Author, Know Thyself


 Whenever I have a new book out I get a  welcome flurry of correspondence from readers and quite often they say something along the lines of, ‘I booksearchloved that bit where….’  Then, more often than not, I have to go rummaging through the book looking for the bit they loved but I have quite forgotten.  Shocking, I know, but my interest in a story last only as long as I’m writing it. Immediately it’s finished I have to turn my attention to the next project. I leave behind me a trail of abandoned literary offspring. Thank goodness somebody loves them.
Today a reader wrote to me about a line in The Grand Duchess of Nowhere that had particularly touched her.  My first thought was that she was mistaken. It was possible I’d written it  –  it sort of had my thumb print on it  – but I had no recollection of doing so.
It took ten minutes of speed-reading but I found it. My reader was spot on and an ember of memory began to glow. The scene was the deathbed of Ducky’s father and, as I recall, it was a late addition to the manuscript, put in during the second edit when I was nearing the ‘Oh God let it be over’ stage (of the rewriting, not the dying). A casual addendum that someone found moving. Well, well.
So three cheers for my readers, who are always generous with their time and praise. And nul points for a forgetful old scribbler.


  1. Elizabeth Dunn on October 20, 2014 at 3:51 am

    I love that you are so unsentimental about your literary creations. Talent coupled with modesty is hard to find!

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