Bitter Orange published in two months

Bitter Orange jacket: Oranges and dark leaves, with smashed plate

 

In two months, Bitter Orange, my third novel will be published in the UK by Fig Tree / Penguin. Lots of proofs have gone out, and reviews from booksellers and quotes from other authors are starting to come in, and suddenly it feels very real. Exciting and terrifying.

In anticipation of the publication, I thought you might like to read the first paragraph, and if it tempts you, links for pre-ordering are below.

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They must think I don’t have long left, because today they allow the vicar in. Perhaps they are right, although this day feels no different from yesterday, and I imagine tomorrow will go on much the same. The vicar – no, not vicar, he has a different title, I forget – is older than me by a good few years, his hair is grey, and his skin is flaky and red, sore-looking. I didn’t ask for him; what faith I’d once had was tested and found lacking at Lyntons, and before that my church attendance was a habit, a routine for Mother and me to arrange our week around. I know all about routine and habit in this place. It is what we live, and what we die, by.

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I’d love you to go into your local independent book shop and pre-order Bitter Orange, or your local chain book shop. But if that’s not possible, you can pre-order here online:  here (UK), here (US), or here (Canada).

 

The Oddest Thing Found in a UK library book

Reading agency

I’ve recently had the good fortune (or perhaps misfortune) to judge the winner of the oddest thing ever found in a library book for the Reading Agency, and it was an illuminating experience.

It seems readers are a mucky lot. Librarians found a lot of unmentionables, that I’m not of course, going to mention, as well as a great deal of food. Bacon rashers – cooked and raw – featured prominently, as did chocolate bars, or their wrappers, orange peel, a chicken bone (we hope!), and mummified pizza. One librarian even found a fried egg, while another came across a kipper (luckily still in its vacuum-packed plastic).

A few readers were more considerate of those wonderful people who look after our books, and inserted between the pages ‘A Note From Emily,’ saying why she’d enjoyed the book, and in another, a letter saying how much that borrower loved their library.

But people can be forgetful, clearly grabbing the closest thing to hand to use as a bookmark, including postcards, a ‘herbal’ cigarette, train tickets, receipts, hairclips, loo roll, ribbons, spooky tarot cards, and quite a bit of money. Some of the money was reunited with its owners, as was the baby scan photo found in a parenting book.

However, librarians aren’t completely blameless when it comes to forgetfulness. Staff at one library found a debit card in a book and just as a particular librarian started criticising the stupidity of the debit card owner, she looked at the card and it was hers. Another library found a red sock in a fiction book which was claimed by an ex member of staff. When she was asked about it, she said she couldn’t find anything else to use as a bookmark.

But after sifting through all the entries, I’m pleased to announce that the winner is the entry from Rachael Smart (@smartrachael) on Twitter, who runs the book club for The Motherload. She found the sinisterly beautiful and appropriate, pressed cabbage white butterfly, ‘fragile as lace, tucked inside the pages of The Silence of the Lambs’.

Thank you to everyone who entered. You have given me a great deal of entertainment, even if that did include quite a bit of squealing in disgust.

And to read about the oddest things that Americans found in library books click here.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever found in a library book?

Reading agency

Win a reading set of Swimming Lessons

Following on from the US competition about the oddest thing ever found in a library book, a UK version has now been launched. The Reading Agency and Penguin want librarians and UK book groups to tell them the oddest thing they’ve found in a book, for a chance to win a reading set of my latest novel, Swimming Lessons.

The book is partly about Ingrid, who writes letters to her husband and hides them in the books that he collects. And he collects books for their marginalia and the things that previous readers have left behind in them.

It’s always fascinated me – what gets left in a book. It makes me think about the person who read it before me and what they thought of it, or perhaps where they were when they were reading and what else they were doing, because I suspect that not everything left behind in library books should really be there, not even as bookmarks. The American competition turned up many instances of food and other things that people put between the pages for safe keeping and forgot.

To enter, either email your entry to kathleen.ktorides@readingagency.org.uk or tweet it using #SwimmingLessons and tagging @ReadingAgency. The competition closes on 8 March when I’ll judge the weirdest entry. The winner will receive 12 signed copies of Swimming Lessons for their reading group or UK public library.

If you’d like book group questions for either my first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, or for Swimming Lessons, drop me a line.

And if you’re in a book group, I’d recommend you joining the Reading Agency – it’s free and there’s lots of information on books that make good book group reads, as well as the occasional giveaway.

Swimming Lessons Paperback Published in US

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The paperback of Swimming Lessons is published in the US today. My publisher, Tin House, has created a beautiful version of the hardback jacket using darker tones. And this version has book club questions in the back. If you do read it for your book club remember to take a picture of your group with the book and I’ll post the best to my Instagram account.

UK readers will have to wait a little longer for the paperback to be released.

The pictures above were taken and posted by some wonderful bookstagrammers, and if you’re on Instagram, I’d highly recommend following them all, not only for some wonderful bookish features, but lots of friendly bookish chat and reading suggestions.

Click to read more about Swimming Lessons.

Thanks to: @theloudlibrarylady @gracerajendran @bkInbooks @booksforyears @booksonherbrain @dlgillis20 @les_livres_ jennicapps15 @lblovesbooks for the pictures.

Personalised cards for Christmas

Picture by Malilauzie on Instagram - approved to use

I can’t start thinking about Christmas until two family birthdays are out of the way, which means it is all a bit of a rush during the second half of December. But if you’re a Christmas planner you might like to know about a little free gift I’m offering to people who buy one or more of my books for Christmas.

Emphemera 1If you buy a copy of Swimming Lessons, or Our Endless Numbered Days for someone this Christmas drop me a message, and I’ll post you a personalised and signed card for you to include with the book. And if you’re buying Swimming Lessons, since it’s about things that people leave behind in books, I’ll also send you a piece of ephemera to include as well.

This offer is available worldwide, and won’t cost you thing (apart from the cost of the book of course, which you will need to buy yourself either online or from your local book shop). I’m happy to include cards for each book you buy, and of course, you can buy it for yourself.

So if you’d like me to post you a signed card, contact me here with which book, or books you’re buying, the name of the recipient, and your postal address.

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Swimming Lessons video

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Thanks to Hannah Hartmann for this picture.

It’s one week until Swimming Lessons is published in the UK as a hardback and as an audio book. (Readers in Canada, the US, and Germany will have to wait a little longer).

To mark the occasion I’ve produced a drawing video of a scene from the book. I did the drawing, my daughter the filming and editing, and my son wrote and played the music. I’d love to know what you think.

 

Click here to see the drawing video released for Our Endless Numbered Days.

Swimming Lessons

My second novel, Swimming Lessons, will be published in January 2017 in the UK, and Canada, as well as an audio book, and February 2017 in the USA. Click on the country links to pre-order.

 

Our Endless Numbered Days on International Dublin Literary Award longlist

dublin

I’m so delighted to be able to let you know that Our Endless Numbered Days has been longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2017. This award, previously called the IMPAC Award, is presented annually for a novel written in English or translated into English.

Novels are nominated by libraries in major cities throughout the world, and this year 147 have been put forward for the longlist. Five judges have the task of reading and deciding which books should make it onto the shortlist of 10, announced next April. The winner, who receives €100,000  (awarded to the author if the book is written in English, or if in English translation, the author receives €75,000 and the translator, €25,000) is announced next June.

It is such a long longlist, with so many amazing titles, that I am just happy that Our Endless Numbered Days has made it this far.

Click here to see all 147 nominations. I’ve only read 12, so that’s a lot of books being added to my ‘to be read’ list. Let me know how many you’ve read.