For a while my attention has been firmly fixed on Vera Stanhope and the Northumberland books. I spent another two days on set during the ITV productions filming of Vera - and had a brief Hitchcock moment on a rainy morning in North Blyth. Though if you blink you'll miss me even if I survive the edit! It was magic to watch my characters come to life in a walk up a street or a conversation over a kitchen table, to see Vera's personality reflected in the items in her office.
And I've been struggling to get the first draft of the new Stanhope book ready to show my agent. But now filming is over - completed exactly on schedule - and CRUEL WOMEN is being read by Sara and her associates. This is a nerve-wracking time for me. I know writers who show scripts to partners or colleagues before submitting them, but Sara is always my first reader and because there's been so much new interest in the Vera books I want this to be right.
So recently my attention has shifted back to Shetland. I'm already looking forward to publication of BLUE LIGHTNING in February. I'm fortunate to have a brilliant publicist in Helen Guthrie and over the past week we've been planning events and pitches to promote the novel. These days it isn't enough just to get books onto shelves - though that's hard enough.
An event that we're definitely keen to repeat is 'Shetland Nights', an evening of music, readings and stories. I first met musician Chris Stout at the launch party for RED BONES, though I'd heard of him before that of course. He was founder member of the band Fiddlers' Bid and is a regular visitor to The Sage, Gateshead. He's a Fair Islander by birth, went to school in Shetland mainland and now lives in Glasgow. He provided the inspiration for Roddy Sinclair, the young musician in WHITE NIGHTS. And it seems my books have provided some inspiration for him because he's written a tune for Roddy and his new album, to be released in the spring, will be called WHITE NIGHTS.
Last week we had our first collaborative gigs in St May's Centre Gateshead and the Civic Hall, Holmfirth. Both were truly enjoyable events. I try to bring the islands alive with my words; Chris's music, the traditional tunes and the contemporary pieces, does the same thing in a more immediate and powerful way. Thanks to Dot Cameron and MaiLin Li and their teams for giving us the opportunity to share our passion for a very special place.
We'll be performing together again on March 23rd as part of the Sunday Times Oxford Literature Festival. Come along and see us there. I'm told Unst beer will be on offer too...