The Last Piece has been out in the world for two weeks now. It’s selling well and the reviews are lovely so it’s so far so good. Last week, a reader asked me how long the gestation process had taken from start to finish. And so, with some digging around in my diaries and a bit of forensic examination of documents and emails, I have pieced together a timeline.

The Idea – Friday 8th june 2018

This is the actual day that I had the idea for the book. I know that because I can clearly remember it landing in my head and I wrote about it in my diary. I was walking to our local cinema to see On Chesil Beach (terrible film – don’t bother) when the concept for a book about a mother and her daughters popped into my head. It’s a ten minute walk and by the time I got there I had all the characters and the basic shape of the story and had to scribble it down in my notebook before the cinema lights went down.

Pen to Paper – Thursday 5th july 2018

One month later I opened a folder for the new idea on my laptop and wrote the opening conversation which I then sent to my editor Victoria in a flurry of excitement. At this point I didn’t yet have anything published with Lake Union. I had signed a three book deal but that most definitely didn’t include this one, so I was getting a little bit ahead of myself!

Victoria never replied to that email, but what I sent her that day is almost exactly the same as the version that was published.

First draft complete – Monday 1st April 2019

I began writing the book in January 2019 and finished the first draft that March. It’d had to wait its turn for my attention. Since I had the original idea, we had published Postcards from a Stranger and The Thing about Clare and I had also written Where the Story Starts. I was now out of contract with Amazon Publishing but angling for a new one. The Last Piece was the book I was hoping would secure the deal.

I sent the manuscript to Victoria.

Offer made – Wednesday 24th April 2019

The call I’d been waiting for arrived just over three weeks later. Victoria rang and offered me a deal for The Last Piece plus two other books and a novella sequel to Postcards from a Stranger and we signed the contract a couple of months after that.

Then the editing began. Between November 2019 and March 2020, the manuscript underwent four separate editing process (as all my books do) and I received the final files in May. The book was finished!

In and between the various edits, we did the cover design and a couple of lovely author friends read the book and gave me quotes for the product page on Amazon. It’s a busy process and there’s always something happening.

publication day! – 28th july 2020

And then the final product arrived in the world, just over two years after I had the original idea. In the intervening period, I had published my first three Lake Union books plus the novella and written another three (including this one) but, despite all that, it’s astonishing how fresh that walk to the cinema still is in my memory. It was the one and only time (so far) that the concept for a story has popped into my head, fully-formed as this one did, and I don’t suppose I will ever forget it.

So there you have it – the gestation period of my book? Seven hundred and eighty two days – just in case you were wondering!