I had a bad day recently. You know the sort of day that I mean; when you think that you’ll never produce another sentence without typing errors, and if you read it back it doesn’t make sense; then not only is your grammar looking rather peculiar, but you hadn’t meant to say THAT at all. No way. Writing has become such a struggle that you despair.
Then began one of those extraordinary series of coincidences which make you begin to wonder if, after all, you are supposed to be writing to amuse, so you might just as well get on with it. An email came in from someone in Canada who’d read the first of the Eden Hall series three times (!) and was desperate to know how to get the rest of the series. In the post came a goodly cheque from one of my publishers for e-book royalties
. . . and then the postman rang the doorbell because he couldn’t get a package through the letterbox and there were three copies of a reissue of one of the books first published in l976. Yes, really. All on the same day. Affirmation, I think they call it. Or a slap on the back, saying ‘Just get on with it!’
The re-issue was for CRY FOR KIT, and it’s in hardback, large print from Chivers. I looked at the cover, and wondered if I liked it – not that I have had anything to do with the design. But the original cover was about the only one I ever liked from Robert Hale, all those years ago. And then, of course, I was seized with doubt. Was it really such a good idea to reissue books I wrote when I’d only just started to learn my craft? Ought I to be ashamed of what I produced then? All right, so Chivers obviously thought they’d be able to sell some copies or they wouldn’t have done anything about it . . . but . . . really? So many years on? So I began to read the book and well, you’ll have to judge for yourselves, of course, but it rattles along at a great pace and yes, hopefully it will still amuse.
Within the week, a second re-issue from Chivers arrived. This was SCREAM FOR SARAH, first published in l975. Now – wait for it – both these stories were written for the general market, so not all fans of Ellie and Bea will like them. Be warned: there is more sex and violence in these two books than I deal with nowadays. ‘Sarah’ is also in hardback and softcover.
This is the time of the year when I block certain dates out in my calendar. London Book Fair in April, for instance. That’s a must. And so is the Winchester Writers Conference in June. Look it up on their website and see what goodies are in store for us this year. Julian Fellowes, yes, him of Downton fame, is going to be the keynote speaker on the Saturday morning! I can’t wait! Also coming to speak is Jasper Forde, of those weird and wonderful time-and-space-hopping books that I keep in my bedroom next to the Terry Pratchetts, to cheer me up on days when nothing goes right. (See above).
Me? I’ll be at Winchester, too, to give a couple of talks and some one to one interviews. I shall be talking about what voice suits a writer best – He, Me or It’s – and also about working the media and e-books. Dates: June 21st to 25th. Contact details: Barbara.Large@winchester.ac.uk or www.writersconference.co.uk.
I am still sending off the odd copy of the Christmas short story which was originally published in the Methodist Recorder and now it’s time to deliver another one for their Easter edition. This will be called DOWN-SIZING, which is what so many older people have to do. It won’t be published till the end of March at Easter, so I’ll put a reminder about it next time, for anyone who’d like a copy.
Meanwhile it’s copy-editing . . . which has to be done and done quickly . . . in between working on the next Bea Abbot.
Oh, and by the way, there will be another e-book out in March, this time for the latest Bea Abbot, FALSE ALARM, which came out in hardback last November. We’ve had two excellent reviews for it. Kirkus: ‘The Abbot Agency’s seventh outing will be just the thing for readers who like their cosies with a bit of bite.’ And from Library Journal: ‘Think of the series’ seventh outing as a big old-fashioned country-house case, Agatha Christie-like, but dressed-up smart and chic for today.’
But for now, it’s back to working on the next Bea Abbot. . .
Find details of all the E-books at