Much as I loved the spoof cover kindly created for me by writer and traveller, Lori Schafer showing a couple of snails making their way across a landscape of granulated sugar, I’ve been itching to share the real thing. I hope you can see why. My thanks to Vince Haig for creating such a beautiful package for my words.
At fifteen, Diana Dodsworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life, and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound.
To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance ... until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why.
Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
Now with three months to publication, Sugar and Snails is starting to look and feel like a proper book. I’m delighted that the three rounds of publisher edits have slimmed it down by about 10,000 words. Since then, it’s been proofread and formatted and ARCs are currently being readied to send out to potential endorsers, while I flip between excitement and terror.
So now – barring the odd middle-of-the-night revelation that I’ve jumbled my characters’ kitchens or muddled the timeline – it’s goodbye to the writing and hello to the promotion, of which the cover reveal is just the start. So this post from Antonia Honeywell, author of The Ship is timely, with sound advice summed up so beautifully in this line:
Debut authors need the arrogance to put themselves out there, and the humility to recognize they’re just one small sequin in the glorious, shifting palimpsest of the book industry.
In my arrogance, I’ve booked the venues for two launch events; all I have to do is send out the invites and make the cakes (or, more likely, buy them from the supermarket along with the wine). In odd moments, I’ve even allowed myself to believe the lovely words the publisher has put together for the media pack (if you’re interested, you can download a copy from my media page); while, in my humility, I do recognise that cobbling together phrases like “Heart-felt, Lucid and Entertaining” and “told by a supremely talented wordsmith” are merely evidence of them doing their job.
Regarding the online promotion, I’m also putting together a list of potential blog posts I could offer as part of a promotional tour, so if you are interested in hosting any of the following, or anything else that might fit the title, do let me know:
Challenges in writing a novel with a secret at the heart
Silencing the voices of the parents: moving from three points of view to one
Writing about self-harm
On setting part of my novel in Cairo
Writing, walking and being afraid of cows
On gender: Male/female/neither/both?
The legacy of a Catholic childhood
The psychology of shame
The shadow of death
Parents and nonparents: separate species?
Later life coming-of-age
Novels set at Newcastle University
When it’s hard to come up with stories about one’s childhood
When the protagonist is driven more by fear than desire
Later life coming-of-age
The surprising difficulty of defining what your novel’s about
Does your novel require sex and romance?
Scientific research as a topic for fiction
Gender crossing in literary fiction
Why I’m thanking my therapist
The psychology and fiction of decision-making
How is writing like gardening?
Psychoanalytic theory and writers block
Publishing with a small press