It’s funny where writing has led me. I’ve given tours in cemeteries and gone fossil hunting in the name of research. The Last Runaway drew me into the seemingly tame world of quilts. Not so tame, it turns out. Quilting has led me into a prison cell.
I am curating a quilt/art show for Danson House, a Georgian Mansion outside of London. It opens next month, when I will write more about it. One of the pieces for the exhibition is a quilt I commissioned from the UK charity Fine Cell Work, who teach prisoners how to sew, embroider, and do needlepoint. The prisoners make cushions, quilts and other handiwork, which are for sale on the FCW website. Have a look, it is a wonderful charity, and the merchandise is gorgeous.
The prisoners – mostly men, surprisingly – make a little money to save for their families or for when they get out. But even more importantly, the work gives them a sense of purpose and pride. I have visited prisons four times now, and each time I leave with a feeling of wonder at how stitching can have such a therapeutic effect.
The quilt for the show is now complete. It is called Sleep Quilt and is made up of squares prisoners designed exploring their conflicted feelings about sleep. Here it is:
January 2014 - New Year, New Desk
Most New Year’s resolutions are about discipline and control. Eat less, exercise more, learn to do this, stop doing that.
I feel lucky that I have recently had a new desk made for me, and it is a beauty:
I'm relieved to report that I am quieting down for a while. No more book tours or readings or interviews. No more talking; I'm tired of hearing myself. Now as the hibernation months approach (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), I'm going to focus on the written word.
Busy last month! I've been doing events in the UK for the paperback publication of The Last Runaway, sure. But I've also started serious work on the next book, both writing and research. It's apple season, and some of the book involves apples, so I got up close and personal with apples at Lathcoats Farm in Chelmsford, Essex.
One of my fellow pickers was Lauren, who studies English at university. She was a little surprised by me turning up in the orchard! I know, I should have been at my desk, writing. But research is a lot more fun.
The world is turning faster and faster. A mere six months after hardback publication, the paperback of The Last Runaway is now out in the UK. (It comes out in paper in the US at the end of October.) Used to be a year between hardback and paperback, but ebooks seem to have changed all that. Does that mean I have to write faster too?
I should be publicising it, but instead I am going to share with you a photo:
This was taken in 1843, and there is speculation that the woman could be Mary Anning, heroine of my last novel Remarkable Creatures. Here is an article about the photo:
I would love it to be so, but most women in 1843 would have dressed like that on the beach. I hope we find out more!