Saturday, 24 October 2009

TIME for my annual blog---(honestly, how do people find the time to keep them up to date?)--and another busy year has passed. The best news is that I am still well and able to work and there have been fewer and fewer repercussions of my brain virus. For this alone, I am grateful.

In health and happiness, I have been able to work and travel, write and play. In my writerly phase, I have been to the farthest wildernesses of Canada with Billy Connolly, penning his Journey to the Edge of the World, to accompany his internationally successful television series. From the safety and warmth of my office, I have journeyed with him to defrosting Inuit lands and explored the history and future of the notorious North West Passage. Anything you need to know about Arctic exploration, I'm your girl! The book has already sold over 100,000 copies in hardback and continues to fly off the shelves, so not only was it a hugely enjoyable project, it was a successful one as well.

Since "returning" from the frozen north, the two biggest projects that have been occupying me most this year couldn't have been more different. They are Pauline Prescott's autobiography and Barbara Sinatra's memoir of her life and times with Frank. Pauline, the long-suffering wife of the former Deputy Prime Minister, is an absolute delight to work with and, wow, what a story! It reads like a Catherine Cookson novel. My times spent with her in Hull were some of the highlights of 2009 for me, and her subsequent friendship is an added and much-cherished gift. Pauline's book comes out in March 2010 and will, I am sure, be a huge success for her. Lord knows, she deserves it!

Barbara has been a delighftul revelation to me too and I am still fully immersed in her remarkable journey from a whistlestop in Missouri to becoming the fourth (and final) wife of the man they called "The Voice." Having spent time with her in Palm Springs and Malibu in May, I will be going back out to Los Angeles next month to pick up where we left off. I can hardly wait. This will be an important international memoir and one that will take all my energy to get right. Sinatra fans the world over have been waiting for the woman who was at Frank's side for almost three decades to tell her story and they won't be disappointed. I feel honoured and privileged to be a part of this incredible book.

Several future projects beckon, some of which I will investigate States-side, but nothing is certain yet and I still have my fiction to return to, as and when I find the time. My completed second novel has gone into a bottom drawer for now, and a third I began to write earlier this year---set in Gaza---has had to be put to one side also. Both call to me now and again like sirens of the deep and I feel confident that they will one day see the light of day.

So, as yet another year draws to a close, I continue to count my blessings and look forward to each new day. May 2010 bring new challenges and times as happy as these. The sadnesses of life I have faced this year - the loss of a beloved dog, the illness of a friend, the frustrations of broken bones and the uncertain future for elderly relatives---has been tempered, as always, by the many joys I have known and shared. Borrowing a line from Max Ehrmann, I still strive to be happy in this beautiful world of broken dreams. Happy New Year!

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