Beginning a new novel can be a daunting experience. Yet, I read an interview with the novelist Kate Atkinson recently who said that, in the twenty years in which she’s been writing, one thing has changed: ‘I spent more time worrying then. Now, I don’t worry because I think, “Well, I’ve done ten novels, surely I can do another one”.’
I have a similar pep talk with myself at the beginning of every book. And even though I’ve just put the finish touches on my eleventh novel, for me it feels just as necessary, for I’m afraid impostor syndrome is alive and well within the walls of my writing room.
Part of the reason for this is that all authors like the idea that we’re improving. We want every book to be better than the last. We really are our toughest critics, harsher even than that Amazon reviewer who declared my book ‘utter tosh’ but gave five stars to a potato peeler.
Having made the leap and changed both my name and writing style for You Me Everything, I was also conscious that some people would wonder if this was a one-off. The book that came next felt more like that difficult second novel than my eleventh one. The big question was: could do it again?
The answer to that is that I seriously hope so, for reasons that go far because the fact that I have a mortgage to pay and three children to feed. And I am now at the stage of having in my possession a fully, completed novel, one that I’m actually permitting myself to get excited about. It’s provisionally titled A Blanket Of Stars and will be published in the UK in 2019 by Simon & Schuster.
At this stage I can’t reveal too much about it except that I hope it has all the ingredients that readers enjoyed in You Me Everything – namely: a big concept, an emotional storyline and lots of twists. It goes without saying that it’s all set in a glorious location, in this case Lake Garda. And, as you can see from the pictures, that has to count as my toughest research trip to date.