2013 has been a real rollercoaster of a ride. This time last year, I was excited, but nervous too at the pending publication of my debut novel in January – the day came, I had an amazing launch party, read some wonderful reviews and it opened up a whole new world full of truly lovely readers and book bloggers, some of whom have become dear friends.
I felt blessed, humbled too, that after years and years of chasing my dream, I had finally achieved my goal, even if I was, and still am, a little bit petrified that it was all just a fluke, what if I can’t write another book? What if I do and it’s rubbish and as any author knows, if you go in search of a rubbish review, you’ll find one, and I certainly found some howlers, like the 1-star shocker from my sister, citing my debut as all rather silly, hmmm, what’s silly about a heroine who grew up in foster care? What’s silly about bereavement or a gambling addiction, bullying, homophobia or a gay man who’s scared to come out? I’m guessing she didn’t actually read the book…
But there was worse to come, as it was around then that the emails started arriving – prompted by a piece I wrote on adoption for a national newspaper. I was sent riddles always ending with a warning for me to watch my back or to make sure I was prepared. I brushed it off at first, ignored it, they were only emails after all, but then when they upped the anti and said that I was going to die because I had ‘stolen a baby’, I got scared, contacted the police and to cut a very long story short, it eventually stopped. So that was fun, not!
Throughout that time, I went from being happy and fairly relaxed, OK I’ve always been a big worrier, but this was different, it changed me and turned me into a reclusive, panicky mess which made leaving the safety of my office a nightmare at times, I avoided going out and refused to let anyone into the house if I was home alone with QT. I became so anxious, imagining the person sending the emails was going to take my darling daughter away from me – it probably didn’t help that I moved house, twice, in 2013, and we all know how stressful moving can be – even more so when you have two novels, a short story and a novella to write in a year! Anyway, I found myself making excuses not to meet up, even with close friends, and when I did manage to, I came away feeling like a letdown, like I’d not made enough effort, not been funny enough, or chatty enough, not like my usual self.
My lowest point was having a panic attack in Dreams, the bed shop, because the house we had moved to became a building site overnight when a developer bought next door, plus it was too small for our furniture. But none of the shops we went to had beds with a frame small enough to go up the dolls house-sized stairs. What to do? Move again, of course, right in the middle of a deadline, but it’s like Kelly Clarkson sings, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…’
Anyway, the second half of the year has been much better, I’ve lost weight, 24lbs in total so far. I’ve seen my first two novels included in various ‘Best of 2013’ lists, published a novella and my second novel in November and I’ve very nearly finished writing my third one.
It’s been an amazing year, a difficult year and one that’s been made awesome by the people I’ve laughed with, chatted with and cried with on Twitter and Facebook.
You’re all amazing and I thank you for being there always, through all of it.
Here’s to an even better 2014, I can’t wait to share it with you all.