Well. Two years, more or less, since my last blog post. Not good and I apologise. I could you tell what has been claiming my attention all that time, but who wants to read that? Let’s get on to more interesting things.
I won a literary prize!
Here’s a picture of it. A rather beautiful ceramic tree. It’s the Eyelands International Prize for an unpublished work of historical fiction, in my case The Red Tunic.
I’ve been shortlisted for half a dozen or so literary prizes but this is the first one I’ve one. It feels marvellous! A lot of published authors suffer from imposter syndrome – thinking that your success is a fluke and you’re not good enough. I’m one of them. This award helps me realise that I’m not an imposter. After a lifetime of dreaming, I’m a proper author. I’m starting to believe it. Sometimes.
What’s The Red Tunic?
It’s a novel about a girl who masquerades as her twin brother to fight in his place in the First World War. Nina is troublesome and argumentative. Alfie is gentle and caring. It makes sense to her to swap with him. I’ve been fascinated by the First World War for as long as I can remember and I wanted to write about it from a different angle. It has been my labour of love for four years and it’s currently on submission. I’m keeping everything crossed that a publisher picks it up soon. If you have any spare crossable fingers, please put them into use for me.
I love mudlarking. When I can’t get to London to visit the Thames, I scour the local beach for broken bits of glass and ceramic that were barged out of London and dumped near where I live, in Victorian times. The first thing I’m going to do when we’re finally released from lockdown is get to my favourite part of the Thames foreshore and lark till I drop.
I’m also excited to be recommencing school visits. I give creative writing workshops based around a selection of my finds. These include coins, jewellery, children’s toys, spurs, poison bottles, interesting pottery fragments and old spent bullets. They always go down well and I publish the best stories that result from my visits on my website. It’s good to see so many boys among them. Get in touch if your school would be interested in a visit from me. I can’t wait to get going again!