At 9.48am, I board the London train at Lime Street Station, Liverpool. I had to drive through torrential rain to get here but the sun is out now and I’m scanning the skies. No rainbows. Normally at this time of day I’d be at my desk at work but as the train pulls out of the station, I’m leaving my normal life behind me, for a while at least. Today I’m not in the office where I’ve worked for the same employer for the last twenty seven years, I’m an author off to meet my agent and my editor for lunch in Chelsea. I signed the first book deal almost eighteen months ago and my first book was published six months ago but being an author is still new to me and I’m having one of those moments where I have to pinch myself. I suppose it’s a good thing that I write under a different name, it gives me a clear separation between my normal life and my ‘alter ego’. So yes, today I am mostly being Amanda Brooke.
With two lives to lead, it’s busy fitting everything in so even on a two hour train journey I need to make the most of my time and so I set to work writing this blog. Just as I reach London the sun is shining when my friend Karen texts me to say there’s a rainbow over Liverpool. Rainbows have a strong significance in my life. I searched for rainbows after my son died, convinced it would be a sign from him to let me know that he was alright. The first arrived one week after I lost him, to the exact minute in fact, just as I was struggling to work out how I was ever going survive without him. The next rainbow arrived the following day at his funeral just as I was sitting in the funeral car telling my sister about the one I’d seen the day before and there have been a fair few since then. So if nothing else, the rainbow in Liverpool reminds me that this journey I’m on started with Nathan and he’s never far from my mind.
A quick race across London and I arrive on time for lunch with Luigi and Sarah. I am most definitely Amanda Brooke now and the food is good and the company even better. The news is that Another Way to Fall is going into production so it won’t be long before it stops looking like a Word document and more like a book. Of course that also means that the time for playing around with it is over, there will only be minor changes from now on. Sarah tells me she hasn’t shared it widely yet but those who have read the manuscript have cried but that doesn’t surprise me. I read through it from start to finish after the copyedit and it made me cry too. She also tells me that they’re planning to publish in February which is the same month that Yesterday’s Sun is being published in the US so it’s going to be a busy month! There are no firm decisions on the front cover for Another Way to Fall yet but I can’t wait to see it as a proper book.
We talk a little about book three which I’ve now handed over to both Luigi and Sarah. Its working title is The Bench but no-one is under any illusions that it will stay that way – I need to think up a proper title for it. I might muse over that little problem on the way home on the train. Of course the worst and best news is that Sarah is pregnant (very pregnant!) so after a year and a half of holding my hand, she’s leaving me. But of course I’m thrilled for her and she assures me and Luigi that I’m in safe hands with her chosen replacement Kim who is coming over to HarperCollins to cover her maternity leave. There’ll be a lot of work to do while she’s away and Sarah and Luigi have plenty of ideas of how to promote the new book and me, ‘the author.’ I’m glad I’ve spent the wet and miserable summer writing, it should give me enough free time to put more effort into all the other work that comes with being an author in the coming months.
Lunch is long but over too soon and I’ve got the rest of the afternoon to myself. Slowly but surely, I stop being Amanda Brooke. I’m in Oxford Street shopping, calling in at Forever 21 which is a must when I’m in London with my daughter but today it’s only window shopping. Eventually, I find myself on the train home. It’s late and I won’t get home until ten so am in no mood for the two businessmen sitting opposite me who are having a very loud conversation that they really should be having in private. I suspect their ruthless character assassinations of their colleagues are annoying the whole carriage. I can’t concentrate on anything else, especially not titles for The Bench but perhaps one day I will exact my revenge…I wonder if I can use these two obnoxious characters in a future project. I smile, I haven’t stopped being Amanda Brooke quite yet.