Hello all – here’s me busy at work, trying hard to come up with another bestseller! September’s been quite manic, but mostly in a good way. On the home front, two of my brothers have returned from overseas, where they live and work. Colm, a Redemptorist priest, has been based in the Philippines since his ordination twenty-five years ago. He comes home every couple of years, and a few of us have been out to visit him. The Philippines is a beautiful place, both in terms of landscape and people – I travelled there with my mother about 4 years ago and we were utterly charmed by the warmth of the welcome we received, usually from the poorest of the poor – typically, the people Colm spends most of his time with. (I wrote here about that experience, I was reminded of it in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which caused so much destruction there last year – scroll down a bit if you want to read it). Colm will be with us till the beginning of November, so we’ll have plenty of time to catch up. And because this year is his silver jubilee we held a celebration last week to mark the occasion – actually we had two – and invited all and sundry to join us. Lovely to spend some time with people you mightn’t meet that often, and a hooley is a great excuse to round everyone up.
Another brother, Ciaran, returned from California where he’s been living for the past several years – pic shows him and Colm walking in County Clare a few days ago. Ciaran’s planning to stay for a few months too so we’re having lots of chats around my parents’ kitchen table, or heading out for walks in the evenings. Interesting for Colm and Ciaran to compare the different directions their lives have taken: Ciaran is a computer programmer, living just outside San Francisco (he says his proper title is ‘computer architect’, but I suspect he’s making that up to impress us!) It’s lovely for Mam and Dad to have the boys around the place, and they’re fairly good at not making too much work for their hosts…I’m keeping an eye on that side of things – bossy big sister strikes! Of course Mam, being the quintessential Irish mother, just LOVES fussing over her sons, and does far more than they’d expect her to, but you might as well talk to the wall as try to stop her!
On the books front, I’ve sent off Two Fridays in April to my editor and agent, and I’m waiting now for their feedback. In the meantime, I want to pull out some children’s books I’ve written over the past few years for various age groups and have another look at them. I’d love to have another children’s book published – I’d particularly love to bring out a picture book for very young children – and now’s my chance before I have to dive back into Two Fridays in April to fix all the things I’ll be told are wrong with it! The cover is being designed as we speak – I saw an early version of it and it looks very promising, but I’m not allowed to flash it here or anywhere until it’s been finalised and approved. You’ll be the first to see it, promise! And publication date is March 18 – not sure if I knew that the last time I wrote here – so you won’t feel it….
For the non-Irish readers among you, our weather’s been incredibly mild, almost balmy, for most of September. The nights are drawing in, of course – it’s now getting dark around 8.00pm – but the central heating has stayed off most of the time, and I’ve lit my first fire today after the summer, purely because I took a TUMBLE earlier today – didn’t see a bump in the path, galloping along like I usually do, went SPLAT, mortifying – and now I’m feeling a little bumped and bruised and in need of some pampering!
Oh, one other thing. This most adorable little kitten has moved in across the road (here she’s asleep on one of my kitchen chairs – see her pearl necklace???) She comes visiting now and again, appears on my windowsill and mews loudly until I let her in. It’s made me really want a cat of my own again, after losing my two ladies over the past couple of years – not sure how long more I’ll be able to hold out without one. I was waiting until after the summer so I’d be more grounded in Limerick, and not heading off to the mobile home every so often, but I’m off to Rome in a week or so, and in November I’m heading to Lanzarote for a week, and I don’t like the thought of leaving a new arrival until he/she is well settled in….so maybe after Lanzarote I’ll have a look around. In the meantime, my new little neighbour will fill the gap nicely.
Right, time to stop, or I’ll put you all to sleep! Take care,
…well, not quite – but there’s been a distinctly autumnal vibe happening here over the past few days. BIt chillier, bit damper, bit greyer. And August not even finished yet: can summer 2014 be gone so soon? Seems to have lasted about as long as it would take to put a halfway decent dinner on the table. Of course I’m in denial, have no notion of lighting a fire or turning on the heating, at least until my calendar says September. Brrrr though.
On the writing front, the end is in sight for Two Fridays in April: another week or so till draft one is done, and then it’s back to page one to tidy it all up, another few weeks. No sign of a cover yet from Hachette, but should be coming soon. I figure by the middle of October I’ll be able to put the feet up for a week or two. Coincidentally, I’m going to Rome around then for a few days – nice. I love Rome, all those incredible paintings, sculptures, fountains, ruins. Not to mention the delectable pizzas, and the magnificent piazzas.
So the mobile home in County Clare has been packed up for another year, apart from a few one-night stays I’m planning in September, for walks and blackberry-picking and suchlike. I do miss the lovely view when I’m back home – the mostly dignified goings-on of the five cattle that spend the summer months in the field beyond the patio; the sparrows and blue tits and robins ducking and diving all day in the blackberry bushes that tumble over the patio wall; the vivid orange-red splashes of Montbretia growing wild on each side of the road that snakes down to the sea; and of course the Atlantic, a wide ribbon of it cutting into Liscannor Bay, a different colour every time you look at it. Wonderful.
But of course autumn brings compensations for taking summer away – crisp morning and evening air putting roses in cheeks, bowls of creamy soup in front of roaring fires, apple crumbles and spicy casseroles and mugs of hot chocolate. Great, now I’m starving. Excuse me while I raid the fridge. Oh, and autumn means a return to my Pilates and yoga classes, so yes, I’m allowed to raid the fridge (within reason).
Nom nom. Happy autumn to you. xx
Where is the year going? It seems like just a few weeks ago we were crossing our fingers and hoping for a decent summer – and now the togs and towels are packed away for another year and autumn has pretty much arrived in Ireland. For the past few days I’ve been throwing on an extra layer of clothing, trying to resist turning on the heating, but last night I gave in and lit the fire in the sitting room. I pretended it was for my parents who were coming to dinner – my mother in particular, at the ripe old age of 85, feels the cold – but I was pretty glad of it myself too. The Irish summer of 2013 will rank as a pretty good one when we look back though, particularly when we compare it to the last few dire ones, when the sun seemed to be permanently on holidays somewhere else!
In other news, I splashed out and bought myself a bread-making machine. My first effort was atrocious – I was going to post a picture but my pride forbade it. The loaf looked like a mutant mushroom with a whitish-grey top, so you can imagine it yourself. Serves me right for tweaking the recipe. The second one was halfway decent, and the third which I baked yesterday looks promising although I’ve yet to taste it. I’m planning lots of homemade soup and crusty bread this winter. (The accompanying pic actually shows loaves I baked before the arrival of the machine – not bad, hey? Wondering now in fact why I bothered getting the machine…)
On the books front, the sequel to One Summer (title still up for grabs) has been very well received by my editor – for the first time she didn’t look for ANY changes before sending it on to the copy-editor, so that’s good. It will hit Irish shelves sometime in the spring (which is just around the corner, at the rate time is flying) – and while I’m waiting for it to come back from the copy-editor I’ve begun a new book (well, you have to keep busy, right?) and I’m about 50 pages in so far. This one is set in a rural Irish community in the middle of winter. It’s going to span just five days and centre around two neighbouring families as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic event….quite different to anything that’s gone before. That’s all I’m saying for now – apart from the fact that I need to interview a sheep farmer for some info, which I’m doing tomorrow. He’ll get a kick, I’m sure, from the city girl’s questions, which will reveal the enormous depth of my ignorance regarding all things sheepish. Not sure why I needed to put a sheep farmer into the tale, but he’s there, and must be treated with respect. I’m going to bake my real life farmer a cake in the morning to say thanks – hope he’s got a sweet tooth.
A big thank you to all who get in touch to say nice things about the books: it means more than I can say. The other day I got a lovely email from a reader in New Zealand – wonderful to think of my stories making their way all the way to the other side of the world. Now all I need is for someone to offer me a book tour…..I can be packed in ten minutes.
Take care, and happy days – Roisin xx