Ahh, back in sunny Australia and feeling a little like a writer again. Geographically the UK is much smaller than Australia but still it felt so much bigger. When I came back to Australia in 1992, I felt terribly isolated but Skype and the internet have changed all that. My daughters can keep up with their friends and even take them on a tour of our house with the laptop. I'll miss my family over in Scotland but I hope that I've tempted at least some of the cousins to come out and visit. I've promised Stuart that I'll take him somewhere camping where it doesn't rain! We'll also miss some great friends we met overseas but hope to meet again some day.
Before leaving the UK, I was lucky enought to attend the Hodder Christmas Party in London. It was vewy vewy scary. I wanted to make a good impression, so I bought a new red coat that I'd been eyeing up for weeks. Then we stayed at friend's...and my husband who is a compulsive tidier put my new red coat in their cupboard and we left it there. Let me tell you, there were tears and tantrums. However, on arrival as it was an upstairsvenue, we all checked our coats in downstairs, so no one saw the coat I'd had to borrow at the last minute anyway. Shhh don't tell my husband though.
I'd been looking forward to this ever since the invitation popped through the mailbox but the actuality was daunting. Suddenly there was a room full of strangers and some of them were probably famous. I started the process of trying to read name tags without appearing to be starting at people's breasts. I noticed Shirley Hughes on the first round.
I got back to where I'd started and thought it would be easier with a drink in hand. Then I did the rounds again. Couldn't see Emma Layfield, my editor, and began to panic. I did consider slinking out and going back to the hotel where my family waited but I thought that wouldn't be a very good example to set the kids. So I gritted my teeth and made my mind up to just walk up and introduce myself with the rather pathetic 'Hi, I'm Catriona from Australia and I don't know anyone...' Someone up there was looking after me. By chance one of the people in the group had worked on my book 'George and Ghost' and said that she loved it.
I was then introduced to my wonderful editor, Emma...who then introduced me to Cassia Thomas, the illustrator who I'd been really keen to meet. We chatted about the book and before I knew it, I was chatting away to people I didn't know as if I did it every week.
The Christmas speech included acolades for books from both Orchard and Hodder, both of which are now under the umbrella of Hachette. Some important pointers for new writers...the age of the bookshop is over, whether we like it or not on line bookshops are here to stay and....we are all responsible for our own marketing. Every author should have a webpage, a blog and be tweeting and twittering for all we are worth. Hence my resolution to resurrect my blog.
Finally, the wine ran out and the venue had to leave. A conga line of die hards headed off to the nearest pub, while I headed back to my hotel with my new friend Alison Murray. As she's from Scotland, I used my other accent. Alison doesn't have a website, so that's her project for the new year.
So the new year begins for me back in my old house. It feels like I've only been away for a moment as putting on my old life is like putting on an old familiar piece of clothing...only it isn't because none of my old clothes fit!