This week I spent three days at the wonderful All Saints Literature Festival. It’s the ten year anniversary of the festival, which made me realise with a jolt that it’s ten years since Obsession was published: All Saints was the first festival I presented at. My debut session was ‘Girls Business, Boys Business’, and my fellow panellists were John Larkin, Glyn Parry and Dianne Wolfer. (I learned from that session to never, ever go on after a stand up comedian, among other things. I also learned not to say, ‘Girls, this one’s for you. Boys, you just sit there and fiddle with your bits.’ Yes, I did. I know, I can’t believe it either.) I had no idea how festivals worked, what you were supposed to do. I used to write out everything in full and hope that I could read and sound natural at the same time (I couldn’t). I remember feeling in awe of the writers with more than one book and of the seasoned professionals who could get up and do their spiel without suffering panic attacks beforehand (I still suffer panic attacks beforehand) and wanting to expire with exhaustion afterwards (ditto).
It’s been a roller coaster of a decade, writingwise and otherwise. There have been a few triumphs, a lot of disappointments, angst and satisfaction in approximately equal measure. I’ve done things and been to places I could never have imagined possible, thanks to writing; met the most wonderful people; been inspired and challenged and occasionally gutted. I have a wonderful publisher and editors who I nigh on worship (especially you, CM!). I have a stack of ten books with my name on, some ambitious and deep, some fun and frivolous, some out of print, some still loved by readers. I wouldn’t trade it in for the world.
In other news, I now have a day job that is compatible, as much as one ever is, with writing. Cool title, huh? I am delighted in more ways than I can explain.
Picture: Norman Jorgensen, me and Karen Tayleur‘s tongue, just before we triumphed in the Book v Ebook debate at All Saints. Was it our skillful (and in my case, 30 second) arguments re the bookiness of the book, to quote our opponent Meg McKinlay, or just that booky bookness is what young folk are into?