How are you all? First day home here after a summer travelling, and the grass is long, the figs are falling from the tree, and even the cat is pleased to see us. One - just one - of the many sunflower seeds I planted has bloomed in the garden (the puppy treats the border seedlings as an all-you-can-eat salad bar), but it was a cheery welcome at first light this morning. If not a 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' yet, the calendar is turning and there is a new pencil case feel in the air.
For the first time since 'all this' *gestures broadly at the world, the pandemic, general madness*, this summer we travelled to our other home, the Middle East. It was nostalgic and extraordinary to see how much had changed in three years - dust track roads where I off-roaded every day in wild traffic on the school run are now seven lane highways, there's a spanking new metro and so many buildings have gone up it's difficult placing yourself. But the things that I loved - having the family together for a while, swimming at sunset, the smell of frangipani on a hot wind - those things haven't changed. The expat life isn't for all - particularly when it means spending so much time apart, but I hope this is just the beginning of more travels and research trips planned.
When you travel, you leave a piece of your heart behind, and that is a good thing because many places feel like home wherever you go. For the last year I've been spending more time in Scotland, and we flew back from Edinburgh last night. The Lord/McCranor side of my family is Scottish, and it goes all the way back to a 9th century warlord. That side of the family is fiercely proud of its roots - a Canadian relative, author and playwright Nancy Wallace Henderson, wrote about how the Scots helped build America. My grandfather Hugh would recite reams of Burns, (and gave me a copy of his poems for my 18th).
I think they would have been happy to know I celebrated some good news this weekend at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I've signed with a wonderful new agent, Lisa Highton, at Jenny Brown Associates. Most recently, Lisa was Publisher of Two Roads, an imprint of John Murray Press/Hachette where she published authors including Kirsty Wark, Monty Don, Guinevere Glasfurd, Janet Ellis, Sarah Haywood, Susan Calman and Wendy Cope. Over a long career in publishing both in the UK and Australia where she was publishing director of Doubleday, Harper Collins and then Hodder, Lisa has published many bestsellers. JBA is celebrating twenty years as Scotland's leading literary agency, and I'm really excited about the next chapter working with them.
Back home, there are notes piled up on the table, and a new blank three act structure pasted up on the library wall. “I want to kick up my heels and be off," as Virginia Woolf wrote. "I want to embody all those innumerable little ideas & tiny stories which flash into my mind at all seasons. I think it will be great fun to write."
I am so grateful to everyone who has helped and encouraged me in my writing career so far. I have been really lucky to work with brilliant editors, publicists, publishers, agents and fellow writers. Now it's a new season, new book, new chapter.