This has been my first year as a writer under contract, and also my first year as a newlywed.
Today I’m excited that my second novel is almost ready to send off to my lovely agent.
I’m also upset because I had to wave goodbye to my husband at the airport for another stint of heart-breaking long distance.
My husband is from outside the EU and with neither of us able to live or work in each other’s country yet, we’ve had to be creative in how we manage to be in the same place at the same time. So far we’ve lived in England, Australia, India and the US together.
In March we flew to the beaches of South India for our honeymoon. I spent much of my childhood in India and my second book is set there. Before we arrived, I was just beginning to have an idea of the story I wanted to write. Travelling was the perfect accompaniment to filling notebooks, reading, and doing all the research and nurturing a story seed requires.
But then my editor emailed me with the main round of edits for my first novel, Running on the Roof of the World, and I knew I needed a desk, some sort of regular internet connection and a base for a while. So we boarded a 36-hour train and headed into the foothills of the Himalayas, to stay near my father. This had its own challenges. There were frequent electricity blackouts and internet cuts. I remember preparing to speak to my editor by gathering every phone and placing them in a corner of a bedroom (the only place that received signal apart from a big boulder halfway down a slope). We made contact before a storm blew in and cut us off several times.
The foothills are full of wonderful distractions. I spent many days watching Himalayan grey langurs bounce from branch to branch and sneak into our garden to the eat the flowers.
We stayed through monsoon which meant that we lived in a cloud for two months. If I opened a window, the cloud drifted inside. Everything was damp, even our pillowcases. The cover of my notebook went mouldy.
Now as I sit back at my desk in Frome, Somerset, putting the last touches to my book, I pull from my memories to fill the pages with the sounds and smells of the mountains, and in the process remind myself of the wonderful times I had there with my partner.