How are you? It's been a while. All work no play here, so far this year, editing a new story (more news soon), and the pilot becoming Captain (for any nervous fliers out there, the intense training they go through is reassuring). The last months have also been spent moving with all the fluidity and grace of Lady Penelope after someone rear-ended me. The physio laughed when I said I was a writer, (we have the worst job for backs, apparently).
For those of you who have asked over the years when the books will be available in America, exciting news just in from the US: 'Last Rose of Summer' has been released by Thomas Dunne/St Martin's as an ebook prequel to 'The Perfume Garden', which is out next month. You can read more about it here, and I hope you enjoy it. I loved the chance to go back to Liberty's story, and am secretly hoping the pilot has a US trip coming up next month so I can see the book in the wild in libraries and book stores.
Seeing pictures like the one above (thank you, Staines Library), is still a tremendous kick. Five years ago this week, I had 'the call' all new writers long for from my lovely agent. 'Beauty Chorus' was going to be published. It was the night before we left the UK for the Middle East (here's a pic I found on the family computer the other day, one of the last skype conversations from our little C14 cottage in Hampshire, surrounded by packing boxes, and yes I do look like an uncertain, ghostly rabbit in headlights).
Five years. It's a long time. I had no idea what to expect from our new life when we flew out to join the pilot. Was the only true desert county in the world really, as Lonely Planet said, 'the most boring place on earth'?:
(This is a picture from the school run)
You make the best of it. What else are you going to do? As a friend diplomatically put it: 'not many distractions, you must get a lot of writing done'. You get used to living in a city that is literally growing from the desert. You make good friends. You find a yard in the maze of concrete compounds and you make your own garden:
You plant your trees. That's some of the best advice for expats I've ever heard. Your heart may be hoping it will be months rather than years, but you plant your trees in your 'home for now' anyway. So the yard, five years on, is blazing with bougainvillea, and scented with jasmine, and frangipani, and amazing petunias that smell like lilies. It's not Kew, or St Laurent's Jardin Majorelle - it's small and beige, like a lot of the yards here, and it's a fight in the 50 degree plus summers, and there are days when you dream about grass, and having a proper garden again ... but there's one small oasis in the dust and concrete that feels like home. Our life is here for now, the space the Hound left filled by an adopted menagerie of (at last count), two semi-feral cats, two dogs, five hamsters, several fish and a bird called Mo over the years. Whoever is still with us in a few years will come too, but the garden will stay for the next person whose home this will be.
So, five years. After recessions, and mass aviation redundancies, having to leave friends and family and the Hound behind, and love and loss and all the ups and downs, there are four (and a half) books, four stripes, and we survived so far (with a few bumps along the way). Couldn't be prouder of Captain B, and still believe 'fall down seven times, stand up eight' is something to live by.
Here's a question for you, or a writing prompt: what three wishes do you have for the next five years? In the meantime, wishing you happy writing and reading - and if you read 'Last Rose', I'd love to hear what you think x