Welcome to my first blog!
I’ve been putting off writing this for months. Why? I’ve been apprehensive because writing the first one commits me to writing a regular blog and I haven’t been at all sure what I would write about. Or who would read it if I did. I could write about writing – but plenty of people do that extremely well already. So I’m just going to write about what interests me, as it comes up. So here goes …
Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was fantastically well looked after by Barts Hospital and, thanks to them, I became more aware of the extremely worthwhile work done by the charity Breast Cancer Care. As the books editor of Woman & Home, I commission a story every month for the magazine. (The link is coming – be patient!) After my treatment I was wondering who to commission next and looking at a list of those writers who had already appeared in the magazine. And what a list it was. It struck me that with those writers’ help we could put together an anthology, find a publisher and raise money for a charity. For obvious reasons I was keen it should be Breast Cancer Care. Fortunately that is one of the charities that Woman & Home support too. And so our first anthology was born that raised thousands of pounds.
In September this year, our fourth anthology of short stories was published by Orion – The Coffee Shop Book Club. The collection contains so many fantastic writers – Fern Britton, Elizabeth Buchan, Tracy Chevalier, Jenny Colgan, RJ Ellory, Julia Gregson, Tessa Hadley, Maeve Haran, Veronica Henry, Victoria Hislop, Eowyn Ivey, Cathy Kelly, Erin Kelly, Deborah Lawrenson, Kathy Lette, Lesley Lokko, jill Mansell, Val McDermid, Kate Mosse, Jojo Moyes, Adele Parks, Nicky Pellegrino, Ian Rankin, Cara Ross, Penny Vincenzi, Katherine Webb and me.
There’s something in it for everyone’s taste and £1 from every copy sold goes to Breast Cancer Care. It’s a perfect bedside companion.
A number of us celebrated the book with a virtual coffee morning on Twitter, when a number of the authors were there to talk to anyone who came to join the party. This was a bit of an experiment and, to begin with, it took a bit of getting used to as the questions poured in and we had to get used to the delays on the feed and remember to add the hashtag. But an hour and a half went by quickly and everyone enjoyed themselves with plenty of questions being answered.
On October 18th at 10.30am, Elizabeth Buchan, Cathy Kelly, Peny Vincenzi and I will be at the Bar des Arts at the Guildford Book Festival to talk about The Coffee Shop Book Club, writing short stories and anything else that comes up.
I hope we might see you there! And if not, do buy the book – it’s for such a good cause.