Campervans, cherry clafoutis and my novel…

Last night was lovely. Perfect ingredients: London skyline, champagne, a real home-made cherry clafoutis (baked with love,) a giant cut-out campervan. A team of Avon angels, lots of smart independent booksellers and hundreds of great books. Wine. Canapes. Speeches. And me.

My first Indie event with HarperCollins Avon was such great fun. I met the charming CEO, brilliant authors such as Cecelia Ahearne, the fabulous Bosh! boys and some really lovely people. I had the opportunity to introduce my novel, A Grand Old Time, which is out in April. I talked about the novel’s origins and development and it was so nice to have the time to chat about my protagonist, Evie Gallagher.

My novel is about Evie, a woman who is seventy five, but it’s not just a book for older women any more than Wurzel Gummidge is a book for scarecrows or Pooh is a book for bears. Evie goes to live in a care home by mistake and runs away. She gambles, drinks too much, misbehaves, buys a camper van and goes on a road trip. Of course, her son and daughter- in-law think her behaviour is inappropriate and they follow her, to bring her back. But, trapped in a car together, they realise they have problems of her own.

On her travels, Evie meets a septuagenarian hunk and sparks fly. Of course they do – she is feisty, wickedly provocative, unpredictable and a bit of an iconoclast. She’s bound to have adventures.

But A Grand Old Time is a novel for us all. It’s about having an appetite for life and not being afraid to take a big bite out of the present. In our so-called ageing society, we may all expect to live to be seventy five and more, and we certainly won’t want to be on the scrap heap. Evie says of her own mother, ‘She was done at forty. I’m seventy five and I’m  damned if I’m done yet.’

The novel is for all our mothers and fathers who, bless them, endured society’s concept of age as something which should slow you down, which limits you and makes you behave yourself. In fact, it could be an opportunity, a freedom, the time to do something wonderful. It is a chance to turn the mundane into a road trip. Like Evie, I hope we’ll all live to a ripe old age and then, I hope, we’ll take a leaf out of her book and find ways to have A Grand Old Time of it all.


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