There were two very nice social things in July – the first was the bookswap bbq in our back garden, which was loud and funny – and even the downpour of rain and everyone seeking shelter in the Beach House seemed like a fun part of it. The other thing was going to Olympia and taking part in YALC, and talking once more about Lost on Mars, and meeting up with a whole lot of folk (including, for the first time Ben Illis of the BIA Agency – who was soon to be my new agent!)
August was chockablock, with all the fun of the Edinburgh festival and doing four events and seeing lots of old and new pals, and reading at Lumb Bank for Arvon, the new Iris Wildthyme boxset coming out, and a dozen of my paintings going on display at the Molly House, just in time for Pride. But the biggest thing in August was mine and Jeremy’s first holiday in five years, and we went to Paris and a boutique hotel in Notre Dame for a whole week. It blazed with sun, we ate out every night and I did twenty-seven pictures, all over the city!
It was time for heads down and writing solidly, for all of September and October. I was burying myself in the first draft of my sequel to ‘Lost on Mars’ – ‘The Martian Girl.’ And all the while the builders were here, getting to work on our house at last, and we had the awful drama of sudden surgery for Bernard Socks. It was all stitches and recovery and tablets and lab tests for a while for poor Socky. But September also saw one of the best days ever – when the news came back that everything was all clear! Bernard Socks was in perfect health!
More writing, of course, going on quietly every day, building up the pages of my new novel. And, alongside, there were the daily drawings and pictures. By now I was getting lots of private commissions – many of them of dogs and cats sitting outside their people’s houses. October was bright with sun and wonderful autumn colours and my paintings were turning more extravagant than ever. Oh, also, I rediscovered my love of cartoons, and cast both Socks and I in our own picture strip.
November saw me finishing a full draft of my RomCom novel for grown-ups, ‘Hunky Dory’, a full year after beginning it. At the same time I collected from the printers a project I had been quietly getting on with: ‘The Lovely Levy Colouring Book’. We had a pop-up shop and Fred’s Ale House and flurry of excitement as it went on sale at Pod. So many people wanting to colour in my pictures of Levenshulme!
And we’re up to date, with me taking stock of the year, and wondering what I’ll be writing and drawing next. I just received a beautiful proof copy of ‘The Myriad Carnival’ edited by Matthew Bright, reminding me that I’ve had three new stories out this year, in three different collections – Matthew’s, also Torsten Hojer’s ‘Speak my Language’ and Declan May’s ‘Seasons of War.’ Also this month, Obverse Books are publishing ‘Welcome Home, Bernard Socks’, the sequel to ‘The Story of Fester Cat.’ I’m proud to toast the oncoming year – which has been tough and busy and at times troublesome – with this particular volume.
That’s where I’m up to! I hope next year you’ll be able to read and listen to and see some of the stuff I’ve been working on. There’ll be some Doctor Who, some Avengers, some Brenda and some Lora and her friends on Mars. And there’ll be more pictures and more new stuff I haven’t even told anyone about yet. I hope you’ll stick around and see what I get up to next year, and thanks for all your support during this one!
(Anyway, it’s not New Year yet, of course. I just wanted to put 2015 in some perspective before going all Christmassy and stuff… )