As Rene said in 'Allo 'Allo - I will say zis only once... I don't mean to show off, but I am SO DAMN THRILLED to walk into my local Tesco this morning and see my new paperback copy of The Silver Chain up there on the book shelf with the other new releases! Together with the photos some of my lovely Twitter friends have posted of the copies they've seen either in other Tescos (as far afield as Glasgow!) or even sitting on their tables waiting to be read, this really is my moment. As Martine McCutcheon said/sung. My perfect moment. And I will make sure I never become complacent or smug about any of this. How could I, when it's taken such a long time to get here?
I just need to dance another little jig. There. That's better. But what I really hope is that this gives inspiration to other writers who slog away year after year and feel as if no-one will ever notice them. I know how it feels to have this urge to write, no matter what, how or when (backs of envelopes, napkins, soggy notebooks by the bath), to have this dream that maybe someone some day will like it enough to want to publish it, and to be slightly apologetic when you mention writing as one of your occupations (along with legal secretary, host mother, mother, wife, chauffeuse, cook, bottle washer - you get the picture) and people's eyes either roll or glaze over, or you are metaphorically patted on the head and told to enjoy your little hobby. I didn't even mention writing until I started to get paid, but still. It was never taken seriously.
I have been writing erotic short stories and novels, as well as my 'secret life' writing literary fiction, for more than 20 years. Well, if I'm honest, for more than 40 if I count the romantic novel I wrote in an exercise book when I was a little girl. And I can honestly say the only other writing moment that equates to today's jig-dancing excitement is when the erotica magazine For Women bought my first ever short story 'Man in a Cage', for £150, back in 1994. That started the whole ball rolling, and then Forum started buying them, and then Black Lace, Xcite and Mischief, where I met the brilliant editor who has accepted pretty much anything I've written since then. I was on the point of giving up, in fact, as erotica was becoming more and more pornographic and payment was getting less and less, but after 50 Shades spawned the more accessible 'erotic romance' genre last year, my editor suggested I have a go at writing something along these lines, less hardcore, more intensely romantic (going back to my childish romantic efforts!) and when this latest Unbreakable Trilogy was born he handed me over to the Avon Ladies. So you could say that my little hobby became a hobby that paid, and then at long last was taken on by Harper Collins, one of the giants of publishing. And that's when finally, finally, I felt it could be taken seriously and I could say 'I'm a writer' when asked about my occupation.
So thanks to all of you, family, friends, editors, designers, retailers - and buyers! You've made my day!