The Farm at the Edge of the World: giveaway for local readers.

The Farm at the Edge of the World has just come out in paperback and to celebrate I'm organising an exclusive give-away of a copy of the novel and a box of clotted cream fudge for local readers of the Great and Little Shelford newsletters.

All you need to do is tell me, in the comments below, your favourite childhood memory. It doesn't have to be long, exotic, or exquisitely written. It just needs to capture the essence of childhood. The competition ends on February 10 and I'll get David Martin, who compiles the newsletters, to choose the winner.

I also thought I'd share the cover of the German edition of this novel, which has a changed title of The House of Hidden Dreams. The low-slung granite farmhouse has been a rather beautiful Georgian home and Maggie, my farmer's daughter, has become rather more glamorous but I love the high cliffs and sense of romance and impending tragedy:

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Here, too, is the French version, published on 5 April, which keeps my title. This farmhouse reminds me of those in East Sussex but the sense of it being isolated and remote - a farm at the edge of the world - is intense. This Maggie is truly at the cliff's edge. I'm fascinated by how my farm at the edge of the world has been interpreted:

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If you'd like to hear more about the story of the novel, and how I came to write it, I've recently been interviewed on local radio. Here I am with Jeremy Sallis at BBC Radio Cambridgshire, 2 hrs, 22 minutes in; and here on Radio Cambridge 105's Bookmark programme, 14 minutes 50 seconds in.

And if you're unsuccessful in the giveaway, The Farm at the Edge of the World will  be half price - £3.99 - from 7-21 February in WH Smith stores if you buy a copy of Woman magazine. Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoy it.


One giveaway and two radio interviews for this paperback writer

First sighting in the wild - at WH Smith's Travel, Heathrow Terminal 5.

First sighting in the wild - at WH Smith's Travel, Heathrow Terminal 5.

The Farm at the Edge of the World was published in paperback last Thursday and to celebrate Hodder have kindly arranged a giveaway of 10 copies of the novel plus 20 boxes of sea salt and caramel and clotted cream fudge. 

All you need to do is visit the Bookends page on Facebook and mention your favourite childhood holiday adventure after clicking here. I'd enter if I could because the caramel sea salt, from the Buttermilk shop in Padstow, is mouth-wateringly good. Hopefully, you'll also enjoy the book.

I've also been on local radio discussing the inspiration for my novel, the setting, and how I write. Normally I hate listening to myself - "posh" says one child; "low" says another - but I think these interviews might be interesting and perhaps even useful to readers and writers.

Here I am talking to the perceptive Leigh Chambers, on Cambridge 105's Bookmark programme, 14 minutes 50 seconds in (for about ten minutes). To listen, just click here.

And here I am on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Jeremy Sallis's arts and entertainments show. I'm 2 hours 23 minutes in for nine minutes (until 2 hrs, 32) if you click here. I never know if you should admit to how difficult writing can be - but I'd be interested as a novelist or a reader in knowing the various stages of writing; and in hearing about the inspiration for a novel. Anyway, lulled by Jeremy, I divulge all...(or quite a lot...)

And now it's back to the brain ache of copy edits for Anatomy - and the excitement and daunting trepidation of starting a new novel: all those characters I'm creating want to get going but I'm not quite sure how to order them in my book.

The very best of luck with the competition - and if you do buy The Farm - half price from February 7-21 at WH Smith's with Woman magazine - I'd love to know what you think.  Happy New Year, and thank you for reading.

Publication day flowers from Hodder 

Publication day flowers from Hodder 

On birth, renewal and the writing process

One chilly midwinter's night nine years ago my youngest was born: a mewling mass of dark hair and skinny limbs who gazed at me with the deep blue eyes of a newborn and reminded me of Christmas as a time of birth and renewal.

That Christmas baby is now the tallest boy in his class. A delicious combination of that infant, still, but with ever stronger flashes of the beautiful young man I can see him growing into. Adolescence is a good few years off but so are those precious baby years.

If Christmas makes me contemplate change then that cycle is played out in my writing. The day my children broke up for school two years ago, I delivered the manuscript of The Farm at the Edge of the World, my second novel, with a feeling of intense relief. Four or five drafts, and many, many revisions later, it's been published in hardback and this week a box of paperbacks arrived ready to be sent out into the world on January 12 - a hopeful start to the new year.

I'm very proud of this novel - about love, loss and atonement played out on a desolate stretch of the north Cornish coast. And yet, just as the mother of a newborn can never give her toddler enough attention, so I'm going to have to let the paperback edition of The Farm make its own tentative first steps. Because, the day my box of books arrived, I was finishing the copy edit for Anatomy of a Scandal, my third novel, which will be published in a year's time - in January 2018.

It would be tempting to focus solely on this book baby in the New Year. To my utter delight, it's sold to 15 different publishers and will be published in 20 countries so I imagine it will be clamouring for attention. And yet it will have a new sibling of a novel, still very much in the gestation process, to stretch the birthing analogy, but with a clear due date - or deadline - of February 1 2018.

The writerly cycle of birth and renewal will continue just as my not-so-baby boy and his big sister will grow and flourish. And, at the end of a universally bleak 2016, that fills me with hope and an immense, almost overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Thank you for reading and supporting. And a very Merry Christmas.







A new two-book book deal

Most of the blogs I've put on this site have been short snippets of news or have been about my writing process. There's little that, as a former news reporter, I'd deem properly newsworthy in any way.

All that changed last week when my next novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, was sold to Simon & Schuster, together with a second, in an auction on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair.  I even featured as a page lead on the first Bookseller Daily -  complete with a more serious - some have said scary - black and white profile pic:

I'm obviously completely delighted - and am thrilled that the novel I wrote out of contract, but with a strong conviction that this was a story I had to tell, has resonated not only in the UK but with publishers elsewhere. Before I'd even had a UK preempt, Anatomy had been preempted in Italy and France. It's also been preempted in Spain; been sold in a Norwegian auction; and I have offers from Germany, Turkey, Russia and Lithuania. As I write, the novel is out on submission in the US.

If this all sounds terribly cocky, then no one has been more surprised than me by the speed and certainty of these offers. Writing can be a lonely, doubt-filled process and it's only when I start editing and rereading ahead of submission that I begin to think: "Perhaps this isn't too bad." And then: "Actually, I can do this" 

Or perhaps that's slightly disingenuous. Anatomy of a Scandal is a novel I wanted to write for three years; something that I feel passionate about; and that - if everything is copy, as Nora Ephron famously said - contains an awful lot of me. It's darker and more emotional in tone than my two previous novels: a novel that explores questions that I think are being asked at the moment across many cultures as the breadth of countries offering to publish suggests.

I'm a perfectionist but even I knew, as I finished this, that this was a novel I'd really want to read.

I'm so incredibly grateful to my agent, Lizzy Kremer; the rights team at David Higham Associates, and my new editors, notably Jo Dickinson at S&S.

Because, thanks to them, the suspicion that this is a novel worth reading has become a certainty. And, thanks to them, it won't just be by me.