This year has been so packed that when I got the Christmas decorations out on December 23rd (after putting the whole house back together, the front room floor having been pulled up the day before, and its characteristic sag, with which we have lived for many years, finally straightened out!) I really could not believe it was a whole year since I was last doing it: it seemed like only a month or so ago. First there was my virtual book tour, Around the Edges of the World, which took up ten weeks from January to March, and I have to say didn't leave me much in the way of writing time, or perhaps more accurately focus, but was a wonderful way to promote my story collection, Balancing on the Edge of the World. I'm so grateful to those great bloggers who hosted it: they were wise and inspired and often fun interviewers. Meanwhile I buzzed about a lot physically, too, shooting off to London to various launches and readings - including the launch of fellow Salt author Alex Keegan's story collection Ballistics - enjoying myself enormously (and spending a fortune on train fares), and doing a couple of readings of my own, at Huddersfield Literature Festival and Ride the Word.
My most exciting Christmas present last year was Salt's offer to publish my novel, Too Many Magpies, in the autumn, and so after Easter I was psychologically gearing up for production on that. Meanwhile, at the request of editor Vanessa Gebbie, I wrote a chapter for Short Circuit, the Salt guide to the art of the short story. But then of course there was a crisis, when it looked as if Salt would not be able to continue, followed by Chris's inspired 'Just One Book' campaign, which brought such an amazing response and resulted in several Salt books, including Balancing, bobbing about in the Amazon short-story bestseller lists - another thing I can't thank people enough for. As soon as it was clear that the day had been saved, work on the production of Magpies started in earnest, with relays of proof readings. This was a relatively quiet period, though, through May-July: I did a couple more readings, and was already involved in arrangements for the first of my autumn readings (for Didsbury Arts Festival), but mostly I was able to get to my desk and I managed to write some new short stories - though how good they are (and how well I managed to get inside my own head, rather than just to my desk, after so many distractions) remains to be seen.
As soon as September arrived, it seems, looking back, I hit the ground running and have only just come to a standstill (grounded, in fact, by a horrendous fortnight-long cold!). The time has been taken up entirely with promotion, with a series of seven readings, including the London launch of Magpies, an event for which I had sole responsibility for publicity, conducted from 200 miles off, but fabulously worth it (though The Calder Bookshop's Alex put it up on their website - thank you, Alex!). No writing done at all since the summer, and a bit of stress now and then, but I have had a really great time, and in this era when it's harder and harder to publish literary fiction, I just feel so lucky to have been in that situation, to have had a book to promote, and the time to promote it, and so grateful to Salt's Chris and Jen. And thank you so much to all of those who came to the readings, and to those who have bought the book and put it on Salt's top 20 list!
As for 2010 and on: well, the most exciting thing is that Salt offered, out of the blue, to reprint the revised edition of my first novel The Birth Machine. February is filling up rather, with library readings and school visits etc and, on the 1st, a reading at the Globe Cafe in Prague which I'm really looking forward to (the flights only go between Manc and Prague at the weekends at the mo, so I'm going to make a holiday of it!). And I'm already booked for the Oxfam Book Festival in July... But January is nice and free, and I should get down to some writing once this damn cold is over. And in any case, as I said on Saturday, I'm hoping to carve some more writing time, will nilly...