A Perfect Day For ‘The Perfect Dress’

Happy Valentine’s to you all! It seems timely that today of all days I am finally able to talk publically about my forthcoming contemporary romance #ThePerfectDress, which will be published by Transworld UK this summer, with rights also sold to Germany (Goldmann), Italy (Newton Compton) and Spain (Suma, PRH). Yesterday it was officially announced in the Bookseller. See here.

When I began working on this book, I have to admit I was feeling somewhat despondent about the general state of the world, and had a gut sense that I needed to write the most warm, joy-restoring novel I could – one that would leave readers feeling delighted and uplifted. I kept thinking of the Golden Age of Cinema and how, in the first half of the 20th century, people found an escape from the rigours of the Depression-era by going to the movies. In this way The Perfect Dress is my offer of an escape from today’s issues – with a generous helping of old school glamour!

At the time I was researching and writing about wedding dress for the Victoria & Albert Museum website. See here. The V&A dresses were exquisite beyond exquisite, but what really caught my attention were the wonderful personal stories behind them. My imagination sparked. A wedding dress – arguably the most important dress in a woman’s life – is not just a beautifully designed garment. It’s a symbol of her personality, her lifestyle, her choices, her ideals, her hopes.

With a background in art and design history and a passion for vintage clothing, I became intrigued by the idea that wedding dresses might hold traces of their stories within their fibres, like blueprints. What if there was canny little dress shop that matched vintage wedding dresses, with all their wisdoms and insights stitched within, to modern-day brides? And so Fran and her #whisperingdresses came to be.

I cannot wait for the journey of The Perfect Dress to unfold. I also want to say how chuffed I am to be working with the fabulous @MollyCrawford from Transworld who immediately got what the book was all about. And a massive thank you to the inimitable @SarahSuch, my agent and friend, who has done so much for my writing career. And, lastly, not forgetting my family and friends for all the encouragement and support.

Spread the love. L x

Michael Jackson for Biscuits

Firstly, let me congratulate me on actually delivering the second of my promised monthly blogs, especially after the parenting shock-fest that was half-term. Suffice to say, this post has been written in snatches: while standing in queues for ice creams and buses, sweltering in swimming pool changing rooms, hovering around slide-diving kamikaze 2 year olds, and waiting, lots of waiting, for you-tube clips to load.

Secondly, I guess I should explain the randomness of the title. It’s a writer cliché, I know, but I genuinely do jot down ideas as they pop into my head, mainly to reduce the chance of losing them in the chasm of my forgetfulness. I used to carry a tatty notebook (another writer cliché), but latterly have upgraded to one of those popular fruit-based electronic devices.

I am currently researching and writing about opera for the V&A Museum website, so note-making has been at fever pitch. But whatever I was trying to say in my latest effort, I sincerely don’t think it was: ‘Opera feels like it’s always been like Michael Jackson for biscuits’. What? WHAT?? Effing, bloody predictive text.

As a phrase it’s kind of likeable, but woefully nonsensical and useless to my needs. What’s more frustrating is that I can’t even remember/decipher what I was trying to say. A great(ish) thought lost.

I now dread to look back through the pages of notes and dictations that I have taken over the last few months, that will no doubt have come out awry. Latest novel is not going to pull together on this basis. That said, could it be a way to push the envelope, to introduce an unexpected and surrealist touch to my work, although I’m not sure it would win me many readers.

Anyway, my third point, strangely related (since I blame my forgetfulness, thus need for note-making, on the constant ‘fullness’ of my mind), is how much I love cramming said mind with new knowledge. As I get older, my appetite for learning seems to increase, rather than diminish. When I was offered the opera topic, I admit I winced with a dose of ‘not for me’ suspicion. Within a few hours of research, however, I was enthralled. It seems that wherever there is opera, there is power, deceit, conflict, scandal, money, monstrosity, revolution, riot, romance – everything exciting, all bound up with some of the most extraordinary music ever written. It’s a delight to be able to bury myself in such an intriguing subject and call it work, thus I eagerly anticipate the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition ‘Opera: Power, Passion & Politics’ – if only to find out whether opera really is like Michael Jackson for biscuits…?

Reluctant Blogging is the New Blogging

I’ve said it before. I know. But this time. This. Time. There will be blogging, as sure as there is half-price Cathedral City cheese.

I will make amends for all my excuses-excuses online absenteeism, beginning RIGHT HERE, with a pledge (yet another) to make monthly – and sometimes bi-monthly – contributions to the community in the screen.

The rhetoric is embarrassingly familiar to me now: a writer needs an online platform, i.e. a blog, vlog, podcast, website, instagramming, tumbling whatsit, in order to publicise their work to the world, in order to raise awareness of their writing, in order to sell more books, in order to make more money, in order to keep their children stocked with fidget spinners for the rest of their damn lives.

Otherwise…said writer’s career will wither and die like so many bad sitcom scripts and THEY WILL BE NOTHING.

I get it. I have good intent. Alas, however, I also have barriers:

1, children

2, children

3, shyness

Okay, so shyness is stretching a point. I’m actually not a shy person, but I’m definitely an introvert, so the concept of flashing my wares to a vast(ish) public makes the edges of my soul curl and crinkle. But I love writing, so I am duty-bound to make the grade.

It occurs to me that people use blogs for either information or entertainment. Unless you want lists of dos and don’ts on topics such as ‘Fast-Track Procrastination Techniques’, ‘Bubble Guppies Versus Paw Patrol: How to Manipulate Your Child with TV Programmes’ or ‘Writing the 2 Minute Plot Synopsis (…Because 2 Minutes is All You Damn Get)’, then I’ll aim for entertainment. Fun with words – and a few pictures.

A lot has happened since my previous pledge to blog (which perhaps explains the lack thereafter): my youngest shed his sweet baby disguise, to reveal his true identity as Toddler Destroyer Extraordinaire; I married and moved house; some very bad things happened in the political world; while various pop-stars of my youth popped their clogs. I, and this is the significant bit, also had several writing successes, which you probably wouldn’t know about, because I kind of *forgot* to brag about them online. So here’s the gist:

Firstly, my novel, Last Night I Dreamt of You, has been picked up by Goldmann (part of the Random House empire) and will be published in Germany and hopefully other territories thereafter. It is my first adult novel – a romantic mystery thriller set in Cornwall, my ode to Daphne du Maurier – and I’m intrigued and excited to see how it all unfolds. I will promise with all my heart to post updates on here. In the meantime, brush up on your GCSE German…

Secondly, I am delighted to have been taken on as one of the writer/editors creating content for the V&A Museum’s new website. As an Art History graduate, painter, and wannabe interior designer, it’s nothing short of a dream job. Plus, the V&A has long been one of my favourite London haunts, so I sometimes feel a little star-struck by the whole experience, should it be possible to be ‘star-struck’ by a large building (and all of it’s magnificent contents)!

My V&A work can be seen here:

Wedding Dress

And here:

Art Deco

Okay, so I’ve bobbed my head above the parapet and now hopefully you know a little more of where I’m at. I’d like to linger some longer, but a large piece of Duplo has just been flushed down the toilet. I guess I’ll see you in a month…

(…or five?)