Welcome to new visitors to my website – and a warm hullo to old friends. It’s been a busy year but, compared to the last, one in which there was far more laughter than tears… Chances did brilliantly both in ol’ fashioned paperback and new-fangled ebook and the response from my lovely readers was fantastic. I also re-trod some of the Secrets trail and it was an honour and a thrill to be involved with the 150th celebrations for my beloved Saltburn by the Sea in August (with a fantastic event attended by a lively crowd) and then in October, the centenary celebrations for the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge (which I think of fondly as My Bridge). As you know, I love this part of the world and there was a great buzz around both events.
I know I’ve already blogged about this – but being invited to open York central library was a true career highlight for me – it’s always a pleasure to spend time with my readers who live in this wonderful city and environs and this trip was pretty special.
Alongside all of this, I was busy at work on Rumours, my 12th novel. I had an absolute blast researching and writing it and really felt incredibly close to the characters – especially Lady Lydia Fortescue however cantakerous the old goat might be! We decided to subtly update our cover design and I’m thrilled with the outcome. I worked as a picture researcher for many years whilst hoping one day to be published – and I am pretty fastidious (er… opinionated?!) when it comes to book jackets. You MUST judge a book by its cover, I say – it says so much about the publishers’ and the author’s commitment to what’s inside…
It was really lovely to be re-issuing my first six novels, Sally, Chloe, Polly, Cat, Fen and Pip – and I had a wonderfully nostalgic time writing unique new afterwords for each. The new covers are gorgeous too. I’m everso fond of those girls – they’re like old pals to me [and to many of my readers too].
On the home front, it’s all been dandy with Felix, Georgia and I really settled into our new life in our beautiful corner of East Herts. We’ve made many friends and fully embraced village life – from being in the cast of the Panto [how I went from being Aladdin one year to the Virgin the next I do not know...but it certainly took A LOT of acting ] and we had a stall at the village fete [which was the result of weeks of being sticky while we brewed up gallons of elderflower cordial and vats of plum jam].
Felix has had a very exciting year in Year 6 of Primary School. He takes his studies very seriously and has blossomed – so much so that he won places at two prestigious schools and will be starting Secondary School in September. He’s also now only half a head shorter than me – with bigger feet. I wish I could squash him back into being a cute little toddler. Actually, he’s growing into such a wonderful young chap it’s a thrill. Georgia has two years of school left and she’s scrumptious too – relatively contrary but that keeps me on my toes and brings lots of liveliness into our household. Twig the dog is now two and a half and still slightly loopy but loving and funny in equal measure. Best of all it’s just wonderful to be able to report to you that my fab Mum is doing brilliantly – her oncologist is very pleased. I knew life was back to normal when she and I started being snippish with each other again!
In February I made a dream come true – the children and I took the trip of a lifetime to Florida. I’d been planning on such a holiday since Felix was born and it was incredible to actually make it happen. We had a blast – though I have to admit that though Felix went on all the white-knuckle rides, Georgia and I opted out and squealed from terra firma. We had 10 glorious and memorable days at Disney and Universal and kept saying to each other can you believe we’re REALLY here. It was the first time that I truly experienced post-holiday-blues when we returned – so we’re already planning a return visit for Georgia’s last year at Primary school. There’s a ride at Epcot called Soarin’ – it was so mind-blowingly incredible that I actually wept. We managed to come home having not put on too many extra pounds, though my suitcase was certainly heavier after visits to the Converse and Lucky Brand outlet stores!
Now that Rumours is complete, my thoughts have turned to a new novel… and a new novella…. but that’s all I’m telling you for now!
Sending all of you my very best wishes for a lovely summer wherever in the world you might be. I love hearing from you – so please email me or join in the fun on my facebook page.
Well! Would you look at this:
It was a very great honour to be asked to open the fanatastic, revamped main library in York… but I had no idea there’d be a plaque to mark the occasion and must admit to shedding a tear or two! Anyway, last week, I went to see the plaque in situ.
What a thrill! Truly on a par with winning the RNA award for Pillow Talk in 2008 and being chosen as ‘Listed Londoner’ on the Robert Elms Show on BBC London…
How’s your summer been? Mine has been active, to say the least… There’s been a certain amount of gadding about – from fab events in St Albans, Leeds, York and Saltburn, to holidays in Spain and Wiltshire. And of course, beavering away on my new novel Rumours which will be finished by Christmas and with you next Spring.
I’ve held some fun competitions over on my facebook page - and shortly, I will post up here on the website the results of ‘Heroes and Actors’ and also ‘Heroines and Actresses’ – where my facebook fans suggested actors for my characters. Some very inspired proposals! Of all my characters – male and female – one stood out for having at least twice the number of entries than any of the others… Good ol’ Django McCabe! Two of the actors suggested were utterly brilliant… David Essex ….and Bernard Cribbins!
I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but it’s been peee-ing it down, here in Hertfordshire, so I’m going to cheer myself up as I close now, by posting photos of my wildflowers, which were planted from seed at Easter. Glorious, hey! Enjoy a wonderful bank holiday weekend – and I’ll be back on here shortly. Thanking all of you for keeping in touch and for being such a warm and supportive group of readers. I really am soooo grateful. Freya x
Look at what I did to the sand at Saltburn on Sunday…
I thought it rather inspired marketing….and it was clearly visible for all on the pier to see! Saltburn Pier has been awarded the Best Pier in Britain for 2009 (Pier of the Year sounds better…). As most of you know, Secrets, my 10th novel (out on 30th April) is set in this wonderful, quirky Victorian seaside town.
Here I am, chasing Felix and Georgia off my handy work!
We were up in the North East because I was invited to give a talk in Whitby. It was excellent and I am so grateful to the staff of the Library (especially Allison) and all the lovely people (hullo Sharon Stone!) who came from far and wide to listen to me blether.
I also took videos at the Transporter Bridge, as well as at Saltburn, to provide you with my own tours of the settings of Secrets. I did the same for the settings of Pillow Talk (Stokesley and Great Ayton) and when I’m feeling particularly brave and technical, I’ll do my best to upload them for you!
I have to beaver away this week on a short story for Radio 4′s “Love in the Afternoon” which will be broadcast in June. I HATE writing short stories – it’ll take me longer to write than it takes me to write a couple of chapters. I think it was Browning or Byron or Someone Else Worthy Beginning With B who said “it would have been shorter had I had more time”. Give me 140,000 words over 2,000 words any day. How on earth can I fit a beginning, a middle and an end into THAT? Grrrrr.
Well, there’s no more stilton or chocolate in the house and I don’t want even a snifter of mulled wine for another 11 months at least… I ate, I drank, I was very merry. But more to the point – how are you guys? I really hope you had a lovely time over the festive season. We had a marvellous trip up north and Santa found us in fine form. Favourite present? A new Radley purse. Oh, and French Lime Blossom potions and lotions by Jo Malone. Christmas Day was stunning – sunny, brisk – and Saltburn beach was the place to be. The tide was right out and there was space aplenty for everyone. There were a few funny looks from people when Felix, Georgia and I plonked down flat on our tums on the pier for a quirky photo! Boxing Day was fun too – with a trip to the Transporter Bridge, which is the key setting for a romantic interlude in the new book, would you believe! New Year’s Eve was a cosy lock-in at our local. Now the kids are back to school, there are two new cats at home, I’m back in the library blogging away… I’ve loads to tell you – but JayBeeCee (the whizz who is masterminding this new website) tells me it’s de-rigeur to keep posts short and sparky. He told me my advice page was too long and wordy…I said bugger that, I’m an author – I work with words, matey. He’s very patient and he humours me kindly. He knows I’d rather do all my writing by quill on parchment. I’ll try and post up new pix – though it may be beyond my technical capabilities and I may have to cry “JayBeeCee…are you busy?!” Hey ho – I’ve only recently turned my hand to blinkin’ bloggin’… and I’m not doing too bad a job, am I?
Well, the last thing I won was probably a gymkhana when I was eight – so to be awarded the Romantic Novel of the Year 2008 for Pillow Talk was an awesome moment in my life. It was going to be a lovely day, whatever the outcome, as it was Georgia’s 5 th birthday and also publication day for the paperback edition of Pillow Talk. I was still in my slummy-mummy uniform of old jeans and jumper half an hour before the taxi arrived but as my lovely friend Jeanette always says: “you do scrub up well, love.”! It was such a thrill being short-listed in January – the first time it has happened for me. I shared the short-list with fellow authors Jojo Moyes, Adele Parks, Catrin Collier, Catherine King and Maureen Lee.
Well, there’s a bit of catching up for me to do for you… August was a quiet month during which I really knuckled down to Pip – it wasn’t all work and no play, though – Jessica Adams‘s launch party for her wonderful novel “I’m a Believer” was fun. It would have been more fun had I not been in the throes of morning sickness which, for me, was all-day, all-night sickness. I stuck to mineral water but toasted my pal and her publishers. September was exciting with Fen rampaging up the charts. It was thrilling to see her strutting her stuff at no.4 so a big thanks to all of you who helped her on her way. I spoke at the Cheltenham and Guildford literary festivals, both of which were fun and rewarding. I also visited loads of bookshops including many in the Hammicks and Methvens chains – a warm thank you to the staff who give my girls a fantastic helping hand.