12 December, 2012 / General

Coming soon – my new canine-inspired novel, Pedigree Mum…

sneak-preview1-197x300As soon as we acquired Jack from Glasgow Dogs’ Trust, I knew my next book had to have a canine theme. In Pedigree Mum, Kerry gets a dog almost as a way of getting back at her ex-husband Rob – as a sort of act of rebellion. The fact that her children had begged for a dog was based on my daughter Erin, who’d nagged for one for years.

The book is also about leaving the bustle of city life for a small town, and what it says about your lifestage and the person you are. We moved from London to a small rural town in Lanarkshire, Scotland, which isn’t like snooty Shorling in the book. But I still remember the feeling of being ‘new’, wondering how I’d make friends – whilst desperately missing my old ones. I found myself eyeing up prospective new friends in the park, whilst not wanting to come across as a creepy stalking weirdo.

I love writing about motherhood and how it turns your life on its head. When my three kids were younger, I’d write about their antics for magazines and newspapers. These days, I have to be aware of their privacy and rarely write about them at all. However, in fiction, anything goes…

12 December, 2012 / General

Why Every Writer Should Own a Dog… (or perhaps a goldfish)

meet-jack1-224x300It took a ton of nagging before I agreed to get a canine companion – but after Jack moved in, I realised I’d been mad not to do it years before. I’m not making light of the huge commitment involved. But if you can offer company, walks, affection and all the things that keep dogs – and humans – perky and happy, then, in my experience it’s a wonderful thing. Here’s why…
– Someone to talk to… who doesn’t talk back. Writing can be a lonely business. I love having Jack plonked at my feet, or nudging my hand off the mouse when walk time is upon us.
Fresh air, exercise and all that health-giving stuff… Writers tend to spend ridiculous amounts of time holed up in gloomy little rooms, hunched over keyboards, often surviving on coffee and random bits grabbed from the fridge. Before I had a dog, ‘taking a break’ meant fiddling about on Facebook and Twitter. But a dog has to go out, which requires the shifting of the butt. Then you remember that the outside world still exists.
A dog helps to write your book… Yes, really. Often, after a brisk forty-minute walk with Jack, an annoying plot problem will have miraculously untangled itself.
All the stroking and cuddling that goes on… What is it about stroking an animal that lifts your mood instantly? I have no idea – but it does. Sometimes I write on my laptop stretched out on the sofa with Jack curled up at my feet as a sort of living, breathing foot-warmer. He’s good like that.

12 December, 2012 / General

The summer of 2012…

oh-i-miss-the-summer1Here we all are – my husband Jimmy, our twin boys Sam and Dex and daughter Erin – at our favourite holiday cottage in southern Brittany. We’ve been going there on and off for the past ten years. It’s a beautiful blue-shuttered French farmhouse owned by a lovely elderly man called Louis (we always pick him up a bottle of Scotch on the ferry over). There’s so much that I love about our trips there…
* Chez Jacky, a waterside restaurant at Port du Belon, for the best seafood ever
* Barbecuing in the garden
* Lying in the orchard with a juicy book
* Exploring the narrow backstreets of Quimper
* Taking the ferry to Belle Isle
* Being laptop-free for a whole fortnight – BLISS.
* No internet either!

12 December, 2012 / General

A room/cupboard of my own…

an-unlovely-writing-room1-224x300Check out this room – what a state it is. A tangle of wires, Post-It notes stuck everywhere… when my twin boys demanded bedrooms of their own, I gave up my ‘proper’ workroom and was shunted off to the box room instead. But actually… it’s fine. All that matters is having somewhere to go and shut out the outside world. In fact, I can be just as happy working at the kitchen table, and I love writing on trains and in cafes – a bit of background buzz helps the ideas flow (although I know some writers demand absolute silence).

If I’m under the cosh deadline-wise, I start work at six am. For me it works better than slogging away late at night, feeling desolate. Then I see my kids off to school, walk my dog and come back to get started in earnest. I’ll work until four when everyone comes home from school, by which time my brain is usually well and truly boggled.

07 December, 2012 / News

NEWSLETTER December 2006


Thanks for dropping in on this, my first newsletter. Lately I’ve been feeling as if real life is something that happens to other people, out there through my workroom window. I’ve been lashed to the computer with a looming January deadline for my next book – even though it’s not due for publication until Jan 2008 (it takes around a year for a finished manuscript to finally make it into the bookstores).

More immediately, though, I’m really excited about the launch of Lucky Girl, my third novel. I think it’s very different from the previous two, Babyface and Wonderboy. It’s the story of Stella Moon, daughter of a once-famous TV chef, whose gloopy, artery-busting cooking went out of style towards the end of the ‘70s, leaving him washed up and desperately trying to cling on to his celebrity status. The inspiration came from one of my husband Jimmy’s many forays into the charity shops of Peebles and Lanark. You know those dusty old ’70s cookbooks that look so dated and unappetising? The photography’s so garish, and everything looks as if it’s been garnished with a dollop of hair conditioner… yum.

Along with armfuls of vinyl, Jimmy started bringing these books home (why?!), which sparked off the idea for my character, Frankie Moon. I loved writing the book, and it really took over my life for a while. There are lots of flashbacks to Stella’s chaotic ‘70s childhood as she tries to make sense of her past (the daughter of a celebrity chef was raised on Findus Crispy Pancakes). Official publication date is December 28 2006, although it seems to be available on from Dec 15, so perhaps some early copies will be out there. I’m really chuffed with the cover. Hopefully it looks retro enough without over-egging the whole ‘70s thing. If you buy it, thanks, and let me know what you think! I hope you enjoy Stella and Frankie’s world.

Work aside, our twin boys Sam and Dexter were cajoled into appearing in a feature I wrote for Stella (Sunday Telegraph magazine). It was their third shoot in a week, poor lads, which is really unusual – I don’t tend to parade them in such a merciless manner. By the time the Stella photographer arrived, they required serious bribery to cooperate in the form of a tenner each. Erin, my six year-old daughter, was so miffed that she wasn’t in the shot. Sadly, I couldn’t afford her.

I’m looking forward to Christmas now, and a short break from the PC before I contract RSI of the entire body. Jimmy kindly treated me to a fantastic new sax – a Yamaha 62 – which in the absence of any more pattering feet (phew) is definitely my new baby. My old sax ‘just broke’, or so said my children when I discovered it in pieces in its case. Highly suspicious. Everyone stood around looking hugely guilty until Erin piped up, ‘Oh well. It was only an old one.’

Have a brilliant Christmas,