No question about it. The road to hell is paved with all my good intentions to sit down and write more blog entries. According to my road map, I’m somewhere around level five at the moment, with the Wrathful and Sullen.

a visual representation of the layers of hell

I’ll try to make amends.

My only excuse is that I haven’t wanted to bore you. And what with all the riding and writing I’ve been doing, I think life might only be interesting to the horse and book fanatics among you. Shall I assume that’s everyone? I was distracted by Chris for a good number of weeks – he’s for sale, and I wasted ages trying to figure out if I could keep him in my back garden, because I certainly couldn’t afford to keep him anywhere else.

a picture of Chris the horse

But he’s so beautiful, I told my conscience.

The last thing on earth you need right now is a horse, replied my very sensible conscience. And you told me not to let you buy one, you pathetic weakling.

Good point conscience.

So, no horse. Yet. I did jump my first cross-country course last week, and what a kick that was! Especially when I flew off at what felt like 60 mph over a log that appeared to be about twelve feet high, but was probably only two and a half. Got back up without a bruise though. Someone up there’s watching out for me.

Book cover pictures of The Bride's Farewell

Enough horses (well, sort of). The Bride’s Farewell is getting some nice prepublication attention, including a lot of interest in the film rights. My Dutch translator likes it, and boy, does she let me know when she doesn’t. I probably can’t put either of those endorsements on a dust jacket, but it makes me happy. I’ve probably mentioned before that the time before publication is a strange one for writers. There’s lots of activity behind the scenes (you hope), and a flurry of phonecalls that come in once the proofs have gone out, but mostly it involves waiting. So I’ve been keeping busy by travelling and reviewing other people’s books, and working on There Is No Dog – which finally has a good solid first draught finished, and is just waiting for one more big fat revision before it goes to my editor.

Travel first. I had three lovely days in Dundee, well, outside of Dundee, for the Angus book award , which was won by the lovely Anne Cassidy. But we were wined and dined and treated like royalty, met some fantastic readers, and discovered the world’s most beautiful beach (shame about the water temperature!)

Publicity image for Etonnants Voyages (Astonishing Journeys)After Dundee, I packed somewhat more summery clothes for St Malo’s book festival, Etonnants Voyages (Astonishing Journeys) in Brittany, where my French got more of an outing than it deserved, despite the relentless encouragement of my humiliatingly bilingual fellow-authors from Hachette.

It’s good my family never looks at my website, because I’m constantly telling them how hard I work. But this picture tells at least some of the story…and before you ask, the hat was borrowed.

Image of Meg at a Picnic in Britanny

Yes, a writer’s life is hell.

I did discover an amazing picture book while I was in France, one I’d heard about but hadn’t seen. It’s called Duck, Death and the Tulip, by Wolf Erlbruch, and is both heartbreaking and awesomely beautiful. It hasn’t been published in the UK as far as I know, but it should be. At once.

Images from Duck, Death and the Tulip

Aside from the pictures in the text, which is much nicer than the jumps, this is turning out to be a bit different from the usual letter – with lots of recommendations. The next one is a fantastic book that’s out at the beginning of July, by an Australian writer called Margo Lanagan. It’s called Tender Morsels, and all I can say is that it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s based on Grimm’s fairytales and is very dark, but I loved it greatly all the same.

Book cover images of Tender Morsels

Which cover do you prefer (US on the left, UK on the right)? I think I like the American cover, but I have a real penchant for illustrations, and almost no one ever agrees with me.

I really want to get on and revise There Is No Dog, so will stop just about now, but before I do, I thought I should tell you about the sort of moments that make being a writer absolutely thrilling. There I was, slogging along, trying to get a few hundred words down towards the end of the first draught, when the words suddenly started to spill out faster than I could write them down, rushing headlong through the story until — at the end of the chapter — the book swerved astonishingly in a way that I’d never considered until that exact second. I sat stunned for a moment, and realized that (surprise surprise) the thing I always tell people about writing actually is true – that it’s only partly controlled by the conscious brain, the rest comes from somewhere deep and unconscious, like a dream. And it’s those incredible moments that make you think all this sitting around playing with words and ideas might be worthwhile after all.

Hope you agree.

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