The Road Home
How are you all? It's May Day Bank Holiday here in the UK, and joyous to be out in the sun with the dogs, planting in the garden and hiking in the woods. For a whole host of reasons it's been a long, long winter for many and I'm so glad to be thinking about summer, aren't you?
Great to see the brand new Norwegian audiobooks from Strawberry Publishing this week. I loved my trip to Oslo, (and it's the first time anyone rolled out a red carpet for me). The new books have been read wonderfully by actress Sibeth Hoff, and I hope you all enjoy them in Norway.
Our thoughts are very much in Europe at the moment, and our hearts with the people of Ukraine. It's hard to process that there is war in Europe again. Many of my books were inspired by the stories of my grandparents and great aunt, by their bravery fighting with the Resistance in Holland. 'The Perfume Garden' (Parfymehagen, at the Oslo launch above), is all about love - particularly maternal love, and the bravery it inspires.
Closer to home, maternal love has been very much on my mind. I lost my beloved Mum, very suddenly, at Christmas. I had spoken to her that morning and she was looking forward to staying with us on Exmoor. To lose a parent at any time is heart-breaking. To lose them out of the blue, at Christmas, is devastating. This is why the winter has been long, and quiet, hard to focus on anything. I am so grateful for the friends and family who gathered round and carried me through. It's comforting that Mum is now at rest in the remote church where she played the organ every Sunday, and my Dad restored the coat of arms. Growing up, I sat beneath this little medieval mermaid every service. Symbol of the sacred feminine, wisdom, insight - and wantonness (the flowing hair, the comb). Enough to spark any child's imagination.
It's been a time of endless 'sadmin' as I dubbed it - sorting not only Mum's but my grandmother's possessions, a whole lifetime to work through. While it's felt like there's been little time or heart space for new creative work, a huge joy was learning that 'The Perfume Garden' inspired choreographer and dancer Deborah Greer to create a ballet for Manassas Ballet Theatre. Inspired by Rosa's story, 'A Letter to Maria' can be streamed here. I was lucky enough to sit in on rehearsals, Max Headroom style:
It's one of the most remarkable things to happen in my career, and absolutely in the spirit of 'The Gift' an amazing book Margaret Atwood recommended in her Masterclass. This - this more than reviews and prizes and all the things you can't control, is why you write - to hopefully touch someone's heart and pass along the spirit of creativity.
Which is why it was amazing to stay at Agatha Christie's house for a few nights. Around the time I was gazing up at that mermaid every Sunday, I was devouring every Christie I could get my hands on. In the midst of grieving it was an unforgettable experience to stay out of season at Greenway, her house high above the estuary, to walk the grounds, to sit in her rooms, and read, and dream, and write. You can read about it here.
Everything has its season. In a world gone mad, it feels like stories of hope and love and resilience are needed more than ever. Write on.