Other People’s Postcards

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When my husband Tim and I got married two years ago yesterday, we provided our guests with old blank postcards and asked them to write us a message. We handed out envelopes with labels and told each guest to write on a date when we could open them. Then for added mailing authenticity got them drop the envelopes in a postbox we’d made. 20130713_210912

So far we’ve been able to open 26 envelopes and read our guest’s messages, and each time it’s been such a lovely little blast of wedding-day memory. My son (who was 18 when we got married) dated his ‘yesterday’; many people dated theirs for our first anniversary, and some (you know who you are) for their own birthdays – so we wouldn’t have an excuse for not remembering!

Yesterday we opened one from my friend’s daughter – G, who is friends with my daughter – R. She wrote:

Claire and Tim, I hope I’m still friends with you guys ‘cos you guys are BADASS. And I don’t say that lightly. R is very lucky to have you guys and your book tattoos and beautiful red hair. And your personalities as well, obviously. Have an amazing future. G

This message is very special, not least because it makes me think about the lovely G, and laugh at how Tim and I aren’t BADASS at all, but also because it is the last envelope we can open until 27th February 2017. There’s another envelope dated the same year, but after that things thin out considerably: there’s one each for 2018 and 2020, two in 2021, three in 2023, and then the next is 2033, and the final joker dated their envelope 2043 (when I will be 76). I just hope they wrote something worth waiting for.

And the winner is…

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To celebrate 3 months to publication, this is the third and final blog post about my journey to publication, taken from my diary entries.

Read the first part: how I got an agent.

Read the second part: the auction.

6th July 2013

Woke up at 4.30am again and couldn’t get back to sleep. Came downstairs at 6.30am and logged on to see an email from Jane [my agent at Lutyens & Rubinstein] from last night with an update to the three bids. It feels like they’re talking about some other book and they’ve got me muddled up with someone else. Surely they’ll realise soon.

9th July 2013 7:31 am

Another sleepless night. The bags under my eyes are enormous.

Yesterday the book sold in Italy. A publisher in Canada also said they would be making an offer, and they asked whether I would be willing to travel! Odd, odd, odd. Exciting. Is this really me and my book?

I have an itch to start writing, but what?

Thursday 11th July 2013

Fig Tree/Penguin meeting with Juliet Annan. Jane and I were shown into a meeting room with sofas. We talked a lot about OEND (Our Endless Numbered Days) and she said things similar to A [a previous meeting with an editor from a different publisher] – it was like a book group – everyone sitting around saying ‘oh this!’ and ‘this!’ except it was my book. Weird. Juliet said everyone had read it, even the 16 year old work experience girl. She said she had complete control over what she chooses and she chooses things she likes. She thinks OEND will fit into a slot in early 2015! So long away.
I met Amelia and Joanna, who talked about marketing and audience. Juliet talked about editing and asked me how I came to write OEND. The conversation was all very natural and down to earth, and I was really drawn to that. From beside the sofa Juliet produced a Penguin bag with lots of books in it, which I was ridiculously excited about.
On the pavement outside before we said goodbye Jane said that the final offers would come in on Monday. That’s good because then I won’t be thinking about it over the weekend. I’ll be thinking about getting married!

15th July 2013

What do I write about first? I’m sitting on the bed and as I type I can see my finger with my wedding ring on it out of the corner of my eye; it makes me want to type differently.

Today Tim and I went back to the site [we hired a woodland campsite for the wedding] with Anne, to wait for the people to pick up the generator. I knew that the end of the auction was happening today, but Jane hadn’t told me what time, so the three of us were packed into the car with the last of the left-over food, camping stuff and empty bottles, and I was sitting in the back with a bin-liner of rubbish on my lap when Jane phoned. The final offers had come in. Jane told me to go away and think about it for a while. Ten minutes later I decided: I wanted a penguin (and a fig leaf) on the spine of my book.

16th July 2013

The French auction came to a close today – three way. I ordered Jane some flowers, and Tim and I danced around the kitchen: 8 countries – UK and Commonwealth, Canada (sold separately), France, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Israel, Taiwan (Taiwan!) [The sale of the book to Tin House in the United States came a couple of months later.] Wow!

Now the editing begins.

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Our Endless Numbered Days will be published in the UK and commonwealth, US, Canada, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Israel and Turkey. It is available to pre-order now:

UK

US

Canada

You can add it to your Goodreads ‘to read’ list here, and you can join my mailing list to receive updates and news, here.

Magic Lists

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I don’t believe in magic lists – those self-help, what-do-you-want-out-of-life scraps of paper where you write down what you want to achieve and then forget all about them.

Despite that, when my partner, Tim, moved in with me we spent days merging and sorting his books with mine and I came across a piece of card on which (six years previously) I had written my own magic list.  Once I had read it, I put the card inside another book, which is now lost amongst the thousands in our house. I can only remember two of the things on that list – one was to find someone to love who would love me back, and the other was to write a book (I hadn’t written anything when I put that ambition down in black and white).

Zoom forward to 2013, and here’s a summary of what happened in date order:

  • March 2013 – I finished writing my first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days
  • April 2013 – I sent it out to agents, met Jane Finigan from Lutyens & Rubinstein, and signed with them
  • July 2013 – Jane sent it out and it went to auction with three publishers
  • 13th July 2013 – I married Tim and the sun shone
  • 15th July 2013 I accepted the offer from Fig Tree / Penguin
  • July – October 2013 the book sold in a further eight countries
  • December 2013 I received my MA in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester – a distinction.

 

I still don’t believe in magic lists, but don’t get cross if I write another one.