Spring 09

Have been having a great time doing a round of Lit Fests, and even selling a lot of Choral Society, which slightly astonished me.  I am used to selling novels fairly well, but all my previous ones have been in paperbacks, this being my first hardback novel in the UK.  

£17.99 seems a lot.  Maybe they get marked up because they know they will be discounted on Amazon?  Anyway, who am I to complain? Quercus obviously know what they are doing, and have been sending me off all over the place, talking at Literary lunches or dinners or book signings. I am such an egotist that I adore all that. 

Mind you, I had a minor humiliation the other day. There must have been 400 people packed into the theatre at the Words on the Water festival in Cumbria to hear Michael Beurk being a grumpy old man, railing against the BBC, political correctness and etc. He was very good and very funny. I looked down from the box reserved for festival "talent" (I love being called the talent) and thought, Great, the place is packed.  

Only there was a little gap between him and me and when we returned I'd lost half the audience. Nintey percent of the men had scarpered to the pub leaving me with a practically all-female audience.  I had always thought my readership was female and over 45. Now I know.  The compensation is they were a great audience and dutifully queued for ages to buy books and then queued again to get them signed.

I'd forgotten just how wonderful the Lake District is.  Even in the rain, the sky, mountains and water are breathtakingly beautiful, all soft greys and purples, browns and yellows, Spring green underfoot. You understand why the British are such great water-colourists. You also, sadly, understand why we head for reliable sun in the summer.

Choral Society
By Prue Leith

Hyping ones books, can lead one into huge embarrassment, I was interviewed recently by the Daily Telegraph. It was to have been a whacking great profile, a lot of it about the book. And of course I talked (since I am nothing if not indiscreet) about "love in the afternoon of life"  since all my characters are in their fifties and of course they all have love affairs, some good, some bad. Which got me on to Ernest and how I met him. When the interviewer got back to base her editor saw her piece and said, "Great love story. We'll use it for Valentines Day" And promptly cut everything except the love-in-old-age bit, with only a brief mention of Choral Society.   

And then the Daily Mail read it and asked me to write about my experience of geriatric love. I said stoutly, "Look, I've already been stitched up by the Telegraph, I will only do it if I can write about my book too".   "Sure” they said, and then when I sent my piece in, they promptly chopped everything about the book out of it. Still, even truncated it's a heartfelt piece, (Click here) but I'd never have written it just to tell the world what a great guy my chap is.  Hey ho, that's newspaper editors for you. They are a law unto themselves.

Loving Oliver (if it ends up called that) continues. For once I have a novel that is going well. Probably means it is rubbish.  I've had a few trips to the US on Orient Express Hotels business and a holiday with Ernest in Lanzarote and a long haul flight with my daughter to the Far East, so the chapters have steadily built up. Most writers need the peace of their study to get on with it. I seem to need a long haul flight or a hotel bedroom!  Or, as now, a hospital. I'm writing this in Cheltenham General where I am in for "Obs" because I woke up with pain in my chest and I've seen too many of those ads on the side of buses with a man's chest being constricted by a wide belt and a warning that what feels like indigestion could be a heart attack in the making. So tomorrow I am to have an angiogram (where they stick some dye in your arteries and see if it gets stuck somewhere) which I hope will prove that I am a hypochondriac. I'd rather have that diagnosis than be on statins and betablockers and aspirins and, worst of all, a no-fat diet, for the rest of my life. 

Prue and Ernest in Mexico, 2008

Prue and Ernest in Mexico, 2008

P.S.  It seems I am a complete fraud, if not a hypochondriac.  Nothing the matter with my heart .... or anything else.  Just as well as I want to go walking in Cappadocia in May.