What a year!  

Today it’s been a whole year since the publication of my first novel, A Savage Art.

I know how much of a thrill publication is for every writer – but the last couple of years have been so difficult for me that it’s impossible to overstate how much I needed this, and how much I’ve appreciated everything about it.

From the first email response from the fabulous Chris McVeigh at Fahrenheit Press, the sheer delight of seeing the gorgeous cover design, the day of publication and then later holding an actual paperback copy in my hands, each new first was a joy.

Best of all, though, was the realisation that people were actually reading my novel and enjoying it.

(My darling Ryan is peering over my shoulder and pointing out that he’s a person, and I should mention that some people previously HAD to read it…)

People I know, and people I don’t know.

Wow.

I keep pondering a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut – his first rule for writing fiction, in fact.

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

I’m not much of a one for rules, but that’s one I hope I’ve not broken!

Thank you so much to everyone who has read the novel, and to everyone who has taken the time to review – on their blog, or on Amazon or Goodreads. It is very much appreciated. And thank you also to those who shared their responses with me and even their criticisms – that is also very much welcomed.

It’s a funny thing but I was actually quite well prepared for criticism – critiquing and being critiqued helps to develop a thick skin. What I wasn’t prepared for was  how I’d feel when readers loved my novel and said so. So strange a feeling – I come over all emotional every time.

The difficult things about this past year – I’ll spare you most of it, don’t fret – have been a series misadventures with my health. Turns out I’m not very good at having surgery. I have lupus – who could have guessed? The part I was most scared about – the anaesthetic (I like knowing what’s going on, me) – I sailed through with no problems. Only afterwards my poor body over-reacted and I ended up needing two more surgeries to deal with complications following the first – and I’m still not healed from the last one.

Well, you are crime readers – maybe you can take a little unnecessarily gory detail. If not, look away now.

After the second surgery to deal with an infection and a wound which was producing pints and pints of exudate, I was examined by a plastic surgeon…. He put both hands in the cavity in my tum and they disappeared up to the wrist…as if I were his glove puppet. Ryan made his much repeated joke about _that_ scene in Alien, and I was laughing so much (my sense of humour was the other thing that carried me through) that the poor surgeon thought he was hurting me and apologised.

I am beginning to feel much better now, even though there’s still plenty of healing to be done, but the hernia is fixed, the ovarian cyst gone and the wonderful doctors and nurses of our NHS have done a pretty good job of putting me back together.

And I’m back to my writing. I’ve written a short story. I’m working on editing my second novel – there are too many words in the current draft, and it needs structural work as well as a lot of spit and polish. I’m busy making notes for a sequel to A Savage Art,  that I plan to start in the new year when the current monstrosity is cut down to size and I’m ready to let go of it.

It’s been a very eventful time and I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me get through it.

And an extra special thank you to Chris McVeigh, Mr Fahrenheit himself, for making my dream come true – and for publishing some fabulous novels which have kept me entertained while I’ve not been up to much else. I am in such good company, it has to be said!

Ann