Thursday, 26 May 2011

Afghanistan, Sinatra, Goldie and Asparagus

IF there is a prize for the world's laziest blogger then I must surely qualify. After a few impatient prompts from readers, I was shocked to find that I last blooged two years ago. My sincerest apologies for the delay.

In my defence, m'Lud, I have got three books out this year and am currently working on two-and-a-half more. Tonight I attend the launch party in London of my first of 2011, Kill Switch, written with Bill Shaw, a gritty and gripping account of how a proud British soldier was wrongly imprisoned in Afghanistan at great risk to his life. Bill was introduced to me by a friend in the Army who wanted to know if I could find a writer. As soon as I met him and his lovely wife Liz, I knew that it had to be me, no matter what else I was doing. I also agented the deal myself, and found the perfect publisher in the lovely Carly Cook at Headline. Bill lives in a beautiful peach-painted villa in Spain so I worked with him and Liz there, as well as at their daughter's home in Kent. They all made me feel like one of the family and will remain lifelong friends. Our book comes out in early June and is being serialised in the Daily Mail, so watch out for it please.

Coincidentally, in the same week Lady Blue Eyes, the memoir of Frank Sinatra's widow Barbara is released internationally. It is also out as an audiobook and it was extraordinary for me to hear the words I'd written being read so eloquently by an actress who completely nailed Barbara's voice. Lady Blue is a remarkable story of a woman in her mid-80s who reflects back on her life as a child from a whistlestop in Missouri to the wife of the most famous singer in the world. Along the way, she was a model, a Vegas showgirl and the wife of Zeppo Marx. Working with Barbara at her homes in California was a privilege I will never forget. Her book is launched on June 10 at a glittering party in Beverly Hills, which I hope to attend.

In September, my third book of 2011 is published. Ten Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children the Social and Emotional Skills to Lead Smarter, Healthier and Happier Lives, is my second book with Goldie Hawn and is about her extraordinary work as head of a mindfulness foundation for children. Her pioneering MindUp curriculum in American schools has had such great success teaching children the workings of their own brains and how to cope with stress, anger and emotion, that parents have begged her to write a book for them, so that the success can be carried on into the home. Goldie and I holed up in her house on a remote Canadian lake to brainstorm the book last summer, and we are both very proud of the result.

Confidentiality agreements preclude me from revealing what I am working on now, other than to say that it couldn't be more timely or important and will have international resonance. I am also working on my first children's book, set in the Second World War, which I hope to find a publishing home for soon, and am helping a celebrity with her memoirs.

With all these books lined up it is often difficult to get the work/life balance right but I do try to spend as much time as I can with my long-suffering husband, our beloved dogs, and in our garden - which I have to say has never looked lovelier than this year. We are almost completely self-sufficient in organic veg and eggs now and wandering through the potager at the end of a busy writing day is the perfect antidote to hours in front of a computer.

I came across an old English proverb in the newspaper today and it made me laugh out loud. "To be happy for an hour, drink a glass of wine. To be happy for a day, read a book. To be happy for a week, take a wife. To be happy forever, make a garden." How true. No matter what challenges we face day after day, the simple pleasure derived from a blousy poppy, a cluster of self-sown foxgloves, or a heavily-scented rose makes all our troubles melt away. I am off now to cut some fresh asparagus and pick spinach for our lunch. Is it a wonder I don't have time to blog??


Simon at Q Photography said...

I've just had to look up "Potager" It's lovely to learn new words at my age!

Seth said...

Nice article,