August 2018: Long, hot summer

Well, what a summer!

After what seems to have been the longest winter EVER, we’ve had the longest, hottest summer EVER. For weeks I’ve been feeling like I’m on holiday even if I’m not. This has been disastrous on the productivity front.

I’m not on holiday. But the holiday feeling continues.

We sit in the garden to eat our breakfast and because it’s so lovely, breakfast ends up turning into lunch until it’s time to pour a glass of rosé and think about putting the barbecue on for supper. I can’t complain, because isn’t this what being self-employed is all about? Able to work your own hours? Now it’s cooler my sanity has returned and I realise it’s time to get a grip.

When I last blogged, I said I’d sent the outline of my stand-alone to my stand-in agent (my lovely agent Rowan is on maternity leave) which he loved. Unfortunately, my publisher didn’t love it as much so I had to chuck in the 15,000 words I’d already written and go back to the drawing board. Frustrating to say the least!

Still, the good news is that Zaffre confirmed they want another international-style thriller from me, so that’s what I’m getting together. Unfortunately, my stand-in agent left to work elsewhere so I’m even further behind the drag curve, but it’s a writer’s life and although things are never predictable, I still wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I love my job!

I also love my holidays and I thought I’d put up a photograph or two of Spain because it’s so beautiful. We took the camper from Santander through Avila, Cadiz, Ronda and Marbella, returning via Portugal and France. Not only is central Spain stuffed with history but the food is fantastic. And don’t get me started on the wine. Delicious.

(Copyright CJ Carver)
(Copyright CJ Carver)
(Copyright CJ Carver)
(Copyright CJ Carver)

Aside from holidays, I’ve managed to get in some flying. This is thanks to being married to a pilot, but even more brilliant is that he’s been building an aircraft in our garage. Of all the things I thought I’d have in my garage, it wasn’t a fully aerobatic RV-8 (complete with a heated seat for me in the back and oh, I get a throttle and control stick too). Her name is Spirit of Colerne and she leaves the garage for the paint-sprayer this week, after which she’ll be assembled on an airfield and then it’s the TEST FLIGHT. I won’t be aboard, needless to say. Here’s a pic of the little beauty as she looks today.

(Copyright CJ Carver)
The Spirit of Colerne. (Copyright CJ Carver)
(Copyright CJ Carver)
…complete with a heated seat for me in the back! (Copyright CJ Carver)

It’s been a season of writer’s festivals, and I had great fun catching up with the great and good at CrimeFest and Harrogate, from Lee Child to Simon Kernick, Tim Weaver and the brilliant L. A. Larkin. Some great discussions were held at the bar, talking about the books we were writing, the ones we wanted to write but the publishers didn’t want and the ones we’ve written that are still looking for a home. Being solitary types, it’s always nice to swap stories and feel part of a working community even if it’s only for a short while.

I read loads of books over the summer, the most powerful being The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s billed as a “modern classic” and although I was a bit daunted at its size (614 pages) once I started I found I couldn’t put it down. It’s about a fierce, evangelical Baptist missionary who takes his family to the Belgian Congo in 1959, and as I read, I had to keep looking things up on the Internet to check if the facts were straight. Like the Belgians chopping off thousands of workers’ hands. Horrendous, and true. But there were uplifting moments too, and stories of immense sacrifice and friendship. A magnificent and haunting book.

Matthew Richardson’s debut, the excellent My Name is Nobody. (Copyright CJ Carver)
Matthew Richardson’s debut, the excellent My Name is Nobody. (Copyright CJ Carver)

If you’re a spy-thriller fan, then try Matthew Richardson’s debut, the excellent My Name is Nobody. I saw Matthew speak at CrimeFest and when I heard he’d worked in Westminster, I knew he’d be writing from a font of knowledge. It’s about a spy who is on the run, determined to clear his name of murder, and it was a fast, slick read.

I’ve been very much enjoying David Young’s Oberleutnant Karin Muller series. Part police- procedural, part thriller, the books are set in the cold war and are the perfect blend of action, suspense and historical detail. I love learning what it must have been like on the other side of the Berlin Wall in those days, and little wonder David won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Historical Dagger Award. I’m now hanging out for the fourth in the series.

So, that’s about all my news this summer. As soon as I get a new book contract I’ll let you know. I’ll be breaking open the champagne, believe me!

Keep well and happy and reading great books.