A weekend in October

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When I wrote The One Memory of Flora Banks, I had no idea whether anyone would read it. The process of writing it was fraught, with intense ups and downs and I ran out of money all the time, and ended up with enormous credit card debts. I sat in a room and swore a lot, and without my lovely Craig keeping me company and telling me it would work out, I might have given up on the whole thing.

So 2017 has been a curious year. Since September, Flora has taken me to Svalbard (appropriately), Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris. Every one of those trips has been amazing, each in a completely different way.

Everyone who has anything to do with publishing knows about the Frankfurt Book Fair, but I’d never really imagined that I would get to go, because it’s much more for publishers, editors and agents than it is for writers. However, one of the brilliant things about Flora being published in twenty six countries is that I have editors all over the world, and a lot of them were going to be in Frankfurt at that point in October, and I got to go out there to meet some of them and it was wonderful.

The book fair is huge beyond all imagining. It was immense. The world’s publishers are all in one place, and there are meetings happening absolutely everywhere you look. During the daytimes I had meetings with my publishers from France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Singapore, and in the evening Penguin organised a fabulous drinks party at an art gallery for lots more of my international publishers. They were all amazing. I had one of those out of body experiences in which I briefly became past-me, looked around the room and agreed that it had gone much better than expected.

I went straight from Frankfurt to Dublin, to DeptCon, which is a spectacularly fun YA convention organised by Eason, the Irish bookshop. I adore Dublin and spending three days there was a huge treat. I had a wonderful time, wandering around the city, and I was very well looked after indeed. Craig came out to join me on my second day, and we spent lots of time wandering the city, popping into pubs and going to galleries.

The highlight, for me, was the festival’s Harry Potter Spelling Bee. I’d casually accepted the invitation to take part in it without realising that it was the sort of spelling bee that has you sitting on a high stool in a theatre, under bright lights, spelling words out in front of an audience. No pressure, then.

However, once it was down to just a few of us, I realised that I had a chance of winning it. With lots of Harry Potter goods on offer as the prize, and a family full of HP fans, I decided to go for it, and in the end, thanks to wingardium leviosa, I won it. It was one of the highlights of my professional life.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks

As I’ve been writing for years and have thirteen books out in the world, I never expected that I’d be announcing a debut all over again. However, here it is: The One Memory of Flora Banks is my debut book for young adults. I started writing this as a thriller for adults, but as the story unfolded I realised that it was actually something quite different from anything I had previously written. I wrote it over the course of a couple of years, entirely as a labour of love as I had no idea whether anyone would ‘get’ it or…