Watching lots of telly!
November greetings my amigos! Here I am with a new newsletter but with precious little news to tell you, I’m afraid, as about 3 and a half weeks ago I entered EXTREME LOCKDOWN in the hope of starting work on a new book. Extreme Lockdown consists of all distractions being removed from my life so that I’ll knuckle down and write, even when I feel I have no words to contribute. All shore leave cancelled. No high jinks. No afternoons playing with the Redzers. Worst of all, no twitter! Yes! I had to get Himself to disable my twitteriness on my work computer because I’m such an addict that I was losing hours and hours to it. Having a fabulous time, I’m not saying I wasn’t, but I was getting nothing done.
I’m still allowed to do it in the evenings - we are not total savages - but the daytimes are a no go area. Also I have many evenings free where I sample the smorgasbord of televisual delights arrayed for my pleasure at this time of year. I’m not complaining, no. Also, I’m allowed out for any necessary medical appointments and indeed, this very day I’m booked in for my flu jab! Good times, good times. And my teeth are giving me gyp, I’d say a visit to the dentist is in the offing! So plenty to look forward to!
And I have been writing. On a new novel. Progress is slow, because I am slow, I’m in total awe of those speedy types who can write a novel in 3 months, but I have to accept that that’s not my way. I have a title for the new book but it’ll probably change a thousand times between now and publication so I wonder if there’s any point in telling you, but I can’t keep my clob shut about anything, so I might as well tell you that it’s currently called Project Karma, but it probably won’t be for long.
So the clocks went back at the end of October and I was happy because the days are shorter and not as much ‘living’ and ‘endurance’ is needed, as you would at the height of Summer, when the days go on for so much longer. However, I know many, many people in the Northern Hemisphere find November a terrible month. And sure enough, despite all my swaggering about and boasting that November is my month, didn’t I slide back into the horrors! I’m not looking for sympathy at all, I’m just telling you in case you’re a fellow sufferer. Usually when I feel the slide start,
I try to combat it by keeping going but not taking on too much, striving for a balance between continuing to function but not breaking myself. But the trajectory of this one was steep and I literally could not get out of bed. Time slowed down and every minute took a long time to pass. I could barely speak, I couldn’t sleep, I was trapped in a head-full of catastrophic thoughts and I had to cancel everything. Amigos, I thought I was done for. I thought I’d have to go back into hospital. But to my great surprise, after about 5 days of not leaving the bed, it began to lift. It was like having a bout of flu. A flu of the mind. A head cold, if you will. I’m still wobbly and I’m still afraid it’s going to come after me and nobble me, but I’m a lot better than I was this time last week, thank Christ.
Often when I’m in the horrors, I can’t read, but mercifully I was able to this time and I read CJ Sansom’s new book Dominion. Do you know CJ Sansom? He is brilliant! Mostly he writes detective stories set in Henry the Eighth’s time and I must tell you a story about Himself and CJ Sansom. A few years ago, we were in a faraway land, it was Chile and we were close to the end of the trip and Himself made the awful realisation that he was going to run out of books before he got home (these were pre-e-book days.) So tentatively I offered him my CJ Sansom book and issued all kinds of caveats, “I don’t know it’s your kind of thing, I mean I love him, but your mind is on a higher plane, you’re a brain-box of brainy-box proportions, but any port in a storm and you can’t be without a book and CJ Sansom, well, I think he’s great…” So Himself took the book and set to reading and he was very quiet for a good while, reading away. Time passed and it was time for our tea and Himself was still reading the book and I stood up and said, “Well, I’m getting ready.” So I got ready, which consisted of washing my hands and combing my hair because it was an outdoorsy, adventury place we were staying in, no need for high-heels and a faceful of makeup. Then I said, “Well, I’m ready now.” And still Himself was reading. I stood in front of him and repeated, “Well, I’m ready now.” And still Himself was reading. Then I stuck my face between him and the book and said loudly, “WELL, I’M READY NOW!” Finally I had his attention. “What?!” He asked, cranky as can be. “I’m reading.” Engrossed, he was, utterly engrossed! It was a real effort for him to tear himself away and since then, he’s read all of CJ Sansom’s book and so has almost everyone I know – men and women, young and old. Right so, the new CJ Sansom, by Christ but it’s dark. It’s set in Britain in 1952 in an alternative reality where Germany won the second world war. It’s a gripping read (perhaps a bit long, my only criticism) but it was a great help to me. The thing is, when I’m in the darkness, I like to read dark stuff. It makes me feel less alone.
Then I read Kate Mosse’s Citadel which is fabulous. It’s also quite dark, but magical and a great adventure story. In fact, a few days before the darkness swamped me, I had the great pleasure of seeing Kate Mosse being interviewed at my local theatre The Pavilion and I’m in love with her. Everyone who was there came out muttering about girl-crushes. She’s so super-intelligent and articulate and kind and warm and beautiful and a force for good and writes great books.
Now I will list all the telly-box shows I am currently commited to. *Takes deep breath* Right, here goes! Strictly Come Dancing, It Takes Two, Homeland, I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here, True Blood, Friday Night Dinner, Michael Palin’s Brazil, Irish Masterchef and Richard E Grant’s Hotel Secrets. It’s a full-time job as you can see and there’s no room for passengers, I watched one episode of Secret State and said, “It’s a no from me,” because it simply wasn’t as good as all the other things. Most wonderful of all, The Killing returns this coming Saturday, I will be watching it wearing my special Sarah Lund jumper (the shops are awash with them, no? She has been singlehandedly responsible for bringing about a novelty-jumper revival) and cycling around the living room because everyone in Copenhagen has bikes. (This is a lie, I will not be cycling around the living room as a) I have no sense of balance and b) I have no bike.) I am already speaking in a Danish accent. (For example, I pronounce ‘computer’ ‘gom-bew-dah’ and instead of saying goodbye I say, “Fahvell.” And of course, the word “Tak” is already firmly established in my vocabulary. I would descibe my Danish as ‘nearly fluent.’ If I was to go for a job interview and they needed to second me to their Copenhagen office, I am ‘confident’ I could be ‘up to speed’ (as they say in job interviews) in a matter of days. Er…perhaps…)
As regards Strictly, I’m nailing my colours to the mast here and saying I want Pasha to win. Because I just do. Because I love him, maybe because he reminds me of Luka. In fairness, I love them all, both celebrities and professional dancers, and everyone has their own favourite and people get very het up if you don’t love their favourite, but I’m out and proud as a Pasha-supporter.
Now, come here, there’s a book I want to tell you about. You might have heard me mention a charity called To Russia With Love, which was set up by an amazing Irish woman called Debbie Deegan, to help orphans in Russia. I visited the orphanage in Hortolova a few years ago and met many of the children and it was one of the most moving affecting experiences of my life. Debbie has done so much good in such difficult circumstances and now she has a book out which tells the whole story of how she came to be involved and tells the stories of many of the children. Any money Debbie makes from the book will go straight back into the charity, which is one good reason to buy it (buy here) . But it’s a fascinating, really emotional read, she talks so honestly about the impact her work has had on her marriage and on the physical dangers she faced and the maddening soviet-style bureaucracy.
And there’s one other thing I want to let you know about, but I’m a bit morto. The Irish book awards are coming up and The Mystery of Mercy Close has been nominated in the popular fiction category, along with several other books. If you wanted to vote for Mercy Close (Vote here), that would be really nice, and I’d be grateful, but if you’d prefer to vote for any of the other books in the category, that would be nice too.
Here’s another excerpt:
So there we are, my amigos. On we soldier. Thank you for all your kindness and support about The Mystery of Mercy Close. I’m so grateful to all of you who’ve bought it and who’ve taken the trouble to tell me that you’ve enjoyed it. You can see some reviews here.
I hope you’re keeping well and if you’re finding things tough, take care, be kind to yourself, eat nice things, yes even cake and chocolate, why not? I’ll be back soon, with hopefully more interesting things to report than the telly shows I’ve been watching and you can find me on the twitters most evenings, if you’d like a little chat and a laugh.
Tak muchly, Fahvell and lots of love