To a much-missed friend

Hello! Long time! I’m increasingly slowwwww at posting on here, mostly because I’m trying to get a head start on my new book. Very excitingly, I’m going back to school in September (sort of). I’m starting a Masters in Creative Writing for various reasons, but chiefly because I’ve realised how much I love this life writing books, and how lucky I am, so I want to try and ensure I can do it forever by studying and learning and getting better at it. But this also means that I need to crack on with book 5 and get a good deal of that written before I sharpen my pencils and start term in the autumn.

The Wish List came out in paperback yesterday! It’s available in all good bookshops, in Asda, Sainsbury’s AND Tesco which is very supportive of them all. It’s available on Kindle or Audible if you want to hear me read it out… My friend Jonty said he listened to one of mine in the car driving down to Salcombe with his small daughters not long ago which made me a bit nervous. Maybe they were asleep for the sex scenes.

I posted something about The Wish List dedication this morning on Instagram which means a lot to me. It’s to my friend Vix, who died last year just after the hardback came out. As I said on Instagram, when we found out she was ill, I decided to dedicate the book to her but worried for months about telling Vix this, anxious that she’d think the dedication was too mawkish or draw attention to her illness. And I worried that she wouldn’t want to be called brave, as plenty of people don’t when they’ve been given certain diagnoses, because it can sound an annoying platitude. So I kept putting it off and didn’t tell her (slightly classic me) until a couple of weeks before it was published, when I finally told myself to get a grip and stop being such a wimp, and sent a photo of the dedication.

I remember that evening so well, sitting on my bed nervously, and Vix came back initially asking if it was real, and then was so touched and pleased. And then she added that being called brave was the best thing to hear, since she thought perhaps her experience of being so sick had transformed her into the brave person she was always meant to be. Her extraordinary bravery in facing up to her brain tumour made me cry then as it did remembering her this morning. She died in August and I think about her every day, and how dealt with her diagnosis. At one point last summer, she said to me ‘Soph, I want you to ignore anything the doctors have said. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still going to be here in twenty years.’ I now suspect she knew more than she was letting on, but her astonishing courage, really facing up to death, is something I think about all the time. It was like her leaving present to us.

So this book is for Vix, which is kind of funny because she was my most intelligent friend who read poets and playwrights, so a rom-com about a confused heroine called Florence, a love coach called Gwendolyn, a character nicknamed Rory the Tory and a cat called Marmalade might not have been absolutely top of her reading list. But, as ever, I hope it makes you laugh. What’s that line? ‘Laughter lets the light in’. Is it a terrible cliché? Ah well. I guess the thing about terrible clichés is that often they’re also very true.