I have spent much of the summer editing a new novel (The Last Runaway, out January 2013 in the US, March 2013 in the UK, with other countries to follow). Mostly, though, I've been glued to the Olympics, which transformed my fellow Londoners into cheerful, positive, helpful people. It was glorious.

Summer time and I'm off soon to Ohio to try and revitalize the novel I'm writing set there. Any Ohioans who see me in a diner with a stack of pancakes and the paper, tell me to get out and start researching! You may also find me lingering in quilt shops.

Great Britain went a little berserk recently with the Royal Wedding. In our Dorset village there was a cake-decorating competition on that theme, and we won! Here's the result:


I did it! I ran the LONDON MARATHON to raise money for BREAST CANCER CAMPAIGN. Here I am in all my sweaty glory, with Big Ben behind me, SMILING because I'm done! Thanks to everyone who sponsored me!


I am having an ascetic new year: no alcohol or sweet things for January, lots of training for the Marathon, and no events or writing other than the new novel. The plan is to cut back to necessities and be more disciplined. Running you heard about on the front page. More now on

WRITING: The new novel is about an English Quaker woman who emigrates to Ohio in the 1840s, settles in a fictional community near Oberlin (where I went to college, by the way), and ends up working on the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves escape to Canada. I am still in the early stages, and Honor Bright has only just arrived at her new home near Oberlin. There are so many questions to answer, but it feels solid, and right.

READING: I always read, but this time it's serious: I'm a judge for the 2011 Orange Prize for fiction, awarded to a book written in English by a woman. What a lot of reading! It's exhilarating but also terribly daunting, eyeing those stacks and stacks of books. Hard too to pinpoint why I like or don't like a book - so often it's simply a gut feeling that I can't explain. But as a judge I have to if I want to defend or criticise a choice. Longlist is announced in March, shortlist in April, winner June 8th.

So that is my winter of discipline laid out before me: lots of reading and writing and running. Happy New Year!