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My round-up of 2023

Looking back at 2023

It’s a cliché to say this year has brought plenty of highs and lows, but for once, I feel like this year is deserving of that moniker. The year started on a deep low, with news that the publisher of my debut children’s book might go out of business. Having signed the contract two years earlier and waited patiently, I was devastated to think it might all come to nought. Fortunately, Tiny Tree Children’s Books was bought out, and Pax & The Missing Head published in October. The blog tour was amazing, and I was blessed with two (!) launch parties: one online and the other in person. It’s been wonderful seeing the lovely reaction to Pax during the blog tour and finally being able to do some author events with the intended audience.

The early part of the year also brought some light-hearted relief, with Fiona and I agreeing to write a pantomime script for our local am-dram society (The Quince Players). We didn’t want to re-write an old classic, so came up with our own plot based on nursery rhyme characters and a competition to find a new ‘rhyme for our time.’ We called it Ba Ba Land. With all the traditional elements of a panto, it was lots of fun writing puns, silly jokes, and (thanks to Fiona) some wonderful rhyming couplets. Not only did the Quince Players agree to use our script (show dates are 11-20 Jan, tickets available at quinceplayers.com) but we also had it published on the Lazy Bee website, so it’s now available for use anywhere in the world!

During the spring and summer, I re-wrote an MG fantasy re-telling of the King Arthur legend, which was shortlisted for the Wells Festival Children’s prize (it didn’t win) and I finished the sequel to Pax & The Missing Head. I’m very excited about this follow-up. With the world and characters already set up, I feel there’s more meat to this story. It is due to be published in October 2024, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. Final edits are in progress.

During the summer, I also took my daughter on a road trip to California as a reward for all her hard work during A levels. We had a fabulous time, visiting Yosemite and several other national parks as well as San Fransisco and Monterrey. In tennis, our team didn’t do very well in the summer leagues we entered, but I managed to regain the Foxhills singles title having lost in the final the previous two years.

In the autumn, as well as the publication of Pax, I wrote another pantomime script with Fiona’s help. This one is based on pirate stories – mainly drawing on Treasure Island, but with nods to Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean. When writing panto, I love imagining the cast on stage, delivering the double-entendres with a straight face, the kids in the audience yelling he’s behind you, and so on. Really pleased with how this one has turned out. And at least it proves we can do it again!

The winter brought more highs and lows. I wrote the first draft of Pax and the King in Exile (working title), the last part in the London Falling trilogy. I approached this with some trepidation, after plotting it out a while ago. I really wanted to make sure the series ended with a pleasing bang, rather than an unsatisfactory whimper but was nervous. Could I achieve this? I tried to ignore the doubts and ploughed on regardless. I think it needs plenty more effort, but at least I have something to work on now.

Unfortunately, this year’s Christmas celebrations were rather scuppered by the dreaded covid hitting our household. Fiona and I both caught it for the first time. As well as feeling unwell, we obviously couldn’t meet up with family. I know lots of people have gone through similar privations already, but it seemed particularly cruel for our daughter’s return home after a first term at university. We finish the year just about recovered, battered by stormy weather and getting ready for the world premiere of Ba Ba Land.

I hope to see you at Cordes Hall in January and wish you all a very happy, peaceful and successful 2024!