As 2020 draws to a close, I find myself struggling to post an end of year blog without resorting to cliches. The post Covid-19 world of the last nine or so months seems too significant to mention here, in my cosy little writing corner – yet to say nothing would be crass. Families – whole communities – have been ripped apart by this devastating virus, mentally, physically and fiscally.

My sincerest wish for Christmas and for 2021 is that this vile mutant bug is nearing the end of its rampage: stopped (or at least slowed) in its tracks by the wonderful new vaccine that governments believe is the solution.

On a personal level, I am immensely grateful for the continued safety and wellbeing of my family and friends. Without wishing to rub salt in the wounds of those who’ve suffered terrible loss, having my other half at home with me since March has been a joy and the fact that we’ve both been able to keep working at home has been a godsend.

The Perfect LiarIn March I clocked up a personal milestone when I signed a two-book deal with major digital publisher Bookouture. This threw me into a state of simultaneous euphoria and panic – which has continued ever since. Delight that a colossus like Bookouture would be interested in my work; white knuckle anxiety at the prospect of editing and completing one book and writing another from scratch in under a year. Somehow the job got done (is getting done): my first thriller The Perfect Liar saw its November launch and my second is due for release in the spring. To this end, the absence of a social life helped me to complete my mission.

Oh, but the double-edged sword of gaining a wider audience! Getting to grips with reviews – the good, the bad and the frankly grotesque – is a new skill I’m working on. In a world where ‘isms’ of any kind simply aren’t tolerated and deemed mostly illegal, by contrast, it’s always open season on authors. Here’s hoping that Santa brings me a thicker skin to cope with the one-and-two-star-review brigade during 2021!

In addition to my writing commitments, the things that have kept me sane this year are books (see my latest crop of reviews), walking in the Sussex countryside with Mark and Brodie – once I spotted a baby Buzzard, a rare thrush and a platoon of tiny goldfinches within an hour – and, um, Netflix. Goodness – what a lifesaver. As someone who abhors game shows and reality TV, between BBC iplayer, Now and Netflix, I’ve kept up a steady fix of drama throughout the year.

Lastly a note about family. In common with millions of other people this year, I’ve been deprived of the company of mine. As a childfree couple, Mark and I set great store by the love and companionship of our siblings. Sadly, with several counties between us and a host of sensible regulations in place, we’ve missed our families dreadfully. Christmas 2020 will be the first noel that I haven’t spent with my beloved siblings and their families that I can remember. It will be hard: tears will be shed on Christmas Day – but better that than empty seats at next year’s festive table.

On that note, I’m wishing everyone a happy, healthy and safe Christmas. 2020 has been a stinker of a year but as the saying goes, this too shall pass.