Adventures at Avebury

I think I may have terminal concussion. An uncaring world says I only have a small red mark on my forehead, and that any idiot who ventures into a long barrow without a torch is suffering from terminal stupidity – not concussion. They’re wrong.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve left the relative safety of my desk and ventured out into the world again. That rarely ends well.

I set off with my brother, the eminent author – who also never thought to bring a torch, so blundering around in the dark is obviously a writer thing – to visit the World Heritage Site at Avebury, followed by a visit to the West Kennet Long Barrow and then on to Silbury Hill.

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The whole thing was a bit of a disaster. Well, how could it not be. We’re writers. We don’t do outdoors. I fell into a hole – and believe it or not, the eminent author managed to capture the moment with his camera, and the word ‘blackmail’ is being bandied about. He couldn’t get the nice one of me posing, writer like and staring thoughtfully at the horizon, could he?

Anyway, we did the usual Avebury things – counted the stones, paced the distance between them and speculated – which is author speak for argued violently – as to their origins, our theories getting wilder and wilder until we were discussing a fictional plot containing giant serpents, aurochs, ley lines, and an unlikely heroine named Plain Jane with a Brain, the daughter of Tarquin and Jacintha.

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As you can see, we have to make these trips together because no one else will go out with us.

From there, still casting aspersions on each other’s theories, we journeyed to the West Kennet Long Barrow, which is where the head banging occurred. I could barely see for the flashing lights in front of my eyes. I think it was there that I fell into the hole, but it’s all a bit blurry. The eminent writer nearly fell over laughing, obviously forgetting we’d had to leave Avebury in a tearing hurry because one of us had been terrorised by a field of cows who, although lying down, WERE LOOKING AT HIM IN A FUNNY WAY.

I did try to explain that cows don’t have any other way of looking at you, and reassured him that they don’t bite, they slobber, and that the only danger he was in was that of being soundly licked or encased in cow mucus, but I was wasting my time. I’m actually very brave when I’m out with my brother because I know I can run faster than he can.

From there we walked to nearby Silbury Hill which is pretty impressive, and after a careful check for cows and other hostile entities, walked around the base, evolving even more theories. Hippies, the pyramids, primitive fertility rites, human sacrifice, hidden treasure, subsidence, and so on. I remember there was a lot of arm waving and personal ridicule.

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We call it research, of course, and occasionally one of us does sit down – usually in something quite unpleasant – and scribbles a few lines down, and then it’s off for another ice cream, or lunch, or a cup of tea, because we’re writers and we have needs.

And don’t forget The Great St Mary’s Day Out is available here!

 

Guest Post: Hunting Ancient Mayan Relics with Stewart Ferris

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Good afternoon everyone, I’m delighted to introduce Stewart Ferris, author of The Sphinx Scrolls. It is a tale of one passionate archaeologist Ruby, an aristocrat desperate for cash and an evil Nazi descendant and a race against time to prevent an ancient Mayan prophecy. Stewart has kindly agreed to be a guest blogger today. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am not only to have mastered the art of blogging, but of hosting other writers as well. Anyway, less of me – without any further ado, here’s Stewart to speak for himself.

The Sphinx Scrolls is essentially about the world’s oldest (and slowest) time machine: the Great Sphinx of Giza. If, as many believe, it was constructed to house the records of a lost civilisation, its purpose is therefore to transmit information and knowledge to humans of the future. It exists to travel through time, carrying important messages to the distant descendants of those who built it. Why would they do that? The novel explores the possibility that 12,000 years ago humanity needed to warn its descendants of a great peril that would threaten them. How else could they send a message to unborn generations than by encasing it in a stone marker? The novel begins as the looming catastrophe instigated by our ancestors is almost upon us, and only the scrolls hidden within the Sphinx can save us. But archaeologist Ruby Towers suffers a massive defeat at her moment of triumph…below is an extract from the opening chapter.

***

Extract from The Sphinx Scrolls by Stewart Ferris (Accent Press, 2016)

Dr Ruby Towers dropped the drill and wiped the grit from her goggles. Her pulse raced. After months of planning and overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, after weeks of scanning, measuring and arguing, and after days of gruelling tunnelling, this was her moment.

She poked her scuffed aluminium Maglite into the opening. Now she could see her prize.

A chamber.

The space was cramped. Objects were stacked in the centre of this timeless cavity. She counted them. Ten. They were clay tubes, greyed by immense antiquity.

Was this the fabled Hall of Records? Was this the repository of the knowledge of a lost civilisation? Would this discovery finally unravel the mystery of the age and purpose of the Great Sphinx of Giza?

‘Can we get the camera in here?’ she shouted over her shoulder.

The documentary cameraman and the presenter squeezed alongside her in the narrow shaft. The cameraman pointed the lens at the presenter, former soldier Matt Mountebank.

‘So tell us what you’ve found,’ he said, with calm authority in his Manhattan accent.

The camera swung round to Ruby’s face, almost pressing against her nose.

‘We’re directly beneath the flank of the Sphinx,’ she announced, her voice excited and high pitched. ‘This tunnel was begun a century ago by tomb robbers using explosives. Our scanners revealed a chamber just ahead, so we applied for permission to extend the tunnel to join up with that chamber. That way there will be no external damage to the monument. And now –’

She paused. Matt was pulling faces at her from behind the camera. As usual. She kicked him in the leg with her heavy Altberg boot.

He stopped.

‘And now we’re through,’ she continued. ‘This peephole is enough to prove that the Sphinx houses an archaeological treasure. The clay tubes will almost certainly contain scrolls. If they are intact and readable, the ancient riddle of the Sphinx could be solved. We might be about to find out who built it, when they did so, and why.’

‘Turn off the camera. Everyone out.’

Ruby turned around. The Head of Antiquities was silhouetted in the tunnel entrance, flanked by two police officers. Dr Shepsit Ibrahim did not appear to share Ruby’s enthusiasm for the discovery.

‘Keep rolling,’ whispered Matt. ‘This could be good.’

‘Your licence has been revoked,’ shouted Dr Ibrahim. ‘This dig is finished.’

‘You’ve got to be kidding, Shepsit!’ protested Ruby. ‘I’ve found the chamber. We can’t stop now!’

‘I’m sorry, Ruby,’ Ibrahim replied, her tone softening.

‘But you’re in charge, Shepsit. You can overrule this and get our licence back.’

‘I’m the one stopping it, Ruby. It’s over.’

Ruby stepped outside. In the unforgiving daylight, the two policemen seemed odd. Their uniforms didn’t fit, and neither did their features: more Central American than Middle Eastern. She grudgingly acknowledged them in her limited Arabic and received no response. They remained curiously clamped to Ibrahim’s side.

‘What’s got into you, Shepsit?’ Ruby pleaded. ‘And why are the police involved?’

Dr Ibrahim rolled her eyes sideways, left and right. Ruby followed her gaze and looked at the police officers again. They seemed edgy. As they turned she noticed one of them was pressing something firmly into Ibrahim’s back beneath a small rag.

A pistol.

Ruby glanced at Matt, fearing that his special forces training might tempt him to play the hero. His Gulf War memoirs were legendary. He was not a man to mess with.

‘Don’t try anything stupid,’ she grunted. ‘I don’t want Shepsit hurt.’

‘Sure,’ he replied, surprising her with his willingness to concede defeat.

‘Is that it, Matt? You’re not going to do anything?’

‘You just told me not to.’

‘I know, but you must have some trick you can use to overpower them?’

‘Rubes, those guys have guns. I got a damn microphone.’

She glanced back at the Sphinx. It had survived Napoleon’s soldiers using it for target practice. It had foiled tomb robbers for millennia. Now, dwarfed by the grandeur of the Pyramid of Khafre behind it, the Sphinx stared forward with serene nobility while thieves dressed in police uniforms plundered priceless secrets from its heart.

***

If that tantalizing taster whetted your appetite then you get The Sphinx Scrolls from amazon!

sphinx scrolls new release

Cardiff event news round up!

Sue and JaneJodi Taylor with fellow Accent Press author Jane Jackson.

Well, what an amazing day on Saturday. I was at the Octavo Bookshop, Cafe and Wine Bar – one of those magical places where books, endless cups of tea, good food, more books and a really cracking Zinfandel all come together at once.

It was lovely to meet old friends again and make new ones. There was a great deal of chat, then a reading from What Could Possibly Go Wrong? And we finished with an informal Q & A session. The Managing Director of Accent Press – all hail Accent Press – Q’d and I A’d.

For those who couldn’t make it on the day, the following points emerged:

  • Book 8 is coming along nicely.
  • I have an overwhelming urge to write a supernatural thriller
  • I’m planning a spin off from St Mary’s, possibly aimed at Young Adults, because I remember that when I was a Young Adult, quite a lot was aimed at me and most of it not so pleasant as books!
  • Shamefully, there is no structure to my writing life – or even my non-writing life.
  • Audible are planning to dramatize Just One Damned Thing After Another.
  • Proceeds from the Christmas story will go to Help for Heroes and I shall be plugging this shamelessly over the coming months.
  • The Christmas story is told by Mr Markham.
  • I’m writing a sequel to The Nothing Girl.
  • There aren’t enough hours in the day.

IMG_0804Jodi Taylor with Accent Press MD Hazel Cushion.

Many thanks to everyone who turned up. It was lovely to meet you. And many thanks for the gifts. I’ve eaten the chocolates already. Sorry! And the beautifully crocheted Max, complete with long red hair and scratchpad is sitting on my dressing table as I write. Yes, I am still in bed – having been compelled to admit publicly that’s where I do most of my writing. Oh, the shame of it!Sue, Fan and MaxJodi Taylor with one her fans who made her a crocheted Max.

Anyway, apparently I didn’t disgrace myself – always a major fear – and there may well be similar events in the future.

Have a good week.

 

Sue and Hazel

Jodi Taylor with Accent Press MD Hazel Cushion and all of Jodi’s books!

 

Come See Me at Octavo’s Book Cafe & Wine Bar on Saturday

I’ve just had a patch test, apparently they paint the back of your ear and wait to see if it bursts into flames. I am, as you can imagine, peering anxiously into a mirror every four seconds or so – actually I do that anyway, but don’t tell anyone – just in case I’m suffering from aural conflagration.

Anyway,  the real reason for this blog – apart from sharing the existential angst of my world – is to give a mention to my appearance at the Octavo Book Shop, Café and Wine Bar in West Bute Street Cardiff, on Saturday 16th July.

Kick off is at eleven when I shall be relating the series of accidents and errors that led to my being published, followed by a reading from one of my books, and a Q & A session at 1pm.

I shall be there all day (11-5), chatting to anyone kind enough to show an interest in my books, signing anything put in front of me, directing people to the toilets and generally getting in everyone’s way. Please do drop by if you get the chance.

Jodi Taylor Event

Also, you can pre-order my new short story The Great St Mary’s Day Out here.

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Short Story News & Sneak Peek!

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Well, the big news is that The Great St Mary’s Day Out is available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.  And before anyone asks, I’m checking Audible twice a day and will post as soon as it becomes available there as well.

I include a sneak-peek of the opening below, just to whet your appetites and raise levels of frustration across the board.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I walked Matthew around St Mary’s because a few things needed to be made clear.

‘All right, people. This is a baby. A small human. His name is Matthew and he is not to be floated across the lake in a Moses basket just to see if it could have happened. Nor is he to be stuffed into a warming pan and smuggled into someone’s bed. He is not to be dangled off a balcony and presented to the Welsh people as a non-English speaking Prince of Wales. Permission to include him in any of the imaginative events currently being planned by the History Department is to be sought from his father, Chief Farrell, and good luck to anyone trying that. He is not to be used as a paperweight. Or ballast. Or a draught excluder. Everyone clear?’

You have to tell people these things. Especially at St Mary’s.

Also, for anyone in the Cardiff area, I’m at the Octavo Café Bookshop in the Cardiff Bay area on 16th July, giving a quick talk on how I managed to get published – a miracle in itself, given the amount of wine consumed and my general technical ineptitude – having a chat about my books to anyone kind enough to show an interest, and signing said books. Actually, I’m well known for signing anything shoved in front of me – contracts to star in the film of the story of my life, execution warrants, blank cheques and so on and so forth.

I am reliably informed that this is the link for the event, so I have no hesitation in posting it here, secure in the knowledge that finer minds than mine at Accent will check it over on my behalf.

http://bit.ly/28IWEfB

In other news, I’ve finished the Christmas story and sent it off to Accent Press. Entitled My Name is Markham, this one’s a little bit special because all the royalties will go to the Help for Heroes Charity and so I do urge everyone to buy it. Actually, I always do that anyway, but this year, please consider yourself doubly urged. It should be out on Christmas Day, and I’m expecting to be held responsible for any number of disrupted Christmas lunches. We did the same last year and one lovely reader reported she selflessly did her duty in the morning, then flung a tin of Quality Street and the TV remote at her family, and made herself scarce with her Kindle. As well as being special, it’s also a little bit different. The story this year is told by Mr Markham. Watch this space…

The Great St Mary’s Day Out is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

A Mixed Bag: Musings over Reviews

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I love all my reviews – yes, even the ones that go, ‘Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish,’ (sic) or tell me that if I could just learn to spell then my books would be quite good. I think one of my favourites is ‘Downloaded this by mistake. Couldn’t be bothered to read it. One star.’

On the other hand, there are my other favourites. This one is for The Nothing Girl and from a gentleman who simply wrote, ‘If you ever tell anyone I read this book then I will freaking kill you.’ He goes on to describe it as awesome, so he’s obviously an extremely intelligent and perceptive person – as, indeed, are all my readers.

As I say, I love them all – although some more than others, obviously, but occasionally, I receive one that really hits the nail on the head. Thank you, Nicola, for this thoughtful review.

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So thank you to everyone who takes the trouble to review my books – even those who consider the plots to be non-existent, the characters to be no more than cardboard cut outs, and the dialogue clichéd.I do try to vary the tone of my books. Some are fairly light-hearted and some are definitely a little darker. It’s interesting to see which readers prefer. Some begin their reviews with, ‘I loved this one – it’s a little darker than the others …’ Others say, ‘I loved this one – it’s not as dark as the others …’ One day I think we should run a competition for ‘Favourite Book of the Series. And Why?’ Note to self – speak to Accent Press.This was exactly what I was trying to do. Throughout the series I have tried to grow the characters. To make them seem like real people by having their lives move on. Relationships – some that work and some that don’t. And deaths – I didn’t want to have a core of characters that readers know will always survive no matter what happens. I want them to feel that anything could happen to any character at any moment. That yes, people might live happily, but not always forever after. Life never stands still and death is always waiting – I wrote cheerily in bed this morning, as I stowed my empty mug in my underwear drawer so the ants can’t get at it. Which was why I was so pleased with this review of ATTT. This is the book in which they all grew up a little – well, those of them that survived the battle of St Mary’s.

And especially thanks to my readers who continually forgive me as I stray towards The Dark Side … Again … As Ronan remarks to Max in Book 8, ‘You dance on the edge of darkness, Max, and I don’t think it would take much for you to dance my way.’

Now I just have to decide whether she will … or whether she won’t.

St Mary’s is coming to America (in paperback!)

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An exciting time for me and I hope for all of you, too. My two short stories are safely delivered to Accent Press. The summer story – The Great St Mary’s Day Out will be out sometime in August, and the Christmas story – My Name Is Markham – will be published on Christmas Day, same as last year.

I’m particularly keen that My Name is Markham will do well, because the royalties from any UK sales will go to Help for Heroes, and those from US sales will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. And so, If you will forgive this blatantly commercial plea – please, please treat yourself this Christmas.

In other news – as they say – the American paperback edition of Just One Damned Thing After Another will be released on 7th June – for the first time in the US, so thanks to everyone involved in that. It’s available for pre-order, too. See the link below.

A Symphony Of Echoes should also be available in paperback soon, although I don’t yet have a date for that.

I’m scheduled to appear in Cardiff Bay on 16th July. I shall be at the Octavo Bookshop on West Bute Street, answering questions, drinking tea and desperately trying to look normal. And not in that order, probably, so if you do happen to be passing, please do drop in and say hello. It would be lovely to see you.

So, as I said – exciting times ahead.

Thanks to everyone who wrote and said how much they’d enjoyed Lies, Damned Lies and History – even those who turned the last page and immediately started clamouring for the next one – and you know who you are. Rest assured, Book 8 is coming along.

And finally – to continue the newscast theme – the bloody ants are back. On going to bed last night, I discovered they’d got there before me. Enraged, I hit them with everything I’d got – deodorant, hair spray, foot spray, shiny hair stuff, bath cleaner. Something must have worked because I’m writing this surrounded by sad little corpses. I feel terrible about it, but I was waging total war last year. At times it was like scenes from Alien in my kitchen because the little buggers are unkillable.

Off on my hols in a few days. Next stop Margarita-Land. Expect nothing coherent for quite some time.

 

London Book Fair, Audible and … prison knickers!

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I do want to thank everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement concerning the dreaded personal appearance at the London Book Fair. Which was, astonishingly, not a complete catastrophe. Not only did I remember who I was and why I was there, but it seems my publishers, Accent Press, have a special department – Terrified Authors For The Care Of – whose sole function is reassuring petrified authors and checking they have all their clothes on in the right order and once they’d reassured me I wasn’t wearing my knickers on my head, it was all plain sailing.

The talk concerned the various routes to publishing that are available these days, and I was asked to talk about the self-publishing end. Once I’d taken a few deep breaths and released my death-grip on the hand mike, things weren’t too bad. It was gratifying to see such large numbers of people there, authors mostly, all scribbling away for dear life. Which I suppose is the definition of authors, really.

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The London Book Fair Panel!

So, hello to everyone who was there, and another hello to those who took the trouble to come and talk to me afterwards – it was nice to meet you. And hello also to those who came down to the really rather good Accent Press stand afterwards. I hope I was able to answer all your questions. I’d like to say here that if anyone does have any queries on how to be self-published, do drop me a line and I’m happy to answer your questions if I can.

Continuing the knickers theme – and that’s as weak a link as you’ll ever see – the people at Audible were as patient and helpful as ever. Obviously I was blind with terror, so huge thanks to Rebecca and her excellent team who were able to talk me down. We chatted a little about the new book, Lies, Damned Lies and History, my favourite character and authors I admired. Of course, my mind went blank immediately – as it does in times of crisis – and I couldn’t remember a single author’s name. There really is no hope for me.

Anyway, circling back to the knickers – after the interview itself we were chatting away and the subject turned to my previous visit. The one where I recorded ‘The Very First Damned Thing.’ During this visit, I’d mentioned what a nightmare trip I’d had then, because I’d flown in from abroad and there had been a small problem with my paperwork.

Despite all that taking place some time ago and they must surely have had any number of people through the doors since then, they remembered this and politely enquired whether I’d had any difficulties on my journey there today.

I hastened to reassure them and casually mentioned what a relief it was not to have had to wear my prison knickers on this trip.

There was a bit of a pause and it belatedly dawned on me that possibly, not everyone might have a pair of prison knickers.

I can’t think why not. I mean, everyone has special outfits for special occasions. That pretty dress that matches your eyes. That super red top that make you feel like a million bucks. Those jeans that make your bum completely disappear. To say nothing of the lipstick that makes you look ten years younger, gets rid of your cellulite and balances your credit card statement as well. And that’s just the blokes.

I have prison knickers. I’ve never actually seen Orange is the New Black, but I’ve heard about Midnight Express and I think I have a reasonable idea of what to expect should I find myself detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Hence – prison knickers.

They’re a kind of cross between Bridget Jones’s Big Knickers and the Great Wall of China. They are not to be taken lightly. Obviously, they’re not my first line of defence. If things had gone badly wrong then I had Plan A, which was to explain everything, fully and completely. Plan B was to burst into tears – a surprisingly effective manoeuvre – I highly recommend it. And Plan C, which is to faint and just stay on the floor until someone sorts everything out.

Prison knickers are for when all that has failed and unspeakable things are on the horizon.

By the way, just in case anyone’s still interested – Plan A worked perfectly. I explained the problem with the paperwork in exhaustive detail. I mimed my own part in the crisis and that of everyone else’s. Of course, I was confronted with the official blank expression and I’m afraid I panicked, talking and talking and talking until finally, the poor man, ears bleeding, stamped my docs and let me through. I think everyone was relieved when I stopped talking. I know I was.

I don’t know when the interview will be made available, but someone from Accent Press always knows exactly what’s going on and I expect they’ll post the link on this page somewhere.

And before anyone asks – and I know someone will – Book 8 is going well. Book 9 is outlined. The summer short story is nearly completed. The Christmas story is being thought about. The sequel to The Nothing Girl is on hold at the moment but not far from my scattered thoughts.

Busy, busy, busy ….

       

Available to pre-order in ebook, paperback and audiobook

The dreaded personal appearance – I’m off to London Book Fair!

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I know I’ve been remiss – no blogs, no facebook postings, no communication with the outside world, but I’ve been busy.

I’ve been editing Lies, Damned Lies and History, due out in May.

I’ve been working with American publishers, Night Shade on the paperback edition of Just One Damned Thing After Another, due out in June.

I’m head down and scribbling the next as yet untitled St Mary’s adventure.

I’m head down and scribbling a sequel to The Nothing Girl.

I’ve started, stopped and stared at a short story I’m writing for the summer.

I have an idea for a Christmas story slowly emerging from the primeval ooze that passes for my brain.

So, all in all, I think everyone will agree – busy, busy.

And now, even busier, because I’m at the London Book Fair on 12th April. I’ve been before – a couple of years ago – when my publishers, the wonderful Accent Press – I have to say that, it’s in my contract – expected me not only to sign a couple of hundred books, but work my way through several mugs of champagne at the same time. I ask you – what were they thinking?

Somewhere out there is a copy of JODTAA and if you open it up, the title page reads, ‘With very best wisheses from Jodi Tayuuuuggggg’ as the signature wobbles off the end of the page.

Anyway, we’re ignoring my complete failure to hold my drink and I’m back again.

Although the LBF is primarily for trade, the panels are open and the one on which I’m appearing is entitled,

Industry Spotlight – Independent Publishers. Is the future hybrid?

It’s being held at the Author HQ, West Hall, Level 1, Stand 1D50, starting at 12.45 and anyone who wants to learn about the different ways of getting published is very welcome.

My fellow panellists are:

Hazel Cushion, Director, Accent Press.

Diana Morgan-Hill, Author, Blackbird Digital Books.

Stephanie Zia, Founder, Blackbird Digital Books.

And the whole thing is chaired by Justine Solomons of Byte The Book.

We’ll be discussing the pros and cons of the various routes to publication. Since my path to publication was a series of shambling accidents I can only assume my role is for them to point at me and say, ‘See, if she can do it then anyone can.’

Should I survive this ordeal, I’m off to Audible a few days later – yes, they do want me back – to record a promotional interview with them. I am extremely worried about this because it seems to me this will incorporate a vast range of talents I’m not sure I possess.

Just off the top of my head, I’m going to need to:

Be coherent.

Look good.

Not wave my arms around.

Get my hair under some sort of control.

Remember to wear my specs.

Wear clean clothes – and in the right order.

Remember my name and why I’m there.

Smile.

Not curse.

Wear makeup.

Multi-tasking on a massive scale as I’m sure everyone will agree.

I’m not sure why Audible are doing this – I mean, they’ve met me, for heaven’s sake. They know what I’m like. I’m not even sure what the subject of the interview is. Note to self: I really must stop saying yes to questions I haven’t completely understood. I have a horrible feeling I’ve agreed to marry the man who mended the vacuum cleaner. Anyway, me and my books seems a reasonable topic. I intend to write my name and a list of titles on the back of my hand and as long as I don’t wash for a fortnight, I should be fine.

Wish me luck.

Actually, wish everyone luck.
Lies, Damned Lies, and History

Hair today …

I’m writing this in the hairdressers. As you do. Bored with running through various St Mary’s story lines, I belatedly woke up to what was going on around me as they slowly covered my head in tinfoil, telling me it would not only stop the government listening to my thoughts, but give me some rather nice highlights as well. So no real downside then.

Anyway, basically what we had was a failure to communicate.

‘Highlights,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ they said.

‘And a cut and blow dry,’ I said, presenting them with a picture of the supermodel I hoped to be resembling in an hour’s time.

‘Yes,’ they said. ‘What colour highlights?’

‘Blonde,’ I said firmly. I’ve been blonde since birth and I like to stick with what I know.

‘No problem,’ they said. ‘How about this nice blonde shade here?’

‘Very nice,’ I said, relaxing too soon.

‘Together with this dark copper.’

I groped for words. I’m a writer. I do that a lot. ‘It’s a bit … dark.’

‘We’ll just do a few. To make your blonde highlights stand out more. You’ll look great,’ they said, in the teeth of all previous evidence to the contrary.

‘You’re sure?’ I said, old enough to know better and still too trusting for my own good.

Well, that’ll teach me. Now I’m a redhead. Not a ginger like Max, but a dark copper redhead.

It doesn’t look bad – it was just a bit unexpected. You know how it is – they whip off the towel and a complete stranger stares back at you in the mirror.

There was a certain amount of inner turmoil. Or panic, if you like. And barely had I got that under control than he started with the cut. It was like bloody Edward Scissorhands. I should have realised when he unzipped a backpack full of scissors and laid every single one of them on the counter in front of me that he meant more than business. The man owns every pair of scissors in the western hemisphere. Seizing the hairdressing equivalent of garden shears – off he went.

I know having long hair chopped off can be traumatic, but it’s not as if he discreetly disposed of my surplus hair by kicking it under the chair. He held up great bushy handfuls for everyone to admire and then tossed them all over the shop. I would have run but I’d lost my legs in the panic. My world was ending before my eyes.Which just goes to show I know nothing because then he got out the hair wax, splodged a dollop in his palm and off we went. It was a whole new world for me!

‘You can do this,’ he said, doing this.

‘And that,’ he added, doing that.

‘And what about this?’ he said again, doing that as well.

I haven’t enjoyed myself so much for ages. Although, admittedly, I’m a writer and Accent Press don’t let me out much.

‘Make it stand up again,’ I said, excited beyond words. ‘Now make it go left. Now right. Now down. Now up. Brill!’

And that wasn’t all. Suddenly, with no effort at all on my part, I had eyebrows. And a forehead. And a cheekbone. Don’t ask what happened to the other one. It’s probably under all that hair on the floor.

So, slowly, I’m coming round to my new hair, although admittedly, I don’t have a lot of choice. I woke up with long blonde hair and I’ll be going to bed tonight with a smart copper crop. I sometimes wonder if I have any control over my life at all.

The downside, of course, because there’s always a downside, is that I’m going to have to remember to wash my neck and ears every day. EVERY DAY. Surely that’s not right. Am I the only one who thinks that’s unreasonable? And it’s really going to cut into my writing time.