Last Christmas I asked the Novelistas which book they would give as a present. This year I'm asking which reading or writing-related gift they would like to receive - if they've been good, of course!
I absolutely adore the Kate Spade range of desk and writing accessories in gold and this pencil pouch has been in my amazon basket for about a year. When you see the price, you can understand why! I treated myself to the gold and acrylic stapler to celebrate signing with Transworld, but I would like the rest of the desk set too - and all the gold spotty and stripey folders, journals and year planners, etc. But meanwhile, call me shallow, but using my beautiful stapler gives me great pleasure.
As I've already splurged on a Kindle Paperwhite in the Black Friday sale, I'm not actually asking for any physical books this Christmas. Instead, I've added a literary themed gift to the wishlist conveniently pinned to the fridge, where my family can't miss it. As I'm a bit of a cushionaholic (yes that's a thing) I've set my heart on a quirky, vintage-style bookish one, although any cushion along these lines would be well received. Thanking my brilliant, amazing family in advance (am I being nice enough?) Love Val x
23 years ago we moved into a four bedroom house in North Wales with two daughters so we had a spare bedroom. Although we called this the study from the onset, it wasn’t used as initially as I wrote on the dressing table in our bedroom and the ‘study’ was used as a storeroom. When the time came for me to need a special place to write, there was barely room for the hastily constructed desk and chair. Although I have made valiant stabs at tidying up and clearing out, much of the original junk is still there and my ‘study’ is a hotch-potch of mismatched office furniture with no sense of order to it. So what I really want, and would nearly sell my soul to get, is Mary Poppins. With one click of those magic fingers, my study would pack itself all up neatly and I could decamp elsewhere for a time while my study was redecorated and planned properly.
Alas I think I will be disappointed but really Christmas isn’t just about presents and it is a joyful time. So happy Christmas to all of you and I hope 2017 is a good year for all of us.
You’re going to think this is daft, but what I’d really like is a new pencil sharpener. The one I have at the moment came out of a Christmas cracker several years ago (not mine, either, I saw it drop onto the tablecloth and pounced on it!)
I edit my printed-off manuscripts by pencil, you see, and they wear down to this…
And my Christmas-cracker sharpener is not going to last much longer.
My wish is for a week in Provence. Expensive, I know, but I’m hoping that maybe just maybe if I wish hard enough…(and Santa has deep pockets, doesn’t he?)
Why? The book I’m currently writing is set in the heart of Provence and although I have many fond memories of the childhood summers I spent at my grandparents’ house by the sea, I’m finding there are gaps in my knowledge, partly because I’ve rarely visited out of season.
I have a growing list of unanswered questions – which trees flower in spring? What is the quality of the light like in autumn? Can you swim in the Mediterranean in May? The internet is wonderful for research, but it’s no substitute for visiting a place yourself. If I hadn’t seen the denim-blue skies and red earth, or heard the cicadas’ rusty song, or smelt the sweet perfume of pine trees in sunlight, it would be difficult to write about them. But there’s so much more about this vibrant place that I’ve yet to get to know, so fingers crossed I get the chance to visit again soon.
As a Christmas gift I’d like an experience day. Not for a trip on the London Eye, a hot air balloon over the countryside, or a Spa weekend. I’d like mine to be a visit to a literary festival. Something prearranged, planned, and the date firmly blocked in on the wall calendar above my desk. Failing that I would love the wall calendar. A month at a glance, but with beautiful inspiring pictures. Snow capped mountains, palm fringed beaches, Christmas Fairs…
Turning the page each month and finding a picture I was happy to look at for weeks would mean the gift was appreciated throughout the year. I have a calendar on my computer, and a family calendar in the kitchen, but this one would be for me. Seeing looming deadlines focus’s my mind, even if they are only self-imposed. I often forget to buy a new calendar until January, when there can be a limited selection. Currently I’m looking at the November picture of a famous steam train, which seems very similar to the steam trains on the previous ten pages.
So, a calendar please, beautiful, arty or quirky, but one I can enjoy filling with lunches, mini-meets, book launches and even deadlines for the next twelve months.
I would like Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody for Christmas. It is set in Whitby on the Yorkshire coast where Dracula was supposed to have landed. My son Iain is going to buy it for me.
My ideal Christmas present would be a beach in the Seychelles. Not to own it (too much responsibility, life is complicated enough), or permanently (boredom would set in), but a week (or so). Just me, sunshine, no responsibilities, no laptop, a warm sea and the TBR pile at my side. With a nice relaxed place to meet friends in the evening for a glass of wine, a meal, and good conversation under the stars. I’ve never been to the Seychelles, but they sound nice and at a safe distance. Mind you, I’d probably want one of those transporter things from Star Trek to get there and back, and my dog is giving me some very funny looks …. Happy Christmas!
Christmas is the perfect time to be able to try something new. In my stocking I’d like to find a variety of items to generate ideas for novels. Not just a book, but something electronic or even dice, perhaps even creative games. I will spend time looking at random plot ideas, romantic situations, characters and backstory. I could experiment with the paranormal or comedy. A veritable writers’ toolbox!
Every time I step into my local Waterstones’ for a book on my English Lit course, I am always drawn to a high shelf nestled deep within the ‘fiction’ section. Ignoring the pressing need for a copy of Joyce for next week’s class, I reach up and select the book I always take down from the top shelf. I am careful not to drop it, or let my clammy fingers mark the gorgeous Art Deco cover. I flick through its pages, smiling at the well-known titles whizzing past, and pausing at the lesser known ones I’ve only seen as fragile paperbacks at second hand book fairs, not reprinted since the War.
I sigh, and return the book back amongst its identical friends. ‘Soon,’ I think to myself, ‘soon I will be able to read you. But not now,’ and I wince thinking of all the essays due before Christmas and all the plays of the Italian Futurists I have to struggle through until then. This Christmas, though, I will put all work aside, and settle down with a mug of cinnamon and chai tea to read The Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford, after months of pining over it at Waterstones’. If nobody gifts it to me, I will damn well buy it for myself, because Nancy’s novels, with their wit and their wonderful eccentric characters, give me an enjoyable escape from the sort of thing I’d usually have to read.
This year I discovered Shirley Jackson and have been reading her deliciously creepy psychological suspense stories back-to-back. I'd really like to know more about her life, and what inspired her stories, so I'm sending a note up the chimney for a copy of her biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. Definitely worth being good for!