Much of an author's life - or this author's life - is mundane and isolated, I've discovered. Compared to the buzz of a newsroom when a story's breaking, or the hum of a lobby corridor, my previous work environments, it can be solitary, doubt-inducing, and, when the words won't flow, a peculiarly toxic combination of stressful and dull*.
So it's particularly lovely to experience rare moments of excitement and glamour: a recent trip to the London Book Fair to have dinner with my US and UK editors; a Simon & Schuster crime evening where I met fellow writers; and, most recently, three packed days in Paris launching and promoting La Ferme du Bout du Monde, the French version of The Farm at the Edge of the World.
It's fair to say that, while The Farm at the Edge of the World has had the most beautiful reviews in the UK it hasn't troubled the bestseller lists. But the French edition, published by Préludes, a sumptuous imprint of Le Livre de Poche, entered the charts in the top 50 has already reached number 34. There have been reviews and a full page advert in French Elle and it was reviewed on Télé-Matin by Nathalie Iris, the owner of Les Mots en Marges bookshop, which held a signing. Click for the link for the TV review here. There's also a fantastic Youtube review with influential bookseller and literary festival organiser Gérard Collard here.
My trip involved being interviewed by bloggeurs and journalists, two signings, videoed interviews, in which my schoolgirl French finally became more fluent, and a celebratory lunch where I was plied with raspberry macarons infused with lychee and rose water and rosé champagne just because they complemented my novel's spine. But the best moment came in Les Mots en Marges bookshop where a voracious reader told me she was so immersed in the book she walked to work reading, dodging other commuters and lamp posts. "It's the pearl in my day," she said.
Signing at the launch, where we drank tea - or champagne - and ate delicate savoury scones, a take on the food of Cornwall.
I've deliberated about posting these pictures, back home in a world shaken by the Manchester bombing - an echo of the Bataclan shootings - and the political unease generated by Brexit and an imminent, needless general election. But just as I went to Paris weeks after the devastating November 2015 attacks - and blogged about it here - so I've decided to celebrate something so positive.
I was overwhelmed by the response from French readers, whose questions were, without exception, thoughtful, probing and incisive. It seems that a novel which probes the past - the dramatic thrust set during the Second World War, something within living memory of the parents of these readers - and is preoccupied with "la psychologie feminine" resonates across the Channel. There was also much enthusiasm for La Cornouailles.
La Ferme du Bout du Monde has been described as "une petite pépite" - a little nugget - and this trip is my equivalent. A reminder of the best part of writing - engaging with readers; and that - with the connections I've made with readers and my French publishers - I feel more European than ever.
As I battle with book 4 - currently in its disconcertingly anarchic first draft stage - I'm feeding off these memories - and looking forward to creating more. On June 24, I'll be at the Salon Saint-Maur en Poche, the largest paperback literary festival in France. If you're a French reader who's come across this blog, I'd love to see you there.
*It can, of course, be wonderful. There are days when the characters start writing the novel themselves - but my view, at the moment, is clouded by my writing an early draft.