Jill Mansell - February 2012
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Hi, everyone! How are we all?
The new book is out now and feedback has already been brilliant, so thank you so much for that! As always, I hope my characters will entertain you and make you laugh and cry.
Here’s a photo of Royal Victoria Park in Bath, which features in the story and inspired the gorgeous book cover. As we’re set for more snow this weekend, I’m thinking about heading over there to take some photos of my own. Then again, I may stay at home in the warm and watch films with fictional snow in them instead. Less chilly!
Anyway, a quick catch up of the last few months: the run-up to Christmas was mad and chaotic as usual and my daughter came home from Birmingham University to decipher several hundred pages of my very messy handwriting and type it up on her computer. The finished manuscript was then sent off to my agent and editor and I had my usual panic that they’d hate it. Luckily, they didn’t! So that’s the next book done and all I have to do now is come up with a title.
Christmas was brilliant. Everyone came to our house on the day itself, then a few days after that we headed off on holiday for a week of lovely sun and relaxation in Tenerife. I’ll let you into a secret now – following the hideous experience I had with glandular fever sixteen months ago, I’d completely lost my ability to enjoy reading novels. It was awful, horrible...my whole life I’d been an avid reader, but all of a sudden the joy of it was gone. Every time I picked up a book by a favourite author, I would be overwhelmed with a sense of apathy and disinterest. Reading fiction just seemed utterly pointless. I didn’t want to read, but at the same time I missed it terribly – there was a great big reading-shaped hole in my life! And I felt guilty, too, because I was an author. I was encouraging other people to read my books but not reading any myself. I was ashamed of my duplicity! Anyway, the point of telling you this now is that while I was on holiday in Tenerife I finally began reading again. More crucially, I enjoyed it. The relief...oh, I can’t tell you! I was overjoyed that it was back – it was like falling in love again. I did worry that I’d stop as soon as I got home, but thankfully that hasn’t happened. I’ve carried on, and I’m so happy to have the pleasure of reading back in my life. All in all, basically, it turned out to be a holiday worth taking!
So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been an author in search of a plot for the next book. It doesn’t usually take this long, and I’ll admit I was starting to panic a bit, but things are coming together at last. The weird thing about us writers is we all have our own ways of planning our work. The way I’ve always done it is by beginning with one single idea that jump-starts the entire book. With the one I’m currently planning, I just couldn’t find the idea I was searching for, so I began with a location first, then the characters. But they were being tricky too. My ‘ideas’ notebook was full of ridiculous words and phrases that weren’t helping at all. Then yesterday it finally start to happen and I wrote on Twitter that, to my huge relief, my characters were coming towards me, like in the film Field of Dreams. (Have you seen it – the one starring Kevin Costner where the dead baseball guys silently emerge from the fields of corn and become real?) That was exactly how it felt for me, and my characters began to talk and laugh and interact in just the same way as in that film. It’s the best feeling in the world. I’m busy giving them all names at the moment...it’s like suddenly giving birth to LOTS of children! And I have careers for some of them but am still finding homes and jobs for others...oh yes, it’s a funny old job, this novel-writing malarkey!
And finally, I’m thrilled and delighted to report that my book To the Moon and Back has been shortlisted for a RoNA Award. Look, the details are here: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/rna-shortlists-reflect-wonderful-diversity-genre.html. Isn’t that amazing? I’m so excited! I’ve already suggested we should mud-wrestle for the award...
So here we are, at the end of another diary entry. I really hope you’ll enjoy reading A Walk in the Park. If you do, please feel free to let me know on Twitter. And if you don’t...well, please don’t!
Much love to all of you,