Drowning in Books

drowningIt isn’t the first time I’ve written on the topic of book overload but I’m hoping to turn things round this time and actually do something about it. I’m spring-cleaning, which is to say I’m dusting around the high-rise piles of Laurie Graham books. My study is starting to look like a Dubai skyline.

The Writing Life

adrenalinjunkie  This has been a roller-coaster of a week. After nearly a month of waiting outside the Principal’s office (or as we say in the business, waiting for reactions to first draft) I heard first from my agent who, rather seriously, didn’t ‘get’ the book at all and predicted a considerable rewrite. Twenty four miserable hours later my editor’s email dropped into my Inbox. ‘Well, Laurie Graham,’ I thought, ‘Here we go. They’ve finally twigged that you can’t write. And so you face the final curtain.

Hearing Voices

headvoices During these languorous days, the calm before the rewrite storm, I find myself (sometimes) thinking about the writing process. Generally, when I’m at work on a novel, I don’t give the process a second thought. Actually, I fear to do so. I’ve never taken a course. When I started writing I don’t think there were any courses. What if I did a course and discovered, erk, that I’ve been getting it wrong all those years? It might be like a swimming instructor trying to cure you of a corkscrew kick. Result: a sinking feeling.

A Small Victory

Now here’s a nice story. Twenty years ago I wrote a feature for Country Life magazine. It was probably called something like My Country Childhood  –  a bit of a stretch really because I was raised in suburbia and only sent to the country during school holidays in a misguided attempt to cure my asthma. But anyway, sent I was, and I have many happy memories of being off my usual short leash and allowed to go free-range by my enlightened  totally clueless grandparents. It was pretty much heaven, apart from the pollen and the animal hair.

To Do

exhausted   My list for today:


OPEN BOTTLE OF CAVA              check

DRINK  DEEPLY THEREOF          hic & check

EAT BLOW-OUT INDIAN              check











The End is Nigh

finishlineUnlike most of the Western world I’ve been back at work since December 28th, setting the bar a bit higher every day. Go on, woman, get on with it. Another 500 words before you put the kettle on. The end isn’t yet quite in sight but I know I can get there. In London Marathon terms I’m closer to Big Ben than I am to the Tower.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

scrooge     There are very few stories I read again and again but Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is one of them. It is one of those instant pathways to my own childhood Christmases. My father, who never read any other book and who worked long hours, came home on Christmas Eve with just two things on his agenda. The first was to carry the previous Christmas’s empties to the off-licence and trade them for a few beers and a bottle of egg flip to add a bit of oomph to my mother’s lemonade. I went with him, partly to remind him to buy crisps and partly because he was very good company. He could do all the Goon Show voices, plus several others of his own invention.

Publishing Shock Horror

lucreSo hands up who was shocked, amazed and disgusted that Zoe Sugg’s best-selling Girl Online was ghost-written? Really?

First of all, Zoe is 24.  Book writing is a long haul job and  very few 24 year olds have the necessary staying power. Perhaps there was a time, when the world moved slowly, working days were long and Sunday sermons lasted an hour, but today, when people have the attention span of a puppy? Naah.

Secondly, what do you imagine gets publishing executives out of bed in the morning? The thought that today might be the day they discover the next Tolstoy? Try again.

A Fashion Statement

fashion     I’m feeling a bit crushed not to have merited even a mention at this week’s Fashion Awards. I cede to no-one as Most Eclectically Dressed Novelist. In the frosty cave that passes for my book-lined den I am currently wearing: one vintage thermal vest, one long-sleeved cocoon dress, two sweaters and my old Mum’s shortie cape slung around my shoulders in a style not dissimilar to Anna Wintour’s white, furry shrug. Where am I going wrong?

Types Wearing Mittens….

mittensA gratifying response to last week’s book offer. Some readers chimed in simply to say they already have all my books   –  go to the top of the class!  They should really get a special prize, and perhaps they will when I can think what it should be.  Books are now on the way to five of the most alacritous claimants. The sixth will be delivered personally to a reader who, it turns out, shops in the same branch of Tesco as I do. See, you just never know who that might be peering at the Best Before dates on all the milk cartons.  I was once in Sainsbury’s in Cambridge and was absolutely convinced that the man two ahead of me at the check-out was Robert Mugabe. It wasn’t.