I was delighted and terrified when Bookouture offered me a two book deal back in September 2020. They wanted me to submit the second book by January 2021!, My first novel The Butterfly Garden took me four years to write and they wanted me to write another book in less than four months!! I managed to negotiate a few more months out of them, and I worked out that if I wrote 5000 words a week during term time when the kids were at school then I would finish a first draft by Easter and then have the summer term to edit. Another lockdown and homeschool was always at the back of my mind but I never really thought it would happen - right?! I mean the government was determined to keep the schools open, Boris said so time and time again. So when the announcement came on that dark day at the beginning of January, and the kids had already packed their school bags for the start of term, name tapes were sown, gum sheilds moulded and I was primed to write an extra thousand words a week to make up for time lost from pre- Christmas isolation - frankly I was gob-smacked! And as the news hit home that we were entering another dark and terrifying period, I had my own personal melt-down with the dawning realisation that there would be no time at home on my own to write and completing a first draft by Easter became an increasingly unlikely prospect. Instead I would spend the next two months churning out three meals a day, teaching phonics and crafting Supertato's side kick out of felt, making parachutes to drop over the stairs to measure velocity, exercising dogs and children in the never-ending wind and rain. And the cleaning! The torrent of paper, sequins, glitter, food and mud that four children, one dog, two cats and two bunnies left in their wake. Not to mention the gastro-interitis that struck us all down for weeks as we reinfected each other again and again with our stinking germs that had no-where else to go! But I persevered, set my alarm for 5:45 and worked from my bed with bleary eyes for two hours before school began. And then again in the evenings, would tag-team with my husband and retreat to his office at the bottom of the garden in the hope that no-one would be desperate enough to brave the cold night to come and bother me! It was exhausting, and miserable at times, but it was also weirdly wonderful, just being with the kids twenty-four-seven at a stage in some of their lives when we would otherwise just be a fuelling station. And I was against all odds quite prolific, there is nothing like a deadline and very little time to achieve it that focuses the mind! And I finished that first draft in the couple of weeks that the kids returned to school before Easter and am now awaiting edits from my editor and agent before cracking on. And whilst the NHS heroes have been saving lives and all the other incredible front-liners have been managing the ripple effect of the pandemic I have stayed safe at home with my family and achieved my own very small and insignificant goal!
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