Judging a book by its cover

I crawl out of my foxhole like a soldier in a very battered tin hat, accessoried with khaki netting, my bayonet still raised to ward off any stray pink hearts which could still be circling, ready to attack. I feel my military metaphors are hopelessly tangled, but you get the idea. Thank God Valentine’s Day is over for another year. Things were so easy once upon a time. I just smiled prettily, and I got shedloads of chocs and hothouses of flowers. These days, with True Love, the donkey getting lost on the way to Mantua with Juliet’s letter explaining the whole potion/crypt thing to Romeo looks like an efficient and speedy means of communication, with a possibly less fraught conclusion to boot.

Never mind. My children are at school for a reason – to distract me from my life. Half term is so over. The alarm clock shrills and we are plunged back into ‘who stole my tights?’ and ‘you know I’ve always hated Cheerios!’. Ah, sweet music.

No sooner do I scramble back on to the school run, however, than more pink hearts appear on the horizon. This time, they are being sent by my adorable publisher, Ullstein, and are – gasp! – on the cover of my soon-to-be published novel, Hot Chocolate or, I should now say, Schokoherz, which all German-speakers will know sounds much better in German.

I do love all the warm, rich red tones, which go beautifully with my character, Bella, who is as toasty as a ….well, toastie, actually. She is, of course, the me I wish I was – constantly funny, kind and magnetic, whereas I, though I try to be a good girl, have unfortunate tendencies towards rattiness, depression, fecklessness …feel free to fill the rest in when you have a moment.

The whole book issue, though, brings me to a difficult matter. My name. I’m afraid I won’t be able to resist more mentions of the book, when it comes out, though revealing the whole, entire cover (the version here is doctored) will, inevitably, blow my own cover. The Dulwich Divorcee will be wandering through the village wearing only her skimpiest negligee. Just be grateful that I’m sparing you total nudity.

I’ve always thought of dear DD as a fictional creation, a warm-up for writing Novel Number 2 (going v slowly) and Not Me at all. But perhaps she is just a mask, or a negligee, which I cower behind while taking a pop at poor dear True Love when he is already down.

Whatever, I shall have to resolve this, and soon. It is, after all, nearly spring – could be time to prune!

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