Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Novel 2

Novel 2 has made its way from my desk to the desk of my editor. Phew!

It's a book about first love, possessions, parenting, allotments and the joy of Biscoff spread, and it will be published in June 2016.

Now I can finally start to catch up on my reading list, which is currently about two feet high...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Preston Family

My daughter Libby died when she was a baby. Here she is with my husband. He is holding her moments after a final, failed attempt at resuscitation. It is the saddest photo I own.

Libby had a mitochondrial disease. I'd never heard of such a thing until she was born.

After Libby died someone told me about The Children's Mitochondrial Disease Network. This was in 1999, in the days of dial-up internet, before I even had an email account. I phoned the founder of The Children's Mitochondrial Disease Network, Paul Preston, and he very kindly spoke to me on a few occasions.

Paul was volunteering his time. The Children's Mitochondrial Disease Network has no paid staff and is supported entirely by donations. When Paul spoke to me he and his wife Rachel had already lost a baby, Kristen, to mitochondrial disease. He was also facing up to the devastating news that two of his older children, Stacey and Kieran, were suffering from a type of mitochondrial disease that had manifested more slowly, but would ultimately prove to be fatal.

Stacey died in July 2015, aged 20. Throughout her life she was cared for at home by Paul and Rachel. Now Kieran's condition has deteriorated to the extent that the family are making plans for his end of life care. Kieran is also cared for at home by his parents, siblings and various medical teams. Paul and Rachel are trying to raise some money so they can do some special things with Kieran while they still have time. 

I know what it's like to lose one child to this condition. I have no idea how it feels to lose three. I have no idea how it feels to provide round-the-clock care for two decades. I know I'm a writer, and I make a living by imagining things, but this particular thing is beyond my imagination.

Times are hard for many people and there are so many worthy causes. But if you're lucky enough to have a spare fiver, do think of Rachel and Paul and their family.

Kieran's GoFundMe page.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Book Giveaway

I've been busy trying to finish off book 2 but on Friday I'll be enjoying the treat of chairing an event at Cheltenham with writers Claire Fuller and Sarah Leipciger. Their debut novels, Our Endless Numbered Days and The Mountain Can Wait, are excellent and I can't wait to find out more about them. It will be the first time I've chaired an event - I was so excited to do it that I went out and bought both novels (I used to have a copy of Claire's novel but I pressed it on someone: 'you must read this') and then, a few weeks later, I received my copies from the festival - oops!


As I now have a spare copy of each novel (in hardback, too!) I'm giving them away. If you'd like to win them, pop over to my Facebook page and comment on the thread. I'll draw a name out of a hat at the weekend. I'll try to remember to take them with me to Cheltenham to get them signed, too.