Don’t expect an author to be free for tea in February or early March. This is one of our busiest seasons. World Book Day is on Thursday 1 March this year, and children’s authors will be visiting schools that day and both weeks either side of it.

On the day itself I shall be at Kensington Aldridge Academy, the secondary school that use to stand at the base of the Grenfell Tower. They way the school coped with the tragedy and the practicalities of educating its students with no school site was quietly inspiring. Within a couple of days they were up and running, reorganising the timetable and borrowing facilities from a nearby school who stepped in to help however they could. The council has yet to house many of the families. If only they could live up to a fraction of KAA’s example. I feel very honoured to be visiting that day.

Before that, I have a few other events I feel honoured to be a part of this year. My speech to the Romantic Novelist’s Association falls on the day both my grandmothers were born – and as my mother reminded me last night, the day her mother, Noney, would have been 100. The women in my family (and men too) have always been inspirational to me. Noney’s name became Nonie, the narrator in Threads. She and my lovely Granny (who would have been 103) will be featuring in my talk. I can’t wait to share how I feel about them.

Then I’m off to the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators retreat , where I’m the guest author – following in the footsteps of Emma Caroll, Melvin Burgess and Sally Nicholls. Quite a series of reputations to live up to! Luckily, the writers who’ll be going want to hear about writing dialogue and self-editing: two of my specialist subjects. So, basically, the weekend will consist of eating, drinking, walking in the Sussex countryside, and talking endlessly to writers about writing. I am totally ready for this.

First of all, though, I’m on the First Loves panel at the CHCC YA Festival this Saturday, with Patrice Lawrence and Sarwat Chadda. If you’re near Romford, get a ticket and come along.

And the countdown to Unveiling Venus continues! Launch day is 8 February. Nine novels in nine years. How did that happen? Despite Trump, Brexit and many other things to nudge a Europhile writer towards despair, 2018 is my year of being thankful.

To all my readers – thanks above all for you. And to the teachers, librarians and booksellers who have tirelessly recommended the books, thank you to you too.

With lots of love

Sophia xxx


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