Saturday, 28 August 2010

Cover Story

A friend sent me a fascinating article about how authors often disagree vehemently with their publishers over the covers for their books. In fact it seems that a large proportion of writers aren't that happy with what ends up wrapped around their magnum opus.

My own publishers had asked if I had any thoughts about the cover for "Secret Diary". We both agreed that it's a long title so the design had to be fairly minimal. I really like the cover for Kate Long's "Bad Mother's Handbook" so was thinking perhaps something along those sort of lines - and my editor also felt that a simple illustration may be the way to go.

Then I received an email saying that for a number of reasons this plan hadn't turned out as well as we had hoped. And so they were sending the first draft of a new design instead. I admit, there was some trepidation as I opened the attachment to take a look. I had absolutely no idea what to expect - plus it's a very strange feeling when it all becomes so real. To see the actual cover means this is really happening. It isn't just a dream. Or a figment of my imagination. Or a mirage brought about by wishful thinking and lack of sleep...

And so a nervous click - and there it was before me.

I really liked what I saw. And now, some weeks later, I can present the final version in glorious technicolour!

To say I love it is an understatement. The colours are vibrant and strong. The design is simple - but perfect. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

I spend a disproportionate proportion of my time (and income) in bookshops and I know that this is exactly the kind of cover that would make me want to pick the book up and find out more. I can only hope that other people will feel the same.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


When I look back over the last three years I see that my life has changed in ways I had hardly dared to hope it would.

I may have walked away from a well-paid and successful career, but I have also achieved my two greatest become a mum. And to write a book.

It is exactly three years since I discovered I was expecting - something I wanted more than anything in the world. Despite a few scares early on it was a pretty textbook pregnancy, a heady mix of nausea, elasticated waist trousers and industrial sized bottles of Gaviscon. Naturally this didn't stop me worrying about anything and everything: is the baby ok? Is it doing all the right things in there? Will I carry it to term? Will I ever see my toes again..?

Knowing that this was probably my last chance saloon probably made it all the more stresssful - so I was overjoyed to give birth to a beautiful baby daughter who has brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined.

She has also brought me a new career: a newspaper column that I have been writing since she was six months old about what it's really like to be a 'midlife mum'. And now "The Secret Diary of A New Mum (Aged 43 1/4)"

The gestation of the book has not been unlike a regular pregnancy...nervous excitement at the start (is this really happening?). Stress - is it all going to work out? A period of queasiness (I can't make this chapter work - heeeelp). A middle trimester where it all seems to go fairly swimmingly. Then a lot of pain, pushing and agony to get the darned thing out.

And so here we are. My daughter is now two. And my book is now written.

But there is still a very long way to go before publication next February. As a fledgling author it's a journey I don't know too much about - and so it seemed like a good idea to share the ups and downs along the way. Hence this secret diary of my Secret Diary...