Four years ago on the day before Christmas Eve Naim Attallah telephoned my agent to say he wanted to publish my second historical novel A Rose In Winter. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with him and his team at Quartet . Most people grumble about their publishers and publishers have been heard to say that their lives would be so much easier without their writers, but I am blessed in this and am not afraid to say so; sometimes I expect this gets up peoples noses, especially if they are on their tenth unpublished book, which happens to the most brilliant of writers, however, as it is Christmas and my family have had a terrible, but at the same time inspirational year, watching my brave beautiful daughter face up to and overcome her serious cancer, I feel I can be very happy about this without tempting Nemesis.
By and large people who go round saying their lives and families are perfect are very annoying ; all families are dysfunctional in their own way, and if they tell you different, there is something terribly wrong with them. One of my progeny told me a few years ago that all their problems were my fault, and that set me to thinking about my own gloriously barmy parents and how I have never connected my own inadequacy’s with them. I decided this was a generational thing, and that having perfect parents is a lousy training for life. My own life has chucked bucket loads of stuff at me, and I find this has been a deep well of experience which I tap into when I am writing. You learn that people do not change, it is the events around them which ultimately shape their lives. This brings me to luck, and sometimes one has it and so it is with Quartet and my books, for now the second one with Quartet, Flora’s Glory, is happily out there fighting it’s corner very successfully. How lucky is that? But believe me, it has not been a bowl of cherries, writers have to deal with rejection on a very personal level because your words are part of your own inner voice that sometimes you didn’t even know was there, and it is not always nice.
But in every life a little rain must fall, and my dog Beatrice definitely has an eating disorder. I have just been told by her breeder that it is all my fault and I am transferring my own phobias onto the dog. I have been told to ignore her and that she will not starve herself to death, but I could not resist hand feeding her tender slices of organic calves liver . Unwisely, as is my way with a dangerous tendency to tell the absolute truth, I repeated the dog breeders theory to the Sainted One, and have rarely seen him so thrilled. He loves the horrible planet of rectitude and the “I told you so” thing. But I cannot help feeling he has a hand in this somewhere along the line, this is a complex issue so I am going to pour a large sloe gin and read Hilary Mantel’s fabulous work of genius Bring Out The Bodies.