This is how most of my emails and letters to fans begin:
'I'm really sorry it's taken me so long to write...'
And it does; it takes me ages. So I'm writing this blog as a general grovelling apology to all of you who are currently waiting for a reply/did wait a long time, then got bored and went off me completely/are now twenty-seven years old and not really interested any more. It's still January, just (have you ever noticed how January lasts approximately three times as long as the other months?) so I will stick my neck out and say I'm making a New Year resolution to get up-to-date with my fan mail, and stay that way. There, I've said it. No going back now: I'm committed.
Here are some other bad habits I'm going to ditch: eating cake, sleeping at all the wrong times of the day, eating cookies, avoiding stuff, drinking Champagne, and cheating.
Still on the subject of mail, a recent one (I'm going to answer soon, really I am!) says:
"I was wondering if you were going to write a book , that actually is The Apple Star. I think that it would a good idea if you wrote it because, I for one who likes the Lulu Baker Trilogy, definitely buy the book. Just an idea I had. Tell me if you like by replying."
Big thanks to Whitney Duggan from Australia for this question, as it reminds me that I also need to update my FAQs. Because this question comes up a lot – Whitney, it's a great idea: so great in fact, that many other people have also come up with it! Including me. For anyone vague of memory, or who STILL hasn't read my Lulu Baker trilogy (you haven't?!), let me explain: The Apple Star is Lulu's magic recipe book. I 'quote' from it frequently throughout the trilogy, though of course the book is a figment of my imagination (though I also get mail from readers who ask where they can buy it, so I'm quite flattered by that!) The recipes are also made from ingredients that don't exist.
I would have fun writing such a book – though I think I would want to team up with a researcher. But, lovely idea though it is, my publishers have yet to be convinced. Maybe if the Telly Thing (see previous blog posts) becomes a big success, leading to massively increased sales of my Lulu Baker books – maybe then they'll think it's worth doing. So I'm not giving up hope. Of course, if I DO write it, it will be necessary for me to experiment with lots of cake and cookie recipes. In fact, I'd better get in practice now, just in case, and taste them as I go along.
Lots of people ask me HOW I write. They ask me WHERE I write, and if they don't know me from a hole in the ground, they might even ask me WHAT I write. But one question that doesn't tend to come up is WHY I write. Which I suppose is fair enough: it might seem a bit rude to ask that, as if they're saying, 'what do you want to go and do that for?' or 'must you persist with that annoying habit?' But it is a question I sometimes ask myself, and at this point I find I have noticed a pattern. Going over the seven novels I've published to date (I'm cheating slightly here, as I'm counting the one that's out in May, Tiger Lily Gold. Break out the Champagne!) it seems that I write about stuff instead of doing it. So with the Lulu Baker books I was writing about cake instead of baking; with Toonhead, I was writing about art instead of drawing, and with the Silk Sisters books I was writing about fashion instead of creating my own designs. All things that I'd like to do, but which I've been channeling into my chosen art form, because I can't be a celebrity chef and a great artist and a famous fashion designer. Oh, or save the world from corporate greed (there's quite a bit of that in Silk Sisters too).
Whew! I'm exhausted just from thinking about all that, so I think I'll have to go and have a lie down.
I know what you're thinking: isn't she going to lead on to what's coming next? Gosh, is that the time? I've got to go.
Erm. You may have spotted some broken resolutions along the way here. But I PROMISE you, I won't break the one about answering my fanmail :-).