It's all happening...
I'm approaching my sixtieth birthday, a time when some people are thinking of slowing down. Hmm. Since I got back from Harrogate things just seem to be busier. I have a brilliant new publicist who has realized that there's an interest in all things Shetland so she's persuaded me to write travel pieces on the islands for newspapers and magazines, I'm already being sent great ideas for next year's Harrogate and at the end of August I made a couple of trips north to the Edinburgh Festival. I'm also working on a new novel that needs to be delivered before Christmas.
So my annual writers' retreat to St Hilda's came at just the right time. The St Hilda's Crime and Mystery Conference is an oasis of peace in a publishing world that seems to get more and more frantic. Papers are presented on a theme and are always thoughtful and well-researched. I arrived several days early and played at being a student before the conference started, working in my room and only coming out in the evenings to catch up with organizers Kate Charles and Eileen Roberts and regular visitor Marcia Talley.
It was a big jump from there to the press day in Edinburgh. A series of interviews then a live appearance on the Simon Mayo show in front of an audience. With Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith. Sometimes I pinch myself. After years of writing in obscurity this all seems slightly unreal and very weird. My next trip to Edinburgh felt much more comfortable because I was there with Brenda Blethyn and we were talking about Vera, the character and the ITV show. Brenda was fascinating on how she builds up the character, and there was a real affection for the series in the crowded tent.
Straight from Edinburgh (at an unearthly hour of the morning) to Amble, the coastal town in Northumberland where I was honoured to open Harbour Day. All proceeds went to the RNLI, a charity I've been pleased to support since my husband was rescued by an inshore lifeboat after an accident in the Dee Estuary. At one point I found myself in the Zodiac with the lifeboat crew. One of the more enjoyable moments of a hectic weekend!
I don't think September will be any quieter. Next week I'm to Shetland with the BBC writers to introduce them to friends and help them get a feel for the place while they put the final touches to the new script. Then to Nairn for the book festival. Then back to the Northern Isles over the 11th and 12th of the month for 24/24 for a crazy celebration of libraries while we attempt to run reading events in 24 islands in 24 hours. Follow our progress through the Shetland Library website or on twitter (hash tag #joinlibraries) or join us in spirit by running the Shetland-based murder mystery Murder in the Ravenswick Hotel in your branch.
Then I'm in Devon for the Christie Festival. Taking it easy. Yeah, right!