I’m reflecting on what a very strange year this has been. Starting with last August, we began building our orangery extension. Torrential rain delayed the build, causing the whole thing to take 3 months instead of the 6 weeks that it was supposed to take.
David and I went on holiday in September with friends Frazer Hines and Pam Sharrock. None of us knew this was a lull before the storm.Or perhaps the last time we’d go on holiday again for a while.
I’d written and sold THE STRANGER IN OUR BED by then and knew it was due out in February 2020. I had such high hopes for the future. While away I started writing a new novel sitting in the shade at the hotel pool. I knew that my editor loved the book and I felt under pressure to come up with something even better. And I struggle to not work, even when I’m supposed to be on holiday.
We travelled again in February (this time for work though we managed to make a holiday of it as well) and we launched the digital version of STRANGER at Gallifrey Convention on 14th February in Los Angeles. I felt the love, surrounded as I was with friends and family and people who have always supported my books in the past. While I was there, we seriously began hearing about COVID-19. Up until then it had been described as ‘a flu’ and we believed it was nothing much to worry about. But soon after we got home we realised this wasn’t the case and we went into lockdown by 4th March – before the government enforced it.
My horror at the world around us falling apart was juxtaposed against everything we’d planned to do being cancelled. Our lives, like everyone elses’, were on hold. This was nothing in the scheme of things – people were dying. it doesn’t get any worse than that.And I followed the news and watched the evening reports from Downing Street, and stressed and fretted, and I’ll admit, cried, at times over how awful it was for everyone.
But the rollercoaster year continued, and STRANGER became a success despite everything. And by March 2020 it was a USA Today Bestseller. It was a high in a terrible time, giving us something good to focus on. It was also a shock, and felt unreal and added new insecurities to the mix. Could I achieve such success again? Great reviews can mess with your head just as much as negative ones do. It gives you a lot to live up to. But also, where was the world going to be next year anyway?
But I continued on, and I’ve completed 3 more novels since August 2019. I’m a third through another novel that I’ve had to put aside for a more pressing manuscript and I’m 14,000 words into that 5th book which has to be finished by December.
Now it is halfway through August and this whole year feels like it’s been a waste, but it really hasn’t been. In such a disjointed world I thought I wasn’t being very productive until I looked back on this time 12 months.
Which made me think: When there is upheaval and our lives change beyond our control, it’s hard to consider that the world continues to turn, even though the dawn still happens every morning just as surely as the night draws in every evening. But we humans, adaptible and strong and natural survivors that we are, keep on doing what we must in order to go on.