I’ve been blowing my own trumpet so much of late that I am in real danger of blistering my perfect pout. But, in the absence of a team of cheerleaders on my benches, I sort of feel justified. Almost. Well, anyway, the news is so exciting that I can’t help yelling it from the rooftops of Dulwich- apologies if you’ve already heard this by phone, email or twitter, apologies also if you’re just generally fed up with the whole subject, but my book has SOLD OUT! Over 6,000 copies gone in two weeks. It’s being reprinted as we speak. My publisher is really pleased. So am I!! And, though I don’t suppose I should admit it, frankly, I’m a bit amazed too.
It’s been a long, long slog getting the book into print. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ok, for a week or two, I wanted to be a ballerina, but from the age of 11 onwards, I just wanted to write books. I wrote endless stories as a child and daydreamed plots as I grew up. I got a job writing – as a journalist – but was always jotting down ideas, reading enviously of other people’s literary successes, and dreaming of the day when I’d be a published novelist.
Then I realised I’d actually have to write a book to get published. I limbered up with a couple of attempts at Mills and Boon romances when on maternity leave (the rejections were as firm as the pulsating manhoods I wrote about) and then decided to have a proper go when Child One started primary school in Belgium in 2001. I told all my friends I was going to write a novel, so that I’d have to keep going or lose face forever, and thought it would take a couple of years or so. I’ve pretty much been at it ever since.
It’s now been through many drafts and a couple of agents. I’ve even had quite a lot of working titles, before I lighted on Hot Chocolate, which I do think is a fab name. Of course, the book is now published under the title Schokohertz – symbolic of the way nothing about it has turned out the way I thought it would. I was, I thought, happily married when I started to write it, and the book had a sad ending. Now it has a happy ending – oopsie, given that away – and I am divorced. Who’d have thought?
I used to write full time in Belgium. Things have inevitably been more scrappy here, as I struggle to cope with my new status as a single mother, worker, blogger and, in the odd moment that remains, novelist. But I never quite lost faith, even when, in a spooky moment, I cut a pack of Tarot cards, asking whether the book would ever be published, and TWICE the ‘struggle’ card came up. And yes, I did shuffle in between. All the hairs stood up all over my body – a very odd feeling – and I gave those Tarot cards away the next day. But they were right. It’s been a struggle. It’s even been two whole years since I signed the publication deal with lovely Ullstein, after my very clever agent sold the book at the Frankfurt book fair, and then the release date was delayed by six months by the recession.
But now the book is here. Thanks to Ullstein’s wonderful efficiency, they delivered some copies to me, which I am now shipping off to my brothers and assorted relatives. Of course, none of us speak German, which is a distinct disadvantage, but though I say it myself (another tootle coming on) it is quite beautiful just as an object. Of course, I’m still dying for an English publisher to snap it up. But I have hope. As I now know for sure, dreams really can come true.