New Year resolutions? Humbug!
We all know they’re as pointless as Rudolph’s antlers. (Reindeer shed their antlers by Christmas.) But it’s the time of year when resolution fever hits. After indulging ourselves frantically throughout December, suddenly we resolve to change ourselves and impose the deadline of January 1st.
So this year before settling on any resolutions, I sat down and made a list of the ‘pro’s and ‘con’s of this weird winter ritual:
Not sleeping. That’s the first sign. I know then it’s time to start the book. The words are wanting to come out. Yet words are like the British weather. Unpredictable. Elusive. Sunshine one moment, rain-clouds the next. You never know what’s coming. That’s the joy of writing for me, but also the agony.
I write historical novels. That means vast amounts of research. Research involves reading books all day for months on end, making hundreds of pages of notes and telling people it’s work – when really it’s bliss. I could do it forever.
But then the insomnia starts and I can’t kid myself any longer. I write a skeleton outline of the plot but barely stick to it. For me it’s important to fall in love with my characters, even the ‘bad’ ones, to know what they had for breakfast or what joke they last laughed at. I need that intimacy. I hate it when a character rebuffs all my advances and won’t open up. I take offence and blame them rather than myself.
Penguin-Berkley Books organised a pre-publication coast-to-coast tour of the States for me to promote my book, The Russian Concubine, and generate word-of-mouth buzz for its launch in America on 27 June 2007.
The whirlwind book-tour was an amazing experience. I met so many independent booksellers in each city I visited – San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington and Boston – and they are a wonderfully enthusiastic breed, passionate about books and knowledgeable about the business. I was very impressed by the personal service they provide for their customers and their dedication to their book-groups.
And I can tell you, they sure know how to party as well!