Jubilations! In my head I can hear trumpets and canned cheers as I say this… One Day In Summer is out today!
My 26th novel has made it into the world. Oh, the relief! I’m not being dramatic (for once) when I say that there were many times when I didn’t think we’d get here. After twenty years of putting words together for a living, you’d think it would be a smooth and seamless process, but no. I’ve spoken many times about my highbrow, profound method for writing a novel – it goes something along the lines of type, delete, panic, eat a biscuit, type, delete, panic, make a cup of tea. This is repeated day after day, until suddenly something clicks, the characters take up residence in my mind and their stories play out like a movie. Suddenly my fingers are flying across the keyboard as the words find their way to my screen. Within a month or two, the book is written, I’ve got several extra stress wrinkles and I’m searching for a Zumba class to work off those biscuits.
Dear readers, not this time. At least, not without a few twists in the road.
Book 26 was supposed to be a very different novel to the one it’s turned out to be. I was writing another story, with different characters, when – like the most unpredictable of plot twists – life began to imitate art. In the original book, my main character suffered a great loss. More than midway through writing, someone I love faced the very same tragedy. In my plan, another character was struck by a life-changing challenge. Unexpectedly and sadly, someone else I love was put in exactly the same situation. In a devastating heartbeat, the book I was writing had moved way too close to home. It had gone from a work of fiction, to something that came close to sharing the very real heartbreaks of some of the most important people in my life. And I had an overwhelming feeling that they were not my stories to tell.
I knew I couldn’t continue, but I had a book to deliver, a deadline to meet, a commitment to honour. For a moment, I crumbled, utterly distraught. Then two things happened. In the space of a few frantic hours, Agnetha (Aggs) McMaster came calling. A fictional character who’d been floating in the periphery of my mind for a while, she stormed into centre stage and she brought with her a whole lifetime of drama, love, loss and an irrepressible determination to pick herself up and rebuild her life on her own terms. Time for the second act of salvation – I called the cavalry. In my world, that’s my editor, Caroline Ridding, a publishing genius I’m truly lucky to have worked with for many years. An hour of tears (mine), explanations (mine) and calm reason (hers) later, I’d explained why I couldn’t write the original book, but that I had another one in my imagination, ready to go – and I promised I could write in in the space of a month. Without so much as word of doubt, my magnificent accomplice pivoted to the new plan and the curtains opened on One Day In Summer.
As dawn breaks, Agnetha McMaster wakes on the morning of her 45th birthday. After two decades of looking after others, this is the day that she plans to begin reclaiming her life. It’s her turn, her time but will she have the courage to start again?
A few miles away, Mitchell McMaster, is troubled. Ten years ago, he divorced Agnetha and married her best friend, Celeste. Now he suspects his second wife is having an affair. This is the day he’ll discover if karma has come back to bite him.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a young woman is preparing for a life changing moment. Thanks to a DNA test, this is the day that Hope McTeer will finally meet her biological father. But will the reunion bring Hope the answers that she’s looking for?
As the 24 hours of the summer day unfold, secrets come to light, ties are broken, new loves are discovered, and there are laughter, tear, surprises and shocks.
From the moment I started writing her story, I fell completely in love with Agnetha McMaster and I realised that this was the novel I was always meant to write. It just took me a while to get there.
Aggs saved me. She saved this book. Because that’s the blooming brilliant woman that she is. I can’t wait for you to meet her.
PS – As always, I’d love to know what you think – I’m on facebook, twitter, Instagram and my website is at www.sharilow.com