‘Frome’, proudly states its tourist office in the first link you get when you google it, ‘is the fourth largest town in Somerset’. So there.
Frome, just in case you’re not familiar, is pronounced Froom like room, not Frome like roam. It’s a Somerset thing. It’s home to lots of Nonconformist chapels, the highest number of listed buildings per head in Europe (so I’m told by my publisher), and my publisher.
Notice how I snuck in the ‘my publisher’ bit there? For the last month, I’ve been practising phrases such as ‘my publisher’, ‘my editor’ and ‘my publicist’. My husband usually throws things at me, but so far they’ve been cushions so I’ve survived to tell the tale. This week, I’m hoping to add ‘my agent’ to the list.
I’m doing this in a roundabout way, but my impression is that agents quite like it when you say ‘I already have a book deal and I really just need someone to talk to’. They think the worst of it is over and they don’t yet know quite how much talking I need to do.
Anyway, I visited ‘my publisher’ in Frome, because it’s not far from the town where my parents have lived for over twenty years, so it’s practically home, and Frome, as it turns out is LOVELY. More to the point, St Catherine’s Hill, which is the street next to ‘my publisher’s (sorry, can’t do the extra apostrophe there – it would look stupid), is like a scene from ‘my book’.
Weirdly so. If Richard Curtis bought the rights to ‘my book’ (hint, hint, Richard – they’re on offer), and had to create a film set to embody the look and feel of the thing for the opening shot, he would create St Catherine’s Hill in Frome.
‘My publisher’ told me I had to go and look and it was as if he’d laid it on especially for me. Quirky little vintage shops – lots of them. Quirky little bead and ribbon shops for making your own accessories. Quirky little boho shops for buying those crucial pieces that will update your wardrobe in an instant, without everyone guessing that you just went to French Connection (my other option). I went there three days out of four and bought something every time.
I’m supposed to be writing book 2 now, instead of writing this. But ‘my editor’ and ‘my publisher’ are looking at the first ten chapters with a view to making me an offer and I suddenly find that although I promised myself I would keep my head down and plough on regardless, I can’t.
Sequels are tricky. You’ve got a whole novel full of backstory to fit in. Your characters are older, but your readers aren’t, necessarily. You’ve got to keep the voice going without becoming a parody of yourself, or recycling your best jokes.
I was able to avoid thinking about all of this when I was just writing the thing for pleasure. But now there is, or possibly isn’t, an offer attached, it’s not so easy.
Bother. Call me, Barry. Please call me. Or I’ll be reduced to blogging for the rest of the week and I don’t think ‘my husband’ will be very impressed.