Well, it’s now over a year since I took the phone call from the Commissioning Editor who was interested in publishing Postcards From a Stranger. It’s been a long wait and I think it’s fair to say that I haven’t always been terribly patient but now we are almost there. Postcards will be published a week today on 7th August. I’ve not been twiddling my thumbs whilst I waited though. I have edited both Postcards and The Thing about Clare as well as writing a further two novels over the course of the last fourteen months but now that Postcards is finally going to be republished I am both excited and a teeny bit nervous.
So, to take my mind off it all, I thought it might be interesting if I told you a little about how the book came to be written. The initial idea struck me at the end of one particularly difficult day at home with my four children. Picture the scene – I can’t remember the season but let’s assume that it was a grey, cold and probably wet as that would fit the mood. I had been chasing my tail all day trying to keep some semblance of order in the house but feeling increasingly defeated by the task. Each time I put something away in one room someone would take something out in another. So, after I’d spent my time pointlessly tidying, ferrying my children around town and cooking a meal that no one ate I decided that that was it! I was going to run away. I would take my passport and get on the first plane to Paris. (I think I was reading Paula McLain’s wonderful novel about Hemingway’s Parisian years The Paris Wife at the time but my imagination might have embroidered that part over the years!)
Of course I didn’t go. Who would take the children to ballet or pack their school bags or polish their shoes if I disappeared? But the idea got me thinking about the kind of mother that might drop everything and put her own needs over everyone else’s. And from that it was a small step to wondering what could be so terrible that it would drive a mother away.
There are no spoilers here. The book that I finally wrote is very different to the initial seed of the idea that I started with. I am a ‘pantser’ – that’s someone who writes without an outline – so, my stories rarely end up anywhere near where they started. I have an opening and an ending in mind together with my characters when I begin to type but the rest just occurs to me as I go along. However, the role of the mother features in a lot of my stories because of how central being a mother has been to my life over the last twenty years. There is a mother at the heart of my second book The Thing about Clare too although she is very different to Annie.
Postcards is set mainly in my home town so it was easy to find locations for the action and I’ve made a Pinterest board with photos of the places that I had in mind as I was writing. You can see it HERE. There is also a board showing my writing room if you’re interested in that kind of thing. I’ll be posting more of my research on Pinterest going forward so keep an eye on it.
In other news, The Thing about Clare is now available to pre-order HERE and I have been busy editing book 3 which is due to be published next July. It is set in the North East of England and so I will build a Pinterest board of locations for that too. And I’ve just bought a new notebook for book 4 which I can’t wait to start scribbling in. More of that in due course!
Reading wise I’m currently enjoying A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles which is very elegantly written and gently funny.