank you to my family, including the northern contingent (Helen, Carol, Linda – you are all so kind); to my brother who always proudly states that he only ever reads two authors, me and Clive King who wrote Stig of the Dump; to his missus, Lyn, who devours my words on Kindle: to my sister, Ali, who’s too busy to read really. And to Mark, who has had to endure months of tears and recriminations about why TF I have moved into a new genre, where people probably won’t get me. His endless love and patience sums him up.
Before I start to remind you of Gwynnie at the Oscars (no, I’m not crying), I should say that I may be grateful and chuffed but smug I am not! Oh no. The reviews for The Perfect Liar have seen to that, keeping me grounded, cross, tearful and sometimes just plain baffled. It appears that I have written a Marmite book and opinion is fiercely divided. But that’s the game. I wrote two books for a niche readership, garnered nothing but goodwill and four and five star reviews and it gave me a warm and fuzzy glow. Then I signed a contract with a big and brilliant publisher and the landscape has changed. Now my work is accessible to people all over the English-speaking world and guess what? Not everybody likes it – or gets it – and why would they? Our reading proclivities are incredibly personal.
So next year, I’ll be learning a new, unchartered skill set: how to ignore bad reviews (hmm, good luck with that!).
So, here I am on Publication Day: the light is fading, Brodie needs another walk and a bottle of fizz is winking at me from the fridge door.
Perhaps I didn’t get my lie-in, my sack of fan mail and my Jo Malone soak – nevertheless, I’ve had a great and memorial day.
The Perfect Liar is available from today to download, in paperback and on audio.