Heartbreak Hotel is just out in paperback, and has also been chosen for the W H Smith/Richard and Judy Book Club, which is great – do have a look at their website as there’s lots of extra stuff about the book: podcasts, Q&As and whatnot. Their edition of the paperback also has extra content, and even a new short story I’ve written, set in the fictional town of Knockton.
This is where the novel is set. In real life this is Presteigne, Powys, one of my favourite places in the world. It’s gone through a sea-change, however, and now exists in two dimensions – in my novel and in reality. This will soon be joined by the television Knockton as I’m adapting the novel for the BBC and have just finished Episode One. It’s been a weird process because the characters have slightly changed, as indeed have the events, so I now have three Knocktons lying on top of each other like holograms.
Those of you familiar with the plot know that it’s about Courses for Divorces. People who’ve just split up enrol on a residential course – Car Maintenance, Cookery for Beginners and so on – to learn the skill the other person had in the relationship. In the TV drama I hope to open each episode with an explosive row. In quarrels, of course, all sorts of accusations come pouring out, so we can learn the couple’s back-story as the plates are flying. Then we have the titles and get into the episode proper. I loved this technique in Six Feet Under, the terrific American TV drama about an undertakers, which started with the person’s death.
I’ve been whizzing all over the country this summer doing events, and there are still several to go – see that section of the website. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve even done a couple of them with my daughter Lottie, whose novel “Kiss Me First” has also been published this year to huge acclaim – and has just been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. I’m hugely proud of her, and indeed of my son Tom, who sets up vegetable gardens in primary schools and whose book, The Urban Kitchen Gardener was published last year. That’s three generations of writers as my parents also wrote – my father calculated that he must have written 120 books. That’s an awful lot of trees.
I hope you’ve been having a great summer. It’s been such wonderful weather that I’ve been swimming every day in the ponds on Hampstead Heath, which is the most magical experience, and even better when the fairground is in full swing in the nearby meadow and one can have a ride on the dodgems afterwards. Who needs Abroad?
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